Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The shop is shut. Time to enjoy a period of restorative idleness. And eat mince pies.

A firm handshake and our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Here's hoping that there's plenty for you to savour in 2014.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Retreats - Pubs with Fires

Diary Entry #1 - December 2013
Currently on Christmas present delivery operations. Winding around the A-roads of Britain in 'Genevieve'. I need a break. Having a long one in The White Lion pub, Barthomley, Cheshire (above). Dating from 1614, this welcoming pub is in a hidden-away and timeless English setting, overlooked by the elevated 15th century St. Bertoline's church — scene of a massacre in the English civil war.

The pub has roaring fires and an excellent selection of beers, including Christmas ales, making it a perfect Christmas retreat.

Diary Entry #2 - December 2013
I finally moved on from The White Lion. It was a struggle, yet, I soon find solace in another Christmas retreat — the Hare & Hounds, Bath (below), high up in Lansdown, overlooking the city and surrounding countryside.

The pub also provides the requisite roaring log fires and good beer. There's an extensive food menu too, which includes breakfast. The cooked breakfast has the really excellent Stornaway black pudding. Any self-respecting 'full English' must have black pudding.

This Christmas business is easy.

Resolution for 2014: must make my diary entries more interesting.

Merry Christmas and cheers, Tweedy.

P.S. See the coat on the chair in the final photo below? More on that in the new year. Becoming a bit of a hit in this weather, let me tell you.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas Film - Blood and Cardigans

Tales from the Crypt

The tea things have been laid down; the Miles Darjeeling tea is brewing (2-4 mins) and the Fortnum and Mason rose petal biscuits are plated, along with the chocolates from Melt.

Time to settle down to a good film. And what better than a good horror film at Christmas? One featuring blood and cardigans sounds appropriate for the festive period. Tales from the Crypt [Amazon] — a British classic from 1972 — has both in spades. Actually, not that much blood. But a cast that includes Joan Collins, Peter Cushing and Sir Ralph Richardson. And it's directed by the great Freddie Francis.

Tales from the Crypt is actually a collection of five morality tales. The first of which has a Christmas backdrop as a bonus. Five people become separated from a guided tour of some catacombs and, lost, they end up in a crypt where a mysterious man — the crypt-keeper — appears to know all about them and what each of their futures may hold. They're not going to like what they hear very much.

Terrific Knitwear

Robin Philips wears some terrific knitwear in the film. Worth the entry ticket on their own, frankly.

Be on the look out for longer cardigans, like the lighter blue one at the bottom here. And as worn by Dirk Bogarde. I predict they'll be a smash for 2014.

Merry Christmas, Tweedy.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Private White Christmas

Thoughts of Christmas

The Jeep Coat we featured from Private White V.C. has a starring role in this Christmas video filmed by Lily Ashley.

An interpretation: With a backdrop of harsh moorland, and a reflective rendition of Deck the Halls, a mystery man living alone has made a decision. Have thoughts of Christmas sparked the decision? Wearing a Jeep Coat, our silent hero makes his way to the Private White shop in London with a special delivery. 'What's in the bag?' we wonder. Nice imagery.

Merry Christmas, Tweedy.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Stocking Fillers - Oxford Socks

Oxford Socks - Easy to Wrap

If the thought of buying presents for Christmas is inducing conniptions, here's a little stocking-filler idea suitable for your pimply nephew or your ruddy-cheeked uncle.

Oxford Socks are designed in Oxford, England, and manufactured in Nottingham, England, by a family-firm that have been making socks for over a century. The cotton socks are knitted in a circular motion to create a tube, and then the toe seam is hand finished. There's a little umbrella logo on the ankle. And they come in a wrapping-friendly carton.

Our friends at Tails stock them, and they say the sock-making process "results in a pair of socks that can't be replicated by machine".

The ones you see here are in a ribbed design, are available in lots of plain colours, and are damned comfortable.

Merry Christmas, Tweedy.

Tweedy's Thought: It's become a clichéd idea that socks are a lazy present to give. Wrong. Dead wrong. I am extremely grateful to receive a pair of well-chosen socks, keeping the sock drawer well-stocked. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Stocking Fillers - GTO London

Classic Steering Wheel Cufflinks

Here's a stocking filler for someone you like a lot and wears double-cuff shirts: cufflinks from GTO London. And if they are classic car enthusiasts, well they are likely to be eternally amazed by your thoughtfulness and generosity. Perfect for my aunt then.

The cufflinks you see — Volante RFM Cufflinks — are based on the three-prong steering wheel of a classic Ferrari. Don't pin me down on models of Ferraris, I know nothing about cars. Classic Ferraris are handsome beasts, that's all we need to know.

The cufflinks are made by hand using sterling silver and actual metal from a classic Ferrari, or Real Ferrari Metal (RFM) as GTO London put it, with a yellow enamel centre.

GTO London manufacture in Europe and the US.

Real Ferrari Metal?

Where do GTO London get this so-called RFM metal from?  This is all very clever. GTO London’s parent company is GTO Engineering. GTO Engineering have been restoring classic cars for 30 years from their base in Berkshire, England. They specialise in restoring the most celebrated Ferraris. Parts from the Ferrari restorations that are no longer viable are re-cycled by GTO London. By-products of the restoration process that have a high content of bronze are melted down with subtle additions of silver and gold and used in the RFM Collection.

GTO Engineering is a family business founded by Mark Lyon. His daughter, Victoria, runs GTO London.

Merry Christmas., Tweedy.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas List

I Wrote a Note to Father Christmas

Dearest Father Christmas, I've been a very good Tweedy this year. I've corrected most of my typos and even checked the odd fact before publishing The Tweed Pig articles.

I know I don't have a real need for anything. In fact, peace and goodwill to all men would be more than enough over the festive period, but these are just a few things that it would be nice to find under the tree on Christmas morning. 

Like I say, peace and goodwill would be fine — and there's a fair way to go there — so, no pressure.

Merry Christmas, Tweedy.

Wool Smoking Jacket in Black Watch Tartan - Derek Rose

Irish Linen Hand-Rolled Handkerchiefs - Ede & Ravenscroft

Partagas Lusitanias Gran Reserva Cosecha 2007 - Sautter of Mount Street

English Fern Triple-Milled Talcum Powder - Penhaligon's

Memory Book - Bound by Hand

Stilton Scoop - Linley

Toothbrush with Hand-Stitched Real Bristle - Kent Brushes

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Treat - The Best Percebes in Madrid

Sexy Beasts

Christmas has taken me a bit unawares this year. I'll try and rattle off a few Chrismas-themed articles before the onslaught begins and I'm half-drowned in tinsel.

First up, a Christmas treat Spanish-style. Percebes are a seafood delicacy, but you may need to go to Spain for these beauties, as I doubt your local fish and chip shop stocks them. They're actually pretty ugly, as you can see from the photo above — impossible to make them look any 'sexier'.

They're worth making the trip to Spain to try, because, frankly, they're the best seafood there is. Lobster? Percebes would have them for breakfast, idiomatically speaking.

Percebes, a tube-shaped crustacean, are gathered at great peril by percebeiros from the stormy waters off the coast of Galicia in northern Spain. They are boiled and served hot on a napkin. The taste is of sweetness and the sea, the texture like a juicy marshmallow of the deep. Beauty is really only skin deep.

Where to Eat Them? O'Caldiño, Madrid

In Madrid, I'd send you to Taberna O'Caldiño to eat percebes. A traditional tavern and eating house, O'Caldiño is the sort of timeless and unchanging place you and I always seek out when travelling. (Although it has only been around since 1973.) Dress up, put on a shirt and tie (and a napkin to protect it), to show some respect to the dear percebes, and enjoy the ambiance with a nice glass of Albariño.

Merry Christmas, Tweedy.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Commando is Back

Reshuffle for Commando

I've had a bit of a reshuffle and re-presented the thrilling story, The Sand Devils, in its complete form. The story was generously donated by those true Brits at Commando Comics. It was previously published in serial format, but this rendered it difficult to read.

Read The Sand Devils HERE.

Please do your duty and subscribe to a regular print or digital helping of action and adventure from the mighty Commando. Tweedy expects, chums.

Nice Cover

The cover below is from one of the recent releases from Commando's War in The East series. Sergeant Khan looks fearsome.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Condensed Amsterdam #2 - Café Hoppe

Hajenius to Hoppe

We're on our way to the best tailors in Amsterdam, but it's quite a walk from Hajenius (not really). Let's stop for a refresher at the oldest pub in the city, Café Hoppe. Reputedly the oldest pub anyway. Let the locals argue that one out.

You will find it on Spuistraat.

You can call in at nearby The English Hatter on your way to the pub from Hajenius, if my sense of orientation is not betraying me. The English Hatter is a traditional gentlemen's outfitters with a British bias. I'm sure you'll find something in there.

Beer and Ossenwurst

Café Hoppe is not short on old-world ambience. Nice touch with the leaves covering the floor to soak up beer spillages and whatnot. The pub dates at 1670. There is a bigger (possibly newer) bit to the pub and a smaller (possibly older) bit. You enter the smaller bit through a door draped with heavy leather curtains. You may find it hard not to coo with delight when you enter. Resist. The locals sipping jenever at the bar might think you're peculiar.

And if you fancy a jenever yourself —a Dutch gin, and where we get our name for gin from (I think)— why not the Notaris Moutwijnjenever X.O., from Herman Jansen, fine Dutch sipping gin aged for 10 years in oak barrels.

I stuck to a beer and a plate of traditional Amsterdam ossenwurst at Hoppe. Ossenwurst is a raw beef sausage served with pickles and mustard. The sort of pub snack that might tickle the palate of Fergus Henderson, the nose to tail eating advocate. I spoke to the locals at the bar about trends in food and whether traditional Dutch food was holding its own against the multitudinous ethnic restaurants in the city. Was it just something served for tourists seeking out a bit of authenticity? Apparently not. Classic Dutch comfort food like ossenwurst and bitterballen is as popular as ever.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Augustus Hare - Bow Tie Ballet

Move Over Ryan Gosling

Remember The Cricketer tie from Augustus Hare we featured back in June? Yes, very nice tie. I trust you now have one in your collection. Well we also mentioned that Hare were working on a dance piece "to illustrate the artistry of tying a bow tie". I was really looking forward to seeing the finished article.

It happened and it's here. And it's great.

Very dear friend of six months, Sam Carlisle of Augustus Hare got in touch to say it was ready. And — knowing how wonderfully sophisticated you all are — he wanted The Tweed Pig readers to be some of the first people to share it with.

Not only that, we also have a supporting feature showing the production process for a bespoke Hare tie to view together.

You can throw all your Ryan Gosling DVDs on to the fire. Stay tuned to The Tweed Pig for the best in film.

Augustus Hare - How to Tie a Bow Tie

Augustus Hare - Art of a Hand Made Tie

Hare Live Event

Meet Sam in person at Selfridges between now and December the 15th, where Hare are making ties in-store. If you have one made, I wouldn't mind a gander. Send us a pic.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Tweed Stimulation from Harrisons of Edinburgh

We Almost Forgot a Celebration

I was rummaging through my cyber-drawers the other day, chucking out old digital scraps, when I spotted these photos of one of the anniversary tweeds created by dear friends, Harrisons of Edinburgh. Surely I'd celebrated the fact that this fine purveyor of British cloths and linings was 150 this year? I scoured the pages of The Tweed Pig. Apparently not.

So let's raise a glass today. Gentlemen. To Harrisons.
(Have they dropped the Saxon genitive? I'm sure there used to be one.)

Anniversary Tweed

There are ten Harrisons anniversary tweeds, several of which come in a large windowpane check like the one shown here. All made from British wool.

Harrisons are part of the Lear Brown and Dunsford group.

Don't Languish in Tweedy's Drawers
Are you one of our family of companies with a celebration imminent? Help us tell the world by giving Tweedy a poke at the right juncture. He's terrible with dates.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Great British Perfumes - Union Fragrances

Union Fragrances

In the rarefied world of perfumery breaking new ground is difficult to achieve. Ingredients are limited and availability varies: most large companies err on the safe-side, not least in terms of commerciality, by following fashionable fads. I watched, therefore, with keen interest the development of new luxury fragrance brand, Union Fragrances, who had set themselves a near impossible task; a range celebrating the botany of the British Isles using ingredients from our somewhat challenged natural history. Perhaps it was the focussing brief, perhaps it was the skill of the perfumer, Anastasia Brozler, or the foresight of the brand’s creator, John O’Sullivan, but most probably it was the combination of all three; a trinity which has yielded one of the most interesting collections of late.

To my mind the olfactory match-made-in-heaven for The Tweed Pig, would be without doubt; Quince, Mint and Moss. Fruity strands of ripe quince from Somerset speckled with purple-black juniper berries weave through a fabric of cool English garden mint and verdant moss scraped from a countryside churchyard wall.

Equally fresh; Holy Thistle bursts with the eponymous fresh, green accord from the Kinrara Estate in the Highlands. Blended elegantly with cool bay from Pembrokeshire, bracken from the Borders and underscored with rich Highland pine resin, this is a solitary hike through the hills, the wind blowing you along, the fleeting moment when man and nature merges.

Britain has been overwhelmed by Spanish Bluebells, leaving the indigenous variety protected and in very rare supply. Anastasia hand collects the flower heads of protected English variety (under license) to create this most extraordinary of perfumes. Violet leaf from Devon and ivy from Dorset add green-notes to Gothic Bluebell, a scent which is best described as a national treasure. I hesitate to allude to an overgrown folly, for this fragrance is far from that, instead a ruined chapel, mullion windows twisted with foliage, flower heads bursting through tumbledown stones.

Most extraordinary of the original four fragrances is Celtic Fire. Smoky peat from County Derry, fir balm and pine needles from Aberdeenshire, birch tar from Inverness-shire create a rich resinous amongst pagan scent, untamed and unashamed.

Hot on the tail of Celtic Fire, Gunpowder Rose, the newest release, is quite literally a cracker. Hard-to-obtain English Rose, from Lincolnshire and the Stour Valley, combines the lushness of the petals with the greenness of a newly cracked stem. Dramatically the fresh-floral notes are tinged with the flinty thunderstorm notes of gunpowder. Juicy Blackcurrant from Kent, adds to the excitement with a thrilling, energizing bite, whilst oak moss from Dorset and oak bark recall the smell of nature anticipating a storm; the tree beneath which you should not shelter. This is, however, one fragrance you should certainly spray.

Written by Lawrence Roullier White
Lawrence Roullier White is the owner of the Roullier White Perfumery.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Being Beige - William Lockie (1874)

Beige Rage

How exciting to live life in beige. The most subversive of the colours. The fashion crowd will try and persuade you it's a boring colour. I'll tell you something, their beloved black is a boring colour. And it's not even a colour. We're beige and proud.

Add that beige to knitwear and you're being almost revolutionary in your subversively conservative garb.

(Beige looks nice with black though.)

Here's a knitwear label you may want to seek out: William Lockie. Lockie is based—where else?—in Hawick, the knitwear capital of Scotland.

They do some nice cashmere and camel hair numbers. The Windsor Shawl Collar Jacket in 2-ply camel hair above is without doubt a timeless classic.

Ken Nordine - Serious Beigeness

Ken Nordine, the word-jazzer, got the measure of beige on his 1967 album Colors. [Amazon]

Each track on the album features a different colour, and Nordine has made word associations to give a story and personality to each. He charmingly delivers these stories in a smooth vocal over a free-form jazz soundtrack, the words as deep or as silly as you want to read into them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ultimate Duffle from Nigel Cabourn

Duffle Coat Elicits a Rare Exclamation

Wow! I don't use that expression lightly, but what else can you utter when you see this duffle coat from Nigel Cabourn? It has to be the finest duffle coat around right now, if ever.

That great British military heavyweight of the coat world, the duffle, has been reworked by Cabourn in cashmere (cloth by Cerutti). The integrity of the original military duffle is retained in length and shape, but the quality and detail has been taken up a level.

Made in England, the coat has a double storm front opening, proper wooden pegs and jute fastenings and patch pockets. The hood and cuffs have adjusters.

I have quite a crush on the rusty-coloured one above. Duffle heaven. I feel a little faint, I think I need a sit down.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Taylor's Celebrated Cutlery - Made in Sheffield

Sheffield - Steel City

Sheffield still has an association with the steel industry. It was very close to becoming something Sheffield was famous for, but the industry didn't disappear entirely. And what has emerged in recent years is an industry that has found new vigour through innovation, technology and focus on quality. Made in Sheffield still means something, particularly in the manufacture of advanced materials for niche industries.

It's not all about producing metal sheeting for aircraft though. Some of the older skills remain, keeping Sheffield's cutlery heritage alive. You can still own a little bit of hand-made Sheffield steel.

Taylor's Eye Witness - The Blades

Taylor's Eye Witness was established in 1820 by John Taylor in Sheffield. The company is still based in Sheffield—and their Victorian cutlery works, built in 1852, is still in operation. Taylor's famous Eye Witness 'eye' trademark was granted in 1838.

Tweedy's Idea: Why don't they create a visitor centre in the works, with tea rooms and so on. I'd visit and so would you.

Taylor's Premier Collection range of pocket knives are made by hand in their Sheffield works. The presentation box of the knife is signed by the craftsman that made it. The knives are made in limited numbers and come with a lifetime guarantee.

That's a Lambsfoot with burr handle below. At the top we have Gentleman's Clip Point with ox horn handle. Add one to your collection, chaps.

Here's a video of the manufacturing process. Lot's of hammering to produce a Barlow knife.

Thinking of Visiting Sheffield?

If you're thinking of visiting Sheffield, why not visit the Bath Hotel? The pub is run by our very good friends at Thornbridge Brewery.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Condensed Amsterdam #1 - Hajenius

I was productively idle in Amsterdam recently, enjoying the city and allowing the experiences to be had in the city to fall like ripe apples about my head.

The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach

What I'm trying to say by borrowing Andrew Marvell's words is that it's not hard to have a good time in Amsterdam, pleasures are easy and abundant—unlike some cities, where you really have to work hard to winkle them out.

So the exercise with the Condensed Amsterdam series is to try and distil the diversions into a manageable weekend-sized chunk.

Strolling Around the Negen Straatjes

Let's base ourselves within an area of the Centrum district of Amsterdam between De 9 Straatjes and the Rijksmuseum [walking]. We may venture out on occasion, but—as with Salamanca in Madrid—we have everything we need here.

De 9 Straatjes is a beautiful area of canalside houses, connected by bridges, with many independent shops and restaurants (and no plasticky American fast-food and fashion chains to offendeth thine eyes). The area is like stepping into a Vermeer painting, with the quiet from the lack of cars and the light from the canals reflecting onto the 17th century gabled canal houses. And who amongst us wouldn't enjoy that?

Take a look in at Sir Maxx who stock some of our favourites for shoes and accessories: Crockett and Jones, Alden and Swaine Adeney Brigg.

Elevenses at Hajenius

Assuming you'll be having late starts in Amsterdam, elevenses at Hajenius cigar emporium and lounge is a good way to kick-start your day and a decent base in which to plan walks around the city.

The recommendations for elevenses from the Hajenius staff are hard to argue with. The mornings I was there they matched a Macanudo Café with a vintage port from Grahams [1820]. Another day it was a Leon Jimenes Gran Corona from La Aurora with a coffee.

The Hajenius smoking lounge is a quiet refuge. The Dutch will tend to smoke pipes and enjoy a good book in there. Brits will be sitting in groups smoking cigars and throwing back bottles of wine.

When the lounge emptied, I had the opportunity to listen to Radio Dismuke through the WiFi. It made for quite the perfect moment.

Appointment at the Tailor's

Come, let's now stroll towards the Rijksmuseum. We've an appointment at the best tailors in Amsterdam...
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