Designed and made exclusively for the shop, The Michael Palin Travel Bag combines the best features of my collaboration with the clever, patient, skilful people from Whitehouse Cox. They created something for me that was not only functional but also a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. I’ve been up to their workshop in Walsall and seen that everything from the pen and pencil holders to the reinforced leather corners are put together by hand. And why not? We take trouble to make sure that my travels are filmed by the best cameraman, and the sound captured by the best sound recordist, so why not have the best bag.
The bags that were my precious companions on all my journeys were originally designed as game bags. I don’t myself hunt, shoot or fish, but I did like the look and feel of these sturdy, handsome accessories. The tough canvas, strengthened with hand-stitched leather, and the generous pockets in the front, big enough to take notebooks and maps, seemed perfect for filming. Built to be tough enough for grouse moors and fast-flowing Scottish rivers, they were resilient in all kinds of different terrain and in all kinds of climate.
But beyond being tough and durable there were other demands peculiar to television travel presenters. As we moved rapidly through so many different environments and situations I had to have fast, easy access to camera and notebook, and as quickly as I got them out I needed to be able to hide them again when the director called “Action!” Hence the need for the wide flapped pockets on the front of the bag, and the long pocket on the other side, generous enough to enable me to take out and replace guide-books, information sheets and shooting schedules at a moment’s notice. Zips had to be foolproof. Buttons were too fiddly, so brass studs and straps took their place.
One word of warning, these bags don’t give up easily. They’re designed to be with you for a very long time – in fact you’d better think of someone in your will to leave this one to. And the other thing to remember is that the bag becomes your friend and chosen companion. It accompanies you everywhere, and I mean everywhere. A bag was on my shoulder as I crossed the Equator. It was with me when I reached the North and South Poles. But it also accompanied me to many a dingy toilet and found itself unceremoniously squashed beneath seats in grubby cafes or alienating border posts. I couldn’t count the times I laid my head on it to sleep at night in wild places where no pillow had ever been seen.
But that’s the point of a bag. It’s a working accessory. And it keeps secrets.
- Originally designed and used on Michael’s Himalaya trip.
- External dimensions (approximate): 39cm x 28cm x 16cm.
- Two external notebook pockets with brass popper fastening.
- One large external pocket with brass popper fastening with leather stamped logo on inside.
- Fully adjustable shoulder strap made from military grade woven cotton webbing. Extremely hardwearing.
- External pen holder. Holds six pens and pencils.
- Tough, English Bridle Leather reinforcements on bottom, bottom corners and seams, made from natural vegetable tanned leather. Darkens and ages over time.
- Canvas fabric throughout, laminated two ply cotton drill fabric creating a strong, robust and water resident finish.
- All the hardware is solid brass both on the zip teeth and the adjusters on the shoulder strap so they won’t rust.
- Riri Swiss made zip. The highest quality zip available for this type of bag for years of trouble free performance.
- All stitched with a poly cotton thread, using a central core of Polyester for strength with a cotton spun around this for a more pleasing appearance.
A Note From Whitehouse Cox
Established in 1875, Whitehouse Cox is one of the world’s leading makers of fine leather goods. Using only the finest locally sourced vegetable-tanned leathers, Whitehouse Cox’s team of highly skilled artisans handcraft a range of wallets, bags and accessories at their factory in Aldridge, England.
“We pride ourselves on doing things here that other people cannot do, and we take no shortcuts. We only want to produce the best, crafted with pride.” Stephen Cox
This modified gamekeepers bag has a sturdy cotton adjustable strap which fits comfortably over the shoulder for easy carrying. There are two wide front pockets, an internal strap to hold a water bottle and outside pen holders for quick access. The bag is handcrafted from heavy English cotton twill, and trimmed with durable English bridle leather.
The leather is vegetable-tanned and finished with natural tallow and oils. This environmentally-friendly finishing process takes up to ten weeks, producing an authentic colour that will age beautifully over time. The bag is truly built to last, and the exceptional Made in England quality of its workmanship can be seen in the stitching and hand–finished detailing throughout.
The leather used for the trim of the Travel Bag is English Bridle leather which is impregnated with waxes and oils to preserve the leather and keep it supple.
Over time in storage this wax can rise to the surface and appear as white streaks.
Firm brushing with a soft bristle shoe brush or rubbing over the leather with a dry microfibre cloth will buff the wax up, shine the leather, and remove the white streaks.
Don’t use a damp cloth, or a fluffy duster type cloth.