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Mid-February, and I’m ready for spring now.

This damn winter seems to go on forever! I’m one of those blokes who need to have proper seasons which conform to the norm; spritely springs, lush, hot summers, russet autumns and crisp, white winters. But this winter has been neither ‘fish nor fowl’; not cold enough, not frosty enough, not enough snow and so wet, miserable and dank that the lure of the fireside has been too great and I’m getting ever so slightly rotund with lack of exercise. There has been the odd day when a watery sun has prevailed, illuminating the winter drab of the countryside with a streak of yellow or pale green here and there, but some days it seems to never get light and a gloomy overcast seems to reduce everything to rather depressive monochrome.

 Mind you, I’m not knocking the lure of the fireside. There’s nothing finer than contemplating a ‘feet-up-in-front-of-the-fire’ evening after a hearty stew, to be followed by a generous measure of malt whisky, and either a good book, or some interesting programme on the telly. But therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare would put it; interesting programmes on the telly are an endangered species. With my Sky+ HD box I get literally hundreds of channels and I confess I rarely stray from the big four: BBC 1 & 2, ITV1 and Channel 4. I have bravely sallied into the realm of Sky 1 HD once or twice, but the rest of it seems to be just so much garbage. The movie channels are a joke too, with their short list of films purporting to be blockbusters I’ve never heard of! Why then do I subscribe to the comfort of the very rich but rather creepy Rupert Murdoch and his media empire of questionable integrity? Dunno really, should probably cancel it all and patronise the Virgin media kingdom of the much more presentable Richard Branson – well at least he’s British!

But there have been a few absolutely outstanding television programmes over this winter, and, while in no way balancing the tsunami of dross created by the countless other pointless and inexplicable channels which populate the ether, the likes of ‘Frozen Planet’, ‘Earthflight’, ‘Birdsong’,‘Downton Abbey’ and a few others have entertained and informed us well beyond expectation. As far as I’m concerned David Attenborough can do no wrong. I’ve been watching this man since I was seven years old in 1954, and his infectious fascination with the natural world is communicated time after amazing time with a body of work of such stupendous and escalating excellence, as series follows fabulous series. The camerawork on these programmes is truly awesome (Americans: please note the correct use of this word in context here, Oh and it doesn’t rhyme with ‘possum’), and I love the bit at the end of each episode when the programme makers show how some of the more spectacular pictures were obtained. Knowing a fair bit about photography, I am astounded by the patience of these guys, and the hardship, risk and persistence they exhibit, often for only a few seconds of film. But the results speak for themselves.


Now I know I’m a stuffy old git, unlikely to be entertained by some of the programmes aimed at younger viewers, but ‘Take Me Out’? Come on!!! Cilla Black’s ‘Blind Date’ was doing this sort of trash 20 years ago, and a damn sight better too! Sadly, ‘Take Me Out’ has an audience approaching six million, which shows just how far we’ve lowered the barrier of TV standards, good taste and entertainment. It also shows how out of touch I am. But, do you know what? I really don’t care! But let me balance these harsh comments by telling you that I’ve got a soft spot for ‘Big Brother’, ‘I’m a Celebrity……..’, and ‘The Only Way is Essex’, it’s a swamp half-way up Kinder Scout, deep enough, smelly enough and poetically just enough to take the entire cast and crew of these affronts to humanity. Dumbing-down they call it, but just how dumb have you got to be to derive pleasure from this detritus of a fevered mind? And don’t get me started on ‘Gypsy weddings’ - Do not adjust your set, these girls really are that orange! Posh frocks? I never thought I’d see THAT GREEN anywhere outside the Muppet Show, but now at least we know where these pulchritudinous paragons get their dress sense. Not that I’ve been watching you understand – just happened to catch a glimpse while channel hopping.


Do we get the television we deserve or is the media leading us kicking and screaming to the Valhalla of home entertainment? If you want to know what that’s like, simply watch TV ‘prime-time’ in the USA, a multichannel miasma of utter dross, interspersed with inane, irritating and unannounced commercials for products you really don’t want, No, trust me, no one needs that much haemorrhoid remedy . I’m just thankful I live in the UK where at least the BBC puts out programmes devoid of advertising, and, licence fee paid, I can sit back and watch some programmes of pure excellence from the world’s finest television corporation.

Anyway, it’s time for my medication. It wears off so quickly when I write, can’t think why.

 This week I’ll be mainly eating talking about Viyella shirts; a subject of which I hitherto knew little. Apparently Viyella was a blend of wool and cotton first woven in 1893 in England, and became the world’s first branded fabric, then made of 55% merino wool and 45% cotton in a twill weave. It was developed by James & Robert Sissons of William Hollins & Company who were spinners and hosiers. The name, ‘Viyella’ is based on the unusually-named valley road, Via Gellia near Matlock, Derbyshire, where in 1890 Hollins & Co acquired the mill used for the early production of Viyella yarn. The Viyella trademark was first registered in 1894, and in the United States in 1907, covering not only the original fabric, but also clothing. It was not long before Hollins & Co started producing their own clothes and offering franchises for other manufacturers to use the Viyella label. The first ready-made garments using Viyella were shirts and nightgowns, dresses, slips and other clothing. It was also made into sheets, and Viyella yarn was briefly available for home knitting.

In the mid-20th century the fabric was popular for children's clothes including pyjamas, shirts and dresses; but became associated with sensible, cosy clothing. During the Second World War Viyella shirts became ‘de rigueur’ for British officers uniform shirts, thus creating a hallmark of quality and exclusivity which continues to this day.

Later in the 20th century The Times stated that Viyella was used by designers interested in "vintage" style, like Laura Ashley, and creators of "modern classics". In 2009 the brand was acquired by the Austin Reed Group and continues to echo the same unrivalled craftsmanship and tailoring found in this famous menswear label; classic, understated and elegant without exception.

Viyella City Shirt Bengal Stripe Cherry
Viyella City Shirt Plain Light Blue
Viyella City Shirt Plain Cream
Viyella Tattersall Check (large) Cinnamon
Viyella City Shirt Bengal Stripe Bottle
Viyella Tattersall Sm/Check cotton & silk Lovat






















We at Country Attire heartily agree, these are very fine men’s shirts indeed. And I have it on very good authority that certain young ladies with an eye for a different, even provocative look are purchasing our chap’s Viyella shirts and wearing them in a way which would have old Colonel Blimp apoplectic with affront at the sheer cheek of it!