The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…

Two top tips

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before – a karabiner to anchor together the monstrous shuffle of book bags and discarded coats and other bags of shite I need to cart around on the school run!

I have got two smallish ones so I have been using those to stop coats from falling into  puddles, (guaranteed a child will then clumsily step on coat, forcing further into puddle), or book bags from bloody sliding and slithering around. WHAT IS WRONG WITH A RUCKSACK? Book bags are the devil’s doing.

But I am so in love with this idea that I went on Amazon and bought the largest karabiner I could find in the hope that if it’s big enough, I can just hook my children on there, too.

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The second thing I’ve discovered is on recommendation from my sister, which is Spice Tailor curry sauces, which you can get off Ocado or in Waitrose. When my husband is away the temptation in the evening to have not dinner just do vodka shots and eat cashew nuts while watching Ray Donovan and texting my friends is really tempting. And some nights that is exactly what I do BUT it’s also, I think, quite important to actually eat dinner sometimes.

I used these sauces twice to make myself dinner but they both looked so genuinely revolting in the photo as I am no food stylist, (though very tasty, promise), that I haven’t included a picture here, just a screen grab of the actual thing. Plus I interviewed Anjum Anand for a thing a few years ago and she is adorable.

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Also handy to give to my husband. I’m no good at making curry sauces myself- they always come out all tasting the same – but Giles is a massive fusspot about everything pre-bought sauces, says they leave a funny taste in his mouth – I mean I guess I know what he means but these really don’t and won’t.

AW event dress

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I saw this and thought of you – if you need to go to any event this AW be it a wedding or a big party or whatever. I absolutely love this dress and am seriously considering getting it even though I’ve got nowhere to wear it.

It really reminds me of an Alexander McQueen dress I saw Nicola Formby wearing at a party about 8 years ago. He (then later Sarah Burton) did a lot of that sort of Rorschach test/mirror image embroidery a while ago – and it still looks very beautiful.

Ignore the face that this is technically a Tall dress – if you get it and like it and it’s a bit long you can have it taken up.


****NB a reader – below – ordered the dress and it arrived and she hated it so proceed with caution. But, I do think that this style of dress is really lovely for a autumn or winter event, so keep an eye out for others like it and I will too ***



High-waisted jeans

I have been blobbing about on Instagram talking about high-waisted jeans on my Stories, (which are my new obsession because I can just empty out my brain through my mouth on there without having to type anything or speak in complete sentences), but I realise now that I really ought to be following up on here.

Because a) it’s a legit subject and b) not everyone is on Instagram, watching Stories, or watching every single one. WTF NOT???

So a goodly proportion of you will not know that I am in favour of moving onto high-waisted jeans. This is not for everyone, of course. It’s not a massively forgiving trend, although I don’t think you technically need a waist in order to wear them. I think the whole point is that high waisted jeans will create a waist for you where there isn’t quite one.

I’ve got a bit too much waist and left unchecked I look like a blow-up doll, which I don’t want, so I have for the last few years swathed myself in clothes that miss it my waist completely. But recently I have noted a slightly new aesthetic – brought to us mainly by French It girls – where the high-waisted jean can look good but also not ludicrously LOOK AT MY TITS AND ARSE.

Here are a few inspirational photos:

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This is basically the new way to wear a pair of high waisted jeans – with a slightly oversized T-shirt and trainers. I love this photo.

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This is slightly more gaggy Pinterest twattery but you get the idea – I mean NONE of us is going to look like this, but just gaze at it for a bit, get the idea of a new shape in your mind.

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You could even do it like this – I have a pair of similar jeans from TopShop, just called “Straight” jeans – these – which I wear as nonchalantly as possible to cover up for the fact that they might just be monstrously unflattering. My husband certainly loathes them with a passion and has requested that maybe perhaps I wear them only when he is away filming?

I have these, too, which are more wearable, from H&M 

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If you’re willing to take a risk on something that might be fabulous or might just be a massive fucking waste of time, have a look at these Sezane Mom Jeans. I ordered a pair that I thought looked promising called Le Brut Sexy, which were nightmarish – possibly actually just too big but I just flung them back in the box and sent them back.

Anyway I’m not arsed about trying these Mom Jeans because I’m happy now with my high waisters now but if you feel like going on a bit of a journey, go for it.

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I mean LOOK at the tittays on this girl


I  mean the best thing to do, always, is get yourself to bloody Selfridges one day – make a trip of it – go to their massive denim hall, (not on the weekend), collar some girl and just try on 40 different pairs.

But do have a crack at this if you think you might even vaguely like it. Because this is firmly a direction in which we’re going now so you might as well get used to it. Like all new jean phenomenon (skinnies, boyfriends) they take a lot of getting used to – and it’s a numbers game, you just have to try on as many as you can stand until you find something you like.

Dinny Hall

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HERE IT IS: your 15% discount code for Dinny Hall. Ready? SPIKE15. Valid one week from today.

But wait!!! Don’t go yet. Let’s talk about what to buy before you go rushing off like children into a funfair where everything is made of sweets.

My necklace on Instagram is in fact a charm necklace, the elements can be slipped on or off just as you fancy.

So you can have long sun and a moon. Or a sun and a locket. Or a sun and a circle. Or a moon and a locket – or whatever you like. I am totally in love with the celestial element to this collection – sun, moon, stars – I’m just really feeling all that at the moment.

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Personally I think if you’re going to go for anything, get a sun charm, (above), which is very unusual and beautiful and will go with absolutely everything. The chains come with a jump link so you can lengthen or shorten as you want. Or my other favourite is the locket, which you can actually open and close. I soaked a small piece of cotton wool in perfume and clipped it inside and now it smells delicious.

If you love this collection but now is not a good time budget-wise then do not fear as I’m sure I will be able to get another code closer to Christmas and you can just email this page directly to your husband (or wife or pimp or whatever).

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Above is the locket and moon charm together.


I have been holding off talking about sweaters because usually every year J Crew bring out some stunners – I have two from last year in grey and camel, big cosy thick roll necks.

But this year they haven’t done them – or haven’t done them yet I suppose, I’m still hoping that they will do something.

And because I worry about you guys being cold, I have been on the hunt for something similar, which I found in that temporary mystery, Arket, a sort of Scandi concept/superstore, which has opened on Regent Street in London, but also does a roaring online trade.

They have these sweaters, for £69, which is insanely good value. It is pretty much identical to the J Crew sweater I have, and it comes in sort of browny beige and also in navy.

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They have some other sweaters, too – really beautiful slightly shorter swing knits kind of like a fisherman’s sweater. I got that lurch in my stomach when I saw them, like the same one that I sometimes got as a teenager when I saw a really hot boy. How times have changed. But the sweaters are still nice.

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If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted much recently it’s because I’ve had some actual paid work on, which always takes precedence over this and other things (not alcohol) and also I’ve been having too much fun messing about on Instagram which is a damn sight easier than writing actual words down. And if I think that then WE’RE ALL DOOMED!

What do you do about your ankles?

Look don’t get excited because I don’t really have some kind of genius lighting-bolt answer to this.

What I mean by this question of course is if you are moving on from skinny jeans and their hellish strangulation and onto a more relaxed type of trouser, which need to be turned up at the ankle or you look bloody weird, what do you do about your ankles come winter time?

Last winter, on the coldest days, I basically did whatever I could to avoid wearing skinny jeans tucked into boots, which is the standard Winter Answer. I have a pair of UGG Adirondacks, snow boots, which I wore with my Gap Girlfriends a shirt and a sweater and just embraced the very dykey dash I cut. On other days I wore them with tights, mini skirts and oversized sweaters.

Other days I wore gym kit with Bridgedale hiking socks to close the ankle-to-trainer gap. Then some days I wore these David Lerner coated leggings, which look like absolute shit in this pic here, but they’re really comfortable and don’t look especially like leggings, but more like coated jeans.

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Not cheap at £90 but very useful. Size up.

I’m also seriously considering a pair of these boots from Celtic and Co.

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Please, please I am just not interested in hearing from UGG-style boot haters. Fine, if you think they’re slippers and ought never to be worn outdoors then okay, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I don’t agree.

YES I know they can’t be worn in the rain – you wear another outfit instead when it’s raining! Your rainy day outfit! I, personally, don’t think that occasionally wearing these boots on the school run or up to the shops makes you a hateful slattern.

But when it’s a horizontal polar wind and everyone’s got a cold and you just need to get from here to there without having a nervous breakdown, these boots are the answer.

You can wear them with your boyfriend/girlfriend jeans and a cosy Arket or Boden sweater and this H&M Isabel Marant rip-off coat (see below) while wearing eyeliner and earrings, possibly slightly chipped black nail varnish? and your best handbag and carry it all off with aplomb.

Plus these boots are made in the UK and they have a repair and re-sole policy, which is commendable.

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Winter boots

I have decided that right now the only winter boots worth recommending, on the basis of the ranks of shite I saw this morning on my aborted shopping trip, are my UGG ones.

There are two biker styles, which you might like.

This one, which is the one I have

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and this one 

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Take your normal size.

True fashion people swear by Jimmy Choo bikers as the ultimate biker boot. But they are £650 and look like chimney pot city to me.

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The jeans I bought are “Straight” jeans from Topshop – here. I got ultimate confirmation that they are great just now from Giles, who absolutely hates them.

I am quite thin at the moment from chest infection starvation diet so around about a size 10 – I got a 28 waist. There’s a bit of a dearth of sizes online, alas :(. All those Jeanne Demas wannabes…

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Kids winter outerwear

It has taken me years to perfect the ideal range of kids outerwear and I want to share this killer combo with you.

You will complain about this. You will say:

1 But Esther, I just want to get one coat and be done with it

2 But Esther, this is too expensive

3 But Esther, they will lose all these and I don’t want to do labels for them all

To which I say fine! I am not your master and keeper – you must do what you like and I daresay there are many one-coat options that will see you right.

But. If you want the flexibility and peace of mind that comes with knowing that your child is never too hot or too cold (a subject that obsesses me completely) then the perfect combination of kids winter clothes, which will see you from now until next year, in all weathers is as follows!

1 I absolutely love these little jackets from North Face. They are slim but warm and pretty windproof, with a zip right up to the neck and pockets. You can obviously get fleeces that are not £45 for a kids version but I don’t find those shaggy kiddie-fleeces to be that warm or practical. Too bulky to go under anything else and not very wind proof. I got two of these for Kitty and Sam last year and they’re still going strong. I got an S for both of them and turned the sleeves up.

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2 Uniqlo puffa jacket with hood. My main gripe with an all-purpose winter coat is they tend to be a bit physically restrictive and my kids mainly run round and round in circles all day long and they get a bit hot and fucked off except on the very coldest days if they are wearing a massive puffa. So this micro-light puffa is perfect, they can run around, have full range of movement for going on the monkey bars and stuff. It’s showerproof and despite the instruction not to, I’ve just always chucked them int he washing machine and they’ve been fine.

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3 For a full range of options, a Uniqlo puffa gilet is really helpful for putting over the North Face jacket on days when there’s an extra chill but they don’t need the double whammy of layers, but not essential.

4 In terms of rainwear, I’ve still got some fishermen’s raincoats from last year, which still fit, from John Lewis. They were really brilliant and sold out quickly. It doesn’t look like they’re doing them this year, which is a bit of a bummer – though they might come in later in the season. An equivalent I can find is this from Muddy Puddles, which seems insanely expensive at £50 – a slightly less ruinous option would be to get the Pac a Mac (below, £24) instead, which you can slip over the North Face jacket for downpours. As a reader pointed out on a different post, it doesn’t often absolutely slate it down in this country so it’s fine to keep a pac a mac handy rather than have a full on bonded raincoat on at all times.

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5 This next item, from Trotters, will change your winter. It’s called a Snoody, and it’s a fleecy snood that can be slipped over even the fussiest toddler’s head for full neck-and-ears and sometimes even head protection on very cold days when some major polar ice winds are screaming off the Heath and blasting your babies’ fragile little necks (I told you I get lively about this subject). These sell out incredibly fast and there will be none by the end of October so get yours now, I would. We have four – one for Kitty and Sam and one for me and Giles, too.

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6 These mittens are the best I’ve found for kids. The not very snappy name of Easy Kiddos Mittens. You can really bloody strap them into them and they still have some order of movement and manipulation. I also find the slightly home-made nature of the entire operation incredibly endearing and so want to promote them.

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The one thing I have never found a satisfactory version of is a fleece ski headband for kids – Kitty absolutely refuses to wear a hat but on the coldest days will countenance a headband over her ears. Ideas?

Car crash

Okay so this is a little random but I think hardcore Spikers know that this blog is a little bit scattergun. And you all hated the slip dress thing so much I’m not writing about clothes again for a bit…

I was in a very mild prang with another car about three years ago and realised that I was entirely unprepared for this event and it’s taken me three years to get an old friend of mine who is a barrister who specialised in road accidents – (but has to remain anonymous in order to be frank) – to write this guide to what to do if you are in one.

This made me laugh and laugh, I hope you enjoy it too.

  1. Stay calm.  Which is obviously impossible, but it’s worth a try.  People understandably get v. angry or upset after road traffic accidents and are always saying “I meant to take photos, I meant to look for witnesses” but they didn’t because they’re boiling with rage or weeping.  Of course, some people are suffering from shock or other psychological responses and there’s not much they can do.
  2. Don’t panic if you’ve said “sorry”. Everyone says ‘sorry’ by mistake.  It’s basically just what English people of a certain class do … it’s the same when people bang into you on the street “oh sorry – I was in your way” as a passive aggressive way of telling them off.  “Oh sorry – you’ve accidentally burgled my house” etc.  In truth, if you have said sorry, don’t worry – many judges take a common sense view on this (even if on nothing else) – they tend to think that what you say at the scene is because you’re shocked anyway.  Maybe get a video of the post accident chat (though frankly that might make you look like a bit of a psycho in court).
  3. Photos – take all of them.  Take barrels of them right there and then, there’s no excuse if you have an iPhone with any kind of memory.  Take them at the scene, showing vehicle location, vehicle damage (close up and far off), the other car, your car, every car.  Take a photo with a landmark or prominent building in the frame so it can be keyed to an exact location.  Go back and see if you can take a photo of where there’s glass or tyre marks in the road where the cars collided.  Some people have videos of the cars, which can’t be bad.  Basically, these things stand and fall a lot of the time on objective evidence (given that the actual drivers have all been punching each other, or are paralysed with shock or too busy apologising to everyone), and it’s so frustrating when people take the wrong photo (“oh – I thought you’d want to see the radio dial as I was listening to the Moral Maze at the time”), but not who was where or what.  Make sure you keep them properly, send them to your insurer and your solicitor (as they often get lost in between).  If it goes to trial, check that the solicitor has them and probably print them out yourself, as everyone will often have just crappy black and white copies that have been triple scanned and photocopied.
  4. Look around for witnesses – including in your own car.  People get told, ‘family members don’t count as witnesses’ – which is bizarre as they count for something at least, even if they are not a vicar with perfect eyesight and a photographic memory who happens to be passing by.  Also, get the details of anyone who saw it (though if they’re sensible they’ll have driven off at high speed themselves).
  5. Once you’ve got home, calmed down, and remembered it all – get it all down on paper and in detail.  Make sure it’s dated somehow.  Memory is a funny beast, and if it goes on for a bit, you’ll be asked questions three years later like “how many times did the indicator tick on June 23rd” and you’ll be like “I can’t remember my own middle name”.   So, descend to absurd detail (though only the stuff you actually remember doing, not the stuff you usually do – it’s a good way to get caught out).  If you draw diagrams, think about them properly in terms of location of vehicles and size and such.  Some of them basically tell an entirely different story to the written recollection and makes it look like you can’t even get your terrible lies straight in your own head.


**** my friend who submitted this has asked that I include a thing here about how this shouldn’t be used as legal advice. Because lawyers are such fun like that.

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