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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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The Brady family – how much do you know?

Our guest blogger, Neil Summers, digs into the Brady family history.

You may be aware of Brady’s iconic, hand made outdoor bags and accessories being amongst the finest in the world but how much do you know about the actual Brady family themselves?

Brothers John and Albert started up their business in Price Street, Birmingham during the 1870s where they made high-quality gun cases and other leather goods for use in field sports. As soon as they were old enough John’s son Ernest and Albert’s son Leonard both joined Brady Brothers with Ernest eventually going on to take over the business in 1928. Under Ernest’s guidance the brand expanded and moved into larger premises on Shadwell street in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter in the 1930s. Which is where Ernest first designed a range of fishing bags all of which were named after English rivers

The fishing bags proved incredibly popular and became the mainstay of the company alongside their world-renowned hand-made gun cases. In fact such was their reputation that they had requests for oak and leather cases from royalty including the Sultan of Oman and the Duke of Windsor. Their skills were highly in demand from the world of theatre and cinema too which resulted in Leonard eventually leaving the business to start a new life in Hollywood where he made accessories and props for legendary movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks Junior and Greta Garbo.

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An original advert for Brady’s Ariel Salmon Bag which is still being produced today

Throughout the 1930s and 40s many of the styles that are still in production today made their first appearance despite Ernest having to move the business into his house during the World War II. Despite the house being bombed and only having one stitcher and a part-time machinist at their disposal Brady Brothers managed to survive. Soon after the war Ernest built a caravan and took his family to London for a month where everyday he would go into central London with a large wheel trucked (also made by him) loaded with samples of their entire range. Leaving no stone unturned Ernest visited everywhere from the largest department stores to the smallest fishing and gun maker shops throughout the capital. It was this persistence and hard work that both saved the business and became part of Brady Brothers folklore that would continue to raise a smile amongst Brady customers for many years to come.

Ernest died in the 1980s where his daughter Helen and brother Philip continued to run the company up until the 1990s when it became part of Goold Holdings also based in the midland in Walsall itself the centre of the saddlery and leather goods trade where the Brady name continues to be a byword for high quality and longevity.

The Sporting Lodge proudly continues to sell these iconic bags, why not have a browse?

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I Love My Kanken – How Did it All Start?

In the late 1970s, Fjallraven noticed that many school children were suffering from back problems when carrying heavy, unwieldy backpacks on their commute to and from school. In 1978, that problem was solved with the trusty Kanken! Its unique and ergonomic style of straps aided children when carrying their heavy books; the word quickly spread, and soon the Kanken became a household name across Sweden.

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In 2000, The Sporting Lodge identified this gem of a backpack and, so impressed by its unique design and impressive range of colours, decided this fantastic bag deserved a website of its own – I Love My Kanken was born!

Since then, Fjallraven’s range has grown to provide a Kanken backpack to suit the whole family, ranging from Kanken Kids to the Kanken No. 2 (the posh one!).

I Love my Kanken’s era is now over but we still have the full range for you to enjoy at The Sporting Lodge.

The Kanken bags are now popular worldwide, and a common sight in any city!

Where will you take yours?

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Introducing Pittards Leather

The Sporting Lodge are delighted to now stock a fine collection of Pittards leather goods.

Pittards was established by Charles Pittard in Yeovil, Somerset, in 1826 as a leather dressing business supplying the many glove makers in the local area.

Originally, Pittards would have worked only with local Somerset sheepskins, but in the early 20th century the company began sourcing from Africa. It was recognized that Cabretta or “hairsheep” skins were more suitable for glove making with their finer hair follicles and high tensile strength.

Last century, the company began dyeing leathers and improving technical qualities such as waterproof and washable leathers – a major breakthrough that drove sales of dress gloves, as well as establishing partnerships with the military for better performing gloves for soldiers and pilots.

At the The Sporting Lodge, we’re always looking for great British manufacturers to add to our collection. Pittards continues to offer the finest leather bags and gloves all made in the UK.

We are offering a small selection of handpicked leather bags that we have tried and tested in our travels and we believe offer outstanding quality that will age gracefully over the years.

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Fast Forward to the Future

For over 50 years, The Sporting Lodge have supplied Brady products to our customers worldwide. My father, George MacFarlaine, began our working relationship with Brady by commissioning gun cases made to exacting specifications, for guns he had acquired from around the world. He would meet Mr. Brady on the streets of London when visiting auction houses and friends, handing over a list of requirements and measurements for Brady’s finest leather and canvas gun cases. This relationship continued, and my father’s input into bag manufacture, gun sleeves and cartridge bags helped inform the design of products we see manufactured to this day by Brady.

We have continued our long standing relationship and still have input into manufacturing new products and designs which we feel utilise Brady’s peerless talents. A perfect example; the Conway Creel, which we brought back to life some five years ago after manufacturing ceased many years ago, still confident that the creel is the freshest way to keep a freshly caught fish until returning home. We also recently asked Brady to make The Sandringham and Woodland game bags with hemp netting, which was lost in manufacture in the 70’s and replaced with nylon.

Here at The Sporting Lodge we have a passion for supporting British manufacture and the encouragement of young people into trades we see declining. Brady is a success story as much to us as it is to the dedicated workforce in Walsall. We continue to develop new and exciting products with an eye on the past where products were made to last from English and Scottish sourced materials.

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Taking a Shot for all the Right Reasons

Our guest writer Eleni MacFarlaine finds out what makes Malikaa Wig – one of the best shots from India and a friend of The Sporting Lodge – tick. Although only in her 20s, Malikaa is fast becoming a woman to watch, as she travels the world competing at the highest levels and striving for that gold medal win!

Indian-born Malikaa Wig – a rarity of the sports world – is one of the youngest women representing her country’s trap shooting team, at just 20 years old. With eyes full of enthusiasm, Malikaa is leaning forward with a smile from ear to ear. She’s clearly eager to talk about her passion and intended profession.

Malikaa lives in Kanpur, India, which is also known as ‘Manchester of the East’. Due to its urban stature and heavy industrialisation, it can be imagined that it may be hard to stand out and make a name for yourself amongst 2.5 million inhabitants.

India is famed for its cricketing skill, adopted by a male majority. However, neither Malikaa’s age nor gender are points she believes could single her out negatively – she’s seems amused by the thought.

‘I’m confident! I feel the days of male domination in sport are gone,’ she laughs. ‘Males have been my main influence admittedly, although I am a proud sportswoman!’

‘My country has a rich history of brave women who took up arms during struggle. They fought for our independence!’ she stresses. ‘The same passion has been passed through generations and today I believe that the women of my country are as passionate for shooting as they were centuries ago. I know many other women who are excellent shooters and do very well in their field – that is why I can say I am confident.’

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Wig is loquacious and eloquent. She gained her first big achievement, a bronze medal, at 19-years-old whilst competing in the Trap Women World Championship in Lima and relishes in talking about the subject. ‘Becoming the junior national champion in trap is one of my greatest achievements. I now bear the tricolour on my shooting jacket!’

A brush on the topic of her home country is encountered with an immediate surge of warmth. ‘Fabulous!’ she beams. ‘My country is my inspiration, my home and my inspiration,’ she expresses, ever so simply.

‘Both my father and my forefathers were all in the [shooting] profession, I could not ignore this, I suppose I could say it runs in my blood.’

She is determined to learn through sport and insists that she has learned many lessons since first learning to shoot. ‘I have learned to be self confident and independent. Before I started shooting I was a very indecisive person, yet I have gained knowledge in handling countless different, difficult situations.’ Malikaa’s age is turning into a reminder that has to constantly be reiterated; barely an adult, this young figure holds impressive sensibility.

Taking age into further account, when asked about having possible other hobbies she seems extremely keen to inform. ‘I love chatting with my friends; I dance and appreciate good food. I’m just a normal teenager, I love badminton especially! I try to stay active as I have always been made aware of its importance.’

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When competing, it’s nothing too outlandish to associate guns with fear due to news coverage. Upon being asked if she feels any sense of danger holding a gun, Malikaa seems shocked. ‘I believe that shooting teaches one to handle firearms properly and safely. Surely this makes it one of the safest sports, no?’ Well played, Wig.

Malika has pushed through competitions, sometimes being the youngest competitor. It’s refreshing to witness her high hopes for the near future and to hear her make reference to the Olympics. ‘It’s where I want to be [the Olympics]. I would love to win a gold medal for my country, but especially for my parents.’

The young woman will be attending further trials in April to determine whether she will be able to qualify for further competition worldwide. Germany, Finland, Italy, Iran and Kuwait will serve as the five destinations to further prove her worth within her field.

One of Malika’s all time heroes, about whom she speaks with great respect, is a previous shooting Olympic silver medallist – Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. He is famed for his athletic talent and political opinion, having been both a flag bearer for India during the Olympics and the recipient of the Padma Shri (a special award from the Government of India). It seems as though Wig would be delighted to follow in his footsteps.

Many people will never know how it feels to hold, or even shoot a gun. The portrayal of firearms is often surrounded by controversy, a controversy that young Malikaa seems to overlook. She associates her sport with positive connotations, skill and trust. She goes on to describe the feeling of competing as ‘nerve-wracking but exciting’.

‘One more thing…’ she adds. ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.’ … ‘It’s a quote by Robert Frost, my favourite poet. I’ll always strive for something more.

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House of Cheviot

Here at The Sporting Lodge we source the finest socks for hunting, shooting, fishing and country pursuits with comfort and practicality in mind. We have been working with the House of Cheviot for many years.

The company is based in Hawick, the world-renowned home of luxury knitwear, where tradition stretches back to 1771. Bailie John Hardie introduced the first four stocking frames to Hawick, which was to become a world renowned centre for sock production. House of Cheviot are proud to incorporate traditional knitting skills first developed over 200 years ago, paired with new levels of creativity in design and the very latest knitting technology.

It takes around two hours to hand make each pair of shooting or kilt socks, and the small factor nestled in the Scottish Borders crafts between 60,000 to 70,000 pairs a year using traditional knitting techniques that have been handed down over centuries.

Sadly, few woollen mills have survived, due to significant changes in technology and production. However, House of Cheviot grow from strength to strength and The Sporting Lodge will continue to support them for many years to come, as our customers love the socks!

Below: House of Cheviot technology director Robin Deas ensures each pair is individually checked.

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Below: Machines in the House of Cheviot mill range from traditional pieces more than 80 years old to the latest cutting-edge technology. While some of the process has been mechanised, socks are crafted in the same traditional way, staying true to the company heritage.

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Buy British Day

Here at The Sporting Lodge we are passionate about our history and our roots which are firmly based in Britain. We try wherever possible to source products, manufacturers or individuals that are British based to carry British heritage and manufacturing that has always been renowned throughout the world.

With the sad news constantly in our media regarding the demise of British manufacturing, we are always striving to support British manufacturing – whether this be from existing mills, small manufacturing outlets, or even the much loved British garden shed. We have the knowledge, products and the talent all based on our small island but are constantly up against fast growing economies who can churn out millions of products at a vastly cheaper price with a huge workforce but do not supply the quality which Britain is renowned for.

Are times changing? Yes they are. Customers from all over the world even in the far flung reaches are realising British products are made with attention to detail, quality fabrics and with a workforce that is treated fairly and produce consistently a quality finished product. Buying British supports our beleaguered industry for future years and keeps Britain firmly on the map and in the minds of those who do not reside on our fair isle.

This October, we’re celebrating Buy British Day, Saturday 3rd October, by offering 20% off fantastic British brands – including Brady, Abraham Moon, Failsworth, James Purdey and Sons, Private White and The Sporting Lodge. To claim your discount, enter code BESTOFUK at checkout.