The unspoken truth of male body image issues

My style blogging has wained over the past year, due to something nobody talks about. I have been suffering with the negative effects of male body image issues. A trip to my doctor had me needing to change my lifestyle. The result had a profound impact on not only my health but my attitude to my appearance. Over the past month, I have come to accept the issue is real, and retake some of the power this condition has robbed from me.

As a style blogger I know all the tricks to make the most of my appearance, hiding my expanding tummy, or enhancing my greying hair. I know them, but I don’t always follow them because of the disappointment that I was somehow degrading over time. To age is not a curse, but knowing that doesn’t stop the cruel tricks of the mind. It robbed me of not only confidence, but also one of my passions, blogging. I have to walk my talk… so if I wasn’t feeling stylish, there was nothing to write, the words just wouldn’t come.

Many celebrities have the gift of improving with age, so why can’t the masses? They can and they do. If I cast my eye over my friends and family’s social media profiles, most of them look better now than they ever have, but I wonder how many believe it? The irony was I could see this in others, but it was lost on me. They say the camera adds 5lbs. Well so did my scales and my mirror so that’s 15lbs in my mind.

Speaking of celebrities, the media is filled with amazing transformations from the males stars of my age group. Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale & Ryan Reynolds, you have a lot to answer for, with your ability to shed pounds at will. As for those older than me? Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Jason Statham, Gerard Butler? I marvel at your eternal youth.

At 43, the classic age for a midlife crisis, I have indulged in a sports car and a motorcycle. I tell myself there is a practical need for these toys, but the truth is vanity is a an expensive yet hollow pursuit. I’ve tried the gym, but it’s no longer a natural habitat for me being 20 years older than the average member. Quality clothing, that to some is an indulgence, but I do believe if you know quality you are investing in your appearance. But what happens when you gain 5lbs and they never come out of your wardrobe? I can tell you what I do, I painfully reminisced of how I looked only 6 months ago and I curse the slippery slope of age. The irony being I was just as unhappy then for the same reasons. In reality I was compounding the developing negative self body image, and nurtured it over many years.

So who do we talk to when we feel insecure or disappointed in how we look? As a guy, we can kid around with our friends and say, “Whoah too much beer this weekend, look at my belly” as if we can wear those extra lbs as a badge of honour. I suspect though, underneath the bravado, few of us care as little as we pretend. I know with most of my friends, they have an air of not caring about appearance, or at least caring about beer more. I wonder how true that is either. But we will never discuss it, or the pretence kicks in and we fake it away as we blokes do.
So what has changed and is it possible to undo years of destructive self perception? In physical terms, not much. A few inches from my tummy, a few kilos off the scales. Increasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels had my doctor concerned enough to run a full suite of tests and encouraged a change of lifestyle. It was health rather than appearance prompted an investigation into fasting and a better diet which I have documented on my YouTube channel. What has been more profound has been the psychological impact of gaining control over myself for the first time in my memory.

I’m developing the tools to improve my health which has resulted in feeling better about myself as a whole. I look in the mirror, and not much has changed on the outside, but on the inside I feel rejuvenated. Do I look different? Probably not much in the eyes of anyone who sees me, but I’m seeing changes slowly but surely. YouTube was more for having a documented journal of progress. Even at the start the negative self body image was apparent, I didn’t show myself off, I just talked to the camera. I experimented with different techniques of health, slowly learning what worked and what was improving me.

At the time of writing, I’m a stone lighter than than when I started this journey. I have something I can write about again, I can bring real value back to my readers though my real life experiences. I can’t say I’m free of the problem, but the journey I’m on means I have the power to control it. This in itself is not without it’s problems. I have always believed that no matter what your shape, you can dress well. I know this is still true, but to really feel good, you have to be happy with yourself and we all have that thing we want to improve. The trick is to find the catalyst and to take action. For me, a health scare and serious talk with my doctor was what I needed. I didn’t realise it would set me on this path. If you are suffering on your own with male body issues, as I understand only too well it can be a lonely condition, get in touch or follow along with my journey and hopefully it will help.

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Maen Classic Moonphase watch review

Maen watches have created a winning formula that that many watchmakers could learn from. Create a great looking watch from high grade materials. Don’t over do the details to make it fussy, but just enough to keep it interesting. Ensure it’s something you could wear every day with confidence.  Make it affordable and good value. Sounds too good to be true? Read on to see why the Classic Moonphase is an excellent choice for watch collectors of all levels.

About Maen watches

Maen are based in Stockholm and are of Dutch heritage. Their website states they’re inspired by New York with a note about the Dutch ship ‘Halve Maen’ discovering New York City in 1609. While I can see the origins of the name Maen, from a style perspective, they are worlds apart. For me New York conjures images of loud, sometimes brash fashion statements. The Classic Moonphase is the polar opposite, and it’s all the better for it.

Far more fitting are the Scandinavian minimalist and Dutch experimentalism influences. I wouldn’t call this watch minimal, but it is elegant in its details with a ‘less is more’ approach. The brushed sides of the case, contrasting the polished bezel make for interesting details that bring the Classic Moonphase right up to date, where the over all look is a classic watch that could have been made in any of the last five decades.

The face is simplicity personified. Frost white, with raised hour markers and simple minute indicators. You need nothing more so why complicate things with numbers or roman numerals. It’s wonderfully Elegant. The hands continue the theme, being polished, with bevelled tips. Just the right amount of detail to make sure it’s not plain, just classy. It all works very well together.

The moon phase is the main detail that gives this range it’s name. I’ve always questioned the usefulness of moon phase for anyone other than werewolves, but in this setting, it suits the watch perfectly, and it would look bare without it. The only downside, is knowing how to set it correctly. I’m guessing you do this on the first day of the full moon and forget about it. If there is a better way, please leave a comment below. If moon phase is genuinely important to you, and not just a delightful style detail, then this won’t matter to you, and you’ll get it right.

The Movement

The Classic Moonphase is powered by a Swiss made Ronda Normtech W 706.1.0028 quartz movement. Ronda are well respected for making excellent movements, and this appears to be no exception. It has 5 jewels and is gold plated with a standard battery life of about 60 months according the Ronda website. Further investigations into the movement show it’s got plenty of tricks up it’s sleeve that aren’t used on the Classic Moonphase, so I’d expect we’ll see an expanded range from Maen in the future.

Other details and nice touches

The strap oozes quality, but once again it’s for the tiny details rather than anything excessive. It’s genuine leather, which is almost taken for granted at this price point, but it’s very soft to the touch and better than you would expect. The Maen logo is printed on the underside, which is a nice touch. It’s the clasp that sets it all off. A classic tang design that continues the highly polished theme. at the end, the Maen logo is deeply etched giving a real premium feel.

The crown wheel has a raised letter M for Maen on it, another premium touch, but easy to over look as it’s a smaller detail.

The watch is waterproof to 5 atm or 50m, although as it has a leather strap, I wouldn’t recommend swimming or showering with it on. Just have that as piece of mind it will be resistant to water or dust for every day use.

Speaking of every day use, at only 50g it’s a nice weight, added to the comfortable strap and and relatively low profile, it’s only 8.25mm thick, it allows you to wear this watch all day, every day. It’s the perfect every day watch as you can put it on and forget about it.

Another stand out point that makes this the perfect every day watch is it’s price. At €199.00 which is £168 or $208 US, it’s priced affordably so you can wear it without fear. A free world wide shipping and return policy make this a very easy decision. For the money I don’t think there is another watch that can touch it for quality.

  • 38mm Case
  • 8.25mm thick (7mm case)
  • 50g weight
  • 50m water resistant
  • 18mm strap at the lug reducing to 16mm
  • Raised polished hour markers
  • Swiss made Ronda quartz 706.1 movement
  • Battery 60 months
  • Polished bezel with brushed stainless steel case
  • Saphire Crystal scratch resistant glass
  • €199.00
  • Free world wide shipping
  • 2 year warranty

For more information, or to buy your own Maen Classic Moonphase watch, visit their website here:

Maen Watches website

Maen Watches on instagram

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Rotary ultra slim men’s watch review

The Rotary ultra slim range proves that old test for a quality watch ‘is it thin? and is it swiss made?’ are still as valid today as they every were. What might surprise you is you can buy a quality timepiece for around £200, and probably less if you shop around.

So does the latest from heritage brand Rotary still hit the mark today? Or has the time come to say for a company that has been making elegant timepieces since 1895, that this is a design that’s had it’s day?

At only 5mm thick, the Rotary Ultra Slim lives up to it’s name and is the slimmest watch in my collection by some margin. I struggle to see why the current crop of oversized huge watches are more than a passing phase. I much prefer the elegance of a slim watch. It means I can wear this watch under any long sleeved shirt with no fear it will catch on the cuff, or get stuck. All the other reviews I’ve seen state this watch to be only 4.7mm. My micrometer says different, but what’s 0.3mm between friends…

The 36mm white face is classic styling at its very best. It has a simple elegance that will be truly timeless. A sundial effect in the centre of the face gives an almost vintage feel to this watch will is very easy on the eye. I could easily imagine my grandfather wearing the same watch. Simple hour markers in gold and a simple date complete the uncluttered look.

The strap in genuine brown leather, is soft enough to be very comfortable, but is very thin and combined with the small and 36mm case, makes the watch look petite. While photographing on it’s own it is perfectly proportioned, but on my wrist, and I don’t have the largest wrists in the world, it looks small. This may be in some part because I am becoming desensitised to oversized watches, I sincerely hope not, but it could be.

The Ultra slim is part of Rotary’s Les Originales range, which is a better class of watch with better quality components and construction to the rest of the Rotary watch range. As this is my first Rotary watch it’s hard for me to say if that’s accurate, but I can say the build quality is excellent. It is certainly on a par with other watches is the £200-500 price range.

Packaging is nice with it’s double boxed approach, and although more than good enough for the price point, doesn’t quite hit the mark to make it feel really prestigious. There is nothing wrong with it at all, I just wasn’t blown away by it. I feel this is a missed opportunity to make the overall experience in line with the premium feel of the watch.

One problem with getting hold of a watch soon after launch means there aren’t many reviews available yet and information on the Rotary website is sparse. Luckily my horologist friends over at www.thewatchnerd.co.uk pointed out it states on the face this a Swiss made Rotary, so it’s likely to be a Swiss Ronda quartz movement. Soon after the I got a response back from Rotary confirming it was indeed a Ronda Slimtech 1006 Quartz movement. I have to say the customer service was excellent and they really did help answer my questions very quickly.

Further investigation into the Ronda 1006 movement highlighted an interesting nugget that nobody seems to talk about. If you disengage the date function by pulling out the crown by one notch, it reduces power consumption by 70%. The standard battery life is 25 months, so this would make a really useful increase. It does then raise the question if you don’t need the date, why buy a watch with the date in the first place? I do like the date, from a styling point of view so I’ll keep mine as standard.

The Rotary Ultra Slim is a lovely watch that has excellent build quality and for the price is unlikely to be beaten on quality. It’s classic styling will broaden it’s appeal, but it’s so thin, that proportionately it is quite small. If you have a larger wrist, it might not suit you, but for most people it would make an excellent choice. It’s nice enough to be an every day watch that feels special, but it’s low cost means you feel less conscious of it as you would a high end watch costing 10 or 20 times as much.

The icing on the cake is Rotary’s lifetime guarantee, as long as you get the watch serviced every three years. All of this means it comes highly recommended by me.

Technical Specs

  • Polished stainless steel case
  • 36 mm white two step face
  • 42mm from lug to lug
  • 17.5mm Strap at the lug
  • 5mm thick (not 4.7mm as advertised)
  • Swiss made
  • 31g weight
  • Date function
  • Ronda 1006 Quartz Movement www.ronda.ch
  • Saphire crystal anti-scratch screen
  • Water proof to 2 atm (20m)
  • Retail  price £229
  • Model Number: GS90800/02

For more information visit the Rotary Watches website at http://rotarywatches.com

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Wilkinson Sword’s new razor for sensitive skin

The Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 sensitive was given it’s toughest test yet, when I reviewed it wearing nine days growth, which on me is a full beard. Not only that, but I suffer from really sensitive skin, especially around my neck.

Some of you are probably surprised I tried a multi blade cartridge razor you can pick up from a supermarket. It’s true for the most part I use either my top of the range double edged safety razor, or just as often an ultra sharp cutthroat razor. The thing that caught my eye was the new label. Sensitive.

The problem with most cartridge razors

Part of the reason I like more traditional razors is I do like the ceremony of shaving. The preparation,  steaming my pores open, working up a lather with a brush and bowl. The main thing however, is there is only ever one ultra sharp blade gliding across my skin. Modern multi blade cartridge razors three, for or five times the chance of causing a cut or a burn.

Cartridge razors have another drawback. With so many blades together, any more than a day or two’s growth and they clog up with hair. This leads to the blades dragging across the skin, a sure way to get nick and cuts or in my case irritation. You really need to shave every day for them to be effective, and even though for the most part I like shaving as a form of relaxation, it can be a tiresome chore.

 

Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 sensitive

And so by chance I stumbled upon the Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 sensitive. The words sensitive meant it was worth a go, but being a cartridge razor, I was sceptical. I have had too many bad shaves from the other leading brands to think I was going to be a convert.

I deliberately grew my stubble for five days. My intention was to vlog the experience, to prove once and for all that cartridge razors are no good. Technical issues with my mic meant the video was a flop, the shave however was superb. Yes you read that correctly. I had a great shave, and not only that, but the features that set the Hydro 5 sensitive apart were the key.

I tried again, this time I had seven days growth. I don’t know a man out there who isn’t apprehensive about shaving off considerable stubble with a high street cartridge razor. I wasn’t so worried having tried five days. Staggeringly the results were just as good, if not even more impressive with the extra stubble. This time the camera didn’t focus on me and the whole video was blurry. I was amazed at the shave, but disappointed I hadn’t wrapped this up. A week between takes is a real pain. It also stopped me doing other videos due to my bearded look being unfamiliar.

Third time lucky then, or at least that was until my schedule meant I had to attempt a shave with a full nine days growth. The video worked, and it’s the one attached to this post.

The shave

To make my shave as representitive of the typical guy, I used bog standard canned shaving foam from the high street. I didn’t do my usual prep, I just applied the foam and shaved in one take on camera. The surprise in my voice when the Hydro 5 sensitive dispatched my beard with ease was genuine. What you might not have picked up on was my utter astonishment that I had absolutely no irritation from the shave. None, after shaving off nine days growth with a cartridge razor.

The flip top head is a stroke of genius. It’s a far better approach to remove the bulkiness of the head, than to offer a feeble second blade on the back of the head. It really sets the Wilkinson Sword apart from the competition. It also means that if the hydrating strip gets too much, as it did for me in the video, you just move it out the way and carry on. Perfect.

The verdict

I’m glad I added the Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Sensitive to my collection of razors. It’s super convenient. When travelling I can take the bare minimum of gear and still get a great shave. It probably won’t replace my every day razor, but it’s good enough to keep in my collection.

You get a close enough shave for every day use, but the key selling point for me is the way it gives  an irritation free experience with the minimum of fuss. I know that if I were using it every day, i’d have no fears about rashes, razor burn or nicks. Recommended.

To buy your own Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Sensitive, use the link below or any good high street store that stocks razors!

http://www.wilkinsonsword.co.uk/men/products/hydro5-sensitive

 

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Jura Tastival 2016 whisky review

At the time I reviewed the gorgeous Jura X Trakke waxed cotton backpack, the team at Jura asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the limited edition 2016 Jura Tastival whisky. Without hesitation I said yes, not just because whisky is my drink of choice, but because in this case, limited edition really means limited edition. There are only going to be 2000 bottles of this made ever. To get a sample is a big deal so I was going to review this no matter what.

This is where I need to ask for your forgiveness for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have never done a whisky review before and there is a reason why the expert vloggers like Ralphy are so watchable, they have reviewed so many whiskies and practice makes perfect. Luckily for me, I haven’t found another review of this whisky on youtube so this is an exclusive. My second apology is due to the fact I only had a small sample, so this was a one take deal. Ordinarily for my videos I’d shoot them, then reshoot over a number of days until I was happy with the quality and contents. I didn’t get the chance here. What you see is what you get!

Colour a rich amber, caramel colour.

Aroma, smooth and complex. Initially subtle, you have to work hard to understand what’s there, but  it soon opens up to be very sweet and smooth. It changes over time, which is great for the whisky enthusiast. There is a sherry sweetness (it is aged in a sherry cask), and this is superseded with honey tones.

At 51% abv it is significantly stronger than most whiskies available which are usually at 40% abv. This extra strength shows itself as an initial fire that instantly subsides. It’s characterful to say the least and adds to the complex nature of the 2016 Jura Tastival whisky.

With just a few drops of water, I used between 3-5ml, the flavours change. The fire is tamed, but it’s still got an initial bite. It opens up the flavours and makes them more recognisable. The sweetness is there in abundance, but now an aromatic spice comes through that reminded me of mulled wine.

To get your hands on your own limited edition Jura Tastival, you can order it here: www.jurawhisky.com

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Live like an F1 driver

For the past week I’ve had the chance to Live like an F1 driver courtesy of Sure, who, with their sponsorship of the Williams Racing F1 team have manged to create a diet and fitness program inspired by Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

Amazingly they wanted me to take part in a competition to see how a regular guy would stand up to the pressures of living like an F1 driver. For five days I have followed a strict meal plan diet,  and a gruelling exercise regime. It has taught me so much about how far I can push myself.

Preparation

The first thing to arrive was the program. A carefully formulated diet with all the meal options laid out for five days. Three meals a day, with mid morning and afternoons snacks. All of the ingredients were carefully laid out for me to set off to my local supermarket to buy my weeks groceries. Even before the program started I had my first surprise. Eating clean does not need to be expensive. With the exception of buying protein powder, it was no more than my usual weekly shop. The protein will last a month, so you wouldn’t have that cost every week.

Next up I checked out the exercise guide. I am a member of a gym and I do go. But seeing results? that’s for younger guys right? I’d given up on the gym being any more than a way to pass the time before I head into the sauna. If I was going to do this properly I had to take some video of my daily activity to prove my commitment and to track my progress. I know plenty of bloggers who have been told to stop filming in the gym,so I called and asked for permission. They were great in telling me what times to come to avoid the rush and the best way to film in public places.  I was good to go.

Finally I checked the post, and delivered that day was a can of the latest offering from Sure, their special edition Williams Racing antiperspirant with motionsense. I’m not sure what was going to be put to a tougher test, me or the deodorant. Either way, we were both going to have to work harder than we’d ever worked before!

The Fitness Program

[accordion]
[panel title=”Day 1 – Resistance training”]

  • Lying face down plate neck resistance : 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lying face up plate neck resistance : 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Barbell shrug : 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Dumbell shrug : 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Front Dumbell raise : 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Side Lateral raise : 3 sets of 8-12 reps

[/panel]
[panel title=”Day 2 – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)”]

  • 30 seconds of high intensity training (e.g. treadmill, rowing machine or bike)
  • 45 seconds rest
  • Repeat 10 times with a final 30 second high intensity blast

[/panel]
[panel title=”Day 3 – Circuit training”]

  • Circuit one
    • Pushups : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Bench Dips : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Wall sit : 5 sets of 45 seconds, 30 seconds rest
    • Russian Twist : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
  • Circuit two
    • Pushups : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Bench Dips : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Wall sit : 5 sets of 45 seconds, 30 seconds rest
    • Russian Twist : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
  • Circuit three
    • Plank : 5 sets of 60 seconds, 30 seconds rest
    • Flutter Kicks : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Diamond Push-ups : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest
    • Bodyweight squat : 5 sets of 30 reps, 30 seconds rest

[/panel]
[panel title=”Day 4 – Strength training”]

  • Squats : 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Deadlift : 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Benchpress : 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Rows : 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Pull-ups : 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Shoulder Press : 3 sets of 12-15 reps

[/panel]
[panel title=”Day 5 – Cardio”]

  • Run, swim, ride or cycle for as long as possible
  • 90 minutes

[/panel]

[/accordion]

The Program

Did I mention I already go to the gym? If I did, forget it, it’s a different ballgame when comparing what the average gym dweller does compared to a serious athlete and my program was just a taster. I’m in no doubt that the real F1 drivers have to work far harder than I did for those five days. I can honestly say I have never worked so hard. I usually train three times a week and keep my rep range low and my weights a bit higher. 6-8 reps max for as much weight as I can handle.

Day one, resistance training. I actually felt pretty good. I knew I was in it for the long haul so I decided to use pretty low weights. The sheer volume of exercise really gets your blood pumping.

Day two and I’m still aching from day one before I even start. HIIT? HIIT!!!!!! I actually do something similar once a week, 2o seconds, 40 seconds rest, for three rounds. This nearly broke me and it was only day two? This is where I was glad I had been given a can of Sure’s new Williams Racing Antiperspirant. Without it, I would have been that really sweaty out of shape guy in the corner of the gym, which is not a good look, even after a workout. But more of that later.

Day three, circuit training, or as I call it – hell. Day two nearly broke me, day three is not for mortal men. Yet it was here, when I was really struggling with the workout, I learned the most about the program and myself. Take the first exercise, the simple push-up. I can do 20 push-ups, but three sets of 30? Could it be done? I set the video camera, and amazed myself by the fact I pushed out 30 push-ups at the first attempt. Hooray! That was until I reviewed the footage only to see my form was terrible. They weren’t push-ups, I don’t know what they were. I adjusted my form and struggled to do 15, but they were 15 push-ups I could be proud of. Chest to floor, back straight.

IMG_4155

Day four was more of the same. Staple exercises like squat, dead-lift and bench-press I thought I did fine, were revealed to be a sham. I’d been fooling myself and my workouts had suffered because of it. With this new approach, I was able to push myself harder than I’d ever thought possible. All of a sudden I was no where near as strong as I’d thought I was, but with proper form I would be able to build off solid foundations.

Day five, cardio. After the week I’d had, running for 90 minutes on the treadmill felt like a warm down for the week. I needed it, I still ached all over. In fact I had aches on top of aches. But they were the good aches. The achievement aches. The ‘it was so hard but so worth it aches’.

And for the Sure Williams Racing Antiperspirant? I really liked it, I know my usual designer deodorant would not have coped with the sheer physicality of my workout where as the Sure Williams Racing had no problem. Even better the smell is fresh and something you could wear every day, not just when you’re pushing yourself to you’re limits. Personally, I actually prefer a roll-on, luckily for me, they do that too so I have stocked up.

Sure Williams Racing antiperspirant contains motionsense technology and it specially formulated to handle the unpredictable just like the F1, RRP £3.29. Price is at the sole discretion of the retailers.

@Sure #MakeYourMove #Ad #spon

Credits:

Gym: Altered Images Bromsgrove

Music: Bensound.com

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Trakke Bags: Handmade in Scotland

Trakke are making rugged yet beautiful handmade bags and accessories in Glasgow, Scotland and mark my words, if the limited edition Jura X Trakke is anything to go by, they are a force to be reckoned with!

When I was given the opportunity to review the gorgeous Jura X Trakke waxed cotton backpack, you’d have thought I’d have jumped at the chance? Well this was one that almost got away as a hectic schedule and a ton of email meant I’d almost missed the chance. Luckily for me, the great team at Trakke had one left just for me. Sometimes the life of a gentleman blogger is truly charmed.

The Jura X Trakke is inspired by the Single Malt Whisky and the island off the West Coast of Scotland of the same name where it’s distilled. Jura is known for having just one road, one pub and one iconic distillery. It is fitting then, that this limited edition was one of just 130 made by hand.

It’s this exclusivity, combined with the care and attention you only get with fine hand crafted items that makes all Trekke handmade bags and accessories something extra special. You’d be forgiven then for thinking this is a well made work of art, but it’s so practical too, and the perfect companion for hiking across the Scottish highlands, but equally at home on the city commute.

At an impressive 20 litres capacity, I was able to put my 13″ MacBook Pro inside and open it up! the traditional roll over top and toggle fastening is as much a pleasure to look at, as it is to use. Useful side pockets are ideal for passports, keys and phones, and are well protected in the body of the bag. A second flat storage compartment is actually the ideal laptop stowage leaving the main area free for bulk of your packing.

If this sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it is, if you want your own Jura at least. That range have now all sold out, I really did get the last one. Luckily for you Trekke’s range is extensive with backpacks, messenger bags and accessories in a great selection of materials including the iconic Harris Tweed.

World wide shipping means no matter where you are, you will always be able to get your hands on the latest and greatest offering from Trekke.

 For more information, or to buy your own luxury backpack handmade in Scotland, visit the Trakke Website: trakke.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @TrakkeBasecamp or Facebook Trakke

Credits:

Photography by Heidi Grasso, Jacket by Lavenham

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The Personal Barber Wet Shaving Subscription

Shaving subscription Father’s Day gift

If your looking for the ultimate father’s day gift idea, will the Personal Barber’s wet shaving subscription cut the mustard? I bought a box and ended up with more than I bargained for.

But before the review, I want to tell you a true but short story. A few months ago my father, who was on the waiting list for a Kidney transplant, got the call we all hoped he would get. It was the middle of the night and he just got up and left for the hospital immediately. While on route I received a call asking me to stop by his house and pick up his gentleman’s grooming bag. All men have a bag for toiletries, toothbrush and most importantly, their trusty razor. When I found my dads, I was saddened to see my dad was using an ancient disposable multi blade razor and his grooming bag contained some supermarket shaving foam. As a shaving routines go, this was pretty poor so I vowed to upgrade his grooming gear for Father’s day.

Fast forward to the present day, and I had the conundrum of trying to work out what my dad would actually use. Being a gentleman blogger I get to try a lot of things, but finding what would work for my dad was going to be tricky without letting the cat out of the bag as to what his present was going to be.

It is here that The Personal Barber Wet Shaving Subscription presented itself. I have reviewed a few shaving subscriptions, but they are all so similar that you are really choosing what handle to go for as the cartridges were all the same. Not so with the personal barber. On your first box you get a delightful branded safety razor handle. Not to stop there, you get enough QUALITY blades to get you started. Also a nicely weighted, and TPB branded proper shaving brush, shaving soap, and the great race scrub and anti-aging moisturiser from premium brand Menage.

The Razor

The Personal Barber branded razor is a lovely touch. It has a really good weight, giving a stable and comfortable shave. The handle is quite short, more akin to a travel razor, but it sits comfortably in the hand so this is an observation, not a criticism. The opening is the traditional and simple three piece arrangement, unlike the more modern, but much harder to clean cantilever mechanisms. It reminds me of the Merkur Classic. Build quality is excellent, this is a razor that could last a lifetime if needed, but is also a great introduction to proper wet shaving.

The Shaving Brush

The addition of a shaving brush is a really nice touch, and it’s good too. The weight is good and there is a great density of bristles, however being synthetic bristles, they are softer than the more traditional badger hair bristles. It produces a great lather, but that could also be due to the excellent shaving soap included in the kit.

Valobra Almond Shaving Soap

This is a real gem of a shaving soap the almond smell is good enough to eat and the lather produced is creamy and luxurious feeling on the skin. It requires a bit of work to lather up, the end result will take you by surprise it’s that good. This shaving soap will make it into my daily grooming routine for sure.

Menage Cleansing Face Scrub

I have always liked Menage products and the Deep pore cleansing Face Scrub is no exception. My only criticism of the whole kit is that the face scrub still uses the plastic micro-balls to get an exfoliating effect. I’m sure they are effective, but I prefer a more gentle soap. Within one hour of this post going live, the diligent people at Menage contacted me to say the face scrub doesn’t use plastic micro-beads, they are in fact natural volcanic ash that will not harm the environment. I apologise for any confusion I might have caused.

Menage Anti-Aging moisturiser

Another winner is the Menage Anti-Aging Moisturiser. It’s thin enough to apply quickly and drys to a nice finish and doesn’t leave your face oily or shiny like many men’s products. It includes every day sun protection with SPF 15 and it blocks the ageing rays by 5* UVA (A for Ageing and UVB, B for burning). A great product and a great finish off to your grooming routine.

The twist

So if your wondering how I know so much about this box if I’ve bought it as a present? Well once I opened it, I just had to have it. I’ve had to order another for my dad’s fathers day gift.

If you’re in need of the perfect Father’s Day gift, The Personal Barber Wet Shaving subscription, could well have something that is perfect. You might find that it’s a treat you might find you get for yourself too.. Subscribe to the personal Barber Mailing list and get 15% off your first order.

Follow the personal barber on twitter @tpersonalbarber or visit their website at www.thepersonalbarber.com

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