Posts Tagged ‘Alton’

Lunch and afternoon coffee in Italian coffee shop

September 7, 2013
Bottega dei Sapori Italian coffee shop

Bottega dei Sapori Italian coffee shop

mushroom tortellini

mushroom tortellini

cappuccino and flapjack

cappuccino and flapjack

Bottega dei Sapori is a lovely little Italian coffee shop cum deli in Alton.

I was not sure if I would find them open, as they take a summer break in August, and last year, I found they were not open the first weekend in September. But luckily, yes, they were open.

I had mushroom tortellini. Excellent as always, but I found a little tough and chewy, not as delicate as it usually is. Maybe they make, and it goes tough during the day. That is how it is from a supermarket. The price has gone up, now over £8.

I popped out to the greengrocer, then back and had a cappuccino and a flapjack. I wish I had had a pot of tea. The tea though is Tea Pigs, not the quality tea they pretend it to be and is owned by Tata, a global corporation.

I let the staff know the ownership of Tea Pigs as they pride themselves on sourcing locally, or from Italy.

Note: Teapigs is not the small indie family business they con people into believing themselves to be. They are 100% owned by global corporation Tata (who also own Tetley).

The coffee is single sourced aribica from El Salvador.

Lovely tea cups and pots for sale, Italian food, olive oil, bread (though all gone), their own cakes, and Italian seeds.

To browse various cookbooks.

Next door, was once the bank owned by the brother of Jane Austen.

Coffee shop in Waitrose Alton

October 16, 2012
cappuccino

cappuccino

The only reason I was in Waitrose was dysfunctional public transport system and a 40 minute wait for the next train, having been on a bus from Winchester to Alton that is timed to arrive at the station as the train is due to leave.

The last time I was here the store had not long opened. The coffee shop looked far better than Costa and a very pleasant, cheerful and helpful girl behind the counter. This evening a woman who made it obvious she would rather be anywhere else other than where she was, in other words the service to be expected in Costa.

I ordered cappuccino and a carrot cake. A ten minute wait, though I was warned a couple of minutes wait as the machine had started a self-cleaning cycle. The machine I noticed was dirty from spilt coffee. I am used to machines being spotless.

The cappuccino was ok, far better than the awful coffee in Costa. The carrot cake was rubbish, a typical factory mass-produced cake. The coffee was fair trade.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

September 8, 2012
O’Connor’s Secret Garden steak

O’Connor’s Secret Garden steak

There are two excellent places to eat in Alton, the little Italian coffee shop in the town and O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

Last I was in Alton, said hello to Peter O’Connor, but was tired and did not stay to eat.

Afterwards, I thought, it would have made sense to eat as I had not eaten all day.

Today, I had a what was little more than a mediocre prawn sandwich at the Italian coffee, followed by a not very good cake and a pot of tea. The chefs had gone home. I was disappointed as that was my reason for a visit to Alton.

I was sat in the garden where I met a group of people who had been to a wedding.

As they were leaving, I offered as I was walking through Alton, then through the water meadows, I would be quite happy to show them the water meadows.

We came back via St Lawrence church, then as we passed by O’Connor’s Secret Garden, me on the way to the station, they to their hotel, I suggested we popped in for a drink as I was thirsty and I thought they would like the place.

We went through and sat in the garden. I do not know who suggested it, maybe it was the smell of the food, but by mutual consent we agreed we were hungry and it would be a good idea to stay and eat.

Peter came out and said there would be a wait as we were not booked and he had a party of ten booked.

No problem, we were happy to wait, but would relocate inside as starting to get cold.

I ordered a beer and a rib-eye steak with all the trimmings. One had haddock. I cannot recall what everyone else had, except one dish was served on a long narrow plate, with steam rising, to represent the steam trains which run from Alton, which I thought was a neat touch. Everything was served with watercress.

Watercress is grown locally. The water meadows we had walked through earlier, the source of the River Wey, were originally watercress beds, now lying derelict.

My beer was excellent, as was my steak.

The beer from Triple fff Brewery, a small local brewery, had an interesting red colour and was excellent tasting. I think it was called Wallop Wood, but cannot be sure.

Note: The beer, if it was wallops Wood is from Bowman Ales not Triple fff Brewery.

The steak, medium rare, was one of the best I have had. The only time close was at Jamie’s Italian in Guildford. I would usually have with chips, but I let the girl serving decide and it came with colcannon potatoes (an Irish dish and a speciality of O’Connor’s Secret Garden). Plus half a tomato, mushrooms and watercress. The mushrooms were delicious, cooked to perfection.

The food freshly prepared from fresh ingredients, not white chiller van hotted up.

Everyone enjoyed their meal. Apart from one dissenting voice, a chef, who quibbled the way her fish was cooked. I did suggest she went and talk to Peter, as if something was wrong, he would wish to know, but she declined.

A very charming, and stunningly attractive, girl with lovely personalty served us. An asset to O’Connor’s Secret Garden and complimented the food. She was also knowledgeable about the food.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden is the oldest residential building in Alton.

On entering O’Connor’s Secret Garden you pass through a passageway. Either side little parlours which can be used for private dining or overflow. The passageway enters the main restaurant. Through the restaurant into a lovely little garden out the back. The garden used to have tomatoes, runner beans and herbs growing, but I saw none on this visit.

We sat in the garden for a little while, then came inside as it was turning cool.

The garden is No Smoking. Too many pubs are ruined, you think sit outside in the fresh air, only to have smoke being blown in your face.

My only gripe was the music. Not the music per se, but it would have been far better no music, especially out in the garden. Late afternoon, in the little Italian coffee shop, there was no music, and that was far better.

Two very nasty reviews on TripAdvisor and one not very pleasant, either trolls or rivals dishing, that bear no resemblance to O’Connor’s Secret Garden. TripAdvisor is rapidly losing all credibility when it fails to deal with fake reviews. It also becomes a laughing stock when Alton Kebab shop (empty when we left O’Connor’s Secret Garden) is ranked No 1 on TripAdvisor. The glowing reviews for the Alton Kebab shop all saying the same thing, all singing from the same song sheet.

TripAdvisor claim to have algorithms that detect fake reviews. Must be their idea of a joke. They fail to even root out fake reviews when drawn to their attention.

Steam rally on the Watercress Line

September 8, 2012
Alton Station Watercress Line

Alton Station Watercress Line

Alton Station Watercress Line

Alton Station Watercress Line

Sometimes on arrival in Alton, if I am lucky I see a steam train.

Today was one of those days, a steam train. Before it pulled out, I noticed down the line something waiting to come in. I waited to see what it was. A freight train, pulled by two steam locomotives. They shunted the freight wagons up and down, I was not sure what was going on. Then in came another train, then another.

Two and a half hours, maybe nearly three hours later, I left the station. ….

To be cont ….

Afternoon in Alton

September 8, 2012
River Wey water meadows

River Wey water meadows

Sometimes a day out is not quite what we had planned.

Last week, I went to Alton looking forward to lunch at the little Italian restaurant, only to find it was closed.

This week, thought I, get to Alton early afternoon, lunch at the Italian coffee shop, then afternoon tea in the Allan Gallery, but it was not to be.

The day started off coolish mid-morning, but rapidly warmed up, by midday hot, and getting hotter during the afternoon.

Sometimes on arrival in Alton, if I am lucky I see a steam train.

Today was one of those days, a steam train. Before it pulled out, I noticed down the line something waiting to come in. I waited to see what it was. A freight train, pulled by two steam locomotives. They shunted the freight wagons up and down, I was not sure what was going on. Then in came another train, then another. What I had chanced upon was a steam rally on the Watercress Line, hence the large number of steam locomotives.

Two and a half hours, maybe nearly three hours later, I left the station.

No time to look in the bookshop, I headed straight on down to the little Italian coffee shop.

I was very disappointed to find nothing to eat as the chefs had gone home early. By now I was starving. I settled for prawns in a roll (all they had left), followed by a pot of tea and a cake. Not much left by the way of cakes.

I sat in the garden out the back and got chatting to a group of people who were down from London for a wedding. As they were leaving, I said I was happy to show them Alton and the water meadows as that was where I was heading.

By now, everything was closed.

Down the side of Costa Coffee, a narrow alley runs alongside the River Wey. The alley almost completely obstructed by tables and chairs from Costa. This is the norm for Costa. As is opening without planning consents. Baffled why anyone would wish to frequent Costa when Alton has a lovely little Italian coffee shop.

We popped into the local Methodist Church which was open. We were invited to join them for prayer, which we declined.

We then walked through the water meadows alongside the River Wey, and came back to the main road via St Lawrence Church.

As we were passing O’Connor’s Secret Garden, I suggested they may wish to take a look as I was dying of thirst and fancied a drink. We sat for a little while in the lovely garden out the back, then relocated inside as it was becoming cooler and we had decided to stay and eat. The meal was excellent.

For me, a long journey home, finally getting home very, very tired, not long before midnight. For my friends I guess much later as they had to travel back to London.

It had been my intention to travel down to Brighton the next day, but somehow I did no think that was going to happen. I was far too tired.

Afternoon in Alton

September 1, 2012

I did not arrive in Alton until late afternoon, as the morning spent working in the garden.

The honeycomb I found a few days ago was now all broken up. I suspected a fox. As if reading my thoughts, a fox materialised.

Sometimes the train to Alton stops at Bentley. This is the station for Alice Holt Forest and a track leads off from the station into the forest.

Sometimes when I alight at Alton there is a steam train, but not today.

At Alton Station there is a vegetable patch tended by volunteers. I think you van help yourself, but was not sure.

In the booking office there was tomatoes, two onions and a cucumber to help yourself. Which I did, dropping a donation into a little collecting box.

Alton Books was closed.

Lantern Wholefoods used to be a lovely little whole food shop. Now an empty unit, yet another small business destroyed thanks to a greedy absentee landlord.

The man who ran the shop wished to retire, but he was willing to carry on for a couple more years to enable a buyer to be found for a thriving business. The greedy landlord demanded a ten year lease.

I had wished to take late lunch in the lovely little Italian coffee shop. They closed for August. I had hoped they would be open, but not open until Monday.

Over the last few years Alton has been ruined by the number of High Street chains that have muscled their way into Alton. It now has a Costa and a Caffè Nero.

I am baffled why anyone would choose corporate fake, when Alton has the real thing.

The only other restaurant worth considering is O’Connor’s Secret Garden, which is open lunchtime and evening but not during the afternoon.

I found a little tea shop which I had not noticed before, probably because never open. They were closed for holidays. No that it would have helped if not on holidays as they close at 3pm.

What use is a tea shop that closes at 3pm?

Next to the tea shop a tiny antique shop not much bigger than a walk in wardrobe. One customer and full, and even then the owner would probably have to stand outside to make room for them.

Alton is the source of the River Wey. Last year it had run dry. This year flowing.

The last time I was in Alton was July for the Alton Food Festival, which I missed. It was a miserable day, cold, wet and raining. Today was pleasant and warm, with hazy sun.

On my way to the station, having detoured via the water meadows and St Lawrence Church, I passed by O’Connor’s Secret Garden. Peter O’Connor saw me and beckoned me in. I would have stayed and eaten, and it would have been a good time as I had not eaten all day, but I was tired, and so sadly I gave it a miss.

Peter told me they were having problems with trolls on TripAdvisor writing nasty reviews.

Unless TripAdvisor starts to take seriously fake reviews it will become like Wikipedia and lose all credibilty.

You can always tell a good restaurant when they have a love of what they are doing, a love of food, and Peter is a good chef, regulars are treated like members of the family, as are the staff.

St Lawrence Church was the site of an important and decisive battle of the English Civil War. Royalists were caught by surprise and slaughtered in the church.

I arrived at the station in time to catch a train, only a steam train pulled in as I was walking towards the station. I watched the steam train, then caught the next train.

Train, bus, then walk home.

Haydn’s Creation

July 15, 2012
Haydn's Creation

Haydn’s Creation

Last week I was in Alton for the Alton Food Festival, I saw around the town posters for Haydn’s Creation in Farnham for the following week.

Hence a wander around Farnham during the afternoon, then a taxi to St Thomas-on-the-Bourne, as I had no idea where it was. A pity not in St Andrew’s in the town centre.

I arrived about half an hour before the concert was due to start, which was good timing as I was able to pick up my ticket and grab a good seat.

I was right at the front, probably too near I thought, but it turned out I was in the right location.

It cannot be often one is literally at the feet of the performers for a performance of Haydn’s Creation. I had full 180 degrees, from the soloists one side, through the singers, to percussion and bass on the other side. Right in front of me was the director.

The singers were The Holybourne Singers, the players The Haydn Ensemble, directed by Rebekah Abbott.

It is not often you see a female director (a first for me) and she doubled up as soprano.

I have a yardstick. They are called The Sixteen. They are in a league of their own, the gold standard.

The concert was excellent. I could not believe how good The Holybourne Singers were. They were only formed two years ago, this was only their third public performance. Whether this was some innate talent or Rebekah Abbot knocking them into shape I do not know.

Rebekah conducted the first half, then opened the second half singing, then leapt back onto the podium to conduct.

Rebekah a delight to listen to as a soprano.

The concert was recorded. I have been to too may concert where it is not recorded, then think what a pity.

I have asked Rebekah to upload the concert to bandcamp. I was not familiar with the file format she was using. I said convert to FLAC, upload as FLAC, bandcamp will handle any file conversion for download. [see mp3 v FLAC]

The cover of the programme ideal (with a bit of editing) as album cover. Make download free, but with pay-what-you-like, with the funds raised going to the same good causes as the concert. The concert programme available to download as pdf file.

If they wish to be on a record label (a twiiter account is more useful than a record label) then sign up to Any And All Records, then can get a bit of publicity, now signed to a record label. The very act of being on bandcamp another excuse for a bit of publicity. Make effective use of the internet.

A blog is also a must. If they had a blog could have written about their flashmobs, this concert, their rehearsals.

On bandcamp, single click, and can be shared. With the e-mail list and the people who attended, many people will be sharing with their friends, more money raised.

An excellent example of slow music, community supported music.

The singers were a local community choir, everyone gave their time free including the players. Big support from the local community. Fund raising for the local community.

There was also a very good age range. Not the usual over sixty and count on one hand those in their twenties. Behind me a very attractive 15-year-old girl with her grandmother. Beside me two attractive girls in their twenties from Finland, in front of me two boys probably five or six.

This was in part because they were all there because they knew the people playing (I was asked more than once who I knew) but I hope also there because they loved the music not because they had to be, because if the latter they will grow up hating the music.

The whole event was very informal, with Rebekah chatting to the audience from the podium.

But that is how community supported music should be. If not, music will not survive.

Checking out their facebook page I noticed flashmobs in Farnham! Excellent!

Talking to one of the Finnish girls she told me she liked Paulo Coelho (she had read The Alchemist in Swedish). To her pleasant surprise and delight I gave her a copy of The Alchemist.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809), a prolific Austrian composer, often seen as the composer who introduced the classical symphony. He was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Creation is an oratorio written by Haydn between 1796 and 1798. The Creation tells the story of the creation drawing on Genesis and Paradise Lost.

Shooting Star Chase is a children’s hospice in Farnham, the cause for which funds raised by the concert.

Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo lunchtime recital at Guildford United Reform Church 1300 Wednesday 18 July 2012.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Sunday 15 July 2012).

Lunch at Bottega dei Sapori

July 9, 2012
Italian coffee shop  Bottega dei Sapori

Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

mushroom tortellini

mushroom tortellini

There are two places worth eating at in Alton, a small relatively unspoilt market town in Hampshire, the source of the River Wey, O’Connor’s and Bottega dei Sapori.

Bottega dei Sapori is an Italian coffee shop cum restaurant cum Italian shop.

As you walk in your eyes are caught by a display of scrumptious looking cakes. As you walk through, on the left is a small room in which Italian produce is on sale, bread and seeds.

Walk through and you can enter a small garden, where I am pleased to report smoking is not allowed. I have never understood why for those who wish to sit outside in the fresh air they have to suffer from those who seem to think it is their right to pollute the air around them.

I ordered mushroom tortellini. I ordered off the board, which is what I recommend.

The mushroom tortellini was delicious.

I would have tried one of the cakes, but it was late afternoon and I was running short of time to have a walk around Alton. I had already missed the Alton Food Festival. I did though try blackberry crumble or pie which was sitting on the side. It was delicious.

All the ingredients are either fresh sourced locally or sourced from Italy.

Their coffee is single origin Bourbon Arabica from El Salvador with Rainforest Alliance Certification. One of the best Arabica coffees I have ever tried was Zapatista coffee from an autonomous region of Mexico.

I had a chat with the Italian owner. I learnt he was from north of Venice, not far from Bassano del Grappa.

With the exception of Ristorante Alla Corte the food in Bassano del Grappa was over priced and awful, then to add insult to injury when you came to pay the bill you found you were hit with an extortionate cover charge. On one occasion 50%!

It is somewhat ironic that one has to travel to Alton to discover excellent Italian food.

I am at a loss why people eat in disgusting fast food outlets when there are decent restaurants serving excellent freshly prepared dishes.

Next door to the Italian coffee shop (it is really a small restaurant) the site of what used to be the bank that belonged to the brother of Jane Austen.

A Jane Austen trail runs through Alton and nearby Chawton where she lived.

Alton Food Festival 2012

July 7, 2012
Alton Station

Alton Station

It was touch and go whether I went to Alton.

All night, the early hours of the morning, heavy rain. By morning it was still raining and continued to rain all morning. Parts of the country had experienced more than a month’s supply of rain in less than 24 hours and were now experiencing severe flooding. Though nothing as bad as the severe floods that had hit southern Russia.

I was beginning to understand how Noah must have felt.

Global warming, climate chaos and yet still our corrupt business leaders and the corrupt politicians in their pockets continue to fiddle whilst Rome burns, though in this case whilst England floods.

Was it worth going to the Alton Food Festival? The last couple had been a waste of time.

Plus it ended at 3pm in the afternoon. That is the crass stupidity of Hampshire Farmers Markets who could not organises a piss up in a brewery. Ironic considering Alton was once a centre of brewing excellence due to the quality of its ground water.

The rain eased off. I decided a trip to Alton. I might, if I was lucky, catch the end of the market, but if not, Alton, a small market town, is always worth a visit.

I had to catch a bus, then a train.

As I walked to the bus stop I watched a bus sail past three minutes early, the next bus was three minutes late.

I arrived at Aldershot Station with three minutes to spare to catch the 1420 train to Alton. I asked the ticket seller was that the Alton train pulling in. He said yes. If he had moved any slower he would have fallen asleep. I ran through the tunnel, leapt on the train.

Then I noticed something. The train was not pulling out. Several minutes passed by, then a train pulled into another platform, the platform from which the Alton train normally departed.

Was I on the wrong train? If I jumped off, would the train depart without me?

I risked it. My train was for Ascot, the train that had pulled in was for Guildford. The Alton train had pulled in and gone. The imbecile in the ticket office had put me on the wrong train.

I now had half an hour to wait for the next Alton train. I could forget the Alton Food Festival.

The journey Aldershot to Alton is a pleasant train journey, especially past Farnham. It passes by Alice Holt, a forest. It is possible to alight at Bentley and walk into the forest, but only one train an hour stops at Bentley.

Alton Station is unusual. It is is still 1960s era, or at least pre-Beeching Rail Cuts. It is from where steam trains depart. The start of the Watercress Line.

I had just missed a steam train and it would be about 20 minutes for the next one. I decided not to waste any more of the day, and walk into Alton.

As I left I saw a bus for Winchester. It was tempting but I thought no, but I did ask the driver how often they now departed as they were hourly last year, though I had been told they would be every half an hour. The driver confirmed this was the case and the last bus now departed from Winchester at 7pm, not 6pm as before.

But here is the crass stupidity and an example of how dysfunctional is our public transport system. The bus leaves at the same time the train arrives!

I set off into Alton, but I could smell smoke from a steam train. I returned to the station.

Why is it jerks having the entire platform to stand on stand between me and what I am photographing?

Set off into Alton.

There used to be a lovely wholefood shop in Alton. The man who owned it was elderly and thought it was time to retire. But, he was happy to carry on for a couple more years, and hope in the meantime find a buyer for the business. The stupid landlord would not let him. It was minimum ten years lease or nothing. Yet another shop now sits empty. A good business lost.

I popped in Alton Books. A good selection of Paulo Coelho books, but not what I was looking for, Aleph. I would have loved to browse, but no time.

I caught Brock’s Farm Shop as they were closing. One of the best butcher’s in the country.

I had a very late and excellent lunch at Bottega Dei Sapori, a lovely little Italian coffee shop, delicious mushroom tortellini. The irony of it, I get better Italian food in Alton than in Bassano del Grappa where the food was overpriced and awful. The exception was Ristorante Alla Corte.

Every so often one comes across eating places where the owner take a pride in their food. This was one such place. I had a chat with the owner and to my surprise he is from the north of Italy, north of Venice, but not as far north as Bassano del Grappa.

Their coffee is single origin Bourbon Arabica from El Salvador with Rainforest Alliance Certification. One of the best Arabica coffees I have ever tried was Zapatista coffee from an autonomous region of Mexico.

Apart from tasty main dishes, scrumptious looking cakes. Plus Italian products on sale, including seeds and home made bread.

There are two places to eat in Alton, both are excellent. One is Bottega Dei Sapori, the other is O’Connor’s.

Why do people eat in disgusting fast food outlets when there are decent restaurants serving excellent freshly prepared dishes?

Next door to the Italian coffee shop (it is really a small restaurant) the site of what used to be the bank that belonged to the brother of Jane Austen.

By now gone 5pm and almost everything closed.

Alton is fortunate, it still has a quality butcher and two greengrocer’s.

On my way in I just caught Brock’s Farm Shop open. One of the best butchers in the country.

I also caught one of the greengrocer’s open. They have delicious dates. Expensive but worth it. I also picked up two punnets of English strawberries for a pound!

From Waterstone’s a copy of Aleph. On principle I do not buy from Waterstone’s but this was a former Ottaker’s, so at least some of the staff know something about books. It was a tragedy when Waterstone’s were allowed to acquire Ottaker’s.

I then decided I would take a walk through the water meadows, the source of the River Wey. Last summer the river, here but a stream, had dried up. I was curious, what was its state now?

It was back in flow again. Now about a foot (30 cm) deep and flowing quite fast.

It had been rain on and off all day. Now heavy rain. I was getting soaked. Time to head back.

I passed by O’Connor’s. It was open and I would have liked to have popped in, said hello, but I would have missed the train and was too tired. Once on the train, as it was about to pull out, I noticed a steam train pulling in. But too tired to jump off.

At Aldershot the train pulled in a few minutes past the hour. The bus left on the hour. I would have to wait half an hour for the next bus. Yet another example of our dysfunctional public transport system. Bus and train owned by the same company, Stagecoach.

I never did get to see the Alton Food Festival. If like last few years no great loss. Of the people I talked to, all thought it crass stupidity that it finished at 3pm, half way through the afternoon. I was even asked had it closed early due to the bad weather? To make matters worse, the day was the Women’s Final at Wimbledon.

Maybe there was something worth going to maybe I missed out on a great food festival. I do not think so, not if I go by the Hampshire Farmers Market website. It told me date, location, farmers market and that was it.

The Alton Food Festival, a one-day event, is part of the Hampshire Food Festival. Lots of stalls, plenty of food to taste and buy, cookery demonstrations. At least that is how it once was. July 2006, Sophie Grigson was giving cookery demonstrations and signing copies of her books. It has since gone down hill. The last couple of years not worth attending.

Hosting a food festival is an excellent idea. But it has to be a genuine food festival, an all day event, not a farmers market dressed up as a food festival.

It is time Alton took the initiative and seized back their food festival.

Alton is small market town in Hampshire. Source of the River Wey. It is relatively unspoilt, but in the last few years, national High Street chains are slowly eroding its character. Many old buildings, old coaching inns. Also a strong sense of community, spare land being used as community gardens, lots of local events.

Alton has a strong connection with Jane Austen. It also, surprising for such a small town, has two museums, one housing the finest collections of ceramics outside the V&A in London.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Sunday 8 July 2012).

Afternoon trip to Alton

August 30, 2011

It is a pleasant train trip down to Alton, or at least it is if you get a train. The last time I made the trip to Alton was a few weeks ago to the Alton Food Festival (which was not worth visiting) and what should have been a train trip was a nightmare journey by bus instead. Luckily on Saturday the trains were running.

I set off rather late, and as a result did not arrive in Alton until late afternoon.

I was disappointed to find I had not long missed a steam train. Talking to station staff I learnt a steam train was due to arrive in 15 minutes. More like half an hour, but it was worth the wait.

I passed by Alton Secondhand Books, an excellent secondhand bookshop. They had a good selection of books, including books by Paulo Coelho. I picked up a copy of Veronika Decides to Die.

Passing by Lantern Foods I was sorry to see that it was closing the following week unless a buyer could be found as the owners were retiring.

I looked in Waterstone’s. No mention on their new releases of Aleph by Paulo Coelho due out in less than a week’s time. I asked. The staff were not aware of Aleph. They looked it up on their system, it was availabe at a discount but no idea at what discount. No pre-orders. [see Paulo Coelho unknown author]

Paulo Coelho is not that well known in England, at least that was the reasoning of the staff at Waterstone’s Alton. But is it true for Alton? Alton Secondhand Books had a good selection of books by Paulo Coelho and furthermore told me he was a very popular author.

I went for a walk through the watermeadows. The river bed had dried up, more so than my last visit a few weeks earlier. There had been heavy rain for the last week, but I guess not sufficient to recharge the underground aquifers which feed the River Wey.

A measure of how poor the Alton Food Festival a few weeks ago, I came away with zilch. This trip I was laden down and that was from two shops, Lantern Foods and the local greengrocer.

Alton is a small relatively unspoilt market town, the source of the River Wey.


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