Several years ago at Wimbledon Car Boot sale I picked up a box of old lead soldiers and farm animals. Dating to the early twentieth century they were a shabby bunch with chipped paintwork, missing limbs and in some cases heads! They had been well loved and this made them all the more magical.

I fell for this sorry collection, but what was I going to do with a box of battered toys? This was my first Christmas in London so I tied them up with ribbons and used them to decorate a small Christmas tree. I think I can safely boast that nobody else in Wimbledon had a tree like mine!

Soon after, these little creatures got another outing when I used them in my first bow tie photo shoot. They were the perfect accompaniment to my playful prints and colours imbuing the collection with a sense of fun and innocence appropriate to bow ties, a spirit I endeavour to maintain with every subsequent collection of accessories.

The shoot took place in my postage stamp sized garden. I lay a vintage map on the garden table as a backdrop and as soon as I had everything looking just as I wanted a gust of wind would blow lift the map and throw the display asunder!

The whole box would have cost no more than £5 and I’m sure they have given me just as much pleasure as they gave their original owner all those years ago. Perhaps its time to revisit this army, which has now set up camp under my kitchen sink, after all my silk pocket squares would make rather splendid tents for soldiers on campaign!

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