Afternoon in Alton

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.

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