Friday, 26 August 2011
Exhausted, but happy, the Tweed Pig staff clock-off for their annual break
The wrought-iron gates at Tweed Towers have been brought clanging together and firmly locked. Old Jack, dressed head-to-toe in classic workwear from Old Town and wearing hob-nail (tacketty) Hill Boots in kip butt leather from William Lennon, has been handed the keys and instructed to keep a watchful eye on the old place before the workers return. He'll be rewarded with a stick of rock for his efforts, as long as he doesn't sleep on the job again.
Yes, the picture of the traditional deckchair from Southsea Deckchairs (above) signals that it's time to take a break. That's the Edwardian Deckchair with Stool model, and it looks so comfortable I'm almost snoozing just thinking of reclining on it.
We're off for a dip in the Adriatic - no phones, no computers, no newspapers, but plenty of sun (according to the forecast), wine, cigars and general niceness. Hopefully, something as comfortable as the Edwardian Deckchair to lounge around on too.
Feel free to get in touch for all things classically British or gems that remain hidden. Bye for now.
Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, expands its clothes retailing offering
Roger Saul (above with son Freddie), founder of British bags and fashion company Mulberry, has recently transformed Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet into a multi-attraction venue that includes a designer outlet and farm shop that sells his own Sharpham Park range of organic food. All adjacent to the Mulberry Factory Shop, I might add.
The clothes for sale in the outlet on our visit included labels Margaret Howell and Toast, and Lock and Co hats and some nice looking duffle coats from Pedlars.
After a tour of the shops, we ate well in the courtyard cafe, then strolled around the pretty gardens. Originally designed for the use of the workers at this former brewery, Kilver Court gardens are rather attractive in their own right.
Kilver Court is a small venue, but they haven't tried to cram too much in, so the space and relaxed ambiance is in welcome contrast to the frenetic nature and soullessness of designed-for-purpose mega-shopping "villages". We'll return.
Mullberry celebrating its 40th birthday
We had a look in at the Mulberry shop too. Mulberry is continuing to celebrate its 40th birthday, so there were handbag-shaped balloons (which the piglets loved), and some sort of nature theme with lots of little bird figures everywhere. The little birds were given out to customers (which young Mrs Tweed loved).
The cotton trousers I left with have a pinpoint Oxford look about them, stiff right now, but the cloth feels satin smooth. Excellent quality. I imagine they will soften up nicely. They are made in Portugal, which reminds me that we'll be covering a Portuguese favourite soon.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Past Perfect CD of the Month - Words & Music Of Cole Porter and Songs & Music Of World War II
A resolute yet jolly two-album (3-CD) bundle from Past Perfect this month - Words & Music Of Cole Porter and Songs & Music Of World War II.
Both albums contain tracks popular with TV and radio producers. Stirring music. So stir that cup of tea and put your feet up to the sounds of Noel Coward, Fred Astaire, Gracie Fields and Billie Holiday amongst many others.
Offer for the Cole Porter and World War II Bundle - Save £8
Click here to buy the bundle and save £8.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Marks and Spencer is bringing out new Harris Tweed pieces for its Heritage Collection
The tweed revolution continues in all parts of the British Isles. Pyres are being built of hooded tops and tracksuit bottoms as the nation's youth regains its dignity and rejects the cult of the Los Angeles scruffbag, returning to this smart and sturdy indigenous cloth in droves. Maybe not quite, but M & S has spotted the trend and demand for provenance in clothing and will have a new collection out this Autumn/Winter that includes Harris Tweed jackets including the grey herringbone above. The collection also includes coats and jackets in wool checks, tweeds and worsteds woven by our new friends at Alfred Brown in Yorkshire, and our old friends at Abraham Moon.
Described as "traditional designs combined with modern styling, inspired by classic British heritage". You can sneak a peak at part of the collection here.
Tweed riders in Edinburgh
Following on from London's famous Tweed Run, the inaugural Harris Tweed Ride took place a couple of Sundays ago in Glasgow. Let's hope it's the first of many.
The Harris Tweed Ride from Jamie Vincent Gillespie on Vimeo.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Tom Keene reveals mouth-watering eating habits
Navigating the financial markets may be akin to rounding Cape Horn's roiling seas on an inflatable mattress at the moment. Even if it's impossible not to get a drenching, with Tom Keene's hugely entertaining financial programme, Surveillance Midday, on Bloomberg Television you can get your bearings and try to plot a course.
Older Tweed Pig readers will recall the interview we made in March with the ever dapper Tom concerning style. Some good tips. Wearing a bow tie is useful when dining for starters - it can avoid food spillages unlike wearing ties.
And talking of dining, over at the Grub Street New York web site, Tom describes his diet during a very hectic past few days, exposing tips and addresses on good eating and drinking along the way.
Food and drink the Tom Keene way - the highlights
- Signature drink - Beefeater Shaken Forever with Olives (BSFwO)
- Bars to drink BSFwOs:
- Silver Lining bar in Tribeca - an offshoot from Little Branch whose mission statement is: "We can live without cocktails, but would it be worth it?"
- Signature tomato - the kumato, a sweet tomato (Must track one down)
- Wine of the season - AIX rose
- Amaro Nonino makes for a nice digestif
Of course, with Tom's well-fitted suits, if ever he were tempted, he could really over-indulge and it would never show. A good suit hides all. Exercise or better suits - that's the choice, chaps.
Tom Keene serves as the host of "Surveillance Midday" a hub for the global Wall Street audience. Watch the program on Bloomberg Television or visit http://www.bloomberg.com/tv/shows/surveillance-midday/ for a selection of online videos and links to Tom's Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.
Monday, 22 August 2011
Peregrine Clothing - Traditional British Country Clothing
The Glover family has been associated with the manufacture of British clothing for eight generations - since 1772. Their Peregrine Clothing brand was established in 1956 and is being taken into a very interesting place by current Glover, Tom.
The company has consolidated, moving away from competing with cheap imports in the UK, to concentrate on producing clothes with an emphasis on quality British craftsmanship and materials in its country clothing collections.
The first Peregrine Clothing shop is on the doorstep of Tweed Towers, actually. A cosy little place in Bristol. I'll certainly be popping in again next time I'm over that way, based on the crew neck island jumper (above) and button-neck mountain jumper (below). I struggle with Bristol's traffic system, mind.
Tweed Pig fact
I've always thought how nice it would be to have hair the colour of the model above. Fits so well with the colours of the land you find in British country clothing. Come to think of it, whenever I pick up a copy of L'Uomo Vogue in Italy there are usually an inordinate amount of male models with red hair. Is it the rarity value, the Britishness? Maybe Italians just love red hair. If I were a young man with a luxuriant mane of red hair, I'd be off to Italy sharpish to test the theory.
16 Alma Vale Road,
Bristol, BS8 2HY
Friday, 19 August 2011
It's been a bit of a scarf week here at the Tweed Pig. earlier, we wrote of Cary Grant's Riviera scarf in To Catch a Thief. Today we have Ronnie Lane wearing a neckerchief with his tweeds in a more bucolic style.
Ronnie was linchpin of hugely important 60s British mod band The Small faces, then later with his own band Slim Chance who blended rock and folk in records like the sublime The Poacher [Amazon (Poacher Take 2)], with lyrics conjuring wistful pastoral imagery. With a title like The Poacher, it's fitting that Lane dressed in country-bumpkin style, though if he'd tucked in the 'kerchief he could have edged toward the David Niven look in Powell and Pressburger's charming film A Matter of Life or Death.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
When a scarf becomes a suitable substitute for a shirt
I pulled on an old vintage silk scarf the other day, as I fancied wearing one rather than a shirt under a sweater. Matched with a pair of white jeans from Brooks Brothers and some Grenson Clifford tassled loafers (I've tried espadrilles, they're not me), I felt ready for my Campari. And then it rained.
I prefer the scarf and sweater combination to the cravat within a shirt alternative in summer. There's a little bit of Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief about the no shirt approach. It can be fiddly to get right. Tie it too loosely and it can start to billow out and look a bit Regency, too tight and it can either disappear inside the sweater or look like a neck brace. Maybe I need look into cravat clips.
On the sweater front, it needs to have a fairly tight crew neck, otherwise there will be unpleasant areas of skin showing 'twixt sweater and scarf.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Morrissey sideboard described as a modern classic
The Morrissey collection of furniture being sold by Marks and Spencer is British-designed and made by Sutcliffe Furniture, who have been producing furniture for the last 120 years. Very nice, and good on Marks and Spencer for supporting a British company.
With their new collaboration with designer Terence Conran, Marks and Spencer's furnishing and interiors range looks pretty strong.
The sideboard's been described as a modern classic, a bit like the singer of the same name, who once described himself as an "arcane old wardrobe."
You can use the sideboard to store all your Smiths and solo albums. Maybe plonk a vase full of gladioli on top too.
Who knows, perhaps Morrissey himself could use one to store his New York Dolls memorabilia.
Monday, 15 August 2011
British style filtered through Italy via a Cheshire-born golfer
I bought these Henry Cotton's trousers when I was in Prague earlier in the year. They're a very, very lightweight ribbed cotton cloth of aquamarine. I thought they'd be good for pulling on for a beach holiday. I'll see later this month when the factory gates at Tweed Towers shut for bloggers fortnight and the Tweeds head to sunny climes.
Henry Cotton's is part of the Italian Moncler Group, famous for the quilted jackets worn by Milan's paninari. The company takes its name from golfer Sir Henry Thomas Cotton, born in Holmes Chapel in Cheshire in 1907, and winner of three open golf championships. An Italian company uses the name of a British golfer to produce clothes designed with a British influence. Would a British company use the name of an Italian footballer, by comparison? Gianfranco Zola has a certain ring to it.
The Persuaders trousers
The trousers I bought are part of Henry Cotton's Spring/Summer Persuader: Elegance and Evergreen collection, inspired by The Persuaders, a 1970s British TV series starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis. They are more Danny Wilde than Lord Brett Sinclair, I have to say.
This Autumn/Winter, Henry Cotton's brings us the Englishman in New York collection. No, they're not intending we all dress like Quentin Crisp. Instead, there are "blazers made with classic English woolen fabrics...and a choice of houndstooth and Prince of Wales patterns."
Their other Autumn/Winter collection, HCU, is described as Ivy Style, which might be starting to be a little overused right now. It's as if anything that isn't a tracksuit and trainers can be described as Ivy.
The Persuaders theme tune
I can't pass the opportunity to mention the spine-tingling theme tune to The Persuaders, written by the great John Barry. Arguably, the best thing about the series after some of the clothes.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Courtesy and respect can help sell sweaters
Did I say thank you for reading this? Well I should. Courtesy is important in social interactions, no matter how they are conducted. I remind myself that the mission statement for the National Campaign for Courtesy is one that we apply at The Tweed Pig:
- Good Manners
- Respect for self and others
- Honourable behaviour
As a consequence, I was not exactly in the mood to browse in the shop or buy anything. The thought of asking for assistance seemed fraught with difficulty. A poor experience and a shop's reputation tarnished. I will not return.
Good manners are a social contract that businesses ignore at their peril. What's more they cost nothing to employ. The Please and Thanks initiative, as part of the National Campaign for Courtesy, is an important one. Perhaps, now more than ever, we all need to remind ourselves that courtesy is a strength.
Thursday, 11 August 2011
Brooks Brothers Sweater and Boots Hail from the UK
A nice couple of items for Autumn from one of our favourite US outfitters, and oldest clothing retailer, Brooks Brothers. On closer inspection, I realised both pieces, part of the Black Fleece collection, were made in the UK. Maybe my snout is made to sniff these things out. So you can dress in the best Anglo-American manner and cement a special relationship.
In the early days of Brooks Brothers much of the influence on style, the cloth and some of the manufacturing came out of the UK, so this is a continuation of the founding principle to "make and deal only in merchandise of the finest body, to sell it at a fair profit and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise".
These items are certainly of the "finest body" and you, dear reader, will , I'm sure, "appreciate such merchandise".
First up, we have the Tipped Cable V-Neck Sweater in grey cashmere. Lovely touch with the sleeve cuffs and mother-of-pearl buttons detail (above).
Next we have the black brogue boot, or Pebble Wingtip Boot to give it its official name. Black footwear is staging a fightback over brown right now, and my word do they look solidly built and British. Certainly, none of the Italian affectation and catwalk pretension that are taking Church's shoes in an uncomfortable direction since Prada took them over.
Being nosy, a question arises as to who made these items? The Tweed Clarion has been sounded. Let's see if we can find the answer...
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The Fine English Company - Timeless English Interiors
The Fine English Company uses skilled British craftsmen to create accessories and furniture. The company also designs interiors for clients, creating bespoke pieces and sourcing antiques, to evoke an English aesthetic.
Young Mrs Tweed Investigates
We were always going to be interested in finding out more about a business called Fine English Company. Young Mrs Tweed was dispatched with a pencil, paper and tape recorder in her haversack to find out more. She investigated and we liked. This is the result of an interview with Fine English Company Managing Director, Benedict Wormald. Thanks to Benedict for his time.
How would you describe the ‘English aesthetic’?
I think that the English aesthetic was really truly formed during the period of the Grand Tour, when wealthy families would send their sons around the world to enhance their appreciation of the arts, and they would bring back selected items of furniture and paintings to stamp their personality upon the great houses of England. The contents of an English stately home are a legacy of generations of tastes and acquisition, things don’t always match and are certainly eclectic.
What do you consider to be timeless classics?
The Rolex Submariner, the Hermes Birkin, the Dupont Lighter and the Vuitton monogrammed Steamer Trunk. Over the past 15 years we have sought craftsmen capable of working with the best materials to produce items that will last and not date. I can walk a client through an entire production process - from the sheep in the fields in Northumberland, to the hill farm, to the tweed mill where the wool of the sheep is woven into our bespoke tweed.
Tell us about the items you use to create your interiors?
We always have a stock of key architectural items, Edwardian/Victorian pieces for games rooms and long rooms, for example. We sourced a billiards table, which we refinished in burgundy rather than the typical green baize and the end result was quite unique. We pride ourselves on being the very best when it comes to gun rooms, or long rooms as they are more correctly called. We are lucky in our relationship with Holland & Holland and their ability to refer these commissions to us.
We source top-end antique taxidermy by Van Ingen and Rowland Ward. Then we have automotive items from the greats such as Napier, Bentley, Aston Martin, and aeronautical items such as full sized propellers and model planes, plus humidors and luggage.
What is the demand for antique taxidermy?
The appetite for original and best quality antique taxidermy has just soared. A great example is a 1930s Van Ingen tiger that we sourced for a client that had never been unpacked. It was still in its branded canvas bag and had the transit wax on the teeth and claws.
[Young Mrs Tweed returns to Tweed Towers wondering about commissioning a stuffed pig.]
The Fine English Company recognises the long standing regard for British craftsmanship, harnessing traditional skills and materials but updating with a contemporary design as part of a luxury lifestyle. - The Fine English Company
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Greenall's Gin is 250 this Year
Right now we're in the middle of my gin season, which begins at the end of June and ends when the chill autumn winds have blown the last vestiges of Summer away. A nice gin and tonic is so very refreshing in the heat.
G&J Greenall celebrate their 250th anniversary this year, so we're using their own London Dry Gin, in its special-edition bottle, to toast the fact. Lovely-looking bottle design, with the green Union flag effect. The botanicals in this gin include "wild Tuscan juniper, subtle Moroccan coriander, sweet Chinese liquorice and zesty Spanish lemons," - blended to create something uniquely British.
As part of Greenall's celebration, their Great British Spirit competition asks readers to vote for legendary Britons and great British moments. There's everything from Churchill's stirring "we shall fight on the beaches" speech to the invention of the cardboard box. Ahem, nothing about that Great British moment when The Tweed Pig began.
Original in all that we do, respecting our history and harnessing the passion of our people, G&J Greenall crafts distinctive and enchanting brands that delight customers - G&J Greenall
Monday, 8 August 2011
Margaret Howell Uses the Best of British
Summer has not really gained traction here in the UK this year, but there have been one or two days when the truly Summer clothes can get an airing. The Baracuta jacket for designer Margaret Howell is very lightweight, with superfine cotton outer, and cream in colour. Really nice to wear, it almost feels like its cooling you when the sun is beating down. Look at that lining. Beautiful.
Margaret Howell, who has also collaborated with Fox Brothers, has another G3 Baracuta in her collection this year. This time its in a navy heavy cotton drill.
I'm unconcerned about the lack of sun this season, like Margaret Howell, I'm happy to stick with my Baracuta year after year.
Friday, 5 August 2011
Alexis Soyer, Famed Victorian Chef, Keeps the Britsh Army Marching Through Munching
For a kitchen confessional, you can go back a lot further than Anthony Bourdain's enjoyable Kitchen Confidential. The Chef at War is part of Penguin's Great Food series, bringing together a collection of food writing from the last 400 years. Charming titles include The Campaign for Domestic Happiness, Dissertation Upon Roast Pig and Other Essays and A Little Dinner Before the Play.
For a first bite, I plumped for the manly-sounding Chef at War, extracts from Alexis Soyer's experience at the front-line in the Crimean War (1853-1856) as a campaigner for better food for servicemen. Previously, French-born Soyer was chef at The Reform Club, where he pioneered the latest kitchen innovations, invented the recipe for Lamb Cutlets Reform, and catered for Queen Victoria. He was a bit of a celebrity chef, tours were organised to view his famous Reform Club kitchens.
On the front-line, self-funded, he worked hard to improve catering standards for British soldiers. He trained chefs, organised larders, raised food standards and invented a portable field stove - the Soyer stove.
An enjoyable memoir of Soyer's time at the front, with interesting anecdotes and a few recipes. It was said at the time that Soyer "saved as many lives through his kitchens as Florence Nightingale did through her wards."
Soyer's Army Soup for 50 Men
- Put in the boiler 60 pints, 71/2 gallons, or 5 1/2 camp kettles of water.
- Add to it 50 lbs. of meat, either beef or mutton.
- The rations of preserved or fresh vegetables.
- Ten small tablespoonfuls of salt.
- Simmer three hours and serve.
- When rice is issued, put it in when boiling. Three pounds
will be sufficient. About 8 lbs. of fresh vegetables, or 4 squares from
a cake of preserved ditto. A table-spoonful of pepper, if handy.
- Skim off the fat, which, when cold, is an excellent substitute for
- For a regiment of one thousand men, increase the number of
stoves in proportion. If one hundred regiments are to be cooked
for, repeat the same in each regiment, when you will have cooked
enough food to perfection without much trouble for an army of one
hundred thousand men, at the same time effecting a saving of above
400 per cent, in fuel.
Gentlemen are required to wear closed collar, jacket and tie. Ladies are required to dress with similar formality. Jacket (but not tie) may be removed:
- In the Study, Billiards and Card Rooms
- During breakfast in the Coffee Room
- In the Garden
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Tweedy Enjoys the Finer Points of Fritz Lang's M
Fritz Lang's M, released in 1931, is a great film for specific reasons. Peter Lorre's finest performance in film; a gritty depiction of Weimar Germany in its decline; tense plot; and ground-breaking direction. An undoubted masterpiece.
As I'm shooting over to Berlin later in the year, I thought a re-watch would be useful as a spot of revision. Zoning in on some of the finer detail, I noted the following:
- The bowler hat and leather trench coat combination (above). As you'll know, we're big fans of bowlers and trench coats at Tweed Towers. Is anyone making leather trench coats at the moment? Demonstrably, it can work if worn with attitude.
- The upturned cigar holder, like a sort of pipe hybrid (below).
- The beer bowl that could turn any meal into a feast.
The modern, thrusting, man-about-town often lacks time to puff contemplatively on a cigar like a Berlin detective. The smoking of a gran corona almost needs to be planned into a day.
This is where the small ones come in. Keeping a few Montecristo Minis on your person makes for an added treat during those unplanned moments when you find yourself on a sunny terrace with a glass of gin and tonic in your hand.
The Tweed Pig Index of Civilised Cities - When We Get Round to It
When we get round to compiling the Tweed Pig Index of Civilised Cities, a good cigar shop and a dedicated hat shop may well be on our tick list of indicators. Maybe cashmere sweater wearers per square mile - plus points. Flip-flop wearers per square mile - minus points. An eponymous cake or liqueur dedicated to the city is good. Enormous beer glasses, obviously. The important stuff, not the cold hand of government statistics. I'll be taking my notepad to Berlin. If you have any thoughts on the 'civability' of a city, do let us know.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Bamford & Sons Were a Welcome Addition to British Menswear
The stone-coloured cotton drill trousers were from London-based Bamford & Sons. I love these things. Super quality, well-constructed and heavy but very soft cloth. Side fasteners. Made in Italy. Worn for all but the three hottest and three coldest months of the year. A great purchase.
I'd like to sing praises at this point, but I believe Bamford and Sons ceased trading last year. Created out of the Bamford family, of JCB fame, it was a menswear label I had high hopes for and thought it would be here to stay. Lots of understated muted tones, quality textiles and wearability.
Lady Bamford is still involved in womenswear with label Bamfords, and is also busy with her Daylesford Organic concept. Maybe menswear will return, but high-end watch customization seems to have taken centre-stage in the male direction with Bamford Watch Department.
I was looking to buy another pair of these trousers, so I guess I'll need to start what should be a very enjoyable search to find out where they were produced or to find comparable replacements. For the past couple of years I've found none that can compare, so this might be a tricky mission that I've willingly accepted for myself. Can a British manufacturer step into the breach...?
Monday, 1 August 2011
Ginori Produces Fine Italian Porcelain near Florence
We may be mostly about British classics and hidden gems at The Tweed Pig, but we will occasionally cross the channel to shine a light on the great continental names that have survived and managed to negotiate a path through the challenges of globalisation.
One such name is Italy's Ginori, porcelain manufacturer. Founded as Doccia in 1775 by Marco Ginori in the town of the same name near Florence, the company is now called Richard-Ginori, but still manufactures in the region. The company also has the oldest company museum shop in Europe, opened in 1864, located next to the working factory.
Ginori have managed to balance their heritage with progress. They recently produced a collection with Italian fashion house Missoni (as shown in the image above). A collaboration that emphasises a commitment to contemporary design, without jettisoning the history, and also retains that all-important Italianness - very much earning the Made in Italy stamp. You are buying Italy as a plate.
Ginori continues to produce unique pieces that draw on their heritage. The original wax cast for the Vasa Brocca Nettuno (below) dates from the 1740s and is housed in the museum.
Wedgwood Chose a Different Path
The Wedgwood Museum opened in 1906 in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, England (Etruria was named after the famed Etruscan potters) - although the founder Josiah Wedgwood had the foresight to consider preserving pieces for such an enterprise from 1774. In May 2011, the archive of the Wedgwood Museum was inscribed in UNESCO's UK Memory of the World Register. Most of Wedgwood's manufacturing is now in Indonesia. Being owned by a private equity company, the concern is that the emphasis will continue to be increasing profit margins by making ever cheaper products. Maybe it would be better placed in maintaining the integrity of the brand, like Ginori, rather than devaluing it. Does Wedgwood Indonesia project that in customer's minds? Are they buying a continuation of British cultural and artisanal history worthy of the UNESCO recognition or just a plate that could be made anywhere, and indeed is? Maybe the answer will be how many pieces from Wedgwood's Indonesian period make it into the Wedgwood Museum collection.