The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…


November 2017

Black hair ribbon

Okay don’t all have a freak out at my suggesting you wear a black velvet or grosgrain ribbon in your hair alright?? It’s just a suggestion. It looks cute, it’s quite Christmassy and all the fashion girls are doing it. And I know we’re not fashion girls but we can pretend we are for an evening.

Do not under any circumstances try this with a silky or satin ribbon because it will slide right out of your hair in 3 minutes flat.

Here is some inspo I stole off Pinterest for you.

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Tilly Sveaas

I am very pleased to have come across Tilly this year. Her necklaces are beautiful and she herself is a hoot. She has really kindly offered Spike readers a discount code – ESTHERTHEGREAT15 (her choice of words, not mine) which will be valid until this Sunday night.

Here are a few of my favourites from her site:

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But have a poke around and see what you like the look of. Her necklaces are all adjustable and come with jump rings, so you can lengthen or shorten as you like in order to wear two or more together (or to wear with other necklaces you have).

I have been asked about necklace sets – that is, a set of joined chains that come as a sort of pre-prepared “layering” – in my personal experience these jumble and tangle up even more to shite than just wearing three separate chains, and I think choosing individual charms and chains is a bit more meaningful, which is what this is all about, folks.

There isn’t really a way to totally stop your necklaces getting tangled. You just have to keep an eye on them and not wear them in bed.

On another note, I freaking hate this Black Friday shite. I’m not really that keen on sales of any sort.  I want the thing I want when I want it, I don’t want to wait for it and I don’t want to talk myself into wanting something that I actually don’t, just because there’s 50% off. As far as I’m concerned, if I get to the checkout and something’s on sale – amazing… like those days when you get all the way from Brent Cross to Highgate without stopping at a single red light.

Absolutely all of my attempts to take part in any sale never work and anything I ever bookmark and check back on in the sales is always sold out. The whole thing just passes me by. Am I alone in this?




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There are loads of really terrific things about your kids getting a bit older. Weekends improve dramatically – both mine now love a playdate and I sit in a corner with my feet up texting my friends while about 19 kids happily smash up my house, occasionally stopping to cram pizza in their mouths. The other weekend Sam went to some kid’s house ALL DAY. It was insane.

But more contemporaneously relevant is that winter improves so much. Before kids I loved winter. Rainy days, dark afternoons – who cares? Just drink red wine in front of the fire and read a spicy novel.

Then with small children, winter took on a fearsome dread and awfulness I had not been warned about. It was just snot, noro and going completely mental stuck in the house from 3.30pm until bedtime.

Now most days they’re at school and when they’re not at school I bundle them up and chuck them in a playground for the time when we’re not at home with playdates (see above). And they’re so much easier to get dressed. For a full 18 months Sam threw a massive tantrum every time you tried to put on his coat. And then their little arms always stuck out at weird angles or they kept pulling off their boots when it was minus 2.

But now they’ll put their damn coats on if it’s cold. And if they’ve been running around for 25 straight minutes and they’re obviously not cold anymore they will take their coat off and give it to me. And it’s fine.

For the last two years I have been very smug about my technical fleece-and-puffa arrangement as their outerwear, but I think I have wrecked the puffa inside-stuff by over machine washing and Kitty has broken the zip on her fleece.

And, anyway, I’m a bit bored of the sight of them – so instead secured myself two Muddy Puddles winter jackets, called the 3 Season Storm Explorer Jacket. I have been shy of these in the past because they are £75 each – BUT they come with a removable puffa gilet thingy and, I discovered only when Sam was about 2, that what you do is buy your kids clothes that are FAR TOO BIG and then you get about two or three years’ wear out of them.

I also get all coats always in navy so that when Kitty grows out of hers Sam can go straight into it without complaining that his coat is covered in unicorns and plays “Let it go” every time he does up the zip. My only complaint about these is that the hood could be a bit bigger – and if you do have a girl who is a bit fussy about what she wears, (unlike Kitty who could give a shit that she’s dressed like a football manager), they will reject this coat on sight.

I also got these mega cute snow boots. Because life is misery if your feet are cold.


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Cute dress

I bought an embellished collar black velvet dress off about a million years ago – I put it on Instagram stories the other day and many people loved it and were bummed out it’s no longer available SOOOOOO I found you a very similar one!

From Ted Baker. Alas, £199. But it may well be the answer to all your festive getting-dressed conundrums.

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Whole baked celeriac

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N.B. I did not take this photo – but this is broadly what mine looked like 

NOT a brain in a tin – things haven’t got that bad.

It is of course an entire baked celeriac, the recipe for which I fell upon, (by Ottolenghi, naturally), because it just looked to easy and crazy not to try it.

I like celeriac, but normally you have to do horrendous, possibly illegal things to it in order to render it edible – cut it into chips, (of COURSE I’ve got 9 spare hours), then cover it in tomato ketchup, or grate it and cover it in mayonnaise.

This dish reminds me of a famous pudding Alice Waters used to serve – this may well be an apocryphal story – at Chez Panisse, which was just a single, perfect peach and a sharp knife with which to eat it. This is why I love Americans – they can be so blindingly uncynical and literal. It’s an enormous freedom of sorts.

Anyway this recipe is barely a recipe, more of a sort of physical prayer, an act of devotion to this root vegetable with a face only a mother could love.

All you do is get a celeriac, scrub it – don’t even peel it – and weigh it. Although weighing it isn’t even that necessary.

Lightly grind a heaped teaspoon of coriander seeds (also not essential) then cover the celeriac with oil, 1 heaped tsp of sea salt and the crushed seeds.

Then put it in a tin and into a 170C oven.

A big celeriac 1.2kg will take 3 hours. One half the size will take half the time. It pretty much can’t overcook so just leave it in there all afternoon if you want.

Then you cut it into wedges and serve with a squeeze of lemon. If you’ve got one. I also have in my mind that this might be really nice with some Sriracha swirled into yoghurt… but then, I’ve always got half a mind thinking about Sriracha.

I’m now vaguely wondering if you can do an entire dinner made out of “whole, baked” things – camembert, fish, celeriac… what else?

Christmas paper

Err, like, WOW Christmas brings out my sanctimonious side. Most of the year I encourage everyone to spend on tat, smoke fags, skip dinner and do shots after the kids are in bed.

But come mid-November and suddenly my hair-shirted Protestant do-gooder comes banging its way out of the downstairs WC shouting “Save, don’t spend! A tile in time saves nine! Waste not want not!”

Anyway I am here to appeal to your own personal inner Protestant that you do not wrap your presents in shiny paper this year. The reason is that shiny wrapping paper cannot be recycled, it all does straight to landfill. I know it’s a small thing, but actually it’s easy not to use shiny paper.

My plan is to load up on kraft papers from John Lewis such as these in white:

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and decorated 

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… and then add a contrasting grosgrain ribbon

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Please do the same! She screamed hysterically. Of course, you do not have to get it from John Lewis – anywhere will do, just please make sure it’s not shiny.

Here is some inspo I stole off Pinterest.




Ding, Dong pt1

Okay here we go. This list is to just inspire you this year, I’m not saying that these ought to be your dream gifts. This is also part 1 as I am bound to see more things between now and Christmas that I like so I don’t declare this a definitive list, just a starter.

Okay let’s start with some lovely, usually unaffordable knitwear.

I like this from Vince:

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And this, if you’re after a more glossy cutie rich mummy look, this. A lot of people are banging around in Bella Freud sweaters and I do like them but they are slightly a victim of their own success and they are now freaking everywhere. I think this Kenzo one is beautiful and unusual.

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You could also just ask for a pile of Tippi sweaters from J Crew. When I say a pile, I mean maybe 2 as they are £88 each. But very handy for all situations – they come up a bit small so size up.

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Now, bags. I’ve gone right off designer handbags. As I’m on Instagram an awful lot I get properly sick to death of the sight of the ones everyone has – even though there’s nothing wrong with any of them. So I will not be recommending anything from Gucci or that half moon cult Gaia basket bag – but I do rather like these two slight niche but nevertheless covetable bags.

This from Manu Atelier:

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And this mega beauty from Mansur Gavriel. Swoon:

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Jewellery! Obviously I am massively in love with Dinny Hall at the moment – but don’t get anything yet as I am about to get my hands on a Christmas discount code. In the meantime though have a perve over the website. This is a link to her classic gold hoops.

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I have a set of pyjamas I absolutely adore, but they’re only from asos so won’t do for a Christmas present, but there’s something really pleasing and calming about owning a really lovely pair of pyjamas. Don’t get a shorts set because you always end up flashing your whatsit in the morning. I think this trousers and short shirt set looks pretty much perfect to me.

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If you don’t have a really great cabin-sized piece of luggage, ask for one. I’ve got this one from Rimowa and it makes me happy every time I use it. Please don’t leave a comment saying “If my husband bought me luggage for Christmas I would divorce him,” these are just ideas. You can forward this email to him saying “Not the luggage.”

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I adora my fedora from Davina Mulford – AND there’s a Spike discount code, just type in THESPIKE at checkout and she can also put your initials on the hatband.

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Technology! Our Instax camera broke last year (the kids smashed it while fighting over it – naturally) and you know? I really miss it. Can’t really justify getting another one, but if you’re half inclined towards one, do it. The photos are just sort of magical really…

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I got these headphones for my birthday, which I’m crazy about. And these are the best when it comes to wireless – the little battery inside also lasts for weeks.

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Don’t forget, when it comes to a mega-treat – Creme De La Mer is just the most incredible stuff there is. The only bad thing about getting a pot is that when it runs out you won’t be able to afford to replace it. If I couldn’t think what I wanted for Christmas I would get that.

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If you want to know what I’m asking for, it’s this Balenciaga hoodie:

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which I admit is a bit weird but I just love it and have to have it.

And this from Miller Harris.

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Ooooo and I really want some of this from Sam McKnight

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Have fun! More soon! xxx




Mannish trousers

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I am massively into these Danish architect kind of mannish slacks from Masscob via hidden treasure KJs Laundry – I got the last size 38 in the store but if you want them, (and I strongly recommend giving them a whirl), there are more sizes here.

If you’re doing a slight sick at how much they cost, I have rounded up a few that are less frightening.

Just be a tiny bit aware that these trousers are often styled like utter shite and they may very well look far better on you than on the model, so don’t write them off just because you don’t like the pic.

From Toast via JLP:

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These from Cos:

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Some from Monki (yeah I know sorry) – but only £25!:

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Very smart ones from Gerard Darel via JLP:

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These from Jigsaw via JLP AGAIN (but you can just shove them all in your basket and try them on at home) – I’m worried that these might be a little tight at the waist but can’t tell until they’ve been tried on

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Wear any of these with a lovely navy or grey crew neck sweater, some white trainers and a discreet box bag. Tra la la!

You need a hoodie

When it comes to hoodies at the moment, absolutely anything goes.

I first saw super stylist and fashion gizmo Pernille Teisbaek wearing massive hoodies with everything about a year ago and so it was only a matter of time before everyone else was doing it, too.

But that’s kind of the problem with fashion – get into things too early and everyone just looks at you like WTF is she doing. Get on it too late and you’re, you know, too late. But I think right now is that absolutely most A1 perfect time to get on this hoodie thing.

Here are some images to get you thinking about how you might be able to make this work for you:

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A reasonably key thing about this trend is that the hoodie does need to be a little bit too big. Proper fashion perverts wear absolutely enormous ones, but we are not fashion perverts, right? We’re just trying to get through the day.

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See what I mean by anything goes? By all means do not rush out and buy a leopard print coat and tomato red sweater in order to recreate this catastrophe of an outfit, it’s just for illustration.

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Camel and pink anyone? Jesus wept.

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The colours here make me want to vomit out of my eyeballs but again, more demo that you can stick any old hoodie with any old jacket and you’re doing fashion.

I have one single grey H&M hoodie because I am so freaking capsule, but if I were to get another, which is sorely tempting considering how cold I am at the moment, I would get one of these:

I like this in yellow or in burgundy:

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I don’t have enough millennial pink in my life:

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For super-cred you need a logo like this from Nike via ASOS:

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I like this from Weekday, in a jaunty red:

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This one is remarkable in how unremarkable it is, from Fat Face via JLP:

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