The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…



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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scuse lazy screen grab

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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The Lying Down Club

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I was sitting at my desk the other day feeling dejected and impotent – sad that the highlight of my morning, (an almond milk flat white VOMIT), was now over – when my phone rang.

It actually RANG, ladies. It RANG!!!


It wasn’t one of my beloved Insta followers sending me a furious message about something rotten their husband had done, it wasn’t my local NHS surgery telling me by text that it has been FOURTEEN THOUSAND YEARS since my last smear for the love of GOD could I just fucking come in and have one?!?!?

It was an actual phone call. And it was Annabel Rivkin from The Midult. Annabel is like a phantom in journalism. She is the idea of an idea – like the mathematical notion of “infinity”. A phone call from her is a bit like finding the the last purple one in a box of Cadbury’s Roses.

“Listen,” she said, as I tucked my shirt in and took my hands out of my pockets, “You know that bit at yoga, the end bit where you just lie down in the dark and no-one is bothering you?”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s the only reason I would ever go, if I ever went.”

“Well, we’re doing a thing with John Lewis. We’re turning it into an actual thing. At John Lewis.”

“It’s going to be a thing?”

“Yes,” she said, “it’s going to be a thing.”

“Fuck,” I said. “This sounds serious.”

And she invited me along to a preview of this thing, which is called The Lying Down Club. 

The premise is mad, but simple. On the 28th and 29th of November this year, the newly refurbished bed department at John Lewis on Oxford Street is going to be transformed into a magical, cosy dormitory, where you can book yourself in for a 2-hr “lying down” session between 6-8pm.

It’s not a massage or a spa (though you can have a foot massage if you want) or a yoga session. It’s just lying down, in dim lighting, for a few hours.

The idea is that you arrive at John Lewis, exhausted from your day of work and/or kids, (or work AND kids if you are a paediatrician), to find that you have rented a double bed in a beautiful dormitory, decked out in John Lewis finest linen with little bedside tables and lamps and everything.

You can either come alone or with a friend(s). You can help yourself to a VR headset or a meditation app or not. Just two hours of not being bothered. Of lying. Fucking. Down. Then you get up, refreshed and go about your evening.

Tickets will be £15 and are not available until November 8th (I will remind you) and can be bought online at The Lying Down Club. NOT YET DON’T TRY TO BUY THEM YET.

I know it sounds a bit of an odd concept so please join me on Instagram (I am @esthermcoren) where I will be showing you this thing in more detail tomorrow night.

I know it’s a bit annoying when people write about stuff happening in London when you don’t live there, but I really think that this might start being a wider social movement. Of what precisely I’m not sure… but it’s something to do with those nightmarish hours in the working day between about 5 and about 8 where all you most want to do is sit down in a dark room and just exist for a minute. Having first muted all your damn Whatsapp groups of course.

Brandy Melville WTF

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For most of my life I have felt older than I actually am – and neurotic that I am doing things that I am too old for. When I got my belly button pierced at 19 and my tattoo whenever the hell that was, all I thought really was “I am too old to be doing this.”

And then I had kids and I really knew what it was to feel old and fat and wheezy, to be ground down with care and woe, to feel tired all the time, to have to deal with nothing but piss and shit and puke and crying for years at a time.

But then my kids grew up a bit and I suddenly feel younger than I ever have – younger than I did before, younger than I did when I was actually young. This is compounded because I had my kids earlier than other people. I wasn’t young, at 30, to have my kids -but relatively, I was young.

Now, with 40 not all that far away, I find myself continuing a course of slightly mental too-young behaviour like getting extra ear piercings, dying my hair, getting as thin as I possibly can, substituting my kids’ toddler marker pens for eyeliner, listening to ridiculous music and calling everyone “pal”.

This is a well-trodden path, of course. I am as much of a cliche as the emo teen or a 27 year old girl with A Life Plan.

But I can’t stop. And I don’t want to. The relief of having hit certain life markers at vaguely the right age has sent me bonkers with relief and I am careering down this tunnel as if I was at the start of a massive, fast waterslide. I honestly can’t say that I a) give a shit or b) plan to stop any time soon.

So it was with complete and total nonchalance that I went onto the Brandy Melville website, recommended to me by our 15 year old dreamboat babysitter Alice, and bought at pair of blue cords.

Brandy Melville is completely hilarious in every single regard. The typical Brandy Melville girl, from what I can see, is the hopelessly slutty yet secretly ambitious 3rd child of a large Californian family with a washboard stomach, 10,000 friends and rotting cotton bracelets all the way up to mid-forearm.

But the absolutely nightmarish thing about BM, which made me laugh out loud, is that there are no sizes. It’s one size, from what I can see. I mean what the ACTUAL FUCK LADIES? I mean, personally I just saw this as a challenge.

Anyway, I will report back.

Weekend jacket

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The modern notion, mostly on Instagram, of “weekend style” makes me laugh. Actually no it doesn’t make me laugh it makes me feel faintly angry that I am not embarking on a series of activities that can be performed in a red trouser suit, bubblegum pink sweater and ice white trainers.

Because while you are at brunch in the Wolseley, I will be spending the morning breaking up fights and chipping Weetabix off my surfaces, before taking my kids to the ruinously expensive pottery cafe where they will slop paint everywhere and have a neurotic breakdown if I suggest they might like to make a plate or a bowl or a cup and insist, INSIST, on decorating instead a hideous Hello Kitty figurine or a ceramic dragonfly, which they will then smash five minutes after I have fetched them, post-firing, two weeks later.

THEN there will be a playground where they will run around getting hot and sweaty while I stand in a corner getting cold OR possibly football or tennis or some other hellische organised activity.

Red trouser suit? Non.

I dress for the weekend like I’m going to war. And I’m very pleased with this new thing, which is a sort of hybrid sweater/puffa jacket thingy from White Stuff. I’ve got no problem at all with a puffa gilet, in a tight spot they come out fighting, but the advantage of this is that it also has fabric sleeves, so you can put it on over a t-shirt or over your pyjamas frankly and it does the job of long-sleeved top plus puffa gilet all in one.

Then you can put a raincoat or a smart coat or, hell, even your new Reserved leather jacket over that and you will be prepared for almost anything.

Also terrific for after a spin class, (which I haven’t actually been to for 4 months because of chest infection/laziness), or nipping to the shops or anything. Don’t give me hassle about the blue and the black together – this is a perfectly acceptable colour combination these days. Keep up!



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 ***



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