On my recent tour of Scotland around the North Coast 500 (to be covered soon here on the blog) I was able to drive a new Land Rover Discovery. I'm not going to write a full review of this car as I'm not a motoring journalist and there are plenty of reports online on this car, most very complimentary about its on and off-road capabilities.
Driving up the sinuous Bealach na Ba in Applecross
I drove some 2500 miles in the four weeks or so we had the car. From London we drove to Cumbria, then up to and around the northernmost coast of Scotland before returning to London via Cumbria. The journey saw every type of road you can imagine, from the crowded circular car park that is the M25 to the more open motorways of England and Scotland. Smaller roads varied from dual carriageway to tiny, twisting singletrack roads with passing places. Many of the latter were challenging driving; steep and tortuous, often poorly maintained with rocks at each verge and poor road surfaces. To park we often had to go briefly off-road into all types of terrain.
What impressed me about the Discovery is that it took everything in its stride, being equally at home as a fast and comfortable motorway cruiser as a car for driving round twisting, narrow, poorly maintained tracks.
The Discovery is a large car - I was concerned that this might be noticeable on the very narrow tracks of the more remote parts of the North Coast 500 - but this wasn't the case. A smaller person (my wife) might find they have to climb up to get in and to reach out to close the door, but the advantage for us was that we carried several weeks luggage and a large dog with room to spare. There is, of course, the smaller Discovery Sport for those looking for a smaller and highly capable all-round touring car.
The concept of the touring car may seem old-fashioned, but it comes into its own for long motoring holidays and trips abroad. The Discovery is the perfect touring car which would get you out of almost anything. Visit the Land Rover website for more information.
The car was kindly loaned to me (at my request) by Land Rover PR. They asked for nothing in return, for which I'm very grateful. I was genuinely impressed by the car, and all views here are my own. I was paid nothing for this feature.
Adamley Textiles this year celebrates 50 years in the silk business. Based in Macclesfield, often described as being at the end of The Silk Road, it's one of two silk businesses in the area, representing a long history of silk production and printing in the area in which the first silk mill was established in 1743.
Adamley's printed silks are used in particular for ties, scarves and pocket squares
I had the pleasure of working with Adamley a year or two ago when I was given access to their archives to select a silk lining for a bespoke Norfolk jacket which was being made for me by local tailor, Brita Hirsch (read the story here on the blog). The silk design, of fox heads, was printed specially by Adamley and is shown bottom left below. During its lifetime, Adamley acquired part of the archives of David Evans & Co (no relation!), a silk business that sadly went out of business some years ago and these were some of the designs that I was able to view.
At Adamley with Brita Hirsch and the final design for the jacket lining (below left)
Looking through Adamley's archives - the basis for the final design is top right
Joanne Ratcliffe, Design Director at Adamley, told me more:
"The print division of Adamley was set up on the site of the original laundry that served all the silk mills in Macclesfield (the official end of the silk road). We were known as Park Adam and had a weaving mill in the town centre.
In the early days we would have still block printed all the patterns onto cloth. By the beginning of the 1970’s we moved over to screen printing. This was helped and enabled by the start of a company called Langley screens in the same village that engraved all the screens for us.
Today we have both hand and automated print tables and two digital printers, and employ 37 people. As the company progressed it became apparent that weaving cloth in the town was not viable and so this part of the company ceased to exist. Adamley continued to print cloth as one of the only remaining silk mills in the town, eventually , and still being one of two, the other based in Bollington.
Eventually as the 1980s recession took hold Adamley itself began to suffer, but was thrown a life line by silk Industries who took over ownership of Adamley, allowing the management team to run the company themselves. Eleven years ago the then management team had a buyout of their own headed by M.D. Tro Manoukian. Under Tro’s guidance and leadership the company has gone from strength to strength.
We constantly invest in the latest technology, whether that be beneficial to the shop floor, the design studio or any other part of the process. With this reinvestment we are set to blow the budget this year and to print a record breaking amount of silk, keeping us at the forefront of the men’s neckwear industry and the clothing industry in general."
Most of Adamley's products are for necktie manufacture, but much goes for scarves and pocket squares as well. We can only wish Adamley all the best for a further successful fifty years of silk printing.
As a Londoner I'm lucky to have access to several outstanding local destinations for Father's Day shopping, dining and culture. A favourite is the area bounded by Piccadilly and St James's with its finest menswear shops, luxury hotels and restaurants and cultural destinations such as The Royal Academy of Arts.
I was recently invited to see what St James's style had to offer for Father's Day. Here are a few ideas, either as gifts for others or to allow you to indulge yourself:
Fortnum & Mason – Luxury department store. On the third floor of Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly, join their Master Barber for a haircut, hot towel head massage or wet shave. Complimentary drinks will also be available from their drink’s cabinet.
A trim from Jonathan Long of Saunders and Long
Aspinal of London – Leather goods and accessories. They're offering complimentary personalisation on all men’s gifts. Aspinal has also partnered with Bruichladdich Whiskey offering a 20cl bottle complimentary with Father’s Day purchases over £150 in-store.
Buy in luxurious surroundings at Aspinal London
Osprey London– Luxury bags and accessories. In a Father’s Day Instagram competition running between 3rd – 13th June, entrants have a chance to win a large Clayton messenger bag worth £145. In order to enter the competition, follow @ospreylondonstjames page, share/like the picture and tag at least two friends in the comments including hashtags #ospreylondonstjames #ospreylondonfathersday. Anyone entering the competition will also be offered 15% off full price own brand items in their flagship store until 16th June.
Luxury leather good, interiors and more at Osprey
Harvie & Hudson – Tailoring and shirtmaking in Jermyn Street. Their new Spring/Summer 2019 collection is now available. The statement pieces within the collection yield inspiration from the sunsets abroad and are perfect for the fashion-conscious Dad.
A bespoke shirt from Harvie & Hudson
The Stafford Hotel - A Five Star hotel in the heart of London. Built in the 17th Century by Lord Francis Godolphin and used as an air raid shelter during WWII, its cellars house over 8,000 bottles of the World’s finest wines. Today, Master Sommelier, Gino Nardella, hosts wine tastings and wine-pairing dinners throughout the year.
A superb cellar and a drink in The American Bar at The Stafford
Fortnum & Mason: 181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1A 1ER
Aspinal of London: 16 Regent St, St. James's, London
Osprey: 27 Regent St, St. James's, London SW1Y 4NQ
Harvie & Hudson: 96/97 Jermyn Street
The Stafford London: The Stafford Hotel, 16-18 St, London
Oris has launched its Divers Sixty Five watch. Based on its diving watches of the sixties, it features a 43mm case, domed crystal, highly legible dial, a uni-directional bezel and vintage-inspired looks. It's water resistant to 10bar/100m, which gives it a slight edge over many chronographs in terms of water resistance. While this is no true diving watch, its chronograph function makes it a useful allrounder.
The Oris Divers Sixty Five Chronograph on bracelet and leather strap
It seems to me that this is an ideal holiday watch; legible, robust and wearable on the beach - and it doesn't shout 'expensive watch' - so I've styled it simply with an Emily & Khadi shirt and Orlebar Brown chinos, giving a smart but relaxed look.
Slippers may seem an unoriginal gift for Father's Day, but not these colourful creations made from Turkish Kilim carpets and available from Pickett. They'll brighten up bedtime and downtime for any man of style.
Available in a variety of patterns and colours, no two are the same. From Pickett £165.
Father's Day is on Sunday 16th June 2019. As someone looking forward to becoming a grandfather for the first time I've been through a gratifying number of Father's Days. Gifts can be hard to choose for the man who has everything so I thought that, rather than suggesting specific gifts, I'd list some websites where you'll find something suitable at a range of prices from around £40 to several hundred pounds.
Some of the brands mentioned below (from top left): Laird Hatters, DR Harris, Hamilton & Hare, Billy Tannery, Penelope Cream, Sartorialab, Geoff Stocker, Budd Shirtmakers
Many of the products are British-made and I've included a few small brands for you to support:
Styling: give him a personal styling voucher from the outstanding Sarah Gilfillan of Sartorialab.
Grooming: some of my favourite grooming products and fragrances come from D.R. Harris.
A watch: The Rake's online store contains a large selection of clothes, grooming products and more. An excellent buy is the Baltic HMS watch; outstanding value at £370 for an automatic movement and a stunning design.
Monogrammed underwear and robes from Hamilton & Hare who offer a monogramming service at their 39 Chiltern Street flagship store in London.
Finally, if you're still looking, you'll definitely find something here - Outdoor supplies, from bags to wallets to knives, all beautifully and ethically made in the UK and elsewhere from The Level Collective.
How does a man select a grooming product? The power of a good fragrance cannot be overstated. the sense of smell evokes memories which bring back powerful emotions around people and places we've loved and enjoyed. Like our clothes and accessories, fragrances make a persuasive statement about you and your personal style. A scent that complements rather than overwhelms can send a sophisticated message to others about who you are and what you represent.
I've come to appreciate the regular use of fragrances in the past couple of years, having previously rarely used anything scented other than shaving soap. I've found that the choice of niche perfumes for men can be a confusing and even overwhelming. How best to select a suitable product and be confident that it's a good quality product?
The best place to start is a high street or online store with a good choice of products. Go for established names and try those first. You cannot go wrong with well known brands like Acqua di Parma, Creed, Czech & Speake, Guerlain, Jo Malone and Tom Ford to name just a few of the many reputable makes available. Look for a history of success in the industry - for example Creed have been making men's fragrances since 1760 and have a well-established reputation. Their Creed Aventus is a favourite which will leave a lasting impression.
Fragrances come with different styles and strengths and can smell quite different depending on who's wearing them. It's important to try a few or to read the description of each to decide whether you're looking for a floral, citrus or more earthy scent - or a certain combination of these. If you try on a product remember that it will change its character over minutes and hours - this is a sign of a complex and good quality product. Lighter top notes - citrus and florals - will rarely be as lingering as more earthy, woody or even spicy bottom notes but they give a fresh start which then develops to allow the middle (or heart) and base notes to take over, often for hours.
I tend to go for spicy scents, but I like the sharp freshness of citrus to balance these, although such top notes will not last as long as the spicy base ones. Florals give complex scents which most men prefer balanced with more musky notes, but the choice is entirely yours and you should develop your own tastes, perhaps informed by the reactions of those around you to the fragrances you try.
I want to emphasise that fragrance selection is very personal - largely because we like different scents and products smell different on each of us - so rely on your own experiments to make a selection that will eventually become your favourites. Enjoy your search for a personal fragrance.
This feature is a sponsored collaboration. I selected the fragrance brands to mention and all views expressed are my own.
Those of us who are frequent visitors to Jermyn Street, that London epicentre of men's and women's style, will have noticed Trumper's on Duke of York Street. Its elegantly packed window promises traditional style and sophistication. George F. Trumper opened his barber shop in Curzon Street, Mayfair, over 100 years ago. His clientele was ‘the gentry’ and this explains its gentlemen’s club atmosphere. The business's reputation came to the notice of the Royal Court and Trumper’s became Court Hairdressers receiving Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria and each successive monarch thereafter.
Trumper's sent me some products to try
Mr George Trumper blended his grooming products in his basement at his Curzon Street shop, using natural essential oils from around the world. Some of these original formulae are still used, but the range has been adapted to the modern world while preserving a distinctive and gentlemanly subtle and sophisticated English character.
The fragrance and grooming collection includes a wide range of colognes, skin care, shaving creams and soaps, bath and shower soaps and gels, shampoos, hairdressings and deodorants and is supported by a comprehensive range of exclusive grooming accessories.
Geo. F. Trumper's Eucris products
I was sent a box of products based around their Eucris fragrance. When first applied this very gentlemanly scent has a lemony, peppery, woody character which settles with time (as do all good scents) to a subtle fragrance which, for me, is reminiscent of leather bound books, pepper, lemon, sunbaked straw, cigars and summer days. Eucris is used in everything from shaving cream, through deodorant to an eau de parfum which, lightly applied, lasts for ages and remains subtle and fresh.
Trumper's products are vegan-friendly and come beautifully packaged, with their coronet shaped stoppers reflecting the heritage of the business. If you can't visit the shop to buy or to have a shave, haircut or facial massage, you can purchase products through the Geo. F. Trumper website.
Geo. F. Trumper's Curzon Street shop
This feature is a paid collaboration with Geo. F. Trumper. All views are mine alone.
The Rake (and we all subscribe, I'm sure) is a favourite style magazine for mature men. Its focus is on style, quality and luxury. This can put some of its products out of the reach of those of us who value genuine style but who, in uncertain times, have tightened our belts; but there is now a solution with the launch today of The Rake Values.
Wei Koh, The Rake's founder wants to make the best menswear more widely available through The Rake Values
Wei Koh, The Rake's founder, has launched The Rake Values with the aim of rooting out unsold garments, end of line, last year's collections etc, which would otherwise languish in obscurity in warehouses, in order to make them available at more affordable prices. Brands include greats such as Drake's, Grenfell, Rubinacci, Inis Meáin, Private White VC, Sunspel and many others - all excellent stuff.
With the cooperation of these and other leading menswear brands, we can now buy these reduced price products here on The Rake Values. To add to the value of these buys, The Rake has kindly offered a further 5% discount to readers of Grey Fox Blog. Use the discount code Rakevalues5 at the checkout.
I love the simple almost minimalist design of the 40mm Senator Automatic from Glashütte Original and wear it here with bright green cords from New & Lingwood and a denim shirt from Jaeger.
I feel this echoes the classically restrained but somehow also extrovert nature of the watch. With its elegant blued hands, stark white dial and crisp Roman numerals, it would be equally at home with black tie or a formal pinstripe work suit.