Archive for October, 2016

Nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse

October 30, 2016
North Camp rail works

North Camp rail works

The nightmare of weekend rail works, travelling down to Brighton last Sunday, could not get worse, could it? Unfortunately yes.

This Sunday, rail works on the line Reading to Gatwick and a repeat of last weekend’s nightmare with rail works Gatwick to Brighton.

Bus Reading to Guildford, then train to Gatwick.

As the clocks had gone back to GMT, and it gets dark an hour earlier, I set off an hour earlier, plus twenty minutes because bus was twenty minutes earlier.

A journey to Gatwick, that would take an hour, now an hour and a half.

I arrived ten minutes early for the bus. Road to station closed. Where to pick up the bus? No information at the station, nor an amended timetable or where to pick up the bus.

Displays on the platforms were not showing amended times, merely rail works and a bus service in operation.

No bus. The bus failed to turn up.

A bus for Reading arrived. The driver was asked to either contact the driver or his office. The driver refused on the grounds that he did not know the number of his own office.

Passenger decided to walk to another station and get to Guildford that way. Either way, train from Guildford to Gatwicks missed, an hour until next train.

Tough job passengers with a  plane to catch.

Not possible to cross the line due to rail works.

A detour to cross via a road bridge.  Dangerous to walk along, no footpath

On crossing the road bridge, bus turns up. Flagged down, and passengers get on the bus.

Now twenty minutes late.  No explanation or apology from driver as to why twenty minutes late.

For some perverse reason, driver decided to drive down the closed road. For what? There are no passenger to pick up, we are the passengers.

We tell him one passenger for Gatwick is on the other side, but not possible to cross due to rail works.

Driver decides to pick up passenger, even though pointless exercise, train missed at Guildford.

Driver, instead of going to car park, drives to another station.

Bus then stuck, as not possible to turn around the bus.

Eventually after much manoeuvring, bus turned around. Bus now running 40-50 minutes late.

He then goes to another station to pick passengers up. No passengers to be picked up.

Arrive at Guildford, train for Gatwick long gone.

Had though the bus been on time, sufficient time to walk through the station and catch the train, insufficient time to buy a ticket.

Any passenger coming by bus without a ticket should be allowed through to catch their train.

At Gatwick, no announcement how to get to Brighton.

I saw a train leaving in five minutes for Havant, stopping at Three Bridges, nipped across to Platform 7, and caught it.

At Three Bridges, unlike last Sunday, no announcements. I assumed as last week, walk through car park and catch a bus.

Very efficient, as soon as a bus full, dispatched.

Double-decker buses, as last week.

As soon as bus pulled out, luggage rolling around, nowhere to safely stow. Area for wheelchairs and buggies doubled as luggage space

French girl on the bus, said she had no idea what to do on arrival at Three Bridges as no announcements. She said trains in France do not provide this appalling service nor are they expensive.

Return from Brighton as efficient, as  soon as  a bus full, dispatched.

At Three Bridges, choice of two trains, one for St Pancras, the other for Victoria, both stopped at Gatwick.

Train to Guildford, then bus.

As train pulled into Guildford, announcement where to catch the train, and again at the station.

Bus driver appeared to know the route, in contrast to the driver in the morning who did not seem to have a clue where he was going.

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Day in Brighton

October 30, 2016
Brighton seafront

Brighton seafront

Last Sunday, nightmare of rail works Gatwick to Brighton. This Sunday, same nightmare, plus rail works on line to Gatwick.  The nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse.

As clocks had gone back, set off an hour earlier. Bus failed to turn up, no information at station, as a result missed train at Guildford.

Misty in the morning, dull and grey, then en route to Brighton, clouds broke up and the sun came out.

Arrived an hour late, thanks to rail works and late bus.

Walked down to the sea front. Pleasantly warm and sunny.

Mistake of chips and fish cake from Carousel’s on the sea front. Both were disgusting. Even the sea gulls did not try to steal, that was how bad.

Walked back to the North Laine up through the Royal Pavilion Gardens.

Lunch at Iydea. Not as good as last week. Very variable, sometimes good, some times not so good.

Had I been earlier, sun would have been shining through the street, now too late.

From Resident a copy of Citizen Of Glass and a special limited edition of Aventine.

I asked, and they knew what I was after. I popped back alter to buy, and they had playing Citizen Of Glass, a wonderful album.

I suggested they would also like Jewelia.

I also picked up two more of the special bags.

From Magazine Brighton, copies of November issue of Viva Brighton and Viva Lewes.

I was told could also find at the station. Picked up a couple more copies of Viva Brighton as I passed through later.

Walked back down to the seafront, but no time to take a walk.

Cappuccino at Pelicano House. I thought I would miss the bus, but luckily time to catch as I did not wish to catch a later bus.

Apart from much longer journey, not problems en route.

At M&S at Gatwick girl serving was curious about the bag, said she liked it. I said it was special for the album Citizen Of Glass.  I should have said, pop down to Brighton, visit Resident in North Laine, buy the album, and ask for the special bag.

I noted for her Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel.

Thanks to the rail works and bus failing to turn up and missed train, my day in Brighton four hours.

Dull grey afternoon in Farnham

October 29, 2016

Yesterday at least started off sunny. Today, dull and grey.

Krema, no soup, sold out. Very busy.

Barista Lounge, kitchen closed, empty.

Barista Lounge need to get their act together, else they will no longer be in business.

Farnham Wholefoods, difficult to see them surviving. They opened in September, no signage, half a dozen staff. Last week maybe three. This afternoon one. I have yet to see anything in the shop worth buying. A good wholefood shop would be an asset. They need to visit Brighton and take a look at Grocer and Grain and Infinity foods.

Lamb and chickpea soup in Gail’s not very good.

Gail’s was almost empty. The initial interest when they opened must have already waned. Only three staff, and none who I recognised from when they opened. Very bad layout and poor use of the available space. I was tempted to try a coffee to see if it had improved, but then why waste money on bad coffee?

Cappuccino and coffee and walnut slice from Krema.

Downside of good coffee shops opening in Farnham, I spend too much time in them.

Looked in Farnham Parish Church pianist and a quartet rehearsing for a concert in the evening.

In the gathering dusk, a wander over Bishop’s Meadow.  I am pleased to see they are using their newly installed notice boards to keep people informed.

Unlike last year, not ot too many idiots wandering around for Halloween.

Next week town centre closed in the evening for a torchlight procession for Bonfire Night, lighting of bonfire, followed by fireworks.

Why does Aldershot have a firework display tonight, when Bonfire Night is next Saturday? Good view from the station.

Why are pomegranates so expensive?

October 28, 2016
pomegranates on market stall in Monastiraki

pomegranates on market stall in Monastiraki

In Lidl 79p each.

Off a market stall in Aldershot, three for a pound, but small pomegranates. About the size of an apple,

Waitrose two for £2-75.

Off the market stall in Guildford, two for a pound, but as large as a grapefruit. I weighed in M&S, half a kilo each.

In M&S no pomegranates. Only seeds in a tiny plastic box, works out at £20 per kg.

On the market in Winchester, no pomegranates. I asked the stall after they had closed. The answer was what I expected, too expensive.

To think,  a couple of weeks ago, I was picking pomegranates,  last week piled up on a market stall in Monastiraki, though I did not inquire the price.

Afternoon in Guildford

October 28, 2016

Mid-morning a chill to the air, by midday, pleasant and warm and sunny.

By the time I reached Guildford, cloudy, but not cold.

Last week, left stranded by sick bastard guard who thought a great joke to leave passengers stranded. Trains were re-timed two minutes early to that shown on the timetable. Sunday I found alternate trains re-timed two minutes early.

To date, no reply to complaint to cowboy rail company, no information at station that an alternative timetable in force.

North Camp small print on station timetable

North Camp small print on station timetable

I queried at the station. They said, check small print on the timetable, it says an amended timetable from 10 October 2016. In the past, there would have been new timetables published, now a tiny note in the timetable, old timetable still displayed at stations.

This is the contempt the rail companies have for passengers.

A cappuccino off FCB coffee stall at Guildford Station. A mistake, as by the time I reached Debenhams, literally no food left.

Vodafone stole £1100 from my bank account

Vodafone stole £1100 from my bank account

A lady in the High Street mounting a one woman protest against Vodafone. They had stolen £1100 from a her bank account. Whilst I was talking to her, several people stopped to tell of their bad experience with Vodafone. She said she had had people telling her all day long of their bad experience with Vodafone.

Vodafone are infamous for piss-poor service. They have recently been fined £4.6 million by Ofcom for their appalling customer service. It is the largest ever fine imposed on a telecoms provider.

They also dodge tax. They were the first company targeted by UK Uncut for tax dodging.

Not a company to touch with a barge pole.

Guildford cheese shop cum deli

Guildford cheese shop cum deli

What was an awful record shop in Chapel Street is now a cheese shop cum deli. A good selection of cheeses, and chatting to the guys, they know their stuff. Fancy breads. I would rather see a wholemeal loaf. A rather poor selection of cakes.

I tried Colston Blue. Excellent cheese. I suggested they stock Lincolnshire Poacher.

I told the cheese stall on the market, now a cheese shop. Out of curiosity, I tried the Colston Blue. I was surprised a big difference in flavour. I can only assume age.

Four o’clock, and a chill in the air.

Why are pomegranates so expensive?

In Lidl 79p each.  Off market stall in Aldershot, three for a pound, but small pomegranates. Waitrose two for £2-75. Off the market stall in Guildford, two for a pound, but as large as a grapefruit. I weighed in M&S, half a kilo each. In M&S no pomegranates. Only seeds in a tiny plastic box, works out at £20 per kg. On the market in Winchester, no pomegranates. I asked the stall after they had closed. The answer was what I expected, too expensive.

To think,  a couple of weeks ago, I was picking pomegranates, last week piled up in Monastiraki, though I did not inquire the price.

Paul Mason discussing Postcapitalism at De Balie

October 27, 2016
Paul Mason Postcapitalism discussion at De Balie

Paul Mason Postcapitalism discussion at De Balie

Capitalism ended in 2008. We are now in a post-capitalist world, a period of transition.

We have to decide what do we want.

Do we want a world of serfs working for apps, Uber, task rabbit, Deliveroo, atomised workers bidding against each other to drive wages below the minimum wage, of zero hours, bullshit jobs, of workers standing in the market place, the literal job market, hoping to be offered a job.

When a  worker offers his labour,  it is a perishable good, if not sold today, it cannot be sold tomorrow.

Or we can have a world of open source, peer-to-peer. sharing, collaborative commons, open coops.

The people who produce the wealth, are not sharing that wealth. In the US, wages have flat-lined since the 1970s. The wealth generated by a steady increase in productivity is flowing upwards to the one percent.

Capitalism is an adaptive system, that is how it has mange to survive.

Technological innovation, the railways, the steam engine, computers, the jet engine, lead to new periods of growth, 50 year Kondratieff cycles.

Since 2008, we have seen no new technological innovation, no growth.

In the past what spurred technological innovation and investment, was the high cost of wages. Now that wages are being kept low, there is no impetus to innovate. Robots could do many of the bullshit jobs, the only reason they do not, is because the cost of labour is so low.

Information flows freely, the price of information goods tends to zero. To counter this capitalism has monopolies, Draconian copyright and intellectual property legislation.

It is a natural human condition to wish to cooperate, to share. Could you pass me the hammer please? We do not demand a price. We show someone the way in the street. We do not expect anything in return, either now or in the future.

If you impose an artificial structure on how people relate to each other, it will eventually collapse.

Neoliberalism and globalisation are not writ in stone.

With Brexit, we are seeing the breakup of the European Union.

Wallonia, a small region in Belgium, said no to Ceta. Although it looks like they have now buckled under pressure from the EU dictatorship.

Quantitative Easing has failed. It lined the pockets of the rich, inflated stocks and shares and the bonuses of bankers and led to a property bubble.

Why are we buying the debt of VW, why are we bailing out the banks?

Use the money to buy up every student debt across Europe, invest in Green Infrastructure, but not in HS2, Hinckley Point C and airport expansion.

EU has turned southern Europe into a wasteland. Youth unemployment is running at 50%, in Greece 60%, poverty levels are rising.

We need to promote open source business models, the sharing economy, collaborative commons, a basic income, open coops. If this sector grows, people have less requirement to work for a living.

Education could be free. If it is free to the age of 16, why not beyond?

We have to seize control of local Town Halls, implement participatory democracy, but this does not go far enough,we have to have to have participation in all areas of the city, the transport system run as an open coop, then network these cities across Europe.

Look to Barcelona and Catalonia.

If we can design an iPhone, why can we not design a better society?

Innovation does not mean an iPhone without a headphone socket. Innovation is The Hive in Dalston, putting an empty building to community use, giving people a function in their community.

Yes, we can introduce touchscreens in McDonald’s, eliminate bullshit jobs, but is it not better to eliminate McDonald’s?

Moussaka at The Station Cafe

October 26, 2016
moussaka at The Station Cafe

moussaka at The Station Cafe outside Alton Station

Wednesday night bikers night at The Station Cafe.

A stopover on my way back from an afternoon in Winchester.

Tonight only about half a dozen bikers had turned up. Maybe too cold and dark, maybe they think now winter regime only once a month.

No special, usually a special.

In September, I had regretted not having their moussaka, as it looked good. Last week they said moussaka today. No moussaka, I had looked forward to it. The chef offered to make moussaka just for me. I thought he was joking. But no.

I popped to Waitrose, came back, and moussaka was served with a little salad.

It was delicious.

Until last week in Athens, I had never had moussaka. Sadly, it is typical pub fare, white chiller van hotted up. That is why I never have it.

In Pieros Tavern, outside Protaras, I was told customers complained if they did not have moussaka made by his wife, as they could tell the difference.

I had king prawns  one lunchtime, shared with a  friend, then on their last night before they closed, kleftiko. On both occasions their excellent red wine, first time a glass, second time, two bottles.  But did not try their moussaka.

On the side of a wall in Plaka, the recipe for moussaka, though I did not note it down.

In Restaurant Plaka, souvlaki. But I thought, I cannot be in Athens and not have moussaka, therefore one night moussaka. My first taste of moussaka.

A huge portion, served with nothing else.

It did not though compare with moussaka at The Station Cafe, which was excellent

The Station Cafe has recently changed hands. Fears that it would be downhill onwards, have proved to be unfounded.

When moussaka is the special on bikers night, The Station Cafe is a must

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab

October 26, 2016
cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

Last week I had a cappuccino in coffee Lab Academy served by Dan, champion barista.

Whilst I liked the cappuccino, I did not much like the ambience, too noisy.

This afternoon in Winchester, after a wander around, it was Coffee Lab.

I was was pleased that no sooner had I walked in, than in walked my Spanish friend Emilio, then a few minutes later in walked Dan.

I asked Dan, would he please make me a cappuccino.

Two weeks running, the privilege of a champion barista making me a coffee. This time I did not observe him.

My cappuccino was better than last week. Why, I do not know.  To date, the best cappuccino I have had at Coffee Lab.

Coffee Lab is the gold standard by which others are judged.

It is a mystery why anyone drinks the disgusting coffee from Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks, when such excellent coffee is avaible in Winchester. On the other hand at least I get served.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 26, 2016

Thanks to dysfunctional Stagecoach bus service, I missed my train. Half an hour wait for next train.

But luckily, as I alighted from the bus, there was a friend who I had not seen for over a month.

steam train at Alton Station

steam train at Alton Station

At Alton Station, a steam train. A locomotive I had not seen before.

On the way down to Winchester, the steam train on an embankment on the skyline.

Alton, warm and sunny. On the way down to Winchester, dark, black clouds, but as Winchester was neared, out came the sun.

Winchester

Winchester

Alighted at the last bus stop before bus station and walked down into Winchester.

Falafel wrap off falafel stall. Not as good as usual, but that was because I let it get cold.

Chatted to a young guy at the stall. He did not know Winchester, and we suggested what he could see, and I showed him the way to the Cathedral.

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

I then bumped into him a little later, showed him the back streets. He was delighted, especially as he appreciated good coffee and I took him to Coffee Lab.

He had a machiatao and was impressed.

Although he knew coffee shops in London, I suggested a couple he did not know:

I pointed him in the direction of Winchester Station for him to catch the train to London.

Not long after I arrived at Cafe Lab in walked my Spanish friend Emilio. We met in Athens the week before.

Long chat with Emilio, until we were thrown out of Coffee Lab an hour after closing time.

Not long after we arrived, in walked Dan, champion barista. I asked he make me a coffee.

He made me a cappuccino last week in Coffee Lab Academy. This was better. I wonder why?

Bus to Alton.

moussaka at The Station Cafe

moussaka at The Station Cafe

Bikers night at Alton Station Cafe. Only about half a dozen had turned up. Maybe too cold and dark, maybe they expected the winter regime, when bikers night only once a month.

But no special. In September, I had regretted not having their moussaka, as it looked good. Last week they said moussaka today. No moussaka, I had looked forward to it. The chef offered to make moussaka just for me. I thought he was joking. But no.

I popped to Waitrose, came back, and moussaka was served with a little salad.

It was delicius.

Then train to Aldershot, then bus.

Missed the bus, 25 minute wait with the drunks that have been hanging outside the station since the summer.