Monday, July 30, 2012

An Original Cigar Cutter

Some people have the most stylish cigar cutters!

If you are a cigar lover you will have your favourite cigar cutter. If you are like me it's one that you have had for ages and which you are terrified of losing.

The London cigar stores are full of wonderful technology to ensure that you cut the cap from your cigar perfectly every time however, some people just have to go that little bit further.

My picture shows Edward Sahakian the owner of the Davidoff Cigar store in London with, on the right of the picture Major James Fox on the left 2nd Lieutenant Rupert Budge. Both are from the Grenadier Guards. Edward is a General in the Royal Cigar Guards (Trinidad Battalion)!

The Store had helped Major Fox select some cigars for a mess dinner at the Officers Mess at St James's palace. It is a little known fact that when the smoking ban came into effect in the UK all royal palaces were excluded. This includes the 'Palace of Westminster' which means that MP's are free to smoke a cigar. Sir Winston Churchill would have been delighted.

St James's Palace and the Davidoff London cigar store are included in the Cuban Cigar walk which is part of the London Cigar Guide App the iPhone/iPad/iPod app which will guide you around the finest cigar stores and cigar terraces in London. It is available from the App Store.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A light goes out in Vinales, Pinar del Rio, Cuba

Sometimes a light goes out on the other side of the world and you feel that the whole world just got a little bit darker. On the 21st of June in Vinales , Pinar del Rio province about 2 hours drive from La Habana a light went out.

Vinales is a beautiful little village surrounded by many fields where hardworking tobacco farmers toil tending fields of domestic tobacco. The village is in a stunning valley which comes straight from central casting; think 'The Land Time Forgot' or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. If it wasn't for the "little local difficulty" I am sure Hollywood would flock there.

Dawn over the Vinales valley
In the centre of town is Casa Dago with half an imposing portico, a hang over from a divorce where each party got half the premises. Out back the ever smiling proprietor would dispense drinks, manage food orders and pick up his guitar at the every possible opportunity to entertain the clientele with sad ballads or Cuban sing alongs all the while dispensing mojitos and happiness.

I probably only spent three or four evenings in this crazy Cuban back room bar but they're all memorable.

I took my whole family there 18 months ago and Dago sensed my wife's concern at the cage rabbit by the door, disappeared. for two minutes and then called her over to see the ' dish of the day' sign he had rapidly run up. Just as quickly the rabbit was hidden away, joke over, move on.

The next day we spent on the beach with Dago in fine form and I have great memories of singing and dancing as the sun went down. Some locals wanted to know if he was Grandfather to my kids, they had grown so close to this happy, charming ray of sunshine even though neither spoke the others language. He noted my son's ability on the drums and early the next morning organised a young local drummer to come over to give him a lesson in Cuban rhythms. Life isn't easy in Cuba but you never saw that, a sight of the real world for my kids and one that left a lasting impression in the world of pap tv and Facebook.

Dago was a young heart and a bright light. My kids have lost their 'Cuban Grandfather', who had "great hair!" and the world is a darker place for his passing. It will be hard to light up the nights (and days) in Vinales in the same way again.

(Pictures 2 & 3 - Toby Brocklehurst, pinched from his Facebook page without permission but I’m sure he won’t mind)