Monday, 23 January 2012


I thought we had a poltergeist in our house.  I was almost calling in the paranormal investigators.  It was that serious.  Highly sensitive infrared cameras with special ghost movement detectors, were this close to being set up in the most active part of the house, the kitchen.

The cat has been going nuts at the back door for months now, and I was thinking the cat was just mad.  But all this time, she was trying to warn me.

Or was she...

So that's how things were for a while.  I got used to the idea of sharing the house with an invisible energy force from another dimension, who had nothing better to do, other than open up cupboard doors and leave them open.  Not just cupboard doors, but other doors too, like the microwave door, or sometimes the fridge.

Turns out, it was the wife all along.

The game was up when she left the oven door open, which I then tripped over as I turned around to use the sink.  Luckily the training took over and in mid fall, I turned the trip into a jump and landed on the other side of the oven door, with only a serious injury to my shin to show for it.

After a few choice words, we discussed the issue and agreed that leaving doors open was something that runs in her family, like being great at all sports runs in mine.

I didn't have a cigar to celebrate but I did have one earlier in the day, selecting one of the Macanudo 1968 Robusto that Rolo and Kaz gave me for my birthday.

I love the feel of this cigar, with it's silky dark wrapper and solid(ish) construction.  It didn't have a consistent feel from top to bottom, and for want of a better description, it had some hard bits and some soft bits.

The cigar lit up without any fuss and I got around two thirds through before things got a bit harsh.  It may need to be smoked a bit slower than I like to smoke, as it heated up a little, but it was good while it lasted.  The harshness got a bit unpleasant so I let it go with about a third still left.  Shame but hopefully they'll be good come summertime.

So, I know now that ghosts do not exist, nor do ghouls, vampires or goblins.  Except for the underpants fairy, she's real alright.


Thursday, 19 January 2012


The Saturday after our return from Eire was my first cigar day in over a week.  I probably overdid it a bit in Ireland so a week on the wagon, so to speak, was badly needed.  Not only did I take a rest from cigars, but also beer and food.  Not all food obviously, but big dinner food like stuffing, roast potatoes, beef, gravy and trimmings, sausages, pudding and rashers.  It was back to the salads and fruit, lemon tea and porridge.

So after a week of healthy living, I was looking forward to Saturday, which from this day forth shall be known as Cigar Saturday or Cigaturday for short.

Call me old fashioned, or just old if you like, but a cigar before midday is not for me, so before I sat down to enjoy one, I took a trip to Borough market to get some ostrich burgers and garlic.  The burgers for eating and the garlic for planting.  Pick the biggest garlic bulbs I could find and then plant the largest cloves and grow, fingers crossed.  My advice is never bother with supermarket garlic, only buy from a garden center or do what I did, buy from a local farmers market.

I got the ostrich and garlic and also ended up with a bag of enormously long red peppers and some kangaroo burgers.  A quick skip to a nearby garden centre for some compost and I was ready to get home and start planting.

There was a major clean up of last years tomato plants to be done first.  These were actually still giving off fruit, so I pick a few off and then cleaned out all the troughs, ready for new soil and the garlic cloves.

There's nothing like a bit of gardening to build up a thirst so when all the planting was done, I got busy with some St. Peters best bitter and a Romeo y Julieta No. 2.  The Romeo is certainly not a new cigar to me and although one of my favourites, I find it a bit on the small side for my liking these days, at around 30 minutes.

A good start but I was itching for something a bit fuller and so a few hours later, I had another cigar on the go.  This time I went for one of the nice Ramon Allones from Casa del Habano in Luxembourg, but disaster soon struck.  I selected the cigar, cut it and left it on the kitchen counter while I did one or two things beforehand.  In the space of a few seconds, the cigar rolled and took a dive off the side and hit the floor with a slap.  The damage didn't look bad at first but the cigar opened up like a busted zipper once I got about a third through.  Shame but you live and learn.

With one smallish cigar and one half broken cigar gone, I felt there was still one cigar left in me, so later in the evening, I sprang for a Partagas Serie P No.2.  A fine cigar which is certainly not small and as I didn't let this one drop, it went down to the nub and I was done for the day. 

I'd have to say that the first cigar Saturday of 2012 was a moderate success but I'm sure it'll get better with practice.

It's now midweek and I'm wondering what the line up for the upcoming cigar Saturday is going to be.  It was exactly that thought that was going through my head as I settled down in to relax in the bath last night, only for the peace to be shattered by a stark naked two year old (almost) busting the door in shouting "Daddy bath! Daddy bath! Daddy bath!"  So in he jumped and we splashed and splished for the next twenty minutes, and then we spashed and splished some more.  Best fun I've had in years.

The ostrich burgers were great by the way.

The Shard by Borough Market

Cigar and last of the tomatoes (seriously)

R y J No.2

Cigars hate falling

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Happy New Year!

We left the wind and rain behind and drove out east towards the milder climes of Navan, Co. Meath,  to celebrate new years with Jackie, Jim, Aaron and Simon.  Simon is the same age as our little fella so they had a great time playing, pushing and hugging each other. 

I had my happy new year cigar lined up for over six months.  I was saving it for a special occasion but couldn't decide on the occasion.  Not that a special occasion is a requirement for a cigar, but it does seems to be de rigueur when it comes to special cigars.  I was tempted to smoke it in the past, but mostly I took out of the humidor just to smell it.  Sad I know, but I'm sure you can imagine my excitment as I was finally going to smoke it.

Even after the disappointment of the behike 52, this cigar was never in doubt.  Also a Cohiba, but this time a Siglo VI.  A fine big flawless stick that went very well with the Moet & Chandon.  Everything about this cigar was great, the flavours, the burn, the feel, the smoke, the size, the smell.  If I had to pick my favourite cigar of 2011, this would be it, without question.

I'm just glad Gearoid got me a replacement Siglo VI for Christmas, which I'm obviously saving for another special occasion.

Jackie, Jim and Aaron were in the middle of a house move, so many thanks for having us over for a great new years eve.

Jackie did a lovely spread the next morning but all too soon, it was time to wave goodbye and head to Dublin for the next week.

First stop was to my sisters house for a lovely roast beef dinner, but stealing the show, literally, was my little boy, who once again filled his pockets with his cousins toy cars.  Six or more found their way into his possession and any attempt to return them was met with fierce resistance.  We did manage to get some back to their original owners, but not all.  Sorry about that.

The week in Dublin was choc full of cigars.  A Ramon Allones gigantes from Luxembourg, the Montecristo from Galway, a Partagas Petit Corona from Dublin plus some other cigars, were all enjoyed in my brother house, along with a mini barrel of Adnams Christmas ale.  This Monte was a new one for me and even though Montes are growing on me, I'm still not convinced, but I'm happy to report that this particular cigar passed with flying colours.  Many thanks to Cillian for that one, a fantastic pick.

While we were in the city centre, I dropped by James Fox cigar shop opposite Trinity college, and picked up a nice shiny cutters and 3-jet flame lighter, plus a few cigars for myself and Rolo. These were enjoyed  on our last night out in Dublin before we took the ferry back to Wales.

Dublin is full of what I suppose some people would call "characters".  Other people might call them something else.  One chap made himself known one afternoon as I drove my wife, our Son and my Mother into town.  We were stopped in traffic and he was on my inside.  I felt something wasn't right and so had one eye on the lights and the other on this fella who appeared to be edging closer.

Anyway, the question is, what did he do next..?

Did he..

A.  Indicate and slowly maneuver into my lane, with a wave and a smile and a thank you.


B. Get out of the car, leave it rolling with the handbreak off, come around to my side to tell me he had some urgent business at the labour exchange?

I wasn't sure what he was on about, as he drawled in his Dublin inner city heroin addict brogue, but I assumed he needed to turn his car around and go back the way him came.  This assumption was confirmed if somewhat overshadowed by the pressing need to get out of his way, as he jumped back into his car and drove straight at me.  Luckily, probably because of the English reg, the guy behind me left a large gap, which I promptly filled as I reversed to safety.

It wasn't quite over yet, as he blindly nosed into fast oncoming traffic.  Somebody stopped, flashed their lights, and he was gone.  Phew.

Dublin tourism should use the following slogan - " think you've seen it all...well think again".

It was a great two weeks on the mainland and we were sad as always to say goodbye.  

Midway through the week, I drove my Mother to Limerick to see my Aunt Nollaig for the last time.  Nollaig sadly passed away on Sunday.  So I'd like to dedicate this entry to Nollaig and Dan.  Thank you both for the best two weeks summer holidays in every year of my childhood.

Thanks Jackie

Best Cohiba Ever!
Wee Partagas
Ramon Allones Gigantes   

Montecristo from Cillian

Friday, 13 January 2012

Christmas Stogies - Part 2

It wasn't all cigars in the car in Galway.  We did have some evenings down the local pub, with it's semi-cosy smoking area.  There's not much fun in sitting in a semi-cozy or COSA (comfortable outdoor smoking area) as I should call it, on ones own, so keeping me company and joining me for a cigar were Ciaran and Ronan.

Ciaran actually joined me in the car when I had the behike and as he's new to the joys of cigar smoking, I thought I'd start him off on something special and so suggested a Ramon Allones small club corona.  This was another of the cigars the wife got me and even though it's a small cigar, it's a bit of a power house.

Ronan dropped by the back seat and they both shared the corona, which went down better with the two of them than the behike did with me. 

Later on, back at the local, I presented Ciaran with a Partagas culebra, which I think is a great cigar, but he said he enjoyed the Ramon Allones more, so I'll know what to bring next time.

As Ronan is now off traveling the world for the next year, Ciaran has become my apprentice cigar smoking buddy.

As a thank you, Ciaran bought me a fabulous looking tubed MonteCristo, which is another cigar I'll be keeping for a sunny day.

On one of the milder afternoons, when the wind was only hitting 60mph, we took a spin out to Connemara, ending up in a beautiful and dangerously windswept inlet, where the first movie ever filmed entirely in the Irish language was set.

Poitin, starring Niall Toibin and the late Cyril Cusack, was released in 1977, and apparently caused an national outrage when it first aired on Irish television in 1979.  Something to do with national stereotypes, begorrah, tobesure tobesure.

There's a nice plaque to the film stuck in the ground, so I took a picture which I've included below for your viewing pleasure.

If you click on the link of the movie name, you'll be brought to a great little excerpt on YouTube, enjoy.  Poitin 

To celebrate, I had a Partagas Serie P No.2 in the car, followed by a culebra and some Guinness shortly after.  I do like the Serie P but find it needs to rest for a few months in order to hit its best.

Something I forgot to add in Christmas Stogies P1, was a picture of Ashford ginger bread castle.  Although you can't see it from the photo, somebody took a bite out of its ramparts.  I know times are hard in Ireland, but come on, they can't be that bad surely.

That's pretty much it for Galway and Christmas.  Next stop was Navan for new years eve and then a week in Dublin, so lots of cigars still to come.

Thanks to everybody in Galway for looking after us.  We'll see you all again very soon.


The Plaque

Ashfood Castle

Cigar and a Pint in the Ci-Car

My two favourite things