The time had finally come, I was off to the Orkney Islands for the first time. Tristan and I had been contacted in June to see if we wanted to work on some material for Scotrail's MyScotRail #spiritofscotland #unlockscotland campaign.
After arriving in Inverness at lunchtime we headed to our B & B for the night to drop off our bags. We were greeted by the owner Gloria who instantly made us feel welcome and at home. She had a hard time understanding our central accents, she even thought Tristan was German and kept asking us if we had been to Scotland before. This made for some laughs and she showed us to our room. We quickly changed and headed out to check out our first location on the trip - Craig Phadrig.
We boarded the ferry and made off towards Orkney. The journey was only an hour and a half and on route to Stromness we got to witness The Old Man of Hoy. The old red sandstone stack is one of the tallest in the UK and stands at 449 feet - it is quite a sight! I am obsessed with tall structures and this was one of the best I have seen in real life. I took some snaps quickly and made sure to have a moment looking at it with just my two eyes instead of through the viewfinder. The whole side of the island of Hoy was beautiful and had great colours and textures, made for great photos. I absolutely love shooting close ups of natural textures and this was a great experience.
And there they were in all their glory, the Standing Stones of Stenness. The site is quiet, there aren't many people here and it is perfect for snapping away. I imagine and hope that the site is busier later in the Summer period but for today I am happy that there aren't many visitors. We left the bikes at the entrance and made our way into the site. I get my camera out and start looking through the viewfinder as the stones start towering above me. I was in absolute awe looking at the structure, it felt very surreal and intimidating but also made me feel calm and at ease. It's a magnificent thing to see in person and it just sets your imagination off wild thinking about the people who would have came here to worship and hold ceremonies.
Arriving in Kirkwall we had no idea what to expect. We knew we were in a more built up part of Mainland and that we didn't have any objectives for the rest of the day - we thought we would be grabbing a bite to eat and then retiring to bed. We both got a message from our friend Stephen Kemp, co-owner along with his wife of the Orkney Distilling company. Stephen picked us up in an impromptu meeting and we were driven to and treated to a visit of his new distillery / private bar / visitor centre headquarters. The new building will be where his gin Kirkjuvagr will be created and will consist of private tasting rooms and gin bar along with other spaces within. We were the first people to get a tour of the premises and we cannot wait to go back and see it when it's all finished. We headed to Wideford Hill where Stephen showed us views like no other of the Mainland and the other closeby islands of Orkney. On the way up and back down we passed some old bomb shelters from WWII. This trip just never stopped giving.
Monday 3rd July '17.
We recently went on a camping trip to the Isle of Arran, one of the best islands I've visited off the West coast of Scotland. I've been to Arran many times but this is the first time I have went and hiked/camped.
We set off early and got the first Calmac ferry over to Lamlash from Ardrossan, the sun was high and skies were blue. We picked up some eating and drinking essentials and got our Lowe Alpine Airzone Pro rucksacks packed (pick one up from TISO here).
We got our maps out and headed up the road towards the start of the trail towards the foot of Goat Fell, passing a cemetery, residential houses and a camping site on the way. The camping site looked appealing at this time in the morning, my legs were already suffering from lack of sleep and breakfast, a lie down in the tent would have done me fine at this point.
Our original plan was to do the 3 hills surrounding Goat Fell, then camping somewhere on top of the third peak or at the foot of it. We set off up the natural stairs at the base of the first, stopping to take some shots of our new rucksacks in the lovely bright light we were being provided with.
I managed the first section of the first hill relatively easily, the sun gifted us with dry terrain and it was pretty flat after the first up section. We crossed a river and walked through short grass with beautiful views from every angle.
It was after this first section that I started feeling the tiredness kick in. Now we had at least another 2 big inclines to get to the top, and I already knew that my body wasn't going to cope with this easily and I was worried I wouldn't get as far as I had originally wanted to and thought I would be capable of. The main point of this write up (other than showing off some images from the trip) is to speak about the negative aspects of trekking and the realistic aims and expectations. When I say negative I don't mean that trekking is bad in anyway, I just mean the downside to trekking, depending on your fitness and experience.
Other than our big trek a few months ago on the Isle of Skye in the Cuillin Ridge area, I haven't really hiked anything this big. I instantly feel intimidated every time I embark on a trek with my partner in crime, Mr Tristan Harper. He has just come back from hiking to base camp Everest and is in absolutely incredible shape - the man puts the work in for sure!
Once I finally made it to the top we decided to just pitch the tent and stay there for the night. The time it took me to get up I didn't feel comfortable going any further. I totally didn't expect to feel that bad after such a short trek. The top was more than rewarding, the views were incredible and we spent the whole evening taking shots and talking nonsense and some, just some sense.
The next morning we awoke expecting to be able to continue our trek across the remaining 2 hills but the fog hadn't cleared so we decided to go back down and call it a day.
The main thing I learned on the trip was my personal limits. I think in particular the fact that I'm not cut out for big treks like that at the moment and if I'm going to attempt them, I need to go at my own pace. That said, it is good being out there with someone with incredible fitness and experience because it makes you push yourself and want to keep up to a decent speed and standard. For anyone looking to get into trekking or looking to gain experience, I definitely recommend going with someone who feels more comfortable doing it and building up your personal strengths and confidence. If anyone wants to ask anything about trekking we (Tristan & myself) can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm sure one of us will be able to answer most questions.
You can check out the whole photoset from this trip HERE!
Q & A with Peta Heffernan.
I recently found Peta's profile on Instagram and instantly felt drawn to the style of drawing and imagery I seen! Peta is an Australian freelance designer and has recently started a tattoo apprenticeship.
• Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?
My name is Peta Heffernan, and I was born and raised in coastal Australia, before moving to the capital Canberra. I started my career as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, before changing to a tattoo apprenticeship in 2016.
• How long have you been drawing for and when did you first get into it?
I've been drawing for as long as I remember. Arts was really the only things that interested me in school, and when my teachers encouraged me, I decided to pursue a creative career.
• Do you enjoy any other kinds of creativity?
I've always enjoyed being creative. I love the satisfied feeling I get when I create something new. In addition to illustration and design, I also love pottery, gardening, and crafts.
• How long have you been tattooing and how do you find it compared to drawing?
I started my tattoo apprenticeship 3 months ago. So far, I've only had the chance to tattoo a handful of people, and its been a huge learning curve! A lot of the same principles apply with tattooing and illustration. For instance, the way you handle the pen/needle, and how you need to nail it on the first go (black is the only eraser in tattooing!), but there are also massive differences. Using a vibrating machine on an uneven and moving surface can been hugely challenging. You have to consider the condition of the skin, its elasticity and how thin it is. This changes on every person, and on every part of that person. The way I illustrate had to change too; when tattooing, lines need to be at lease 3mm apart to prevent them from running together when the tattoo ages. This mean I need to be much more careful with my line work!
• What does it feel like progressing something you've drawn into a tattoo permanently on someone's skin?
It's been amazing. I'm lucky enough to have been able to exclusively tattoo my own designs so far. It’s an amazing feeling to see my clients pleased when seeing themselves inked for the first time!
• What influences your drawing style, particularly the style of images you post on your Instagram profile?
It took me a while to figure out what I liked to draw. In the past I've experimented with watercolour, oil, graphite, and many, many different art forms. I started working exclusively in blackwork styled illustration about two years ago, and just fell in love with the style. I'm influence by the works of other artists such as Karl Kwasny, Susanne König and Sam Larson.
• Do you see yourself branching out into getting t shirts, patches and stickers printed? Definitely something I'd personally love!
Absolutely! I've just opened my Etsy shop, where I'll be selling prints, stickers, and temporary tattoos!
• What's your plans for the near future?
I plan to continue tattooing, and to build up a solid clientele. It's my hope that I can make a profitable career out of my art, and eventually start selling more of my designs online!
You can check out Peta on Instagram at @peta.heffernan
So here I am, a father of a little boy! And here I am typing this out way later than I wanted to. I wanted to type up a piece when my son turned 3 months however I had no idea where to start.. I still don't.
I may as well dive right into the subject, it is by far the most surreal, amazing, inspiring, eye opening, touching experience I think you could ever have. Those of you who have kids will know what I mean (unless your children are in their teenage years and are probably testing you to the limits like I'm sure I did as a younger man). From the moment my partner & I decided to have a child together right through to the birth was a total whirlwind of emotions. I can't even begin to understand how my other half must have felt with a baby growing inside her body! That upped a gear as soon as the labour came and our son Oliver made his entrance into this world of ours. I knew from that moment nothing would be the same.
I have a step daughter, Daisy, so for the past 4 years I have been learning and (hopefully) growing as not only an adult but as a human. I have learned so much about life through her and so much about myself and the way family units work. I felt ready for having a new born even though whenever we had discussed it before I kept thinking I wasn't. As my partner told me, you're never truly ready. You can be in love, have a steady income and a place of your own, but deciding to have a baby is just something I feel you won't ever feel ready for, you just need to decide to go for it and throw yourself in at the deep end.
Having a new born was something I was scared about before he was born but as soon as we got him home and I started learning things from my partner about changing, feeding, washing the fear slowly drifted away. My excitement was overshadowing everything and it soon became second nature. It now feels like he has never not been in our lives. I can't imagine life without him. He just turned 4 months last Tuesday and it both feels like he hasn't been here that long but as I just mentioned, it feels like he has been with us forever. I'm so grateful to be alive and experiencing this first hand. The world is a very scary place and we are reminded of that, at the very least, once every day and it definitely doesn't get any easier when you have kids. I worry and think about a million and one things when it comes to Daisy but now it's going to be double time! It's even worse when they are babies, they 100% rely on you doing everything and it's such a crazy feeling knowing you are totally responsible for every part of their lives. I wouldn't change it for the world, it is by far the best thing I have ever done (and obviously meeting my partner, as Oliver wouldn't be here if we hadn't of met).
As every day goes by he looks bigger and bigger, longer and longer and handsomer and handsomer. It's difficult leaving the house for any length of time never mind going to work most days. As he gets bigger it's going to be difficult not to document his every move. I don't want to end up like Christof from The Truman Show, Kangol cap and all. I keep thinking about what he'll be like as he grows, what will his personality be like? What kind of music will he like? What kind of friends will he make and what kind of friend will he be to them? Will he like stuff I like? Will he join me at hockey games? It's a crazy thought. I'm definitely a firm believer in letting them chose their own paths with a little bit of your guidance. I hope he chooses things that are sensible and I hope he is influenced by us. I can't wait to see what happens. It already feels like a surprise every day, every single day is as good if not better than the day before. It's the ultimate natural high. I feel as he goes through life, it'll be like meeting a new person every step of the way, that excites me. Already I feel like he is developing quickly and feel as though he is progressing slightly each and every day. Whether it be a new noise or a new facial expression. All I know that any day now he will be going onto actual food and I cannot wait! Then comes the crawling and the fight for his first word..
Thanks for reading my thoughts on becoming a father. I don't think any of this has been thought out very much, there was a few things I wanted to say and I think I have got them in in one way or another. I just feel like I have so much energy and so much emotion flowing through my body. It is an absolutely great feeling and I can't imagine what life would be like without him in it.
That feeling when you’re friends are professional athletes and you are not..
A few weeks back Tristan, Chris and myself jumped in the Land Rover and headed to the Isle of Skye for an adventure. We stayed in St. Andrews the night before and left not long after 5am. I had been up the night before until at least 1am speaking to my friend Andy who sent me a photo someone he knew took on Skye the night previous - the Northern Lights! The lights looked phenomenal in the photo, I was instantly getting hyped and planning what setup to use if we seen them. Photos, video, time lapses, everything was going through my head. To say I was tired the next day is an understatement. I slept a lot on the journey to Skye which sucked for Chris as I was in the front seat whilst he was stuck in the back missing the views. Sorry buddy!
We got to Skye around 11am and headed towards the Cuillin’s! We parked in the car park at the foot of the range and got changed. We were going to tackle Garbh Bheinn which sits nicely at 885metres high. For me this was always going to be a tough one, I’ve only just started hiking and with only the Campsies at 300 odd metres and Balmaha under my belt, I thought I was going to struggle severely.
The walk started off pretty easily, walking through the path which runs parallel to the river. We walked through some moss and passed some beautiful waterfalls. In the first hour or so we went from scorching sun to rain to snow to hail stones. Just a usual day for Scottish weather eh?
Once we started inclining that’s when I started to feel the challenge. My thighs were absolutely burning. Up until recently my bike had been off of the road. For a year and a half I was cycling almost 10 miles a day, sometimes twice that. I was fit and always on the go. My bike got damaged and as soon as that happened I stopped going to the gym as much and then my eating followed suit. Now for someone who felt relatively fit to now be feeling out of shape and unfit, this was an absolute nightmare situation. I love the blog and all that we stand for and what we want to achieve, and this is a big part of that. Getting out there and exploring is the main thing we want to do, and of course document it. I knew I had to achieve this and I knew if I persevered I could handle it. We got approximately 2 thirds of the way up and I really started to doubt myself. We took a few breaks and shot some content and enjoyed the views of the surrounding hills.
The last third was a huge challenge for me, we ended up on a huge loose stone section of the climb - skreet scrambling as they call it. I was sliding all over the place and at one point I was on my hands and knees trying to force my weight up as much as I could whilst sliding backwards. I felt like I was sliding back more than I was going forward. At one section I slid backwards for about 10 metres, I thought that was me done for the day. But I took a deep breath and pushed on, even if I was still on my hands and knees like an amateur. I finally got to a flat section just before the final ascent to the peak. The last section looked impossible as it was all rocks but it was probably the most simple and rewarding section. I got to the peak fairly easy after the last section and it was so rewarding. I obviously achieved something physically but it’s crazy the mental achievement you feel also. Here I was at the top of the biggest hike I’ve ever done with 2 of the coolest dudes in my life and not too much behind them may I add. I was extremely proud of myself and we shot some stunning imagery at the top including what’s becoming our signature shot, Tristan jumping into the air.
The descent was a lot faster, I think roughly we spent a good 2/3 hours on the way up. The way down was roughly an hour or slightly over. The skreet scramble on the way down was tricky but soon became fun. We all fell on our asses a good few times each - it’s easy to get cocky with the loose stone sliding as it’s so much fun.
After our hike we made some well deserved instant coffees and got the gear off to air out in the back of the truck. We then went to Cuidrach at the end of the island and pitched our tent behind some rocks just off of the road. We were camped up next to a farm that was right next to the water. Unfortunately for us the sky was covered in clouds and we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights this time. Fingers crossed we get to see them soon! I imagine we will see them one day in Scandinavia but it would be extra special to see them on the homeland.
The rain battered all night long and in the morning we decided to just pack up and head home as all the gear was still wet and freezing and we were finding it difficult to find the motivation after such a wet and horrible night. Also the boys had to get the final preparations sorted for flying out to Nepal. I tell you something.. we cannot wait to share the content from that trip!
All in all I had an absolute blast doing this hike and it’s definitely made me hungry for more. Going to be exploring a lot more places this Summer and working with an amazing company - more on that shortly!
Although the event was a couple of weeks ago it still feels like yesterday with the amazing shop interior and the inspiring collections on display.
Here's what we all thought about the night :
Armani. Giorgio Armani. Glasgow. Fashion. Event. You guessed it, an Armani fashion event in Glasgow. In the new Armani store in the Connect11ons retail centre on Ingram street to be specific.
I started going to the odd fashion event around this time two years ago when I started shooting a bit with my friend Stew. Like most social events I felt a touch out of place and a bit paranoid. Nothing to do with the people or the surroundings, really just down to my personal social anxieties and insecurities. Like many people do, I felt a little uncomfortable going to and experiencing something new. Fast forward 2 years and I've somewhat grew a bit more comfortable in my wrinklier skin.
The event was showcasing some of Armani's new collections. Our very own Tristan Harper was one of the models on the night getting to wear the new collection for everyone in attendance to see. Since Tristan was working the show, Chris 'Brutes' Bruton and I decided to head along after grabbing something to eat. It's the first I'd seen Chris since he was traded to an ice hockey team across the border from our own Braehead Clan.
It was an awesome night for catching up and the first we had spoken in person since Chris became a part of NORTH.
We headed into the store and instantly said to each other that we felt out of place. For 2 young men going to an event so far on the back foot we almost fell back out the door, we actually ended up having a blast and speaking to almost everyone inside the beautiful building.
We got our jackets in the cloakroom and Chris headed for the bar. Champagne in hand and Canadian charm in his heart he headed straight to the groups of people and began talking away, speaking of all things Canadian, hockey, life and of course - the show. After the first walks were done we ended up chatting to a friendly and interesting girl from Denmark. Her name was Pernille and before we knew it we were talking about promotion, brand awareness and online advertising platforms and media. Pernille advised she was the trade marketing manager for Armani and worked for the company from her current home in London. We spoke about her career, her love for exploring and her old job at Tommy Hilfiger.
Before we knew it the last walk of the night had come to an end and everyone started chatting and relaxing. It was great to see my friend Aodán McIntyre also modelling in the show. We caught up a bit and took some snaps and then there was one person we had to talk to before we left, Andrea Perulli. Andrea is Giorgio Armani's lead stylist, a sophisticated looking man with a great charm about him. We spoke about his recent travels with the brand and the decision to open a store in Glasgow city. We swapped some details, some laughs and took some pictures before we said goodbye.
The last person I spoke to on the night was Glasgow's very own Sheri Scott. Most of you may know Sheri as one half of Betty & Bee or through her own blog and PR business - Forever Yours, Betty. I've seen Sheri's work online for years but never actually spoken in person. It was good to finally put some personality to the awesome work she does for her personal blog and for brands she works with. We spoke about getting old, my little boy and girl, her new pup, our partners, pop punk and a list of other things. It was refreshing to speak to someone at an event who was so down to earth and positive about everything and anything that is happening here in the city of Glasgow. Hopefully Sheri will be someone we may work with in the future.
All in all it was a great night with a lot of inspiring pieces on display. I don't think I've ever felt so comfortable at an event so far as I did on that night. Here's to the next one!
So, your good friend is a model……….and you’re not! Life could be a lot worse especially when it still means you get to be a plus one at a Giorgio Armani store launch in Glasgow, and he is one of the models walking. Did I mention there was free booze and some pretty good scenery to match. Now this scene is something I am not accustomed to and I definitely didn't fool myself into thinking I fit in. But the even better part is my good friend Jawn who, with all the tattoos and long rocker hair I would think would look even more out of place than me. The two of us met for some grub before heading to the show and chatted about how people would likely in this industry ignore us or see us as the elephant in the room. But as the night unfolded the two of us couldn’t have been more wrong as the Giorgio Armani launch party was a big success and a ton of fun, especially the after party!
As Jawn and I arrive security looks at us like “there is no way these two scrubs are in the right party” but one of the event hosts Nadine I believe, was so great right away greeting us with a ton of energy and welcoming us to the party. After I helped myself to a couple champagnes, Jawn and I settled to the back and looked over the beautiful new store, and of course like everyone else scoped the room and “people watched”. Within minutes though individuals were engaging us into great conversation, telling stories of where they came from, and genuinely asking who we were and our story. It was a great group of people that all displayed a unique passion for what I came to see was so much more than just the fashion. As the models formulated down the spiral staircase and the music amplified, the party began to take a life of its own, and Jawn and I actually both fit right in, or so we had everyone believing. I had never experienced a party or fashion launch, and I can honestly say it was an awesome party where everyone showcased great energy, an excitement for fashion, and just great passion for all the new things happening around Glasgow. What better addition to this city than a world renowned fashion clothing line like Giorgio Armani. Tristan came out after he did his walks, and I bugged him about his Zoolander poses. We all had a laugh and immediately all the models and spectators began to socialise. I definitely have to thank the event hosts and the Armani Group for putting on an awesome show and great experience. The after parties seemed to really stretch the night out and I can’t say that was a bad thing at all, but I think I will leave it at that.
Being involved with the new Armani store launch/fashion show was a real ice breaker for myself, getting the chance of modelling Armani's new season has been a dream. I'm in love with their new style, such a casual but sophisticated smart look. Their new style really shows the Italian way of life, very relaxed but also at the same time extremely business orientated. The fabrics used are bliss, they feel amazing whilst wearing them and they have extra comfort with the breathable material allowing a lot of air flow to get in, which is especially good if you are of a muscular build. l would recommend anyone who has not been a fan of Armani in the past to take a look and try out some clothes at the new store on Ingram Street. Even if it's just to pop in & check out the store, such a beautiful interior and setup.
CHECK OUT THE FULL PHOTO SET HERE!
Our great friend and now NORTH collaborator. We hope you will join us in welcoming Chris to NORTH and we can't wait to start exploring together again during this off season!
Who am I? My name is Christopher Bruton and I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have grown up playing ice hockey which has afforded me a wealth of experiences, travels, friendships, and education that I couldn’t be more grateful for. After contemplating quitting the game that has helped shape who I am today, one final call and gut feeling pulled me in for another season.
After finishing my 4th professional ice hockey season it only made sense that having played all throughout Canada, the USA, including as far as Alaska, that a call from Scotland to pursue another and possibly final year of professional hockey would come knocking at my door. When most people think of Canada they think about ice hockey, the cold, overly nice people and yes we did somehow produce Justin Bieber. Scotland! All I could think about was Braveheart, kilts, and an abundance of pubs and bars to get out of the rain.
Last season I played for the Grand Rapids Griffins, direct affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings in the American Hockey League. Now I was heading to Glasgow, Scotland to play in the Elite Ice Hockey League and retain my MBA in Business from the University of the West of Scotland.
To say this was quite a change would be an understatement. The opportunity was too good to pass up, I’d get paid to play hockey, MBA was taken care of, and a car and place over in Europe. Well Scotland, not Europe, which I quickly learned is much different and unique in its own special way. So I hugged Mom and Dad and the brother’s good bye and left home again just like I started doing at the tender age of 16, to move away and play another season of hockey. Here we go!
As my plane seared through some light clouds which I soon after learned was a sunny day in Scotland, I immediately looked NORTH! There they were the highlands and they instantly grabbed me. I knew this was going to be a special place. After getting settled for a couple weeks I instantly fell in love with the city of Glasgow with tons of music, great shopping and food, and of course an awesome bar and pub scene, which above all else was to hide from the rain. Ya right! As the year progressed along with the season, I began to gravitate towards building a life-long friendship with this Scottish looking dude tattooed up with a pretty badass looking beard. He had a great energy about him and we began to talk a lot about adventures, hiking and getting away from the normal day-to-day ebb and flow that the hockey lifestyle often grips you in. Not only hockey, but we talked about life and the 9-5 routine that so many head to the pub after work, or jump on the Netflix train for a 5 hour TV series binge. Don’t get me wrong I love taping my eyes open and hammering out a series of “How to Make a Murderer” until I pass out, but there was just so much more that I knew I had given up because I fell into the trap of a routine that was conducive to my lifestyle.
Tristan Cameron-Harper and I had a quiet understanding and mutual bond that grew quickly and we both said it without saying a thing, we were going to live it up. Yes I know a total bromance, but that is the beauty of hockey you can strike up friendships and bonds that extend well beyond the rink. On game days when it’s usually a nap and lay around day routine, we were going in to visit the city do some yoga, grab a nice lunch, and then go kick ass on the ice. If it was only two days before a game, we would go into the highlands and hike, and explore and see more do more. It wasn’t exactly what people would think was the smartest thing a pro-athlete to be doing expelling energy day before games and sleeping far less, but it gave me a rejuvenated abundance of energy, and I was playing the best hockey of my life and enjoying every minute of it. Being busy with school, hockey, and getting out and doing as much as possible was the perfect recipe. It wasn’t as if we didn’t try to include others around us, we invited people often, and they unfortunately fell into the trap of complacency and laziness and followed the lifestyle like a sheep in the herd. We wanted to be the Collie that directed the traffic and direction, and so we continued the unorthodox routine in a normally restrictive lifestyle.
My first adventure was a hike back in the highlands and a Canadian friend was visiting and we three decided to go for what the two Canadians thought would be a nice little stroll. What ensued was a 6 hour death march with no given path through the tall wet grass, to the jagged rocks and finally peaking in utter sweat and exhaustion. What a view and feeling at the top! There is so much to see in Scotland and trust me that is coming from someone who has the Canadian Rocky Mountains as his back yard. We made our way back down following a couple of sheep and as Harps pointed out “This is a great omen”. After we sat at the car had some laughs and couple beers, the ride home with tunes bumping and winding roads leaving Loch Lomond and the Trossachs was just what Scotland was all about, simply beautiful, untouched and unique in its own way. From here we went on countless other hikes, and made a point of visiting Edinburgh and heading up to St. Andrews often as our day off retreat. I couldn’t get over the unbelievable scenery Scotland had to offer, the wonderful and engaging people and the seafood was some of the best I had ever encountered. And of course plenty of pubs and bars to take cover late at night when it started to rain. It seemed to rain a lot for Harps and I.
I always heard this cliché’ quote that “people inspire you, or they drain you, pick them wisely.” At first I thought this was a crock of shit, but as I have grown older and a little wiser (not much) I have learnt first-hand this could not bode more true. In comes Jawn McClenaghan, holy hell is that ever a Scottish name. Harps told me this dude was an awesome, a long haired rocker, but was an absolute gem and they had become life-long friends and obviously work together on this blog. My first impression was a little different from what I imagined from Tristan’s description. When I met Jawn for the first time we were all going to head out for a hike and he came down after sleeping in with nothing but a hockey jersey on (I think naked underneath) and long rock star hair covered in tattoos. My first thought was that I needed more ink to fit in. My second thought was who the hell is this homeless looking beast that had a glare like he wanted to boot me in the face. After welcoming me into his home and getting out and adventuring, I instantly understood what it meant to surround yourself with the right people. He had a chuckle and part of him that wanted to keep everyone around him engaged. Getting out and adventuring only opens people up and we got each other perfectly after one hike. I even dropped his expensive camera at one point and all he did was let out a big chuckle. What a beauty. The three of us will be hitting up a couple of good adventure days and I’m pumped for the tripod to be reunited.
It’s easy to become complacent and fall into the trap of following an expected lifestyle, or a routine that becomes comfortable. For me NORTH and the fella’s are what it’s all about and have created an interactive site where they can showcase unreal gear in some of the coolest destinations. So far it showcases some of Scotland’s beautiful scenery that is easily accessible to anyone and everyone. The best part is this platform will only grow including Harps showcasing places in Spain and most definitely in the Himalayans when we adventure to Base Camp Everest together. I find myself going and checking the site often when I am studying and missing the adventures, and I guarantee if you give this a read and follow you will get hooked. These two dudes are down to earth people that would love to hear from followers on new products, restaurants, bars, gigs and places to see, and this like-minded platform will begin to flourish as a collective effort for everyone. I feel very fortunate to have met both these guys and they are truly a great representation of Scotland and their lifestyle and experience showcase brands and companies beautifully. If all goes to plan, hopefully we can get the guys over to my country to explore the “true NORTH strong and free."
The Hundreds is HUGE!
I've been excited to let my fingers loose on the keyboard to type up this blog post for sometime now. So much so that most of this will just be typed as an improvisation. I've been thinking of different things I want to mention and most of them run off into tangents and don't show sign of coming back around to the original reason behind the post - THE HUNDREDS.
The Hundreds for me has, is and will continue to be more than a clothing brand, which I think Bobby and Ben will both agree on. From the first time I seen the clothing within the old Fat Buddah store in Glasgow City, I knew it was something special. The first items I bought that day were a The Hundreds x Garfield shirt and a camera backpack, which up until recently I used religiously. After these purchases I started doing some online research and browsing through the website. The initial thing that got me hooked was Adam Bomb. I've always been into skate brands and always found a strong visual connection with the brands that always had a stand out logo, especially ones that had a character. I hadn't felt this way about a brand since Spitfire in my early teens. Everything I seen on the website blew me away, the photography, the concepts, the text I was reading within the blog posts and of course, the clothing itself. I was instantly hooked, and ever since then I have been a huge fan of the brand.
For me going on the website was like watching a band you loved on dvd - it had all the behind the scenes content that made you feel like you had a bond with the people involved. Through the media on the site you really felt like you were a part of it and more specifically, felt like you knew Bobby. I've been a big fan of Bobby's from the first time I dug deep into The Hundreds. His photography, his writing, his views on street wear and the industry in general. It really struck me then how much social media played a part in making the customer really connect and understand a brand and it's visions.
Like many, The Hundreds made me want to instantly start a clothing label, a blog, a website, or all of them together. I had already been a photographer when I came across the brand but it somehow made me want to push more with what I was doing and inspired me to reach for what I wanted. Many people have questioned these feelings, stating 'It's only a clothing label,' but as we started off here, I 100% feel that TH is way more than a clothing brand.
In recent years I have watched from my phone and computer screen the growth in the company. New website layout which incorporates so much more media than before, bloggers from all over providing media and content for the website, photographers snapping unbelievable images and tons more. And even this far on into it's existence, Bobby still shoots for the brand and continues to do so ridiculously well.
After years of trying different styles of photography and messing around with various blogs and websites I find myself doing NORTH with one of my best friends and as always, feeling inspired by the abundance of content I see online daily, with The Hundreds being one of the main culprits. I guess this brings us onto these images. I seen online that Out of Step Ltd were a distribution company within the UK bringing some awesome brands over from the States. I originally saw that they were the distributors for another of my favourite brands Benny Gold. I got excited when I seen The Hundreds on the list and decided to get in touch. Being new to 'blogging' I was a little nervous to get in touch with a company I had only just found online and asking to borrow some clothes to shoot some imagery with. I was obviously more nervous as the brand I was requesting to use was my favourite. After some emails back and forward it soon became a reality and I would be getting some items to use for the blog, which got me excited. After receiving the items we had to put shooting on hold due to Christmas and new year and the usual bad Scottish weather. These images are the first we've shot which were taken during a day trip/hike in Balmaha within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Originally I wanted to shoot all the items in one day but we decided to wait and shoot in a number of locations across Scotland. We will be shooting the rest of the content in the near future as at the moment my other half and I are awaiting the arrival of our baby boy who should be here very soon! More on that will follow on here I'm sure.
I have no idea what North is, what it will end up becoming and where it will take me, but that's the beauty of it. Tristan and I started out wanting to shoot images for brands we loved and seeing some beautiful parts of our native Scotland but already we seem to be in discussions with brands looking at going further, documenting places we have never been before and trying out products along the way. We are looking into dabbling with clothing also, which for me is exciting but definitely something we don't want to dive into feet first. We want to take the time to research, evaluate and create things that we are happy with first and foremost before getting outside opinions. At the moment, shooting images for brands we love and getting to incorporate products from a company such as The Hundreds is a big thing for me and I hope it may continue and grow into something strong and exciting. Many thanks to all the staff at Out of Step Ltd and a big thank you to Ben and Bobby for starting The Hundreds and inspiring myself and more than likely thousands of others to push and better ourselves at whatever we do. - Jawn.
Balmaha - Millenium forest trail.
Balmaha has got to be one of my favourite locations we've been to so far. It's located on the Eastern shore of Loch Lomond and is only approximately 20 miles from Glasgow City. It's a nice drive to the foot and there's a car park right at the start of the route. The majority of the trail is done by path with makes it very easy for anyone who isn't used to walking hills or anyone with bad ankles (which I currently have). On the way up we stopped off at a few spots and shot some content for another piece we are currently working on. One of the spots we shot was one of the trees about half way up. The tree was absolutely huge and stood out as soon as we seen it which you will see in the photoset. We also came across a fallen tree that hung over a ditch. It was a perfect spot for a photo as the sun hung high in the air and the light poured in through the trees behind.
After a fairly easy 45 minutes you will be close to the peak, which at this point the path ends. As you turn around to get a look you are welcomed with some of the most beautiful scenery you will see within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. You'll see the shore lines of the Loch fade into the distance, the neighbouring hills and the best part for me, the islands in the water right below your view point. When I first seen pictures of this place I was instantly blown away and couldn't wait to get up - It 100% didn't disappoint.
After a bit of steep walking / climbing you will reach the top and more than likely take about 4 gigabytes of images. When I first seen photos from one of Tristan's previous trips I knew I had to get up and shoot a particular set of images at the peak - images that I'm very excited about and we should be getting online tomorrow unless my other half FINALLY goes in to labour.
All in all I think Balmaha has to be one of the best hikes around. It's not too high, not too challenging, not too far from the main cities and it's views are unbelievable. The views make it seem like you are way more higher than you actually are. If you're looking for a day out to get some fresh air or looking for a place to go at the weekend for a bit of exercise and a picnic with a view, Balmaha is the spot! - Jawn.
At just short of 400 meters the Conic Hill, Balmaha hike, has got to be one of the places you must visit that’s within reasonable distance from Glasgow. This lovely landscape shows the separation between Loch Lomond’s many islands & where the Scottish highlands start.
It’s a very short hike which starts from the Balmaha car park which should take no longer than an hour to peak (make sure you check the weather before). What l love about this hike the most is that there is so much nature all around that offers varying displays of scenery from beautiful old tall historic trees to stunning views across the water. It's remarkable that this place is so accessible for us all to wander and even though it's close to the city you really do feel that you're away from any modern civilisation.
I highly recommend this short enchanting hike for anyone who is seeking an escape for a few hours or just wants to experience one of the ever so many beautiful features that Scotland has to offer. - Tristan.
Car park in the sky (Robertson’s Car Park) - Paisley, Scotland.
In my opinion this has to be one of the coolest places in and around Glasgow to visit. It’s an absolutely gorgeous viewpoint even if you are just taking a drive up there and chilling in the car embracing the views that surround you.
But if you're more of the adventurous type like myself and you want a great place to take your dog for a walk or just go for a casual stroll then there is a variation of different paths you can walk. They will guide you to all sorts of different viewpoints that overlook the whole of Glasgow, Paisley and beyond.
One of the coolest things l enjoy about Robertson’s Car Park is the Country Park that allows visitors access so they can openly walk through the land where Highlands Cows roam. They are in use to control vegetation & preserve biodiversity. Any of you that haven't seen a highland cow up-close and personal should definitely add this to your list because they are some of the most alluring animals in the Scotland (approach with caution - especially when if it's during mating season)!
I highly recommend checking this location out when the night is clear or even to watch a sunrise or sunset - you will not be disappointed, l promise. - Tristan.
MODERN TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS.
It's been years since I've shot with a flash (minus the odd first dance shot at a wedding), so for me trying to learn artificial light use all over again it's as if I'm starting photography a fresh. Being a massive fan of natural light for so long and using the light you have available at the time of the shot, it's quite daunting for me trying to learn how to use flash guns for a second time. I used flash briefly when I first started taking photos about 9 years ago. We decided to go to the car park in the sky to give the flash a blast. We really just wanted to experiment with shots in the pitch black and see what we could get. We wanted to get some evenly exposed portraits but at the same time taking long exposures to get the brightness of the city lights beneath us. This location is perfect for it, you can see so much of the city and there is a section of the sky that lights up in a white haze from the lights of Glasgow airport's runway. It was a great walk as it was so dark, all of our other senses kicked in full throttle. I must admit I was pretty nervous whilst walking to the spot and walking back to the truck. Something that's always freaked me out is being outside in the pitch black which doesn't happen often. It's all about pushing yourself though no matter how small the steps. With that in mind I can definitely say next time I will be feeling right at home.
Shooting with flash in different light environments is something that is going to take me a long time to get used to but practice is the only thing for it and it's another thing that I will be progressing this year - especially with the content for NORTH. I'm always looking to learn new techniques and soak up as much as I can so I'm looking forward to trying out different styles and keeping my capabilities growing into 2016 and beyond. - Jawn.
MAHABIS – The ultimate modern day slipper.
Mahabis slippers are stunning! When l first saw these slippers hit the market in 2014 l knew l had to have a pair. I could imagine myself rocking a pair of these with jeans or just roaming about the house keeping my feet warm. As you can see from the pictures I have been wearing them casually hanging out in the locker room and around the rink when l'm not on the ice practicing.
They are comfy and diverse with the option of indoor or outdoor wear due to the detachable sole that comes with them. They come in a variety of colour ways that accommodate your mood or style and means you won't be stuck with getting a pair to match your outfit, whether you're going out or just wearing some sick lounge clothes.
There is definitely a reason why these slippers have been featured in some top magazines, newspapers, and online publications such as The Financial Times, The Guardian, InStyle, WIRED UK, Hype Beast. Mahabis also made an appearance on the 2015 runways of both London Fashion Week and GFW, as covered by Vogue.
The best thing about Mahabis is that they are very unique in their appearance as well as being extremely plush. Most importantly they are affordable with free world wide delivery. - Tristan.
Check out the collection HERE!
PF Flyers x Todd Snyder New York.
PF Flyers are one of my favourite shoe brands. The first time l ever saw these shoes was in one of my favourite childhood movies, The Sandlot.
I always wanted a pair that l could rock anytime, anywhere. l am privileged enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with PF Flyers. For our first shoot I was rocking the ever so stylish Todd Snyder Rambler Hi. Such a classy shoe - well made, durable, sleek & most importantly, comfortable. We took a trip to an abandoned location on the banks of Loch Lomond and broke them in. I recommend checking this brand out, they are amazing! I am looking forward to sharing our next shoot with you using another great shoe from the PF Flyers collection.
Like Tristan, the first time I ever heard about PF Flyers was whilst watching The Sandlot. It was one of those movies that when you seen it you instantly wanted to do what the kids were doing in it, a bit like Mighty Ducks and Three Ninjas. I remember playing baseball (or rounders as we called it here in Scotland) and pretending to be Benny Franklin Rodriguez. It's a movie that I'll always love and it was such an effective product placement as throughout my whole life I've always been aware of PF Flyers due to their involvement in the story.
It's a pleasure shooting content with PF Flyers products as in my opinion they are one of the best brands Stateside. Such classic and to the point design often using luxury materials and an array of colours. There's definitely always something for everyone in their collections. The collaboration with Todd Snyder takes the brand to another level, adding yet again more choice for fans and collectors alike. The Rambler in nubuck is such a classy looking shoe. Considering they are technically sneakers they don't look out of place with a suit or any smart outfit. I am fortunate enough to have the blue suede PF Flyers x Todd Snyder Hi's which I shot a while back for forgetfashion.com and featured on Hype Beast & High Snobiety. I can't wait to shoot the next shoe and share with you all. It's definitely a classic..
The shoot I done in Balquhidder with Jawn, after our first ever test shoot in downtown Glasgow, was very enjoyable. It was still very fresh in our growing friendship with one another & turned out being one of the most fun shoots l have ever done.
Nothing beats being out in the open Scottish fresh air working & shooting with some amazing brands. It also gave us the opportunity to chat with one another, bounce ideas back & fourth and as you can see, one of them being the start of this blog, North.
Our plan at the time & still is, is to travel throughout Scotland, take amazing pictures of our beautiful landscapes and show the world how truly gorgeous Scotland is. Doing this whilst shooting some amazing products from brands that we want to work with, which we think will fit in with the whole concept of our blog NORTH.
18th January 2015 - We travelled to the top of the Braes of Balquhidder. On the way to the base of the braes, along the snowy path, we started shooting some images. This was a shoot we had planned for a long long time. We had first met shooting a model test together in August 2014. We had pretty much kept in touch since then and we were planning this shoot. I contacted a few brands to see if they would lend us some clothes to shoot whilst out in the snow. We shot images with clothing provided by Trespass, Fernweh and Outsiders Apparel. The white snow landscapes were perfect for the style of shoot we wanted and the light was unbelievable, like being surrounded by a constant, cold reflector.
We discussed working on some more things together in the then near future and I think we both knew it would eventually progress into something like we are doing now with North. I've been looking through an old hard drive this week, the one that has the photos from this day on it, so I will be posting some candid shots from the day and some landscapes into the photo sets section of the site in two parts.
Gordon St. Coffee.
Gordon St. Coffee, it is 100% definitely with a doubt my favourite coffee shop in Glasgow and possibly anywhere. I cannot express how much I love the place. I'll start with Gordon St. Coffee in their own words -
I could leave it at that as it is pretty self explanatory.. but I won't. I can't. I cannot express how much I love this place. From the small things like their font, their familiar green coloured branding (forgive me if it's more blue, I'm almost certain I am not colour blind), their in house decor to the big game changing features like their stall underneath the Glasgow Central Station clock and their own in-house coffee roasting, particularly their delicious Glasgow blend.
I first visited GSC last Summer whilst shooting some behind the scenes images for my friend Stew Bryden. At the time he was renting an office space just at the other side of Glasgow Central Station and it very quickly became a regular meeting point for us, spending hours chatting and planning whilst drinking the great coffee. I instantly fell in love with the Glasgow blend and haven't looked back since. It has a very distinct taste and strong taste in my opinion and it by far miles better than most big chain coffee shops. Nothing against big chain names if that's what you like, but the taste compliments the whole vibe of the business perfectly. It's the kind of place that when you go, you feel like your part of something. As if you're part of a secret, even though they probably receives thousands of orders daily.
On top of serving awesome coffee they also serve a vast array of food from hot filled morning rolls to beautifully made pastries and cakes. The food is another point that makes it stand out, sourcing all of their food products from local suppliers. As mentioned in their statement their 12 hour cooked brisket is a must, of course if you are a meat eater. If not there are a variety of veggie options.
Like most other coffee chains, they have their own points card where you get a free coffee after you buy 6, which again is a great feature. Not that you need that to persuade you to go back because the coffee speaks for itself. I cannot urge everyone enough to try the Glasgow blend and any of their other in house roasts. Of course this is all personal opinion, but I ask that you all try it and see what you think, Gordon St. Coffee definitely is and for as long as it shall live, my favourite coffee shop. Go download their app and get your first coffee FREE! Enjoy and be sure to let the staff and ourselves know what you think! - Jawn
We were very excited to receive the brand new Dior fragrance, Sauvage, a month prior to worldwide release. Dior fragrances have always been one of the best in the business and Sauvage was no exception. We knew we had to shoot something cool for this. It was the first time we had shot anything that wasn’t involving an item of clothing so we thought of a few approaches.
We knew we had to get some cool product shots and portraits but we also wanted to incorporate the two, having close up portraits featuring close ups of the bottle. We shot the images on top of a Glasgow building roof with the sun high in the sky and the puddles on the ground. A very typical contrasting Scottish day.
For the shoot we got our hands on a pair of replica sunglasses designed to look identical to Johnny Depp’s blue tinted pair. They were to be used in store for sales assistants to wear the week the fragrance hit the shelves. Just one of the amazing details of the campaign. The campaign also featured a photo shoot and commercial shoot written by Depp. It is definitely one hell of a monster, as you would expect with these two huge names colliding.
We kept the shoot simple and all imagery black and white to keep an almost gritty and sexy style. This was the second shoot we ever done to feature on the blog and we’re very happy the time is finally here to share the photo set.