L’équipée en Himalaya

As much as I love them, and I really do,  it’s fair to say that a lot of the motorcycle adventure films out there have a tendancy to allude to a search for some kind of lost masculinity, or at least they are, by in large about and men and aimed at men. There’s nothing inhrently wrong with this of corse but its refreshing to see something that’s a bit different.

Each episode of L’équipée en Himalaya starts with the intro “Five Parisian girls, fond of motorcycles and adventure, made a cray bet: to cross the Himalaya”  What could be better? This series of films documenting the adventures of Louise D,  Cecile,  Pauline, Cindy and  Louise B as they transverse the length of the Himalayas on Royal Enfields is full of style, charm, and Parisian cool. Plus it has a great soundtrack to boot!



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Enstone Leather: part two

You might remember that I recently posted about the wonderful Enstone Leather, who’s simple yet elegant products are hand made in a tiny workshop in Oxfordshire.while increasingly commonplace stateside (as well as the bigger names like Tanner Goods, you find a whole plethora of artisans hand-making all kinds of excellent contemporary leather goods once you start looking) it’s not quite so common over here. Sure there are leather workers but all too often their work is a touch fiddly and lacks that clean functional aesthetic. This two is my problem with much of the artisanal accessories in the states: they may be very beautiful and are, no doubt, made of the finest materials, however they are very style specific. I’m a fan of a good concho wallet, don’t get me wrong but sometimes you want something that speaks it’s truth a little quietly, something a little more understated.

Anyway with this in mind and my old wallet falling apart at the seams it seemed the perfect excuse to treat myself to some new hide for my back pocket! I love the plain look of the standard Harrow but the thought of change jangling around in my pocket and the full knowledge that I would inevitably end up accidentally spilling it everywhere at some inopportune moment led me to decide on the Harrow with built in coin holder. I also chose to go for the tan leather as I felt there was more potential for it to develop character through use.

Decision made I contacted Lloyd at Enstone Leather to make my order. He said there’d be a few days wait while he made the wallet, (making as he often does to order). He also explained how my wallet would be one of the first made in a new batch of hide he’d recently acquired and was excited about as it should age especially well. Lloyd is a lovely chap and clearly passionate about what he does, always a good sign in my book! So order made I waited excitedly for my wallet to arrive. A week and a half later a small carefully wrapped package arrived. Inside beneath a layer of bone coloured tissue paper was this:


It’s one thing seeing a photos of an item but entirely another feeling it in your hands. It’s only then that one can judge the true quality of an item and I must say the Harrow does not disappoint. Plain it may be but simple it is not, not in construction at any rate. I’m reminded of shaker furniture,  be it the gentle curve on the card slots, the single gusset on one side of the coin holder or the pocket concealed behind it, that same utilitarian approach of form following function is present. The quality of the hide is also very high with a couple of different thicknesses utilised in different areas of the construction in order to keep the finished article slim enough to fit any pocket.

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I spent the following few days showing it to lots of friends and colleagues, anyone in fact who would listen! One of these was so impressed that he immediately ordered both a Harrow bifold and a custom watch strap.


For my own part I must admit it was a couple of days before I actually started using my wallet, reticent as I was to mark its crisp surface! I eventually got over this and it has now graced my pocket pretty much non stop for about a month and is beginning to develop some real character.

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I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops further over time and will keep taking photos as it does so. In a short time It has already gone from this:


To this

wallet worn 1

I’m expecting the Harrow to become an old friend, one that will be with me for years to come. I’ma also already planning what to get next from Lloyds wonderful selection. Enstone Leather make some trully great products and are remarkably reasonably priced. So, if you’re in the market for a new wallet, belt, key carry or what have you, and want some thing stylish without shouting about it, then Enstone Leather could be just what you’ve been looking for.

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Pocket Knives and the Art of the Little Mester

There are a few things without which any pocket  is incomplete. Such things are staples of everyday life, tools that become lifelong friends.

One such item is the humble pen knife. I can clearly remember my first pocket knife, given to me at a young age by my father (much to my mum’s disapproval!) It was a Victorinox  Huntsman. I was ecstatically excited and promptly sliced my hand open with it (my mothers caution being proved wise!). Like many children who grew up in the countryside I took it everywhere with me, whittling sticks and making bows and arrows.


As much as I loved it, it cannot compare to my current knife; a metal scaled affair made by W. Morton and Sons of Sheffield is likely pushing 100 years old. It was again given to me by my father, who discovered it in some forgotten box of items passed down from some distant relative. So its fair to say it has been in the family for some time. Many hands have passed over this little slip of metal, cared for it, oiled its joints and gently sharpened its Sheffield steel blade, before eventually, it found its way into my pocket. Unlike my old ‘Swiss Army’ Knife it rarely needs sharpening and simple as it is, it is one of my most treasured possessions.

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It is also a fine example of the skill involved in a trade that is all but extinct: The craft of the Little Mester. The term Little Mester (originally Little Master) is peculiar to Sheffield and refers to master craftsmen who worked on a small-scale, producing small edge tools, cutlery and pocket knives. Little Mesters tended to work alone only passing down their skill to an apprentice. The trade peaked in the late 19th century but with increasing mechanisation it slowly diminished though the 20th century. It has now virtually died out…virtually.

There are, for the moment at least, a few dedicated individuals who have kept this art alive. One such craftsman is Trevor Ablett, one of the last of the Little Mesters. Trevor who is now in his 70’s has been making pocket knives for over 50 years. He shares his small workshop in Sheffield with his friend Reg who has been making Bowie knifes for just as long.

Trevor’s knives, every element of which are made in Sheffield, follow traditional English  styles and patterns. From Lambsfoots to Clip Points to Peach Pruners with scales of bone and exotic hardwoods, no two knives are quite alike. These pen knifes are true lifetime items, which become treasured possessions, indispensable to their owners, and, like my old knife, they will still be going strong in a hundred years.


Or course modern folding knives are now brilliantly made, with blades that will hold up to anything you can throw at them but if you’d like something just a little more special, something that will become an old friend as the years go on, then perhaps one of Trevors knives is what you’re after. Trevor Abletts knives are available here 

(please note that with the exception of the photo of my knife the images and video in this post are not my own. if you own the rights to one of these please contact me and I will credit you or remove the media as you prefer)

Posted in Heritage, How life should be, items of desire, Made in Britain, Makers, Video | 1 Comment

The Simple Pleasures Of Life At The Good Life Experience

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to find myself at the Harwarden Estate north Wales for The Good Life Experience. A newcomer to the festival scene, this was the first year of the family festival which aims to offer something a little different. Co-created by Cerys Matthews and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, The Good Life experience was a celebration of the food, culture and great outdoors.

When it comes the simple pleasures that getting out in the the countryside can offer Charlie and Caroline, quite literally wrote the book. They are the authors of The Family Guide To The Great Outdoors . They brought this passion to the festival by bringing together some of their favourite companies, craftspeople and individuals. There was a wide and varied range of activities, talks and workshops on offer though-out the day covering everything from wild swimming to bush craft. An of course with Cerys involved, (as anyone who listens to her radio show would expect) , the of music was fantastically curated and varied.

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Above all the festival managed to have an atmosphere that was both friendly and genuinely intimate while also being great fun. I mean honestly, how many festivals can you think of where you can spend the morning throwing axes, or skinning a rabbit, get a dapper cut from one of London’s best barbers at lunch time then have an evening of dancing away to Balkan music or  sitting by the bonfire?


In fact I found myself so taken up in the day that I hardly took a single photo until early the following morning and I must say the Harwarden estate is a thoroughly beautiful part of the world.

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The Good Life Experience was the perfect farewell to the summer and I recommend you all put it in your diaries for next year!

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Enstone Leather

Perhaps it is due to growing up with a furniture maker father and a sewing motherbut from an early age I’ve always had a fascination with the traditional skills of those individuals who produce, by hand, simple, everyday and yet elegant items. Many of these now rare skills, once so commonplace, have thankfully seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, with a whole new generation of makers and consumers turning away from the mass produced to something inherently more substantial.

With this has come the inevitable band wagon and many of the words (‘Heritage’ being a prime example) once used to describe such well made items have been thrown around and overused to the point where they have, arguably, lost a little of their credibility. In the end  what it comes down to is truly crafted items. Items that have been made with a passion  for craft and attention to detail that will, over their lifetime develop a unique patina. Or, to put it another way, things that will wear in rather than wearing out.

One such company is one man operation Enstone Leather.
Based in a workshop somewhere in Oxfordshire Lloyd uses traditional saddlery techniques, cutting and sewing fine Itallian steerhide by hand to produce a stunning range wallets and custom leather goods.

These are much more than simply the kind of thing your grandfather might have bough though. Like many of today’s new generation of makers Lloyd brings a keen eye for design to his work.

A personal favourite is the Harrow with Coin holder in chestnut 30z full grain steer.
Much of Enstone Leather’s range utilises this vegetable tanned full grain leather. This means that the surface of the hide has not been buffed, sanded or coated to give the smooth surface often sought for fashion products. Full grain leather is much much stronger and has much more potential to develop a great patination with use. Vegetable tanned leather is a truly live material, it moves and develops marks as it comes into contact with different materials be that raw denim or the the oils from the skin. This process to adds to it’s ability to develop a surface that moulds to and maps the life of its owner

Find more of Enstone Leather’s fanatatic range here

Posted in Heritage, How life should be, items of desire, Leather, Made in Britain, Makers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Norton Project

I meant to post this video a long…long time ago, but better late than never!

I know from experience how a classic vehicle can take on a life of it’s own in a family. It becomes a character in it’s own right. If it runs it’s about the memories and experiences it builds but equally if it’s a basket case it can be about the dream it inspires. That thought that one day, one fine day, it’s time will come, that those cylinders will finally awake from their sleep and roar into life once more and you’l head out into the sunlight tearing calico as you go off on some unknown adventure. That might sound daft but it can be difficult to hold onto a dream, life has a habit of getting in the way, especially when that dream requires a garage, time and money to support it.

For me there’s something vaguely heroic about hanging onto an old car, boat or bike. It is not a defeat or a pipe dream but rather a promise and a hope and there’s a lot to be said for that.

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HIATUS & Old motorcycle photographs #3

It’s been a good old while since my last post, this has not been due to any lack of enthusiasm but rather to a lack of computer. In the space much has happened involving wonderful vintage overalls, friends ‘colditz glider’ cafe racer project and much more besides. More of that later for now here’s this:

girl bike




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Matt Hind for Old Town

Anyone who’s ever picked up a copy of Men’s File magazine (if you haven’t your missing out!) or looked at any heritage or vintage style photography will have heard of Matt Hind. a tonal master, his work holds an incredible sense of atmosphere and texture. His photographs evoke a real sense of cinematic style without seeming dated or purely retrospective. The result of this careful balancing act is something that manages to feel genuinely fresh while not feeling contrived, a rare trick indeed.

Anyone who’s seen this blog before will know how I feel about Old Town Clothing, but to recap I love them. Theres a lot of workwear inspired stuff out there these days but few match the clean elegance of Old Town. The design and quality of their products is somehow reminiscent of Shaker furniture; utilitarian, simple and beautifully made.

So what do you get when you put the two together?…this:

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Badass, simply badass.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that contemporary motorcycle culture was, if not exclusively, largely a masculine, even testosterone fuelled affair. Most of the media about it seems to be about manly men making things and going out into the wild, adventuring  like later day working class heros. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, it’s an intoxicating mix. Especially in todays increasingly virtual society, it’s hardly surprising to see a desire for something tangible and life affirming. The only trouble is that women are all to often under represented or portrayed as pinups or pillions.

This is of course, total bullshit:

Posted in Cafe Racer, How life should be, Journeys, Just Because, Motorcycles, My favorite videos, Video | 1 Comment

Some cool videos to get you though the day. Some old some new.

Ok so I haven’t posted in a while so by way of apology, while doing no real work myself here’s some awesome stuff other people have made.

A short film about Stan Dibben,  winner of the World Sidecar Championship in 1953

Experiments in Speed.

Here’s what happens when you have salt fever, no engine no salt flats, but a whole lot of talent passion and skill

It’s Better in the Wind. Chances are you’ve seen this already but the best videos stand re-watching right?

A short film showcasing the work of motorcycle photographer Merry Michau. A brilliant photographer with an enviable job!

Ride into the Himalayas: A journey into the mountains on a Royal Enfield? Yes please

A San Fancisco Story: An iconic city, Fantastic roads, beautiful people and motorcycles… What’s Not to like


Over several months Simon Chisten woke while the rest of San Francisco slept. He climbed into the hills around the city and took his camera with him. The result is the  hauntingly beautiful film Adrift.
Posted in How life should be, Journeys, Just Because, Motorcycles, My favorite videos, Shameless reposting, Video | Leave a comment