Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Constant (Guerrilla) Gardener

I've never watched the movie, and I've never read the book, which I'm ashamed to say as John le CarrĂ© is my favourite author.  With Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy out in the cinema soon, I've decided to get back to reading le CarrĂ©, starting with his book on gardening, or constant gardening as he calls it.

I have of course read Thinker, Tailor which it's an excellent book and one I'd highly recommend.  It's the first book in the quest for Karla trilogy, which everybody should read.  Although I haven't actually finished it yet.

So, why "Guerrilla" in the title?  Well, I did a bit of Guerrilla gardening the other day.  I even gained an admirer along the way.  A local woman, Italian I think, who said she wishes there were more people like me around.   Which was nice.

Anyway, we have this car park next to us, which has a large patch of muck running up the side of it, so that's it's new home, in the mucky patch.  Hopefully it finds happiness there.  

Apart from gardening, I been laying off the cigars a bit.  The Sancho Panza last Saturday week was a fine cigar and was enough to keep me going for a while, so instead of smoking, I went for a new travel humidor for the trip home to Ireland.  C.Gars Ltd threw in a digital hygrometer for free, which tells me that the temperature and humidity in my humidor is pretty much perfect.  

I did have a Serie D No. 4 with Mr. James Bloor and his cousin (really his Nephew) and his cousins mate (really his Nephews mate) on Monday.  Myself and Jim met up to visit a new brewery but they'd run out of anything good so we left after one.  Check it out if you're in the London Fields area as it's probably worth a visit.  London Fields Brewery

We make the trip home to Ireland in a few days time so I'm hoping for lots of opportunities to enjoy some great cigars, and maybe pick up a few new ones too.  So, while I'm away, here's a Guerrilla Gardening website to keep you going - Gardening.

Guerrilla Tree

Inside the new Travel Humidor

Outside the new Travel Humidor

Outside the new Brewery

Partagas Serie D No.4 with Jim

Monday, 22 August 2011

Sancho Panza

That's the cigar, not the fat bloke.

It was Wednesday when they arrived.  Cigars I'd been eyeing up for a while but I never actually thought I'd get.

I opened the box and was immediately hit by the smell.  These things definitely had a smell.  A nice smell, not unlike mildly smelly cheese.  I like smelly cheese and I liked my new smelly cigars.

These were aged cigars, bought from C.Gars Ltd, who, by the way, don't add a penny onto cost for aging them, even though they're from 1998 and there must be some cost associated with that.  Anyway, I'm not complaining.

I was seriously looking forward to getting one going but I was babysitting on Wednesday so it'd have to be Thursday.  The rain didn't stop coming down all day Thursday, so I had to wait till Friday.

The weather on Friday was perfect,  so I took one to the garden and set a flame to it.  To say I was expecting something special is a bit of an understatement.  To say I was blown away by this cigar is another one.  Absolutely beautiful.  Perfect even.

As the smell was a bit on the strong side, I was expecting the cigar to be heavy but it wasn't. It was fairly medium but full of flavour with lots of smoke and very satisfying.  Big too, 7" long with a 47 ring guage, these were Sancho Panza' Coronas Gigantes.  The name says it all really.

This cigar lasted just over 2 hours so having one certainly needs planning.  I'll be planning one again very soon with any luck.  The construction was flawless, very little veining and pleasing on the eye.  Basically this cigar was as close to perfection as any cigar I've smoked yet.  At around the same price as a good Cuban Robusto, I think it's great value for money

That's about it for now.  I might get one more post done before we head back to Ireland in a couple of weeks time but I'll be keeping the head down until then.  Once back on Irish soil, some serious cigar smoking will be had.

I smoked you

I'm gonna smoke all of you

There's Sancho

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sponsored by Partagas

We had the Larkin's over to stay with us last weekend.  We always end up having a great time with the Larkins, but tend to suffer for it the morning after, or I do at least.

We all met up at London Zoo for a day out on Saturday.  Their eldest had been shipped off to his Grandparents in Tulsa, but they kept the youngest with them, who's only a month younger than ours, so this set things up nicely for a fun day out with the kids, followed by us stuffing ourselves with lots food and drink.

After much fun and laughter at the zoo, we got back to the house and I got 20 or so prawns out of the freezer for later.  I'm not sure if they were expecting it, but a healthy meal was on the way.

While we waited for the prawns to defrost, we got the champagne and beers flowing.  Ryan and Carine brought the champers, wine and some Guinness.  There was also an American pale ale by Sierra Nevada.  I had a some St. Peters Best Bitter chilling in the fridge so we had a few of those, followed by the Sierra Nevada and then some Guinness.  Followed by some more St. Peters.  We left the champagne and vino to the ladies, as we're nice like that.

All things considered, we somehow managed to serve dinner at a reasonably time - prawn and crab with artichoke and avocado salad.  Dessert was a Cadbury Wispa.  How was I supposed to know there was ice cream in the fridge?

My first cigar of the night was a Partagas Serie P No. 2, which was the last remaining Serie P from the Luxembourg trip and one I was going to keep, but as they say, smoke 'em if you got 'em.

The Serie P came out of it's tube with a little mould over it, which slowed me down by about 3 seconds before I torched it.  The cigar was lovely to smoke, lasting well over an hour.  The evening was warm, the beer cold and the cigar a winner.  Doesn't get much better than that.

I followed the Serie P with another Partagas, this time it was one of the Culebra which was also picked up in Lux.  I've got 4 of these lovely cigars left, 3 of which I'm saving for the trip home to Ireland next month.  The plan is to share the box with the two amigos, hopefully without injuries if possible.

I also had a couple of Partagas cigars on Friday evening.  This time I started off with a Serie D No. 4 that was only delivered to me last week.  A box of 10 all the way from Switzerland.  I really should leave these alone to rest but the looked so delicious, I had to have one.  After the Serie D, I had another Culebra.  Yum.  I also had a few ice cold beers.  Double yum.

That was the weekend.  Pretty good.  Next up is a delivery of something very special, or at least they should be. 

I'd like to finish off by saying that I am not sponsored by Partagas.  I am however available for sponsorship should Partagas feel the need.

8 left
4 left

Monday, 8 August 2011

A small slip of the Tongue

One small slip is all it took.  One minute I'm doing well, I'm talking, I'm making sense (I think), I'm holding the room, providing valuable information and ideas, good information, good ideas, people are listening.

Then, in the blinking of an eye, I'm a idiot.  One word is all it took.  One single word. 

The word my brain chose to share with the rest of the room was breast.

Why breast?

Well, my brain decided to combine the two words I was going to say, into one word, probably to save time or something.  I was planning on saying "best practice" but I came out with "breast" instead.

Anyway, before the madness of today kicked in, I did enjoy some great cigars, starting off on Friday night with a favourite, a Oliva Serie V Double Robusto.  A great cigar that has never let me down, unlike my choice of words.

I just started on a Partagas Serie P when I got a call from Rob who was in a nearby pub.  Rob suggested I join him for a quick snifter.  I did and several quick snifters later, I was tucked up in bed while Rob was sitting at the wrong train station waiting for his heavily pregnant wife to pick him up.  Good lad Rob.

See, some things are worse than an inappropriate word.

After golf with Rob early on Saturday morning, I was looking forward to some more cigars (to celebrate the win).

Smoke number one was a Sancho Panza.  A new Cuban for me I think.  A fine looking cigar, long and lean with a lovely shinny light brown wrapper.  Pre-light draw was a bit tight which was a sign of things to come.  The cigar was nice but very tight all the way through.  It was hard work if I'm honest and disappointing.

A Bolivar followed the Sancho Panza.  Now this cigar was what I was hoping for, with a great draw and ample smoke.  Great flavours and a terrific burn all the way to the nub.  I like Bolivars.  Not as pretty as the San Pan but for me, a much more enjoyable smoke.

We also had fairy cakes baked up by the wife, dipped in jam and rolled in coconut.  Lovely.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Prawn to be Wild III

After I made it home from a great morning and afternoon out with Jim, I cooked up some of the morning catch, after which I lit up a Partagas Culebra.  Once again, this cigar was excellent.  I've now had one box since getting back from Luxembourg which leaves 2 boxes still in the humidor.  Plenty.  They really are one of the best and easy going cigars  I've come across, and they look brilliant.

I actually started off last weekend with a new cigar on the Friday evening, a Winston Churchill Lancaster by Davidoff.  I was expecting something good here, because of the name, a fine name, but it wasn't good, it was terrible.  I dumped it before even reaching the half way point, it was that bad.  Maybe the remaining ones will age well.  I hope so, because they're about to spend a long time in the humidor.

Matt and Rocket dropped by Friday evening.  Both fine chaps who hail from this neck of the woods.  Matt lives over in America these days, San Francisco in fact.  A great place which we hope to get back to one day, although next time, I'll be hunting down some cigar shops as well as imbibing lots of lovely Californian wine. 

Hackey Wick Artists
After lunch, we made out way to the annual Hackney Wick art festival.  One of our friends has a studio over there where she designs and makes clothes.  Here's the link to Ashling's website, so be sure to check it out.

While we were there, I had a Partagas Serie D No. 4.  The Serie D was a perfect cigar for the chilled out atmosphere of the art festival. 

Surprisingly Empty
We picked up some beigels on Brick Lane on the way home, which topped off long and eventful day.  I recommend the salt beef with ketchup.

I'm already putting a plan together for the next  magnificent 7 cemetery day, which for one, will most definitely not be starting at stupid o'clock in the morning.

Until next time.

Wren Church Master Jim


Monday, 1 August 2011

Prawn to be Wild II

The footpaths leading you around Abney park, take you past the Victorian and war era graves that dominate the place.  There are a few more recent graves to be seen, with some bright plastic flowers standing out amongst the greenery.

The landmarks are a derelict central chapel, a cross of sacrifice and a statue of Dr. Isaac Watts.  Nature has taken hold but most of the epitaph engravings are visible and easily read.  The walk around is very pleasant, with a few dog walkers and homeless people here and there.  It's a thought provoking and poignant walk, the antithesis of Billingsgate.  It seemed to contain a lot of young people (the ground that is), but I suppose times were different back then.  Some are memorials to war dead, buried in France or where they fell, others list whole generations of families that are now long gone.  One stood out which appeared to belong to a family who all died on the same day.  The date gives a clue as to what probably happened.

Loved by all
Overall, Abney Park was a very nice start to the cemetery trail.  Once we completed the circuit, we left the cemetery at the small side entrance on Stoke Newington Church Street.  I'd never been up this way before and was pleasantly surprised by how nice the place is, and by the number of coffee shops.  Lots of coffee shops, everywhere, but not a Starbucks in sight.  Cake shops too.  The cake shops sell coffee.

It was still only 9:20am when we left Abney Park and we'd been up since 5.  I got a text alert from work at 2:30am, and then the baby woke up at 3am until 4am, so I was pretty knackered by the time I met Jim.  Jim didn't sleep either, probably too excited.

Next up was a pint and a cigar.  I had a Ramon Allones Gigantes Double corona, one I've been looking forward to since picking it up in Luxembourg.  James had a Santa Damiana cigar Panatella.

Unfortunately though, a suitable smoking venue (i.e. a pub) was not going to be available until midday.  So we had a coffee.  I had a Danish. Then we had a walk.  Then we had a sit down.  Then we had another walk.  Then I met my next door neighbour.  Then we walked some more.  Then at 11am, we tried a Irish bar called the Auld Shillelagh, which had just opened so in we went.

The pub had a decent beer garden out back so we decided to stay there for the cigars.  The sun was getting hot and the beer was lovely.  Probably the best pint of Guinness I've had outside of Dublin.  To be honest, this is as good as any pint I've had anywhere in Ireland.

The cigar was a triumph.  Great value at €14 and everything about it was perfect.  Even Jim commented that it smelled lovely.  It only needed a cut and re-light once and I went right down to the nub of the nub.  More of these will be bought the next time we visit the Doyle's in Luxembourg (if they'll have us).  The construction was flawless, the burn near perfect and the smoke deeply satisfying.  10/10.

I hoped this cigar would never end, but end it did.  We left the pub and got as far as the High street where we had one more for the road.

I took the bus home feeling a little bit worse for wear but in good spirits.

Abney Park is a great place to spend a few hours and worth a revisit some day.  It sets things up nicely for the next cemetery on the magnificent seven trail.  I'll need to have a good cigar for each one, a cigar that gives a fitting tribute to those gone before us.

I'll finish off the day next time because it didn't end there.  Not by a long chalk.

Celtic Cross
A nice window