Archive for January, 2013

The Angel Coffee House

January 24, 2013
The Angel Coffee House

The Angel Coffee House

5 Nocturnes - Foss Dyke Navigation

5 Nocturnes – Foss Dyke Navigation

I thought Angel Coffee had closed, no sign, no lights when I walked by over Christmas New Year Holidays. Walking by this afternoon I saw a light and stuck my head in the door. It was open, and quite busy, and yet still no sign outside.

An exhibition of photos on the wall from local photographers, fresh cakes, fair trade tea and coffee. At least it was claimed fair trade and fresh cakes, but when asked, they did not have clue where their tea and coffee was sourced from and they admitted they did not make the cakes themselves (they looked like factory cakes and so did not try).

Some of the photographers were using Instagram, which I advised was a very bad idea.

I suggested turn the coffee shop into a BookCrossing zone.

Although nicely done out, I found the place rather pretentiousness, too much like Starbucks or Costa whilst at the same time trying a little too hard not to be.

For quality original art, quality coffee and scrumptious cakes try Café 44 in Sincil Street, for the best coffee in town, lovely old building and delicious food and cakes Stokes on High Bridge is a must, and for delicious cakes try Greenhouse coffee shop on Burton Road up past Lincoln Castle.

The Angel Coffee House is located in what was once the Old St Swithin’s Hall. There used to be on the site St Swithin’s Church (that opposite with the spire the Victorian replacement). The little park is what was once the graveyard, the large flagstones that form the paths are the headstones from the graves.

Friday night launch of a new album from the composer Jamie Crofts 5 Nocturnes for Piano – The Foss Dyke Navigation at Night. The music was inspired by watching the Foss Dyke at night. It forms part of Jamie’s ongoing series of Octonic Fields. The CD Digipak and CD were produced as part of a limited edition of 500 copies. It may have been worth going, but heavy snow forecast.

What I did not appreciate at the time, I met Jamie Crofts when I popped into the Angel.


January 24, 2013


cast iron support columns painted with floral design

cast iron support columns painted with floral design

time tree

time tree

I keep finding more and more indie coffee shops in Lincoln.

I had walked the length of Sincil Street to what was a boarded-up shop to look at plans for the destruction of Sincil Street, only to find it had opened as Revival, a coffee shop, workshops and meeting place, a very 1960s hippy feel.

A wonderful job had been done. This coffee shop will be lost if Sincil Street is destroyed, to be replaced by a soulless shopping centre. It illustrates why Sincil Street must not be destroyed.

As I had noticed Revival was a BookCrossing zone, I returned later and dropped off The Alchemist.

Day in Lincoln

January 24, 2013

This morning I was waiting for a bus to travel to Lincoln. Rural buses are not that frequent. No sign of a bus. I then learnt it only ran on Tuesday and Friday. Today being Thursday.

I walked to a main road and caught a bus. I thought every 30 minutes but the buses were every 20 minutes. I did not have long to wait, the bus was only four minutes late, but it was cold and damp, a little above freezing, and by the time I caught the bus, I was chilled to the bone.

Of late I have made it into Lincoln around 9am or earlier. Today 11am it was quite busy in Sincil Street, indeed busier than the High Street. What does that tell us about Clone Town, given a choice, people prefer independent shops than High Street chains. And yet the council is trying to destroy Sincil Street the only remaining heritage in that part of the town centre. To be replaced by what, a soulless shopping centre.

I walked to the end of Sincil Street where there was a boarded-up shop, with the plans for Sincil Street destruction. To my surprise, it had been turned into a pleasant little coffee shop, Revival, serving a dual purpose as a meeting place.

I looked in Stokes on the High Bridge. I expected it to be busy, it wasn’t. It was though cosy and warm compared with last week. Jo had returned from her Amazon adventure. I gave Jemma a copy of The Valkyries.

I was going to have a coffee, but now too late.

The girl in the High Street selling the Big Issue from Romania. She travels in from Leicester every day (or maybe she said Sheffield). It cannot be worth her while, as she has to recover her train fare before she has any money.

Lunch at County Restaurant. Excellent roast pork and excellent leek and potato soup for starters.

I walked back into town, but too full to climb up The Strait and Steep Hill to the Bailgate.

I decided to check in the Central Library. Did they have anything on Sincil Street? Unfortunately not. It would be start from scratch trawl through trade directories.

I found The Angel Coffee House open. I thought it had closed down. I spotted a light on inside, no sign outside to say open, not even the name to indicate open and in business.

Afternoon coffee in Stokes on High Bridge. Wrong way around, it should have been afternoon tea, that sort of place.

I popped back to Revival, the coffee bar end of Sincil Street and dropped off a copy of The Alchemist as they are a BookCrossing zone.

After four o’clock and Sincil Street all but deserted, most of the shops closed. It would seem they open after 9 o’clock, some not until ten o’clock then close at four o’clock,

Then find a bus.

Buggy protest at loss of Lewisham A&E

January 23, 2013

As part of the ConDem government slash and burn of public service and privatisation of the NHS, it is proposed that the Accident and Emergency Department at Lewisham Hospital be closed.

Today, parents mounted a buggy protest.

My own experience health care of the last week, five hours in A&E last Wednesday and a visit to a private clinic today, is that we have seriously dysfunctional health system with medical professionals not a clue what they are doing.

Buildings of Local Historical Importance in Aldershot and Farnborough

January 23, 2013
former Imperial Hotel once earmarked for demolition for Urban Renewal

former Imperial Hotel once earmarked for demolition for Urban Renewal

Wellington Street earmarked for demolition

Wellington Street earmarked for demolition

The Tumbledown Dick  hand-tinted photo c 1911

The Tumbledown Dick hand-tinted photo c 1911

The Ship Inn site of the world's first heavyweight boxing match

The Ship Inn site of the world’s first heavyweight boxing match

A building or structure will only be added to the Local List if it meets the criteria. If a building or structure meets the criteria there will be no valid reason for omitting it. – Buildings of Local Importance, Draft Supplementary Planning Document, Rushmoor November 2011

The Council will seek to protect and retain Buildings of Local Importance whenever possible. Demolition should only be agreed where the replacement is of such a high quality that the loss of the locally important building/structure will be adequately mitigated by a development that enhances the character of the local area. – Buildings of Local Importance, Draft Supplementary Planning Document, Rushmoor November 2011

Aldershot was a small village, it then grew at a rapid pace with the arrival of the British Army during the reign of Queen Victoria. It has the unique distinction of being a Victorian town. Most of that Victorian heritage has been destroyed, a once proud Victorian town gutted by a local council with no vision, with planners who give every appearance of being in the pocket of developers, pushing through any scheme they want, spineless councillors who do what the planners tell them.

Farnborough was a few isolated houses in the middle of a desolate heath, coaching inns on the track that ran across the heath. It is vital that what little is left of what the Anglo-Saxons called Ferneberga (Fern Hill) is protected.

Heritage provides a sense of place, tells us who we are where we have come from, enhances the quality of life, gives a place its unique character, provides premises for small businesses in the centre of town.

Somewhat late in the day, an official policy on affording some protection to what little is left of the cultural and historical heritage of Aldershot and Farnborough has been adopted.

There are buildings and monument and sites identified by English Heritage that have national protection. By having a local policy, it affords protection to sites of local importance but not necessarily of national importance. Or at least that is the theory.

There are presently just under 100 statutory listed buildings in the Rushmoor Borough area. These range from St. Michael’s Abbey and individual dwellings, to commemorative monuments and wind tunnels. There are three Scheduled Ancient Monuments (barrows and a hillfort) and eight designated conservation areas.

However, there are many other buildings and structures throughout the Borough which do not meet the criteria for national statutory listing but are of considerable local historical and/or architectural merit. These buildings/structures reinforce local distinctiveness and a sense of place but do not enjoy any statutory protection.

The overall aim of this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is to identify these buildings and structures of special local architectural and historical interest, and provide them with a level of closer scrutiny and protection against undesirable alterations and/or irreplaceable loss.

By establishing a Local List of Buildings and Structures of Local Importance, this will encourage the owners and occupiers to take pride in the care of their property and have the satisfaction of being involved in the conservation of a building for the benefit of present and future generations.

Through adopting a policy, we can identify these buildings, raise awareness of their importance, ensure they are protected from unwanted and inappropriate development driven by greed and ignorance.

When considering applications for alteration, extension or demolition of a building or structure on the Local List, the significance of the building, and its particular features of importance will be taken into consideration. If a building is included on the Local List, this will be a material consideration when determining any planning applications that affect it.

The policy sets out a criteria for addition to the list of ‘protected’ buildings. This is by no means the complete list (more as an illustration):

  • Buildings or structures dating before 1840, which have survived in anything like their original condition
  • Buildings dated between 1840 and 1914 that have a definite quality and character. The use of local styles are particularly relevant when we determine the value of such a building
  • Buildings dated between 1914 and 1939, which have a particular quality, character or are of local significance
  • Buildings dated after 1939, which are outstanding and represent an important architectural style
  • Buildings that have been documented in recognised publications, for example, ‘Hampshire Treasures’ and ‘Pevsner’, or have received an architectural or planning award

To be eligible for inclusion, only one of the criteria has to be met.

A building or structure will only be added to the Local List if it meets the criteria. If a building or structure meets the criteria there will be no valid reason for omitting it.

There is though one criteria has to be seen as a sick joke

  • Buildings which are good examples of local town planning

as both Aldershot and Farnborough would serve as excellent case studies for planning schools as examples of towns destroyed by bad planning and inappropriate development.

The bottom line

The Council will seek to protect and retain Buildings of Local Importance whenever possible. Demolition should only be agreed where the replacement is of such a high quality that the loss of the locally important building/structure will be adequately mitigated by a development that enhances the character of the local area.

List of Buildings of Local Importance, annexe to the policy document, has many dubious entries, but putting that to on side, what is noticeable is the significant omissions. Buildings that everyone recognises as buildings of historical and cultural value. These omissions beg the question how comprehensive the list?

There is no way of pulling up more information on the buildings listed.

The list gives the impression of a job half done.

There may be other obvious omission. If aware, please add in comments, giving the criteria met and why. With pointers to where more information may be found.

Former Imperial Hotel, corner Barrack Road and Grosvenor, Aldershot

It is not clear whether or not this remarkable building is listed. It stands in marked contrast to the ugly eyesore Westgate development that has been thrown up.

This raises a further protection that is required and necessary, the environs surrounding a historic building.

The former Imperial Hotel was at one time threatened with demolition to create an artificial town square in what is jokingly called Urban Renewal, in reality create an opportunity for greedy developers to make fast buck.

This unusual triangle building pre-dates the Flatiron building in New York.

Wellington Street, Aldershot

Most of the buildings on the opposite side of the street to The Arcade. Or what is left.  A few have their Victorian street fronts.

These building are at least Victorian, possibly much older, possibly c 250 years old. Original fireplaces are in some if not all of these buildings.

Pubs of Aldershot has information on those that were pubs giving an insight on their historical and cultural value.

The row opposite the entrance to The Arcade, currently Paul’s Copy Shop and Aladdin’s Cave, are threatened with demolition as part of redevelopment of the adjacent ugly shopping centre. This would not meet the criterion for loss, and thus demolition should not go ahead.

There is another reason for keeping these buildings which does not form part of the historical criteria for inclusion. Heritage provides premises for local businesses. Most of the businesses on this side of the street are local businesses. Local businesses recycle money within the local economy. National chains, apart from destroying our town centres and turning into Clone Towns, drain money out of a local economy. National Chains are now collapsing, filing for bankruptcy, leaving behind boarded-up shops, as we are already seeing in Aldershot. The town centre is in its final death throes, Aldershot is a deprived area. It is vital we stop money draining out of the local economy. The only chance Aldershot has is with its small retailers who unlike national chains, have a vested interest in seeing the town survive. But we have a council that repeatedly kicks these retailers in the teeth and does everything in its power to drive them out of business.

Could the omission be to facilitate a greedy developer, with planners in their pocket? It would appear so, thus serious maladministration and possible corruption.

Plans to demolish should be quashed. Demolition should not go ahead as it fails to meet the criteria, and will not be replaced by anything to be proud of, or that could in anyway justify that which is to be lost.

Tumbledown Dick, Farnborough Road, Farnborough

The Tumbledown Dick is old coaching inn c 1722, possible older, one of a few isolated building on a desolate heath with a track across the heath running past. Of recent years an important cultural venue in an area that is a cultural desert.

The first known documentary evidence of The Tumbledown Dick appears in a letter dated 30 July 1722, from Thomas Matthew of Cove. The earliest known tenant was William Prior in 1817, and it was also owned by the Lord of the Manor of Farnborough in the 1820s.

It beggars belief that not only is The Tumbledown Dick not listed, but in the town centre prospectus or plan for the town centre it is zoned as a site for development. Again it begs questions of the planning department, maladministration or corruption?

The Tumbledown Dick meets not one but several of the criteria for inclusion.

The Tumbledown Dick is now under threat of demolition for a tacky two-story drive-in McDonald’s. This again would not meet the criteria that could justify demolition, a building of historical, architectural and cultural merit being lost to what amounts to little more than a temporary building (in terms of how long it would last) that in no way can justify the loss.

The council commissioned a report from a consultancy that brags about delivering planning solutions for their private clients, a consultancy that welcomes the relaxation of planning controls which it sees as an obstacle to developers, a consultancy that counts McDonald’s as their clients! The report was so shoddy and superficial, it would not pass muster as a school kids project, not that is if they wanted a pass mark.

Ship Inn, junction Ship Lane and Farnborough Road, Farnborough 

One of the oldest buildings, let alone pubs, in Farnborough. 

Cultural significance the beams from old ships, which are much older than the pub.

The world’s very first World Heavyweight Boxing Match John Heenan (USA) v Tom Sayers (UK) took place here just over a century ago. So important was this match that it was covered by all the London papers, special trips down from London.

The Centenary took place a couple of years ago. It was not marked, no celebrations. The plaque, assuming still there, was obtained and erected by the then landlord, not the council.

The Ship meets the criteria for inclusion.

Beckside Tea Room

January 22, 2013
Beckside Tea Room

Beckside Tea Room

Beckside Tea Room is located next to the Beck in Heighington, a Lincolnshire village near Washingborough, not far from Lincoln.

I can see this to be a pleasant location in summer, not so in winter. No very warm and no obvious signs of heating.

I had looked in whilst wandering around Heighington, thinking would it not be nice a tea room, as I walked alongside the Heighington Beck, then noticed Beckside Tea Room.

I popped back and had tea.

No expresso machne, only filter coffee. The tea was made from a tea bag, which was squashed. Never make tea from a tea bag, and if you must, then please do not squash it.

As a result the tea was too strong.

There were speciality teas on offer. Hopefully not from a squashed tea bag.

Home made soup, much cheaper than Butcher and Beast. Today’s offering tomato and lentil.

Home made cakes. These were very cheap at £1-40 a slice. Having not long had lunch, I did not try.

Rather strange, the tea shop also sold game: peasant, partridge, duck, rabbit, hare.

The also sold fresh eggs from a local farm. Eggs sold in supermarkets are not fresh.

The lady serving was not very friendly, though she did open up. Maybe bored, maybe worried not making any money, maybe bored stiff no customers or maybe just shy. Once she opened up she was quite friendly and she was kind enough to order a taxi (tried two taxi companies). Moral of the story, do not prejudge people, you may be wrong.

She told me there was brown trout in the beck, though did not know its source.

When I looked in it was empty, when I returned for afternoon tea it was empty. I always though bring people in. Before I left, all the tables were occupied, all three of them. Lovely heavy wooden tables with wooden chairs.

I suggested she be on TripAdvisor. In the summer, an afternoon wander around the village, or maybe follow the many footpaths leading out of Heighington, then relax with afternoon tea (not from tea bags) by the beck.

Lunch at the Butcher and Beast

January 22, 2013
Butcher and Beast

Butcher and Beast

mushroom soup

mushroom soup

fried haddock in batter

fried haddock in batter

Butcher and Beast is one of two pubs in the Lincolnshire village of Heighington, not far from Washingborough, a little way out from Lincoln.

A small pub with an open coal fire in the winter.

Interesting old photos on the walls. One showed hay making. It could have been a scene from Cider With Rosie. Apart from the ancient tractor, this was farming as it had always been. The date was 1948. Farming changed rapidly after the Second World War.

Lincolnshire is an agricultural county, and yet Lincoln a centre of heavy industry. Its origins producing agricultural machinery. The engineering companies and foundries long gone, replaced by retail sheds skilled work replaced by low paid unskilled workers. The foundries created wealth for the area, the retail sheds drain money out of the local economy.

A small bar with a selection of real ales, mainly Bateman’s, a Lincolnshire beer. I had water.

Butcher and Beast has a reputation for good food. I was disappointed.

The home made mushroom soup was excellent. The choice was mushroom or potato and leek.

Tuesday is fish day. They have a fresh delivery of fish from Grimsby on a Tuesday, and that was the reason for being there. Fish n chips is not something I would normally eat in a pub as they usually do a poor job and the Butcher and Beast was no exception.

The fried haddock was served on a cold plate with a tiny bit of salad. Chips and mushy peas were served in separate dishes.

They had not troubled to take the skin off the haddock, and I did not think to ask. Leave the skin on haddock and it taints the fish, giving it a vile taste.

Looking at what other people had, it did not look appetising.

Butcher and Beast has a good reputation. If this is what classes as good locally, I hate to think what the other places are like.

I was looking forward to the fish n chips. I was in for a disappointment. And at £8-95 it was very expensive for fish n chips.

Far better fish n chips can be had at the fish n chip shop in nearby Washingborough, at the Elite fish n chip restaurant on Tritton Road (near junction with Doddington Road) in Lincoln, and (I am told) from the fish n chip on Burton Road in Lincoln.

Butcher and Beast is not somewhere I will be returning to, at least not for its fish n chips.

Afternoon spent wandering around Heighington, apart from stone cottages not a lot to see, then afternoon tea at the Beckside Tea Room, by the Heighington Beck.

Afternoon in Heighington

January 22, 2013


Heighington is a small village of stone cottages in Lincolnshire, a little further out than Washingborough.

Washingborough sits on the escarpment of Lincoln Edge overlooking the River Witham. Heighington is on the other side of the slope.

Lunch at the Butcher and Beast, one of two pubs in Heighington, the other The Turks Head. Butcher and Beast is much overrated for its food. The home made mushroom soup was excellent, the same could not be said for their fish n chips. Tuesday being fresh fish day.

After lunch a wonder around the village. I found it to be much larger than I expected, footpaths and narrow lanes running off the main road through the village, a very fast running beck running through the village.

A narrow path ran along the Beck to another road, and a large water mill. I was surprised at the size of it. Similar in size to the water mill in the centre of Winchester (behind Winchester Cathedral). The water mill now residential, no information on the mill.

The village must be on a spring line, this is the location of most of these villages. Water pumps everywhere, but sadly none were working (unless they were for show). During the heavy rain before Christmas, springs were erupting everywhere in Heighington.

Interesting tiling on the outside of the village Post Office. Inside, much smaller than would expect from the exterior. The Post Office was also a little deli, excellent cakes, cheeses.

I was thinking what is needed is a little tea shop. I walked around the corner and there by the Heighington Beck, a little tea shop, Beckside Tea Room. A pleasant place to sit in the summer. I returned later for afternoon tea and was told brown trout in the Beck.

I was curious where the Beck was sourced, but no one knew.

Along one of the roads, I spotted a church, but I did not investigate as it is very rare to find open.

Were this village in the Cotswolds it would be busy, lots of little shops and tea shops. Apart from a few dog walkers, then kids coming home from school, the streets were deserted.

No information anywhere about the village.

Late afternoon in the snow

January 21, 2013
a glimpse of Washingborough Hall through the trees

a glimpse of Washingborough Hall through the trees

entrance to Washingborough  Hall

entrance to Washingborough Hall

Morning a taxi landed in the garden. Baffled how it got there and the driver vanished without paying for damage caused.

Midday clearing snow off the drive, then with help of neighbours, clearing the road, or as best we could.

A lot more snow had fallen than I realised until I started clearing it. Around twice the depth of snow to a couple of days ago. An hour and a half snow clearing.

Late afternoon, the light was failing, I decided to take a walk in the countryside.

Up Church Hill, past Washingborough Hall, over the main road, and down Cliff Lane.

The roads were slush, but once over the main road and into Cliff Lane, hard crushed snow and crunch snow, Very slippery. Concentrate and you are ok, let mind wander a moment and whoosh, you are over. I was over 2-3 times.

There must have been a blizzard in the night, trees, bushes branches and posts white with snow down one side.

As I was coming back up the lane, I did not go far down as light dropping and too slippery, a young woman came by in a car. I stood to one side. She drove by, gave me a big smile. Tied to the back of her car was a kid on a sledge. Fun but very dangerous. Only a short rope, had she stopped suddenly, the kid would have been in the back of the car or under the car.

There was no way she was going to get back up the hill, and that was assuming she was able to turn her car around, as I was having difficulty walking. If she was travelling constant speed, then maybe she would get back up the hill, but try change speed, her wheels would spin and she would be stuck or worse be off the lane and into a field or ditch.

I talked to a man with a 4×4 and expressed my concern. He agreed, it was pretty crazy what she had done. Though to be fair to her, she seeemed ok and unlike the drivers I had so far seen that day, she could be someone who knew how to drive in the snow though without a 4×4 I had my doubts she could get up the hill.

He had a Land Rover a real 4×4 and said he would drive down and see she was ok. I offered to go with him, but he said he would be ok.

I then met a little girl, she was leading a dog and the dog was pulling a sledge. I asked her why she was not in the sledge with the dog pulling? She said he would, but he liked to walk around and she was letting him warm up first. I warned her to to take care as there would be cars coming up the lane.

By now dusk.

Some drivers should not be let out. On the main road one was driving along, headlights on, but the front of the car covered with an inch or more of snow and lights barely visible. Another car sidelights only, again barely visible.

Now stiff and ache all over. A combination of shifting snow and slipping over in the snow.

More snow expected more snow to clear.

Cat meets snow

January 21, 2013

Cat meets snow for the first time.

Excellent video considering filmed on a mobile phone, HTC One X.