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No.500 August 18-31, 2021

Blog No 500

Thoughts from Colin Wesley

This is article, sorry blog, number 500 to come from us to you.
It also coincides with us, as Wesley’s, being 50 years in Johannesburg.
We were one of the first 20 shops to open in the Carlton Centre, Johannesburg, August 1971.
Before that we had built a tobacconist section into our shop in Durban – J. Tennison Burrows, where my father was first employed, and then owned from about 1921.
We became keen to move to Johannesburg when we found we were buying tobacco from a wholesaler in Johannesburg and then posting it to customers – in Johannesburg.
Carlton Centre opened just at the right time.
And so, a little later, did the Rosebank Mall, as shoppers moved out of town to suburban shopping centres.

You may not have personally received, or even read, all other 499 blogs, but they are there for you in our Library, sorry, Archives.
These “Sorry”s slip out because before we migrated from Durban to Johannesburg, we had printed a multi-page newsletter “The Pipe Smoker” which we posted, in brown envelopes, to the names on our mailing list (between 1200-1500) once or twice a year.
We continued with this until about 1999 when the www. (World Wide Web – Gill says “Wait, Wait, Wait”) became the place to be - to show yourself and your products and services to the whole country; as far as some of the lowest populated spots on the map.
We needed a website” - but not just a “look, see, buy” type.
This was to be an extension of our shop philosophy – show the benefits to the customer, the reasons why we bought the item in the first place.
Why does he or she need it?
Then move to the shopping platform (like the cash register) to complete the transaction.
The Wesley’s website opened in the year 2000.

2003 Blog No.65:
We like to feel that www.wesleys.co.za is a Wesley's that is open 24 hours a day, every day, to anybody anywhere in the world who has access to the Internet.
It's scary, but exciting.

We decided to replace “The Pipe Smoker” with website articles under the banner “Across the Counter” – just as I would talk to customers in the shop. These blogs were to be posted fortnightly, alternating between items of interest to Cigar and Pipe lovers.
There would also be a “Special Offer” on an appropriate item.

These two mainstreams of our business have been broken down into as many sub-sections as we have been able to think of, with a Subject Index.
For example – in both sections,
Deciding to smoke a Pipe or Cigar ––– Overview for Pipes, for Cigars
Which Pipe or Cigar is best to start with.
How will I maintain / store - my Pipes or my Cigars
What problems (potholes) can I expect – Pipe smoking, Cigar smoking. Make it go right!
Which accessories will I find useful – for my pipe hobby, for my cigar hobby?
And many more …
All linked to our customers’ needs – and including gifts for every occasion, many for Men.

And now there are new “streams”
Roll Your Own – Know the different paper sizes, What rolling machines are available, Accessories  …….
Herbal SmokingGrinders, Pipes, Storage, Scales ……

The Archives (Library) lists the blogs in numerical order. But don’t be overwhelmed by the number of blogs (499 +1) = hit the Subject Index button for the complete list of sub-sections with the relevant blogs.
When you visit you will notice that some items have only 1 or 2 blogs to look at, others 10,15 or even 20. They are not necessarily more important than the others - it means that more has been happening there: new products, discontinued products, etc, etc.
It is sometimes interesting to read the first and the last of the blogs to see the changes.
If you come across a blog which doesn’t immediately connect with you, take a look.
You might have a good surprise.

Should you not find something to do with Pipe and Cigar smoking that you feel should be there, please email us. If we, have it, we’ll send you the link. If we haven’t got it covered, we shall advise you, and then research to try to find answers for you.
This might lead to a blog on its own, or as an add-on to a future blog. In either case we’ll be grateful.

There is a sprinkling of anecdotal accounts of events, people and places, news both good and bad, history and politics and humour, all of which have made the world of pipe and cigars fascinating.
Here is a taste of these blogs.
2000 No.1 The aims and hopes for satisfying the customers of Wesley’s – direct and online.
2006 No.142 Dingler’s Dream
2008 No.196 Churchill - the man and the cigars.
2010 No.245 The Savinelli story – 5 Generations, 135 years.
2019 No.452 Cohiba – the best of the best gets better.
On the lighter side
2017 No.399 AB Hughes - Portrait of a Pipe Smoker
2017 No 400 Robert Fulghum - The best Cigar I never had.

So there you have it.
When next you are asked, or are pondering, any aspect of pipe- or cigar- smoking you know where to start, and hopefully be able to stop, looking.

At last the reconstruction of our shopping platform is nearing completion.
In the meantime, you don’t have to wait - if you have found what you want, send us an email for a quote.
We are pleased to say that as well as EFT payments, we can now accept credit card payments via Wallet.doc
It is our pleasure to be of service to you.

On offer from 26 August to 8 September 2021 - while stocks last
25% off the normal prices of the following pipes and cigar ashtrays

For our Pipesmokers, we have the last few superior Lorenzo pipes:
Summa Cum LaudeCabernet and Spot Carved finishes;
Valsesiaremarkable Sandpebble finish, machined not sandblasted.
There will never be another pipe manufacturer like Lorenzo,
and never be pipes quite like these original Lorenzo Tagliabue shapes.
To really appreciate the shapes, take one in your hand and close your eyes.
If you would like to have one of these special pipes firsthand (not refurbished)
this is probably your last opportunity. From R1050.00

For our cigar Smokers we offer two stunning heavy glass ashtrays:
A taste of CubaOval glass 2-cigar ashtrays, with Cuban scenes embedded in the glass. R1175.00
Useful square glass ashtrays -Attractive ripple finish with long rest. R295.00

Stay safe, stay home, we can come to you.

Colin Wesley

No.500 August 12 - 31, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

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No.501 2 – 15 September, 2021

Winners – People & Products

There are no free lunches.

My first memory of this catch phrase was in an Economics lecture at university.
At that time in my life this probably sounded a little trite and funny. These many years later I have experienced this little “truth” more often than I could have expected.

Nevertheless, we still have our “free” sweepstakes draw.
Provided there are enough entrants, there is a prize for a pipe or cigar smoker every two months of the year.
From the Internet draw (you complete the form), from Online Sales (we complete a form each time), from the Shops (the staff will offer you a form to complete – or do so for you).

We recently sent the 3 notices to the 3 winners for the months of June/July.
Admittedly they were sent by email not physically posted as we used to.
Within 24 hours we had 3 amazingly happy responses from the 3 winners.
They had all chosen the Pipe prize over the Cigar offer (The prize was a Marca Dry Pipe of his choice R695.00)
To me their exuberance was the very essence of a Pipe smoker. He was going to have another pipe, and this one was free for him to choose from a selection of 12 pipes. Whether it would be his 2nd or 22nd pipe it didn’t matter – he was getting another pipe free!
All 3 professed to never having “won” anything before in their lives - now this!
There are free lunches!
The prize comes from us – at no cost or obligation to anyone.
The benefit to us is that it builds and maintains our database.
For your peace of mind, you have the protection of POPI - that these details will be securely protected.

So we’ll continue with the “across the counter” blogs, special offers and the Sweepstakes.
Following up on these blogs I do encourage you to visit the Archives to look for answers to questions that may come up as you start your adventure into the pipe smoking world.

It has been some time since we discussed the “hows and whys” of tobacco pouches.
But our new shipment has (finally) arrived from our reliable manufacturer in Guangzhou.
They are good!
It’s definitely time we talked about them.
You can’t always smoke in the most convenient place – you may have to trek a bit!
You need something to carry your tobacco - and maybe a pipe, a pipe tool, a pipe lighter, some cleaners, a pipe rest - when you go to settle down, relax and enjoy a pipeful of your chosen blend.

The “something” depends on what you want to carry:
Just tobacco – consider a roll-up, a one-zip or a drawstring
A pipe, tobacco and cleaners – exactly what the 2-zip companion pouch was made for.
A pipe, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners and lighter – add zip compartments to the companion pouch, to fit
one pipe or two pipes , and there you have it.

So what do you look for in a pouch?
• Most important, a pouch needs to have a lining that will keep your tobacco fresh – one that won’t absorb the moisture from your tobacco. In the “old days” this meant a rubber lining, but with the progress in technology, a soft synthetic lining is less expensive, has no aroma and is very effective – especially if you introduce a “Humydrole” if you live or travel on the Highveld or any arid area.
• Check the Drawstring – does it have stud closure? Is it lined?
• Is there a double set of ridges under the zip to make the closure airtight? Important in dry areas.
• Does the pocket for the pipe have a zip long enough to take a big pipe – like a Savinelli 1616?
• The Roll-up – does it have gussets to extend the opening?
• Are the zips sturdy, and do they flow easily?
Watchpoint – the experts say that a zip should be “pushed” not pulled!

You need to carry more - an extra one or two pipes, tobacco, pipe tool, cleaners, lighter and fold-up pipe rest?
No problem, the compact pipe bag / carry case is fitted to handle all these, your pouch, and more; maybe your car keys, wallet and even your cell phone (“mobile” for overseas readers).

It’s the little things that make the difference.

You can see all these on our website (just click the links, and when you’re there, click on DETAIL) and then visit a Wesley’s to feel them before deciding to choose leather or synthetic. With eyes closed it may be difficult to tell which is which. Over time though the leather will prove its worth. 

But don’t buy just yet, because ……

From next week we offer less 25% on any pouch or carry bag (20% on Dunhill).
But only for 2 weeks – from 9 - 22 September.

Now - that PU carry case is almost a give-away!

That’s worth considering.

Colin Wesley

No.501 2 – 15 September, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

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No.502   September 16 - 29, 2021

Cigars – Smoking for Pleasure

Neatly put, but not necessarily plain sailing from the first puff to the relaxed poise of a seasoned Cigar smoker.

As with many other pastimes or hobbies it will take time, effort and education to reach the deserved level of appreciation, to experience the full enjoyment of smoking a cigar.
The fact that smoking cigars appeals to four of our five senses - sight, feel, taste and smell - complicates the journey. A poor performance from one of these senses could easily spoil the whole experience.
These mishaps, or errors of judgement, we call “snares” in the path to reach our goal of full enjoyment of cigars.

Some of these cigar snares will have been experienced from the first days of Cigar Smoking more than 500 years ago. Thank goodness the pioneers put up with them and soldiered on.

In August/September 2013 we ran a three-part series of blogs trying to cover the “When, Why and How” such snares can be experienced when smoking a cigar. Initially in the selection, preparation, execution of cutting and lighting up, and then taking the first few puffs.
Some of these areas have recently been covered in the blogs in the sub-section “Starting to Smoke Cigars”
We now need to go a little further down the road to see what kind of snares our Newby could expect to overcome.
Rather than reinventing the wheel we will go back to 2013, blog 316, and check that the problems we covered then would still apply today.

The straight answer is simple.
Cigar snares often stem from poor personal decisions or technique which can be rectified through experience.
(Except for the uneven burn which might be from poor “bunching” of the filler leaves by the Roller.)

Here are the questions we covered back in 2013 which may often become a “snare” for any new cigar smoker. They may also be a reminder to those who have “been there” and now really enjoy their cigars.

“Sometimes I feel dizzy or even nauseous” - There are a couple of possible reasons:
• Did you choose the right size cigar? If the cigar is too big to finish in the time available – you may be “finished” before the cigar is. A Robusto needs at least 40 minutes to enjoy to the full.
You only have 25 minutes? Rather choose a Half Corona or a Petit Robusto. Such cigars are blended to offer full satisfaction in a more limited time.
• Did you choose the right cigar for the occasion? A rich cigar on an empty stomach is almost a recipe for disaster. Before your meal select a lighter short-filler cigar or smaller Cuban cigarillo. Save the big, rich cigar for afterwards, as you would a liqueur.

“I can’t keep the cigar burning, it keeps going out!”
Not to worry, it happens because premium cigars don’t have any chemicals to encourage burning. To keep it alight, combustion needs a steady supply of oxygen – regular easy puffing is the answer. And the smoke will be cooler and richer, affording more enjoyment.
If it goes out, tap off the loose ash, blow through to expel stale smoke and re-light.

“The smoke is hot.”   
Maybe you are drawing too hard, puffing too fast, quite often because you’re concerned about keeping it alight (see above). However, this has the same effect as bellows on a fire – resulting in very increased heat levels.

“I get a bitter taste.”
If this happens at the very first few puffs, it could be a bad taste from a charred foot due to careless lighting up (see below).
If the bitter taste occurs towards the end of the cigar – it is the end!  It is a sign that you should put the cigar down and allow it to fade out with dignity, no stubbing please.

“My cigars often burn unevenly.”  This is often the result of careless lighting up.
When lighting, hold the foot of the cigar above NOT IN the flame. You are not trying to braai chops!
As the oils evaporate, the foot will ignite spontaneously at a lower temperature without spoiling the delicate taste of the first few puffs.
Rotate the cigar above the flame and look to see whether it is igniting evenly. Maybe pay a little extra attention to parts that are reluctant to catch.
Only when the whole foot is glowing evenly (more-or-less), draw gently, and then check again.
When you, and the cigar, are comfortable, you can sit back and relax, and watch the ash grow.

“OK, this is obviously important – go over it again, what should I use to light my cigars?”
Briefly, this can depend on where you are, especially the weather conditions!
• A quiet setting: Cigar matches or a gentle butane flame would be perfect. If you don’t have extra thick matches, maybe use two at a time. A spill of cedarwood makes a good taper.
• At a braai, in the bush, or in the Cape breeze: Something a little stronger may be called for – a Turbo is the answer.
The turbo is akin to a blow torch and should be treated with the same respect. You don’t want to burn a hole in the middle of the foot of your cigar!
The two- three- or four-jet models offer a broader flame, but you should test for the optimum distance by looking at the flame. It is bright blue at the hottest, lighter a bit higher up. When it starts to disappear – that’s where you should hold your cigar. (Beware - you can still burn your hand at this height. I did!)

Watchpoint: Turbo mechanisms require extra-purified gas. Dunhill gas is highly refined, pure, turbo-compatible butane gas. This ensures that valves are less likely to clog and malfunction, and the anti-corrosive properties protect all metal parts, thus considerably extending the life of all lighters.

Here are some lighting options:

Three Star Matches   78-StarCigar R20.00             
Soft Flame Piezo    55-EJ061, 55-EJ062 R190.00
Zippo Turbo Inserts   55-Z65826 Single Torch R350.00
                                    55-Z65827 Double Torch R399.50
New! Quad Jet Cigar Lighters 55-EJ052, 55-EJ054 R495.00

And from September 23, 2021 the price will be even better:
You will pay less 25% on all these options
But for two weeks only – offer expires October 6

A good time to invest in a good cigar lighter, but remember – ABOVE NOT IN!!

Next month we’ll look at more “cigar snares - things that might go wrong”.

Colin Wesley

No.502  September 16 - 29, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.503; 30 September – 13 October, 2021

Small Pipes – Why are they necessary?

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, makes me feel that not only was he a genius in Maths and Science, but also wise in the ways of the world and its people.
Just look at the many improvements and innovative stories that are rising up out of the pandemic – and which don’t involve higher Maths or Physics. Without the pandemic these may not have happened now, or even in the future.

Now, when the Lorenzo factories closed at short notice, we thought we would have real trouble replacing the “good value” pipes we were buying from them, especially the small Baby, Dinky, Mini, and Garden pipes.
Pipes ideal for a short 10-15 minute smoke.

Modern busy, busy lifestyles, combined with the many “no smoking” restrictions, do not help the situation.
For a brief smoke break, half filling a larger pipe, normally offering a 60-90 minute smoke, just won’t do it.

  • It will be hard to feed a soft flame down far enough to set the tobacco alight.
  • A Turbo Jet lighter might reach, but the blow torch effect will be a disaster in the making by burning the inside of the bowl - possibly to destruction?
  • When the surface area of the tobacco is spread wide over a shallow base, it will be smoked out before you have time to enjoy it.

For small-bowled pipes we offer the Marca Snug and the Marca Mignon.
But we needed something more classic looking, just scaled down, and made from quality briar.
We looked around and discussed our problem with several manufacturers, but no luck.
Either the price or the quantities didn’t work out. We were getting desperate.
Then my wife came out with “why don’t we ask for something like the Marca Mignon bowls with short mouthpieces”. Although she was a straight A Maths and Science student this wasn’t rocket science, more like good common sense - it was “problem solved!”

Marca MiniWe met with the Marca people and discussed our needs.
Agreed the prices and quantities and shook hands on the deal.
That was in February 2020, the pipes to be delivered July/August 2020!
Covid 19 put paid to that arrangement (funny that!).
The pipes started arriving in August/September 2021, and we are delighted with them.
From their look and feel we can easily see that they are a cut above the
Lorenze models and will no doubt smoke as well as the other Marca pipes.

Bowls this size are unlikely to generate enough moisture to require a filter.
A removable metal “arrester” is fitted to prevent bits of tobacco blocking the mouthpiece. Easy to clean.
If you really need a “filter” (mopper-up) look at our Bowl Filter range. The Keystones can be minimised to fit such smaller bowls.

Our Marca Mini pipes have arrived in 12 assorted shapes and sizes, and really beautiful finishes.

“Assorted” is correct –
Straight taper Billiards in Tan or Burgundy sandblast; glowing, smooth Amber or Burgundy finishes;
An elegant Half-bent Dublin – Black sandblast or smooth Natural;
Classic Taper Bent presented in deep Burgundy sandblast, or smooth honey-blonde Natural finish;
Hand-fitting Saddle stem Bent in 4 finishes – Black or rich Burgundy sandblast, Walnut or Amber coloured smooth surface;
And when we say “sandblast” that is exactly what we mean – the bowl is sandblasted to present the grain in relief, and then smoothed - no two pipes are alike.
We had to handle each shape to measure bowl diameter and depth – what a great feel!

And, would you believe it, the price worked out at only R395.00!
(Actually this was the price we had hoped for – but the quality is even higher than we expected, a bonus.)

You’ve probably guessed from this enthusiastic reaction that Marca Mini will be our next special offer.

From October 7, 2021 we offer less 25% on the stunning MarcaMini range.
Normal price R395.00
Offer ends 20 October, 2021!

Priced at R395.00 you should have at least one of these 10-15 minutes, smoke break pipes in your collection!
And at less 25% - why not?

Marca Medio (medium) and Marca Milano (large) are still to be unpacked, costed and photographed.
Same Marca quality, same great prices – watch out for them!

Colin Wesley

No.503; 30 September – 13 October, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No.504  October 14 - 27, 2021

Cigars and Covid

As usual there are always at least two sides to a situation or story.

In the Premium cigar business, it would appear that the consumers are sitting pretty, with time on their hands to smoke more cigars than usual. This is compounded by the same consumers being denied Travel and Culinary delights outside of home – even a “Gourmet” takeaway is still a takeaway.
Time and money to spend on good cigars – how nice.

At the other end, the beginning of the cigar story, are the Farmers and the Production Teams in the factories. The farmers in Cuba and many of the other Caribbean cigar areas have been hammered by both the virus and some of the worst weather in years. But then Farmers have always been “strange” people, having their livelihood depend on the one major element to their existence completely out of their control – the weather.
Mind you I saw an article that Woolworths spent 15 years developing Avo farmers in different areas of South Africa to produce Avos all year round for the demanding public.

The cigar factories sit in between the farmers and the consumers, and they might be starting to be concerned about the rate that their stock is flowing out. Good for this year, but what about the middle future - two, three years from now? There will be the temptation to shorten that ageing period to release more cigars for a cash chest.
This could compromise the brands, as it did in the 1990’s boom with Cuban cigars. When Cuba tried to produce more cigars than usual, the quality was compromised.

Also sitting on the line are the retailers, like us.
There is a good demand for certain brands and sizes but these are beginning to become difficult to come by. We may have either the brand but not the preferred sizes, or the other way around - the sizes but not the brands.
What can we do to protect our business and keep you happy?

From this point on I can only say what we, as Wesley’s, plan to do.
We will broaden our range of “Selections” to make it easy for you, our valued customers, to do a little more experimentation with your cigar options.
More of same size, from the same country source, or different country sources.
Different sizes from the same brand.
We will go as wide as we can to bring a little more excitement to your cigar smoking.
Each selection includes a leaflet describing the origin of the cigars and of the brands. And a link to a Tasting Score Sheet.

Keep watching our website and remember:

  • We can come to you.
  • You can make payment by EFT to our bank, or via Credit card through Wallet.doc.

When you do decide to try some Selections, you may need a new humidor to keep the cigars.
With such a variety of cigars, you don’t want the flavours to affect each other.
But the glass tubes will take care of that – and will keep the cigars in perfect condition ready for you to smoke.
No worries about humidification – but keep the humidor in a cool place.

Budget Walnut Decor Humidor; 25 cigarsBeautiful traditional Burl grain finish for about 30 cigars

We have chosen two simple humidors to suit the purpose:
Beautiful traditional Burl grain finish for about 30 cigars 73-J2121 R2012.50
Distinctive Tactile-deco walnut finish for about 25 cigars 73-J1273 R1910.00


And from October 21, 2021 the prices will be even better:
You will pay 25% less on these two options
But for two weeks only – offer expires November 4, 2021

It may be that you have to move out of your “comfort zone”, but we can offer alternative cigars for you to try through our selections.

Colin Wesley

No.504  October 14 - 27, 2021

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.Top