The utterly inessential shopping list: The illustrious party sporran, a penny farthing for your thoughts and two liquors for the price of fun

Forget about the big things. You can keep the necessities. Don't tell us about the must-haves. Alexandra Fraser takes a look at a few little luxuries which, in a world too full of strife and woe, will help ease your way through life with a smile on your face.

In honour of our annual Gentleman’s Life special’s release this past Wednesday, I’ve compiled a list of utterly (in)essential items that one does absolutely not require to be a gentleman, but would go a good way to help someone fake it.

Can you even Cèilidh?

Monty Lewis Party Sporran

Get ready for terrific tartans, full dance cards and a couple of elbows to the ribs: the reeling parties are back. If there’s one thing that sets a gentleman apart from his plebeian counterparts, it’s the humble sporran which sits around his waist, perfect for holding keys, the odd bottle opener and his girlfriend’s phone that she’ll probably ask him for every ten minutes even though he could swear she brought her own bag, didn’t she?

Monty Lewis Party Sporran

But tradition doesn’t have to be drab. Monty Lewis’ new line of party sporrans is perfect for the festive season and the Llyr of The Mere is sure to stun with its hand-cut shell and gold leaf edging – the splash of red leather at the back really screams ‘I know my way around a Dashing White Sergeant’.

Monty Lewis’ party sporrans range in price from £1,750 to £2,800 with the Llyr of the Mere at £2,700, find them at

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Penny for your thoughts?

MiniFarthing Balance bikes

These days, kids have it too easy. Short school days, long holidays and gadgets that would make my pink-flip-phone-toting 14 year old self pea-green with envy, so why not give them a little bit of a challenge?

MiniFarthing Balance bikes

Richards of England have produced a MiniFarthing Balance bike, designed to help your budding young cyclist learn how to ride in true vintage style. With their feet planted firmly on the floor, the MiniFarthing is a safer version of its grownup counterpart which Richards warns on their website are “not for the faint hearted”…but if you’re a dare devil (you cheeky chap) then why not give the big one a go, too?

Buy the MiniFarthing for £299 from

I say Harry Potter, you say Edna Mode 

Black and Gunmetal reading glasses by Fassamano

Everyone’s had that moment when they look at their reading classes and say “these are great, but I wish they had no arms, I could hang them around my neck and they were made of cellulose acetate, nickel silver and waxed cotton.”

I’m going to be honest, I’m a massive fan. I don’t even wear glasses and I can see myself peering at a cocktail menu in a hipster London bar for a good ten minutes, gearing myself up to say the words ‘pornstar martini’ to a perfect stranger.

Black and Gunmetal reading glasses by Fassamano for £130, shop on

The Optimus Prime of the accessories industry 

Monty Lewis Tethera

I see you, sitting in your office in the Big City, dreaming of that weekend last month you spent at home in deepest darkest Berkshire with the parents, the dogs and that unfortunate run-in with your ex in the local Waitrose. You want to go back – you know that you can catch the 17:22 from Paddington and be home before dinner hits the table at precisely 18:30, but you’re worried that the boys down at the pub will make fun of your briefcase. Again.

Monty Lewis Tethera

What you need (what we all need, really) is the Tethera. A satchel, backpack and cycle bag all in one, this bag can be transformed into whatever receptacle you desire for any given occasion. So popular is the Tethera that Monty is making a new batch after the last sold out, ready in early December.

Monty Lewis Tethera for £395, pre-order yours now at

Guest Writer: An actual, real life Country Life gentleman – Mr James Fisher

In all things alcohol (besides gin. I know my gin), I defer to my better-palated colleague and his wealth of whisky knowledge.

Aerstone’s Land Cask Whisky

I was a fan of David Beckham’s whisky, Haig Club, before I’d even tasted it. So much so, in fact, that I brought the father of a friend a bottle when I went to stay one weekend. I presented it to him, wide with pride, and was somewhat devastated to see his eyes narrow. ‘More of a Glenlivet man myself. Let’s see if this boy Beckham knows as much about distilling as he does about free kicks’, came the reply. A quick swirl around the jowels soon softened his complexion. ‘It’s quite good, actually’ he remarked. I stopped crying. ‘r-really?’ ‘Yes, now come and have some supper’.

Whether it comes to whisky, or David Beckham, never judge a book by its cover.

Aerstone’s Land Cask Whisky

Aerstone, another whisky that is more modern than its name sounds, deserves similar treatment. Its hook is that its an ‘Everyday Single Malt’. The concept of an ‘Everyday Single Malt’ sounds about as realistic as ‘everyday beluga caviar’, but I see what they’re trying to do: Better whisky, without the pomp and circumstance. It comes in two ‘flavour expressions’ (I swear copywriters are just spinning a wheel on a board these days): Sea Cask and Land Cask. The Sea is not quite as obviously ‘Islay’ as it’s trying to be, but is still a more than respectable drink. The Land, on the other hand, is superb, and easily holds up against your more middling Fiddichs and Livets. It’s the kind of whisky that grows your eyebrows, and makes you long for shot stags and leaping salmon, even when drinking it in your flat above the local chippy. And, at £30 a pop, it’s affordable(ish). It’s a tough market to crack, the Scottish single malt, but this is a valiant effort.

Aerstone’s Land Cask Whisky for £30, find out more at

If you’re going to invest in socks, let them be Cashmere

Johnstons of Elgin Cable Pure Cashmere Bed Socks

If you know what 100% 4 ply Cashmere is, your feet run chilly in the evenings and you’re still deciding what to do with your Christmas bonus, you need these Johnstons of Elgin bed socks. Trust me.

Buy Johnstons of Elgin Cable Pure Cashmere Bed Socks for £59 from

This week’s compulsory touch of Christmas spirit

Foxdenton’s Christmas Liqueur

This summer I was overstaying my welcome at a friend’s house after a few of us had embarked on a weekend (not too far) away in Kingston. After my traditional Sunday nap during which I unfortunately missed out on the opportunity to clean the house, I made my way downstairs to find a good friend and our gracious host digging through the liquor cabinet to salvage that which remained unconsumed from the night before. I was greeted with the words: “Well, there’s always the Christmas gin”.

I have to admit it, on that day my preference would have been for a crisp Gordons. However, as the weather continued to turn for the worse this week, I found myself reaching for the Foxdenton’s, the Fever Tree and an orange garnish to compensate for our temporarily striking boiler. Tonight I’m going to splash some in the prosecco my flatmate will inevitably bring home once she reads this.

Foxdenton’s Christmas Liqueur for £20, see their website for more delicious cocktail recipes

If you purchased our entire shopping list this week you may have spent £3,633, but a gentleman never spends and tells…