18 Sep 2014

A Visit To Johnstons of Elgin Wool Mill

Being from Lancashire, I'm no stranger to wearing wool. It gets darn chilly from late October, from then on I can usually be found wearing several layers at once to combat frosbite, as well as keeping the old circulation condition at bay. You often that hear we love the Winter because "we get to cosy up in our favourite jumper, soft blanket and a mug of hot chocolate" - personally I never really find the time for that but I can't really imagine a freezing cold night without one of our most loved materials. 

There's no doubt we take wool for grantedit's always been been in our livesbut when was the last time you actually thought about the lead-up process to what finally becomes "our favourite" jumper? Well, as your friendly roaming reporter I headed up to the top of Scotland to visit one of the oldest woollen manufactuers in the UK, Johnstons of Elgin

16 Sep 2014

Lyle & Scott | The Polo Series

Wearing - Lyle & Scott Polo Shirt c/o | GAP Jacket | Dockers Chinos | Vans Trainers | Ralph Lauren Socks | 
Ray-Ban Glasses | Shore Projects Watch

The Polo Shirt isn't a piece that's featured in my wardrobe since I was a scraggly teenager. In fact, I've probably not worn one for eight or nine years. Lyle & Scott invited me and a group of Men's Style Bloggers to get involved with their Polo Series, which coincides with the company's 140th anniversary - I was definitely up for the challenge.

The gripe I've had with polo shirts is that I just don't think they suit me. They make me look and feel a bit "dad-ish". I knew I was never going to look like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, or even original golf-steez legend Arnold Palmer, but my plan was to work it into an everyday outfit, just as if I was wearing a shirt or t-shirt. You can read more about the design of their Polo Shirt here.

I chose to style their Classic Plain Navy Polo, which has been a Lyle & Scott staple since its introduction in the 1960s–its design relatively untouched ever since. Yep, navy is pretty predictable for me but stick to what you know right? So I chucked on an unstructured blazer by GAP, slim khakis by Dockers and Vans Authentics. It's nothing too crazy but I'm actually really pleased with how it all looks together. Hollie also gave it the deux thumbs up too, bonus!

I'd like to thank Lyle & Scott for inviting me to take part in the series. It's been cool to try out a style that I really wouldn't have considered to be typically "me". Turns out I didn't know what I was talking about. Are there items of clothing you dismiss because they're not your typical style or tend to avoid because of their association?

You can read my full interview with Lyle & Scott for The Polo Series here.

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Beer + Design | Vedett Belgian Beer with Attitude

Blogging isn't just about sitting behind a computer screen all day. We're often out-and-about, meeting new people and making new friends. A few weeks ago, the guys at Albam invited us to il Cicchetto on Old Street to meet their friends from Vedett. Clothing and beer - what's not to like?

Vedett is a Belgian beer in a pretty distinctive bottle. As well as serving up their Extra Blonde and Extra White, they also put out some De Koninck Anno 1833 - a nutty, slightly burnt lager - and a Liefmans Fruitesse On The Rocks. Come on, no prizes for guessing what’s in the last one. It’s a fruit beer full of tart berry flavours that I’ve not seen in London before. Very punchy!  

Vedett's website is pretty cool too. Full of small quirks and animations. Check it out here! - Nik

You can find Nik at - Conrad's Beer | Twitter | Instagram

15 Sep 2014

A Weekend Away #HeresToNow

Apologies for the silence for a the last couple of days, we headed off to a "mystery" destination with French Cognac brand Courvoisier. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life (Nik came along too, he heard there might be some food...), due to the fact we were kept in the dark about what we'd be doing and where we'd be good. 

The first shot is from the top of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris, I could forgive myself for thinking it was all a dream. Can't wait to share more of our #HereToNow experience.

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11 Sep 2014

Travel | A Trip To Wales With Peugeot

When Peugeot approached us about featuring a car on Buckets & Spades, we were flattered, but we weren’t quite sure what to do with it. A trip away seemed the most obvious - a trip to visit some of our favourite brands. Unfortunately, poor planning on my part meant that this didn’t happen, so instead we went for my second favourite choice - a trip away to eat some good food.

Say what you like about British cuisine, the UK is blessed with an abundance of amazing places to eat, and not just in London. Some of the best places to eat are tucked away in small towns, tiny villages, and hamlets - just look at The Fat Duck in Bray or Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Great Milton. So early one Friday morning we set off from London and headed west in our borrowed Peugeot 208 Style. Navigating cross-countrywhich is far more fun that the motorwaywe stopped on the banks of the River Severn for lunch at The Old Passage, before heading north to Welsh border.

I haven’t lived in London long, but even still I’m surprised by just how different the countryside is. For a start, it’s quiet. Deathly quiet. So silent that you can hear ringing when you try to sleep - or at least I can. Secondly, getting around is hard without a car. We had the Peugeot of course, but if you want to head into town for a drink or two, you have to arrange a taxi almost a week in advance.

We were staying in a B&B, found through AirBNB - my first time using the site. It was an amazing old farm house, stuffed full of paintings, odds, ends, and an elephant's foot. I imagine Mat could spend a good few days just photographing all of the curiosities on show, not to mention the spectacular views from the garden. Every day they cooked us a full English breakfast and in the afternoons filled us with tea, coffee, and homemade scones. This really is the county life that many tourists think we Brits live on a regular basis.

A fine dining experience on the Saturday evening in the small town of Ludlow was a little disappointing. A visit to the local pub the night before was far better. Again, this is a place you could photograph for hours. One of the only parlour pubs left in the UK, The Sun Inn in Leintwardine was (until 2009) run by the same landlady for 75 years. Until they redeveloped the place a couple of years ago, this pub only served one type of ale, which cost £2-a-pint, and was situated in the land-lady's front room. They’ve kept a lot of the old features though - another incredible curiosity.

Then, as soon as it had started, it was over. We packed up our small hatchback and raced back to London, stopping at The Bunk Inn just outside London to a final meal - and what a meal it was! Easily the best of the whole trip. A really talented chef they have there producing some incredible flavours. As great as London is, it’s good to get out from time-to-time and remind yourself of what the rest of the country has to offer.

Thanks to Peugeot for lending us the car for a couple of day and thanks to the B&B for being such great hosts! I’ll definitely try and get another trip out to the countryside soon. Any recommendations from folks out there? - Nik

You can see more from Nik's trip to Wales with Peugeot on our Microsite here.

You can find Nik at - Conrad's Beer | Twitter | Instagram

10 Sep 2014

Eastpak #MadeForYourCity | Blackpool Comedy Carpet

Wearing - Eastpak Rowlo Backpack c/o size? | Vintage Denim Jacket | Russell Athletic Archive Sweatshirt (similar here) | Uniqlo T-Shirt | Universal Works Trousers | Puma Basket | J.Crew Socks

Every town has its pros + cons but in the main ours suffers from a bad rep. There's so much more to Blackpool than theme parks and boozy weekends, but sadly a lot is overlooked by its fleeting visitors. For example, on Central Promenade you will find the incredible Comedy Carpet, one of the biggest art installations of its kind - a visual "carpet" which celebrates Blackpool's history of comedy + entertainment, created in 2011 by British artist Gordon Young.

The Comedy Carpet is made from over 160,000 individual granite letters, covering 2,200m2 and can be found just in front of Blackpool Tower. It features some of the most famous quotes, catchphrases and statements from the last 100 years, from Monty Pyhton and Alan Partidge to Sean Lock and even Karl Pilkington. I love it down there, it covers a massive space and free to roam as you please. I've never come across anything else like it on my travels.

Made For Your City Competition

For their latest campaign, "Made For Your City", Eastpak are asking us to upload a photograph of themselves with their Easkpak bag, in their favourite place within their city, town or village. To enter the competition just share your image on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with a short caption explaining your my location, using the #MadeForYourCity hashtag. The entry with the best photograph (decided by Eastpak + size?) will win a Trip for Two to Berlin with £300 spending money!

Eastpak asked me to get involved so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show you around my favourite place in our town. This is also my competition submission. You can read my guide to Blackpool here. I'd love to hear about some of your favorite places in your hometowns? Will you be entering?

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8 Sep 2014

Car Spotting in Lancashire

My obsession with car design continues. A selection of cars I've spotted over the past month - my favoruites being the Bruick Super Rivera (pic 1) + Ford Escort (pic 8). One day I'll be whizzing around in one of these babies. Seeing anything you like?

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6 Sep 2014

The Floyld Leg Portable Table + Weekend Links

The Floyld Leg seems like such a simple idea with endless capabilities. The design let's you turn any flat surface into a table, by clamping the legs on just like a vice; be that to ply-board, wire frame or even an old door. It effectively creates a sustainable resource, which can be taken anywhere and used it any situation. Perfect for freelancers but also a great idea for the indecisive! Click the video to get the full idea + read the full story here.

Definitely in need of some down time this weekend, it's been a heavy week of travel for work. Whatever you get up to, have a nice weekend my friends.

Weekend Bucket List

One of my favourite Instagram Account
How beautiful is the architecture in Morocco
Spending 24 hours in Narita City, Japan
Incredible story about the 'Hermit' of Maine, undetected for 27 years
Puppy dressed up as a giant spider scars the heck out of people. Funny!
In case you missed it - Have we taken on too much as bloggers?

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4 Sep 2014

Create Your Own Logo With #MyInstagramLogo

 Ground Coffee Instagram Logo by livscreams

Who knew there was a whole hashtag dedicated to people's own interpritation of their favourite social network's logo? Boy that's power - somehow I can't imagine people doing this for Facebook. Search #myinstagramlogo to discover more creations.

First spotted here.

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2 Sep 2014

Blogging | Have We Taken On Too Much?

For the past two months I've constantly put myself under self-inflicting pressure. It started when we left for Orlando In June - the plan was to wake up early, go for a quick run and post a Holiday Update every couple or so days. I liked this. It was a chance to record my days (I was reading loads too) and share some cool thing I'd found on my travels; packaging, beer, sights...you know. The stuff I enjoy sharing. 

On the back of my mind was the tonne of "to-dos" left waiting for me when I arrived back - Did I say simply say "yes" to too much? This blog has given me many incredible opportunities over the past six years, which has been a truly humbling experience - To work with brands is extremely rewarding, collaborations + sponsored posts (when done right) make for great content and contribute towards my income and the chance to interact and meet like-minded people from across the world, well that's just unreal! It's been the perfect way for me to keep creative after graduating too. But when did blogging become so high-pressured? 

My freelance work suffers because I've got it into my head that if I don't post daily and I'll lose readers or get left behind, but that's not the case. That's not the blogging community, it's stickier than that. It was Rosie's post that really hit a nerve.

I got so caught up with saying "yes" to every request that I've started to subconsciously neglect what this blog is all about - sharing the creative ideas (be that menswear, packaging, travel, beer...) that I'm most enthusiastic about. I turned into the Yes Man without realising, when really I should be prioritising the things that matter most. Sharing and developing relationships with brands + bloggers, concentrating on freelance work + growing my personal brand (cos that pays the bills). I need to prioritise.

Wearing - Albam Sweatshirt | Universal Works Trousers | TRiCKETT Ebbets Cap | Converse First String | Uniqlo Socks | Watch c/o Shore Projects

This doesn't mean that I plan to stop taking on partnerships or accepting gifted itemsit's an important part of what we do and when done honestly it adds value, as well as contributing towards to running of Buckets & Spades. But from now on I'll consider everything opportunity with a more critical eye; "is it 100% Buckets & Spades and will you guys enjoy it?" I'll continue to feature the brands I believe in - for instance, here I'm wearing a watch by Shore Projects, which I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of weeks ago. I felt under no pressure to feature it because I adore the simple design and genuinely feel it's up our ally. This works. Featuring something because I feel under pressure, doesn't work.

So, have we taken on too much as bloggers, why have we let it become so stressful? Do you feel the unwanted pressure?

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