Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sir Plus - Tweedy Enjoys His Cabbage

Cabbage is King

How do you turn a shirt into quality underwear? With cabbages, of course. No, I've not been at the medicine cabinet again, cabbage is the clothing industry term for the offcuts and surplus material left over from orders.

Our very dear friends at Sir Plus use such cabbage, exquisite shirting material to be precise, to create limited runs of boxer shorts.

The Story of Sir Plus

Sir Plus was founded by youthful Henry Hales after he left university. It must have been very recently, because he's only 23.

In Henry's words:

"I wanted to start a company specialising in boxer shorts. I had difficulty buying decent fabrics and was put off by intimidating volumes. To coincide with this, I spoke with shirtmaker Emma Willis, who explained that often tailors make their boxers using left over shirting.

I then started contacting factories, tailors, shirtmakers and mills and offering to buy the best surplus around. This gives me access to a wonderful variety of fabrics in great styles. I love upcycling and it's an amazing adventure."

An Adventure in Underwear

Henry took a risk and the Sir Plus brand is gaining excellent traction in a lacklustre retailing environment. Consumers appreciate the quality and the originality of his boxer shorts. Being made from 'cabbage', each style is made in limited quantities.

His style is classic with a valuable and inimitable touch of English eccentricity that attracts old and young customers. And porcine ones too. Take a look at my super-soft shorts in blue herringbone with red stripe. Mrs T's idea for the photos. Hard to look dignified when you're undressed and holding a cabbage. One suffers for one's art.

Henry's All Ears

You speak and Henry listens. As a small manufacturer he has the agility to adapt to customer demands. "I receive a number of orders for customers who require bespoke underwear. This could be because they are larger or smaller than the average size, or they want the fly sewn up."

Underwear Tips

Henry advises on what to look for in a boxer short:

"The cut must be good, otherwise it's uncomfortable and potentially hazardous!
The waistband must be either in band (encased in shirting), or a bushed cotton, which is smooth against your skin. The fabric must be 100% cotton poplin, which feels soft and washes well."

"Sir Plus ticks all these boxes, adds original colour combinations, excellent packaging and makes them in England!"

Waistcoats from Waste

Waistcoats in tweeds and cord have recently been added to the Sir Plus range. Nice pieces. The one above is blue Harris tweed with silk polka dot trim on the pockets. I think we'll need to investigate these further as the weather gets colder...

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Curious Case of Prep Cream

Prepped on Prep

Remember we spoke about the mysterious Prep cream, the preparation you can use after shaving? Our new Italian friends at Coswell, the people who manufacture Prep, got in touch. We have further info...

Uses for Prep

Prep cream is useful not only as an aftershave, but can also be used before shaving. A thin layer under the shaving cream helps to protect the skin from irritations. Its soothing properties are also beneficial in case of sunburn, chapped hands and mosquito bites. A good all-rounder.

Storia de Prep

According to current owners Coswell, the Prep formula was invented and manufactured in 1866 by Mark W. Allen of Michigan, Detroit. He met and befriended Italian Italo Rustico during the First World War, who becomes an importer and supplier of Prep in Italy. The Prep brand was passed to Italian company Sirena in 1935 and Prep is manufactured directly in Italy - preserving the original formula. In 2009 our friends at Coswell acquired the brand.


So now you know. A 'two pipe problem', but let's consider the case closed.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Bath Ales

Your Pub Crawl List for Bath

Have you visited Bath, England? Lovely city and close to Tweed Towers. If we're passing, we'll try and stop for an 'editorial meeting' at one of the pubs in the city.

Here's our recommended pub crawl. I'm sure you'll find a favourite out of these.

If you do them in that order, and return to the Coeur de Lion through Victoria Park, you'll have a nice little walk.

The Hop Pole - Bath Ales

Bath-based brewer Bath Ales was established in 1995 to serve drinkers in the West Country. Its beer is very popular in Bath and Bristol, the seasonal and the regular brews being uniformly excellent.

The company manages a number of pubs including The Hop Pole in Bath (all pictures). The pub is renowned for good pub food and excellent service.

I normally start with a pint of Gem and then move on to a seasonal ale. Why don't you do the same?

Tweedy's Thought: Must do a full field report on Bath soon...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Toast Just Got Sexy - Rowlett Rutland Retro Toaster

The English breakfast is without argument our greatest contribution to civilisation. The old adage goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” That's why I like to see breakfast as a three course meal. Cereals and fruit juice for starters, bacon and eggs, kippers or devilled kidneys for mains and toast and marmalade for afters. All washed down with gallons of breakfast tea.

Eat Toast Like James Bond

Ian Fleming knew the importance of such breakfast fare. James Bond seems to have a breakfast obsession and appears to live for the main on eggs and hot buttered toast in his novels, when he isn't applying his tremendous knowledge to ordering local specialities out on operations. And Bond was particular with his toast, as with everything else. The marmalade had to be Frank Cooper's Vintage Oxford (now part of Premier Foods) and the jam Tiptree little Scarlet.

Both preserves are still available today.

Toast Making with the Rowlett Regent

I'm not sure what Bond's housekeeper May would make of the Rowlett Regent toaster (above), but I'm positive Bond would have appreciated its terrific looks and first-rate toasting action in his Chelsea pad.

The History of Rowlett Toasters

Rowlett is a manufacturer of catering equipment based in Bookham, Surrey, England.

The first Rowlett commercial toaster was manufactured in 1946 by the founder of the
company, Ted Rutland, father of the company’s current MD Bob Rutland, at his Staines, Middlesex factory. Rowlett’s domestic 2-slot toaster was produced the following year. Amazingly, spares for these toasters were still being supplied until approximately 2000.

In 2002, Rowlett joined forces with R V Rutland (UK) Ltd and production was moved to its current factory in Bookham. Rowlett has seen many challenges through the years, but it has survived where others have faltered though good stewardship by the Rutland family and respect for the name and the quality it represents.

The Rowlett Regent

Your bread slices will be itching to climb inside the Rowlett Regent for a tan. The design is based on a 1970s Rowlett toasters, but with new colours and features.

The Rowlett Regent 4-slot was awarded Best British Product this year at the Home Show at Earl’s Court.

And let's re-emphasise that these toasters are hand-made in the UK. A must-have for any British home and a massive Tweed Pig thumbs-up.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tipping a Hat to Bates

Bates - How to Measure Your Head

After our summer hat post recently, we received correspondence from several readers asking how heads are measured for hats and whether the same measurements were used for hard and soft hats.

Chum of The Tweed Pig, Jean-Luc Guitard, General Manager of Bates Hats offers some advice:

“You measure a head size the same way, whether it is for a Panama, a felt or a bowler hat. However you fit hard-bodied head wear, such as bowlers or top hats, differently. The hats need to be shaped to fit the head, with a combination of heat, tools and steam."

See him in measuring action here:

And here we see sage advice on the correct way to fold a foldable hat:

Monday, 20 August 2012

Brooks - Saddle Envy

Brooks - A Thoroughly British Ride

I shouldn't be looking for a new saddle for my Pashley Roadster Sovereign. Having a Brooks B33 spring saddle fitted, its almost as good as new after ten years - exceptionally well made. Besides, the special-edition B15 Swallow saddles I covet in red, white and blue leather with chrome fittings (above) are racing saddles and my bike is no racer. First produced by Brooks in 1937, the Swallow is an utterly timeless British classic. Perhaps I need to buy a new bike to put one on?

Moulton Bike with Brooks Swallow Saddle

As we spread our loyalty at The Tweed Pig, let's consider a bike for the Swallow saddle from another renowned British manufacturer, Moulton.

Moulton is based in beautiful Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, a stone's throw from Bath Spa.

Here we see their New Series Moulton with a Brooks Swallow saddle:

If you visit Moulton for a test ride, take a mosey over to Bradford-on-Avon's Saxon church, St Laurence's, to contemplate your imminent purchase. The Bridge Tea Rooms is worth a visit too. I recommend the rose tea.

Brooks Barbican Shoulder Bag

Brooks don't just make saddles in the UK. They make bags and accessories too, such as the Barbican bag above. The bag is tough and English, made with saddle leather in the north of England - the toughest bit.

Let's just say this isn't the kind of bag that would enter a bakery competition on TV. You could see it entering Le Mans, certainly, possibly the Fastnet too.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Fisherman's Friends - Nelson's Blood Flows

After our recent chat about Pusser's and rum being also known as Nelson's blood, we have to bring in Cornwall's Fisherman's Friends singing the related sea shanty. You'll be singing this to your rubber duck in the bath after a couple of listens.

Jarvis Cocker did a good version of this song too.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Pusser's - A Drop of Nelson's Blood in Cowes Week

Back to Work - Stiff Drink Time

Right. Where were we? If you're back from your summer break, like me, you're probably avoiding work and considering running off to the Philippines to start a boat hire business. Don't despair, you can hang on to that holiday feeling and keep reality at bay with the right attitude and a stiff drink.

Particularly appropriate in Cowes Week would be a nice tot o' rum, what with all its naval associations. Bum and 'baccy' optional.

Pusser's - Rum and the British Navy

Pusser's, based in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, have been producing rum to the old Admirality recipe of the British Navy for over 300 years, but the rum only became available to the public in 1979. They use the traditional methods and recipe for making authentic Royal Navy rum.

Neat Rum

Most people associate rum with delicious cocktails, but I enjoy Pusser's 15-year-old rum, the single malt of rum, in a small barrel-shaped tumbler (as above), neat and without ice. Fantastic.

Rum and the Royal Navy - A History Lesson

For more than 300 years, sailors of the Royal Navy were issued a daily rum ration - a tot - by the ship’s Purser (or Pusser in sailor's slang).

Prior to 1740, the daily tot was a pint of neat rum. Before and after battle a double tot was issued. Appalled at the drunkenness of British sailors, in that same year, Admiral Vernon ordered the rum ration to be watered down. Lime juice and water were sometimes added to the ration - the first cocktail? The concoction became known as grog after his nickname, coined from his habit of wearing a grogram coat.

The daily grog ration had shrunk to an eighth of a pint when it was finally abolished on July the 31st 1970. A day known as Black Tot day.

Pusser's to the Rescue

In 1979, Charles Tobias, sailor-adventurer and rum-maker, obtained the rights and blending details of the Royal Navy’s rum from the Admiralty. He formed Pusser’s Ltd on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to make rum in exact accordance with the Admiralty’s specification. The recipe is 100% natural using no flavouring agents and the rum has gone on to win awards around the globe.

Pusser's Production

Pusser’s uses a distillation process similar to that used for producing single-malt whisky to make its pot-stilled rum.

The rum is available in the traditional strength of 54.5% ABV and a lighter 42% ABV suitable for cocktails. The 15 year-old Pusser’s comes in at 40% and was launched in 2007.

Navy Rum Lore - Nelson's Blood

Navy rum is also known as Nelson’s Blood. Folklore has it that a hole was made in the barrel of rum preserving Nelson's body after the battle of Trafalgar so that contents could be drunk - including Nelson's blood.

Tweedy's Thought: Let's reintroduce the tot ration to the Royal Navy. They deserve it. And, hell, let's make Trafalgar Day a new bank holiday while we're at it.  

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