11 Dec 2017

Spontaneous Motivation | Visiting Aberdeen + Edinburgh

Welcome to Granite City. Home of Marischal College, the second largest granite building in the world 

During the darker months it seems that motivation can be a little bit harder to muster. The dark, heavy skies of the UK manage to break up at around 10am, only for the light to disappear totally by mid-afternoon. It can be a bit of a mood killer, so there's no wonder why they call in the winter blues. With the aim to keep our creativity levels topped up over winter, myself + Jordan Bunker embraced an opportunity that popped up with Late Rooms' Imprompu Nights campaign. 

The idea of having a spontaneous streak - not usually my strong suit - isn't something I'd associate with my current situation, but having been working from home for a solid three weeks I knew Late Rooms' offer of a few days away exploring a new city could be just the ticket. The catch was we wouldn't find out the end destination until we were heading to the train station. Searching out those little pockets of brilliance in cities and small towns across the UK is what we do best, so when we found out we were on our way to Aberdeen, Scotland, we turned to our communities on Instagram and Twitter for help and recommendations.

Late Rooms recently complied a list of the Top 10 UK's best places to visit for a spontaneous gateaway; taking into consideration the quality of hotels, food scene, retail environment, local sights, nightlife and travel connections. We really are spoilt for choice on these islands.

Before we arrived at the affectionately named "Granite City", we knew very little about Aberdeen, but we left feeling uplifted and inspired by the warm of its people, striking architecture and thriving independent scene.

 One of the UK's most respected menswear retailers, Kafka
Overshirt by Whistles | Vest by Lavenham | Sweatshirt by Asket | Trouses by Folk | Sneakers by Vans

 Find yourself spoilt for choice, but our favourite coffee hideout in Aberdeen was Cult of Coffee

It wasn't the easiest of destinations to get to (although I have been further north), but the city impressed us both immensely. Aberdeen's beautiful architectural design is down to the use of locally quarried granite, which casts a pale grey-ish silver hue across the city. It's a quality which is very unique to the city, something which its locals are very proud of. In fact, because of the granite, I don't think I've seen a more striking sunset in the UK. 

Hotel Details

We stayed at the 4* Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel, with rooms starting from £63 per night. The location was perfect, being five minute's walk from Aberdeen central train station, and within 15 minute's walk from pretty much everything we'd planned to do.


We caught our train home from Aberdeen before sunrise. But all in the name of spontaneity (and mainly due to some terrible weather conditions in the North East of Scotland), we decided to say on an extra night in Edinburgh...there's worst city's to get stranded in!

 Zero degrees means several layers of wool for Jordan Bunker
 One of the nicest looking drinking posts you'll come across in the UK, Hyde & Son
Our old faithful, The Milkman. You'll be pushed to find a smaller coffee shop in the city, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in personality, quality and great chat

I prefixed this blog post with the notion of keeping motivated in the colder months, and as myself and JB parted ways on the platform of Edinburgh station I instantly started to inspired and compelled to act on more of my impulses. On the three hour journey back down to Lancashire I scrolled through the photos and videos on my phone (including our first Instagram Live), and looked back fondly on the past four days we'd spend in Scotland. 

These moments were already turning into memories, but it was enough to keep my motivation levels high and my new-found spontaneous side well and truly satisfied for the time being.

Additional photography by Jordan Bunker.

We were offered 2-nights accommodation + travel costs to Aberdeen by LateRooms. Your support of the brands + businesses we work with helps make this blog happen.

14 Nov 2017

Simple Collection AW17 by Campbell Cole

Nottingham duo Campbell Cole are back at it again for AW17. The brand's signature release, the Simple Collection, shows signs of small tweaks, and for their latest update we see the introduction of a brand new product. 

Available in three colours - black, tan + khaki - the Simple Zip Corner Wallet joins the existing line up of the Key Wrap, Card Holder, Slim Wallet + a few other regulars. Measuring at 12cm x 8.5cm, using Italian leather, and finished off with a stalwart Riri zip and signature hand-knotted paracord zip puller, this new addition to the collection is bound to end us as a back pocket's best friend. With storage for cards, folded notes and lose change.

We have a lot of respect for designers who stick to their original concept, rather than catching a wave of a fleeting trend. By taking on board customer feedback and user experience, Ian + Felicity of CC react to what works, and what can be improved on for future production - both adding and taking away over time.

The AW17 Simple Collection by Campbell Cole is available here.

9 Nov 2017

A Look Around Our House, One Year On | IKEA x HAY

How much have things changed in a year of being first-time homeowners?

I can hardy believe that we have been homeowners for nearly one year now. We moved into our neighbourhood on the 1st December 2016, and at the time I really couldn't even imagine what life would be like three months down the line. Being self-employed I was more worried about being able to pay the bills, than what colour we should paint our front room...

Anyone who has been in a similar position to us will know that the concept of turning a house into a "home" can be a very slow process. It took us months of DIY (with a lot of help from my new father-in-law), endless phone calls to contractors, and sensible spending to be in a place where we could start to think about how we wanted each room to look. One year on and we've only tackled a couple of rooms, but this anniversary was timed perfectly with the release of IKEA + HAY's debut YPPERLIG collection, so it felt like the perfect opportunity for us to do a proper house update. 

Take a look at how we styled the new YPPERLIG collection in our home.

 Injection moulded plastic YPPERLIG chairs

First up is the open plan living room and dining area. This bright space lends itself to being one of the more modern spaces in our house, with large white walls, pale woods and dark floorboards throughout. We spend a lot of time in here, and if we have guests drop by this is where we usually end up the fridge is stocked with beer and the coffee is always on so, along with building a new shelving system, this is where you'll find a good portion of our IKEA + HAY picks.

The greens and off whites of the YPPERLIG collection compliment our existing antique and modern furniture, along with the exposed brickwork - making the dining room one of my favourite spaces in the house!

 The Nest of Tables is working a treat in our open-plan living room

7 Nov 2017

Visiting the Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Imagine travelling for 15 hours to spend 48 hours in Tennessee...Jack Daniel's invited me over to exeperience the brand in the way it was intended
A tour of the one and only Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, followed by a tasting class
Have you heard the story about how the late Mr Jack Daniel never revealed what the iconic no.7 - found on the front of the top selling American whiskey in the world - actually represents? Or how it's always been tradition of the company to gift each employee a bottle Jack along with their monthly pay check? Even more intriguing, the strange and unfortunately circumstances of how the man himself passed away from a freak incident involving a safe?

I was oblivious to all of the above until I had the pleasure of being invited by the Jack Daniel's brand to spend a couple of days in Tennessee, with the aim to discover what makes this globally recognised brand tick, and how they have built up a grass-roots empire from a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere.
The water used in the distilling process comes from within the distillery grounds

I’d hold my hands up and be the first one to say that Jack Daniel’s isn’t a brand I’d generally reach for on the shelves. I've always seem myself as quite open minded when it comes down to it, but I am guilty of overlooking certain things if I don't have some form of connection with them. My obsession with pop culture extends to having an deep appreciation for how brands can become ingrained within daily life - through clever marketing, memorable branding design, familiarity, hard work, and deep down a (usually) honest, homegrown product. Similar to how iconic brands such as McDonald's Coca-Cola, Disney, Apple + Nintendo are all instantly recognisable by the design of their logo, Jack Daniel's is just as synonymous worldwide with whiskey and music.

My whirlwind of weekend - which involved a 15 hour journey from Blackpool to Nashville, one way! - was something I'll never forget. The journey into the depths of Tennessee felt like it was never going to end, but our opened-armed welcome into the sleepy town of Lynchburg, where every single drop of Jack Daniel's whiskey has ever been made, quickly eliminated any tiredness. The air smelt industry-sweet and smiling faces graced every front porch.

A tour of the working distillery was done by our guide, Sam, with an enthusiasm and energy that only our American brothers can seem to achieve - showing us the inner-workings of the process but also emphasising on the finer points of the brand's heritage and infrastructure. For me, these were the moments where the brand started to come alive.

30 Oct 2017

The Change In Season | Hardy Amies

Cashmere Roll Neck c/o Hardy Amies | Jacket by Several | Trousers by Folk | Sneakers by Paul Smith | Sunglasses by Moscot

Autumn couldn't have come soon enough. I've been awaiting its arrive for weeks, I mean sure, the official change-of-season was in the last week of September, but the chances of finding a frosty car windscreen at 7am have been slim to none. But we're ready for it now. 

The change in season brings a slightly different approach to a few areas of my routine; working hours are adjusted to reflect the daylight change, diet switches to something a little more wholesome, time is set aside to planning the next few months, and layers are piled on like we're in the real-life Buckaroo championships.

In the spirit of change we arrive at the subject of knitwear, and more precisely, this grey MR PORTER exclusive cashmere roll neck jumper by Hardy Amies. The high collared jumper isn't something I've worn since I was a teenager, but I'd be fibbing if I said I hadn't been influenced to try one while scrolling through Instagram over this past month. Time for a change, and the perfect opportunity to try something new.

Talking fresh starts at Store Street Espresso, London. Cashmere scarf c/o Hardy Amies

Other than being blessed with the perfect weather for knitwear, October's crisp, golden front presents us with possibility of it being the last opportunity to enjoy meeting up with friends without our fingers turning blue. Since becoming self-employed nearly two years ago (blimey, time flies!) I've realised the importance of human interaction - from both a well-being point of view, and how imperative it can be to build a solid foundation for your own networks.

With myself, Jordan Bunker + Brittany Bathgate now all being officially being self-employed, it's becoming more important than ever for us to support new ideas, share advice from past experiences, and lend a helping-hand at the drop of a hat. 

Inspiration comes in all different shapes and forms, and those words could be used to describe my venture into the humble roll neck jumper. I turned to Jordan + Brit for inspiration when it came to styling the Hardy Amies cashmere, as these two have a certain way with colours, textures and layering.

Jordan Bunker + Brittany Bathgate
Photography by Jordan Bunker

I limited myself to the simple palette of greys, blues + greens, which has worked for me so well throughout every other season. The roll neck was my starting point, with it's super soft-to-touch cashmere goodness, layered with a simple white t-shirt, and navy seersucker collared jacket for added texture. For the bottom half I brought a slight utilitarian feel into the mix, with sage green fatigue trousers, worn with army green ribbed socks and simple white leather sneakers.

It felt good to leave my comfort zone sweatshirt in the wardrobe for once, and gave me a new confidence to experiment with alternative shapes a little more this season. It may seem trivial, because for many knitwear is a given at this time of year, but for someone who thrives on a regimented routine, it was a step in a new direction for me. But if my first two years of self-employment have taught me anything, if you don't give it your best shot you'll never know what you can achieve.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Hardy Amies. Your support of the brands + businesses we work with helps make this blog happen.