Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Christmas in the Countryside and What You Need to Know

Christmas in the countryside is a beautiful experience, with frosty fields sparkling in the Winter sun and quaint village festivities to get involved with.  Supping mulled wine in front of an open fire in a country pub and taking long, crisp walks with the pup all adds to the wonderful charm of Christmas in the countryside.  If you're thinking of spending Christmas in the countryside, here's a few tips to prepare for the season ahead.

1. You will need a 4 x 4 (or know a farmer with a tractor)

 Navigating country lanes in Winter is an experience in itself.  Especially if you're a country Mum with several excitable children squabbling in the back and at least half a dozen Spaniels and Labradors, whilst trying to successfully wind your way through mud or snow riddled lanes and avoid being squished by on coming farm machinery.

2. Stack up on the mulled wine and mince pies (homemade of course)

Christmas in the countryside is a very social affair.  There's always somebody popping round to drop off a card, a bottle of home made sloe gin (to sample of course) or to catch up on the latest gossip.  Often with a dog or two in tow, so don't be too precious about Winter sludge being dragged through the kitchen.  

This is, of course, unless your nearest human neighbour is too many miles away and you only have to be concerned with neighbours of the cattle or sheep variety escaping in to your back yard.

3. Layers, layers and more layers!

Make sure you have an abundance of knitwear and a decent Winter jacket.  Invest in a good pair of neoprene wellies to keep toes toasty and a hat to keep the rain or snow off.  Country folk are made of sterner stuff when it comes to the British weather so make sure you don't miss out on all the wonderful, and often outdoor, Christmas activities by kitting yourself out with suitable attire.  Fleece gilets are a country staple for layering, along with a robust waterproof and windproof coat. A splash of tweed wouldn't be out of place either - although, we'd recommend avoiding the head to toe tweed ensemble of plus fours, waistcoat, sports jacket and deer stalker hat look (unless you're on a shoot day).

4. The Christmas tree farm visit

Country dwellers tend to appreciate natures gifts more than most, and that includes the Christmas tree.  You won't see a plastic Christmas tree in a country house (if you do, it's a rare breed indeed!).  A trip to the local Christmas tree farm is usually a family outing due to the likely hood of Dad returning with the nearest 'that'll do' tree.  It's usually Mum who supervises the Christmas tree purchase as the dimensions, spread and species are all important things to consider, don't you know!

5. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire is actually a thing, not just a song

A crackling open fire is as common in the countryside as pigeons are to the city.  So roasting a few seasonal chestnuts on one is a rather satisfying and rewarding activity to take part in.  The sweet, nutty flavour of a roasted chestnut is sure to bring out your festive spirit and also gives the man of the house an opportunity to poke and prod the fire some more, which, of course, is the Winter equivalent of a BBQ.

6. Christmas Day down the local

There's something special about taking a stroll in the Winter cold to the local pub and being greeted by log burner warmth and a festive and jovial atmosphere.  With an abundance of waggy tails and friendly faces on Christmas Day, it's a standard tradition for villagers to gather at the local pub for a mulled wine whilst the turkey slowly roasts in the Aga. 

7. Get your walking feet at the ready

If you reside in the country, you will have a dog (or several).  And with a dog comes many miles of walking across beautiful landscapes.  We love our walks, and one of the most enjoyable is the Christmas day post lunch ramble.  Wrap up well and embrace whatever the weather throws at you.  And if you just so happen to pass a country pub on route, it would be considered rude (or mad) not to pop inside and warm up for a while before the long trek home.

Picture Credits: Pinterest

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Which are the best Le Chameau Wellingtons for me?

Le Chameau, maker of luxury wellingtons and boots, have refined their collection over the years, adding new technologies and updating old favourite designs.  The Autumn / Winter 2016 collection will not disappoint; reassuringly recognisable, but instantly different!

We all know and love the iconic, hand-made Le Chameau Footwear.  But are you wearing the correct style for the job?  The more popular styles we often see here in the UK are the famous Chasseur or Vierzonord styles.  Both boots were designed for specific country sports, such as the pegged Gun, with cross terrain features, superior comfort and cold-weather protection.  But did you know, there's a Le Chameau boot for all aspects of country life including agriculture, country sports and even for walking the dog!

The Le Chameau Chassuer Range

Famous by the name of 'zip boot' since 1970, the Chasseur provides unparalleled comfort courtesy of its adjusted fit, choice of calf fittings and linings.

Available in both men's and women's sizes, the popular choice of linings are either the full grain leather lining or the 3mm neoprene lining.

The leather lined Chasseur Cuir (leather lined) boasts a waterproof zip, a bi-density sole that's abrasion resistant with an all-terrain grip and a shank reinforcement for better arch support.

The Le Chameau Vierzon Range

Arguably the best selling Le Chameau boot in the UK, the Vierzon range is a perfect blend of functionality and style.  Designed nearly fifty years ago, the Vierzon boot is a cold weather hero.  Available in both men's and women's sizes and combined with a hard wearing and supportive sole unit, makes a great all round country boot.

The Le Chameau Cérès Range 

Michelin and Le Chameau bring together their know-hows to create a line of innovative boots for agriculture with great performance.  The Le Chameau Cérès range boasts a sole developed with the same structure as a Michelin tyre with ultraflex technology for extra grip, comfort and resistance.

Available with 3mm neoprene lining (Cérès Neo), jersey lining (Cérès Jersey) and adjustable rear gusset (Cérès Soufflet) to avoid farming niggles such as catching clasps on quad bikes or tractors.

The Le Chameau Country Range

A functionally flattering walking boot for those who still need a performance boot.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Introducing Simon Esnouf, Seeland Sales Agent & Experienced Gun

Introducing Simon Esnouf, Seeland Sales Agent & Experienced Gun

Simon Esnouf, our Sales Agent for Seeland, recently appeared in their 'Take It Outside' magazine.  Here's what what we learned...


Simon Esnouf is the epitome of the classical English shooter.  Read his account of English shooting traditions, and why he uses a shotgun that is almost 140 years old.

Did you grow up with shooting?
"No, when I was a lad I was obsessed with fishing, and didn't know much about shooting.  When I got married, we moved to the country, where my parents-in-law had an indoor shooting range, where we could fire air guns and gallery guns.  So it was natural to take up shooting, and my first big passion was pistol shooting."

How did that happen?
"I started in the air rifle club, which was a bit boring.  So I went on to the rifle club, which was really boring.  People lay down for ages to take the shot.  So I tried the pistol club, and thought: 'Wow! This is for me.'  There was lots of shooting, and bullets flying everywhere, quite safely, of course....My first big love was a Colt 45 Canadian revolver from the Second World War.  Unfortunately, pistol shooting was made illegal in the UK and disappeared overnight."

So how do you shoot today?
"We mainly shoot pheasant, duck and partridge.  I'm a member of two syndicates.  There's a small local farmers syndicate with 16 shooters who take turn to beat and then shoot the next drive.  Then we go to the pub, where we can boast that we're actually really much better shots than we are.  I also take part in a larger shoot in Suffolk each year.  I really enjoy the social aspect of shooting."

What is the best shooting advice you have been given?
"One of the shooters I've learned a lot from is an elderly gentleman from here in Oxford.  He said that when it looked good, it was good.  You should never hurry, but take your shot elegantly, like an English gentleman."

Do you have a weapon that means a lot to you?
"I have a George Gibbs from 1879, which is a really beautiful firearm.  It was made in southern England, in the 19th century.  It's a hammer gun with a barrel of Damascus steel.  It's not very fast, but it can actually shoot birds, if you point it in the right direction.  But we also have people who shoot even older guns, muzzle loaders that use black powder.  So compared to them, I'm pretty fast."

"...but it can actually shoot birds, if you point it in the right direction."

What is special about using an old gun?
"It sounds different.  It's like bells, which all have a different chime.  A modern shotgun sounds very hard and tight, while an older weapon has a more melodic boom, which reverberates afterwards.  The wood is incredible, and far superior to anything made today."

What is your best shooting experience?
"One of my best shooting trips was the first time I was out with my colleague John in Northumberland, near Hadrian's Wall - close to the border with Scotland.  We'd planned one outing in the evening, and one in the morning.  On the first one, I shot my first roe deer from around 120 metres, with one shot.  It was an amazing moment.  Later that evening we had a good dinner, and a drink, followed by another, and yet another.  So we never got out in the morning.  Not a very impressive trophy, but I've saved the antlers."

Friday, 5 February 2016

Love in the Countryside; Valentine's Wish List

Gents, don't leave Valentine's Day to the last minute this year.  Fear not, we're on hand to help.  The ladies in our office share their Valentine's wish list to help inspire you...

Amy Powell - Customer Service Advisor

"I like pretty, but practical. Just because we work and play in the countryside doesn't mean us girls need to be covered from head to toe in green!"

Rachael Childs - Marketing Manager

"Classic country is the way to go for me.  I prefer quality one off pieces that won't date or go out of style.  Oh, and anything that can withstand a bit of horse slobber."

Chelsea Booth - Embroidery Technician

"Any footwear that matches my lipstick and keeps me dry and comfortable is a winner for me!"

Julie - Product Data Manager

"Everyday elegance is always a winner for me.  Things I can use everyday that adds a touch of glamour."

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Seeland has Landed

We are super excited to have launched with fieldsports clothing brand, Seeland.  A Danish company, and founded in 1976, Seeland's clothing is developed around the belief of getting the most out of your days shooting.

Clothing yourself properly for shooting is a science and each piece of Seeland garment is developed through a year long design process involving numerous lab tests and field tests performed by professional hunters.

The attractive pricing makes Seeland products accessible to all who enjoy hunting and nature to the full.

Key Pieces

Handwarmer pockets with fleece lining • Spacious cartridge pockets with drain holes and quick load strap • breast and inner pockets •  Elasticated waist and hood • Game pocket lined with oxford nylon • 2-way front zip

Tall back to keep the small of your back warm • Boot flap that prevents water ingress • Game carrier attached to trousers • D-ring on left side with gallow • Suspender buttons • Articulated Knee • Velcro fastenings in legs • Hand warmer pockets • Zipped back pockets

Hand warmer pockets with fleece lining • Front pockets with drain holes and quick load function • Napolean pocket • Game pocket lined with oxford nylon • 2-way front zip • Drawstring in waist 

Side pockets • Back pockets on both sides • Gusset at hem • Adjustable leg hem

Monday, 19 October 2015

Introducing ARIAT

Introducing ARIAT

Ariat are renowned for their technologically innovative equestrian and country footwear and we are delighted to announce we've added them to our premium country footwear range.

Founded in 1993 by Beth Cross and Pam Parker, Arait was borne from a vision to bring performance technology to riders who were dealing with inadequate equipment.  Today, Ariat is America's number one English and Western performance footwear, with the Ariat bug quickly catching all over Europe too.

The brand is supported by top equestrian athletes.  Here are some of the Great British riders who trust in Ariat to carry them through their disciplines...

William Fox-Pitt (GBR)

Discipline - Eventing
Hometown - Hinton St Mary, Dorset
Number of years riding - 40
Main career accomplishments to date:
  • • World no 1
  • • 6 x Burghley wins
  • • Badminton win
  • • Team silver and Individual bronze, WEG 2014
  • • Individual bronze, Europeans 2013
  • • 6 team gold medals, Europeans
  • • Olympic team silver x2 and team bronze
  • • World team gold, silver and bronze
 William shared with Ariat...

Tell us about your first horse/pony
Mini Monster - she was very kind, as I was very nervous!

How did you get started in your discipline?
Through my mother and the Pony Club.

Mentor/idol when growing up?
Lars Sederholm

Proudest career moment?
My first Burghley

Why do you ride?
I love horses!

If you weren't a professional rider, what would you be?
A poultry fancier!

Favourite holiday destination?

How do you unwind?
With my children.

Do you have a good luck charm, and if so, what is it?

Anne-Marie Perry (GBR)

Discipline - Dressage
Hometown - Elwick, Hartlepool
Number of years riding - I can”t ever remember not riding, Mum says I was quieter on a pony than in a pram!
Main career accomplishments to date:
  • • 2014 - Winner of Intermediate II class at Myerscough Premier League with Feine Dame.
  • • 2013 - Winner of three classes at Myerscough Premier league on two horses, Chiara and Feine Dame, all in one day!
  • • 2008 - Competed at Hickstead International CDI winning the entire Young Rider Tour with Aristo.
  • • 2006 - Competed in the Young Rider section at the European Championships and returned home as Best British Rider with World Classic.
  • • 2005 - Represented Great Britain on many occasions and at the European Championships as a junior rider.
  • • 2004 - Represented Great Britain successfully on several occasions including competing in Roosendaal and Limburg in Holland, Addington in England and as part of the Junior European team in Denmark with Forrest Fire and was the Best British Rider.
Anne-Marie shared with Ariat...

Tell us about your first horse/pony
My first pony was called Bobby Doughnut. He was a skewbald Shetland with a very short temper with everyone except me! Apparently I was so determined to get on him by myself once, that I tried to climb up his leg to reach the stirrup! We had so much fun growing up together and later on, regularly had “real life buckaroo” competitions where we would see how many of us could get on him before he decided he had had enough, and buck us all off!!

How did you get started in your discipline?
I started out with a very diverse range of ponies from jumping to mounted games and pony club ponies and was always quite successful, but rarely won any competitions. When mum went to an affiliated dressage competition she was competing at with her ex-racehorse (which flatly refused to jump anymore!) she took me along with my Welsh Section D, Maeseyfron Rhett, so I could have a go as well. We promptly won our two classes and qualified for the Regional Championships. I thought “I like this dressage lark!” and never looked back from there!

Mentor/idol when growing up?
When growing up I was madly in love with Duncan from the boy band Blue!

Proudest career moment?
This has to be winning the Intermediate II this year (2014) at Myerscough Premier league with Feine Dame. I have spent 8 years training her to Grand Prix level and to have her win a big class in her first season at the level was incredible!
Why do you ride?
I love my horses!

If you weren”t a professional rider, what would you be?
I always thought I would like to be an RAF pilot, though I”m not sure how that would have worked out as I”m not too keen on heights!

Favourite holiday destination?
Has to be anywhere in the Lake District. Its only two hours” drive for us and to have such beauty on our doorstep is incredible.

How do you unwind?
I like to take our two dogs for a walk with my fiancé, Phil.

Do you have a good luck charm, and if so, what is it?
My good luck charm is a bright pink diamante brow band that Forrest Fire was wearing when we won our first championship title. It goes everywhere with us and is hung up in the living area in our lorry.

Tina Fletcher (GBR)

Discipline - Show jumping
Hometown - Faringdon, Oxfordshire.
Number of years riding - I”ve been riding since I was 3 years old. Far too long!
Main career accomplishments to date:
  • • Hickstead Derby winner - only female winner in 40 years - 2011
  • • 2nd place - Hickstead Derby - 2010
  • • Winner of the Hickstead Super League Nations Cup team
  • • Winner of the Austrian Nations Cup
  • • 2nd place - Falsterbo, Sweden - Super League Nations Cup
  • • 3 time winner of Queen Elizabeth II Cup
  • • Double clear and 2nd place in Aga Khan at Dublin RDS
  • • Winner of the HOYS Puissance, jumping 7ft 4ins
  • • Winner at Olympia
  • • 2nd place at the British Masters Grand Prix, 2014
  • • Reserve member of London 2012 Olympic team
Tina shared with Ariat...

Tell us about your first horse/pony
My first pony was an amazing black 12.2hh pony called Rockafella. He won everything we entered and was definitely responsible for my love of show jumping.

How did you get started in your discipline?
My mother rode and encouraged my sisters and I and drove us all around the country with our ponies.

Mentor/idol when growing up?
Eddie Macken was my idol when I was growing up. It was in the days when he had Boomerang and the partnership they had was beautiful to watch. It was pretty surreal a few years later when I was competing against him and sometimes beating him!

Proudest career moment?
My proudest moment is split between winning the Hickstead Derby and winning the Nations Cup at Hickstead with a double clear. It is the last time that Britain has won our own Nations Cup and it is a great feeling.

Why do you ride?
I ride because I love it. I love winning, but also I love to produce young horses and see them progress.

If you weren”t a professional rider, what would you be?
Luckily my job is my hobby and I love it, but I think I would have worked with children if I hadn't gone jumping.

Favourite holiday destination?
The Caribbean - beautiful beaches, blue sky and sun.

How do you unwind?
I don't get much time for that! I love the theatre and spending time with my two boys, watching them play football and rugby.

Do you have a good luck charm and if so, what is it?
No good luck charm, but I am quite superstitious.

Rachael Claridge (GBR)

Discipline - Endurance
Hometown - Badminton, Gloucestershire
Number of years riding - 36
Main career accomplishments to date:
  • • Commentating at the World Equestrian Games 2014 for FEI TV on endurance day, the second best thing to riding the 160km FEI ride, but without the rain, mud and nerves!
  • • Coaching a non-endurance riding client on my own horses who went on to complete the Mongol Derby 2014 (1000km in 10 days on 30 horses!)
  • • Golden Horse Shoe Exmoor Extra three day 120km challenge - 1st place 2014
  • • Qualifying as a UKCC Level 3 endurance coach in 2013
  • • Team GBR bronze medal in the South African Endurance Championships 2009
  • • World Endurance Championships, Dubai 2005
  • • European Young Riders Championships 1997 (UK) 1999 (Germany)
Rachael shared with Ariat... 

Tell us about your first horse/pony
Magic - an 11.3hh grey Dartmoor cross mare, who was terrified of heavy traffic and loved mud. She taught my sister and I how to really ride, wash and plait up ponies to pass rigorous pony club inspections and tests!

How did you get started in your discipline?
As a family we used to go on pleasure rides and go hunting with the East Cornwall Hunt. Mum had qualified for the Golden Horse Shoe when we lived at Marlborough 35 years ago on her grey hunter, Trampus, so when a British Long Distance Riding competition was held on Bodmin Moor we all entered and then got hooked.

Mentor/idol when growing up?
My parents! Plus former European champion, Jill Thomas, and Team GBR gold medal winner, Jane James, who mentored me from the age of 15 after I took part in a team relay with them. Shortly after my Pony Club pony injured herself in the field I bought Jane's thoroughbred mare Cornish Mead, who is the dam of Prince Meliodas, my current part-bred Arabian gelding. I crewed for Jill at the Southall European Championships and both Jane and Jill encouraged me to ride for the Team GBR Young Riders squad. Jane crewed for me at Young Rider and the Senior World Championships in the UAE and we all remain friends 20 years on.

Proudest career moment?
Winning the FEI 3* 160km Cirencester Park race with Silver Mistrahl and picking up the Best Condition Award - he is still an awesome horse, now aged 24 years.

Why do you ride?
I'm mad and I love it! Training and competing in all weathers isn't necessarily everyone's idea of fun but completing the Golden Horse Shoe which always clashes with the notorious bad weather of the Ten Tors weekend is some achievement - Meliodas in particular loves this course on Exmoor whatever the weather. He's a trooper, so I have to be as good as him to help him cover the distances asked for!

If you weren”t a professional rider, what would you be?
A hotel manager. I decided not to go into hospitality after working for a hotel in Plymouth as a teenager and realised it wouldn't give me the hours to allow me to train and compete my horses.

Favourite holiday destination?
Cornwall, my childhood home and where my parents and my retired horses live. You can't beat Bodmin Moor or the Cornish coastline! Or, the USA, I'd love to go back to the ranch in Wyoming where I worked after university one day and go on a pack-trip into the Rocky Mountains with my husband so that he can see how wonderful Bitterroot Ranch is. The people are so friendly and I love the wide-open spaces!

How do you unwind?
I ride my horses, or take the labradors for a walk ending up at our local pub with my husband! Yoga and pilates also help me de-stress, or a glass of wine!

Do you have a good luck charm, and if so, what is it?
I wear a white gold necklace with a solitaire diamond, which I bought as a memory of the World Endurance Championships, Dubai in 2005. A couple of years later when choosing a labrador puppy a yellow bitch leapt forward from the litter and grabbed the pendant. That was my Haya, now 8 years old.