Sunday, 25 September 2011

Grand Theft Auto

Not the video game, or the musical for that matter.  I'm talking Grand Theft Auto, the crime.

This is the all-too-common tale of a young boy who walked the fine line between good, and the not so good.  This boy knew no bounds.  His bedtime was 9:30pm, but sometimes he stayed up till way past 10.

They say he fell in with the wrong crowd.  He went into creche a baby but came out a toddler.  He knew all the tricks.

Those of us that were there that day will never forget what we saw.

Nobody saw it coming.  These things just don't happen around here.  They only happen in the movies.  Nothing could have prepared us for what happened next.

The boy turned around, clutching 3 small cars to his chest.  He walked slowly, purposefully to the kitchen door.  He waited.  He shot me a sidewards glance and I knew what I had to do.  I went over and opened the kitchen door.  He walked out.  He didn't look back as he made his way to the front door.  He stopped.  I followed.  I opened the door, and he made good his escape.

The innocent owners of the cars never knew a thing.

Their Mammy witnessed everything, but said nothing.  Too afraid to talk.

This was not a motiveless crime however.  The car's owners were asked to share some of the dozens of cars in their possession.  They refused.  They paid the price.

To celebrate my Son's criminal coming of age, I decided to contemplate his actions, by enjoying a Grafton Reserve Robusto followed by Ramon Allones Gigantes.

The GRR is only available to the Irish market, so they say, and who am I to doubt this claim.

I've had a few GRR's on previous visits and they were always nice, but this was my first GRR robusto.  The others were smaller but I was expecting more of the same.

The cigar started off well, with a strong chocolate flavour, a bit like hot chocolate.  This stayed for the first quarter and then things got a bit plain after that.  Not bad but nothing special.  The last third became very harsh and basically unsmokable, so I had to let this one go early.

The RAG was great.  These are priced at €14 in Luxembourg and don't seem to be available  in the UK.  It's a fine cigar and went well with two bottles of St. Peters Best Bitter.

After much contemplation, I forgave the car thief his crimes, on the condition he doesn't move on to Grand Theft Cigars. 

I don't know where he gets it from, but I blame his mother.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Ireland - Part 3

Did I mention this was a trilogy?

Well, it is, but with no theme or connecting storyline.  Apart from Ireland that is, and cigars obviously.

While we were in Galway, the weather was dictating play, so we couldn't do much outdoorsy stuff and had to settle for indoorsy stuff instead.

The inside jobs we went for were a trip to the Pictures, as we used to call it, and a visit to the aquarium. Atlantaquaria in fact, as seen in the recent block buster movie "The Guard", starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

I'll start of with the movie.  It's good.  It's not brilliant but I spoke to a guy in work, who happens to be English and he said it was brilliant, so what do I know.

Galway is on display throughout the movie, with Salthill, Spiddal and Barna (got married there) getting some great exposure.

The aquarium gets a good showing too and that's where we chose to bring the boy to see the fishes.

Atlantaquaria is situated in Salthill and is certainly one of the best I've been to.  Not the biggest by far but you can actually touch the fish here, yes, you can touch, if you like, the rays as they swim past.  There's very little stopping you from grabbing one and frying it up for lunch, but I'd imagine they might frown upon that sort of thing.  It certainly didn't cross my mind at the time for a good 10 minutes.

They've also claim to have "the only White Skate on public display in the world".  In case you were wondering, the skates name is Valentine

Now back to the cigars. 

I'm showing what's left of the Dublin haul and the lovely Ramon Allones box presented to me by John.  The haul included 2 big Partagas smokables, a gorgeous looking Macanudo Maduro, the Mexicans (1 pictured), a specially made un-banded beauty that might not last past next weekend, and a couple of other tasty looking things.  The box speaks for itself.

We won't be back in Ireland until Christmas but for the 1st time in 10 years, we'll be in Ireland for New years, so that deserves a very special cigar in itself.  I already know what its going to be.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ireland - Part 2

I normally only have good things to say about Ireland, and as I was born there, I reckon I'm allowed to say what I like, even if I haven't lived there in 10 years.

I'm not about to say anything nasty about the place.  That wouldn't do anybody any good.  Ireland needs it's tourism, so I wouldn't want to inflict more damage on the Irish economy by scaring people away.

I won't mention anything that has already been covered by the worldwide media.  I won't mention the rip off prices (20% higher than the European average).  The politician, priests, banks or builders.  None of these will get a word.

No, what got me going over the last two weeks, were the complete and utter lunatics speeding around the place trying to kill each other.  Visitors be warned, driving on Irish roads is not for the faint hearted.

Now, I've been to China, where the driving was terrifying at best, so I know bad driving.

Ireland may not be as bad as that, but for a country that has driving standards and tests enforced by a mysterious body called the "Road Safety Authority" and supposedly complies with what's known as the "EU Directive on Driving Licences", the frequency of dumbassery I witnessed on the roads was just as scary as a seat belt-less taxi ride in The Peoples Republic.

Don't let that put you of visiting China either.  I loved it there and would recommend it to everybody.

Anyway, to combat the anger I was feeling towards these people (the Irish, not the Chinese), I've smoked a few cigars in order to cool my jets a little.

I've enjoyed three of the aged Sancho Panza', which were all excellent. The first one was a bit tight but still a great smoke and the second was perfect.   The last one was had the wrapper damaged as I removed the "1998" band, but other than holding it in place so it wouldn't unravel, the cigar was lovely.

I nearly always smoke a cigar with the bands on and removed them when I get close, so as not to damage them but I forgot this time and paid the price.  Oh well, lesson learned.

I got through a couple of Serie D No. 4's and also a cigar I picked up in Dublin, which was Honduran made. This one was alright but I got a few complaints about the smell so I'll put that down as a fail.

Another new cigar I tried was the Macanudo 1968 Titan which is a short stubby cigar, 4" x 50 but a powerful little smoke despite its size. It looks great and lasted longer than I thought it would, so this one gets the thumbs up.

I also smoked one of the Ramon Allones Gigantes that John brought over from Luxembourg.  This is now one of my favourite cigars. It's a long slow burner, with a perfect draw and burn.  No complaints and thanks again to John for bringing them all the way from Luxembourg and not charging commission.  These 10 cigars arrived in the original box, which was an added bonus.  Nice one John.

Two weeks in Ireland is never enough but we did manage to pick up a few things along the way.  I bagged myself some excellent cigars and I finished 1st place in my Dad's golf society's Presidents day competition.  Oh, did I not mention that...?

The baby bagged himself around 50 new toy cars, some of which were stolen from his cousins, so not a bad weeks haul for him either.

RA Gigantes in the car
Sancho P in the pub
RA Gigantes in the Brothers

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ireland - Part 1

We're back in Emerald Isle a week now, having left Dublin for the grey, wet and windy wilds of Galway.

Galway is a beautiful spot but bleak in bad weather, and the forecast is not good, with ex-hurricane Katia (not hurricane Irene btw) hitting our shores over the next few days.  So we're basically stuck indoors for the duration.

No golf.

I can't complain though as we've had a great week so far.  Apart from family, we met up for a few pints with Sarah from work, who was in Dublin last weekend with her lovely wife Sam.  We also met up with Rolo and Kaz (twice) and the Doyle's flew over especially from Luxembourg to be with us last night.  They mentioned something about a wedding but that was just an excuse.

We also went to a wedding, which was one of the best weddings ever, set in a beautiful castle in County Laois. 

The wedding of James Murphy and Natalie Boyall was held at Castle Durrow.  The cigar I chose to celebrate the day was one of the aged Sancho Panzas that I picked up recently.  A perfect cigar enjoyed after dinner with a cold pint of Guinness, or four.

This was honestly one of the best weddings we've ever been to, and I'm not just saying that because James said he was "loving the Cigar Stories".  Everything about the day was excellent, even the weather!  The priest was on fire.  The food fantastic.  The bride beautiful.  The location was perfect with everybody in great form and the groom didn't stop crying.  So best of luck to Natalie and James and thanks for a great day out.

A few days before the wedding, we dropped into The Decent Cigar Emporium on Dublin's Grafton Street, where I picked up a few new cigars.  This is a great little shop at the top end of Grafton street and worth a visit.

The staff in the shop are always pleasant and friendly, and look after you as soon as you walk through the door.  A Cuban coffee was offered and gratefully accepted.
Good things aside, they had a box of Partagas Culebras and I nearly choked on my coffee when the guy said the price was €60.  He reacted to my jaw hitting the floor by saying he'd double check the price, coming back with a revised offer of €45. 

That's €45 for something we picked up in Luxembourg for just €16. 

Anyway, it's a great shop with some great cigars and enthusiastic staff.

I managed to accumulate more cigars when Doyle arrived over with 10 Ramon Allones Gigantes and then my Brother in law, Colm, dropped over 3 Mexican cigars, which look decent enough, so after a few months rest in the humidor, I'll give one of those a go.   Many thanks.

Next up is Presidents day with my Dad's golf society.  I'm driving down from Galway to Royal Tara with the Father in law for 18 holes followed by a slap up meal.  I'm hoping to get a cigar in after the meal but secretly hoping to take away the visitors prize.  Fingers crossed for both.

The Castle

The Collection

Cigar Store Native American

Friday, 2 September 2011

All Packed up and Ready to go

Why am I awake?  I should be fast asleep.  I can only assume that I'm just too excited.  After all, there is a lot to be excited about.

We're heading back to Ireland soon, in a couple of hours in fact, which means a 5 to 6 hour drive, which I love, followed by a 2 hour ferry crossing, which I could take or leave if I'm honest, after which we hit Dublin, which I also love.

Then there's the best thing about going home, which is obviously family and friends.  The Grandparents get to spend quality time with their Grandson, and we do our best to leave them to it by getting out of there at every opportunity and the slightest drop of a hat.  It's the least we can do.

There are cigar evenings with the two Amigos in the line up and I'm sure there will be a few cigar evenings at the Brothers house too.  The travel humidor has 10 quality sticks that have already taken their place, some of which will soon be making way for other quality sticks.

I'm taking two and a half dozen bottles of St. Peters Brewery Best Bitter with me and we have some new music CD's to keep us going for the trip.  It's going to be Arcade Fire and The National all the way.

Another exciting event to look forward to is our holiday in the sun this October, but more excitingly, we've been invited back to the Doyle's, even though John was nearly killed last time.  I'm sure he's already plotted his revenge. 

So sun and sand late October followed by Johns 40th Birthday party early December, then its Christmas.  Sure what more could you want.  It's the wife's 40th Birthday in December too.  Then a day a half later, it's my turn to hit the big Four O.  Not majorly excited about that one though.

I'm am wondering what to do regarding cigars for the sun holiday.  Should I get some in beforehand, yes probably, or should I just stock up at Duty free on the way out?  Both I think, just in case duty free is shut or something.  At least if I stock up a bit, I know I'm guaranteed quality.  The last thing I'd want is to have a week in Paradise ruined by some duff cigars.

Airport cigar shopping can be a risky business.  I don't imagine any problems with the top airports but standards can be lacking and as you generally don't have an opportunity to bring stuff back, the cigar shopper needs to be wary.

Two hours sleep is all I got last night, or tonight even.  It's after getting hot again over the past couple of days and the heat is not agreeing with me.  That said, I am sitting here in jeans and a tee-shirt, drinking coffee with a hot laptop on my lap, which isn't exactly cooling me down.  Maybe I try to get some sleep but my thoughts are now wandering up the road to the 24 hour beigel shop...hmm...salt beef beigel...

Anyway, here's a weird photo of me from the last trip to Dublin.  I forgot about the beard. 

Mr. Mc Anudos