Briar Tour 2009
For today, the 9th of May 2009, Eckhard Stöhr and I had planned a small trip to Denmark with our families. We were heading for the contemplative port city of Kolding to buy briar and accessories.
We met shortly before 9 a.m. at the Rader “Hochbrücke” near Rendsburg, which served as our starting point for the drive to Denmark.
After a short but cordial welcome, we left for Denmark at 9 a.m. sharp and crossed the border 30 minutes later. Kolding was still 76 kilometres away, and we reached it in 45 minutes at a comfortable driving speed of 130 km/h.
The family members were dropped off at a shopping center, where the ladies’ program could commence.
Eckhard and I went straight to the raw-material supplier who is situated just 5 minutes away from the shopping center.
On our way to the supplier we passed a byroad, where Kurt Balleby has his residence. Unfortunately, we couldn’t arrange a get-together because he was out. But it’s definitely on our list for the future.
Then we arrived at Thorkild Midtgaard’s house, which is located in a quiet neighbourhood reminiscent of a small holiday village.
Thorkild has not only been the briar supplier of Eckhard’s choice for years, but also become a close friend.
Many famous pipe makers buy their briar from Thorkild Midtgaard: for example Kurt Balleby, Manduela, Poul Ilsted, Tao and others. This doesn’t really come as a surprise, because many of them are almost as close as walking distance to him.
Thorkild and I were very pleased to meet face-to-face for the first time after a longer period of virtual contact only. Straightaway, he told me that my website was saved as one of his favourites and that he visits it frequently.
Then, business matters were given priority: prices and purchase quantities were negotiated.
An agreement was reached in no time and the shopping could begin. Thorkild Midtgaard offers a comprehensive product range for pipe makers. For example: polishing paste and buffing wheels; stems, either in form of raw material or pre-molded; and applications made from every imaginable type of wood, bamboo, or horn from all over the world. Eckhard bought polishing pastes, raw material for stems, and everything else you need to build a pipe.
The integral part of this shopping tour took place in the storage room for the briar.
This situation almost automatically turns every pipe maker into the impatient little boy who is ripping open his presents on Christmas Eve.
The excitement began to rise as the first bag was opened: what was to expect?
The raw briar is not only examined piece by piece, but might as well be ground for testing purposes. Selecting the raw briar is the exact moment in which the search for the perfect combination of skilful artificial shape and natural grain starts.
About two hours later the perfect material – enough for the next months – had been selected.
After the business part was finished and the purchased goods were loaded into the car, we sat back with a cup of coffee, talking about the pipe world, and exchanging our experiences.
Leaving Thorkild Midtgaard also meant putting an end to the ladies‘ program by picking them up at the shopping center. We used the time with our families to explore the landscape around Kolding a bit.
At this romantic restaurant we took a break and enjoyed a panoramic view over the Little Belt, a strait between the Danish island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula.
Too bad for us, the restaurant itself was closed to the public due to the confirmation celebrations that were being held on that day.
But at least we succeeded in getting us some famous Danish Hot Dogs before we had to bid farewell to Denmark.
Copyright © 2009 by TECON