Lunch at Park Street Eatery

January 17, 2017

Roast dinner, roast beef, tasted better than it looked, but not great.

Park Street Eatery must be the busiest restaurant in Lincoln, it was packed.

Contrast with a chain eatery in the High Street, where half price and trying to drag business in off the street.

For starters parsnip soup, and a cake for dessert (which was free).

Very reasonable prices. A little over £6, with a free dessert (special offer for January). Otherwise £6-50 for three courses.

Very hot. Failure to use the thermostat on the radiators.

Bailgate Independent

January 17, 2017

I picked up a copy of Bailgate Independent in Stokes.

A glossy magazine, primarily advertising, crammed with advertising and a handful of articles not worth reading.

I am surprised Stokes stock it.

I left my copy in the Park Street Eatery. Maybe someone will appreciate it.

A tragic waste of trees.

I contrast with the excellent Viva Brighton. Brighton has creative talent, maybe Lincoln does not.

Cappuccino at Stokes on High Bridge

January 17, 2017

The last couple of occasions I have avoided Stokes and Coffee Aroma and decided to try a couple of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln.

A risky endeavour, as I can end up in somewhere like The Angel Coffee House, as I did last week, shabby, lack of ambience, filthy threadbare chairs and awful coffee.

Today I decided to play safe and visit Stokes on High Bridge.

As always, excellent cappuccino.

I picked up a copy of Bailgate Independent. A glossy magazine full of advertising, articles not worth reading. Tragic waste of trees. I am surprised Stokes stock it.

I contrast with the excellent Viva Brighton. Brighton has creative talent, maybe Lincoln does not.

On my way I passed through the grotty shopping centre opposite Stokes on High Bridge.

Not where would expect quality coffee. I stopped and had a brief chat with a guy with a little coffee stall. I said I would pop by one day and try his coffee. Several brewing methods, maybe too many for a little one man stall. Wrong location, a grotty shopping centre is not where would expect quality coffee. Central Market would be ideal location, except for one problem, thanks to the destruction Coop and the local council have wrought down on the area, footfall is low. Beans sourced from Makushi.

From Stokes, roast dinner at Park Street Eatery. It tasted better than it looked, but not great.

Cappuccino in The Angel Coffee House

January 12, 2017
The Angel Coffee House

The Angel Coffee House

I wanted to have a cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge or Coffee Aroma, but no, I would keep to my resolve, try a few of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln, even if it meant missing out on an excellent cappuccino and being forced to try something dire. But you never know, I may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Today was the turn of The Angel Coffee House in the centre of town.

From the outside it looks like a Victorian chapel, replete with gargoyles.

Actually it is the old church hall of St Swithin’s opposite. The grassy park with headstones acting as paving slabs the former graveyard.

I had looked in a few years ago, but never stopped for a coffee.

The promise of the exterior, is not met by the interior. Very shabby, the same photos on the walls. The chairs were a disgrace, shabby, threadbare and filthy. The cushions even worse.

Occasional events. One, I may have got the name wrong, 15 minute fiction, where aspiring writers could share ideas. But why charge an entrance fee?

Bookstop Cafe, would be an excellent location for these events, an undercroft of a Norman House, as they already support local writers.

It was very noisy.  Not a pleasant environment within which to relax and enjoy a coffee.

I ordered a cappuccino.

When a cappuccino looks disgusting, first impressions are usually not misleading. It was awful. If I wanted disgusting coffee, there is always Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks. I took a couple of sips and left it.

And no, you do not sprinkle chocolate on a cappuccino. Or at the very least, ask. And you do not use chocolate, you use cocoa. The only reason chocolate is added is to hide disgusting coffee.

The cup was too large. Not a soup bowl as Costa, but still too large for a cappuccino.

I asked from where they sourced their beans.

The Forge in Sheffield, or was it The Foundry in Sheffield.

Roast date of the beans they were using 9 December 2016. Borderline to say the least.

No quality indie coffee shop would use beans this long past the roast date, at least not if concerned about their reputation. Check with Stokes, Coffee Aroma or Makushi Coffee House, and you will find they would not dream of using beans this old.

The lady serving was quite pleasant.  Service was slow, though to be fair she was on her own and it was busy.

Coffee shops are not in competition, far from it, good coffee shops help each other. But these days if you open or run a coffee shop, you have to know about coffee, you have to be able to serve quality coffee, the only competition, is a pride in serving the the best.  I am used to baristas, where they serve me a coffee, and say no, not good enough, and pour it away. Or they bring me a second coffee. Why, I ask? What you have is not good enough.

Usually, if things are wrong, I will say. I may have mentioned the roast date, or at least hinted roast date too long ago, but so many things wrong and I was already running late.

That I left the coffee, should have said how awful it was, and one look at it, it should never have been served.

The Angel Coffee House is not any time soon if ever going to make it into Northern England Independent Coffee Guide.

Once again TripAdvisor shown as seriously flawed. The Angel Coffee House listed as No 2 for tea and coffee in Lincoln. I cannot comment on the tea, but coffee awful and undrinkable, with not a clue about coffee. On the other hand Pimento Tearooms No 4, Coffee Aroma No 5, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 7,  Henry’s Tea Room No 8, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop No 12.

No way is The Angel Coffee House No 2, or better than those I have listed. I cannot comment on others on TripAdvisor, but unless dire, I would expect The Angel Coffee House to be somewhere near the bottom, with Coffee Aroma No 1, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 2, or joint No 1, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop  No3,  Pimento Tearooms No 4, Henry’s Tea Room No 5.

It is laughable The Angel Coffee House is No 2 on TripAdvisor. It does little for their credibility, especially when they delete critical reviews and fail to deal with fake reviews.

Use the Northern England Independent Coffee Guide to decided where ‘s best, that is if you need a guide. On sale in Coffee Aroma. In Lincoln is featured Coffee Aroma, Stokes on High Bridge, Stokes at The Collection, Stokes Coffee Roasters and a mention of Stokes at The Lawn.

Stokes,  Coffee Aroma and Makushi are in a different league. If they are Premier League, Angel barely makes it into Division Four. Pimento and Henry’s are tea shops. Both have a lovely ambience, especially Pimento. Excellent tea in Pimento. Coffee not good in Henry’s, but potential to be much better as the girl who was waiting on the tables knew a lot about coffee and was keen to learn more, and it is a tea room not a coffee shop, I have not tried the tea.

I looked in W, new coffee shop in Waterstone’s. Not an indy coffee shop, they have one in Brighton, but great news to have kicked out Costa. Ambience pleasant. I will have to try their coffee. But no roast date, best by is meaningless. Beans roasted by Matthew Algie, a special blend for Waterstone’s.

Cappuccino in Henry’s

January 9, 2017

Henry’s is a relatively new tea shop, situated on the first floor of Ruddocks.

It has been there a couple of years or more, I had looked in when first opened, but never sampled the coffee.

Habit of always taking a coffee in Stokes and not venturing further afield.

Last year I tried Coffee Aroma, and this year decided to try a few more of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln. Last week I tried Makushi Coffee House, halfway up Steep Hill.

As I passed by Stokes, very tempting, even more temping to visit Coffee Aroma, but no must keep my resolve, and so Henry’s it was.

Ruddocks is not where you’d expect to find a tea shop, a stationers cum bookshop cum art supplies. Or at least was once a bookshop, now sells newspapers and magazines, a very retrograde step. There used to be a very up-market art shop top end of the High Street, Gadsby’s, but sadly no more. Strange as Lincoln has an art college, or did. Ruddocks is also a printer and publisher.

Ambience in Henry’s very agreeable, a 1930’s feel, almost expect to look out the window and see the Brown Shirts marching past. Or maybe they simply opened it as it was. Music from the period playing.

Sadly my cappuccino did not live up to the promise of the ambience or the price.

At £2-90 I expect quality. It was undrinkable. When a cappuccino does not look good appearance usually not deceptive, it was not good. Not the disgusting undrinkable yuk they serve in Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks, but undrinkable nevertheless.

No, you do not add chocolate to a cappuccino. You ask, and even then, use high quality cocoa powder.

The only reason chocolate added, is to hide the fact disgusting coffee.

To be fair it is a tea shop, and to be fair the barista was not there. Whoever prepared the food prepared the coffee.

I inquired as to the coffee beans. Stokes espresso blend. Unless Stokes is supplying rubbish for cafes, then they should be worried the damage this does to their reputation. They should periodically visit places sourcing their coffee, exercise quality control.

The young lady serving made up for the poor quality coffee. She had been doing a coffee course at Stokes and was keen to learn more. But training only takes you so far. She needs to work alongside top quality baristas.

Henry’s is not any time soon going to make it into Northern England Independent Coffee Guide.

On leaving Ruddocks, I found Stokes coffee beans on sale. How old, and the last place would think of looking for coffee beans. Obvious place to sell would be on the counter in Henry’s. And to be sure of freshly roasted, buy from Stokes. Though Stokes fail to put the roast date, a major omission, and Stokes should know better.

Passing by Stokes on may way up, not busy. Passing by Coffee Aroma on my way back down, packed.

Passing through The Stonebow, a young guy playing an acoustic guitar. Not bad, especially compared with the rubbish usually found on the street in Lincoln. I picked up a free CD.

Popped into Waterstone’s High Street. When last week, I went to pick up a copy of The Spy I had ordered, I actually did not, I asked for two copies, which they collected from upstairs. Was it still there? No, but I showed then the reference code, they checked, and yes, should have been collected. I picked up two at £6-50, full price £12-99, thus getting two copies for one pence better than half price.

A sticker ‘Just 12-99’ is deliberately misleading, as that is the price, but gives the false impression getting a reduction.

To download the e-book is a blatant rip-off Kobo £9-49, Amazon Kindle £9-49 and Google Play £9-49.

I picked up another free CD off Sam Harrison busking in The Stonebow. Gave him my small change. I said put on bandcamp. He said people find him on spotify. Yes, only because you send people there. Do not encourage people to use a platform like spotify that screws musicians big time. Send to bandcamp where everyone gets a good deal. He agreed, sound advice, especially if people had picked up a free CD, they may then pay him some money.

I picked up a copies of Rain & Voices from the Sky by Sam Harrison and the Society of Strange Living. Not yet found its way onto bandcamp.

Radical Monarchs

January 7, 2017

The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities. — Radical Monarchs

A group of girls, they could have joined the Scouts and learnt how to rub two sticks together, instead they formed their own troop the Radical Monarchs and fight for social justice.

A group of very intelligent girls.

The world needs more of them.

Cob house within solar geodesic dome in the Arctic Circle

January 6, 2017

The Hjertefølger  family has been living on Norway’s Sandhornøya island, where they started their journey into sustainable living, since 2013. Their three-story cob home—built from sand, water, clay, and other organic materials—is encased in an aesthetically pleasing, and functional, solar geodesic dome by Solardome.

Placing the 25-foot-high dome around the five-bedroom, two-bathroom home gave the six-person family protection from strong winds and heavy snow loads, as well as cutting down on heating costs. The geodesic dome, which also covers a garden area, gives the family the necessary greenhouse environment to grow much of their food.  Apples, cherries, plums, apricots, kiwis, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, and melons are just some of what they can grow in an area that is without sunlight for three months a year.

Cappuccino in Makushi Coffee House

January 5, 2017

Half way up Steep Hill can be found Makushi Coffee House. A new coffee shop, it was not there a year ago.

Inside very agreeable environment. A knowledgeable barista.

From the outside, it does not look much. Not so inside.

Whitewashed walls, stonework poking through, wood. At the rear a room with a solid wooden table and seats, further in a stone vaulted room, more upstairs, and upstairs a coffee roaster. Also upstairs a door leading to a terrace, but not open. It will be pleasant to enjoy a coffee in the summer, but please do not allow smoking.

Cappuccino was excellent, but, it had a somewhat unpleasant  taste, which then lingered as an aftertaste.

I doubt lack of skill of the barista or machine. Barista had worked before at Coffee Aroma and talking to him he knew what he was talking about.

I suspect the roasting. Makushi roast their own beans, and roasting requires more skill that brewing coffee.

More inquiries are needed.

On the counter bags of their own roast beans. And had roast date, roasted the day before, 4 January 2017.  I would though disagree with their enjoy by 4 March 2017. I would have put 4 February 2017. One week to let the oils adjust following roasting, then three weeks beans at their optimum. But full marks for roast date and recently roasted beans.  Contrast with Stokes, who somewhat surprising, do not put roast date, but do put best by which is meaningless.

Apart from roast date, also told you something about the beans, their origin.

Every bean has a story to tell. I am surprised rarely seen told. Not only on the bags, but also a chalkboard telling the story of the coffee served.

Chatting to a charming young lady, she said she played the flute. I probably made her late.

I suggested, why not have recitals in the coffee shop? Better still, get hold of some decent recording equipment, someone who knows how to record and master, release on bandcamp. At least release if good. But always record. Can always throw away if not good, but cannot record what has been and gone.

I suggested she checked out Agnes Obel and Berlin Live session of The Curse with looping.

The strange name? Apparently Makushi is the name of a tribe in the Amazon, who the owner, who I did not meet, had spent time with learning survival skills, and with had his first experience of coffee.

Makushi is in a former tea shop, which has been derelict for years, or if not, it always had that appearance as I never found it open.

Makushi Coffee House is next to and below what was Readers Rest, now a tacky beauty parlour. What a pity Readers Rest no more, it was an excellent second hand bookshop and the two would have complimented each other.

Many are opening coffee shops, jumping on the bandwagon. Few have  a clue about coffee.

Lincoln is unusual, for its size it has a lot of indie coffee shops, and few chains serving their disgusting undrinkable coffee. This is mainly due to Stokes, a fourth generation family business.

Now we are a seeing, with Coffee Aroma and Makusihi a new generation of indie coffee shops, where great care is taken over the coffee.

I can see Makushi Coffee House being added to Northern England Independent Coffee Guide when the third edition is published, or an oversight if not. It was a major oversight Stokes never made it into the first edition.

On my way up, I would have looked in the cheese shop in The Strait, only not there, now a deli, and he said he would not be there long, as bad for trade.

Sincil Street would be ideal, create as it was, indie shops, but the local council and Coop seem determined to trash the area with a shopping centre and sky high rents, the area once busy, now blighted with boarded-up shops. .

I was always surprised the cheese shop opened, when they have a shop and restaurant around the corner.

I was going to collect something from the deli on my way back down, but already closed.

Popped into the cheese shop and picked up Cornish yarg.

Then I remembered, a book to collect from Waterstone’s in the High Street.

The Spy marked Just £12-99, implying a reduction. It is not reduced. Order from Amazon at £6-50 (but pay postage unless over £10). Order from Waterstone’s on-line. pay £6-50 and collect in-store. I picked up two copies. In the Cornhill, there is a chalk board, order on line, have a coffee (no thanks Caffe Nero), then collect your order.

Cost of e-books is zero. The Spy, download from Kobo £9-49, Google £9-49, Amazon £9-49. When price of an e-book exceeds that of a hardback, for The Spy nearly 50% more, something is seriously wrong. Readers are being ripped off big time.  To download an e-book should be no more than a pound.

A New Economy

January 4, 2017

What if working together for the good of all was the most common business model? Watch, as several organisations strive towards building a more cooperative future. By putting humanity before the bottom line, they are finding their place in an economy previously dominated by profits and big business.

Why not make available for streaming on vimeo for a nominal fee?
 
As for example 13 Shades of Romanian.
 
Why not make freely available, as Sita Sings the Blues, if show, send money following.
 
Practice what you preach.
 
A film about coops, has to set an example

European owned British rail companies

January 4, 2017

Passengers on European railways would like to thank British rail passengers for supporting their railways.

Foreign state railways own most of our rail network.

When we see rail companies making massive profits, and those rail companies are owned by foreign state railways, the profit they make is ploughed back into their own national railways.

Also true of electricity. EDF is a French electricity company.

State-owned railways is ok, so long as it is a foreign state railway does the owning.

We must take our railways back into public ownership.

Not nationalisation.
 
It has to be some form of open coop, where the rail staff, passengers and the state have a stake.

The beginning of the working week, saw yet another inflation busting hike in rail fares, for a service that is abysmal.