In the years after I quit cigarettes (see part 2) I did not miss smoking at all. I was glad that I no longer had an addiction and that my lungs were a bit cleaner. Life was good. I just had a new relationship and I felt happy and at peace. Unfortunately my girlfriend had to go to for a couple of months to Ethiopia for some charity work. Something she already had planned before our relationship. So I was alone again.
One day while searching something in a cupboard I found the pipe of my grandfather with the metal cap. I held it in my hands and decided to Google for some info on pipes and pipe tobacco. One of the first hits I got to see was the Dutch pipesmokers forum. After some searching I stumbled upon the pipe-book of Janneman, an eccentric member of the forum. I was instantly hooked. I absorbed the information and began to seriously think about buying a pipe. But pipe smoking is for old men, I thought. I am not old! On the Dutch forum there also was a tread about the age of the members. To my astonishment there were even younger members than me! That was a real eye opener.
And then there was the addiction and health part. After some research I came to the conclusion that pipe smoking is the least addictive and least bad for your health way of smoking. You don’t inhale the smoke and a lot of the tar stays in the pipe. Of course smoking is bad but done with moderation it can’t hurt that much. Besides pipe smoking is a very relaxing pastime. It relieves stress.
So some days later after careful consideration I went to a local tobacconist. Well, the local tobacconist in my area: Rokado. And thank the heavens I went there. There are several other shops in the region that sell pipes and tobacco but they are the only one with some kind of expertise on the subject. And they have the largest assortment.
I walked into the store and said to the owner that I wanted to start with pipe smoking. I expected him to burst out in laughter a bit but luckily the man was dead serious. On a wall in the store hang a big plate with on it pipes from brands like Big Ben, Hilson, Peterson, Butz-Choquin and Terminus. At that time I knew nothing except that a Big Ben was a good pipe to start with. However, I liked a model that was made by Hilson, a Hilson Event. The store owner explained to me that Hilson was made in the same factory as Big Ben. “Ok, I’ll take the pipe”, I said. Then we walked to the shelves in the store which contained the pipe tobaccos. From Janneman’s pipe-book I knew that I had to buy Neptune because it was promoted as a good tobacco for beginners. The store owner also recommended some blends from MacBaren, Stanwell and Skandinavik. The pipe and tobaccos were put on the counter and when I wanted to buy those the owner interrupted me. “Hold on, you also need some pipe-cleaners, a pipe tool, a pipe lighter and some filters.” Oh of course! I read about those but totally forgot it.. I thanked the man, paid (he threw in the lighter for free) and went on my way with my new acquisitions.
At home I filled my first pipe with Neptune and… It was ok! No horror story about a burned tongue or something like that. I actually enjoyed it. My journey had begun.