I’m Back

Long-time no blog and not without good reason ….

As ever I attended the Havana Festival and had a wonderful time with the usual incredible gala event being the highlight of the trip.

Sitting at the Hunters and Frankau table with a great crowd of industry pals and laughing at how loud the entertainment was as usual making it more or less impossible to hold a conversation but enjoying some great cigars and drinks ( let’s not even talk about the food !)

Our table was right behind the major auction bidder of the night who made the charity auction the most successful ever.

Simon Chase’s Ramon 225 humidor was donated by his wife and sold for an astonishing 380,000 Euros. The Lot included a box of Ramon Petit Coronas that he had bought from one of the early C.Gars auctions. I remember how I always sat next to Simon for so many of the Festivals over the last 20 odd years and felt terribly sad. I think about Simon a lot and still refer to so many of our email exchanges. He really was a walking talking encyclopaedia of Havana cigar knowledge as well as a Gentleman without parallel in our industry.

After a few cigars in the lounge at Jose Marti airport I headed to Upper and was sitting next to Jemma Freeman, great excuse to catch up on a business chat which is always interesting for us even after all of these years.

I didn’t feel too good when I got back to the UK but in my usual way decided it was just a bit of jet lag and ploughed on with a relentless business schedule including visiting just about all of our locations including our Norfolk HQ, La Casa del Habano and Turmeaus shops and finishing with a lovely evening with friends at Puffin Rooms.

Heading back to London the next morning I really did not feel well and headed straight to a walk in Doctors surgery and was immediately admitted to St John and Elizabeth’s hospital with pneumonia which was no fun at all I can tell you.

From there it really just got worse as 5 days later I was diagnosed with Covid 19 and transferred by ambulance to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Free hospital as I was to put it mildly very seriously unwell. High temperatures and flaked out beyond belief in ICU was a pretty scary experience as I wondered if I would ever make it out of there, happily a week later I was moved to isolation for a further 5 days before all the symptoms subsided and I had beaten the virus.

I’ve been home for the last 2 weeks resting and recuperating and getting over the post viral symptoms but I am making a full recovery and after a no cigar smoking month I’m finally enjoying a good smoke again every day.

I have never used the NHS before and am so impressed with the Doctors and nurses that looked after me and the incredible care they gave me to help me recover from this horrendous virus. I really can’t thank them enough. They are incredible and deserve all of our respect and support.

The effects of the virus on the country (and the world) are almost surreal to be living through and I honestly don’t think the world will ever be the same again once we hopefully come through this nightmare.  The Government seems to be doing everything they can to support employees and businesses at this unprecedented time in history.

In the middle of all of this we held our March vintage cigar auction which was a resounding success with all but 5 Lots selling at very high prices (possibly due to the weakness of Sterling). Shipping of auction Lots I understand will be slower than usual due to the weight of work our mail order teams are dealing with at this time.

Our business has been dramatically affected with the temporary closure of Puffin Rooms and the closure of our retail Turmeaus store in Norfolk as our retail staff are unable to work because they have to look after their children during the lockdown.

Our other retail stores in London, Liverpool, Chester and Knutsford remain open on reduced hours, with reduced staff as some are in isolation and of course our sampling lounges are closed, tasting events are all cancelled and new product launches are all delayed.

C.Gars Mail order division remains 100% open and operating at 100% efficiency at both our Norfolk and London warehouses. My thanks to my Teams coping admirably during these crazy times.

I can only hope that everyone is following the Government’s advice to stay safely at home. This virus is very real, very frightening and very dangerous – don’t take it lightly. I lost March but thankfully I didn’t lose my life which at one stage it looked like I might do.

If you can, treat it like an enforced holiday. Enjoy a dram or two of whisky and a good cigar and celebrate every minute of every day that you are healthy and hopefully stay healthy and virus free.

 

Peaceful puffing and stay safe

 

Mitchell

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