Saturday, 31 January 2015

Letter from Melbourne - In Praise of Purple

We have received a new letter from our dear friend Bertie of Melbourne, Australia. It needs no introduction, but I'm just popping my head around the door to mention that we're still looking for men on the ground in other 5 Eyes locations. What should we know about Auckland?

Bertie calls the purple-influenced outfit he describes below Bishop at a Sherry Party.

Carry on Bertie.

Letter from Melbourne

My dear Tweed

I very much enjoyed your post of 23 December with Sir John Betjeman’s poem Christmas. I particularly enjoyed Betjeman's image of the ‘hurrying clerks’ leaving the City to their pigeon-haunted towers. I don’t know if you got away over Christmas but I most certainly hope that Tweed Towers is not haunted by pigeons. (If so, I may have a solution to that problem but more on that later.)

I managed to tootle off for a few weeks, but I'm back now to putting my feet under my desk and under the aforesaid is my recent discovery of a pair of priceless purple socks (above).

The rib socks are made by Pantherella and I picked them up at Henry Bucks in Collins Street, Melbourne. I rather think they pass the Saki test and ‘compel one’s attention without losing one’s respect’.

But apparently, not everyone would agree with my appraisal of purple.

PG Wodehouse's short story Jeeves & the Chump Cyril [Amazon] revolves around a pair of purple socks that my namesake Bertram W wears against the wishes of Jeeves. The story ends badly for the socks with Jeeves lugging them out of a drawer 'as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad' before giving them away to an hotel porter.

What Could Jeeves Have Against Wearing Purple?

Apparently quite a bit.

The wearing of purple has been regulated since before the time of the First Elizabeth. Good Queen Bess's Sumptuary Statutes dictated who got to eat what, drink what and wear what. And when it came to purple Kings (Emperors) and Bishops used to hold all the cards.

There may be some romantic-reactionaries out there wishing for the re-regulation of purple, but I suspect the readership of the Tweed Pig comprises the best parts of the Gentleman and Yeoman classes and would remain forever grateful that these laws no longer hold sway in the land. Thus I encourage you, dear Tweed, and your readership to rejoice in the freedom to wear all things purple, heliotrope and plum.

Personally, I rather fancy this John Smedley polo neck.

And I'm now on the hunt for for a few yards of Dugdale Brothers Saxony Tweed with a purple check to go with it:

But when it comes to purple socks, personally, I think they best hidden from compelling one's immediate attention, and this is achieved by wearing trousers that break correctly only showing the inner King-Emperor's besocked ankles when sitting down to a lunch of swan, goose and pigeon.

Bertie Davies, Melbourne

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Merchant Fox Sweater in Devonshire Cashmere

Truly British Cashmere Sweater

I try not to make The Tweed Pig a site solely dedicated to the The Merchant Fox, but they make it difficult for me. How can the Bree Sweater be ignored? It was the result of a collaboration between The Merchant Fox, British merino wool and cashmere producers Bowmont (read their fascinating story here) and Quiggleys sweaters. I say 'was', as I'm not sure it is still available. It is certainly not ignorable, as I already mentioned a sentence or two ago.  

The sweater has great quality and timeless appeal, but the British provenance fair takes the breath away. The British-grown cashmere comes from Devon, the yarn is spun in Yorkshire and the sweater is knitted in the Scottish borders. As they say, 'born, bred and stitched in Britain'.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

60s Savile Row with The Move

The Move in Savile Row (1967)

Some of our favourite ingredients blend nicely in the video clip below: Italy, Savile Row, mod culture, freakbeat and swinging 60s London.

I am not sure about the final result of those suits though. If they were aiming for a mod-style suit, any purist would suggest they should have narrow lapels. Still, an enjoyable performance of Disturbance by The Move.

As can be seen from the street footage at the start, London — and anywhere else for that matter — was only swinging in certain places. Simon Shop, the Savile Row tailors shown in the clip, was happy to swing a little it seems; as are we at Tweed Towers.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Plum of London - Alpaca Scarf

Royal Alpaca from Plum of London

Alpaca is an excellent fibre for use in suiting and knitwear because of its lightness, softness and strength — soft as cashmere and warmer than sheep's wool.

Plum of London uses the finest — in terms of quality and thickness (and rarity) — royal alpaca fibre in its range of knitwear. The alpaca is sourced from Peru — where else? — and the knitwear is manufactured in specialist British mills.

Hugo Douglass, who founded Plum in 2013, is a keen advocate of the properties of alpaca, which he explains in great detail here: Why alpaca?  With Plum he also wishes to support British manufacturing as much as he is able. Locality, he argues, gives Plum much more control over quality.

As Hugo says:

'The concept therefore to combine what is arguably the world’s finest natural yarn with one of the most prominent knitwear industries is a perfect marriage and one which gives our customers the assurance that our alpaca garments are some of the world’s very best.'

That's Plum's Burgundy and Cream Woven Scarf in a herringbone pattern at the top. I'm not prone to hyperbole, but I would suggest that wearing it is akin to having a thousand tiny warm-lipped cherubs smothering your neck with tender kisses at the same time.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Burns Night - Haggis on the Go

Haggis for Professionals on the Go

For a sassenach I certainly get through a lot of haggis. I adore the stuff. When I learned that Grant's haggis is available in a tin I was sceptical. Surely proper haggis needed to be cooked in its 'bung' (casing) of animal's stomach? Actually, the tinned stuff is nae bad at all, laddies.

Think of it as haggis for time-poor young professionals on the go.

Enjoy your Burn's Night Celebrations. But, remember, haggis is worth celebrating any time.

BFPO Haggis for Heroes

Do you know someone in the British Armed Forces? You can send them a can of Grant's Premium Haggis for free at the Haggis for Heroes site.

Climbing Mount Everest #1 - Highland 2000 Hat

Highland 2000 Shetland Wool Hat

It's surprising what a hat can do for a man. Immediately this hat came into my possession, I had made up my mind — I must climb Mount Everest before year's end.

The hat is made in England by Highland 2000 who are based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. I've thrown the labels away now, but I think they went on about the Shetland wool used and its exceptional natural thermal and hygroscopic properties or some such.

Highland 2000 only make hats and scarves. It's always good to specialise. Highland 2000 is one of those British brands that are very popular in Japan, so let's make them popular here too. They don't have their own website, but you can buy them at Village Hats.

The important thing is what to wear around this little marvel on my expedition, and certainly not the actual expedition (which I'm unlikely to make, let's face it). I think we'll be seeing a lot of tweed on this improbable journey. [To be continued]

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Winter Survival Kit - Johnstons and Atkinson

Winter Warmers

You are going to be spending a lot of time indoors in winter, so you want to be comfortable and warm.

I would recommend keeping a hot water bottle and a good blanket handy. Central heating is all well and good, but it doesn't beat the manly embrace of a hot water bottle and the respectful clasp of a blanket.

This 'survival kit' also works when struck by the viruses that circulate too readily at this time of year.

We suggest the best of breed for this essential kit...

Johnstons 1797 - Cashmere Hot Water Bottle

The Johnstons of Elgin water bottle (above) has its own cashmere cable sweater. Made in Scotland. You could buy a Johnstons sweater to match if you are of an eccentric bent.

John Atkinson 1783 - Blankets

If you wish to swan around your house like a consumptive poet this winter, why not throw a John Atkinson Super Warm Merino (above) blanket around your shoulders? And if the news gets too much, just pull it over your head and it's gone. What a blanket! I always have one of these at hand in the cold season.

Draping a good wool blanket like this on your bed will have the beating of any 'continental quilt' in the warmth stakes. Simply put, every British home should have a ready stock of Atkinson blankets — end of debate.

If you want to up the ante, then you might consider one of their silk-bound pure cashmere blankets (bottom). The cashmere is of the softest belly wool.

All Atkinson blankets are made in the UK.

Last Remaining Blanket Mill in Britain

John Atkinson is part of the Hainsworth group. The blankets are made in England's only remaining blanket mill. Family-owned, Hainsworth is one of the oldest companies in Great Britain, producing textiles since 1783.

The blankets are available here.

Monday, 19 January 2015

350 Tweeds - David Saxby Sporting Tweeds

David Saxby - Tweed Coming Out of Your Ears

As recommended by our good friend Fennel, David Saxby offers tweed jackets in over 350 different tweeds.

Here we see a three-button tweed jacket below and that magnificent top-panel Norfolk tweed jacket above. Go and visit David in Fulham, London, and you'll be spoiled for choice.

And do remember to visit the sister shop, Old Hat, next door, which specialises in vintage clothing of the finest quality.

I do like the jacket David is wearing in the photo and video below. It reminds me of something that the old rascal Terry-Thomas might wear, which is an excellent thing to be reminded of.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Earl Grey Tea Chocolate - Rococo Chocolate

So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World

Those of you with a keen memory will recall that I am a fan of the tea-infused chocolates they sell in the Mallorca café chain in Spain. Because of this, a thoughtful person with said type of memory and a kind heart to boot sent me a bar of Ear Grey Tea dark chocolate by Rococo Chocolates.

Rococo Chocolates

Rococo Chocolates was started in 1983 by Chantal Cody. She set up her first shop in the King's Road, Chelsea, London. Chantal describes the image of the brand as eighteenth-century-meets-punk. Over thirty years later, Rococo has four shops and Chantal has a very well deserved OBE  — the first for a chocolatier. Chantal remains committed to her aim of providing the best 'couture chocolate'.

The chocolate was utterly delicious. Sincere thanks for this thoughtful gift.

Chocolate to Read Commando By

Tasting Note: I paired the chocolate with a cheeky copy of Commando's Too Old to Fight (above and below), the smoothness of the chocolate complementing the tale of valour perfectly.

I won't give too much away, but what I can tell you is that you're never too old for anything. And that Regimental-Sergeant Major Burnham Bulworth VC has a splendid moustache.

I hereby award the chocolate a VGC — Very Good Chocolate.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Letter from Melbourne - Pinegrove Leather

The Man that Hadn’t Music in Himself

No sooner do I tell you that we have our man Bertie in Melbourne, when he delivers the goods.

Our first piece of intelligence has arrived. Read on, gents:

My dear Tweed

A short note to ask you if you could remember what Shakespeare said about the man that hadn’t music in himself? I can never remember but I think it had something to do with treason.

I reflected heavily on this as it took me the full Twelve Days of Christmas to get the hang of playing In the Bleak Midwinter on the harmonica. While I may never truly master this tiny instrument, I must share with you the wonderful harmonica case (image above) which My Good Lady Wife gave me for Christmas.

Pinegrove Leather Goods

Pinegrove Leather is a hidden gem. It’s run by husband and wife team Rod Boyes and Lou Comerford Boyes who have been crafting for many years before setting up Pinegrove in 2012. They’re based in the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge and the company takes it name from The Pine Grove Blues, a song that Rod used to play when he was with Cajun Aces dance band.

Pinegrove describes their style as 'modern vintage' while avoiding modern style fastenings, preferring the challenge of designing using traditional techniques. All the leather is sourced from the UK, with a preference for leather that is both real and natural.

The leather in my case (in my case) passes the all-important 'smell test', smelling of a good saddle. In fact, the instructions that come with the case recommend using saddle polish on it.

Pinegrove specialises in leather goods for musicians, also making other items for guitar, whistle and drum. As well as their musical line, they also make organisers and notebooks — so there’s everything the organised musician needs.

Is it a harmonica or a mouth organ? It depends if you're a Midnight Cowboy

I understand some readers may have an image in their minds of harmonica players in the rural South of America, sitting on a porch playing a righteous slow blues or an equally riotous spiritual, or even an image of cowboys playing Red River Valley in front of a roaring fire. That image is true, up to a point. But the harmonica — or in British English, the mouth organ — has many traditions, with players across all musical genres from blues to bop, skiffle to ska, reggae to rock, folk to baroque.

In fact, your Correspondent shares Mr Tweed’s fondness for the compositions of John Barry, so when he’s not trying to play Holst on the harp, he’ll chime away at the theme from Midnight Cowboy [Amazon] , played here by Barry himself on a chromatic harmonica:

And in the midnight hour when the Good Lady Wife turns into She Who Must Be Obeyed and gives the order 'Let there be no noise made!' I have somewhere truly wonderful to hide my harmonicas.

Bertie Davies, Melbourne


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Bertie Davies - Our Man in Melbourne

Letter from Melbourne

A quick note to say that after our latest plea for men on the ground in the Five Eyes nations, a dead letter drop has confirmed the successful recruitment of a Melboune operative. This is very pleasing. As any Sydney resident will tell you, Melbourne is the finest city in all Australia.

Gentlemen, I give you Bertie Davies. (Now imagine an Australian person standing at a rostrum and nodding a greeting to you.) Please make him feel very welcome.

What can Bertie tell us about Melbourne to begin with? Over to you Bertie:

Dear Tweedy

You are right in highlighting that R M Williams moleskins (while not forgetting their wonderful boots) are one of Australia’s major contributions to traditional dress. They are worn in the Australian countryside across the complete social spectrum (viz: pastoralists, graziers, farmers, shearers and farmhands) for their practicality and durability. But in the major cities, moleskins and boots are a social signifier, worn by an Antipodean version of the Sloane Ranger. Moleskins go perfectly well with a tweed jacket, a Barbour or a polo shirt and are often worn by the urban haute bourgeoisie as an act of social solidarity. They’re also worn by 'Collins Street Cockies', 'Pitt Street Farmers' and 'Queen Street bushies' who wear this outfit to signify their connection to the land.

Marvellous Melbourne offers the very traditional gents outfitter Henry Bucks, and the less traditional but bewhiskered (and sometimes even tattooed!) younger chaps at Captains of Industry and Smart Alec Hatters

Most importantly it gave tweedy icon Barry Humphries (above and below) to the world.

Best wishes, 


We look forward to any further intelligence from Bertie. And we really must cover Barry more — we've only ever written on his wonderful music series So Rare. We must have him in our gallery.

Tweedy's Note: 'Collins Street Cockies', 'Pitt Street Farmers' and 'Queen Street bushies' are Australian terms for affluent city dwellers. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Museum of London - London Tweed and Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London

If you value how you spend your time, why not head over to the Museum of London, situated between the Barbican and St Paul's Cathedral, and near our old East End stomping ground, which has a Sherlock Holmes exhibition on until April.

This dynamic museum is holding a series of tie-in events, including an all-nighter called Sleeping with Sherlock. You get to stay over at the museum, eat, drink and participate in activities and whatnot.

'Should be interesting', I mused. 'Elementary', said he.

I must applaud the related items in the museum shop too. They have Sherlock's Derek Rose dressing gowns and countless bowlers hats. This can only be encouraged.

London Tweed

The museum's own London Tweed is inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Produced at the Lovat mill in Hawick, Scotland, the grey and yellow colour palette of the tweed was influenced by colours referred to in Doyle's original Sherlock stories and the museum's own tweed archive. The museum has an extensive fashion and textiles collection.

That's the very proud-looking museum director Timothy Long holding a bolt of the cloth at the top. Methinks he was going to whip that over to Savile Row for a measuring sharpish.

Speaking of which, Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, headed by Patrick Grant, recently collaborated with the museum to create a suit in the tweed for Tinie Tempah (below). The suit is destined for the museum's collection.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Chester Jefferies 1936 - Donegal Tweed Gloves

Tweed-Backed Gloves 

These handsome Donegal tweed-backed gloves are available for a limited time from Chester Jefferies. The grey tweed on the back of the glove may be matched with any colour combination of calfskin or deerskin leathers for the palms.

The Cape Frigate Grey leather looks splendid above; and will be hard to beat, but you could try and pick up a shade or a colour in the flecks of the tweed and use that. No, stick with the Cape Frigate Grey, it's a very elegant colour.

Don't forget that Chester Jefferies do bespoke.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Yorkshire Lad Ties - Made in the North

Yorkshire Through and Through

Lad Yorkshire is a designer collective based in Leeds, England. The Lad designers have two objectives: to develop a collection of Yorkshire-made products using materials sourced locally, to celebrate the industrial heritage of this most idiosyncratic of English counties. They are inspired particularly by Yorkshire's mills and the incredible textiles they produce. (We try and promote the great mills as much as possible ourselves.)

Sam, one of the designers and a former designer at Abraham Moon, contacted Tweed Towers and let me know about their first launch — a range of woollen ties.

The ties in the range have been given famous manufacturing names from Yorkshire, as is right. For example, we have the green wool Jowett tie above. Jowett manufactured light commercial vehicles.

The Moon tie below is named after dear old Abraham Moon & Sons.

So you get a nice tie and a lesson in Yorkshire's industrial history at the same time. Note that the materials for the ties are sourced within a 60-mile radius. Abraham Moon is one of the suppliers. The ties are available here at the moment.

Lads, I've been picking up vintage frayed-end woollen ties recently. For purely selfish reasons, that might be an idea for future additions to your tie collection.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Gentleman at Breakfast

Inspired by the 1775 painting A Gentleman at Breakfast, attributed to Henry Walton, let's resolve to breakfast like gentlemen in 2015.

A Breakfasting Gentleman's Robe from New & Lingwood

First dress like a gentleman for the most important meal of the day. Wrap yourself in the English Conservatory Dressing Gown from New and Lingwood (above and below). This is a gown that says, 'I refuse to be rushed.' Some consider it an abuse of human dignity to start the day without one.

The gown is handmade of silk in England. The silk features intricately embroidered branches, leaves and birds. It can be adjusted to your measurements when ordering, which is good as you wouldn't want the sleeves dangling over your runny boiled egg.

Three Breakfast Courses

Consider the English breakfast a three course meal. We'll keep a simple outline, but do substitute kippers or Omelette Arnold Bennett where you think necessary.
  • Porridge starters
  • Main course: full English breakfast
  • Toast and marmalade afters
This will be accompanied by a pot of tea, and a tumbler of cloudy apple juice from Cawston Press. Use the juice as an apéritif.

Porridge Starters

For your porridge, try:

English Breakfast

The English breakfast must have:

  • 2 fried eggs
  • 2 rashers of streaky bacon (crispy)
  • 1 rasher of back bacon (crispy)
  • 1 excellent pork sausage
  • 2 slices of black pudding
  • Grilled tomato
  • Mushrooms

You will know where to source good local bacon and eggs, but do make black pudding the hearty centrepiece of your English breakfast from reliable pudding-makers such as the rare-breed Fruit Pig Company who also make morcilla (the Spanish version of black pudding).

Black pudding with poached egg on toast is another suitable breakfast 'mains'.


I discussed the subject of the English breakfast with a reader recently. We have both attempted to make marmalade with disastrous results — too runny, insipid, wrong colour. Do you make your own? If so, where did we go wrong?

Thankfully, we have some excellent jam people in the UK.

James Bond swore by Frank Cooper's Vintage Oxford.

Highgrove has the photogenic Duke of Rothesay marmalade (above).

Fortnum's stock Sarah Byrne's Larkins Marmalade, which is made with beer from Kent's Larkins Brewery and recommended as a side accompaniment to bacon and sausage. Larkins Marmalade was a winner at the 2014 World's Original Marmalade Awards at Dalemain Mansion. With my efforts I shan't be entering too soon.
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