Posts Tagged ‘Alton’

Dysfunctional public transport

December 19, 2014

Would I make Aldershot Station in time to catch the train to Alton? Luckily yes, three buses in a convoy.

I make the station with five minutes to spare.

Train to Alton running two minutes late.

The No 64 bus from Alton Station to Winchester, the bus stop clearly marked as bus train interchange, is timed to leave at exactly the same time as the train is timed to arrive. The bus usually leaves as passengers are coming out of the station.

Now you have to been a completely brain-dead moron determined to piss off passengers, for a bus to leave as passengers are pouring out of the train station.

I know, to leap off the train, run out of the station, if I am lucky, I catch the bus, delaying my ticket in case others are hoping to catch the bus, if unlucky I see the bus leaving the bus stop.

Today I was unlucky. I knew I would miss the bus, unless it was running late.

Half an hour wait for the next bus.

A few minutes early a No 64 bus turns up, windows filthy. I leap on the bus. Luckily the bus driver asked where I wished to go. I said Winchester, he said wrong bus.

Now you have to been a completely brain-dead moron determined to piss off passengers, to design a timetable with two different bus routes with the same route number.

I am now joined by a lady who has come off the next train.

A further wait of half an hour, by now chilled to the bone.

A No 65 bus comes in. I ask, just in case it is displaying the wrong number.

No, it is going to Guildford. I ask the driver where is the No 64? He says due now. I say what about the one due half an hour ago? Pig ignorant driver extremely rude, says how does he know, he only drives this bus.

Finally a No 64 bus arrives, 5-10 minutes late. Over an hour wait in the cold. Now not even worth going down to Winchester. I ask driver what happened to previous bus? He expresses surprise that it failed to turn up.

The bus is freezing cold, no heating, though not as cold as outside. The windows are filthy. A freezing cold draught, though no idea where it is coming from, no windows open. Maybe a window open upstairs.

New double-decker buses running on this route, not the clapped-out double-decker buses Stagecoach usually run.

But this is a new new bus, different design. Instead of luggage rack up front, two seats, with a tiny totally inadequate luggage space behind the seat.

At Alresford, I see a doubled-decker in front. As we get near, I see it is a No 64. Where did that come from?

I usually get off and walk down the hill into Winchester, but today too late. I stay on until bus station. I would have gone into the office and created hell about their disgraceful service, but it is now 4-15pm, day wasted without wasting more of the day.

I would have arrived around 1500 I arrive 1615.

Once again a day out ruined by Stagecoach.

On my return, bus then train to Aldershot. Bus I found has wifi, but does not connect to anything. At Aldershot, no bus, 20 minutes wait in the cold for next bus. Bus should have wifi, no wifi.

Train service is run by South West Trains. Bus service by Stagecoach. Stagecoach own South West Trains.

Stagecoach and Richard Branson have recently been handed the successful East Coast Mainline, successful because in public ownership. Are they fit and proper to run? No.

Stagecoach, has a live twitter feed, no mention of missed No 64 bus, explanation or apology.

Someone’s idea of a sick joke, when nearly every bus is not only leaving, but arriving more than ten minutes late.

At Alton, the buses must have an instruction to wait for passengers to alight from the train and catch the bus.

All drivers must wear name badges.

Buses must be equipped with gps, live updates at bus stops.

An app for smartphones and tablets, live updates, wifi at bus stops.

Mog’s Deli

November 15, 2014
Mog's Deli

Mog’s Deli

olive oil

olive oil

Mog's Deli

Mog’s Deli

I passed a shop I had not noticed before, Mog’s Deli, a coffee shop cum deli.

I bought some ham, which proved not to be very good. I would have expected a deli to have much better quality ham.

The coffee, a brand coffee, why not from one of the many small coffee roasters? Union hand roasted, Winchester coffee roasters, Allpress?

Very charming and helpful girls.

I had chat with one of the girls, and she said they had all been trained in coffee making.

Large glass jars full of olive oil. These used to fill lovely glass bottles, which are then corked. Customers can bring their bottles back for a refill.

Nicely done out.

Mog’s Deli, another example of clueless in the use of social media. If you want people to read your tweets, do not use facebook robots to send out meaningless tweets. If you cannot be bothered to write a tweet, why expect anyone be bothered to read them?

Afternoon in Alton

November 15, 2014
Alton at dusk

Alton at dusk

I was on my way to Farnham, but as I would not make where I wished to have lunch, I decided to catch a train to Alton. I almost carried on to Winchester, but decided too late, so Alton it was.

On the train down, fields between Farnham and Bentley flooded.

The ground is saturated. Bodes ill for winter flooding.

Thursday night, River Wey in Guildford was high and very fast flowing.

No steam trains.

I looked in on a jumble sale at the Catholic Church near Alton Station for all of five minutes. Junk, not worth the visit.

A quick look in Alton Books, but nothing I desired.

An interesting conversation in Brock’s Butcher. I was curious why the name change, it used to be Brock’s Farm Shop, did they no longer have the farm? It still was Brock’s Farm Shop, the canopy had changed and they had changed the name to reflect they were a traditional butcher, but there was another reason, public perception a farm shop is expensive. People sadly shop for food on price not quality. A pork chop/ Will it be as good as the butcher in Downing Street in Farnham?

mushroom tortellini

mushroom tortellini

Excellent mushroom tortellini in the Italian coffee shop. I would have had tea, but it is teapigs which is not quality tea, a totally owned subsidiary of Tetley.

By now starting to get dark, even though not long gone four o-clock.

I passed a shop I had not noticed before, Mog’s Deli, a coffee shop cum deli. I bought some ham, which proved not to be very good. I would have expected a deli to have much better quality ham. The coffee, a brand coffee, why not from one of the many small coffee roasters? Nicely done out.

<em>Revolution half price in Waterstone’s. It was half price in WHSmith, then they bumped the price up.

Greengrocer has a good idea. Samples to try. The clementines were excellent.

Museums in Hampshire have been transferred to a trust. Or dumped in a trust, depending upon your perspective. A good idea? Funding guaranteed for a few years. Where future funding? Last thing we want is going cap in hand to business. Where was the public consultation?

Service Waitrose Alton far better than the piss-poor service at Waitrose Farnham. Cups by the coffee machine, free coffee in coffee shop, newspapers to read no queues at checkout.

I ordered a free pot of tea. I thought I had missed the tea cup, was about to go back, when the store manager pointed out the clever design, the tea pot nestled in the top of the tea cup. Not seen that before.

Although it means travelling down to Alton, maybe I will shop here rather than Farnham. Hassle free shopping, I can leave when I know the train is due, and as as the train sits for some time at the station, can sit and read on the train. In Farnham, wait in the cold and wet for a bus, which in winter is not good when it is raining, especially when the buses are erratic at best of times.

Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

October 25, 2014
Bottega dei Sapori

Bottega dei Sapori

Excellent pumpkin tortellini at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori.

Followed by cioccolato creme brulee and tea.

I am no great fan of Italian cakes.

Tea, tea pigs, rubbish tea from Tetley.

For a restaurant that prides itself on sourcing quality, they really must do better than tea pigs.

Coffee is single sourced from Monte Sion Estate in El Salvador.

For quality food, need quality ingredients and a skilled chef to weave his magic.

Why can people not see the same applies to coffee? Yes source quality coffee beans, but also need a good espresso machine and someone skilled in making coffee.

Bottega dei Sapori is in Alton, next door to the building that once housed the bank belonging to the brother of Jane Austen.

Afternoon in Alton

October 25, 2014
Lord Nelson on loan from  the National Railway Museum

Lord Nelson on loan from the National Railway Museum

A few days cold, a few days warm. Tuesday and Wednesday were cold. Thursday and Friday warm. Today warm, but not as warm.

On arrival at Alton Station, steam trains.

A gang of bikers outside Station Cafe. I helpfully told them Wednesday night, Bikers Night. But why not ring ahead? They would probably have stayed open. And as there was a lot of people milling around for a steam rally, seems foolish not to have been open.

Dropped in Alton Books, quick word. Mentioned Guildford Book Festival last week, bookseller WHSmith. Do they appreaciate the extent to which they are alienating people? Do they care?

Brock’s Butchers, used to be Brock’s Farm Shop, closed. They close at four o’clock. Maybe I may have made it had I not dallied. But I was there before four o’clock. Their loss, simply means I called in Waitrose later.

Small retailers whinge they lose out, but they are their own worst enemy. Do they want businesses or not?

Late lunch at Italian restaurant.

Whilst there, sun was shining, clear blue sky. When I left, cloudy, already getting dark,

Although getting dark, I decided to walk through the water meadows. Source of the River Wey.

I was surprised how dry the river, a mere trickle.

I cut up the hill, via St Lawrence Church. I do not know why, but this route always seems shorter, as it brings me out at the top end of town.

Lights on in the church. There was last time I passed by, even music playing, and yet the door closed. This time open. As I entered, two young musicians left. I had the church to myself.

In the corner by the door, an ugly plastic monstrosity. Sacrilege this was allowed to be built to desecrate the church.

A stage set, high quality microphones, mixing deck, speakers and yet no one about, no indication what for, no posters.

I looked on a table and found flyers for a concert tonight at 7pm. It was 6-15, I did not fancy hanging around.

The set up would be ideal for Jewelia to give a concert.

I looked in O’Connor’s Secret Garden, and said a quick hello to Peter O’Connor. He was hosting a private party. Fortunate I am not wishing to eat, I said. He offered to serve me in the front parlour should I wish to stay.

By now dark. It feels like late night, and yet only 6-30.

Unbelievable greedy selfish bastard in Waitrose, scooped up everything priced down and piled up in his trolley.

Station Cafe

September 10, 2014
Station Cafe breakfast

Station Cafe breakfast

Station Cafe Wednesday night bikers night

Station Cafe Wednesday night bikers night

As I learnt two weeks ago at Station Cafe, Wednesday night is Bikers Night.

The place was packed outside and inside with bikers.

Apart from the charming young lady serving, I was the only non-biker there.

As I had 35 minutes to wait for a train, I decided to have something to eat, and chose the smallest breakfast, egg, bacon, beans, fried bread and sausages. Not wanting egg, I asked could I have something else. I chose mushrooms, a mistake, as tinned mushroom not fresh mushrooms.

The breakfast came surprisingly fast. I also added chips, which were brought as a bowl of chips, plus I had a mug of tea, served from a great big tea pot.

The breakfast was good, apart from the sausages and the mushrooms, excellent bacon. No excuse for the sausages and mushrooms, not when Alton has an excellent butcher and greengrocer. It would probably cost a little more, but I am ok with that.

I missed the next train.

Station Cafe is a black shed by Alton Station.

Bikers night is Wednesday night, in winter last Wednesday of the month.

Ceramicus 2014 at Allen Gallery

September 6, 2014
Ceramicus 2014

Ceramicus 2014

I would not expect to find Allen Gallery open in the evening.

A private showing of Ceramicus 2014.

I asked could I look in.

Very interesting ceramics. Vastly superior to what is usually seen at craft markets, which tends to be overpriced tat.

The only time I have seen ceramics of this quality was in Athens.

I thought, excellent location for Jewelia to play.

Allen Gallery has the most impressive collection of ceramics outside the V&A. Out the back, a lovely walled garden.

Ceramicus is a group of ceramic artists based in the Surrey and Hampshire area.

Ceramicus 2104 is on all this month and well worth a visit.

Waterstone’s Alton: Paulo Coelho’s latest book

September 6, 2014
Adultery

Adultery

If Paulo Coelho’s latest book was on display, I could not see. I asked at the counter.

They did not know, and I was asked for the title.

Adultery.

I was taken to where it was spine showing not cover, with new titles.

They said they had sold a few. I would assume, people in the know, as not on prominent display.

I would have expected a bookshop to know of an international best seller from an international best selling author, but they did not.

Last Sunday, Adultery entered the New York Time’s best seller list at No2. The Alchemist was at No2 in the charts for paperbacks. Sunday, Paulo Coelho is a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday.

Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

September 6, 2014
mushroom tortellini

mushroom tortellini

teapot

teapot

Bottega dei Sapori is a lovely little coffee shop in Alton, serving excellent food, with a lovely walled garden out the back.

Mushroom tortellini ordered. I was lucky, one table in the walled garden.

A very pleasant afternoon, sitting under the shade of the beech tree.

After my mushroom tortellini, which was excellent, I had a pine nut and honey tart, plus a pot of tea. The tea though was teapigs, not quality tea.

Bottega dei Sapori pride themselves on the quality of their ingredients, locally sourced from local suppliers, the local butcher, the local greengrocer. Teapigs is an anomaly as it is neither, it is not the indie tea company they pretend to be, it is part of Tetleys.

The rambling rose, which I saw in June (hard to believe it was three month’s since I was last here) has been pruned hard back.

Had I thought of it, I would have raised Guildford Independent’s Day.

Afternoon in Alton

September 6, 2014
diesel-hauled train at Alton Station

diesel-hauled train at Alton Station

Swan Hotel

Swan Hotel

Old Town Hall

Old Town Hall

food banks fastest growing sector of the economy

food banks fastest growing sector of the economy

Church Mice Cottage

Church Mice Cottage

A very pleasant warn and sunny afternoon.

I quite surprised, a very impressive schedule running from Alton Station, but not steam trains, only diesel-hauled, which probably explained few people on the platform, few passengers on the train that pulled in.

I looked in Alton Books. I usually stay and have a chat, but time was pressing. I let the lady know about appalling behaviour WHSmith re Paulo Coelho’s latest book Adultery. She said she was not surprised. I let her know Paulo Coelho was a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday.

Lovely mushroom tortellini in the little Italian coffee shop. It was very pleasant stay under a tree in their walled garden. So pleasant, I stayed and had a pine nut and honey tart and a pot of tea. For teapigs, it was about acceptable.

By now way gone five.

I was lucky, I thought maybe the excellent greengrocer would have closed, but still open. It gave me time to catch Waterstone’s before they closed.

Under the despised and hated ConDem government, food banks are the fastest growing sector of the economy. A new one has just opened in Alton.

Then a walk to and through the water meadows, the source of the River Wey.

I walked the back way, up a hill, and via the Parish Church. I do not know why but this always seems shorter.

I was surprised to find the Allen Gallery open. A private showing of a ceramics exhibition, Ceramicus 2014. I blagged my way in. I was pleasantly surprised, very high quality ceramics on display.

I was surprised to find O’Connor’s Secret Garden closed. Last time I passed it was closed, but that was for holidays. Worried it may have closed, which would be a grave loss, I asked a little corner shop. No, on holiday. I recommended a note to that effect, otherwise people will think they have closed.

Chips from the local fish n chip shop. Enough chips to feed a family.

A diesel-hauled train departed as I arrived at Alton Station. It was now dark and I could not see what it was.


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