I'm not really into sheesha myself, so the technology is all a bit beyond me. Offspring had got some double apple baccy from somewhere, but wandering around Walthamstow yielded no charcoal. He ended up buying a few kilos of barbecue briquettes from Sainsbury's and we spent a happy afternoon almost burning the house down. His basic plan seemed to be to burn some of this stuff in an aluminium tray in the garden, and then hammer the glowing embers into chunks small enough to fit into the pipe.
No, it didn't work.
A few days later we were in Camden, and he found a shop that sold all the bits, including charcoal. It was staggeringly expensive, but we bought a little bit. A week or two after that we went to Spain. Enquiries about sheesha cafes in Valencia didn't amount to much, but we did learn that there is one in a far-distant suburb. We had more luck in Barcelona, in a dodgy-looking bar in a dodgy-looking alley off La Ramblas, a sheesha was had.
So if any of my readers can offer useful info on where to get sheesha charcoal and tobacco in London, Barcelona and Valencia, your advice will be appreciated!