The Spike


November 2015

Sad emoticon face


Ugh the illness has got us. In particular it’s got my son, Little Sam. He had a cold, which I looked squarely in the eye, bravely, as his colds have been better since he had his adenoids out. But this one was miserable and made him grumpy and fussy about going to sleep “Sit outside my door. I’m scared. Don’t go.” Then he woke up with it at night, wailing. Then, just as it seemed to be subsiding, it turned into a hacking cough, a bark, a donkey bray.

Then Kitty got a vomiting bug and was awake one morning last week from 0500, vomiting every 20 minutes until 10am, at which point she made a miraculous recovery, drank and entire can of fat Coke and a packet of oatcakes and the next morning sailed off to school.

As I was vaguely reeling from that glancing blow, Sam had a rotten day when he was just a complete and total jerk, throwing tantrums and just being a pain – then woke up the next morning at 0500 and sneezed – I’m not joking – perhaps 20 times between then and 0700, huge splashy wet bogey sneezes that needed to be wiped with a tissue by me. He’d managed, you see, to do a really ghastly thing which is to catch a new cold on top of his old cold.

It’s pretty miserable and I won’t bore you with my various pathetic miracle cures for common coughs and colds in the under-10s. After a while you’ve done so many coughs and colds with infants that you just shrug your shoulders and reckon that everyone will go back to sleeping a bit better when they’re 18 at some point. And if no-one’s got a temperature no doctor in the world can really help

At this point in my parenting journey, the only thing I know that can help is things that are going to keep my spirits up.

I saw on GOOP the other day (don’t laugh, I love GOOP) that they are selling a recreation of “GP”‘s inflight “wellness essentials” for $185 (£123) . You get one huge linen zip pouch with three smaller pouches inside that contain, and I’m not joking, eye mask, lip balm, vitamin C sachets, single-use moisturisers and other hilarious junk like that. For £123. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE POUNDS.

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And it occurred to me that I ought to curate for myself an in-illness “wellness” pack (along the lines of my nappy grab-bag stroke of genius). In it would be:

1 Pair White Company cashmere socks, to feel something soft and snuggly against your feet while the rest of you faces the cold, hard, bleak, sleep-deprived day.

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2 PG Tips, one box of 160 bags ought to do the trick as you will drink approx 7 cups of tea a day for about a fortnight.

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3 Lavender oil to drip on one’s bedside lamp bulb. When you finally crawl into bed after getting both wretched fusspot children to sleep and then having 45 mins to eat dinner with your husband before it’s really time you ought to turn in because that bloody boy will be awake any minute, it’s nice if your bedroom smells a bit like lavender to cover the stench of shattered dreams and despair.

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4 Dates. The best quality that you can get hold of for when you need a mood lift and a glucose injection alongside your multiple cups of tea but don’t want to be mainlining Rocky bars all day long. Top Tip: a date cut open and then stuffed with cream cheese is completely, insanely delicious.

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5 Berocca. I am still to be convinced that this does anything other than turn your wee neon, but a “wellness” pack is nothing without a touch of snake oil.

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6 Blusher. Because when you just look like absolute and total shit, a bit of blusher can do wonders. Not too much though otherwise you’ll look like Aunt Sally off Worzel Gummidge. I like Chantecaille’s blush in Laughter, which is an unapologetic pink. Often when applying it in the depths of despair, I marvel at the sheer irony of the name, unless you mentally add the prefix “Hollow” or in which case it is entirely fitting.

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6 A really thick and yellow, easy drinking Chardonnay, like this one below. Look, I’m sorry to be a horrible cliche but the fact is that when the chips are down drinking does help. With apologies to recovering alcoholics.

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7 The salt in these Chipstix will replace essential sodium lost in your bitter, dawn tears.

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The Friday Spike


… the blog Belgian Waffling. I’ve got a problem with other blogs because they make me feel insecure and inadequate. But I can’t not read this blog because it’s so funny and brilliant.

Waffle is an ex-pat in Belgium and she has a sad-looking whippet and two sons, one of whom writes these sort of mad phonetic texts that I can barely read for tears of laughter running down my cheeks.

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This short moon and star necklace from Hush. I have a mania for necklaces from Hush – they are incredibly useful. This short necklace would layer in a pleasing way with either my long heart or star necklace from previous seasons. It’s the sort of thing that turns an outfit from tomboy/vagrant into acceptable. Also available in gold.

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… Inside Out, if you didn’t see it in the cinema. Now available on iTunes for £13.99 to buy and £4.49 to rent. We have already watched it about seven times since the weekend. “Who’s your friend that likes to play? BING BONG! BING BONG!”

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Hero handcream

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This is not my hand

I have a terrible habit of picking at my cuticles. It drives my husband crazy “STOP PICKING AT YOUR FUCKING HANDS” he will bellow at me, sometimes snapping me out of a auto-mutilation reverie I didn’t even realise I was in.

A vital tool in my arsenal against cuticle savagery is hand cream. If your cuticles are soft, there’s less to get hold of. And with small children, there is an endless cycle of hand washing, which leads to drying, which leads to dry cuticles, which leads to open warfare.

I had always thought that this Vaseline hand cream was the best, the freshest-smelling, the least greasy and the most effective hand cream I’d found. But for some insane reason, I stopped buying it and started trying others. And, they’re just not as good. Even the Clarins hand cream, while delightful, is just that little bit too strong-smelling, that little tiny bit too greasy to be a really good, hard-working hand cream. It’s not that I’ve been using them and they haven’t been as good, it’s that at the critical moment post-handwash when I consider my various hand cream options I hesitate and then often don’t use one at all.

So I pulled myself together two days ago and bought 3 small tubes of this hand cream and stashed one next to every sink.

It’s already making a difference to my poor picked-at, mistreated hands. Do yours a favour, too.

Easy Kiddos mittens

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Double prizes here for crappest name and worst website ever from Easy Kiddos mittens.

Which is a great shame because these gloves are really excellent and ought to be sold everywhere. You can unzip them down the back of the hand so that you can get the little hand right in and position the thumb correctly in the thumb hole – then you can zip up the glove and wrap the velcro strap around the wrist snugly so the glove doesn’t sail off into the bushes as the tot waves at a squirrel, while on the swing.

Get from Amazon if you’re in a panic because it was so mild and now it’s SO FREEZING. The sizes are generous.

TOP GLOVES TIP: keep some clothes pegs hanging about in bags or on the hall table to snap pairs of gloves together as soon as they’ve been jettisoned.

Don’t buy her flowers

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When I was in hospital having just had Kitty and feeling completely freaked out and like I’d been expertly beaten up by Secret Police who were particularly interested in hitting me in the fanny, my friend Becky B stopped by the hospital with a bag of treats.

Just stopped by the hospital. Didn’t even come in. Just dropped off a bag containing – oh god what WAS it Becky – I remember for sure 3 magazines and a massive chocolate brownie, like some kind of magical little gift fairy. I’m sure there was something else. Maybe a candle. Hand cream? Something else. Maybe some posh coffee.

Anyway it was great, it was such a surprise! It was such a treat and it was all for me, not the sodding baby – for ME. It’s why Becky B is my best friend even though she went to LA and left me here in the rain. fucking bitch!!!!

It’s like Becky B invented this company, Don’t Buy Her Flowers, which is the essence of that bag of gifts she gave to me, only monetised and made into an online company, which is something that Becky B would never do because she’s kind of a hippy. A really clean and non-lazy, non-druggie hippy. It’s why she lives in LA. Clean, non-lazy, non-druggie hippies everywhere.

DBHF is very self-explanatory on the website – rather than sending loads of bloody beauty products or flipping baby clothes or flowers, you can send

1 booze

2 mags

3 flapjack

4 there’s even an option to send some cashmere socks

It’s a great idea and not just for new mums or whatever, (god the phrase “new mum” still sends shivers down my spine), but just for someone you’re thinking about, who likes chocs and booze and mags and socks.

Look this one is good – you can send a cosy scarf and a copy of Living Etc! I want it NOW.

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Black bean bowl for whoever it was who was moaning about there not being enough food on here. IT’S NOT A FOOD BLOG!!


This was inspired by something I saw on the internet but couldn’t remember where so I couldn’t look it up to do the exact recipe so this is kind of a fudge. But it was pretty delicious for something so basic and reasonably low GI.

1 400g tin black beans

1 ripe avocado

1/2 tin anchovies (the half left over from making that cavolo nero thing) – if you seriously hate anchovies you have my permission to leave these out

1/2 a large onion or a big shallot, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

3 spring onions, chopped

1 tsp chipotle paste

small bunch coriander


juice of 1/2 a lime (chop up the other half and stick some in your Sol)

some olive oil

1 gently fry the onion, garlic, and optional anchovies in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about ten minutes

2 add the chipotle paste and the beans and stir. Mash up a few beans in amongst whole ones. Keep going with this until this is all hot. Add a big pinch of salt, stir and then taste to see if it needs more. Might do.

3 While that’s heating through, mash the avocado in a bowl and then add chopped coriander, a pinch of salt and the lime juice.

Arrange in a bowl with some Monteray Jack cheese on top of the black beans.

THAT Johnnie B sweater

I’m thrilled and touched at how many of you asked after the is-it-okay Johnnie B sweater. The answer is that it arrived and it was … GREAT!!! I got it in the biggest size they had – which I think is 16yo +. It fits fit, I love the pattern and it was only about £9.

Mary sweater, £48 by Johnnie B at Boden; Girlfriend jeans by Gap; hair by Storm Barney


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And onwards we go in our indefatigable crusade against being ill from November – April!!

I have long been a fan of First Defence, which is an anti-viral gel you squirt up  your nose and while it works, if used right, it is utterly vile and trickles down the back of your throat and I swear makes you feel worse.

So I feel pretty perky at the idea of this stuff, which you spray in your throat (so much less invasive and intimate than up the nose) and reviews say that it tastes of “slightly sweet water” which is better than the toilet-cleaner reek of First Defence.

Anyway I haven’t tried it yet but I’m off to buy some later. If you have any experiences with this feel free to post your thoughts in the handy comments section below.

Nappy grab-bags


I am at a very particular stage – toilet-wise – with my son, who is 2.5.

I have attempted potty-training once or twice and it is clear that he vaguely knows what I mean, but isn’t quite there yet. His nursery doesn’t care if he’s not potty-trained yet and I don’t really care so I’ll wait until Spring.

Until then, when for some weeks leaving the house requires a bag containing a full change of clothes, a nose peg and a hip flask, we can go about our business, scuse the pun, packing only an emergency nappy change.

But I find toting about the necessary stuff annoying;  I want to trip about lightly with only a cross-body bag, not a stupid massive nappy change bag like I’ve still got a baby. So at the bottom of every bag there seems to be a scuffed nappy and sad half-empty pack of wipes. The wipes then get snatched away for some sort of spill or other emergency and then you forget to put them back and then you’re out and about and a beastly smell drifts over to your nostrils from the back of the car, and…

So I have come up with a system of packing a resealable freezer bag with one nappy folded over and a clutch of wipes sealed in another bag and a balled-up pair of surgical gloves and a nappy bag for good measure. I have packed up about five of these little grab-bags and have stashed one in every bag and one in the car with two spare in the house that I can toss to my husband as he wanders off with the kids without even a packet of tissues let alone the makings of a three course meal, crampons, a spare potty an Epi Pen and a mini DVD player and 30 CBeebies DVDs in case he has to go to A&E!!! Chuh men.

As you seal the final outer bag you can squeeze all the air out of it and it ends up being quite a small package and fits into one of my husband’s back jeans pockets, which is the only place is is willing to carry stuff when he takes the kids anywhere.

The nappies don’t get scuffed and fluffy, the wipes don’t get pinched for another job and the thing about a pair of surgical gloves is that they seem a preposterous overkill until you really need them – in which event you want to jump backwards in time and give your former self a big hug and a Twix to say thanks.

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