The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…


February 2018


A quick round-up of sweatpants available NOW based on DM recommendations off Instagram if yours are just too revolting and threadbare to leave the house in.

From H&M

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Lots of people recommended Hush but their cosy ones now out of stock for Spring.

Superdry via

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I also like the look of these, which I found on Sportsdirect – though isn’t Sports Direct very evil for some reason?

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And I’m *pretty* sure if you sized up on these from Jack Wills, they would be good. Unless Jack Wills is a bridge too far, in which case just forget everything I said.

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Please ignore how this girl is wearing hers, I OBVIOUSLY don’t expect you to wear yours with your tum tum out. Jesus.

These from Uniqlo

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These from GAP:

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Tinker, Tailor…

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It’s homework time!! Over the next month I want you to look in your wardrobe and identify all the items of clothing that you would wear more, if only they fit a little better.

I mean those items you can’t bear to throw out because they have sentimental value, or they were expensive or you loved them once but now you’re an entirely different shape because you had 3 kids, or you lost a stone or whatever.

So get those clothes together and then find a tailor. What do I mean by a tailor? I do not mean some gent on Savile Row with a tape measure round his neck and pince-nez. I mean a lovely lady, somewhere near you, who can do alterations. But for the purposes of speed, I’m going to call her a tailor.

I also, by the way, do not mean someone sitting with a sewing machine in a dry cleaning place. You need to be able to go somewhere, change fully and discreetly into the item you want altered and then have the lovely lady pin the item to you while you turn your head this way and that and say “and the sleeve a little shorter here, maybe?”

Ideally this lovely lady should not charge you £100 for doing this.

Anyway to aid you on this quest I am putting out a call to arms to all Spikers who already HAVE one of these lovely ladies – or gents I suppose: please put their names and roughly where they operate in the handy comment box below! Let’s start a sort of directory here.

If you don’t want to put their phone number or email or address here, then that’s fine as long as they can be found in a Google search.

I will start! I take everything to Resurrection Boutique in Archway and it’s changed my life. Their hours are a little wacky, but it’s worth it.

Footies, swipe up and PMT

1 I feel really really old and lined and yet congested and spotty today. I put on loads of make-up and felt disgusting and sticky and looked like an old man about to go on stage as Widow Twanky. So I took most of it off and feel a bit better, but mostly feel awful.

This is strange because my main psychological problem is that I have absurdly high self esteem. I think I’m amazing, look really young for my age and am terribly funny.

I am confronted by evidence to the contrary all the time, and yet this delusion persists. But today I don’t feel it. I feel as lumpen and rotten and saggy and ancient as I actually look and feel.

I’ve GOT to do something about these foul tiny lumps and blackheads round my chin and jaw. The progesterone cream isn’t working clearing it up. The Glow Tonic keeps it at bay but doesn’t eradicate it. Microdermabrasion?

I also need a facelift. My study is a disgraceful jumble of boxes and bits of Christmas decorations. Why can’t I keep it tidy? Do I have that little self-respect.

I hate what I’m wearing. I hate my hair today. I have chewed skin off my bottom lip so it looks like I’ve been in a fight – my thumb cuticles are dry and picked-at. I have a burgeoning headache, neuralgia, puffy eyes and the onset of some acid reflux.

2 A mention on Instagram by Mother Pukka, (whom I now love inordinately because she said she liked my Stories – craven, me? But I also like her FlexAppeal stuff and am staggered at how much shit she gets on Mumsnet – I would have crumpled), means that I am hurtling towards 10,000 followers on Instagram.

When I get to 10,000 followers I get a thing on Instagram called “Swipe Up.” I have in the past coveted this like mad because it means you can send people to your blog or wherever else you fancy on the internet with a link from your Stories rather than them having to click on the link in your Instagram bio. BUT – as an Instagram consumer, I don’t really use Swipe Up that much. I feel like I’m being flogged-to a bit. I also don’t like to interrupt the flow of my Story-watching. What do you think? I wager a good 40% of you are not on Instagram or if you are, have no opinion, but if you do, tell me.

3 I want to find the perfect pair of invisible trainer socklet thingies. I don’t mean white cotton trainer socks, I mean totally invisible beige stocking slithers of fabric. I’m looking for pairs that will not ping off and roll down inside your trainer when walking along. I’m wearing a pair right now from John Lewis, which are promising. Any other recommendations?

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4 Considering all of the above, plus my actually really mad and furious dash yesterday to Uniqlo in order to buy a £14 mesh navy shopper, I think I probably have quite bad PMT. I have alerted my husband to this and he has promised not to look me directly in the eye for the rest of the day. I have taken my vitamins and a StarFlower oil capsule and hope to go back to believing quite soon that I am, in fact, Margot Robbie.

5 Also, I think I will maybe tidy my room a bit and then pack up some stuff and send it off to Sali Hughes’ beauty bank thing because even though The Pool once turned my husband over, slightly unnecessarily, I am choosing not to call them all fucking rotten bitches, but smile benignly and try to get some perspective.

Max Factor

Here is a full run-down of the Max Factor products I used on my live Stories. Over on the Boots website are also videos of Caroline Barnes, giving a slightly more visually-appealing and pro make up demos than mine.

First the foundation was this:

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The colour I used is Golden 75, which was the colour a lot of us used in the tutorial, so if you are roughly my colour, go for it. It has a primer element to it, which means that the colour will adjust to your skin tone.

The concealer I used was MasterTouch All Day Concealer in Fair 306 – rather frustratingly not listed online at Boots, but will be available at counters. I mean, it’s hard not to get pissed off about discrepancies like that, but I suppose that’s just life isn’t it.

Brow pencil (in blonde):

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This is the very innovative liquid eyeliner in the funny paddle-shape, which I rather like, though might be total anathema to some of you:

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The reviews for this aren’t great just because I don’t think they quite got how to use the shape of it.

The highlighter – remember to apply it in a “C” shape

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And finally – the new Dark Magic mascara! MF are seriously proud of this one.

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The bronzer, alas, isn’t listed on the Boots website :( – and the blush I used was Bobbi Brown in Nectar.

THIS is the amazing nail polish I was talking about! Love this so hard and I never wear nail varnish. Very easy to apply, dries quickly and such a jaunty colour. The bloody picture won’t upload on here because, I don’t know, THE INTERNET HATES ME? But the link should still work.








Ines de la Fressange for Uniqlo

Sorry is it boring me doing round-ups of new collections at the moment?

It’s just that this is what’s on my mind, I mean aside from these migraines I seem to be getting every now and again.

Is it normal by the way for a migraine to make you feel really super tired? Or is that the Migraleve? Or am I just tired? Or what?

Anyway I have never paid much heed to Ines thingy for Uniqlo before, but the most recent collection is outstanding. I’m just so in love with all of it.

The collection is only just out today so I haven’t tried any of it on but these are the things I think look best…

This jumper with cute stripes. Just perfect. Again, comes in a Royal Blue and a darker blue. You want the darker blue:

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This style of button-through sundresses was absolutely everywhere last summer and will be this summer, too. Wear with sandals, trainers or espadrilles.

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This looks to me like pretty much the best example I’ve seen of a natty navy sweatshirt. Do I say navy too much? Be honest? (Don’t.)

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I will be experimenting more with silk scarves this year, starting with this.

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This mesh shopper just makes my heart leap. Why? Or is it just the Migraleve.

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Smart navy raincoat – essential and hard to find – regardez SVP in particular the slanted pockets, which are SO RARE but so much nicer than straight pockets. Comes in a sort of Royal Blue and a true dark navy. You want navy. FOR SOME INSANE REASON despite being listed on the advance products, I can’t find this online – I will keep an eye on it and update you.

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Love is…

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Last year, one of my oldest friends – whom I’ll call Ben – and his wife had their first child.

All their ultrasounds had been fine, but he was born with a small but critical section of his bowel missing; it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t show up on an ultrasound and it’s the kind of really, really nasty shock that you don’t want or expect when you have a baby.

Ben has kindly agreed to write for me about his experience of having a child in critical care – and of his time at Great Ormond Street Hospital. He is quite a formal guy so I suggested he might find it easiest to write via a list of tips.

Over to Ben:

  • Write it down and get it in writing – before you meet the consultant write down a list of all the questions that you have, when they see you they will have an entourage of anything up to 5 other doctors and nurses, this is not conducive to relaxed chatting.  If there is not time for them to answer all of your questions on the spot get the email address of their secretary and email them.  Many doctors and some nurses are surprisingly bad at introducing themselves and explaining their job titles.  Consultant, registrar and senior house officer mean something to them but nothing to you.  Write down their names and their job title.  If they tell you anything you want to remember don’t try to remember it, write it down.  You are entitled to a copy of all the notes, make sure you get these, you may have to ask many times.  As the months turn potentially into years of treatment you will want your own copy of all of this.
  • Care is 1st Class, admin is sometimes worst class – the expertise, skill and care that the doctors and nurses offer is genuinely world beating, the number of ward names in Arabic and Greek hint at the source of some of the international patients, but the follow up communication and administration can be surprisingly patchy.  Do not be bashful about ringing, repeatedly if necessary, especially if the consultant has indicated a timeframe for a follow up appointment and a date for that just isn’t materialising.
  • Getting in and getting out – if your child is admitted, and admissions can range from overnight to literally years, your one single focus will be getting your child home.  So much so that once your child is home you may be unclear about what happens if they need to go back.  Unfortunately if your child takes a turn for the worse you can’t just turn up at the ward asking to be let back in you will almost certainly have to go through the maddening process of taking your child to your local A&E to be admitted from there.  If your child requires aftercare at home make sure you have all necessary supplies and instructions IN WRITING.  If your child requires strange medicine don’t let your pharmacy fob you off with claims that it can’t be sourced, they do this in the hope that you will return to GOSH to collect expensive medicine that they don’t want to dispense.
  • Think of a number and double it – when your child is admitted one of the first questions you will ask is how long they will be in for.  This is a nightmare question for doctors as it is generally impossible for them to say.  You will often get an understandably optimistic estimate.  Double it immediately for all planning purposes.  If the child is out within the estimate you will be ecstatic.  If not you will be prepared.
  • R&R – unless your child is very gravely ill GOSH only allows one parent to stay overnight.  If you’re a father reading this don’t let the mother be that parent every night.  If the nurses say they will keep an eye on your child while you go for a walk, to the shops or for something to eat do what they say.  There are some prisoners that see more of the outside world than parents in GOSH and it is no good for you or your child if you develop cabin fever.
  • Respect the dark side – as well as a bewildering array of medical job titles you will learn to differentiate the seniority of nurses by their tunics.  Basically the darker the more senior.  If you have a nurse wearing a black shirt in your child’s room you have basically been visited by the queen of nursing and something very difficult is being done to your child or your child is being very difficult.
  • Help – there is so much help of every conceivable variety on offer: accommodation, transport, education, benefits, supplies, community referrals, psychological, religious.  You name it GOSH can help with it but you must ask for it.  Whether you are religious or not, Christian, Buddhist or Jew take a minute to visit the hospital’s chapel.  It is a neo-byzantine jewel and has offered solace to some very anguished people.
  • Coffee – one of London’s best coffee shops is situated right opposite the main entrance.  You may be disinclined to accept their loyalty card.  Don’t.  You will be returning many, many times.
  • Good luck – it won’t feel like it at the time of admission but your child is very fortunate to be there.


If you would like to make a donation to Great Ormond Street, you can here.


Hush Spring Summer

Good old Hush…. here are the things I fancy from the new arrivals today. If you want to order anything don’t forget that Hush sizing is incredibly generous – I am a size 8 and I am NOT a size 8 – usually a 10-12.

There was lots of love at the press view for this skirt:

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This Santana skirt is dreamy, wearable and also has pockets:

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These are good if you want to have a go a culottes this year:

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Hush excel at this sort of easy shirtdress, and this year’s has the ubiquitous but always appealing celestial pattern:

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This is the dress that I got, it looks worryingly shapeless here but I have high hopes for it:

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Their black blazer is a year-round staple and I’m pleased to see they’ve restocked:

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I’ve mentioned these Frances trousers before, I still think they look good:

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If you’re into the idea of a round straw bag this year, following last year’s total take-over, I think this is such a good example as it not only has a long strap, but the bag is lined, so no scrabbly moments at the bottom of it:

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Spring/Summer shoes

The idea of me writing about any kind of fashion or style at the moment is laughable seeing as I have spent the last 6 weeks or so wearing all my warmest clothes at once.

In particular, I have spent the last 3 weeks wearing the same navy Bellerose roll neck as I believe it gives me the Skipper-ish dash of one of Winston Churchill’s civilian fleet at the evacuation of Dunkirk.

(p.s. nobody writes about the dashed hopes, hubris and spoiled dreams of winter dressing better than Leandra Medine.)

But: I do want to draw your attention to 2 pairs of summer shoes I believe will be beneficial to you when it warms up. Unusually for me, these are both heels, which I don’t usually recommend as I work on the principle that I am so tired and partly in physical and/or emotional pain most of the time that the idea of wearing heels is a pipe dream.

What I mean to say is that: these are not capsule by any means. But they are fabulous.

First up: I spent the whole of last summer debating whether or not to buy a pair of Castaner espadrilles, which are those ones all over Instagram last summer with the ribbons that do up round the ankle. I dithered and dithered and didn’t and then bought a pair of rip-off ones from Zara, which were woeful and I cursed myself for the wasted pounds.

My dad always says: “There’s no point in not having the thing that you want.” Ex-Riflers and committed Spikers will be familiar with my Dad and his little aphorisms, but even so this one is particularly opaque.

What does he mean? Does he mean there’s no point in having anything if it’s not what you want? Is there no point in having a Ford Fiesta if what you want is a Jeep? Is there no point in having a house if what you want is a mansion?

No, because you (mostly) NEED a car and you definitely NEED a house. And you have to get the one you can afford.

If it’s a thing you want, there’s no point in having an approximation of it. Get the one you want.

I wanted this pair of Castaners, but I settled for a Zara imitation. Not the first time I have ignored my dad’s advice only to repent at my leisure.


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Please note that these come up large – I am a solid 38 and even these in a 37 have some room for my feet to swell in the heat. Oh sorry were you eating.


So I dropped £90 of the family’s hard-earned pounds, (£140 before tax or thereabouts), on a pair of Castaners and I’m afraid that they are sock-you-in-the-eye beautiful, the grosgrain ribbons tipped with leather, in a classy little touch. They actually change via a clever trick of the eye the shape of my stubby little feet and make my not-best-feature legs look better.

These gold strappy beauties from Free People via are also little gems.

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Only sizes 3,4 and 6 left in the sale but very good value at 50% off at £48. I have a pair and I can confirm that they are comfortable with not cheese-wire straps; the heels are a modest height, walkable-in, and make you look like you’re about to go on Strictly, in a really good way.

I wore them for one entire evening and at no point wanted to rip them off and take an axe to them, which I did recently with a pair of hell torture devices from bloody Uterque.

Unlike the Castaners, these are not a boast-purchase, just an unexpected bargain found in an unexpected place (although Free People are absolutely everywhere at the moment… are they really nice to Instagrammers, or just really popular with Instagrammers? It’s so impossible to tell sometimes, hence why Mumsnet get so furious about it I suppose).

Despite this, these strappy gold sandals are still The Thing You Want, as opposed to, I don’t know, a pair of FitFlops.

So go on. One or the other. Or I’ll tell my Dad on you.

Pea Coat

I have decided to add a classic navy pea coat to the mostly closed shop of the capsule wardrobe. Just because I got one recently and did a double take and high-fived the mirror at what an awesome piece of tailoring it is.

I was inspired by whatsisface in McMafia wearing one and I thought OOoo I want one of those, before becoming thoroughly bored with the programme and starting on Unabomber instead. First person to tell me I look like that ginger human trafficker WILL BE SHOT.

There aren’t that many peacoats around at the moment – (and I know I have written about pea coats recently so I maybe repeating myself here) – we STILL seem to be in the dog days of the sales, FFS!!, but I have found a few to inspire you.

Keep an eye out in the next few months if you don’t like any of these and I will also update if I track down a clear winner.

John Lewis:

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It’s not styled very nicely here, but I think this one (above) is really good.

La Redoute:

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It would normally be a “non” from me on these red wrist bands, but actually maybe they are cool.

Claudie Pierlot:

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Not strictly a peacoat, but this one will look really good on someone.

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