A Cuban Cigar Walk

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Three arbitrary, independent, words. Put them together though, and you have an intriguing premise on which to base a stroll around some of London’s poshest acreages, throwing in plenty of browsing and sluicing along the way.

The walk is the brainchild of Nic Wing, who runs Cities in Sound, a series of audio guides to major European cities. And being the splendid fellow that he is, Mr Wing not only has a twirly moustache, he also likes fine Havana cigars – which makes him a topper, as far as I’m concerned.

Guided by the authoritatively cigar-gravelled voice of Professor Maxwell Hutchison, the audio walk – which can be downloaded to an MP3 player, or bought ready loaded onto one – is an enjoyable stroll down memory lane, which to be authentic, should of course be accompanied by a fine, hand-rolled smoke.

Starting appropriately enough at the statue of Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt (incidentally I noticed some zealous bastard has even nicked Sir Winston’s brass stogie) a gentle ramble with your earphones will take you just an hour or so to complete.

But that would be missing the point. The beauty of strolling in the sunshine taking in Jack Barclay’s Bentley showroom in Berkeley Square, The Burlington Arcade et al, is to savour the moment, make time to sink a pint and a sandwich, window shop to your heart’s content, then splash the spondooliks like never before in one of the four cigar shops featured on the tour.

You’ll be able to enjoy Sautter’s of Mayfair with its well-stocked humidor of aged smokes; the history of JJ Fox; the classy ambience of Davidoff of St James; and the secret hideaway of leather-fetishists dream, Dunhill, with it’s cool smoking courtyard and Batcave of a walk-in humi.

Some parts of the stroll are carefully timed so you can enjoy a small smoke in between them – and you always have the option of politely telling Prof Hutchison to button it for a minute and nipping into a local hostelry for a pint and panatela in the garden.

Obviously, the walk is best enjoyed in clement weather, so pick your time. And as long as you’re competent enough to cross roads and listen at the same time (which I struggled with on more than one occasion) you’ll have a pleasant day in the sun, enjoying learning about the home of Bertie Wooster, a secret door to a procession of playboys, Royal Palaces, the Churchill Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms and plenty more.

There’s enough on the Cuban Cigar Walk to interest the non-smoker in your life – giving you the perfect excuse to puff away pedestrian style, so get your loafers on and set forth. Have cigar cutter – will travel…

More information about Cities in Sound can be found at their website.

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