Meet our friend Mark.
For this lifelong collector of vinyl and antiques – and the namesake of our best-selling shoulder bag – it’s not the owning that’s important.
It’s the finding.
Rare records, antique china, a brass tuba – to explore the shelves of Keswick Collectables is to read a few pages from Mark’s own journal of discovery.
When designing our Field Bag, a style used by exploring botanists through the ages, it felt only natural to name it after our friend and local explorer Mark.
Our modern incarnation on this classic Field Bag design is versatile and cleanly styled with 7 pockets for notebooks, papers, phone and laptop (up to 13″ in internal sleeve, up to 15″ in main compartment).
And there’s still space to spare for that occasional unexpected discovery …
When I first met photographer Lara Platman and product designer Julian Reichman at Goodwood Revival last year, I’m not ashamed to admit when they first told me of their trip to Germany in a DB9 I was a little green inside.
Unfortunately a back seat driver was not what they were looking for, some stylish luggage that fits perfectly into the boot of an Aston Martin however…
Diary by Lara Platman – Photographer
I have to let you know that I am something of a sucker for a road trip. If there is a spot on the map with a funny name I would almost take a detour simply to find out what was there or if there was a route taken by an historical character – I would drive to it and investigate what they might have seen. Our old family dog was a bit like that – always wanting to sniff a tree just round the corner…
So how did this road trip come about? Well when I first saw the Leica Monochrom camera in July I decided that to try the full functionality of it, it would need a properly good road test and that is exactly what I planned: a road test.
My motor racing partner Julian Reichman, suggested we take a new car to compliment the new camera on a road trip, so a request was put in to the Aston Martin press office, plus after an invitation to visit the Leica factory the road trip from Gaydon to Solms was born.
The DB9 has a very small luggage compartment and thought that Millican might very well do the trick. I would have clothing plus my camera equipment, whilst Julian would have clothing and some picnic apparatus. I decided that I rather preferred ‘Adam’ my suitcase and Julian luckily liked ‘Harry’ his Gladstone bag. I like my clothes being flat and I could also pop my computer into it all flat and protected. I put the wires and accessories from my camera equipment in to ‘Adam’ too and that just left me with a small camera bag with pure essentials for shooting on the hoof.
We set off early afternoon and reached Dover for a late P&O ferry crossing, with a privileged on off priority loading, the car, a DB9 Volante was a thoroughbred race horse waiting to be unleashed and with a quick stop in Calais over night that is what we did. All of a sudden we were at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, allowing the camera to play a little more than shooting through a moving image.
The sky as to be expected at Spa was cloudy and incorrigible, however I played and so did the Monochrom, trying all sorts of tricks that I thought might make for an interesting frame. Suddenly a tractor came past with a load of tyres attached and my winning shot of Spa despite trying to get Eau Rouge in the background, was indeed the tyre machine.
Julian had already been on a number of road trips with me for my editorial jobs and he was quite used to my screaming “STOP THE CAR – I want to shoot”, he was also very used to the fact that I would always be looking out of the window when driving or sitting shot gun, he knew to keep his eyes open for possible places to shoot a frame or two and when he first saw the results on the back of the screen he was super amazed at the detail of the black and white and soon started re thinking his eyes to black and white.
For me to see an image is to see it in black and white and I think using this camera and discussing this Monochrom consistently on the trip, Julian really did see what he is used to, the lines and shapes of a car, as he is an automotive car modeller and product designer – he is used to shape and form. A black and white image captures this brilliantly.
My co driver commented on many occasion, ‘La, I have never seen you take so many photos with this thing’ now for me that is a strange occurrence: I still shoot as if I am shooting film and quantify the amount of editing I would have to do at the end thus, I think long and hard about what will make a good shot or not. I think we as digital camera users are able to return to the black and white film – only now with the digital Monochrom camera.
My journey continues arriving at the Schloss Hotel in Braunfels with the castle in view (a cousin of our British Queen lives there) with the grand finale at the Leica factory the next morning where, I was told by Julian that I managed to ‘keep it together’ (not under my skin I was so excited to be in the home of the manufacturers of the cameras that I love – I was trembling beyond belief).
Lots of fabulous secrets in the rooms where ladies with little hands make the X2 and gentlemen with larger digits make the S system and grind the optical glass. A building that if I could I would stay for ever and an age. Alas, a detailed visit and a look at the Bauhaus designed, old Leica factory now the Leica Geometrics factory in Wetzlar where the only ‘Paternoster’ is in existence and the new Leica factory under construction on the hill tops of Wetzlar (estimated completion time 2014), Julian and I had lunch at Toni’s ‘staff canteen’ with my new Leica family and alas it was time to sprint back to the ferry.
We managed to get up into the Wetzlar hills and shoot some frames and allow the car a breezy run before the return 510bhp on the Autobahn, where I shot what I think is my favourite frame of the trip (next to the Spa tyre waggon) an industrial scene with smoke pouring into the sky ahead of us. Sitting shot gun at this point luckily I managed to take a series without looking to see what I had actually stolen, just concentrating on the scene passing me at speed, I hoped I had it all spick and span in the camera with lighting… sometimes those red arrows need a shift or two when shooting in the mist.
The ferry back was changed to an earlier time thanks to the fabulous press office at P&O and a club class glass of champagne topped off our road trip.
Julian and I unpacked our Millican bags and sadly handed back the car. The end…. For him…. …..Well, not for me thank heavens, I now had the familiar task of picture editing, something I am usually rather unimpressed about – I loved the dark room atmosphere and the smell and the solitude. Lightroom, our new darkroom seemed to have lost the thrill for me – that is until I was introduced to Silver Efex Pro 2, my new dark room. With my social life now going to be in tatters, I set to work on the photos. HEAVEN.
I was indeed in heaven again. The Monochrom was a delight to play with, the photos a delight to edit and the Aston Martin DB9 Volante an utterly worthy car of the road trip.
When we opened up the boot of the DB9 to reveal ‘Harry’ and ‘Adam’ sitting there, everyone said, “Wow do those bags come with the car- they fit perfectly”
Yes, we know!
Thank you Millican for helping to make our road trip really rather special.
Montezuma’s Chocolate has been on our radar for many years. Our first delicious encounter occurred in Brighton, when we were mesmerized and tantalized by incredible chocolate creations displayed in their shop window on Duke Street.
We were even more delighted when we read how, after a travel adventure in South America, the founders Helen and Simon Pattinson switched their careers to learn the art of making chocolate . In Helen’s own words “We started Montezuma’s, our little chocolate business, in 2000 with only a kitchen sink sized machine, huge enthusiasm, spades of naivety and most importantly, a broad ideal to bring chocolate innovation to a boring and staid British chocolate market. With the exception of that first machine, little has changed and the childish enthusiasm we shared exploring South America in 1999 largely wakes up with us every morning.”
South America is a continent close to our hearts. Six weeks into our respective round-the-world trips in the early 90′s, Jorrit and I met in a small town called Vilcabamba in Ecuador, a valley of eternal youth (lots of centenaries apparently). We climbed Cotopaxi, skied in the highest resort in the world (Bolivia), kayaked down the Urubamba river in Peru and continued to enjoy this amazing collection of countries, travelling through Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela for the following 6 months.
Jorrit and I kayaking down the Urubamba, Peru
No wonder their travels inspired Helen and Simon to step off their career path and follow their dreams. We recognise the irresistible pull of the dream … So to learn more about the Montezuma’s dream, I asked Simon a few questions:
Nicky: What did you and Helen “do” before you created Montezuma’s?
Simon: We were both Lawyers.
Nicky: Why did you decide to travel to South America? Where did you visit? What were the highlights of the trip for you?
Simon: It was a continent neither of us had visited and somewhere that offered good trekking opportunities. We spent a large proportion of our time crisscrossing between Argentina and Chile and also spent a few months in Venezuela. It is absolutely impossible to pick out one highlight, as almost day-by-day the trip was beyond our wildest expectations. For me, a visit to a village called Iruya in the Northwest of Argentina was truly amazing. When we went 15 years ago it was really remote and the people were fabulously warm and welcoming. There was something about the people that has stuck in my mind.
Nicky: So what made you and Helen decide to create a chocolate making company?
Simon: Accidently camping on a cocoa plantation in Venezuela and becoming fascinated by the horticulture of cocoa production.
Nicky: What key elements do you believe are fundamental to running your business?
Simon: On personal level, humorous patience, critical scepticism and predictability of temperament are key to encouraging a pleasant and productive work environment.
Nicky: What are you most passionate about?
Simon: Anything that grabs my imagination and drives me to improve myself. I am supremely passionate about being the best father I can be to my three young daughters, and that oddly throws a wide focus on my behaviour, from keeping fit and strong, running our business ethically or just working hard at being a supporting and loving husband. All work in progress!
Nicky: When you’re not creating amazing chocolate, what do you and Helen enjoy doing? Outdoors? For relaxation?
Simon: Cycling for me and running for Helen, although we both help to run a youth cycling club called the Solent Pirates. Following the girls around as cabbies, caterers, biggest fans and banker at various events ranging from judo to gymnastics, choir to cycle racing. Other than that music, both recorded and live is something we enjoy. Much of the other stuff has slipped, particularly sailing and climbing which will have to wait until the girls are a little older.
Nicky: If you could escape for 3 months, what would you dream of doing?
Simon: Now this is the hardest. With the girls as they are now, either back to NZ or South America for the whole three months.
Nicky: Where’s your next trip planned for?
Simon: Cornwall. We love it and have the best family holidays. For work we are off to Peru and possibly Uganda over the next 6 months.
Nicky: We know you’re now the proud owner of Harry. What attracted you to Harry? How are you getting along with your Gladstone bag?
Simon: The sad fact is that I have been longingly looking at the bag and simply haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet – that day will come very soon!
Nicky: Do you have 3 top tips for anyone wanting to change direction and follow their dream?
Simon: 1. Think before you leap; 2. Leap with absolute commitment; and 3. Don’t look back!
Couldn’t have put it better myself Simon.
PS – If you haven’t done so already, enter here to win lots of Montezuma’s chocolate, packed in a Millican bag, in our joint competition.
Two years ago, David Keyte called us out of the blue to have a chat about bags. He’d owned a Mark the Field Bag for 6 months by then and simply loved it.
David is the co-founder of British menswear clothing label Universal Works, hailing from Nottingham, England. His illustrious career started in a Midlands’ coal mine, followed by nearly 20 years at Paul Smith and Maharishi before founding Universal Works in 2009. Our two brands have developed in parallel ever since.
David’s call started a very interesting journey for Millican, culminating in our first collaboration ever, launched last season. Although we’re currently working on our 4th instalment for next year already, we have just taken delivery of our Spring 2013 capsule collection (did I say Spring?).
A good time to visit David, Steph, Jamie and the rest of the team in their converted lace factory in Nottingham to check the product and reflect on our time together.
Millican: What prompted your original call to us in the first place?
David: I’d come across the story of Millican Dalton, the Lakeland outdoors man, and in my search for his biography I stumbled upon the Millican website. In addition to the book, I ended up with a Millican Field Bag and came to appreciate the great functionality and understated quality of the Millican bags. I liked the ethos of the company and since I wanted to offer our customers some bags anyway, I thought it’d be great to work with a specialist bag maker like you guys.
M: How does the collaboration fit with Universal Works?
D: Universal Works’ products are inspired by people practically using their garments every day. I see great examples of guys wearing what’s comfortable and functional for them every day – it simply works for them. Real honest menswear. That’s the “work” in our name. Our garments are as natural as possible, making them very wearable. And universal in their appeal, easy enough to work for men in everyday settings at work and play. Millican’s no-nonsense, functional and sustainable approach completely fits with this.
M: With the collaboration, which elements of both brands can we find in the bags?
D: We brought urban styling to the already very functional Millican bags. Our collections are about great shapes, great utility and great design. I am a great fan of Dieter Rams and his principles of Good Design, with simplicity at its core. I love simplicity. For this collaboration, we updated 2 existing Millican styles by further simplifying the detail and added 2 new, more urban styles. In a good collaboration both partners bring something special to the table – urban styling is ours, functional bags are yours.
M: What’s new for the Spring 2013 capsule collection?
D: A core principle of sustainability is simple longevity. We’ve therefore built on previous season’s styles and experimented with a new material – a 100% recycled polyester used in the outdoor industry, with a waterproof PU1500 coating. Despite its technical nature, it has a soft, understated feel to it.
The classic Antique Bronze organic cotton canvas remains in the collection for this Spring, as does the Ecru hemp/organic cotton linings for all our bags. All in all, a great capsule of what a contemporary man might need for his everyday use.
M: With an industry working so far ahead, what can we expect from this ongoing collaboration for the coming seasons?
D: We’ve developed a great new style for next season, named after my dad – George the Crew Bag – and have added a new, classic Navy colour. Right now, we’re also experimenting with various print techniques for next year and are looking for an additional colour for Spring 2014. So watch this space …
For some more behind-the-scenes info, check out our SS/13 launch film:
Situated at the heart of the Jurassic Coast is Lyme Regis, also known as the ‘Pearl of Dorset’. It’s less than three hours by train from both London and the Midlands, which made it a popular destination for a summer’s holiday during my early years.
There’s a clue in the name, the ‘Jurassic Coast’ of Lyme Regis is internationally recognized as a centre for fossil hunting. Although I never managed to unearth a T-Rex when building a sand castle (partly due to the beaches being full of pebbles), I do however vividly remember the excitement in finding shale embedded with a small fish.
Boasting a wonderful beach, iconic harbour, great hotels and restaurants, and a coastline famed for its fossils, plus the attraction that Meryl Streep stayed in Lyme Regis whilst filming French Lieutenants Woman the town continues to draw visitors from far and wide.
Lyme Regis has a thriving independent shop scene selling wonderful food, clothes, and of course fossils!
Founded in 2005, Ginger Beer, a retail destination where the owners, Dawn, Nigel and Susie along with manager Louise, share similar values to ours at Millican.
‘Our ambition is simple: to ensure you enjoy outside living as much as we do.’
We’ve been working with the guys at Ginger Beer for the last few years. Ever since Nicky and Jorrit visited Lyme when Millican was just a twinkle in their eye, they were keen to place our bags in this fabulous independent. Their eclectic selection of vintage and new items, all of the highest quality, design and elegance means that Dave the Rucksack and Stewart the Courier are right at home.
Ginger Beer concentrate on timeless product,s relevant to both traditional and contemporary environments, made largely of natural materials – wool, wood, canvas, leather.
If you happen to be in the area make sure you pop in to Ginger Beer. And while you’re at it, The Town Mill Bakery is definitely worth a visit for their delicious artisan breads and homemade cakes.
I’m certain it would be wonderful to live in a National Park. Renowned as one of the most beautiful and picturesque landscapes the UK has to offer, The Lake District attracts millions of visitors from all corners each year. However at this moment in my life I’m comfortably settled in the Big Smoke.
Cities get a raw deal when it comes to their reputation as prime walking venues. And yet, for me, the right city on the right day can be up there with a trek in the most spectacular scenery when it comes to strolling satisfaction.
In fact, on certain occasions I would opt for a city walk over a picture-postcard woodland trail or a pretty circular village route.
A century ago, 90% of Londoners’ journeys under six miles were made on foot. I’m not sure that’s the case now.
I appreciate that not being the owner of a car does give me a certain incentive to either walk, cycle or jump on public transport.
A couple of weeks back I stumbled across an old postcard of Dock Street in East London. Dock Street is not known for anything in particular other then being on same route I take to Whitechapel Gallery.
The old postcard was instantly recognizable due to the strong standing church.
I wondered what the same picture looked like today through the eyes of Instagram and my iPhone…
In true Millican Dalton style – start all journeys with a great coffee.
The best coffee in South London – Browns of Brockley
St Paul’s Church still stands strong today and is now home to a nursery. I’ll spare you the history lesson, however if you’re this far through the post you may want to jump on the link for a little more info.
If you too share a passion for an urban walk, share your experiences by commenting below.
Until next time…