Afternoon in Guildford

September 16, 2016
Guildford Grammar School

Guildford Grammar School

Yesterday was hot, Tuesday the hottest day of the year. Today, at least at lunchtime, cold, though it did warm up a little by mid-afternoon.

Last night a violent thunderstorm, very heavy rain. This morning, many places flooded, trans cancelled, a train derailed following a landslip.

Government promises flood protection. Hard flood defences do not work. Even if protect one area it simply sends the flood water downstream and another area floods.

We need soft defences, slow the flow of water, rewild the countryside. We also need to address the causes of climate instability. The government is doing neither.

Reading-Guildford-Gatwick train running at least five minutes late. By the time Guildford reached, ten minutes late.  Announced train will only go as far as Redhill, alight and catch another train to Gatwick. But, at least train guards, there were two of them, walked through the train and explained the situation to passengers. Unheard of customer service.

Excellent cappuccino from Chase at FCB coffee kiosk.

I was unable to buy ticket at station, machine in ticket office not working, guards on the train could not sell a ticket as they lacked a ticket machine between them. Queue at Guildford to buy a ticket.

Lunch at La Casita. A always excellent. Sorry to learn my friend Katalina returning to Spain.

Beans off Surrey Hills coffee roaster, single origin from Brazil, roast date 8 September 2016.

I could smell the beans all  afternoon, until I put books in the bag they were carried in. The paper of the books must absorb the aroma of the coffee.

AeroPress on Guildford market

AeroPress on Guildford market

AeroPress coffee maker, £25 in coffee shops in Brighton, £26 on coffee stall on the market in North Street, £27 in Steamer Trading. It goes up by a a pound every time I look.

Coffee machines in Steamer Trading not worth buying. Domestic espresso machines do not make good coffee, no one tales them seriously.  Nespresso machines forget it.

Deliveroo Guildford

Deliveroo Guildford

Chat with serfs working for Deliveroo. I thought they were a Guildford company, but they are now everywhere. I only noticed them in Guildford a few weeks ago. Now they are like a blue plague all over Guildford.

For the first time seen in Guildford on motorcycles. Unlike Brighton where cyclists only paid for delivery, maybe different for motorcyclists, I was told both get the same rate, £6 an hour, ie less than minimum wage, plus a pound for each delivery. No delivery in an hour, and earn less than minimum wage. Deliveroo serf bears all the costs, cost of motorcycle or cycle, insurance, deposit of £150 for box, clothes and other gear (but is it refundable). For the motorcyclist, and only a low power motorbike, insurance of £200 per month because being used for business. . He said needed to work 70 hours a week to make any money, he would prefer to work 30 hours a week. The Deliveroo serf bears all the costs, because deemed to be ‘self employed’, In reality, not self-employed, as only working for Deliveroo.

The takeaway pays a  fee, either a minimum or a percentage of the value of the order. The recipient of the order pays two pound.

No, or little costs to Deliveroo, they cream off the profit, the serfs put up the capital, do all the work,  take all the risks.

Cowboy Amazon Logistics dump parcel behind rubbish bin

September 15, 2016
Amazon Logistics meaningless calling card

Amazon Logistics meaningless calling card

Yesterday, an e-mail from Amazon to expect a delivery.

Postman was late. As leaving, I saw the postman, chased him down the street, to ask had he a parcel for me. He replied no.

I left, leaving a note on the door where the parcel should be left.

In the evening, no parcel had been left where I had advised, no card left, my note still on the door.

On reading my e-mail, I found parcel have been left, but not at all clear where.  Delivery tracking

Parcel was handed to resident

I had not given consent for parcel to be left with anyone. And should a card not have been left telling me where it had been left? And my note removed?  Who was the resident? The delivery tracking also said the parcel had been delivered to myself. It had not. Or if it had, where was it?

In a separate note, it is claimed parcel was handed to me at 1521.

It most certainly had not been handed to me, as I was not there, I was in Winchester.

That evening, message posted on twitter, e-mail sent, asking where was my parcel? No response.

The next day, ie today, I found a card. It was meaningless.

This evening I put out the bins for collection. I found my parcel dumped behind the rubbish bins. Had I not put out the bins, my parcel would have still been there, and could have been there for weeks. Had I put the bins out at night, I would not have seen the parcel.

As I write, a thunderstorm for the last couple of hours, now a very violent storm with very heavy rain. Heavy rain forecast all through the early hours of the morning until late morning.

Had I not by accident found my parcel, it would by now be a soggy mess.

Food waste by Morrisons

September 15, 2016

Morrisons Cafe in Aldershot, used to late afternoon, mark down their cakes to ensure none left.

Not anymore. Now official edict, no cakes to be reduced until last hour.

Staff used their initiative, judged when to mark down the cakes. They shifted the cakes, no waste.

But it appears, initiative is not welcome in Morrisons.

An overpaid fool descended on the local Morrison store, threw a wobbly when he saw cakes reduced half an hour before the official sanctioned mark down time.

Now one would think, this overpaid fool would have better things to occupy his mind, like service, strategy, that the food served in this cafe is often disgusting, but no, cakes reduced half an hour too early. He should have been praising the staff for showing initiative, not criticising.

For the sake of making the price, Morrisons would rather see food waste than stock cleared.

Big Business coffee chains

September 15, 2016

Three coffee chains, Costa, Caffe Nero and tax-dodging Starbucks, dominate the High Street and shopping centres. Three coffee chains you will avoid if you love coffee.

It is difficult to comprehend why anyone drinks what is called coffee in these chains, when here is now a wide diversity of quality indie coffee shops. But then it is difficult to comprehend why anyone eats in KFC or McDonald’s.

Chains making millions out of serving poor quality, undrinkable coffee and factory cakes, in a characterless corporate environment.

Starbucks part of the local community? Was that a joke?

If coffee out of a machine tastes the same as that served by a barista, what does that say of the baristas employed by Costa?

Indie coffee shops, serve quality coffee, source quality coffee beans, employ skilled and knowledgeable baristas and recycle money within the  local economy.

Avoid the chains, seek out indie coffee shops and learn what real coffee  tastes like.

Cappuccino at Coffee Lab

September 14, 2016
cappuccino and date slice

cappuccino and date slice

Excellent cappuccino and date slice at Coffee Lab. Poor choice of cakes, but what they do have is excellent.

Beans. Did they have any later than 8 September 2016? In Coffee Lab Academy they had 12 September. They checked. Found 1kg sacks of 12 September roast date. They kindly slit open a bag, and bagged for me two bags of 200 g.

I sat outside and was joined by a guy whose name I sadly cannot recall, owner of Kyoto Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant in Winchester.

matcha latte

matcha latte

He ordered a matcha latte. A strange green looking coffee. No, not coffee, a green tea.  He offered me a taste. I said no, I would order, but now past closing time. Something to try on my next visit.

I tried cascara Again not heard of. made with tonic water and the husk of a  coffee bean. Fruity, nothing like coffee, very refreshing.

Excellent baristas innovate, try out new ideas.

I am hoping they will stock South West Independent Coffee Guide. But they said there was soon to be published South East Independent Coffee Guide, and that they would hopefully stock.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 14, 2016
River Itchen

River Itchen

I would not have chosen one of the hottest days of the year to visit Winchester, sitting under the trees in my garden was the preferred option, but Wednesday is street food market, and it was not as hot as yesterday, the hottest day of the year.

Bus to Aldershot, train to Alton, bus to Winchester.

Bus to Aldershot unbearably hot.

alton-station-september-2016

steam train at Alton Station

At Alton a steam train.

Bus to Winchester bearable, as mot of the journey along dual carriageway, and flow of air through the bus kept it cool.  Bus almost empty.

Alighted before the bus station and walked down the hill into Winchester.

Falafel stall said only there Wednesday Excellent food, falafel in pitta bread, with hummus and salad.

The Cathedral has a restaurant, last time, no ice cream with blackcurrants. Again no ice cream with blackcurrants. Why display what have not got? At least today able to sit outside in the walled garden. But sadly spoiled by an ugly marquee. I daresay for corporate entertaining, anything to make a fast buck.

Then to Coffee lab, but first what was on my last visit, Alexander Tea Shop. It has been turned into Coffee Lab Academy. A pity they did not retain as was, and instead incorporated Coffee Lab Academy.

To Coffee Lab, sat outside with a cappuccino and a date slice. Both excellent.

I wanted beans. 8 September. Nothing later, as in Coffee Academy 12 September, but in 1 kg unmarked bags. They looked, and found they had 1 kg with 12 September roast date. They kindly opened, then bagged 200g. They sell 150g.

matcha latte

matcha latte

I was joined by a Bengali guy, who introduced himself as the owner of Kyoto Kitchen, a Japanese Restaurant. He had walked by, looked, and I said excellent coffee. He said so he had heard. He asked did they do a matcha latte. I had no idea, for the simple reason I had no idea what it was. What looked like a coffee, a strange shade of green was served.  Not something I had ever seen before. Not coffee, tea, green tea.He kindly offered me a taste. I declined, but said I would order, but it was past closing time.  Something to try on my next visit.

He showed me his site on social media. A girl had posted a message, would someone please take me on a date to this restaurant.

He mentioned he was writing a book, somewhat in the style of  Paulo Coelho. Turned out he was a fan, and had read most of his books.

Long gone closing, a man turned up, suggested a drink I had never heard of, cascara. I tried. It was excellent, very refreshing, fruity and cold.

I juts had time to walk along the back streets and catch the bus.

Again it was one of the new buses.

I then popped in to the Alton Station Cafe. I made the mistake of not having the moussaka and salad, it looked good, special for Bikers Night. I am sorry to see the original owners have gone, but the new owners appear to be doing a god job.

Hottest September day since 1911

September 13, 2016
Bob the Cat stretched out in the shade

Bob the Cat stretched out in the shade

Another record breaking temperature.

It was already hot by mid-morning. Noticeable so as I was working in the garden.

By early afternoon, Bob the Cat was stretched out trying to keep cool.

34.4C reached, hottest day of the year and hottest September day since 1911.

34.4C was recorded in Gravesend in Kent. Waddington in Lincolnshire saw ten hours of sunshine. Meanwhile in Manchester it was cool, thunderstorm, heavy rain and widespread flooding.

Passion flower

September 13, 2016
passion flower

passion flower

passion flower

passion flower

On Sunday in Brighton, walking down from Brighton Station to Grocer and Grain on my way to the seafront, I came across passion flowers growing on a garden wall.

I only noticed them because a man was photographing them.

I asked was it his garden? He said no. He was passing by and they caught his eye.

He did not know what they were. I said passion flower. I used to see them growing in Neal’s yard in Covent Garden.

I said I was on my way to the seafront, but first Grocer and Grain. I recommended he too visited Grocer and Grain.

Nightmare rail works train journey

September 11, 2016

That time of year, dreaded rail works. Been ongoing for at least ten years.

Nightmare journey down to Brighton.

No amended timetable at local station. Female guard on train, fails to walk the train to collect fares. I search her out. She refuses to sell a ticket. Barely sufficient time to leave Guildford Station and catch replacement bus service. No time to buy a ticket, and certainly no time with long queue. Luckily able to get on bus without ticket.

I had no luggage. Worse for those that did. Especially as no clear direction where to go when train terminated at Guildford.

Bus leaves ten minutes late. No explanation or apology.  But at least  rail personal announce on bus, where bus is going and that mandatory to wear seat belt.

Major traffic jams en route.

Traffic jam on A3, tail back from RHS Wisley Gardens, jam waiting to join M25, massive jam existing M25 onto M20, police road block on slip road into Gatwick.

Bus arrives Gatwick 15 minutes late. Two trains to Brighton missed.

Chaos at station concourse, queuing back into airport. Luckily, I am allowed through the barrier.  Twenty minutes wait for Brighton train, which is then five minutes late.

Poster on platform stating free wifi. No wifi.

At Brighton cannot exit, no ticket. 10-15 minute wait to buy a ticket. Asked why no ticket? I explain station closed, train guard refused to sell a ticket, replacement bus service.

Train companies only last week were complaining of fare dodging, that it costs them millions. Maybe man their stations, get their guards to do their jobs properly.

Forced to leaving Brighton earlier than I wished. My reason for doing so, rail works. A bus journey of over an hour. Had I waited, next bus journey was showing around two hours for bus and train, for a journey that would normally take an hour. .

Train Brighton to London Bridge packed. At Gatwick, platform heaving, passengers trying to get on a packed train.

A sign in the airport, wait here to be taken to the bus. No one there. Luckily I knew where to go.

I asked, was directed to a bus. No driver. Bus in semi-darkness. When driver appeared and bus set off, he did not announce where the bus was going, nor state it was mandatory to wear seat belts.

Luckily journey only 45 minutes, but twenty minutes wait in the cold at Guildford Station for a train. Had the train ran all the way, but for rail works, no wait in the cold.

Less time in Brighton. Arrive later, forced to leave earlier. Pay for a  train, get a bus. Longer journey time. No compensation. Thus the train companies screw their passengers.

Gatwick is one of the busiest airports in the world, second busiest in UK, and yet chaos at station concourse, totally inadequate train service to and from Gatwick. They cannot cope now, with existing infrastructure and yet they are wishing to expand, demanding a second runway.

Sunday in Brighton

September 11, 2016

That time of year, dreaded rail works. Been ongoing for at least ten years.

Nightmare train journey down to Brighton.

No amended timetable at local station. Female guard on train, fails to walk the train to collect fares. I search her out. She refuses to sell a ticket. Barely sufficient time to leave Guildford Station and catch replacement bus service. No time to buy a ticket, and certainly no time with long queue. Luckily able to get on bus without ticket.

I had no luggage. Worse for those that did. Especially as no clear direction where to go when train terminated at Guildford.

Bus leaves ten minutes late. No explanation or apology.  But at least  rail personal announce on bus, where bus is going and that mandatory to wear seat belt. Major traffic jams en route. Bus arrives Gatwick 15 minutes late. Two trains to Brighton missed.

Chaos at station concourse, queuing back into airport. Luckily, I am allowed through the barrier.  Twenty minutes wait for Brighton train, which is then five minutes late.

Poster on platform stating free wifi. No wifi.

At Brighton cannot exit, no ticket. 10-15 minute wait to buy a ticket. Asked why no ticket? I explain station closed, train guard refused to sell a ticket, replacement bus service.

passion flower

passion flower

Walking down from Brighton Station to Grocer and Grain on my way to the seafront, I came across passion flowers growing on a garden wall.

Looked in on Hakan in Grocer and Grain. As always, excellent display of cakes. With the exception of Pelicano, better than most coffee shops, and good coffee too. Not surprising, very busy, people wanting cakes and coffee. I was tempted to buy Union coffee beans, but not recently roasted.

Looked in The Fair Shop.

Get On Go Somewhere

Get On Go Somewhere

Clever idea on the side of a bus, where would you like to go?

Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen

Off the soup kitchen, bacon and sausages and mushrooms frying, I could not resist, I was starving. I said I felt guilty, as I was not homeless, and offered a donation. Please do not feel guilty, they said. You stopped and had a chat. The guilty ones are those who walk by. The guilty ones are the council that says no homeless on Brighton.

What a  difference the sun makes. Very busy people walking down from the station. Seafront packed. More people than Bank Holiday Weekend two weeks ago.

Two excellent musicians playing on the seafront. I picked up a couple of their CDs

Seth playing in The lanes. I said hi. I already have his CD.

Lunch at Iydea. I did not enjoy as much as I usually do. Roast potatoes were not up to their usual standard, peas cold.

Cappuccino at Coffee at 33. I also picked up two bags of freshly roasted coffee beans of their house blend, which is what they use. They also have single origin coffee. Recent roast date 7 September 2016. Single origin even more recent, 9 September 2016.

A criticism. No weight marked on the bags. No price either.

I suggested they talk to Hakan in Grocer and Grain, as he is interested in selling their coffee beans, and using for his coffee.

I just made Infinity Foods. Apples. Very poor selection of coffee. But then makes sense, when probably better to buy from the many coffee shops. Far better selection in Grocer and Grain.

I looked in Small Batch Coffee. Two bags of their coffee beans as used by them. Also single origin. Again recent roast date, 8 September 2016.  Shocked though when their barista, at least I assume he was the barista, said roast date does not matter, that he had beans at home in the cupboard at least a year old and he could not tell the difference.

Looked in Bond St Coffee. They are the coffee shop for Horsham Coffee. And yet the beans on sale roasted sometime mid-August. Maybe that is why their coffee is a disappointment.

Graffiti artists in action in an alley off Bond Street. I mentioned the murals in Puerto de la Cruz. They said hosts an annual graffiti festival.

Back down to the seafront. Six o’clock, and yet still hot in the sun.

Watched the sun set from Brighton Pier.

I left later than I intended, only just made the train. But leaving earlier than I wished. My reason for doing so, rail works. A bus journey of over an hour. Had I waited, next bus journey was showing around two hours for bus and train, for a journey that would normally take an hour.

Train Brighton to London Bridge packed. At Gatwick, platform heaving, passengers trying to get on a packed train.

A sign in the airport, wait here to be taken to the bus. No one there. Luckily I knew where to go.

I asked, was directed to a bus. No driver. Bus in semi-darkness. When driver appeared and bus set off, he did not announce where the bus was going, nor state it was mandatory to wear seat belts.

Luckily journey only 45 minutes, but twenty minutes wait in the cold at Guildford Station for a train. Had the train ran all the way, but for rail works, no wait in the cold.

Less time in Brighton. Arrive later, forced to leave earlier. Pay for a  train, get a bus. Longer journey time. No compensation. Thus the train companies screw their passengers.