Last week, whilst ‘Airbnbing’ with my in-laws in a rather splendid pile tucked away in the boonies of Lancashire, the owners mentioned they kept hens, and we were very welcome to collect our own eggs.

Every morning, my excited daughters would throw on wellies, rush outside and proudly return with the day’s clutch.

I’d then serve them poached and runny on artisan sourdough, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and cracked pepper, and sit back contentedly with a cup of coffee, the traces of last night’s bourbon, a fading memory.

So enamoured with the velvety unctuousness of these glowing golden yolks, and getting into “The Good Life” spirit, I decided that the next morning, I would be the one to bring home the bounty.

Heading outside in my suede loafers, my father-in-law, Les, the master of understatement said, “James, I’d put on some wellies, it can get a bit sticky.”

The chicken coop in my mind, would look similar to those I’d seen as a boy, in my ‘Down on the Farm’ picture books.

A pitched roof, hand carved mullioned windows, lashing of freshly cut hay, the ground a soft bed of daisies, moss and wood chippings.

Approaching what looked like Auschwitz, I was faced with what can only be described as a desperate scene from the trenches in the Battle of the Somme.

With the rain drizzling down, hens with mud soaked feathers and terrified eyes, dragged their way towards me through the mire, like soldiers scrambling for the choppers, in the movie, ‘Platoon.’

Sneaking past the search lights, chicken wire perimeter fence and gun turrets, I raised the lid of ‘the cooler’ to reveal a lonesome bird, perched on a platform, no doubt head of the escape committee.

In a small compartment behind her, lay five eggs.

Placing them into my basket, I was manifested into ‘The Fleshlumpeater’ from Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG,’ stealing away her unhatched chicks, an unexpected wave of guilt, bearing down upon my sodden shoulders.

To be fair to the chook house, things would probably have felt different on a brighter day, but as Alfred Wainwright said, “there’s no such things as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

So, faced again, with all the ‘beastly mud and oomska’, down in the trenches of Duncan Weister’s Chicken House Number 1, I’d pack my fly fishing waders and of course….


The Michelsberg Trenchcoat  Michelsberg Trenchcoat - back

This latest addition to the Michelsberg armoury is a wonderful balance of style and substance.

Worn magnificently by Humphrey Bogart’s ‘Rick’ in one of my top ten films, ‘Casablanca,’ it is a truly iconic piece, originally developed by Aquascutum in the 1850’s, and adapted by Burberry (who invented the gaberdine fabric from which they were made, in 1879) for use in the Great War by Army officers.

Traditionally double breasted, with five buttons either side, it has wide lapels, is belted at the waist, and as you can see in the picture below, has shoulder straps, which were used by soldiers for the attachment of rank insignia.

The Michelsberg Trench has a working gun flap, which would keep the front of the coat in place when the officer raised his rifle to fire, in doing so, stopping the rain entering the top of the coat.

Strictly speaking, the coat would also have a full ‘storm collar,’ working straps around the wrists (to stop water running down the forearm when using binoculars in the rain) and buttoning pockets to tuck away maps.


Storm Flap and Shoulder Straps  Cuff Straps and Welted Pockets  Detachable Quilted Lining

Our wrist straps are more for ‘effect’ than operational, and we’ve added a few sartorial embellishments like double-stitching, real horn buttons and monogramming options.

I particularly like our selection of detachable quilted linings in a plethora of colours, that provide incredible warmth if worn with only a shirt or knitwear, and provide the flexibility (by removing the liner) to accommodate a jacket underneath.

With a range of buttons, linings, and technical fabrics from Dino Filarte, I think it’s fair to say the Michelsberg Trenchcoat is perfectly placed for the coming push into Autumn and Winter.

Also available in a single breasted design, with fly front and vertical welted pockets, there is something for everyone.

Priced from £700, I feel this little beauty provides stunning value for money, and as of next week, will be giving it further road testing, on a family holiday to the East Coast and Lake District.

Talking of holidays, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Summer and not let this bloody virus get you down.

The support from many of you, has been overwhelming, and an optimist at heart, I firmly believe we will continue down the path, where an elbow bump gives way to a hug.

See you at Sous Le Nez in September!