Blend

January 17, 2020

Blend coffee shop located in Steinton Market is the retail arm of coffee roastery Stewarts of Trent Bridge which is also located at Steinton Market.

And so it was to Steinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had never visited before.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting a vibrant market like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses and start ups by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed. And the area was dead, literally no one about.

I then happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.

I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

In the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clientele with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It was then back to Luisa’s where an interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.

In essence Blend a greasy spoon cafe serving mediocre coffee. The food I did not try, and if I wished to eat from what I saw there are better places to eat Taste and Ugly Bread Bakery which are nearby heading back into the centre of Nottingham.

The coffee for a greasy spoon cafe better than would expect but not to the standard of a coffee shop, especially one showcasing what a roastery has to offer. Not in the same league as Outpost Coffee, Wired, Cartwheel Coffee or The Specialty Coffee Shop.

The Times They Are a-Changin

January 16, 2020

Very moving video produced for Bernie Sanders campaign.

Bob Dylan classic The Times They Are a-Changin performed by Lia Rose.

Nottingham cold mid-January afternoon

January 15, 2020

A sunny albeit cold afternoon in Nottingham.

Not every day visit a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, craft beer brewery and a coffee roastery all in once day.

And visit Thai restaurant and a coffee shop.

To Paste, Thai restaurant. Excellent lunch, generous portion size. As last week, empty.

Looked in Ugly Bread Bakery. Mentioned the Panorama programme on town centres broadcast on Monday, worth watching.

Invited to a meeting with retailers the following day.

Head off to Sneinton Market.

Pass Bookwise, a second hand bookshop. I briefly look in.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street. The further I walk down the street, the seedier it becomes.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting something like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed.

I then happen upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown in Sneinton Market.

I pop in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

Then in the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clients with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It is then back to Luisa’s. An interesting conversation on chocolate ensues.

I had tasted samples earlier. Another taste. Each one is better than before. In essence it is wow. Mind blowing chocolate. I have never before tasted such exquisite chocolate, though I have yet to try Bullion or Bare Bones from The Steam Yard. One fruity, maybe cherry like, another more citrus. Mind blowing flavours. The last one I tried, as I hold it in my mouth, the flavour intensifies.

These are not added flavours, these are the intrinsic flavours of the chocolate. This is what chocolate should taste like, not like Cadbury’s. A coffee analogy, coffee does not taste like the vile tasting undrinkable coffee served by Costa or Starbuck’s.

It is then to Outpost Coffee to enjoy a decent coffee.

Then to Ideas on Paper. Where I needed to visit, half price sale on back issues of magazine. But only time for a quick browse, no running late.

Dash Vegan zero waste shop has gone from Cobden Chambers. The restaurant had gone when I visited a few weeks ago. It was the zero waste side I excepted to go. I say gone, it has relocated to Hopkinson. But how long before it goes, as not a viable business the amateurish manner in which it is run. A pity they had not advised customers soonest, not waste a visit to find closed a notice posted on the door, especially as I had passed Hopkinson earlier, as would other customers if arrived by train.

Managed to catch train with a few minutes to spare. Have to walk to the front of the train to get on, standing room only.

Cold mid-January afternoon in Nottingham

January 10, 2020

A cold morning, very cold on arrival in Nottingham.

EMR Regional train Lincoln to Leicester via Nottingham, no wifi, no !3A or usb power, no running water in the one and only toilet.

Beginning of January, rail fares were increased by 2.7%, part of the relentless year on year increase in rail fares for piss-poor service.

Looked in 200 Degrees Nottingham Station but did not stop. Wish I had as although busy was room by the window overlooking the canal.

Looked in Cartwheel Coffee but did not stop, too busy.

To Paste a Thai restaurant for lunch. Not busy, a couple of weeks ago it was very busy.

Three course lunch, too much for lunchtime. Chicken and mushroom soup, did not skimp on the mushrooms or chicken. A crispy chicken with sauce, rice and a little salad. Nicely presented and generous portion size. A tiny scoop of ice cream with coconut.

On my way to Outpost Coffee, I passed Ugly Bread Bakery. It used to be the other side of the street, much larger, then closed. Curious, I popped in and asked.

Same old story, successful business, landlord tries it on and hikes the rent. They refused to play ball, upped sticks and crossed the street to smaller premises.

Beggars belief with the number of empty retail units greedy landlords are still trying to hike rents.

The food, as named suggests, bread based, though not as suggests a bakery. Their bread is brought in from their bakery at another site. What is on offer can be hotted up. Looked good. Maybe somewhere to try on a future visit. But not for coffee, not when nearby Wired and Outpost Coffee.

Excellent cappuccino at Outpost Coffee, but then I expect no less. They are also coffee roasters.

Conversation with a girl who had brought in a bag of coffee from Artisan Roast, a roastery in Glasgow. I had seen before, Refinery in Berlin. The coffee was from China.

Brewed as a V60, I was asked if I wished to try.

Yes please, aroma smoky.

Leave Outpost Coffee to be relieved of some money at Ideas on Paper in Cobden Chambers.

I did not realise at first, a half price sale of many of the magazines.

Ideas on Paper is ideal for finding hard to find back issues, indeed for hard to find quality magazines. The advantage of the back issues, they do not date.

I picked up Drift, Cereal and BRYGG.

BRYGG I had seen in coffee shops in Berlin. A Norwegian publication, coffee and conversation.

I then noticed current issue of Lagom, a magazine I had never seen before. I added that to my collection.

Then on to The Specialty Coffee Shop, but now running out of time.

We try La Pila honey processed from Guatemala roasted by The Underdog brewed as a cappuccino.

The classic cappuccino, smooth and creamy, though rarely achieved. Not so, but interesting fruity notes hard to identify.

It was then to the station. When I arrived, train parked way down the platform. I was forced to run, caught the train as due to leave.

Train standing room only.

Looking through Lagom, pleased with my purchase, somewhere between Cereal and Drift, quality articles, quality photography, excellent feature on coffee scene in Japan.

Looking up later on-line, very disappointed to learn that this issue was their last issue, and all back issues now being sold off, half price or less (though have to add postage).

MauerSkulpturen

January 6, 2020

Sculpture by Eberhard Foest depicting the Berlin Wall outside the Finance Ministry in Mitte on the East German side of the Berlin Wall.

Australia first country to commit Climate Suicide

January 5, 2020

Australia will go down in history as the first country to commit Climate Suicide, assuming there is anyone left to write the history books.

As Paul Mason succinctly notes, this is the fossil fuel elite’s Chernobyl.

Australia together with pariah states like Saudi Arabia has over the years done its best to sabotage climate talks, digs up coal, elected a corrupt fascist in the pocket of Big Coal as their prime minster, absorbs mind rotting fake news from Murdoch, and now is reaping the benefits.

As Australia burns, the prime minister in the pocket of Big Coal sabotaged COP25 climate talks in Madrid, then went on holiday.

This is the moron who once walked walked into Parliament with a lump of coal to pass around.

Last week fascist PM visited a burnt out town. The local residents told him to fuck off. This was their Ceaușescu moment, when Nicolae Ceaușescu stood before a crowd and was booed.

What we are seeing is an Apocalypse of Biblical proportions, and this is only the beginning.

A bookstore in the fire-ravaged village of Cobargo, New South Wales, has a new sign outside that reads:

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs

The carbon released by the bush fires into the atmosphere will accelerate towards the climate tipping point, the point of no return.

Smoke from the fires has engulfed New Zealand, turned the glaciers brown, accelerating the melting of the glaciers.

The extent of the fires is such it is generating its own weather system. The temperatures hot enough to cause the metal of cars to melt.

Already over twenty people have died in the fires, the count is mounting daily, more bodies will be found when people return to burnt out towns. But as nothing to the tens of thousands who will die as a result of breathing in the toxic smoke. And it beggars belief the imbecile mayor of Sydney went ahead with New Year fireworks to add to the toxic mix.

Mass destruction of wildlife. Wildlife not burnt alive, dying due to the high temperatures.

Any politician who accepts dirty money from coal is a climate criminal and should be in prison.

Under the fascist Prime Minister, a crack down on unions, civic organisations and journalists. Legislation pending in Tasmania, and expected to be copied across Australia, environmental protesters now face up to 21 years in jail for demonstrating. This is what we are seeing from the Fascist regimes in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, India, Bolivia and Brazil.

When the fires are finally put out, Australians need to rise up, remove their prime minister from office, topple the government,  and take direct action, whatever it takes, to shut down the coal industry. And to boycott the poisonous toxic crap from Murdoch and his ilk.

Second day of New Year in Sheffield

January 3, 2020

As regular as clockwork, which is more than can be said of our rail network, rail fares increased on Thursday by 2.7%.

Equally as regular as clockwork, rail companies justify rail fare increase claiming improvement in service.

Strange how none of us notice this improvement in service.

I wait and wait and wait at ticket office to buy my return ticket to Sheffield. Increase in rail fares but same piss-poor service.

New Northern Fail train to Sheffield. New but still only two coaches on a route that requires at least three coaches.

Poor design, seats fail to align with windows, partial obstruction of windows by external indicators, large TV screen in your face, deafened each time an announcement. Yes wifi, yes 13A power socket. But power socket hidden beneath the seats and have to be a contortionist to access, and no usb power point on the 13A socket.

Arrive at Sheffield to be met by an army of ticket collectors. This is how they treat rail passengers, as criminals. The guard walks up and down the train after departing each station, checking and selling tickets.

Alighted from train, very very cold.

Walking up from Sheffield Station, no Motore Coffee kiosk. Not that I could stop as heading straight to Union St via Winter Garden for a Taiwanese lunch.

I was not sure if Union St open or if Taiwanese food, but luckily yes to both, and I had had a message in the morning from ShuJu Kitchen confirming would be there serving food.

As always excellent food. I sampled a bit of almost everything. As always excellent and generous portion size. The downside a few of the dishes cold or almost cold. This needs to be addressed. Also they need to serve on hot plates, have the ability to warm the plates.

One reason for visit to Sheffield beginning of the month, latest issue of Now Then. To my surprise a pile of Now Then December 2019 arrives.

I later learn, no Now Then January 2020. The next issue will be Now Then February 2020.

Now Then is like gold dust. Lucky if find. It puts to shame the glossy freebies found in other towns.

From Union St through Winter Garden to Millennium Gallery for an exhibition Now is The time. I was looking forward to it. A total waste of time.

To Marmadukes. Packed, very busy. Who I wished to see not there, indeed I did not recognise any of the staff.

Excellent cappuccino.

To Steam Yard.

I passed Stone the Crows, an indie businesses forced to close by business rates too high. A story that could be told across the country. A total failure of the local council to engage. The same local council that destroyed tens of thousands of trees. Is this why Labour lost the General Election. One party states, Labour councils with arrogant contempt for local people, local businesses? The same story in Lincoln. What is odd, Stone the Crows paying higher rates than comparable businesses which are corporate chains. Why? Answers please Sheffield City Council.

Steam Yard as with Marmadukes, packed, very busy. Leaving Marmadukes early meant more time at Steam Yard. Last few visits, no time to stop.

I noticed as last visit, not only Bullion bean-to-bar craft chocolate, added to their range Bare Bones bean-to-bar chocolate.

Chocolate is following in the footsteps of speciality coffee, source single origin, care taken throughout the process. Not to be confused with overpriced chocolate from Hotel Chocolat or too many chocolates that are simply buying in chocolate and moulding it.

A pile of Now Then on the windowsill next to where I was sitting.

Interesting conversation with one of the baristas. He had been to the coffee farm in Panama owned by Ninety Plus. They own two farms, one in Panama the other in Ethiopia.

Pass by a butcher cum fishmonger in Division Street. Peeled prawns loose, but prawns in their shells shells prepacked on a polystyrene tray shrink wrapped in plastic.

To Sheffield Station with time to spare.

Train running late. Overcrowded standing room only clapped out Northern Fail train of only two coaches. Last part of journey a gang of pre-teen and early teen girls running amok on the train. They should not have been out on their own, let alone travelling on a train on their own.

Alighting from the train, positively balmy compared with Sheffield.

Note: Northern Fail to be stripped of their rail franchise.

Skin Deep

January 1, 2020

Blues legend Buddy Guy and street musicians from around the world.

Happy New Year 2020

January 1, 2020

So may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many more whose happiness depends on you! — Charles Dickens

Happy New Year

Feliz año nuevo

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος

С новым годом

Carluccio’s

December 27, 2019

A chain eatery, thus my expectations were low, and they were not exceeded.

I was only there because Madame Waffle opposite closed and a friend had said the coffee was good (I think she was taking the piss).

Soulless as would expect from a chain eatery.

Cappuccino ordered. Served with chocolate on top.

Why oh why does no one know do not put chocolate on top of a cappuccino? Not unless trying to disguise that is crap coffee. At the very least ask. And a good coffee shop would not dream of asking as would not wish to insult their clientele.

Cappuccino taken back.

Next attempt, oddly in a different cup, not good, cheap catering supply coffee.

A young fellow asked how was my drink? I said not good, very poor compared with Madame Waffle where can get an excellent cup of coffee. He scowled and walked off. Why ask if do not wish to be told the truth?

It was then to Coffee Aroma for a decent cup of coffee.