Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Smart Turnout - Belt and Braces

Wear Your Colours

Smart Turnout was established by former Scots Guards officer Philip Turner in 1999. The company takes inspiration from the institutional colours of the British Armed Forces, schools and universities. If you're an alumni of one of these institutions, then you have lots of choice.

That's the Army Rugby Club Braided Belt above, then you have the Royal Artillery Braces below — available as button-only or combination clasp and button — followed by the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders Webbing Belt. All of these accessories are made in England.

If you're not an alumni — or you feel uncomfortable wearing the colours of an institution you have no connection with — then you still have a few choices, I think.

And speaking of wearing your colours, I'm working on a Tweed Pig swatch that I'm hoping to translate into ties and such at some stage. Watch this space. In few hundred years, The Tweed Pig could be a heritage brand.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Stasis - The World's Finest Bicycle Storage


My Pashley Roadster Soverign has located another bike-related gem after its recent Brooks bag discovery.

This time it's tipped me off about Method Studio and their Stasis bicycle storage system (above and below). Billed as the 'world's finest bicycle storage' — Do you know better? — what bike wouldn't like one of these to call home? My Pashley certainly would. It's going on and on about it like a lovelorn loon. Apparently, being parked against the building and manacled to the railings night and day, exposed to the elements, isn't quite the same. Where is its British stoicism? It's lucky it has railings. I don't know.

Stasis is built in Scotland from copper and Scottish oak, with leather rests for the bike and a very functional drip tray beneath the rests. The storage also has a hand-crafted willow basket to stow your bike things. You can add more baskets if you have lots of things.

As it's built to commission, the sizing of the Stasis can be adjusted to fit your bike perfectly.

About Method Studio

Method Studio — based near Edinburgh, Scotland — is run by cabinetmaker Callum G. Robinson and architect Marisa Giannasi; a married couple who design and create hand-crafted items in wood and complimentary materials from their studio and workshop.

One of their more recent commissions was to produce chairs for the Glasgow School of Art, the first bespoke furniture made for the school since the pioneering Charles Rennie Mackintosh made his indelible mark.

Marisa was trained at the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art. Callum is a second-generation cabinetmaker who was taught be his father David, a master cabinetmaker and woodcarver.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Scabal - The Fabric of Our Society

Scabal Stay Fresh for Summer

Our chums at Scabal have released some new cloth bunches for the season — for work and play — which they have developed and produced at their mills in Huddersfield, England.

For Play

One of the new lightweight summer jacketings for summer is Fresh (see above), which is a lightweight (8oz) woollen cloth in 22 patterns that has a finish designed to make you feel cooler when worn in the heat — the appliance of science.

For Work

The Londoner bunch (see below) is an 8oz Super 140s woollen suiting cloth suited to temperate climes.

See both cloths in action in the video at the bottom.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

O England! Full of Sinne - Happy Saint George's Day

O England! full of sinne, but most of sloth;
Spit out thy flegme, and fill thy brest with glorie:

George Herbert (1593-1633) - poet, parliamentarian and priest
From Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations [Amazon]

St. George's Day - Cairo 1942

Here's some nice footage for Saint George's Day, from the ever reliable British Pathé, of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers celebrating the day in Cairo in 1942. They stick a rose in their cap and have a good old march to the local church in their tropical uniforms.

Paul Weller - English Rose

The Tudor Rose, the floral emblem of England, and a symbol of an England at peace. Paul Weller would use this symbol for his romantic folk ballad, English Rose [Amazon], which finds him at his most poetic in a sort of companion piece to Wordsworth's I Travelled Among Unknown Men.

Let's enjoy our traditional rose Martini today. Happy Saint George's Day to all our English readers wherever you may be.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Madrid - Bold Brilliantine and Honorable Brandy

Hello everyone. I'm back from a most invigorating Easter trip to Madrid. I trust you had a pleasant break? Madrid was as welcoming as ever: a capital city, unlike others — I'm looking at you London —  that never feels unpleasantly over-crowded — apart from around Puerta del Sol, but we don't go there — and moves at a pace that allows you to enjoy and absorb the pleasures it offers. The sun rarely failing to shine helps with Madrid's image too. I'm still looking at you London.

Brooks Bothers in Salamanca

A couple of things I noted on this trip. They now have a Brooks Brothers in our favourite barrio, Salamanca. I predict this will go down an absolute storm in this conservatively-dressed enclave. And the Spanish love their button-down shirts.

Brilliantine by Colomer

I forgot to take my usual Yardley English Lavender Brilliantine on the trip, but found an excellent standby in Ryelliss from Colomer. Colomer was founded in 1933 by José Colomer Ametller and made its products in Barcelona. The company is now the much larger Colomer Group, but the Colomer family is still involved.

You may quail at the vintage packaging of Ryelliss Brilliantador del Cabello — for me it was actually a selling point, wonderfully old-school — but this stuff delivers. Slide some over the hair and you'll be a winningly bombastic madrileño in moments. I can understand the allure of brilliantine in hot countries, it does help to placate the tresses in heat and humidity.

Honorable Brandy from Torres

I do enjoy the classic cigar, coffee and brandy combination after a meal. Get the quantities right and you can be left with a delightfully satisfying feeling, like one's body is fizzing with 'God particles'. Anyway, that was the description I noted down on the trip with my scribbling device. My writing is almost indecipherable that day.

The great thing in Spain is that they don't stick to boring old standard measures when pouring a brandy. They bring the bottle to your table — to show you the bottle and to let you know you're getting what you requested — then they pour it in front of you. They might expect you to say, "That's enough"; but being British you never say it and you get an enormous measure. It might also be the waiters trying to get the measure of you. Will you capitulate and ask them to stop pouring? Or will you earn their respect?

I did enjoy the brandies from Torres this time. This Spanish company — founded in 1870 — remains family-owned, and is now run by their fourth generation.

Torres do 5, 10, 20, 30-year and 50-year-plus brandies. The Honorable brandy — the oldest — is from casks dating from 1960.  The 10-year-old was really good, but I also had the chance to try the Honorable, which was stunning (see 'God particles' reference above).

The 30-year-old Jaime might have the nicest bottle of the bunch - below.  This reminds me that I brought back an incredible bottle of tequila — a beautiful thing. I'll show you another time.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Travel Accessories for Puffing, Doodling and Scribbling

Happy Easter

I'm off to enjoy a few days R&R in Madrid. I'll wish you a Happy Easter, however way you choose to celebrate — be it eating chocolate eggs whilst watching The Robe with Richard Burton, or with palm-piercing and self-flagellation.

I'll be in Spain for Semana Santa, so there will be the traditional processions in most cities. They are quite a spectacle.

I've stuffed a few travel accessories in my 'hidden' breast pocket (above) for the trip. That's a vintage Liberty pocket square in the 'real' breast pocket.

Accessory # 1 - Chinchalero Cigar

The Chinchalero Reserva de Oro Epicure No.2 is a smooth day cigar, hand-rolled in Nicaragua, with a Honduran binder and Ecuadorian wrapper. The cigar was kindly sent by a reader who recommended it highly. Thank you, sir.

A very special thanks also to a London-based reader for a recent donation. The money was spent, as promised, on afternoon tea. It really perked me up, let me tell you. Perhaps there is a business in here somewhere.

Accessory # 2 - Uni Pencil

Have you tried the Kuru Toga mechanical pencil from Japan's Uni-Ball? You really must. I was lured by the technology of the pencil, which has a special mechanism that rotates the lead as you use it, keeping the point consistently sharp and lines clean. Use it with the incredibly strong Uni Ball Nano Dia 0.3 mm lead. The pencil makes for one hell of a doodling device.

Accessory # 3 - J. Herbin (1670) Pen & Ink

I bought this J. Herbin rollerball pen because it takes Herbin's wonderful inks. I like the look of it too, dash it. J. Herbin was established in 1670, and it is the oldest ink producer in the world. Herbin made ink for the likes of Victor Hugo and Louis XIV of France.

The ink cartridges come in little aluminium pots. I favour Bleu Nuit and Poussière de Lune. The pen and inks make for one hell of a scribbling device.

I'm all set for puffing, doodling and scribbling.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Miss Marple Diet

No Mystery Diet

Miss Marple lived to a ripe old age whilst retaining a mind capable of solving complex murder mysteries in genteel locations. What was her secret? We know she lived a simple spinster's life, but could it have been anything to do with her diet?

Let's assemble the facts.

Molecular gastronomy has its place, but sometimes you just want a nice poached egg. Here's a description I found of Marple taking breakfast in At Bertram's Hotel: 
"A comfortable tray with a big pot-bellied teapot, creamy-looking milk, a silver hot-water jug. Two beautifully poached eggs on toast, poached the proper way, not little round hard bullets shaped in tin cups, a good-sized round of butter stamped with a thistle. Marmalade, honey and strawberry jam."
Butter stamped with a thistle. And they say civilisation isn't in decline?

So Miss Marple enjoyed simple food — something she shared with James Bond, incidentally. What about when to eat? We know she enjoyed her tea-times most of all. She pretty much lived on afternoon tea, cake and sandwiches.

Tweedy's Fact: The afternoon tea is undoubtedly — ahead of our language — England's greatest contribution to civilisation.  

So, facts assembled, if you want to try the the 'Miss Marple diet', it's easy to follow. You head to your local tea rooms and order a full afternoon tea, then repeat daily.

You can also try this diet at home. Here we line up a few useful items to get you started.

Teapot - Royal Winton (1888)

A teapot is essential. Made in Stoke-on-Trent, England, the 4-person pot above is by Royal Winton. It's from their Afternoon Tea range, incorporating the Florence pattern.

Royal Winton has been making fine bone china since 1888. They are famous for their chintz patterns. Take a look at the patterns they offer on their web site — so delicate and pretty; some would make nice patterns for ties, actually. The eyes get so used to tasteful Monocle reader minimalism the world over that these patterns seem almost rebellious. It's a shame the discontinued list is growing. Let's help to do something about that.

Chuck in the Chintz?

When Ikea launched its Stalinist purge of chintz from our shores in the 80s, with its Chuck out the Chintz manifesto, like sheep we obeyed. Who are they to tell us what to do? Is it time to bring a little bit of chintz back?


  • Bakewell Pudding from the Old Original Pudding Shop. Traditional Bakewell pudding made, quite properly, in Bakewell, Derbyshire. You can purchase a year's supply of these 'naughty boys' to be sent one-a-month to your home.
  • Victoria Sponge from Sponge the Norfolk cake makers — truly the Queen of cakes. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Colourful Cordings - A Favourite Gent's Outfitters

World-Famous Cordings

Ask a foreign bod where to go to get the English look and they'll say Savile Row and Jermyn Street; but when it comes down to individual shops London's Cordings is likely to be the first and only one on their lips. And not without reason. Since 1839, this shop has dressed the Great British in the greatest British country clothing: the dreadnought coat, the Newmarket boot, the tweed jacket, the corduroy trouser, the covert coat, the Macintosh, the tattersall shirt. Right-minded Anglophiles want a piece of that action.

Tweedy's Request: Cordings, if you have any archive advertisements, please send on and let me share. Our readers and I would be most grateful.  

Colourful Cordings

Enter Cordings today and — as well as seeing Eric Clapton and Graham Coxon trying on suits, and humming their latest songs contentedly (or Tweedy humming off-key) — you will see flashes of colour amongst the tweed.

I'm very impressed with Cordings' crisp cotton trousers in brightly elegant and unafraid colours. I was torn between the lime and the pink they have available, but went for pink in the end. They're an excellent fit and a flattering cut — not too narrow or too loose. They have a button fly and a French bearer to keep things smooth at the front. The cotton is perhaps a mid-weight, yet very sturdy to the touch. In Britain, you could wear these right the way through from spring to mid-autumn. These trousers are wardrobe classics and it's worth building up a collection.

Be quick if you want a pair. My Cordings contact says they have limited quantities of these trousers and they're being taken from the rails rather quickly.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race - Czech and Speake

Come on, Oxford! Come on, Cambridge! Come on, dead heat! — it's happened once. The Boat Race is now in its 185th year. Let's hope neither boat sinks, and we get a well-matched race; and a bit of Sunday sunshine would be nice. Even for non-oarsmen, it can be quite the spectator sport.

Czech and Speake

Czech and Speake was founded by Frank Sawkins in the 1970s. His vision was to bring uncompromising quality to the bathroom, first through fixtures and fittings, then with accessories and fragrances. Frank is still at the helm, and he is still driving that vision. The company has showrooms in Jermyn Street and Pimlico Road, London.

Inspired by the quintessentially English sporting tradition of the Boat Race, Czech and Speake now supply a lavender-based fragrance called Oxford & Cambridge. The invigorating fragrance "contains a blend of English and French lavender, topped with herbaceous peppermint and rosemary essential oils with bergamot on a base of warm oak moss." It's available as an aftershave (below), or as a shaving soap, in the attractive looking aluminium dish (above).

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Grand National - Crabbie's Ginger Beer

The Sponsor

Ah, you know we're properly moving into Spring when the Boat Race and The Grand National appear on the calendar. This is quite the British sporting weekend, with the National on Saturday and the Boat Race on Sunday. They aren't normally on the same weekend, are they?

Crabbie's Ginger Beer becomes the new sponsor of The Grand National this year. How is that for a fit? It seems pretty good to me. I'm holding out for sponsorship of The Tweed Pig. We've had some very odd offers between you and me. Are we so hard to pin down, marketing-wise? You wouldn't believe that they'd read a single word on here.

The Wager

Anyway, the bit you've been waiting for — my tip for the race. I'm plumping for a cautious each-way bet on Tidal Bay. Wishing all the riders a safe ride, and all punters the best of luck.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Irresistible E. Tautz

E. Tautz Trench Coat

You can never have enough raincoats living in the UK. I think we've all realised this recently. It is simply the most useful item you will have in your wardrobe. That's certainly the rationale I use for my continually buying them.

This one was impossible to resist. It's by E. Tautz (the ready-to-wear offshoot of Savile Row's Norton & Sons) and made in Scotland by Mackintosh.

This is a proper trench coat of rubber-bonded cotton, and in a classic cream colour too, with an engagingly zesty lining. It will be worn in rotation with my others, but a worthwhile addition to the collection.

The coat has some of the features you'll recognise from classic trench coats: raglan sleeves, waist belt with leather buckle, storm flap over the shoulders to the front, and cuff straps. I'm not quite sure what the loops are for under the collar, but I threaded one of my Peckham Rye scarves through it. I'm jolly pleased with it.

I'll be making one of my regular trips to Madrid soon, and this coat (along with the Fox umbrella) is coming with me. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, they tell me.

Waterproof Yourself

Much more on raincoats here.
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