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Sir Walter Raleigh: Not Just Pipe Dreams

Part I

The besiegers advanced and slowly seized all weapons. Then the signal was given to start the massacre.  Around six hundred Italian and Spanish men had landed a few days earlier at Ard na Caithne, in South-West Ireland, bringing arms and munitions for the rebels in the mountains. However, English ships had trapped the small Spanish fleet at sea, and troops had blocked access to the rebels in the mountains, so forcing the new arrivals to head...

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the magic of a gourd

Above, sky and stars; below, earth and sea, and where the two meet, the horizon: the universe is an enormous, round gourd according to the Hausa tribe in Nigeria. In Burkina Faso, the Gurunsi people scrutinise the round shape of gourds to predict seasonal variations and to divine destiny. The evocative fascination of the slightly sinister, carved, lit Halloween pumpkin appeals to everyone, and the elegant pumpkin that turns into Cinderella’s...

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Smoking like a Pasha: Al Pascià

  In the Ottoman Empire during the early 1900s existed the figure of the Pasha. This was the title given to the highest rank of military or civil officials in Istanbul and was placed after the person’s name.  They were extremely affluent and lived a life of outrageous luxury that in the West became synonymous of living like a Lord.  To live like a Pasha was the dream and a fashionable, playful wish also in Milan in 1905, where...

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Carati: Almost Forgotten Pioneer

  On 23rd December in 1936, at the request of the competent authorities, the town mayor of Varese submitted to the Chief Engineer of the Royal Corps of Civil Engineering a list of the most important factories in the municipality. There were thirty-seven names, amongst which the Varese Shoe Factory, Suchard Chocolate Factory,  Macchi Aeronautics Factory, and the Poretti Beer anonymous company. One of these thirty-seven factories was the...

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Storing, carrying and keeping tobacco fresh

    Smoking is not just packing and lighting your pipe, as there are other things to consider. When we take a pinch of tobacco and press it lightly into the bowl, the texture of the tobacco that we feel between our fingers should feel right. It should feel ready and just how we want it to be. If lighting a pipe is a ritual, then part of this ritual includes what the smoker does and feels the moment in which the smoker opens the pouch,...

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Cakes, Slices, and Ribbons


  Centuries ago, sailors would experiment various ways to preserve tobacco as long as possible. One of these methods consisted in steeping the tobacco in a sugar-based syrup, making a ball or else putting it into a rough mould, and subsequently pressing the tobacco tightly by hand. This do-it-yourself method has been abandoned, of course, to be replaced by increasingly industrialised processes adopted by the blenders, which we mentioned in...

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