There is a whole lot of love out there for Millican Bags – almost weekly we receive fantastic emails from fans around the world. Brightens our inbox that’s for sure.
A few stand out and are worth sharing – they made us laugh, smile and beam inside with pride (call us mad but we’re passionate about “the boys”). So with no further ado, I’ll hand you over first to Tom (now that’s a story to tell) and then to Shane – proving our bags are perfect for tall men too (he’s 6ft 10″!)…hear what they really think of the bags that are close to their hearts.
Tom’s first email went like this:
“I’ve lost my Keith!!
After two years of fantastic service Keith and I have gone our separate ways, albeit not by choice. Reminiscent of the scene from Cast Away as Tom Hanks shouts after Wilson I too stood on the platform as the train pulled away shouting after my beloved Keith. I can only hope he brings joy to whoever finds him.
You can never truly replace a loved one, the memories will never be quite the same. None the less I have visited the website this morning, much like an online dating portal and I have browsed the pictures and descriptions but, as most of us do, we have our ‘type’ and I’m drawn to Keith once again. Unfortunately I’ve noticed that Keith is currently only stocked in the Antique Bronze whereas I’d rather have him in the Slate Green.
I was hoping you might be able to advise me whether there will be any Slate Green Keiths available soon?”
So sad, the Cast Away image really tugged but luckily this cloud had a silver lining, only a day later…read on;
” I’ve just received an email from someone who found my business card in my Keith and has told me where to collect him from! Faith in humanity restored!
As it happens, while browsing the alternatives, I’ve decided to add the Harry bag to my collection. The perfect travel companion for my tour of Italy in August I should think!
I first came across this company in Selfridges where you had a concession and, being a Lakeland lover, was immediately a fan and have converted a few friends since. There is nowhere I’d rather look for quality luggage and your assistance this morning only goes further to re-enforce my love for you guys”.
We love a happy ending. Tom is now the proud of owner of his original Keith and Harry the Gladstone bag, armed and ready for a wonderful Italian summer of discovery.
While we’re on the topic of sunshine, check out Shane’s photos and email about his adventures with Mark the Field Bag:
“Hello Millican People,
It’s really odd that today’s newsletter should feature Mark. I’ve spent the day (while you’ve been mainly sleeping) wandering around the fabulous little town of Mendocino in California. With me was the gorgeous Lisa and my magnificent Mark. Mark was in charge of my iPad, water, camera, sun hat, shades and a dozen other items. Ah, the odd bit. As we walked I remarked to Lisa that I was going to email you to let you know how magnificent Mark really is. We arrived back to find a prompt in my inbox.
Mark has been around the world with me at least three times including adventures in Borneo, Tasmania and NZ. He’s equally at home on a woodland walk back in sunny Shropshire, or working hard at my recent San Diego conference. In fact he’s been to many conferences and I’m happy to be seen with him no matter how well-heeled the event. I’ve also got Harry with me and on those occasions when I’m only allowed a single carry-on bag, Mark’s light enough and flexible enough to bow down to Harry’s superior presence and slum it packed away in my hold luggage.
PS – I’m 6’10″ and love the fact that the straps extend so far!”
There you have it, from the mouths of our fellow “millicanites” – they’ve found their true companions and wouldn’t venture far without them.
So which are your loves?
What’s your story?
We’d love to hear it (and see the photos too!).
It was over two years ago that our paths crossed with The Three Hungry Boys – Thom, Tim and Trev of Channel 4 fame. They were planning another adventure and needed some sturdy bags for companions.
Very soon Harry, Stephen and Les were joining them on their trip for their Three Hungry Boys book on how to catch, trap and forage.
We were delighted to hear that Thom has since taken the plunge and followed his heart to create his own adventure company called 7th Rise down in Cornwall, offering authentic outdoor courses in fishing, foraging and wild food cooking.
Thom & Dave near 7th Rise base camp
After a few chats, we decided to join forces for a Millican x 7th Rise competition, offering a great prize to a very lucky winner – Dave the Rucksack, Andy the Waterbottle and £150 Gift Voucher for 7th Rise – so you can join Thom at a secret location in the stunning Cornish countryside.
I sat down with Thom last week to learn more about his dreams, 7th Rise and where’s next:
Nicky: What made you decide to create 7th Rise?
Thom: 7th rise was created because I reached a point in my life when I decided that it was time to actually follow my dreams, rather than simply think about them. We all have dreams, and like many people I’d thought about mine for many years, so it was really just a case of taking the risk and going for it!
Nicky: Describe your work in a nutshell?
Thom: I teach woodland experiences and the art of wild food preparation and cookery, in a natural setting which I use to inspire people to begin their own journey towards their dreams and aspirations.
Nicky: How did you become one of the Three Hungry Boys?
Thom: We just asked! Tim, Trev and myself designed our own trip for the most incredible boys summer trip away but we wanted to document and record it. Our letter to Huge and his team was pretty short and to the point, we needed help with the documentation, a video camcorder perhaps? Hugh and his team resonated so highly with the idea that they decided to help us and it all spiralled from there.
Most people really underestimate the power of the question but as the age old saying tells us, If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
Nicky: What was your job before your C4 fame?
Thom: I did many things prior to Three Hungry Boys, working in building and construction mostly, skills which have been very useful down at 7th Rise.
Nicky: What key elements do you believe are fundamental to running your business?
Thom: Absolute integrity. If you display honesty, transparency and integrity at all times – you’ll never go wrong. And finally belief – I believe whole-heartedly in what I’m doing, that passion and energy is clear to people making it easy for them to believe in it also.
Nicky: What are you passionate about?
Thom: I’m incredibly passionate and excited about the future of 7th Rise, our environment and people. That’s what 7th Rise is all about – creating a fantastic, natural space, which allows positive social change to happen.
Nicky: If you could escape for 3 months, what would you dream of doing?
Thom: Escaping would imply I have something to escape from. I’ve achieved my dream, my ideal way of living and I don’t want to escape it even for a second! However, if I absolutely had to leave 7th Rise for 3 months (and I’d only go on the premise that I could return immediately) I’d like to spend that time doing the one thing I love the most and that’s fishing. I’d love to fish in Mauritius, famous for its BIG Bonito and Dorado. I love sharks and would love to see a Mako shark – often found in the surrounding waters.
Nicky: Where’s your next trip planned?
Thom: My next trip is to fish in the Bahamas with a very good friend of mine, Al Boy. We treat ourselves each year to a trip away as we’re both very passionate about fishing and love the adventure and excitement of fishing somewhere new. We’ve fished together since we were young lads and have been lucky enough to fish all over the world, but the Bahamas will be a new high for us. We’re very much looking forward to doing some off shore fishing and will be hoping to come across some of the local species such as the king Mackerel, the wahoo, mahi mahi, barracuda and perhaps even a blue marlin!
Nicky: What attracted you to Dave? How are you getting along with the Millican Rucksack?
Thom: I just love him! I love things that are British-designed, well made and have a purpose – Dave ticks all three boxes for me. He’s not been made for the sake of fashion but he is fashionable. Each and every popper, pocket, strap and pouch have been created and placed in the exact right place – every part has a reason for being there. That’s why I love Millcan products. Dave has joined my ever-growing collection and hangs proudly, when not in use, next to Stephen the waist pack (who I take on every fishing trip) and Stewart the courier bag. Not a day goes by when one of them isn’t out and about with me. Millican is a fantastic brand with fantastic people behind it – Millican has that integrity, honesty and transparency I spoke of earlier so resonates very highly with me.
Nicky: Do you have 3 top tips for anyone wanting to change direction and follow their dream?
1. You must be honest with yourself, you’ve got to ask yourself “what do I want?”, “what situation do I want to be in?” Not what does society, my family and my friends want or expect of me but what do I want? Once you’ve worked that out you can move on to number 2…
2. You’ve got to make your vision so clear and so compelling in your mind that it already exists. You must be able to see it, smell it and taste it. It must be specific and you must identify what really drives you and what’s going to make you make it real. Then…
3. You have to ask yourself the question – what am I willing to go through to realise this dream? What sacrifices am I willing to make? Knowing the answers to this question is the only thing that’s going to make you start on that journey. But break it down, perhaps into small steps. That’s how you make it a reality – as soon as you know what you’re willing to go through in order to achieve your ultimate dream, you’ll be half way there.
People are often scared, afraid or don’t want to take the risk. They don’t want to get it wrong and make a fool of themselves. But the people with the best stories are those who’ve tried and failed. They’ve learnt from the failure and gotten right back on the saddle to find another way.
More often that not, people are just not willing to make the scarifies needed in order to achieve their dreams. What they have is sufficient and comfortable. I always find it ironic that no one can see the glory beyond the pain they are not willing to accept.
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: