Friday, 31 July 2009

New Rapha sponsors

Well I wouldn't have chosen them for my dream cycle team, but as far as sponsors go, Rapha has now got some very respectable names lined up on its shirt.
The new team shirt will be emblazoned with the Condor logo across the front, naturally, and will also feature new sponsors Sharp Electronics, Paul Smith Jeans and the Malmaison hotel group, which is a pretty decent collection of brands in my opinion.

Add that to the new design of black shirt with union jacks on the shoulders and the pink and white stripes around the body, or an alternative red, white and blue colourway and you have a team shirt that's destined to go down as an absolute classic.

Rapha brings it home again.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Scotch quail eggs in Mayfair

Next time you're around Berkeley Square in Mayfair, pop into Dunhill's London store at Bourdon House on Davies Street, take a seat at one of the tables in the courtyard and ask the waiter if he would be kind enough to bring you a plate of scotch quail eggs. Quite simply the tastiest side dish you would ever have the good fortune to put in your mouth.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous you might wish to sample the chicken, bacon and avocado salad or even hamburger and chips, all cooked under the watchful eye of Mark Hix, former executive head chef at The Ivy and served in a little oasis of calm amid the tension of the West End. You will not be disappointed.

They serve a wicked virgin Mary, too.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Dream cycling jersey

As the Tour De France enters its final phase, the conversation on the couch between Lizzie and myself turned towards the race jerseys.

For those new to the tour, riders compete to win different coloured race jerseys.

Four jerseys are up for grabs at any given stage:

Green jersey - the race leader on points
Yellow jersey - the winner of the last stage
White jersey - the best young rider
Polka dot - King of the Mountain, or the rider with the most points in the mountain stages

These days riders who have won a jersey are kitted out from head to toe in the relevant colour, and that includes the sunglasses. His team sponsors are also on his winner's jersey. So each rider must have his own outfit relevant to each coloured stage win, just in case.

The polka dot King of the Mountains jersey was voted best. Our judgement was based purley on aesthetic appeal.

On to our dream team jersey - that which I would design if entering my own team, and could choose the sponsors I used.

It would have to, naturally, be a Rapha classic team jersey. Black would be the first choice but seeing as this is already the Rapha Condor team colour, I'm thinking olive green with Rapha pink flashes at the neck and on the sleeves, trademark Rapha white band on left sleeve.


Visvim, the Japanese clothing brand, would be a main sponsor - the V logo appearing on the right chest.

Dunhill, another sartorial fave, would occupy the space below Visvim

The logo of Acronym, the German brand know for jackets made from technical fabrics, would sit below the collar at the back of the neck

Monocle magazine would take the right sleeve

Thomas Pink would have a place around the hem of the left sleeve, below the white Rapha band

Miracle-Gro fertiliser would have a space on the back somewhere near my arse

And slapped right across my chest in 50 point bold would be the gourmet love of my life, Higgidy pies.

Now that's what you call a TDF race jersey.

The name of the team? Pie-Vis-ibility

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Elite Pase bottle cage

It's funny how little things like bottle cages can lead to feelings of wonder at the precision of their engineering. I was ready to royally hoof the Elite Pase cage straight back to from whence it came until it arrived. I still wince at the price, although it is mid-priced for a bottle cage, and fairly reasonable for one made of carbon fibre.

Then it arrived, in a little clear box which took me straight back to the model spaceships I used to get for Christmas, and all I could think about was attaching it to the bike. And you know what? It actually makes the bike look better! Incredible!

It's like a decoration, the cycling equivalent of adding an oversized spoiler to an old banger, except with a bottle cage, you can put a bottle in it! And you don't need to be drving an old banger!

Highly recommended for anyone with more money than sense, or for previous owners of model spaceships.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan 08/07

Just when I thought it impossible to get more into plants, we paid a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell in Cornwall. This is the inspiration for the better-known Eden project and as such is evidence in plant form that the original is always best.

Unlike the Eden Project, which began as a very intriguing experiment in growing plants under giant grenhouse domes and has become akin to a walk through a particularly busy garden centre, the Lost Gardens of Heligan are an example of the types of highly exotic flora and fauna that can thrive in this country given the right conditions.

But it is the extraordinary story of Heligan House that really captures the imagination. For hundreds of years the Tremayne family stocked and maintained the gardens, travelling across the globe to find the rarest and most exotic species available. They planted whole swathes of tree ferns and established a jungle in a valley in the grounds where they grew bananas, palms and even giant California Redwood trees.

Then the First World War arrived and half of the 22 estate gardeners were sent to the trenches. Heligan House was commandeered as a convalescent home for officers and then let out to tenants.

After a period of neglect, the gardens were forgotten about and became overgrown. They were rediscovered in the early 1990s and restored to their former glory on a shoestring budget.

Tim Smitt, one of the three men to lead the restoration of the gardens, then went on to create the Eden Project. I can't help feeling this would also benefit from a few decades of neglect, if only to rid itself of the school parties that swarm over it. Perhaps some pesticide would do the trick.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Orlebar Brown beach shorts

It had to take a surf loving nation like Bermuda to put its name to the now synonymous uniform of the beach-bum male, but if there is one thing that Bermuda shorts, in all their baggy multi-coloured finery are not, it's stylish.

Orlebar Brown (OB) beach shorts however, are. And that has taken the efforts of a UK company.

I can't go on enough about how well fitting and stylish these shorts are. Thanks to the sort of workmanship and attention to detail that you might expect on luxury designer garments, such as branded zip-pulls, and a tailored cut, these shorts look equally as good while lunching along the riviera as they do taking a dip in the med.

Nice muted colours too, and a few lengths to choose from. Even the baggier Dane beach short is well cut.

At last a reason to bury those Bermudas.

What's more, enter 99183533 in the promotional code box when you place your order and you could be in for a discount.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Ulysse Nardin Chairman phone

It's nice to see a bit of optimism in these days of economic desperation, and what could be more optimistic than the launch of an 18k gold mobile phone?

The Ulysse Nardin Chairman is the kind of flamboyant creation that restores your faith in capitalism. If there's a market for a mobile phone which has been produced to the exacting specifications of a luxury time piece, with all its intricacies and attention to detail, in some of the finest materials on the planet, then things really can't be all that bad.

In addition to all the usual features you would expect from a mobile phone such as internet access and a camera, the Chairman has a built-in rotor to help keep the battery charged, incorporates a 2.8" touch screen and has to be the first ever mobile phone to employ fingerprint recognition security.

The price of this piece of mobile craftsmanship? €12,500. Recession? What recession?

This post is also featured on The Times business blog, Business Central.