Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Tweed Pig Closes for Blogger's Fortnight

Happy, but exhausted, The Tweed Pig staff clock-off for their annual break

From the steadily diminishing quality of the posts you probably guessed that it's that time again. Yes, time for the annual Tweed Pig blogger's fortnight. Well, a bit longer than a fortnight, but all things electromechanical will be happily turned off for a while.

The printing ink has been removed from hands with Swarfega and the bags are packed. Speak soon.

Orlebar Brown - Setter Short

Sunspel - Polo Riviera Polo Shirt

Paul Stuart - Espadrilles

Cutler and Gross - Sunglasses

Drakes London - Madras Check Scarf

Linley - Backgammon

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2

Dunhill - Lighter

Ruffs - Signet Rings

Ruffs Can Create the Perfect Signet Ring for You

You have the Savile Row suit, the bespoke shoes, the bowler hat, but there's something missing. You look down at your unadorned hand and, noticing your naked little finger, a question suddenly occurs to you. Where's my signet ring?

As Ruffs, the signet ring specialists, will tell you, you don't need to be blue-blooded to add a little signifier to your digitus minimus.

About Ruffs - Makers of Signet Rings, Cufflinks and Fine Jewellery

Ruffs the jewellers were established in 1904 in Gosport, Hampshire, England. Now located near Southampton, they continue to be family-owned. Mark is the fourth-generation of Ruff to head a business that is synonymous with the craft of making signet rings.

Do I need a Family Crest?

Mark Ruff helpfully dismisses the idea that a title or family crest is required for a signet ring:

"There is a myth which says everyone has a family crest. That is nonsense. What is true, however, is that most surnames have a crest associated with that surname somewhere along the line. A book entitled “Fairbairn's Book of Crests” offers over 4,000 crests! More often than not a device can be chosen from here.

"Alternatively, we offer a service by which we design a cipher of a person's initials which is a very acceptable variation on the heraldic crest. Initials can be surface- or seal-engraved.

"One doesn't have to be titled to wear a signet ring. If that were the case, my potential market would be considerably reduced."

Choosing a Style of Signet Ring

Traditionally, a signet ring is a ring that makes a sign and properly speaking should always be seal-engraved to make a sign in the wax. Seal-engraving is cut deeply in reverse which enables the ring to be impressed into sealing wax to create a positive impression of the device.

Surface-engraving is appreciably less deep and is suitable on a ring for initials. Ruffs use this technique mainly for their cufflinks and silver salvers.

How Much Gold?

Mark recommends 18ct for his rings. "It is a beautiful colour being 18 parts gold and only 6 parts alloy."

The Shape of Your Ring

The most popular shape for a signet ring is the straight oval - a timeless classic shape.

Tweedy's Signet Ring Design: I think a small pig would make a suitable design. Maybe a pig rampant? It could be a design used by readers to denote secret affiliation... 


Ruffs Cufflinks

I imagine you're now persuaded to take the plunge with a signet ring. So why not consider Ruffs' cufflinks too?

We asked Mark about his most popular cufflinks collections:

"This would be the enamelled and engine-turned cufflinks but, most of the time, we are making our cufflinks to order, typically with a family crest to one side and initials to the other."

The inspiration behind the cufflink collections stems from the Ruffs archive. As Mark says, "I had an advantage with the 1934 range, having inherited a fabulous old catalogue dating back to my grandfather's day."

Heritage a Source of Inspiration or a Creative Constraint?

Oxford lace-ups, Georgian houses, Malacca cane umbrellas, plain chocolate digestive biscuits - design classics that require no changes, as well all know. Mark feels much the same way about Ruff's products:

"We are lucky enough to work with a product that doesn't need constantly updating or revising. I think this is true of any classic product. We therefore find our heritage a constant source of inspiration and strive to maintain those very high standards of craftsmanship."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Unstung Hero - Mrs White's Cologne

Mrs White's Unstung Hero

The delicious and tender milky white flesh of Tweedy is like a grand banqueting hall for mosquitoes. Arriving in Venice one time, barely minutes into the trip, I proffered payment to the driver of my taxi boat and noticed the hand doing the proffering covered in the blighters, chewing away at me like 'pigs at taters'. Nasty ones too. It set a precedent for the next few days.

For a later trip to India, then, it seemed sensible to buy some army-strength mosquito repellent in advance. I sprayed it on once and it felt so awful on the skin I decided to take my chances. Luckily, I wasn't bitten for the whole trip. No mosquitoes around, apparently. However, with nicely comic irony, the plane back to England was bizarrely swarming with them. I was trapped and bitten to hell.

How to keep the mosquitoes at bay without spraying on a layer of sticky chemicals? Our dear London friends at Roullier White have the answer: Mrs White's Unstung Hero.

Unstung Hero is an "all natural anti-mosquito repellent with a revolutionary formula which combines a fragrant, fresh Eau de Cologne and an ingredient that renders you 'invisible' to mosquitoes, ticks, black fly, wasps and bees".

Made in France, the cologne has a lovely fresh lemon tea scent. One for the packing case, it's a much more pleasant way to become unpalatable to the spiky-mouthed fiends.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Jeeves & Jericho - Quintessentially Spiffing Tea

"Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities ... will always be the favourite beverage of the intellectual."

Thomas De Quincey

Jeeves & Jericho - The Jolly Good Tea Company

Jeeves & Jericho, the Oxford, England-based tea people, are riding high on the return to loose leaf tea drinking that's sweeping the nation. They offer speciality loose tea and the tea making kit to prepare it.

Oxford Brew

Oxford Brew is Jeeves & Jericho's house blend, which pays homage to their home city of dreaming spires. Full-bodied, it is an invigorating blend of aromatic Ceylon Highland teas with strong Indian Assam teas. Delicious.

Is Loose Leaf Tea a Faff?

Is loose leaf tea a faff to prepare? Of course not, in fact it's a wonderful ritual to be enjoyed and not hurried like shaving. And J & J will tell you there are many ways to skin a beverage. We go for the classic combo of teapot and strainer at Tweed Towers, but there are also infusers and infuser teapots. Or if you are feeling avant-garde, there are those fillable 'teasacs' the kids on the street are always talking about. Jeeves & Jericho supply the jolly lot.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Oliver Brown - Summer Shooting Collection

Oliver Brown Gentleman's Outfitters of Chelsea

Do you know Oliver Brown, the gentlemen's outfitters based in Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea, London? We're fans of the oversize tweed caps they produce in house like the one above.

We won't talk about them here though, as we're (supposed to be) in the middle of summer and Oliver Brown has launched an interesting summer shooting collection. When the sun is high in the sky, you no longer need to whip out your Purdey in a pair of swimming trunks.

Oliver Brown Launches Summer Shooting Collection

Oliver Brown's lightweight summer shooting collection, breeks, waistocoat and socks, is designed for comfort in higher temperatures, for grouse shooting or warmer winters.

The Kit - Head to Toe
  • Helmsley flat cap available in a selection of tweeds.
  • Handmade Tattersall check shirt.
  • Houndstooth wool tie.
  • Shooting waistcoat in British wool with suede leather shoulder patches and recoil inserts. Ample pocket space for the carrying of cartridges. The jacket has been designed and woven specifically for Oliver Brown, and is produced at the finest woollen mill on the Scottish borders.
  • Cotton breeks (below) with adjustable buckle leg fastening and zip fly, two side pockets and rear pocket.
  • Dorset lightweight cotton shooting socks cotton.
  • Eton Brown Suede loafers. Made in England.
One of London's leading outfitters for country sports, Oliver Brown stocks a wide range of shooting attire allowing the country sportsman to purchase everything in one place.

Oliver Brown,
75 Lower Sloane Street,
Chelsea, London

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bute Fabrics - Tweedy Living

Cover Your House in Tweed

Bute Fabrics is a British heritage company and contemporary fabric designer and manufacturer based on the Isle of Bute, off the west coast of Scotland.

It was founded in 1947 by the then 5th Marquess of Bute, to provide employment for returning ex-servicemen and women following the Second World War. The company continues to be owned by the Marquess of Bute, now the 7th Marquess, the former Formula 1 racing driver and Le Mans 24 hour race winner, Johnny Dumfries.

Bute Fabrics design and manufacture upholstery and curtain fabrics on the island, including tweeds in a Donegal yarn in a vast swathe of colours.

Its wonderful fabrics have been used in commissions at British landmarks like The Sage in Gateshead, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, and London's Royal Festival Hall. Next stop Tweed Towers?

British designers are also picking out their fabric for its aesthetic and durable qualities. We have the Hush Lounge Chair from Harrogate designers and manufacturers Naughtone above. And we have the Bosco II Sofa below by Mark, Cornwall-based designers who manufacture locally where possible.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Thrilling Cities Bond-Style

Thrilling Cities (2) - Strikingly Illustrated

Thrilling Cities Part 2 [Amazon]is based on a series of travel articles Ian Fleming wrote for The Sunday Times in 1960. The creator of James Bond drove a six-thousand-mile route through Europe in a Thunderbird (interesting choice of car) - from Hamburg to Vienna, Geneva, Naples and, finally, Monte Carlo.

Tweedy's Thought: It would be nice to replicate this route sometime. Perhaps not in a Thunderbird.

Intended as 'mood pieces', Fleming wrote to give an impression of the psychological as well as the physical landscape of the cities. He chose his backgrounds well. The book starts at a female mud wrestling exhibition at two in the morning in a nightclub in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. In Vienna, he enjoys the "splendidly frivolous attitude to life". It may be over fifty years old, but it's my kind of travel book.

More Travelling from Fleming

Thrilling Cities Part 1 is Fleming's travelogue of a round-the-world trip in 1959. The articles from both trips were originally was published as a single book. The round-the-world-trip takes in Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Chicago, New York.

Tweedy's Second Thought: And this one.

Bond at the Barbican

Remember when we spoke of the amusing short-story written by Alan Coren on an aging James Bond - "Dr No Will See You Now"? Of course, Bond will never age in our eyes. The novels, the suits, the music, the bashing people with table legs - timeless, in a shifting with the times kind of way. Unbelievable to think then that the Bond film franchise is fifty this year.

The Barbican in London, in association with Bond producers EON, are celebrating this milestone with an exhibition entitled Designing 007 - Fifty Years of Bond Style from the 6th of July to the 5th of September. Given access to EON's Bond archives - props, artwork, costumes, including Bond suits from tailor Anthony Sinclair (I think), are all on display.

And a Martini Bar is also at hand to shake a martini for you. And if Bond liked them shaken, I'm not going to argue. I don't want to risk a whack from a table leg thank you very much.

Can't wait to get my trotters on a ticket.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fox Brothers 1772 - Navigating the English Flannel

More Flannel from Fox Brothers

Fox Brothers, the woollen mill of Somerset, England have been producing the finest flannel cloth since 1803. This year they have consolidated their reputation by launching a bunch of flannels for tailoring - 37 in all and of various weights. You could say they've taken a while to get round to it, but let's rejoice that they have. We love this company (and we think they love us too), as demonstrated by our Fox Brothers week.

The designs, inspired by Fox Brothers' unique archive, will leave your tailor slavering at the bit. We have a 13oz Glen Check and Puppy Tooth above and 10oz Windowpane Check and Birdseye below.

Cream Flannel Suitable for Cricket Trousers

The Fox Brothers 13oz cream flannel (below) is suitable for cricket (or clubhouse) trousers or blazers, which may be of interest to Flannels for Heroes the fundraising charity for injured soldiers.

Flannels for Heroes organises cricket matches in traditional cricket whites, flannel being the cloth of choice for cricket trousers until the charmless march of man-made 'performance' fibres swept it away from the professional level down. Polyester trousers? That's just not cricket.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Send Him or Her Victorious - Floris

The Scent of Victory from Floris

Our dear friends at Floris have launched a new fragrance to celebrate the spirit of Great Britain. I didn't know the spirit of Great Britain smelled so well. The country must be in fine fettle.

Victorious is at heart a citrus oriental but with a woodiness that makes it suitable for men or women. In fact, it brings together five fragrance families: marine, citrus, floral, woody and oriental.

After drying off, it becomes warm and musky on masculine me. Yes, masculine me.

I used young Mrs Tweed as a feminine testee and it evolved into a something more sweet and flowery on her. Always with the oriental vanilla and spices in the background.

Gold for Floris. A lovely scent.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dashing Tweeds - The Hanky Hat

Dashing Tweeds Revisits a British Classic - The Knotted Hanky

The fashioning of a white handkerchief into headwear by tying knots at the corners became something of a clichéd image of the British male at play in sunny weather. Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols and the Monty Python team became associated with this forgotten look.

A look best forgotten you might say. And we tend to agree. To a point. Step forward Dashing Tweeds who have done the seemingly impossible and made the wearing of a handkerchief on the head a plausible option.

Hanky Headwear Reimagined

What if the ingenuity behind the hanky hat was to be refined and reworked using finest jacquard cotton and then combined with the practical elements of a flat cap? Dashing Tweeds had such thoughts and designed the Hanky Hat. The hanky bit sits at the back quite naturally.

The hats are manufactured in London by Patey Hats using cotton woven in Suffolk. A wonderful summer addition to classic British headwear.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

British Moustache Renaissance

It was easy to spot British 'stag doers' on my recent trip to the baths of Budpapest as nearly all were sporting a moustache.

By contrast, the male continental top lip is now almost uniformly smooth. It used to be that if you threw a stone in Budapest you'd hit a man sporting a magnificent Magyar moustache. They seem to be dying out. Shame.

Handlebar Club

Since 1947, The Handlebar Club of Great Britain has been an association for men who sport a "hirsute appendage of the upper lip and with graspable extremities".

I wonder if the Handlebar club has an opinion on the renaissance of the British moustache? Or the seeming decline of the Magyar moustache? Or is it a handlebar moustache or nothing as far as they're concerned?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

When Not Bathing in Budapest

What to do when not bathing in Budapest? The Habsburg influence left an elegant and enduring café culture to enjoy. Shoes are another thing you might consider. Budapester shoes to be precise. So that's cafés and shoes. You probably don't need more, but if you're hungry in Hungary you may wish to try Karpatia for a bit of old-school Austro-Hungarian charm. 

Budapester Cafés and Noble Rot

The Gerbeaud café and confectioners (pictured above) in Vörösmarty tér, one of the main squares on the Pest side of Budapest, is an obvious choice of café. Always nice to order a slice of Esterházy torte and sit outside in the square.

I'd say you could enjoy a glass of Hungarian Tokaji wine with your cake, but we don't cover wine at The Tweed Pig. (We'd need to mention France too much.) Tokaji is a sweet wine made from grapes affected by 'noble rot' or botrytis. Eszencia being the sweetest of all. Royal Tokaji is an exemplar of this style of wine.

If you're intent on doing a café crawl in Budapest, you can make it easy and head to Liszt Ferenc tér in District 6. The square contains back-to-back cafés, all with outdoor seating supplied with blankets if it gets a bit nippy. The cafés are open for breakfast and late into the night.

A nice spot to read the wonderful Embers [Amazon]by one-time Budapest resident Sándor Márai (or Márai Sándor in Hungarian name order). You can reflect on the nature of friendship whilst stuffing your face with Dobos cake. The Brooks Brothers Ray-Ban sunglasses came in handy for this task.

Karpatia - Pub and Eating House since 1877

Have you ever been to Rules in London? A nice restaurant, the best steak and kidney pie. I remember reading a diner's comment in the guest book that read, "Food excellent. Service camp as ever." I'm always reminded of that comment when I eat at Karpatia at Ferenciek tere, Budapest.

We don't cover restaurants either. If we did, I'd recommend Karpatia. Actually, as it has a bar area it can sneak in as a pub recommendation. Karpatia's interior has a Gothic revival flavour about it. It's like dining in the Houses of Parliament.

The Karpatia restaurant, pub and brasserie is a Budapest institution since 1877. Good beer, excellent goulash and goose liver. The city may be changing around it, but Karpatia remains a welcome constant. Welcome constants are always covered in The Tweed Pig.

Budapester Shoes

The traditional style of the Budapester shoe is a heavy-soled brogue with a high toe cap and open lacing. It's quite a hefty looking shoe.

The best Budapester shoes are handmade by the likes of Koronya in Banhida Utca or Vass in Haris Koz. That's a Vass Budapester above in black scotchgrain.

As Koronya and Vass make bespoke shoes, traditional or contemporary ideas may be incorporated into designs. They also make ready-to-wear shoe styles that bring in international influences. Although it seems right to go for a traditional Budapester in Budapest.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bathing in Budapest - On the Habsburg Trail

Vienna to Budapest - The Habsburg Trail

If you are visiting Vienna, you can tag a nice little train journey onto your trip within the bounds of the old Habsburg empire.

A couple of hours out from Vienna Westbahnhof train station and you arrive in Keleti Pályaudvar station in the centre of Budapest.

Budapest has excellent thermal spas. I visit the Gelert, Rudas and Széchenyi depending on mood and weather.

Széchenyi Baths 1881

Széchenyi Baths is situated in the City Park. This is a good one when the sun's shining as there is a large outdoor area. You can sit in the water and play chess with a local. They sometimes have club nights that combine with bathing if you're so inclined.

Rudas Baths 1550

The Rudas Baths is a throwback to Budapest's Ottoman period. The central octagonal pool is housed in a dome. Dark and atmospheric. Fabulous. One for being indoors on cold days.

Gellert Baths 1918

The Gellert Baths is a favourite and an all-year-rounder. You can use the indoor facilities to soak in Art Nouveau splendour or use the outdoor sundecks and pools if the weather's more clement. Though located within the famous Gellert Hotel, the baths are managed separately.

At great personal risk I took some photos of the interior (verboten) of the Gellert Baths, including the changing rooms - how would I explain that? The things I do for The Tweed Pig.

Orlebar Brown at the Gellert Baths

I was allocated changing room 18 on this visit to the Gellert. A good spot. There's a little bed  inside for treatments or a snooze if the exertion of bobbing in a pool at 38°C takes its toll.

The Orlebar Brown shorts were perfect for bathing then taking lunch on the sun terrace. I think this style is Bulldog. Let me check on the website. Yes. Notice the Klenk-like colour.

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