Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy St Piran's Day





















Wishing all our Cornish readers a happy St Piran's Day. I was reminded of the day whilst listening to a radio programme. I thought it might be a bit late, but then not all Cornishmen live in Cornwall. We should be pulling in the Cornish New Yorkers soon.

All together in the Floral Dance...



The clip above is of the Helston Furry Dance, captured by our chums at British Pathé in 1955. This ancient Cornish tradition is still fighting on. (Pathé has a clip from the 1933 dance too.)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Joanne Cope - Cattle Portraits





























Bovine Artistry

If you live in the West Country of England, you will sometimes happen upon compelling portraits of dignified-looking cattle. They will be hanging in the best kinds of establishment. I recall seeing a couple in the Marlborough Tavern in Bath.

They really do take the eye. If they take yours, you will be interested to hear that they are painted by New Zealand-born Bath resident Joanne Cope.

She paints the portraits oil on canvas, and to a scale that is close to actual size. The backgrounds are typically subdued and the features of the subject lit in a way that recalls the use of chiaroscuro in Dutch Golden Age painting.

I am just waiting for a pig study. Pigs can be dignified too.



Monday, 2 March 2015

Climbing Mount Everest #3 - Top Layer


Climb Postponed Unexpectedly

I've decided to postpone the Mount Everest climb for the time being. But that doesn't mean I need to stop thinking about the kit. Operational readiness they call it.

We have the hat and thermals. Let's move on to suggestions for outer, footwear and snacks. You can always go in my place. Be sure to plant a Tweed Pig logo on the summit and claim it on behalf of we happy few et cetera. From here on in let's assume you're going instead. I know you can do it.

Everest Parka

I would be negligent in my duty not to include the Everest Parka by Nigel Cabourn (above), inspired as it is by Sir Edmund Percival Hillary's triumphant climb of Everest in 1953. (Wither the British/Commonwealth adventurer?)

Much thought has been given to this coat in terms of materials. It has a Ventile shell, goose down filler, sheepskin lining and Coyote fur collar. Put it all together and the Everest Parka can withstand temperatures down to a particularly parky -40°C. (I am sure the temperature dipped to that kind of low in the great hall of Tweed Towers this winter. Heavens, it was warmer outside.)

You will be the belle of the base camp in this insulating number.

Peckham Rye Scarf


Our dear friends at Peckham Rye stock terrific scarves for every occasion, including climbing Everest. The smoothness of the Mustard Dashing Deco Silk Scarf (above) around your ice-bearded neck will bring great comfort as you write letters by candlelight in your tent. Forget to pack the batteries, did we? Perhaps you should have a loved one spray a little of their signature scent on the scarf so as to pull at the heartstrings and give you almost intolerable homesickness as the wind whistles mockingly outside your tent — it helps to summon the muse.

The scarf is of silk twill and has Peckham Rye's trademark long, hand-knotted silk fringes. I confess to owning a couple of Peckham's scarves and they are great for tucking around jacket collars to add a dash of ebullience.

SEH Kelly Suit

Here we make a suit of S.E.H. Kelly trousers and jacket in silver-brown two-fleece birdseye twill — made from the fleece of old (grey) and younger (brown) Hebridean sheep.

As with all Kelly clothes, the provenance of the materials used is impeccable. We have the tweed from the Inner Hebrides, grey wool-melton lining from West Yorkshire and horn buttons from the Midlands — all magically put together in the Kelly workshop in London. What better way to represent the realm as you stride purposefully past all those day-glo climbers.



Footwear

The expedition dictates some heavy-duty boots. The bench-made Guard Boot by Tricker's for Margaret Howell are made of very solid brown grain leather with a long-lasting Dainite sole.

Roll up the Kelly trousers and have them sit nicely atop the boots.


You don't climb Everest every day, so — although they are not intended for everyday use — I think you deserve to wear a pair of Hand Cabled Cashmere Socks from our dear friends Corgi Hosiery for this momentous occasion. Show your beige colours as a representative of the conservatively-dressed counter-culture. Knowing you, you won't even tell anyone about your achievement.


A treatment of Everest Dubbin from Saphir Médaille d'Or is recommended for the boots. Use a hot spoon to rub it on.


Food and Drink

You are going to be a little peckish on the climb and you will certainly want a snifter to take the nip off. The food and drink issue is easily solved:

Fill the pockets of your parka with Romney's Kendal Mint Cake to nibble on. Hillary certainly packed mint cake for his climb, and Shackleton was partial too.


Fill this leather-clad hip flask from R. M. Williams (available from A. Hume Country Clothing 1929) with an invigorating libation of your choice.

Best of British.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Miss Marple Looks Ravishing - Folio Society


Throw on Your Glasses

The Folio Society understands the emotional response we get from seeing a beautifully bound and illustrated book. Immediately, we want to grasp it, carefully spread the cover, throw on our glasses and start leafing like mad.

Who would claim that this is not their instant reaction on seeing Murder at the Vicarage above? Has Miss Marple ever looked more ravishing?  The book is part of a set of four Miss Marple novels Folio has put together, also including The Body in the Library, A Pocket Full of Rye and Sleeping Murder.

The books are bound in buckram with delightful cover and internal illustrations by Andrew Davidson. Agatha Christie would no doubt approve that the books are solid enough to be used as murder weapons in their own right.

Nordic noir on a Kindle or Jane Marple in a Folio edition? I know which we prefer. And if you want to be with it, I suggest you make your choice wisely (hint: Folio/Marple).

Word on the street is that we may get more box sets from Folio to complete the Marple collection. I do hope so.



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sheep, Shape and London Fashion - Hackett


Hackett the Good Shepherd

I'm not sure how involved Jeremy Hackett is with the now Spanish-owned company he built selling second-hand tweeds. The Hackett Sheep, Shape and London Fashion collection is described as Jeremy's capsule collection for A/W 2015. So I imagine he's hands-on with this one.

The twelve-piece collection 'pays homage to the prestigious long-standing textile mills in Britain that continue to create the finest wools available worldwide.' A worthy homage.

Hackett and our dear friends at Fox Brothers of Somerset took ownership of a flock of Wensleydale sheep a few years ago. The sheep were farmed near to Fox and their fleece has now been used to create the Tommy Nutter-inspired checked and patterned fabrics used in the collection. Raw material and manufacturing all in the same county — a good thing.

Tweedy's favourites from the collection:



Jeremy Hackett Looking at Cloth

We were only talking about the death of the pinstripe suit in Britain recently weren't we? Yet here we see (top and below) Jeremy leading from the front with a terrific three-piece number. Tell your tailor — pinstripe is back.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Mystery Swiss Scarf






















Hand-Printed Scarf from Switzerland

I have had this mysterious vintage scarf in my collection for a while. I am using it here as a loose winter equivalent of the Cary Grant Riviera scarf teamed with a camel hair sweater from the former Berk of Burlington Arcade (now a name trading online only).

The scarf is of fine wool, but it's as soft as cashmere — so with the camel it makes for a warm and comfortable pairing.

The Case of the Swiss Scarf

Note the hand-printing of the scarf. Lovely. I am not in any way desperate, but I would like to see if there are other such scarves in circulation from the Swiss company that made it. I have seen similar scarves from a defunct (I think) Swiss company called Londonderry. Are they the same? Does anyone have any clues? Can we crack this case like we almost did with Peal shoes?



Saturday, 21 February 2015

Climbing Mount Everest #2 - Sunspel Thermals























Thermals from Sunspel

My enthusiasm to climb Mount Everest is dimming slightly since the hat post. I have managed to secure some good thermals though. Do they call it the base layer in mountaineering circles?

What you see is a merino wool long-sleeved undershirt and long johns set from Sunspel. Woollen underwear is highly insulating and breathable, but with low air permeability say the experts. Basically it's a good choice of underwear when it's cold.

These English-made long johns are decidedly old-school. The cotton canvas 'girdle' has some neat little adjusters as there is no elastic in the waist.














































I've tested them out at Tweed Towers whilst we've been having this cold snap and I've been as warm as toast; and it's a comfortable wear, like a tailor has created a bespoke body-hugging blanket suit that has all the give required not to feel restricted in any way.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to Dress - A Guide for the Modern Gentleman with Gustav Temple

































The Gallery

As I skim through our gallery, I notice Mrs T hasn't added Bunny Roger yet. We need him in there, but it would also be good to include people who are still alive. Do you have any suggestions?

A Magical Journey into Sartorial Splendour

Gustav Temple is a notably living addition to the gallery, nestled as he is between Paul Weller (also alive) and Cary Grant (deceased).

The extant author and editor of gentleman's bible The Chap presents a new four part online lecture course for The Idler, which is described as the 'ultimate guide on the proper way to wear clothes'.

How to Dress - A Guide for the Modern Gentleman with Gustav Temple covers informal wear, formal wear, clothes maintenance and the art of buying well.

'Join his magical world of cravats, the Windsor knot, Harris tweed, the best kind of cufflinks, detachable collars, white tie and sock braces.' 

Denim, hoodies and flip-flops won't be recommended. This lecture series would make the perfect unsubtle gift for the sloven in your life.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Dunhill Trouser Fun


























Dunhill Trousers

I don't know if it's because of the cold, but I'm needing to look at photographs of lightweight trousers right now. You might feel the same way.

Dunhill has helped with some of the images from their spring and summer campaign. The collection — says Creative Director at Dunhill John Ray  —  is inspired by the theme of escape and an insouciant approach to combining clothes when travelling. An approach they might describe in Spain as 'ande yo caliente riase la gente.' Roughly translated as, 'as long as I'm warm, I don't care if people laugh'; or in this case, 'as long as I'm comfortable on my travels, I don't care what I'm wearing'.

I'm particularly taken with the cream cotton trousers matched with the cashmere/silk polo here:







































And the beige woollen estate check cloth used for the trousers of this suit:






































Also nice to see that the tasselled loafer continues to resonate.

It all looks completely and respectably wearable to me. Judging by what they're wearing, and sometimes that's the only thing we can use in our assessments (despite what others might say), these chaps would be welcome at Tweed Towers any time.

They may tuck a scarf into their shirt, and don't we all at some stage, but they are not going to put their feet on your sofa or spill the tea you serve.
























Dunhill Plays Britten

I might have to rescind the open invite to Tweed Towers. We have video evidence of furniture inappropriateness in the video below. And of reading newspapers upside-down. It's simply not on.

Then again, the video is meant to celebrate Dunhill man's 'time at home in sartorial requiescence'. They can do as they please in their own home, I suppose. I need to think about this one.

Benjamin Britten's Playful Pizzicato [Amazon] provides the frolicsome soundtrack.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Love Bade Me Welcome






























As the suburban flagellants queue up for the vicarious thrills of those fifty shades of grey, herewith an antidote...

Seduction Music

If you were to lure me into your apartment and were attempting to seduce me Renzo Cesana-style, you could do worse than have Love Bade Me Welcome — Songs and Poetry from the Renaissance [Amazon] playing in the background. (Or Easy Lovers from Piccioni's soundtrack to Camille 2000.)

It would do little to melt my icy reserve, but points for trying.

Love Bade Me Welcome is an album of English Renaissance music and poetry recorded by the Canadian ensemble Theatre of Early Music. The ensemble was founded by conductor and counter-tenor Daniel Taylor, who also sings on the album.

It's something of a curiosity, but a charming one at that. Look at some of the names involved: James Bowman, Ralph Fiennes, William Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, John Dowland and George Herbert.

James Bowman provides additional counter-tenorism, Ralph Fiennes does the poetry recitation bit; Shakespeare, Raleigh and others provide quite exceptional words.

Let's pick a track for St Valentine's Day. How about Ralph reciting George Herbert's Love? described by Andrew Motion as one of the greatest lyric poems ever written.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Letter from Melbourne - Five Eyes on Blue Ties






























In his latest dispatch, Bertie of Melbourne has been watching the unfolding of a controversy involving the Australian Prime Minister and his tie collection.

Normally we would take the view that politicians should be ignored lest they think we are actually interested in what they have to say, which would only encourage them to show off by proposing new laws and engaging in other types of attention-seeking behaviour. But they are figureheads we have to admit, so how they choose to dress says something about how they wish to represent their country. Remember the sniggering over Obama's beige-coloured suit? America has never really recovered, and perhaps never will.

Long we have argued that our Prime Minister should be clad in full Savile Row to best represent the interests of the British people: evidence.

Letter from Melbourne

My dear Tweed

Have you ever noticed how statesmen and politicians dress these days? It seems they are desperately keen to ‘fly under the radar’ - a rather delightful reference evoking the glamour of the fighter pilot and his glorious silk cravats. Regrettably, when it comes to our politicians and their neckwear choices it seems to be all about showing their political colours: solid blues or reds & never a cravat.

In Australia, the ties of our conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have come in for significant scrutiny and the PM has given cartoonists extensive material by wearing only blue ties. I thought I’d throw in my five cents (or 2 pence in the old money) and share with you (and any political advisers who read your blog) some blue ties with a twist.

Ties to Canberra

When shopping for blue ties, where better to start than Canberra - home to our politicians and secret services. I recently discovered Henry Carter selling ties out of our capital city and the first thing that caught my eye was the attention to detail and the multijurisdictional production process.

The silk ties are made in two stages in two different countries.

First: the British Job

Henry Carter ties use fabrics printed in Macclesfield, Cheshire, famous for over three hundred years for producing silk cloth. The fabric is printed by Adamley in their mill that has been on that site for the past fifty years using water sourced from its own reservoir.

Second: the Italian Job

The ties are then handmade (& rolled) in Naples in a small family-owned factory that has been crafting ties for over 40 years.

The result is a selection of ties covering both classic and contemporary.

My first suggestion for a conservative neck is a Dark Blue floral silk tie (top).

My second suggestion is a Mid Blue Floral silk tie, something lighter but would work equally well around a conservative neck:






























And my final suggestion, for the bold and adventurous is a wool challis tie in Blue and Burgundy:































All of the ties are untipped, making them lightweight and free to flap according to the prevailing breeze – perfect for the modern politician.

Bertie Davies
@melbourneletter

PS Wouldn't it be lovely to see our politicians change their spots to spots or show their paisley teardrops? I too would appreciate any Five Eyes readers intel on the neckwear of statesmen. It’s a topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Our democracy requires us to hold them to account – if we’re not careful, we might end up with tieless politicians for whom every day is Casual Friday (dread words!)

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Two Minutes of Corneliani in Mantua


















Corneliani in Mantua

Why not spend a nice couple of minutes with this young man in Mantua? Sensible haircut, clean fingernails, you could take him anywhere.

In the two-minute video below by Mario Gomez he's showing off the spring and summer collection of Corneliani in their home town of Mantua, aiming to capture their concept of 'Life as a Masterpiece'.

Nice to see some timeless pinstripe in the collection. It's almost died out in Britain for some reason. More pinstripe on British streets, please, tailoring profession.




Wednesday, 11 February 2015

English Sparkling Wine for St Valentine's Day - Ridgeview Grosvenor





































World-Class Wine from the South Downs of England

We could start a whole sub-section on top-quality English champagne sparkling wine makers. And this might well be the start. I enjoy a nice glass of 'shampoo'. (If any grower-producers would like the, ahem, Tweed Towers Wine Club to sample their offerings...)

The misconception that any French champagne is by default better than any English sparkling wine has been truly shattered in recent years, and there is now high demand and regard for the best of the English producers.

Take for instance the Ridgeview Grosvenor, our recommendation for your amorous endeavours on the 14th. This multi-award winner is a 2011 vintage blanc de blancs sparkler with an 'excellent mousse' and a 'fruitful nose which hints of honey and toast'.

Ridgeview Wine Estate was founded in 1996 by Mike and Chris Roberts, and is based in Sussex. A family business — our favourite type — a second-generation of the Roberts family is now involved so that we may look forward to more fine vintages.

To quote Berry Bros & Rudd (1698) on this wine, 'It is now a self-evident truth that the best English wines are better than the majority of Champagnes, and this one is probably the best English sparkling wine of all.'  Take that Reims.

Quote this fact to your sweetheart (without attribution) as you pour them a glass and you're bound to get their heart racing with your assured discernment.

Monday, 9 February 2015

St Valentine's Day - Say it with Floris






























What if I Seek for Love of Thee?

If you are unsure what to send to the secret male love of your life on Valentine's Day, say it with Floris. A new drill is just sending out the wrong signals, as Cupid will tell you.

Floris has an impeccable history of fine English perfume making. What's more, your secret love will also appreciate the Ian Fleming connection of their No 89 scent — he used it and mentioned Floris in three of his Bond novels —  which they describe as a 'quintessentially English gentleman's fragrance'. They say Prince Charles enjoys it too, but that's classified information.

He is a gentleman, right? I don't want you wasting your advances on some ill-mannered hobbledehoy who won't treat you as you deserve to be treated. I worry about your choices sometimes. If he doesn't read The Tweed Pig, then we need to start asking questions.

Anyway, let us assume he deserves the effort you are putting in and he's the right sort. He will be delighted with No 89's classic blend of perky cologne elements and masculine woods and spices. The scent will last all day, and hopefully encourage an affection that lasts a bit longer.

Top notes: bergamot, lavender, neroli, nutmeg, orange, petitgrain
Heart notes: geranium, rose, ylang ylang
Base notes: cedarwood, musk, oakmoss, sandalwood, vetiver

Saturday, 7 February 2015

White City, Tel Aviv























Tel Aviv is Nice

Did I tell you I spent some time in Israel recently? I was very much looking forward to visiting Tel Aviv, particularly the White City at its centre. The White City is a Unesco World Heritage Site and contains 4000-odd buildings built in the Bauhaus modernist (or international) style.

The foundation of Tel Aviv is quite fascinating. I will leave you to read up on the history if you are curious. I will tell you that I found the place most agreeably relaxed and civil. Does the original urban planning of White City help?

Because of the climate life is lived outside in Tel Aviv. You will feel completely at ease walking anywhere at any time of the day or night, which is good as you have a lot of ground to cover if you wish to ogle at some of the modernist wonders around the White City. 

You know something? I might just place Tel Aviv in the top three of my favourite cities along with Madrid and Vienna. Am I rushing things? Let's put it there for now. I can always change my mind. Go and take a look and tell me what you think.

White City Walks























So this is my primary recommendation for your visit: after a hearty breakfast of shakshuka (spicy poached eggs) take a good long walk or two around the White City. And on your walks you will encounter a well-educated and hospitable population who do not appear to go to bed ever.

Grab a city map and head to Dizengoff Street and there will be something of interest whichever direction you take from there. The Bauhaus Center, which is located in Dizengoff, can help you immeasurably; and they can also provide guided tours if that's your bag.

As you walk around, I defy you not to start mentally moving in to some of the places you see, picturing a van der Rohe chair here and a Le Corbusier table there.

I have scattered a few of my snaps around this article. I was enjoying the city so much that these photographs were often take hurriedly at twilight — but I did not completely forget my obligations to you, chums.

























Nice Streets

Not wishing to exhaust you, but I noted other streets worthy of a diversion on your walks.

Sheinkin Street has many independent shops and coffee houses, many open on shabbat (I think).

Shalom Shabazi is located in one of the oldest parts of Tel Aviv and has nice restaurants and art galleries; it is rather bourgeois and altogether quiet and pleasant. I needed to go through the old market to get to Shalom Shabazi. You might find a quicker way.

Joppa or Jaffa



















The ancient sea port of Joppa — or Jaffa, as it's now called — is on the doorstep of Tel Aviv. So try and squeeze in a visit. You can walk along the seafront from the centre of Tel Aviv to Jaffa — they're practically joined — in half an hour or so. The history of the town of Jaffa is ludicrously extensive. You should spend some time reading about Jaffa too.

The 'old city' around the harbour in Jaffa is being gentrified and is nice for the evening. Try the Abouelafia (1879) bakery for hot sachlav (milk drink) and cake. Or you might want to try Dr Shakshuka who do an incredible shakshuka, as their name suggests. I became rather addicted to shakshuka whilst I was there, I must say — incredible stuff.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Cooper Hackett Single Speed Bike




















The Revolution will be Two-Wheeled

The chrome-finished single-speed racer above is the result of a collaboration between British cycle engineers Cooper Bikes and Hackett. Cooper Bikes was founded in 2009 by Mike Cooper. Mike is the son of John Cooper of the famous Cooper Car Company who built the racing cars driven by the likes of Sir Stirling Moss and conceived the Mini Cooper.

Mike says of their design ethos: "The Cooper name is synonymous with great design, quality, affordability and above all, an element of fun." 

...And Possibly Single-Speed

The bicycle is single-speed, beloved of mail messengers in dense urban hubs who appreciate the advantage of its lightness and efficiency; a simpler gear system is, they say, more reliable when whizzing through snarled up traffic and irritating envious car drivers.

The Hackett Cooper Single Speed may be configured for 'single speed freewheel' or 'fixed wheel' riding. I won't bore you with those distinctions — what do you mean I don't know? — rather I will divert your gaze to the lovely Hackett Cooper emblem below. Such seemingly small details will tell you all you need to know about the thought and workmanship that goes into something.




















Note too the mustard-coloured Brooks saddle and leather handlebar tape; also the traditional 'gum wall' tyres. We want this bike.

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