In common with the Midlands area, where our bags are produced, the English West Country, where most of our sampling happens, has a concentration of leather goods specialists. The country’s most prolific and well-known glovemakers are here, there are shoemakers, sheepskin experts and Britain’s oldest oak bark leather tannery, to name just a few. We realise we’re fortunate to visit some of Britain’s most beautiful rural areas in the course of our work. The only guilt felt is for too many flying visits to these places, there and back to London in a day, landscape and history blurring through a car window. So, as a couple of recent Journal posts may reveal, we’re ringing the changes and starting to capitalise on these trips by tacking on some exploration time.
Last Friday was spent at the workshop, an in-depth and productive discussion around 2013 projects, more of those over the coming months. Meeting concluded we continued west to Lyme Regis in Dorset. Saturday began with a stroll along The Cobb, the Grade I listed harbour sea wall which formed a dramatic backdrop in both Jane Austen’s Persuasion and John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The town itself also inspired Thomas Hardy, JMW Turner and James Whistler.
Much of Saturday was spent hunting through the numerous antique and vintage stalls in nearby Bridport, the market is excellent, we picked up a couple of great reference samples here, one with a lovely original BOAC ticket attached. In the Saint Michaels area of the town Pam’s is a real treasure trove but Old Albion is arguably the best, we found large Ordnance Survey maps printed onto linen (one of the Yorkshire Ridings, much to Mrs A’s delight), pommel horses and a 1950’s American steel-runnered sledge. Brilliant. On the main street is the T Snook shop, gentleman’s and ladies hatters since 1896, purveyors of every type of headwear imaginable, bowlers in all colours, pith helmets, fez’s and more. Our final seal of approval was given when we spotted the The Chap magazine on sale. The evening was spent devouring three courses at The Hix Oyster & Fish House.
On Sunday we trod in Mary Anning’s footsteps and explored the crumbling Jurassic coastline east of the town. Optimistically seeking fossils of Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaur we eventually uncovered ammonites and belemites. The whole area is famed for it’s geology and Anning’s discoveries, rightly so, this very visible blend of geography and history should stir the most deeply buried geek tendencies in all.