So here we are, with a new store in the grounds of one of the most famous buildings in the country. Be rude not to take you on a tour of our fancy new home.
The land on which Cowley Manor stands was originally owned by the Kings of England, until, in the 16th century, it passed to the Brett family where it remained until one member squandered the family fortune by over-indulging his passion for bell-ringing. Several owners later, the estate was snapped up by Sir James Horlick, the Malted Milk magnate, in 1890. Employing architect R.A. Briggs, he set about a vast building and landscaping programme.
Based on the Villa Borghese in Rome, an enormous, elaborate ballroom was incorporated (sadly no longer there today), as was a major spa complex with Roman, Greek and Turkish steam rooms. The Stable Block (where you'll find us) was built to house Sir James’s magnificent coaches and horses - the finest in the Cotswolds.
Over the course of three years, a whopping thousand trees a day were planted and cascades, follies, fountains and statues added to the gardens. Lewis Carroll was a regular visitor and local history has it that he was sitting at the top of the avenue of trees when he saw a rabbit disappear down a hole, providing the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
During the Second World War, Cowley was requisitioned to house the Cheltenham Ladies College – as a safe haven, as it was thought the Luftwaffe would find it difficult to launch raids down the narrow Churn valley. This proved to be correct, and the fine ladies of the College survived the War fully intact.
After the War, Cowley Manor fell into something of a decline with most of the original fittings and fixtures in the house and in the garden ripped out or allowed to disintegrate by the local council. It was bought by Peter and Jessica Frankopan in 1999 and over the next three years, Cowley Manor was scrupulously restored and rebuilt into the award-winning hotel that stands today.
She's the lady behind Fig + Yarrow, our gorgeous new range of handcrafted organic bath and beauty products all the way from Denver, USA. The team have croissant Wednesdays, smoothie Fridays and a teepee in their studio. Bet you the place smells heavenly, too. Brandy Monique, can we come and work for you?
Rob and Rich timed their annual buying trip to Berlin impeccably, landing slap bang in the midst of World Cup fever. The show they were there for had been transformed into a Brazilian favela, then on the Tuesday evening they watched Germany trounce Brazil in the company of the Edwin boys while the city around them erupted.
World Cup to one side, they got down to the serious business of buying menswear SS15. Orders went in the book for Our Legacy, Merz b Schwanen and Filson. They designed a new Hambledon exclusive shoe with Trickers, and found a very cool old/new sportswear brand.
Back to the football and they were on a hunt to find a bar to watch Holland vs Argentina when they spotted a group of Japanese guys outside a vintage store. A good sign they thought, so they went to explore and found Fein und Ripp, the highlight of Rob's trip. Here Marlon kindly provided lager and strudels while they sifted through the most amazing collection of vintage workwear and accessories, lots of it in orginal 1940s packaging. A must visit if in Berlin, just as much so as Mr Wong's where they rounded off their trip with really good noodles.
Remember the fountain pen? That regulation school accessory that left inky stains on everything; the pen with which you perfected your signature, fought ink wars and scrawled lines in detention. Funny how we now have a soft spot for a proper old school pen; the Kaweco Sport, a classic in the fountain pen world, manufactured in Germany since 1930. We're a bit in love with its chunky, hexagonal shape and pretty, pastilly shades. Shame we can barely remember what our handwriting looks like.
MiH eases our way into AW14 with a pre-collection pitched perfectly between the seasons. Chloe Lonsdale and her team have eschewed their perennial love affair with all things blue and embraced a more sophisticated and subtle palette. Dark indigo denim - bodycon jeans, dress, skirt and coat - is the backdrop for luxe peachy knits, caramel silk shirting and soft grey flannel. Phoebe Slim, which was our favourite jean in the Summer, is back with a patch and in super dark indigo. Every look in the lookbook is who we want to be this season.
Here we are, summer is in full swing and we're just getting comfortable in our lightweight threads. And then the pre collections come along, vying for our attention with an irresistible taste of things to come.
First up is J Brand, and that suits us fine. Summer it may be but jeans are never far from the front of the wardrobe. This is our most technical collection of denim yet - jeans for all shapes and requirements - so here's a little guide to help suss them out.