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Epic Failsworth

by Neil Summers.

Though it started off as the Maypole Hat Works back in 1881 it was early the following century when it’s more recognised name the New Failsworth Hat Manufacturing Company arrived. The name coming from the location of the factory premises at Claremont Street in Failsworth, Manchester with the slightly punchier title of ‘Failsworth Hats Limited’ being adopted later on in 1940. During which time due to the war, production of normal headwear was put on hold and Failsworth were actively employed making leather helmets for commando frogmen and RAF pilots as well as various parts for aircraft.

Once the war was over, the company picked up the pace by signing a major contract with the John B Stetson company in the USA to manufacture hats bearing the famous Stetson name. On the back of this success they continued to forge ahead with their own brand and by the 1950s Failsworth were making 5,000 dozen hats a week, several of which could be spotted on a myriad of famous heads including local legends the Busby Babes.

By the 1980’s Failsworth hats was an early leader in fabric development using micro fibre sporty types of materials as well as fleece to create pioneering warm, lightweight and waterproof products. A far cry from their early days of using fur felt although their traditional hat and cap styles saw a real resurgence with several versions made using Harris tweed, cashmere and lambswool being introduced during this luxury conscious decade.

Having celebrated their centenary in 2003, the brand still has a keen eye on the future and innovation whilst still being incredibly proud of the traditional values of quality, fine attention to details and supreme craftsmanship that they have kept too. Their incredible hats and caps are still made in Failsworth too, just down the road from their old premises where they started off making just 25 dozen hats per week. Failsworth, I take my hat off to you!

View the fantastic range of Failsworth right here at The Sporting Lodge.

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Filson ‘Might as well have the best’

by Neil Summers.

Back in 1897 during the great Klondike gold rush a budding fortune hunter’s choice of clothing wasn’t just important, it was literally a matter of life and death. Surviving the Yukon’s harsh environment and freezing conditions meant relying on the best blankets, jackets and boots available. Which is perhaps why Filson, who started their business up in Seattle during the gold rush, have always taken the needs of their customers and the quality of their products incredibly seriously.

Over a century later though their customer may now be more likely to be searching for fish in a river rather than nuggets of gold the Filson philosophy of ‘Make sure it’s the absolute best’ still remains at the heart of the brand and ensuring Filson’s global reputation for reliability, satisfaction and honest values is as strong as it ever was. Which is why they offer a lifetime guarantee on all of their products, such is the pride that they take in the extremely high standards of workmanship and craftsmanship that goes into everything they make. Now how many other brands do you know that offer you an assurance of quality for life?

We are so pleased to now be stocking Filson at The Sporting Lodge. We hope you like it as much as we do!

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Allemansrätten, Fika & Kånken

Our guest blogger, Neil Summers finds out what makes the Swedish tick.

Having just got back from an epic hiking trip in Western Sweden I have discovered that there are three things that are intrinsically part of the Swedish psyche that also reflect their love of the outdoor lifestyle. The first is Allemansrätten which is wonderful law allowing Swedish citizens the right of passage to roam freely across the entire country, meaning you can hike, climb, sail, swim, forage and even pitch your tent up for a day or two wherever you want.

The second is Fika which is an abbreviated combination of the Swedish words for coffee and cake and refers to a daily ritual that’s taken very seriously by the Swedes.

Traditional Swedish Fika cakes and pastry

Just like the British tea break everything stops for a heart warming cup of coffee usually accompanied by a cinnamon bun or pastry at least once if not twice a day. Nowhere is this ritual observed more than whilst outdoors whether up a traversing a mountain or holed up in a bird hide everything stops for Fika.

Thirdly of course is Kånken the ubiquitous and much loved backpack that was first  launched by Fjällräven in collaboration with the Swedish Guide and Scout Association in 1978 that has been a part of Swedish life ever since. Though favoured by university students and Stockholm commuters with its handy laptop-friendly size the Kånken is equally as popular with Swedes outside of the city enjoying their freedom to roam  and coffee break opportunities in the great outdoors. Over the past three days I witnessed a variety of Kånkens in vast range of colours to equal those of the beautiful flora and fauna of the stunning Swedish wilderness.

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Worth going? Yes…

Our guest blogger, Caroline Hutchinson, relays her first experience of The Game Fair.

Having never been to a game fair we were unsure what to expect…

Ragley Hall was an impressive 1600’s country manor with rolling parkland synonymous to a capability brown landscape.  A beautiful venue to visit and enjoy.

We arrived on the Sunday about 8.30, the road signage was very good and we were directed to the car parking area very easily.  We already had tickets but they could be bought on the day. For those camping, there was free transport from campsite to venue throughout the day.  You were able to get re-admission also which was a blessing as we did plenty of shopping and needed to unload at the car!

The fair was well set out – there was a large variety of guns and knives stands in, with an area for you to have a go at clay shooting.  There were various activities including a Bear Grylls Survival Trial for both young and old. The fishing section was located near the lake where there were numerous demonstrations on fly fishing, with a large area for the public to try their hand at fly fishing.  There was to our disappointment only a handful of fishing stands, having said that we manage to purchase a healthy amount of items.

In keeping with the theme, a local hunt had brought a selection of foxhounds, bassets and harriers with a demonstration and talk about their role within the hunt. On show were all sorts of terriers from the British Isles, some of whom are on the endangered list, it was most interesting talking to the owners and learning about the dogs characters.

Gun dog demonstrations throughout the day

For the horse enthusiast, there was show jumping throughout the day and demonstrations with French heavy horses which are used for pulling logs, an ergonomic way of forestry.  We watched a Shetland derby, highly entertaining!

Throughout the grounds there was a plethora of food outlets, ice cream vans and coffee/tea stalls albeit on the pricy side as you would expect, however you are more than welcome to bring your own and there are picnic areas.  At one site we were entertained by a trio who sang throughout the day a selection of old sea shanties and whaling songs, who were excellent.
Finally there was a fun fair area for children with a variety of rides and activities to keep the little ones busy while we shopped!

An excellent first experience, hopefully see you there next year!