The Last Post

Yes, this is the last post, dear reader. As you undoubtedly have noticed I am hardly posting anything any more. Not that I quit pipe-smoking, oh no! The truth is this: After my severe burn-out some years ago I find it extremely difficult to write for this blog. I think because one of the reasons I went overboard was pushing myself to write a blog every month / 2 months. Many evenings spent thinking, researching, writing, photoshopping beside a hectic full-time day-job and busy weekends was too much. Then I got unemployed, depressed, addicted to alcohol (the beer on the left is alcohol-free) and to a lesser degree addicted to medication. Up to the point I wanted to throw myself before a train. As you have noticed it did not came to that. I underwent psychotherapy, found the correct medication, kicked the addictive medication, kicked alcohol, found a new nice job and am a much more positive person these days. I am very grateful for what I have right now and try to live in the “now” as much as possible.

But this all means I had to make some tough decisions. The blog was draining me in the end, while a hobby is supposed to give you energy. Making music has always been my love, but it had been pushed to the background for a lot of years. Last year I re-discovered my passion for it and now I play guitar daily and try to write and record songs. For this I have set up a musical project, VanGore, which includes me on guitar and musicians from all over the world on the other instruments/vocals. Long live the internet.

Picture from Wuustwezel meeting 2022

Because of this I no longer have the time or energy to write for this blog. Besides, I think I have told all I wanted to tell. Of course there are always meetings, new tobaccos and new pipe smoking products. But to be able to write a good blog you have to be on top of that. Scavenge sites, books and forums for information. And I don’t want to do that any more. I took pride in the fact that I always wanted the best information for my readers, and I refuse to write half-hearted, unsatisfactory blogposts. But I’ll always be a pipe smoker in heart and soul.

One of the last things I want to tell you is that Dutch pipe maker Gubbels is doing fine. They made the last annual Dutch Pipesmokers Forum pipe and besides being a beauty (see the first picture), it smokes excellent! I picked it up myself at the new factory. After the bankruptcy of several parts of their company they pulled through and found a new, better and cheaper location. Gone is the big machine that could produce many pipes per day. Gone are the contracts with pipe-selling sites like Al Pascia. They couldn’t make pipes for the prices they wanted any more. What is left is an enormous stock of vintage raw unfinished pipes, a true treasure.

Lounge at the Gubbels factory

Elbert (Gubbels) doesn’t have to worry about money any more, because now he gets his income from making pipe-cleaners for al kinds of markets. In fact, he even can’t keep up with demand, which is a good sign. So he can think of and create new pipes peacefully with the help of some employees. Soon there will be a CNC machine, so they are no longer dependant on old stock. Visitors are very welcome to visit the new factory, walk around and smoke a pipe in the beautiful lounge while enjoying a glass of whisky or wine. Perhaps in the future you can even create your own pipe there!

I want to thank my readers for all these years. I had a blast writing the blogs and afterwards reading your comments and reactions. I did it all for you. I also want to thank all the people in the industry that helped me. Like Brian Levine, Per Jensen, Bob Gregory, Hans Wiedemann, Greg Pease, the Dan Pipe people, Elbert Gubbels, Martin Romijn and many, many others that aren’t in the industry but found the time to share their knowledge with me. And don’t worry, I am not taking the blog offline and I will still respond to comments and questions.

Sincerely yours,
Arno

Broken Pipe: Huub Hendrikx – 1940-2021

This week the sad news reached me that fellow pipe-smoker and Dutch/Belgian Pijprokersforum member Huub Hendrikx passed away. I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Huub a number of times at pijprokersforum meetings, in addition to occasional contact through the forum of course. Almost no one there knew more about tobacco pipes than Huub, a walking encyclopedia. And also a real and true gentleman, very friendly, very generous. He was for example a great help to me when I wrote my “Vintage Dunhill tobacco made in… Germany!?” blogpost because of his pipe-smoking connections in Germany.

Huub started pipe-smoking at the early age of 22, inspired by his grandfather, a passionate pipe smoker. It was he who gave Huub his first pipe, a Stanwell shape #89 (designed by the late Sixten Ivarsson), and tobacco, which was Albion Mixture. His grandfather was a true latakia lover, he smoked all the well known English blends like Balkan Sobranie and John Cotton’s. But Huub didn’t like it, he discovered he was more of a Virginia, VaPer person. The only blend containing the dark leaf he ever smoked was Davidoff Royalty.

From the moment Huub got a computer the pipe smoking hobby transitioned to a pipe smoking passion. Since that time he could buy pipes and pipe tobacco from all over the world. He came into touch with pipe makers, resulting in such nice contacts that he even visited them, under the condition that the distance could be covered by car. He had his pipes handmade, telling what he wanted for the mouthpieces, colours and shapes. Huub was a man of details and that was also evident in his pipes. He preferred really short ones which he always showed off on the forum. Those kind of pipes are now called “Huubjes” on the pijprokersforum.

I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace Huub, maybe some clouds I see in the sky are now made by you.

Amazing Aachen 2019

Paying a visit to the beautiful city of Aachen, Germany in Christmas time. We went to the Dom, Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), Aachener Brauhaus, Grotesque Absinth bar and tobacconist Schneiderwind. Not my best filmed video, I definitely learned some things for coming uploads! Anyway, I wish everybody a merry Christmas and a smoky New Year!

Adieu, vaarwel, goodbye café De Waagschaal

Adieu, vaarwel, goodbye café De Waagschaal… For years your smoking room was the last refuge for the smoker in the region I live in. Myself and other pipe smokers had so many great and cosy meetings there over the years. Also I just liked to sit there alone with a good cigar/pipe, read a book, have a cup of coffee and look at the people outside walking over De Brink (the central square in Deventer). Now a (grumpy) owner closed it down due to recent regulations, although those are not enforced until April 2020. I was hoping for one last warm winter of smoking but unfortunately there is a small club of anti-smoking people here (Clean Air Nederland) who sued the Dutch state about their smoking room policy, and won… Unbelievable… I fetched my own drinks in the café below and carried them to the old smoking room, personnel did not even had to come there, and I bothered no one. Civilisation, don’t make me laugh… Luckily I still have the pictures, thanks to all who took them.