Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year to all the readers of this blog.

Hope you all get the pipes and tobacco you asked Santa for.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December meeting.

For the December meeting, I was joined by Colin and John (who had both escaped from Christmas shopping lol).

John enjoyed some Mac Baren's Navy Flake, in a no name bent billiard before trying some Dunhill's Royal Yacht in a Falcon.
Colin couldn't stay long so just had time for a bowl of Samuel Gawith's Squadron Leader, in a very handsome Savinelli Oscar.
I started the afternoon with some Peterson's Nutty Cut, in a Peterson Donegal Rocky bulldog before moving on to some Mac Baren's Vanilla Cream, in a smooth Peterson 302 Standard System.

Before the guys left, we had the draw for the smooth Peterson 314 Standard System. Congratulations to Myles for having the winning ticket! Hopefully he will have his new pipe in time for Christmas. Thanks again to Rob Young of Gawith Hoggarth for generously providing the prize. There will be more raffles in the future for tobacco and other goodies.

On a side note. This was almost exactly a year after our first meeting. Unfortunately, numbers haven't grown as fast as I hoped but I am pleased to report that we're still having fun!

Friday, 9 December 2011

UKFoPC (update).

Brian Mills, President of the UK Federation of Pipe Clubs, has been in touch with further proposals for the British Championships. As these develop I will put an extra page on the blog dedicated to UKFoPC.

Additionally, Brian has put together ideas for other events for next year, including:

May (26th) Madrid, XXII Campionato de Espana.
June (date tbc). Barcelona Cup in Pipe Smoking.
July (Sun 15th). British Championships, Newark & Nottingham Showground.
October. World Championships, Seville.

If you are interested in any of these, let me know and I will give you Brian's contact details.

Please note the change of date for the British Championships.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

British Championship of Pipe Smoking 2012

Brian Mills, President of UK Federation of Pipe Clubs, has been in touch with some more details.
Confirmed date is Sunday 15th July 2012, at the Newark Showground.

If you are interested, please get in touch and we can organise the logistics for getting Scottish pipe smokers represented at this event.

I will update as I get firmer details.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

November meeting.

Apologies for the delay in posting, work has been pretty hectic recently.

November meeting was another quiet one; just John and myself. However, we had a nice sunny, relatively mild afternoon (at least until the sun went down).

I concentrated on my new Peterson's Kildare, with some St Bruno. John was smoking Mac Baren Navy Flake in his Parker billiard.

For the forthcoming December meeting, don't worry about the weather...we've got shelter and heating and tea and coffee (or something stronger) are available at the bar.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Help. Can you identify a mystery blend?

I've been asked by a reader of the blog (Jason, from Tasmania in Australia) for help identifying (and possibly sourcing) a blend called "Caledonia Medium".

It was the favourite blend of Jason's late Uncle for many years and he used to get it from Herbert Love in Queensferry Street (now closed unfortunately).

If anyone recognises the name and can suggest a possible replacement source, please let me know and I will let Jason know.

I'm guessing that if Caledonia Medium wasn't blended by Herbert Love themselves, it might have been a re-labelled bulk blend from one of the major suppliers. If this is the case, it might be available elsewhere under a different name.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Friday, 4 November 2011

UK Federation of Pipe Clubs.

We are now officially a member of the UK Federation of Pipe Clubs.

Brian Mills, the President, has been in touch and has suggested as a first step towards reviving the Federation (which had lapsed a bit since the smoking bans came in to force) a weekend event next summer, somewhere in central England.

As I get more information, I will pass it on.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Can't wait?

Next meeting is scheduled for Saturday 12th November, which feels ages away! If anyone fancies meeting for a pipe and a pint (or beverage of your choice) before then, on the weekend of the 5th/6th, feel free to get on touch.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

October meeting.

The light, persistent drizzle didn't deter Myles and myself from a pleasant afternoon's pipe smoking!
We had a bit of a Mac Baren themed meeting: Myles tried the 7 Seas Cherry Blend and I tried some "Mixture, Scottish Blend"...both of us being very happy with the experience, although Myles prefers the slightly stronger flavours of Cherry Ambrosia. We also got through some St Bruno and Orlik's Bull's Eye.
We both showed off our latest Peterson's Kildare and Myles' Freehand Missouri Meerschaum corn cob.

Friday, 30 September 2011

A reminder.

Don't forget, there are still raffle tickets left for the Peterson's 314 pipe, £2.00 per ticket, so you could be walking away with a very nice pipe at a very low price! We've also got a selection of tobacco for members to try for free...if you haven't got a spare pipe let me know as I bring a few of mine to meetings (they've all been cleaned regularly so they're ready to smoke) and you are welcome to borrow one.
I'll be picking up a couple of tins, from The Pipe Shop, during the week so there will be a varied selection of blends to try next Saturday.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Another Holmes link.

The Self-Important Scotland Yarders: The Sherlock Holmes Society of Scotland

Knowing how much overlap there is, between pipe smokers and followers of the great detective, I thought there might be some interest in Scotland's only Sherlock Holmes society.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The nights are drawing in.

As it doesn't feel like we've had a proper summer this year, it feels a bit premature to note that it's getting noticeably darker and colder in the evenings.
However, it's unavoidable so I'd like to switch the meetings to a weekend afternoon. If there are no objections, the second Saturday of each month, from 2.30 pm...this will make the next meeting on Saturday 8th October.
Hopefully this should give us a better chance of not needing thermals, hats and scarves for a bit longer!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

August meeting (2).

I was hoping to post a live update but whilst The Cuddie Brae has wi-fi, it's a bit patchy outside :(

Four of us made it today: Colin, John and myself were happy to welcome a new face...Graham has been smoking a pipe for years but has only recently discovered how much wider the choice is nowadays.

John and I tried some of the Mac Baren 7 Seas Cherry Blend: very nice although it might have benefited from allowing it to dry a bit before smoking. It's a mild blend but has a very pleasant room note. Colin and Graham sampled the Mac Baren Navy Flake and both gave it a solid thumbs up! I thought they might as I already think it's a lovely smoke. I think there will be at least a couple of tins being bought in the near future.

I sold several raffle tickets for the Peterson's 314 but will carry the draw over until at least the next meeting, so please come and try your luck :)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

We can come to you.

Despite the name, this club is open to anyone from outside Edinburgh as well!
If you know of a venue with a smoking area that's reasonably sheltered (personally, I'm not a big fan of smoking in the rain), please let me know.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Saturday 27/08/11?

I'd like to try another weekend meeting, so if you're free during the afternoon on Saturday 27th August, feel free to come along.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Thanks to Gawith Hoggarth & Co.

A very big thanks is due to Rob Young, the Managing Director of Gawith Hoggarth and Company.

The parcel containing the goodies arrived today: for members to sample at future meetings, we have a 50g tin of MacBaren's Navy Flake and a 40g pouch of Mac Baren's 7 Seas "Cherry Blend" (which is a new addition to their range). The next raffle prize, also included in the package, is a lovely Peterson's Smooth 314 Standard System (medium size bowl, with a P-lip)! :-) I'm a confirmed fan of Peterson's so I know the winner is going to have a lovely pipe that will last them many years. As before, tickets will be priced at £2 each with ALL funds raised going towards future tobacco purchases for the club. My initial thought is that we should sell at least 20 tickets before drawing the winner of the pipe (and yes you can buy as many as you want lol).

Additionally, Rob has also included some catalogues: their own and Mac Baren's tobacco ranges and the Peterson's catalogue of their blends and pipes (that's the Christmas "wish list" easy to fill this year). So we'll have plenty of inspiration for future blends to try.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

‪Pipe Smoking on YouTube

‪dubinthedam's Channel‬‏ - YouTube

Until very recently, I've been a bit guilty of overlooking YouTube as a resource for pipe smokers. However, my new phone's features include a YouTube app so I've started exploring a bit more.

Myles recommended dubinthedam to me a while ago and now that I've made the connection between Firecured and his YouTube channel (thanks to Ira at Pipe Pulpit), I think I'll be checking out a lot more videos in the future.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summertime :)

Eventually, here's a photo of The Cuddie Brae in sunshine.

You'll also notice that I've finally got around to changing the header photo...if you look closely, the smoking shelter is at the right hand end of the building.

Smoking area.

Here's the smoking area at The Cuddie Brae. As the front door gets more direct sunlight (particularly in the evening), we usually get the shelter to ourselves.

More raffle prizes! A.K.A. The fine art of blagging lol

A few weeks ago, I thought I'd take a chance and contacted Mac  Baren Tobacco to see if they would be willing to sponsor us with a tin or use either as raffle prizes, or to be available for members to try a different blend.

This morning, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the Managing Director of Gawith, Hoggarth & Company (Mac Baren's UK distributor).

Not only are they very happy to provide some Mac Baren blends for us to sample...and some from other blenders, including themselves, in the future...but they are also sending a prize for the next raffle! I will post details and photos when it arrives*.

*I know what's coming, but I'm going to tease you! :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Date change.

Due to a diary conflict, I can't make next Thursday's meeting. Would anyone be interested in meeting on the Friday evening (12th)?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

More content.

As the title suggests, there WILL be some more content coming soon!

I've just got a new "smart phone", so hopefully I should be able to take and upload some more photos more easily than at present. Additionally, I can now blog when I'm not at home so I should be able to post more frequently.

However, this leap in to the 21st Century will not be instant...I'm still figuring out all the features on my new phone (I think I've skipped three generations of mobile technology in one step).

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Pipe Smoking Bloggers Event #1

Whilst I'm personally a dedicated convert to Peterson's Standard System pipes (at least until I win the Lottery and can start trying DeLuxes lol), I am being tempted by some other makers...particularly after seeing some of the fine examples posted by Dan on his blog "Fast Track to Poverty", he's another "Pipe Smoking Blogger", so you might have already discovered his blog.

He's also posted a couple of other pieces that look likely to lighten my wallet in the very near future...a very nice 6 pipe rack from and a briar tipped tamper from Ozark Mountain Briars that looks MUCH nicer than my current Czech Tools!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Pipe Shop (update).

If you haven't visited The Pipe Shop's website recently, I suggest you do. They've updated the site and John has put a lot of great work into uploading new photographs.

If you're in (or near) Edinburgh, do visit the shop as well...they've got a LOT more pipes on display than are listed on the website!

July meeting (2).

Apologies for not updating sooner, I've been distracted by a variety of minor problems that are now resolved.

Last week's meeting, despite a lovely warm and sunny evening, had a disappointingly low turnout...just John and myself. However, we made the most of the good weather and enjoyed our pipes in the sunshine. John was smoking Peterson's Special Reserve 2009 (his recent raffle prize) in his Northern Briar and I enjoyed a large bowl of GH&Co's Best Brown #2 in a sandblast 302 Peterson Standard System.

I know I'd said in an earlier post that I'd try a French tobacco but unfortunately I hadn't had a chance to visit a tobacconist until today.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Visiting Amsterdam?

If any pipe smokers are visiting Amsterdam, you might be interested in knowing that the Pijpenkabinet Museum (the national pipe museum) has acquired a large part of the Niemeyer Tobacco Museum following the closure of the Groningen based museum.

The full press release can be found here.

The museum's website is here.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Bastille Day.

I've resisted using René Magritte's picture "This is not a pipe" as it seemed a little bit clichéd. However, as the meeting on the 14th July falls on Bastille Day, I thought it would be appropriate to possibly introduce a French theme.

If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to have a Stella Artois (and/or maybe a small brandy) and to try some Altadis tobacco! I'm committed to my Peterson's, so I'll pass on trying a French pipe.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

July meeting (1).

After the weather we had yesterday, I should really get around to updating the photo at the top of the page...not a cloud in the sky and temperatures approaching 20 degrees C!

Apologies were received from Colin (having tickets to the finals at Wimbledon sounded like a reasonable excuse lol). John was able to stay long enough for a couple of bowls (Peterson's Special Reserve 2009 in a no name billiard and St Bruno in a bent Falcon). Brian returned with his Dr Plumb and some Kentucky Nougat (which has a lovely room note!). I finished off a bowl of St Bruno Ready Rubbed in a Sandblast Peterson 303 Standard, before filling a Smooth 302 Standard with some Peterson's University Flake.

To prevent dehydration, John and Brian enjoyed some Belhaven Best with their pipes, whilst I had some Guinness Extra Cold.

Despite the lovely weather, we were left in peace as most of the other customers, who were eating and drinking outside, were gathered at the tables at the front door. The exception was the pleasant surprise I had of meeting Harry and his wife who had come outside to have a smoke whilst Harry finished his coffee after their sheer coincidence he's another pipe smoker and he produced a very handsome, gold-banded, billiard filled with University Flake*, we helped to put the world to rights before the others arrived.

*Which prompted me to remember later that I had a part tin of UF left in my pipe bag.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Coming to Edinburgh for the Festivals?

If you're coming to visit during the Edinburgh International Festival (12th August-4th September 2011), or the Fringe (5th-29th August 2011)...or any of the other festivals during the summer...feel free to get in touch, even if there's not a meeting scheduled (and I'm planning on adding extra dates) I'd be delighted to join a fellow pipe smoker for a bowl between shows!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

We're also on Facebook

You can also find Edinburgh Pipe Club on avoid confusion, I'll be keeping most of the content here on Blogger with the highlights on Facebook.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Before and After.

Following on from my "how to clean a pipe" post, I thought I'd share a "before" and "after" photo of a recent acquisition...a Peterson's Smooth 303 Standard System.

The "after" shot (on the right) still needs a bit more this size, I can see that it needs a bit more buffing to get the hazed Paragon Wax out of the Peterson stamp. There's still a bit of tar on the rim that isn't as obvious when looking at the pipe.
I'm rebuilding the cake so I've left if with a layer of ash after my last smoke.

(Click on the photo to see a larger image).

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Cleaning an "estate" pipe.

If, like me, you can't afford to buy as many new pipes as you'd like and have been looking at "estate" (a nicer adjective than second-hand lol) pipes on ebay, you might have been put off them by the idea of having to clean a pipe that someone else has been smoking...possibly for many years.

However, with a few simple supplies and some elbow grease, it's possible to transform something, that you wouldn't dream of putting near your mouth, into a handsome pipe that should give you many years of faithful service and comfort.

Please note: Whilst I've restored over 20 pipes, I have only been doing this for less than a year! I am NOT an expert but I have found that the following techniques work for me...if you have an expensive "artisan" pipe or a treasured heirloom, please use caution! If in doubt, either take it to your local pipe shop or practice on cheap ones first!

The two main symptoms of old age (in pipes anyway) are oxidation and "cake". The first is when the stem goes that horrible sulphurous yellowy-brown colour and is a direct result of Vulcanite stems being exposed to UV light and heat. The second is the build up of carbon (from the natural sugars in burning tobacco) inside the bowl. If a pipe has been reamed regularly, the cake shouldn't be too thick but I've seen some bowls that you couldn't even fit a tamper or your little finger in!

Oxidation Removal:

The first thing to do is to CAREFULLY separate the stem and bowl. If it feels completely stuck, I like to drip a little 99% alcohol around the join and leave it to sit for a while. Alternatively, put the pipe in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer (the bag prevents a "domestic"!) for a while. Being different materials, the bowl and stem will will contract at different rates.

As well as oxidation, an old stem is likely to be full of old tar and ash. To help remove this, I like to soak my stems in alcohol first (I either lay them flat in a shallow, square Tupperware dish, or stand them in a tall, narrow glass jar). Please note, any logos or inserts on the stem may be damaged by this process, so if you want to keep them try a different technique! For scrubbing out the interior of the stem (and the mortise) you can use bristle pipe cleaners. However, as I clean a few pipes, I got myself a set of airbrush cleaning brushes. They're reusable and the variety of sizes makes them more versatile.

To remove the oxidation itself, I soak the stems overnight in a bleach solution. Any painted logos can be protected by covering them with a dab of Vaseline. It's best if the stems are completely submerged, so that the finish is even. I'll usually turn them occasionally as well. After the bleach soak, rinse the pipe well in running water (I do it at the bathroom sink). At this point, the stem should be a matte black with a rough surface texture.

You can use any fine abrasive at this point...500grit wet and dry sandpaper is good, especially if you follow it with finer grades. However, I've found that Bar Keepers Friend (applied with a soft, fine weave, cotton cloth) works really well! I found it in my local ASDA. Wet the stem, then dip a damp cloth in some of the BKF and rub gently. Particular care should be taken when using any abrasive, as it's possible to remove too much material if you're not careful and round the button. Do not use any on the tenon as it's very easy to end up with a loose fitting stem! Because the BKF is a very fine abrasive, you're removing very little material so it takes longer but the results are worth it (imho). To finish off and get that "as new" shine, apply some Vaseline or lip balm to the stem and polish with a soft cloth (an old, cotton, t shirt is ideal). I've heard of people using olive oil and I've used Renaissance Wax in the past but the Vaseline has less after-taste and seems to give a long-lasting shine that resists oxidation recurring.

There are alternative methods, using a buffer and jewellers' rouge, but this is the technique I've found that works without power tools. I've also heard good reports about the "Stem Restore Kit" from Walker Briar works.

Rejuvenating the bowl:

You might have heard of the "salt and alcohol" treatment, for cleaning a's particularly good at exorcising stubborn ghosts from tobacco you've smoked in the past. The general consensus (on the forums where the majority are American) is to use Kosher salt and Everclear...the former contains no iodine (or other additives) and the latter is 70% abv Grain Alcohol (drinkable but approaching "moonshine"). A UK alternative can be sourced using coarse Saxa rock salt and high proof spirits (the selection is limited to a few cask strength whiskies and white rums). To my mind this seems a criminal waste of "good" alcohol, so for "deep cleaning" my bowls, I use Isopropyl Alcohol. At 99% this is not suitable for consumption, so some extra steps need to be taken. Additionally, as an alternative to salt, I've found that a cotton wool ball makes less mess and is easier to there's no risk of you ending up with your pipe soaking in brine!

Start by making sure that your pipe is empty and clean...I use a scrunched up paper towel to remove any left-over ash from the bowl. If you have a bent pipe you can leave the stem attached, otherwise remove the stem and insert a pipe cleaner to block the draught hole. I've tried various methods to keep a pipe upright during the cleaning process but found the simplest solution is to use an old egg carton.

Fill the bowl with salt or a cotton wool ball (or two), almost up to the rim...don't overfill or you risk ruining the exterior stain. Then, slowly and carefully, fill the bowl with your alcohol. I use a syringe as it makes it easier to control the flow. You want the salt/cotton wool to be saturated but not running over. Stand the bowl upright, preferably with the shank slightly raised (this reduces the risk of any leaks/drips). Leave the pipe for at least 24 hours in a well ventilated place...I use the kitchen allow the alcohol to evaporate. If you are using salt, you'll see a hard brown crust forming on the top. With cotton wool, the colour will also change to a dark brown (shade varies depending on how dirty the pipe was to start with). 70% alcohol can take up to 48 hours to evaporate.

After the salt or cotton wool has dried, carefully remove it (and the pipe cleaner from the draught hole)...if you're using salt, there might still be a saturated clump at the bottom of the bowl so watch out for any drips. If I'm happy with the "exorcism" at this point, I'll leave the bowl standing empty for another 24 hours...otherwise, I'll repeat the process. At this point, when I'm using the Isopropyl Alcohol, I'll give the interior a wipe out with some kitchen paper dipped in 40% abv spirits (supermarket "own label" Whisky, Brandy, Rum, or Vodka are all suitable), before leaving it to air dry again. I'm not a toxicologist but I'm happy that the extra swab and extended drying period are sufficient to remove any potentially harmful leftovers from the Isopropyl. If you use salt, give the bowl a good shake and a wipe out, with a dry paper towel and some pipe cleaners, to make sure all the grains are removed.

If the cake is uneven, or too thick for your taste, you can ream the pipe at this stage. When I started, I used a "Buttner Reamer", now I use a "Senior Reamer" as I find it's easier to control and fits my "U" shaped bowls better. However, if you have pipes with a "V" shaped chamber, the Buttner is generally a better fit. It is also possible to ream a pipe using fine sandpaper wrapped around a suitable diameter dowel or pencil. Tip out any loose carbon from the bowl and give it another dry wipe.

Tidying a "charred" rim:

If the rim looks charred, try cleaning it first before resorting to more drastic measures...most of the surface blackening will usually just be tar.
Moisten a cloth with saliva (it sounds rank but your mum was right, when she used to clean your face with a hanky and spit, it's a very efficient solvent) and start to rub the rim. You should see a lot of the black deposits lifting. The more stubborn rough areas can be scraped with a fingernail. Repeat as required. You can shorten the process using a cloth, or cotton bud, dipped in alcohol (40% abv should be sufficient strength) but make sure it's not soaked, otherwise you risk damaging the pipe's finish if it drips.

I've only had a couple of estate pipes with very badly damaged rims; one was beyond salvation (with my limited tools) and the other had some deep cracks and burnt areas from misuse, this needed to be sanded down past the damaged area. For this I used wet and dry sandpaper and a sheet of glass (to give a level surface). I started with 500 Grit paper and moved up through the grades to 2500 grit. Use a circular motion to keep the rim level as you remove material. Check frequently that you're staying level and not going too far. This process will change the shape of the bowl so it might be a bit extreme unless you have a pipe that's a particular favourite you want to resurrect!


Before reassembling your pipe, you can give the bowl and stem a quick clean with more pipe cleaners to remove any stray residue that might remain...there are "pipe sweeteners" available but I prefer to just use one cleaner dipped in Whisky/Brandy, then a couple of dry ones. Your pipe is now ready to smoke!

My apologies for the lengthy post. I was going to post this as a separate "page" but thought keeping it as a post, that could be commented on, would be more useful.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Which varieties do you smoke?

To get some idea of what might be a more popular choice for future raffle blends, I've added a new poll (see sidebar). You can enter multiple answers, so feel free to tick every box if you have no single specific blend you smoke.

The results won't make the decision final....after all, I'm sure I'm not the only person who likes to try something different.

Paragon and Halcyon II

I've just tried a couple of new (to me) products for polishing my pipes and have to say that I'm very impressed. So I thought I'd share the results.

Until now, I've been using Renaissance Wax to polish my pipes and it's been doing a very good job, particularly by the time I've applied several coats. A little goes a long way (a 65ml tin has lasted over a year, even using it for more than pipes) but I needed some more so I thought I'd check out some alternatives before restocking.

Fine Pipes International have developed Paragon and Halcyon waxes as an alternative to Carnauba wax (that needs to be applied using a buffer). You can purchase directly from them, or as I did from their ebay store. I've got a couple of sandblast pipes as well as smooth, so I decided to try both...about £10 for the two jars and they arrived within a week!

The Halcyon II has quite a runny texture but don't let that put you off, just apply a very thin coat to your pipe's bowl (I used my fingertip) then let it dry a bit before polishing with a soft cloth. I was a bit impatient the first time and buffed too quickly...leaving the pipe to sit makes a huge difference to the resulting finish. In future, I'll do a few pipes at a time, giving the wax a chance to set. It's a bit fiddly getting in all the rustication on a sandblast so I'll try it with a soft brush next time. On a smooth pipe, it's very easy to apply and gives a lovely finish.

The Paragon wax is thicker and harder, similar to butter that's been in the fridge. However, using my fingertip again melted the wax as I was applying it giving a nice even coverage. Again, leave it to "set" before polishing with a soft, fine cloth (I used a yellow household duster that I keep in my pipe drawer). A little goes a very long way, so apply sparingly. Fine Pipes recommend the Paragon is used only on smooth pipes.

Both waxes give a lovely, rich, shine to the briar that feels very nice to the touch...I'm anticipating that additional coats will just make it even more lustrous.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Hints for the Pipe Smoker.

The following is taken from the insert that came with my latest pipe (a Peterson Ebony 303 Standard System), but it's equally applicable to other makes.

1/. For the first few smokes, only half fill your pipe, firmly but not too tightly. Light up evenly and smoke slowly, using your tamper to keep the tobacco firm inside the bowl.

2/. By gradually increasing the amount of tobacco, you will ensure an even build up of carbon lining, but do not allow this to become excessive as a surplus of carbon "cake" may crack the bowl. The ideal thickness is 1.5mm

3/. When cleaning the bowl or removing "cake", use only a blunt edged tool or pipe scraper. Never use a sharply pointed knife, as this could penetrate the bottom of the bowl.

4/. For heavy smokers, it is recommended that you keep three or four pipes in use alternately. This will ensure optimum smoking pleasure and longer life to your briar.

5/. Avoid smoking a new pipe in windy or outdoors conditions, as the increased draught may cause it to flame and consequently burn.

6/. Always tap your pipe out in your hand, or use a pipe tool. Heavy knocking of a pipe or rough usage should be avoided.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Road Trip?

I'd like to try another Saturday afternoon meeting in July, in addition to the regular meeting...I've pencilled in Saturday 2nd July.

To hopefully increase EPC's exposure and appeal, I'd like to hold the meeting somewhere else than The Cuddie Brae (not that there's anything wrong with where we are).

If you live anywhere in the Central Belt and know of a nice, pipe friendly venue locally (a reasonably sheltered beer garden would be ideal), please let me know.

June meeting.

Last night's meeting was graced by some of the nicest weather we've enjoyed our pipes in...a welcome relief after the recent wind and rain!

There were only three of us enjoying the evening sunshine. However, John and myself were very happy to welcome Brian as a new pipe smoker, joining us from the Dark Side (another cigarette smoker wanting to "save" some money, whilst still enjoying his nicotine....wait until he discovers PAD and TAD!).

I'm still breaking in a couple of recent acquisitions (two Peterson 303 Standards, a Sandblast and a Red finish), so I enjoyed them both filled with St Bruno Ready Rubbed. I've added an update to the recent post about the change in cut, I'm getting more used to the new style just needs to be dried a bit then rubbed out a bit more. I then joined John in enjoying a bowl of Peterson's Special Reserve 2009* in my new "Aromatic" pipe...a Pete 317. John firing up a no-name bent Billiard whilst Brian was trying Gawith Hoggarth and Co's. Curly Cut DeLuxe in a Dr Plumb 9mm filter pipe. John and I were happy to share our limited experience and give Brian a few pointers on packing and lighting...I'd have welcomed similar real life advice when I started, rather than relying on trial and error and some grainy YouTube videos.

*John was the winner of the postponed raffle (he'd already bought a strip of tickets at the last meeting)...we've raised £20 for the club's funds, which I will use to get a couple more tins for future raffles (two 50g tins of different varieties should be a good start).

Monday, 6 June 2011


I'm pleasantly surprised to be able to announce that this humble blog has now passed 2,000 views (since November 2010)!

Unfortunately, the numbers attending meetings aren't growing at quite the same rate lol.

From blogger's stats, I can see that we're getting a lot of readers from overseas so I'd like to extend an open invitation to any of them to attend any of the meetings if they're in Edinburgh on the second Thursday of the month...and if you're visit doesn't coincide, feel free to get in touch anyway, I'll gladly join you in a bowl at other times.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

We are not alone!

Eagle eyed readers might have noticed the new picture, in the side-bar to the right. This is a link to "Pipe Smoking Bloggers"...a growing community of pipe smokers who blog. I found it via another blog that I was already following, The Pipe Smoker.
There are already several interesting blogs in the ring and I'm looking forward to discovering more on future visits.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

May meeting (2).

Apologies received from Iain. John could only manage a short stay (escaping whilst his wife was shopping at Fort Kinnaird), Colin and myself lasted a bit longer and enjoyed some very pleasant afternoon sunshine. Fortunately, the wind (and occasional heavy showers) were coming from the West so we were sheltered by the building...although we both took the precaution of fitting a wind cap!

I had a bowl of MacBaren's Navy Flake in my newest pipe, a red Peterson 303 Standard System...thanks to my wife for my birthday present. Followed by some Best Brown #2 in a Pete 302 Standard.
Colin had a couple of bowls of Samuel Gawith's Commonwealth Mixture in a bent Falcon.
John stuck to his favourite blend, St Bruno Ready Rubbed, in a Butz Choquin Mirage.

On a side note. My wife and I had Sunday lunch at The Cuddie Brae before the meeting, the rump steak was one of the nicest I'd ever had...perfectly cooked and very tender!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Elizabeth Myerthall, RIP.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer the club's condolences to Alan at The Pipe Shop, following the recent loss of his wife Liz (who was co-owner and manager of the shop).

Our thoughts are with Alan, James and the rest of the family and to the staff at the shop.

The original obituary from the Edinburgh Evening News can be found here.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

May meeting (1).

Three of us managed to dodge the heavy showers (don't you just love the Scottish weather?) John, Colin and myself. We even had some pleasant, late evening sunshine.

Smoking in daylight is definitely an improvement on when we met during the dark winter months.

The raffle will be carried over to the next meeting (Sunday 29th May)...Colin isn't a fan of Aromatics and John pointed out that selling (at least) 5 tickets would be more sensible as it will cover the price of the next tin(s).

John was enjoying a 50/50 mix of Condor and St Bruno, in a very handsome, large rusticated pipe from Northern Briars. Colin had a couple of bowls of Dunhill's My Mixture 965, in a rusticated Parker billiard. I started with Peterson's University Flake in a 303 Standard System Pete before moving on to Gawith, Hoggarth & Co's. Best Brown #2 in a 302 Standard System.

The side door of The Cuddie Brae is back in action, so we had a few curious cigarette smokers coming over to chat with us...the universal sentiment was "oh, you don't see many pipe smokers around nowadays", closely followed by "mmm that smells nice (or familiar)".

The next meting will be another afternoon one; Sunday 29th May from 2.30pm. As ever, all pipe smokers (or even just the curious) are welcome to come and join us.

Monday, 9 May 2011

May's Raffle Prize

Further to my recent post @ Edinburgh Pipe Club: There's going to be a raffle!, I can now announce the prize!

Thanks to Alan at The Pipe Shop (and his suppliers), the prize for this Thursday's meeting will be a 100g tin of Peterson's Limited Edition, Special Reserve 2009 (RRP £21).
I've smoked quite a bit of this blend (my wife really likes the room note, she says it "smells like chocolate") and can confirm you'll be getting a very nice smoke if you win! It's an the majority of Peterson's blends...but it's certainly not a sickly sweet, gloopy blend. However, it WILL ghost any pipe you smoke it in (a good excuse to buy another pipe) but not unpleasantly. It's a mild blend so if you regularly smoke something like Condor, you might find it a bit bland. I've found that my tin was relatively dry so the baccy lit easily and burnt well. It's worth transferring the contents to a mason jar or tin once you've opened it, as the tobacco comes in a cellophane bag inside a tin that is far from air-tight.

Tickets will be £2 each, with all funds going in to a kitty to buy more tobacco for next month's meeting: either a single tin to be raffled again, or a selection of 25g pouches to be available to member's as a "tobacco bar" to sample from at meetings.

Please note: The pipe in the photo is not included in the's there to give an idea of the tin's size.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Farewell to finely cut blends?

During my recent camping holiday near Inverness (hard to beat the pleasure of sitting in the sun, enjoying several leisurely bowls with no distractions), I had to buy an extra pouch of St Bruno Ready Rubbed...never a hardship as St Bruno (Flake and RR) is a fixture in my "Top 5" list.

On opening the 50g packet, I found a very prominent notice stating: "From 1st January 2011, the cut width of pipe tobaccos will increase to a minimum of 1.5mm under EU legislation. The exceptional quality and taste of St Bruno remains uncompromised".

I'd agree that the taste remains the same...medium strength with that immediately recognisable "Lakeland" floral undertone...however, for me, the nature of the tobacco has changed. The RR now just looks like someone's taken some Flakes and roughly crumbled them. "What's the problem?" you might ask. The change makes the Ready Rubbed much more similar to the Flake, which (I find) gives me a blend that burns less easily...fine for an evening bowl that I can take my time over, less suitable for a quick smoke during a working day.

This is the first time I've come across the new packaging on St Bruno (probably a sad by-product of how little pipe tobacco gets sold, even by a major supermarket like Tesco), so I did some research and found out that the legislation was introduced to help clarify the distinction between pipe and rolling tobaccos (with pipe smokers benefiting from lower duty). There's more information on the "Tobacco Products (Descriptions of Products) (Amendment) Order 2010" here.

Update (7th June '11): After working my way through a couple of pouches of the wider-cut Ready Rubbed, I'm warming to it! However, there is a trick I use; I leave the tobacco out on a piece of kitchen paper for a while so that it dries slightly, then I rub it between my palms to get a much finer blend more similar to the old, thinner stuff.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

There's going to be a raffle!

For the May meeting, there will be a 50g tin of tobacco as a raffle prize.

For a £2 ticket, you are in with a fair chance of winning a tin valued at £10 (approx. depending on which blend is available*)'s certainly going to be better odds than The Lottery. You will be able to purchase as many tickets as you want, with the winner being drawn on the night. Any excess funds raised will be put into a pot for another raffle at the next (June) meeting. If this proves to be popular, hopefully extra prizes can be sourced for future raffles...either accessories, tobacco or, as numbers grow, a pipe.

* Either from my own "cellar", or as sponsorship from one of our local tobacconists.

Friday, 15 April 2011

April meeting.

Last night's meeting benefited from the evenings staying lighter for longer...additionally it felt almost Tropical after some of the previous sub-zero temperatures we've had for the previous meetings during the Winter months.

Apologies received from Colin...the joys of being in finance at the start of a new tax year!

It was nice to put a face to a name with the arrival of Cameron, Chris and Luke. If this (welcome) upward trend continues we'll have to start rearranging the benches for future meetings!

The combination of insufficient notes and several pints of Guinness is not a recipe for detailed minutes. However, I do remember that there was a wide selection of pipes and tobacco...I started with St Bruno Ready Rubbed in a Tesch Bent Billiard before switching to Best Brown #2 in a Peterson 302 Standard System. Cameron seemed to enjoy sampling some Cornell and Diehl Opening Night.

March meeting (2).

Apologies for the delay in updating...things have been pretty hectic here, but hopefully things have calmed down a bit for now.

The trial run of a weekend meeting (Saturday 26th) was another quiet one...just myself and Colin. We met at the usual venue but I'm still open to suggestions if anyone knows somewhere else (local to them) that we can use.
Sitting in daylight (with even the occasional glimpse of sunshine) does make for a more pleasant smoking experience! As an added bonus we hardly had to use the heaters for once.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take notes so I can't remember what Colin was smoking but I'm pretty sure I enjoyed several bowls of Best Brown #2 in a couple of Peterson's (303 and 307 Standard Systems)!

Friday, 11 March 2011

March meeting (1).

Thanks to John and Colin for braving the cold last night!

Colin found us through the recent article in The Scotsman and despite not being able to stay long, due to prior family commitments (and the weather), enjoyed a bowl of Dunhill's My Mixture 965 in a very nice rusticated Parker...a bit too much Latakia for me personally but a very nice "old school" room note. John and I enjoyed the classic tastes of St Bruno (Ready Rubbed in a Falcon and Flake in a Peterson 314 respectively).

The side door of The Cuddie Brae is still locked (despite having a new "Keep Clear, Fire Exit" sign), so we were again left in peace to enjoy the heaters in the smoking area....the new layout of the benches (thanks to Myles on IPSD) was a definite improvement with all of us getting the benefit of the shelter when it started to sleet. Can't wait for the summer!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Your opinion is appreciated.

You might have noticed the polls that I've just added to the "home" page.

I've limited the weekday options to "evening" as I work full-time. However, if daytimes would be easier, please let me know.

I've also added a location question. I'm in Edinburgh but as I've posted recently, I'm happy to travel. If there's demand, we can easily organise meetings for elsewhere.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My annual act of rebellion!

Today was "National No Smoking Day", so (as usual) I ended up smoking more!

I started the day with some Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. Curly Cut, in a Peterson 314 Standard System...a decent amount of nicotine to kick start my system in the morning. Had a couple of bowls of St Bruno Ready Rubbed, in a Falcon during the's a nice low maintenance combination that I find I can put down and come back to later, handy at work. Now, I'm currently enjoying some GH&Co Best Brown #2, in a Peterson 307 Standard System.

As an added advantage, according to ASH "the average smoker spends £2,000 per year on cigarettes"...even with the amount I've spent on pipes (so far) and working on a tin of tobacco a week, I reckon I'm spending about £700/year...saving about £1,300!! Woohoo!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Meetings for March.

For March (and future months if it's successful), I'd like to run two meetings.

The first will be Thursday 10th at 7pm at The Cuddie Brae.

The second will be Saturday 26th from 2.30pm. Does anyone have a potential venue they'd like to suggest?

Monday, 21 February 2011

Suggestion box.

It's good to talk.
I'm getting an extra SIM card to go in a spare phone, so that we can put a contact number on the blog and any future website. It might make any future flyers a bit more accessible than they are currently.

Make a proper website.
Upgrading from the blog to a real website with it's own domain name will look a bit more "permanent". Until then, I will get round to putting a few more photographs on the does look a bit dull at the moment!

Is a weekend better?
I originally thought that a mid-week evening might be easier for people who already had family commitments at the weekend. Would you prefer a Saturday afternoon (for example) so you can have an excuse to avoid a family commitment?

Is a name change in order?
Does "Edinburgh" in the name deter folk from outside Edinburgh? Would Scottish Pipe Club be more appropriate? I'll admit that EPC was the first name that came into my head...if I lived in Glasgow we'd probably be the GPC!

Can we come to you?
Following on from the above item. If you can't get to The Cuddie Brae easily, do you have a favourite local venue that we can use? There's bound to be plenty of pipe-friendly places in The Borders, Fife or Glasgow for starters. Personally, I've got no problem travelling and appreciate that Myles makes a pretty long round trip to each meeting.

Everything that has gone out so far has specified the current time and venue, so having an overlap period might be a good compromise initially. Keep the second Thursday of the month at The Cuddie Brae with a weekend meeting scheduled for the last weekend of the month and have a "road trip" one Saturday or Sunday every two months?

As this is the first Ppe Club I've ever started (in fact it's the only organisation, of any description, that I've started), I'm still learning as I go any other suggestions would be gratefully received.

February's meetings...a post mortem!

February has been a very quiet month.

The regular meeting on the 10th, despite the presence of The Scotsman's photographer, was disappointing. However, I hope that as the evenings start to get a bit lighter and warmer, the numbers might start to creep upwards.

Conversely, whilst Sunday's meeting (to mark IPSD) was still quiet (just Myles and myself) we had a pleasant couple of hours of enjoyable smoking. Additionally, Myles made a couple of good suggestions as to how we might attract extra numbers. I'll post some thoughts in the next entry.

Many thanks to Myles for the clay's displayed nicely alongside my other pipes. My wife said it looks very "Gandalf" (is that even a real adjective?). I might try a little Best Brown #2 Flake in it next weekend.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Carey's Pipe & Tobacco Shop

Carey's Pipe & Tobacco Shop Have got a great new website, with a very useful feature "The Knowledge" a map showing the location of pipe related events and places.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Two meetings for February.

There will be two meetings in February: The first at 7pm on Thursday 10th will be our regular evening meeting. The second will be from 2.30pm on Sunday 20th to coincide with International Pipe Smoking Day. Both will be held at The Cuddie Brae as usual.

Feel free to come to either (or both), as they are open to all.

If the Sunday afternoon turns out to be a more popular option, I am open to changing the day/time of the regular monthly meetings...all feedback and suggestions are welcome, as I want to make EPC as accessible as possible.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Corn Cobs.

I finally got around to trying my first corn cob pipe last night...and was pleasantly surprised!

It was a Missouri Meerschaum Diplomat, with a bent stem, filled with St Bruno Ready Rubbed (a blend I'm very familiar with). I picked the St Bruno as I thought it was a good idea to try something I already knew, so that I'd be able to discern what difference, if any, the cob made.

I left the supplied Medico 6mm paper filter in and enjoyed a very nice, cool, dry smoke! The Diplomat is finished with Plaster of Paris, for a smooth bowl and whilst it's about the same weight as my two small Petersons, at 46g, it felt a bit heavier when clenching. This might be due to the stem having only a slight bend, relative to it's length.

Up until now, I've not bothered with a cob...having been able to pick up quite a few good quality "estate" briar pipes for not much more...but now I can see why they are so frequently recommended as "starter" pipes.

I was so impressed that I'm going to get a few more, along with some spare stems, so that if anyone at a meeting wants to try a new blend, they've got a neutral platform to try it in.

Friday, 14 January 2011

January meeting.

Last night's meeting, whilst again being small, was a good one!

Apologies were received from John, Alan and Graeme. There have been quite a few more enquiries so, with fingers crossed, numbers should creep up soon.

The weather stayed reasonably kind...dry and fairly mild, although the easterly wind was getting a bit chilly by the end of the night.

It was nice to put a face to a name when Myles arrived. We very quickly covered the table with a large selection of pipes and tobacco. Myles admired my new Peterson 303 Standard System whilst I was very envious of his new Vauen Churchwarden (see above), a very elegant pipe that looks perfect for flakes! I think I need to get myself one.

I'm currently enjoying some of the generous sample, of Samuel Gawith's Kendal Cream Flake, that Myles gave me. The 1792 Flake might need to be saved for a small bowl after a meal! Hopefully, Myles will enjoy the Peter Stokkebye's Luxury Bullseye Flake as much as I do...I know he liked the Peterson's 2009 Special Reserve he tried last night.

As the side door of The Cuddie Brae was apparently "out of order", we were left in peace as all the cigarette smokers were just huddling at the front door in the cold, whilst we enjoyed the benefit of the heaters at the end of the building.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Worried about wind?

If you are concerned about smoking outside, in the wind, try one of these covers.

I've got a couple now and wonder how I managed without them. They're spring-loaded so they adjust to fit most size pipes. They keep the wind from blowing ash everywhere and reduce the chances of getting burn-out. Plus, they're handy for covering a loaded bowl so you don't get ash or tobacco in your pockets. As an added bonus, they're helpful at keeping snow and rain off a lit bowl.

The only thing to watch is that they get VERY hot when you're smoking, so take care not to brand yourself with one.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy Birthday Sherlock!

I've already mentioned Sherlock Holmes' origins in Edinburgh.

However, despite not owning a deerstalker hat (nor keeping my tobacco in a Persian slipper), I'd like to wish him "Happy Birthday" and raise a pipe in honour of what would be his 157th birthday.

I'm not a big Sherlock Holmes fan...but he does probably qualify as the world's most famous pipe smoker.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Resolutions?

I've already given up cigarettes (in favour of my pipes), so that's one less for my annual "wish list".

I'm resolving to try and smoke slower, to help me really appreciate the subtleties of a tobacco...this has been a hard habit to break after more than 25 years of cigarettes but I'm getting also reduces the risk of "tongue bite".

In my first few months smoking a pipe, I wanted to try as many varieties as possible...with a bit more experience, I'm now trying to give each one a much fairer chance, trying each tobacco in different pipes (and at different times) to see which combination works better. I've already found that I prefer pipes with smaller bowls for flakes that I've just "rolled and stuffed" and my larger bowls for the fully rubbed-out or ribbon blends.

I was going to put "join a gym" and "give up Greggs" on the list for 2011...but those wouldn't have lasted beyond the ink drying, so I won't bother (again)!