The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…


December 2017

The Spike’s Christmas Charity appeal

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What with one thing and another, I spent the last two months of this year feeling so sorry for myself that my annual Christmas charity appeal was kicked into a corner of the room along with self-respect, dental hygiene and my resolution to stay in gear all the way to the lights, rather than coasting up in neutral.

I am far too late, now, to appeal for any charity who provides supplies for families in critical circumstances but I AM in time to point you towards the Public Law Project.

This is a legal charity in London who work on behalf of illegal migrants who are here with their families but no right to work or access to welfare. But, primarily, we’re all thinking about their kids, here – let’s not beat around the bush.

With all due respect to any and all charities working with families at this time of year, when you are really serious in deep fucking shit, in an unfamiliar country with no visa, what you really need more than anything is a lawyer.

I find the entirely unemotive nature of the website and the bullish suggestion to donate a minimum of £50 highly reassuring.

Donate here.

In other Christmas news – I have genuinely stuck to my self-promises made in previous Christmasses not to get my kids too many presents this year. In previous years the mountain of gifts has been pretty grotesque and also unnecessary – they really are happy with just one thing and some stocking fillers. I cannot deny that sitting here in my kitchen right now the temptation to scram into town and buy them a shitload more stuff to go under the tree is pretty pressing, but I am resisting it. I know you are proud of me.

More: I also want to you know that I am suffering terribly at the moment from a prolonged attack of heartburn. It happens to me every now and again – for three or four days every 4-5 months or so I have appalling and excruciating heartburn, unconnected to any eating or drinking issue and quite uncontrollable with any kind of ranitidine or Gaviscon-esque tincture. I know it’s cancer, so don’t bother breaking it to me gently in the comments box. I’m sure it will go away by itself.

Also – I think I may well be now mostly vegetarian. I know – what a terrible cliche! It’s not for any worthy reason, I just don’t feel much excitement about meat any more in the way I do about, say, roasted aubergine with curried yoghurt, chickpeas or a really good kale salad. I’m not saying I don’t eat meat, I’m just saying I live mostly without it these days and barely notice. The last three weeks of Christmas parties has mostly been about drinking far, far too much and eating a lot of meat, (and I’m surprised I’ve got crippling heartburn!), and the whole thing has only stiffened my unconscious physical response to animal protein.

What else: Merry Christmas, Spikers. Oh, oh, oh, you don’t know what you mean to me. My lovely readers, my kin, my spiritual children. More than that: my seraphim, the wind in my sails, the wind beneath my wings. Never change! (I cannot guarantee that I won’t.)

See you in the New Year!


Esther x

Gussy and Lou

A while ago I predicted that neon was over as the modern go-to colour in favour of more nauseating colour combinations as ox blood and navy. BUT then along comes Gussy and Lou with their LOUD neon cashmere colourways and makes me change my mind.

Gussy and Lou are a small, London-based cashmere brand and their customer service is excellent. Order today and get it by Christmas!

Here are a few of my favourites from their site, which also does very good children’s clothes. If my children didn’t destroy absolutely all of their clothes merely by looking at them, I might even treat them to something.

This is the scarf that I have got and it is really beautiful. Such fabulous quality cashmere and not too long or bulky. Someone told me on Instagram that I don’t look nice in grey so I got a grey one on purpose to piss her off. The orange is fabulous IRL, really vibrant.

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Listen, cashmere is never cheap – but I don’t think these prices are extortionate compared with other cashmere brands, which tend to whack another £80 on top of what you would consider an okay price.

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I would wear these silver shorts if I thought I wouldn’t be arrested – helpfully they don’t even come in my size as they are for kids.

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Yeah right like I would ever let Kitty within 3 miles of this sweater.

Warninks Advocaat competition!


An unexpected hit over on my Instagram has been this garish but hilarious sweater above, sent to me by Advocaat.

I posted a photo and almost instantly had earnest enquiries about where a copy might be purchased. But they are not purchasable anywhere! For any amount of money!

So I did the only right and proper thing and got onto the PR, pronto, and secured an extra sweater and a bottle of Advocaat for one lucky soul, to be posted out to you in time for Christmas.

Please stay tuned to my Instagram – @esthermcoren – for details of how to win!

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I did not take this picture

And here is a handy Snowball recipe, if you don’t already know how to make one:

Makes 1:

100ml lemonade

70ml Warninks Advocaat

squeeze of fresh lime


1 Pour the Advocaat over some ice in a glass

2 Top up with lemonade

3 Squeeze over the fresh lime


Ding dong pt 2

That Dinny Hall discount code is SPIKE15 – and it’s valid for all gold and silver jewellery up to 14k. Go go go!

These are the classic small gold hoops that I have, which I think may now have sold out, but there are plenty of other classic gold hoops to choose from.

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More things that caught my eye that you might ask for…

Wrist warmers

These from Somerville Scarves caught my eye because they are nice and long and also have thumbholes. Brora also do a few long wrist warmers, but there are more colour ways and options available at Somerville.

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They also do these really pretty pyjamas, which have the all important elasticated waist so no messing about with drawstrings after your 3am wee. (I’ve also got a massive soft spot for a small business, as you know).

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Stella and Dot are a business that are absolutely all over my Instagram at the moment, which – because I am perverse and contrary – makes me instantly suspicious. But, in fact, their stock is good … I particularly like this travel jewellery bag in a jaunty Ikat and this excellent non-designer burgundy suede bag, which reminds me a lot of that Mansur Gavriel bucket bag I might be obsessed by (considering how many times a day I think about it) but less £ and probably more practical.

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If you’re after something to financially hurt loved ones, I have got a lot of time for a pair of these classic Blahnik heels.

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Or these white trainers

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Or this JW Anderson sporty top. I don’t know why I love this so much, I just do. It’s sort of in the Balenciaga hoodie family of mad things you end up wanting when you’ve got pretty much everything else you could possibly want or need.

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Lurching back to jewellery, if you want to point a few fingers at the origin of the very heavy celestial theme to gems at the moment, you could do worse than look at Sasha Samuel, a New York-based jeweller, who does some extremely beautiful stuff, which is just ever so slightly unaffordable. You also have to ship it from the US, which I always thinks adds frisson of excitement.

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