Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Merchant Fox Sweater in Devonshire Cashmere

Truly British Cashmere Sweater

I try not to make The Tweed Pig a site solely dedicated the The Merchant Fox, but they make it difficult for me. How can the Bree Sweater be ignored? It was the result of a collaboration between The Merchant Fox, British merino wool and cashmere producers Bowmont (read their fascinating story here) and Quiggleys sweaters. I say 'was', as I'm not sure it is still available. It is certainly not ignorable, as I already mentioned a sentence or two ago.  

The sweater has great quality and timeless appeal, but the British provenance fair takes the breath away. The British-grown cashmere comes from Devon, the yarn is spun in Yorkshire and the sweater is knitted in the Scottish borders. As they say, 'born, bred and stitched in Britain'.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

60s Savile Row with The Move

The Move in Savile Row (1967)

Some of our favourite ingredients blend nicely in the video clip below: Italy, Savile Row, mod culture, freakbeat and swinging 60s London.

I am not sure about the final result of those suits though. If they were aiming for a mod-style suit, any purist would suggest they should have narrow lapels. Still, an enjoyable performance of Disturbance by The Move.

As can be seen from the street footage at the start, London — and anywhere else for that matter — was only swinging in certain places. Simon Shop, the Savile Row tailors shown in the clip, was happy to swing a little it seems; as are we at Tweed Towers.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Plum of London - Alpaca Scarf

Royal Alpaca from Plum of London

Alpaca is an excellent fibre for use in suiting and knitwear because of its lightness, softness and strength — soft as cashmere and warmer than sheep's wool.

Plum of London uses the finest — in terms of quality and thickness (and rarity) — royal alpaca fibre in its range of knitwear. The alpaca is sourced from Peru — where else? — and the knitwear is manufactured in specialist British mills.

Hugo Douglass, who founded Plum in 2013, is a keen advocate of the properties of alpaca, which he explains in great detail here: Why alpaca?  With Plum he also wishes to support British manufacturing as much as he is able. Locality, he argues, gives Plum much more control over quality.

As Hugo says:

'The concept therefore to combine what is arguably the world’s finest natural yarn with one of the most prominent knitwear industries is a perfect marriage and one which gives our customers the assurance that our alpaca garments are some of the world’s very best.'

That's Plum's Burgundy and Cream Woven Scarf in a herringbone pattern at the top. I'm not prone to hyperbole, but I would suggest that wearing it is akin to having a thousand tiny warm-lipped cherubs smothering your neck with tender kisses at the same time.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Burns Night - Haggis on the Go

Haggis for Professionals on the Go

For a sassenach I certainly get through a lot of haggis. I adore the stuff. When I learned that Grant's haggis is available in a tin I was sceptical. Surely proper haggis needed to be cooked in its 'bung' (casing) of animal's stomach? Actually, the tinned stuff is nae bad at all, laddies.

Think of it as haggis for time-poor young professionals on the go.

Enjoy your Burn's Night Celebrations. But, remember, haggis is worth celebrating any time.

BFPO Haggis for Heroes

Do you know someone in the British Armed Forces? You can send them a can of Grant's Premium Haggis for free at the Haggis for Heroes site.

Climbing Mount Everest #1 - Highland 2000 Hat

Highland 2000 Shetland Wool Hat

It's surprising what a hat can do for a man. Immediately this hat came into my possession, I had made up my mind — I must climb Mount Everest before year's end.

The hat is made in England by Highland 2000 who are based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. I've thrown the labels away now, but I think they went on about the Shetland wool used and its exceptional natural thermal and hygroscopic properties or some such.

Highland 2000 only make hats and scarves. It's always good to specialise. Highland 2000 is one of those British brands that are very popular in Japan, so let's make them popular here too. They don't have their own web site, but you can buy them at Village Hats.

The important thing is what to wear around this little marvel on my expedition, and certainly not the actual expedition (which I'm unlikely to make, let's face it). I think we'll be seeing a lot of tweed on this improbable journey. [To be continued]

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Winter Survival Kit - Johnstons and Atkinson

Winter Warmers

You are going to be spending a lot of time indoors in winter, so you want to be comfortable and warm.

I would recommend keeping a hot water bottle and a good blanket handy. Central heating is all well and good, but it doesn't beat the manly embrace of a hot water bottle and the respectful clasp of a blanket.

This 'survival kit' also works when struck by the viruses that circulate too readily at this time of year.

We suggest the best of breed for this essential kit...

Johnstons 1797 - Cashmere Hot Water Bottle

The Johnstons of Elgin water bottle (above) has its own cashmere cable sweater. Made in Scotland. You could buy a Johnstons sweater to match if you are of an eccentric bent.

John Atkinson 1783 - Blankets

If you wish to swan around your house like a consumptive poet this winter, why not throw a John Atkinson Super Warm Merino (above) blanket around your shoulders? And if the news gets too much, just pull it over your head and it's gone. What a blanket! I always have one of these at hand in the cold season.

Draping a good wool blanket like this on your bed will have the beating of any 'continental quilt' in the warmth stakes. Simply put, every British home should have a ready stock of Atkinson blankets — end of debate.

If you want to up the ante, then you might consider one of their silk-bound pure cashmere blankets (bottom). The cashmere is of the softest belly wool.

All Atkinson blankets are made in the UK.

Last Remaining Blanket Mill in Britain

John Atkinson is part of the Hainsworth group. The blankets are made in England's only remaining blanket mill. Family-owned, Hainsworth is one of the oldest companies in Great Britain, producing textiles since 1783.

The blankets are available here.

Monday, 19 January 2015

350 Tweeds - David Saxby Sporting Tweeds

David Saxby - Tweed Coming Out of Your Ears

As recommended by our good friend Fennel, David Saxby offers tweed jackets in over 350 different tweeds.

Here we see a three-button tweed jacket below and that magnificent top-panel Norfolk tweed jacket above. Go and visit David in Fulham, London, and you'll be spoiled for choice.

And do remember to visit the sister shop, Old Hat, next door, which specialises in vintage clothing of the finest quality.

I do like the jacket David is wearing in the photo and video below. It reminds me of something that the old rascal Terry-Thomas might wear, which is an excellent thing to be reminded of.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Earl Grey Tea Chocolate - Rococo Chocolate

So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World

Those of you with a keen memory will recall that I am a fan of the tea-infused chocolates they sell in the Mallorca café chain in Spain. Because of this, a thoughtful person with said type of memory and a kind heart to boot sent me a bar of Ear Grey Tea dark chocolate by Rococo Chocolates.

Rococo Chocolates

Rococo Chocolates was started in 1983 by Chantal Cody. She set up her first shop in the King's Road, Chelsea, London. Chantal describes the image of the brand as eighteenth-century-meets-punk. Over thirty years later, Rococo has four shops and Chantal has a very well deserved OBE  — the first for a chocolatier. Chantal remains committed to her aim of providing the best 'couture chocolate'.

The chocolate was utterly delicious. Sincere thanks for this thoughtful gift.

Chocolate to Read Commando By

Tasting Note: I paired the chocolate with a cheeky copy of Commando's Too Old to Fight (above and below), the smoothness of the chocolate complementing the tale of valour perfectly.

I won't give too much away, but what I can tell you is that you're never too old for anything. And that Regimental-Sergeant Major Burnham Bulworth VC has a splendid moustache.

I hereby award the chocolate a VGC — Very Good Chocolate.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Letter from Melbourne - Pinegrove Leather

The Man that Hadn’t Music in Himself

No sooner do I tell you that we have our man Bertie in Melbourne, when he delivers the goods.

Our first piece of intelligence has arrived. Read on, gents:

My dear Tweed

A short note to ask you if you could remember what Shakespeare said about the man that hadn’t music in himself? I can never remember but I think it had something to do with treason.

I reflected heavily on this as it took me the full Twelve Days of Christmas to get the hang of playing In the Bleak Midwinter on the harmonica. While I may never truly master this tiny instrument, I must share with you the wonderful harmonica case (image above) which My Good Lady Wife gave me for Christmas.

Pinegrove Leather Goods

Pinegrove Leather is a hidden gem. It’s run by husband and wife team Rod Boyes and Lou Comerford Boyes who have been crafting for many years before setting up Pinegrove in 2012. They’re based in the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge and the company takes it name from The Pine Grove Blues, a song that Rod used to play when he was with Cajun Aces dance band.

Pinegrove describes their style as 'modern vintage' while avoiding modern style fastenings, preferring the challenge of designing using traditional techniques. All the leather is sourced from the UK, with a preference for leather that is both real and natural.

The leather in my case (in my case) passes the all-important 'smell test', smelling of a good saddle. In fact, the instructions that come with the case recommend using saddle polish on it.

Pinegrove specialises in leather goods for musicians, also making other items for guitar, whistle and drum. As well as their musical line, they also make organisers and notebooks — so there’s everything the organised musician needs.

Is it a harmonica or a mouth organ? It depends if you're a Midnight Cowboy

I understand some readers may have an image in their minds of harmonica players in the rural South of America, sitting on a porch playing a righteous slow blues or an equally riotous spiritual, or even an image of cowboys playing Red River Valley in front of a roaring fire. That image is true, up to a point. But the harmonica — or in British English, the mouth organ — has many traditions, with players across all musical genres from blues to bop, skiffle to ska, reggae to rock, folk to baroque.

In fact, your Correspondent shares Mr Tweed’s fondness for the compositions of John Barry, so when he’s not trying to play Holst on the harp, he’ll chime away at the theme from Midnight Cowboy [Amazon] , played here by Barry himself on a chromatic harmonica:

And in the midnight hour when the Good Lady Wife turns into She Who Must Be Obeyed and gives the order 'Let there be no noise made!' I have somewhere truly wonderful to hide my harmonicas.

Bertie Davies, Melbourne


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Bertie Davies - Our Man in Melbourne

Letter from Melbourne

A quick note to say that after our latest plea for men on the ground in the Five Eyes nations, a dead letter drop has confirmed the successful recruitment of a Melboune operative. This is very pleasing. As any Sydney resident will tell you, Melbourne is the finest city in all Australia.

Gentlemen, I give you Bertie Davies. (Now imagine an Australian person standing at a rostrum and nodding a greeting to you.) Please make him feel very welcome.

What can Bertie tell us about Melbourne to begin with? Over to you Bertie:

Dear Tweedy

You are right in highlighting that R M Williams moleskins (while not forgetting their wonderful boots) are one of Australia’s major contributions to traditional dress. They are worn in the Australian countryside across the complete social spectrum (viz: pastoralists, graziers, farmers, shearers and farmhands) for their practicality and durability. But in the major cities, moleskins and boots are a social signifier, worn by an Antipodean version of the Sloane Ranger. Moleskins go perfectly well with a tweed jacket, a Barbour or a polo shirt and are often worn by the urban haute bourgeoisie as an act of social solidarity. They’re also worn by 'Collins Street Cockies', 'Pitt Street Farmers' and 'Queen Street bushies' who wear this outfit to signify their connection to the land.

Marvellous Melbourne offers the very traditional gents outfitter Henry Bucks, and the less traditional but bewhiskered (and sometimes even tattooed!) younger chaps at Captains of Industry and Smart Alec Hatters

Most importantly it gave tweedy icon Barry Humphries (above and below) to the world.

Best wishes, 


We look forward to any further intelligence from Bertie. And we really must cover Barry more — we've only ever written on his wonderful music series So Rare. We must have him in our gallery.

Tweedy's Note: 'Collins Street Cockies', 'Pitt Street Farmers' and 'Queen Street bushies' are Australian terms for affluent city dwellers. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Museum of London - London Tweed and Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London

If you value how you spend your time, why not head over to the Museum of London, situated between the Barbican and St Paul's Cathedral, and near our old East End stomping ground, which has a Sherlock Holmes exhibition on until April.

This dynamic museum is holding a series of tie-in events, including an all-nighter called Sleeping with Sherlock. You get to stay over at the museum, eat, drink and participate in activities and whatnot.

'Should be interesting', I mused. 'Elementary', said he.

I must applaud the related items in the museum shop too. They have Sherlock's Derek Rose dressing gowns and countless bowlers hats. This can only be encouraged.

London Tweed

The museum's own London Tweed is inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Produced at the Lovat mill in Hawick, Scotland, the grey and yellow colour palette of the tweed was influenced by colours referred to in Doyle's original Sherlock stories and the museum's own tweed archive. The museum has an extensive fashion and textiles collection.

That's the very proud-looking museum director Timothy Long holding a bolt of the cloth at the top. Methinks he was going to whip that over to Savile Row for a measuring sharpish.

Speaking of which, Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, headed by Patrick Grant, recently collaborated with the museum to create a suit in the tweed for Tinie Tempah (below). The suit is destined for the museum's collection.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Chester Jefferies 1936 - Donegal Tweed Gloves

Tweed-Backed Gloves 

These handsome Donegal tweed-backed gloves are available for a limited time from Chester Jefferies. The grey tweed on the back of the glove may be matched with any colour combination of calfskin or deerskin leathers for the palms.

The Cape Frigate Grey leather looks splendid above; and will be hard to beat, but you could try and pick up a shade or a colour in the flecks of the tweed and use that. No, stick with the Cape Frigate Grey, it's a very elegant colour.

Don't forget that Chester Jefferies do bespoke.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Yorkshire Lad Ties - Made in the North

Yorkshire Through and Through

Lad Yorkshire is a designer collective based in Leeds, England. The Lad designers have two objectives: to develop a collection of Yorkshire-made products using materials sourced locally, to celebrate the industrial heritage of this most idiosyncratic of English counties. They are inspired particularly by Yorkshire's mills and the incredible textiles they produce. (We try and promote the great mills as much as possible ourselves.)

Sam, one of the designers and a former designer at Abraham Moon, contacted Tweed Towers and let me know about their first launch — a range of woollen ties.

The ties in the range have been given famous manufacturing names from Yorkshire, as is right. For example, we have the green wool Jowett tie above. Jowett manufactured light commercial vehicles.

The Moon tie below is named after dear old Abraham Moon & Sons.

So you get a nice tie and a lesson in Yorkshire's industrial history at the same time. Note that the materials for the ties are sourced within a 60-mile radius. Abraham Moon is one of the suppliers. The ties are available here at the moment.

Lads, I've been picking up vintage frayed-end woollen ties recently. For purely selfish reasons, that might be an idea for future additions to your tie collection.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Gentleman at Breakfast

Inspired by the 1775 painting A Gentleman at Breakfast, attributed to Henry Walton, let's resolve to breakfast like gentlemen in 2015.

A Breakfasting Gentleman's Robe from New & Lingwood

First dress like a gentleman for the most important meal of the day. Wrap yourself in the English Conservatory Dressing Gown from New and Lingwood (above and below). This is a gown that says, 'I refuse to be rushed.' Some consider it an abuse of human dignity to start the day without one.

The gown is handmade of silk in England. The silk features intricately embroidered branches, leaves and birds. It can be adjusted to your measurements when ordering, which is good as you wouldn't want the sleeves dangling over your runny boiled egg.

Three Breakfast Courses

Consider the English breakfast a three course meal. We'll keep a simple outline, but do substitute kippers or Omelette Arnold Bennett where you think necessary.
  • Porridge starters
  • Main course: full English breakfast
  • Toast and marmalade afters
This will be accompanied by a pot of tea, and a tumbler of cloudy apple juice from Cawston Press. Use the juice as an apéritif.

Porridge Starters

For your porridge, try:

English Breakfast

The English breakfast must have:

  • 2 fried eggs
  • 2 rashers of streaky bacon (crispy)
  • 1 rasher of back bacon (crispy)
  • 1 excellent pork sausage
  • 2 slices of black pudding
  • Grilled tomato
  • Mushrooms

You will know where to source good local bacon and eggs, but do make black pudding the hearty centrepiece of your English breakfast from reliable pudding-makers such as the rare-breed Fruit Pig Company who also make morcilla (the Spanish version of black pudding).

Black pudding with poached egg on toast is another suitable breakfast 'mains'.


I discussed the subject of the English breakfast with a reader recently. We have both attempted to make marmalade with disastrous results — too runny, insipid, wrong colour. Do you make your own? If so, where did we go wrong?

Thankfully, we have some excellent jam people in the UK.

James Bond swore by Frank Cooper's Vintage Oxford.

Highgrove has the the photogenic Duke of Rothesay marmalade (above).

Fortnum's stock Sarah Byrne's Larkins Marmalade, which is made with beer from Kent's Larkins Brewery and recommended as a side accompaniment to bacon and sausage. Larkins Marmalade was a winner at the 2014 World's Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain Mansion. With my efforts I shan't be entering too soon.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I Drink Your Health with Cheerfulness

The weather outside is frightful. Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire. Mummy is kissing Santa Claus. For those who think it's looking too much like Christmas, I say let the bells ring in dulce jubilo.

Tweed Towers is welcoming visitors for sherry, mince pies and innuendo-laden parlour games. We won't be doing much more till 2015. Let's regroup then.

A firm handshake and our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Cordings - Donegal Tweed Coat

Merry Christmas to You

Do we need more to put us in the Christmas mood than a Donegal tweed coat by Cordings? I think not, gentlemen. This is a Christmas present to ourselves.

The raglan-sleeved Follifoot Donegal Coat is made in England from weighty 20oz Irish Donegal tweed. As Cordings say, an 'investment piece', and perfect for the post-prandial walks along beach and vale through the festive period. Don't forget to take your hip flask and pipe.

And attach a sprig of holly to the lapel, as is tradition.

Get the 'Betjeman Look'

Perhaps I'm over-scrutinising and confirming my bias, but I couldn't help noticing a similarity of 'look' between our previously published photo of Sir John Betjeman and the photo of Cordings' Follifoot coat below.

The coat is certainly handsome enough to inspire the muse in the most distracted poet. I feel inspired just looking at the photo. There once was a man from Donegal... 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hideous Tie So Kindly Meant - Christmas with Betjeman

England's Teddy Bear

Sir John Betjeman's poem Christmas has to be recited at this time of year, capturing (and fondly mocking) so well the commercialisation of the season. Choose one of your elderly relatives to give it a go.

If they're reluctant, either fill them with sherry or use our worthy standby below — Sir John reciting it himself.

Betjeman recorded a series of albums with composer Jim Parker, who set the most popular of Betjeman's poems to music rather nicely. Can we call it genteel rap music?

You will find Christmas [Amazon] on Sir John Betjeman's Varsity Rag, recorded in 1981.

Christmas by Sir John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Joy at Christmas

Tinsel and Lights

Michael Bublé aside, do many artists release Christmas albums nowadays? I think the answer is no. Since the sweater-clad heyday of Como and Crosby, it's sad to say that the Christmas-themed album has (probably) been in sharp decline. Yes, we have had the odd single, but even that tradition seems to have been diminished by the singing baubles manufactured by Simon Cowell.

This changed a little a couple of years ago when dear Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl released the marvellous Tinsel and Lights [Amazon] — resolutely a Christmas album. Tracey covers lesser-known contemporary Christmas songs by undervalued songwriters such as Ron Sexsmith and Stephin Merritt, but the clear standout track for me is the one she wrote herself — Joy [Amazon], a reflective song exploring the need for simple expressions of joy at Christmas.

Two years out is enough time to consider Joy a Christmas classic. Over to you, Michael.

(Pop Trivia: We actually have a Sexsmith connection between Tracey and Michael. Michael covered Ron's 'Whatever it Takes'.)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

An Idle 2015 - The Idler

Take Your Time in 2015

All the trouble in the world is caused by people who want to change things too quickly — more haste, less speed, as the saying goes. Our collective resolution for 2015 will be to take our time, okay?

Let's all write this in the January 1 square of our spiffing new Idler Calendars for 2015:

"Take your time. Read The Tweed Pig. Ditto rest of year."

Cool People Love Real Books

I have to share this anecdote relayed by Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler from his recent Idler newsletter — as it confirms my own bias. He was explaining the continuous popularity of printed Idler books when we are being told the printed word is dead and we should switch to ebooks. I seem to remember a similar thing happened with recorded music. We were told to ditch our vinyl records, despite the fact it was the best format to hear music (particularly on one of these). Thanks goodness some people refuse to go with the flow.

The anecdote:

The death of the book was an idea enthusiastically promoted, weirdly, by the chairman of... Penguin Books. Here he is talking at a conference in 2010 (note the undignified use of the phrase "this cool stuff" and the way he calls books "content"):

"We will be embedding audio, video and streaming in everything we do. The 'epub' format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text, but not this cool stuff that we're now talking about. So for the time being at least, we'll be creating a lot of our content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than in ebooks. The definition of the book itself is up for grabs."

What an unutterable load of hogwash that turned out to be. Everyone knows that the cool people love real books and don't want a load of embedded video in their copy of Pride and Prejudice. And the chairman of Penguin Books should stick to selling books, and not trying to reinvent himself as some sort of Silicon Valley dot com guy. Next thing we know, he'll be removing his tie and wearing training shoes to meetings.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Philosophy of Beards

Peak Beard

They say we hit 'peak beard' last year, but anecdotal evidence tells me that men who sport a growth are not going to give it up on the mere say-so of fashion writers.

If you wear a beard, and it suits you, you hang on to it. Some men just look better with beards. It will look even better as you get older. Look after it though. First Olympian can help with this.

And talk to your beard. They're like plants, science tells us. They grow better if they're happy, and they're happier if you talk to them. I'm sure they'd like to learn more about The Philosophy of Beards [Amazon].

The Gowing Defence

The Philosophy of Beards is by eccentric Victorian writer Thomas S. Gowing, and re-published by the British Library. Gowing uses his book to present a manifesto, nay polemic (it was adapted from a lecture), for the wearing of a beard as a projection of manly virtues. Even then the beard was under attack from the impulses of fashion: 'O Fashion! What strange vagaries playest thou with the sons and daughters of men! What is there so lovely, that thou canst not, with a word, transform into an object of disgust and abhorrence?' We know what he would think about 'peak beard'.

Take it away Mr. Gowing:

'Though there are individual exceptions, the absence of Beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness.'

'Take two drawings of the head of a lion, one with and the other without the mane. You will see how much of the majesty of the king of the woods, as well as that of the lord of the earth, dwells in this free-flowing appendage.'

'With every attempt at freedom on the Continent the beard re-appears. Greek freedom and Greek Beards expired together.'

Beard-lovers will also be pleased to know that the book contains illustrations of great beards from history.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Castle Forbes Cologne

Castle Forbes

I struggle to write anything for perfume. The old mind jumps into a sack and refuses to come out and help. Nonetheless, this Gentleman's Cologne [Amazon] from Castle Forbes satisfies some vague notions that I use to narrow the field. The packaging is unfancy, so will fit well with the classic line-up on my select bathroom shelf. It's not endorsed by a footballer. It has provenance. And it smells well, with traditionally manly wafts of citrus and woodiness. It's also made in the UK. One to squirt when you're wearing worsted and off for a late-afternoon game of snooker at your club.

Castle Forbes is a country house in Aberdeenshire. It has been the home of the Forbes family for many generations. The current incumbent being the 23rd Lord Forbes.

The estate offers accommodation with fishing and golf, and in the 90s the former dairy was converted into a small-scale perfumery. The perfumery has developed a collection of gentlemen's perfumes and grooming products, including a well-regarded shaving cream, which I need to try.

Castle Forbes Gentleman's Cologne

Top note: Bergamot, Lemon & Lime.
Middle note: Lavender & Sage
Base note: Sandalwood, Cedar & Musk

Monday, 15 December 2014

R M Williams - Indestructible Trousers

Frantic Australians

I was recently bombarded with frantic correspondence from Australian readers. I mentioned that I used to own a pair of trousers that were made in Australia, and I thought they were originally used by sheep-shearers.

Common consensus has it that they would have been the 15oz Moleskin Stockman Trousers by R. M. Williams (below). If they are the ones — and I think they are — by gad, sah, these beauts are indestructible, designed as they are to withstand the jab of barbed wire and the bites of indignant sheep. I lived in a pair of these when hitch-hiking around Europe one summer, and they never flinched.

The Stockman trousers are available in the UK from Dene Wear.

R. M. Williams - Outback Outfitters

The trousers are part of Williams' wonderful Australian heritage. R. M. Williams was founded in 1932 by legendary bushman Reginald Murray Williams, who designed and crafted clothes for the Australian outback.

The Longhorn brand has since become an intrinsic part of the cultural identity of Australia.

Tweedy's Note: I'd welcome more intelligence from Australia, please. In fact, let's have more from any of the Five Eyes nations. You can be our man in Sydney, Washington, Southwold...

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Filler - Linley Cheese Knife

Of Mice and Men and Cheese

The darling Mouse Cheese Knife from Linley (above) would make a suitable cheese-lover's gift this Christmas. The knife has a stainless steel blade, with a rosewood and walnut handle.

The mouse will need something pretty decent to spike on its ears. Might I recommend a truckle of Mrs Bells Blue from Shepherds Purse, the Yorkshire cheesemakers, for your cheeseboard? Mrs Bells Blue is an award-winning British blue cheese made with ewe's milk, and looking positively ravishing in the alluring photo below.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Filler - Merchant Fox Slippers

King of the Slippers 

They say always judge a man by his house footwear. A savage might be observed parading in sport socks, they counsel; a man who has given up on life in novelty animal paw slippers. The Japanese as ever show the civilised way. As well as the wearing of house slippers being akin to a bye-law in Japan, the custom sometimes extends to include a sub-set of slippers designated for the bathroom only. Now that's civilised.

Exhibit a healthy self-esteem and respect for your guests this Christmas with the wearing of these magnificent Fox Exmoor Check Albert Slippers from The Merchant Fox. By golly — these wondrous things are constructed of Fox Flannel in an Exmoor check, with a classic quilted satin lining and hand-lasted leather sole — the very pinnacle of house footwear, and this quintessence of an English slipper is made categorically in the UK.

In fact, why not have a range of these slippers available in different sizes for your guests too? A move like that could just well tip civilisation back in the right direction.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Filler - Chocolate Cigars

Do You Mind if I Don't Smoke?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but sometimes it isn't. What do I mean? I mean what you see above and below are actually cigars that you eat rather than smoke. I suppose you could eat a normal cigar, but it would be utterly rank. Best stick to these confections, which would make a thoughtful Christmas stocking filler for that sweet-toothed cigar-loving person in your life.

Above we have 3 Robustos from Xocolat of Austria. A mix of their fine chocolate cigar range with walnut, whisky and rum flavours.

Next we have Praline Cigar, a nougat cigar from Venchi (1878) of Italy:

Finally, we have this chocolate Dulce Puro from Simon Coll of Spain:

So much choice. What we need now is an edible humidor to keep them in.
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