Archive for July, 2019

Roost

July 31, 2019

I came across Roost when I was last in Godalming for the street food festival. Today I thought I would pay a visit, have lunch, then later a coffee.

Roost is nicely laid out inside, a rustic appearance, the street frontage belies the interior, which is much larger than would expect, with a garden beyond.

I chose to sit in the garden as too hot indoors, but a tad too cool in the garden. Though if the sun was shining the garden would be too hot as lacks shade.

Food once ordered, a long time coming. Quality though of the soup, tomato and red pepper and what followed, avocado on lightly toasted bread, good, nicely presented too.

The menu to say the least quirky, and a tad too pretentious. What is a vegan Cobb salad, what indeed is a traditional Cobb salad? Menu does not say.

Cobb vegan salad with shredded chicken. Better not let the vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists know.

Note: According to Jamie Oliver, Cobb salad: lettuce, avocado, blue cheese, roast chicken, bacon. Vegan most definitely not.

A little deli, well actually a couple of shelves.

Chocolate on sale was quality chocolate, no emulsifier. Why therefore adulterate by adding mint?

I asked when closed. Four. I had an hour to have a quick wander and get back for a coffee. Four seems a little early to close, but this is Godalming.

Headed to the basket shop, a friend hailed me. She was surprised to see me, what are you doing here, and not sure of she believed me when I said I too was heading too the basket shop.

She appreciates coffee, I suggested as I was headed back to Roost she joined me for a coffee.

We queried one of the coffees on offer, another quirkiness of the menu, espresso with MCT oil and butter. She did not know what was MCT oil.

Nor did she know what the coffee was. We checked the bag. No information on the bag. There was a qr code, but this should be for additional information, not for basic information that should be on the bag.

Note: I later checked the website. It was singularly unhelpful.

We also noted all the coffee on sale was old coffee. Yes, the fault of Roost, but also the fault of Chimney Fire Coffee, as they should not be supplying more than can be used within optimum operation, not that is if they care about the reputation of their coffee.

Our coffee was not good. We both agreed the coffee was not good. Better than anything will find in Godalming, at least drinkable, but that is the best that could be said of it. And nothing can be worse than Cupsmith which is served at Cafe Mila or Redber served at Godalming Deli.

Everything that could be wrong was wrong, lack of skill of barista, poor quality machine, was the coffee weighed, I think not but cannot be sure and poor quality coffee.

Please can someone open a quality coffee shop in Godalming. As otherwise it is a trip to Guildford or Farnham, where Krema have a coffee shop in both towns.

There is no excuse these days for not serving quality coffee, buying quality coffee beans, employing skilled baristas.

Godalming lasks good coffee. Corporate chains, independents serving poor quality coffee. Roost has marginally upped the game. I could suggest far better locally roasted coffee, but I doubt they would supply, not unless Roost improves its side, as would only give their coffee a bad name.

Afternoon in Godalming

July 31, 2019

Pleasant sunny afternoon in Godalming.

Shocked to find the Parish Church locked. This is one of the rare churches one finds always open. Hopefully not a new policy to keep locked.

A board says the churchyard closed. Baffled, as not closed, can still walk through. I think what they mean is closed for burials, though it does not say so.

If managed as a hay meadow, poorly managed as the has should have by now been cut.

A slight detour to Cafe Mila. I used to be a regular. A little expensive but ok if quality to match. Last year the quality had fallen.

Looking in today busy but very little choice, not the wide range of cakes, what used to be a board with the menu has gone, a sheet of paper hanging from the wall. Bean soup and stuffed tomato. Bean soup is a winter soup. Insult to their customers Cupsith coffee, and the Cupsmith tea no better.

I returned to walking along the River Wey.

I was headed to Roost a coffee shop cum cafe, which was new last year and I first noticed when I visited for the Street food festival (which was not worth visiting).

Roost is nicely laid at inside, a rustic appearance, the street frontage belies the interior, which is much larger than would expect, with garden beyond.

I chose to sit in the garden as too hot indoors, but a tad too cool in the garden. Though if the sun was shining the garden would be too hot as lacks shade.

Food once ordered, a long time coming. Quality though of the soup, tomato and red pepper and what followed, avocado on lightly toasted bread, good, nicley presented too.

I asked when closed. Four. I had an hour to have a quick wander and get back for a coffee. Four seems a little sarky to close, bu this is Godalming.

Headed to the basket shop, a friend hailed me. She was surprised to see me, what are you doing here, and not sure of she believed me when I said |I was heading too the basket shop.

We both agreed the bookshop was well worth a visit.

I was then headed for Robert Dyas. I had power banks. They worked a power banks but the light did not work. I wished to see if I could change. Change I did, but same problem, lamp did not work. Man pressed and held, lamp turned on. Odd, my other, double click and the lamp turns on.

Just what I want, said my friend, and she bought the one the man had brought out from the back.

It was then back to Roost where we had a coffee. We both agreed the coffee was not good. Better than anything will find in Godalming, at least drinkable, bu that is the best that can be said of it.

I saw a bus, hopped on to save walking to the station, then caught a train at Guildford.

Why oh why do people put their feet on seats.

Today, first time for weeks, trains on time, no delays, no cancellations.

The Flour Pot Kitchen

July 28, 2019

I visited last week, along the seafront, near the Brighton iSore, but did not have a coffee

— to be continued —

Sunday in Brighton

July 28, 2019

Train to Gatwick running late.

Luckily it made up time and I caught train for Brighton.

Brew & Blend surprisingly busy. I stop and have a chat with the staff.

Cappuccino at Coffee at 33. Then decide to eat.

Coffee at 33 a rare example of a coffee shop that serves good food. Cakes are good too.

But I should have tried a different day to use my card for a free coffee.

I looked in Magazine Brighton. I thought wished to launch a magazine. But no, support a student magazine.

As I pass Pelicano they tell me they have Drift. I notice it is on display. And get a free coffee if buy.

I waste time looking for Silo only to find it has closed. It was claimed to be cutting edge zero waste restaurant. But in a street with zero footfall.

I again notice the number of empty shops, those closing down.

But Resident as always busy. Which illustrates odd Vinyl Revolution closed. Poor stock, wrong location?

All businesses who know me, tell me times are tough.

I raise in Infinity Foods return of 5 litre Faith in Nature containers. No one wants to know. Indeed one member of staff stacking shelves is rude.

Something going very very wrong at Infinity Foods. Staff have in the past always been helpful, not any more. Fresh produce never been very fresh. Now a whole lot worse. Also I notice a lot of the fresh produce wrapped in plastic.

One area of improvement muesli loose, fill a brown parer bag not ideal, then decant when arrive home, saves their packaging.

No tables and chairs outside Infinity Foods Kitchen. They tell me they are closing early. Same last week, only last week guy was bloody rude.

I get something to eat and sit by the door.

I learn as I suspected, something going very wrong at Infinity Foods, the staff being mistreated, those at the top issuing orders, giving themselves hefty bonuses which should be shared out equally. But is this not a workers coop, all are equal, or is it like Animal Farm, some are more equal than others, the animals looked from pig to man then man to pig and could not tell the difference, and the workers told it is for their own good to work harder for a pittance. The workers need to call a meeting and kick out those at the top. Infinity Foods giving worker coos a bad name.

Zero waste shops are having problems with Infinity Foods. If I order a 5 litre container from Faith in Nature I can not only return when empty, Faith in Nature will give me 20% off my next order. If zero waste shops order through Infinity Foods as a distributor, Infinity Foods refuse to take back the 5 litre containers and return to Faith in Nature. Internal meetings within Infinity Foods are aware of the problem, but doing nothing to resolve it. Resolve it will, the zero waste shops will go elsewhere.

Infinity Foods is structured as three companies, wholesale, shop and kitchen.

On my way to Blackbird look in Bond Street and Plant Room, no time for coffee in either, maybe one day.

En route I note more closed shops.

Too late for Blackbird, closed early, one half of the team in Istanbul. I walk in anyway. I have brought Ethiopian coffee from DT Roaster roasted last week. OK, we will try. We are disappointed. It is not that there is anything wrong with it. It is a disappointment compared with the excellent Colombian coffee from Coffee Gems we tried last week.

The beautiful coffee cups are from Turkey. Guest coffee from Kiss the Hippo. Nest week will have coffee from Turkey.

Indirect route through The Lanes to the seafront. More closed retail.

I pass Marwood, three people sat outside coffee shop next door. I am asked where for coffee. Too late for today and only in Brighton for the Day, Blackbird, Coffee at 33, Pelicano and Dough Lover.

Asked of fish n chips. I say do not bother. Disgusting fish n chips on the sea front.

A walk along the seafront. Very windy, rough sea, red flag flying.

I decide to try The Flour Pot Kitchen. I looked in last week but did not have a coffee.

I do not like the way it is barricaded off, or that you have to be shown to a table.

Service poor. Do I want a menu? No, I know what I want. No one takes my order. Eventually bored with waiting, I get up and order a cappuccino.

Last week I had noticed they had sea bass, though had gone. I asked do they ever have sea bream? No. On the board sea bream. But it too had gone. Whole fish? No. Fillets. Sea bream should be cooked as the whole fish, freshly caught, either on a charcoal grill or in an oven.

I am served a cappuccino blended with chocolate with chocolate dumped on top. I send it back. I am told I should have said I did not want chocolate. No, you should ask, and a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of serving a cappuccino with chocolate.

Second cappuccino arrives. Not good. It did not look good and was not good. Below the froth and foam, scalding hot coffee.

Guy who serves me ask me how it was. I say they need to learn how to make coffee.

He apologises. He is at least aware this is not how coffee should be served, but that is what they are told.

Contrary to The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide The Flour Pot do not roast their own coffee. It is roasted by Small Batch then bagged as their own. Why the deception?

I then wait a very long time for bill. Again, had to go and ask.

The only good thing I can say is the location, pleasant location to sit late afternoon or early evening to catch the sun. It would be too hot during the day.

The Flour Pot Bakery is not somewhere I would frequent in North Laine, they are far better places for coffee and cakes, but my criticism to one side, The Flour Pot Kitchen is an improvement for the seafront, far better than the bars and disgusting fish and chop shops that line the seafront.

I remain longer than intended at The Flour Pot Kitchen, though pleasant to sit and relax.

I head from the seafront at eight. Time to catch 2027 train to London Victoria. I have to walk length of twelve coach train, passengers packed in like sardines.

A twelve coach train. A twelve coach train coming down. There needs to be a more frequent train service on a Sunday.

Train is running slow. I miss my train at Gatwick.

Disgusting banger and mash at Wetherspoon, the only place open. Not late at night, a busy airport, only Wetherspoon open.

Display tells me 2218 Reading train delayed. No indication of when train will arrive. I ask station staff. I am told train is probably at the platform. I find it is about to depart and catch with seconds to spare.

I arrive home not long before midnight. I left the seafront for Brighton Station at eight.

Train network is in chaos. Go anywhere and no guarantee will arrive home.

Every time I have caught a train last few weeks, train either delayed or cancelled.

— to be continued —

Lu

Afternoon in Farnham

July 27, 2019

On the bus, any bus, there is a sign instructing do not stand in front of this line and distract the driver.

Why do Stagecoach staff who should know better think it does not apply to them?

En route to Farnham, Stagecoach staff member stood chatting to the driver, distracting the driver, obstructing view of the road, putting passengers at risk.

Why did the driver not instruct him to sit down?

Alight and walk along the River Wey, through Gostrey Meadow and into Farnham.

Made butcher before closed. I always forget to ask the butcher to score my pork chop. I think I will give standing instruction. Maybe he will remember even if I never do.

It was only when walking to Gail’s to see what there was to eat I remembered I had forget to bring container to pick up muesli from Okomono zero waste shop. I did think of seeing what they had I may use. A moot point, as by the time I passed by later already closed.

A weeny teeny bread roll with smoked salmon at Gail’s. Table outside dirty. Not cleaned until I was about to leave. And even then only the dirty crockery taken away, the table not cleaned. Poor service the norm for Gail’s. That and poor quality coffee.

If I sit outside, I hate to sit inside, all too often cars park in the disabled bay. Today, car parked, disabled badge displayed in the window, able bodied driver walks off down the road.

Cappuccino at Krema. Gone five and busy.

I had not intended to walked all the way around Bishop’s Mewadow.

The path leading into the next field overgrown as was the field. There can no longer be horses kept there as usually a grassy field. I am surprised the farmer has not cut the hay.

On my way meet half a dozen cattle grazing.

On my way back, long conversation with a man about the management of Bishops Meadow.

By the time I reach the the churchyard, tired.

To Waitrose, then two buses to catch.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 26, 2019

Today hot and muggy at 24C with high humidity following thunderstom early hours of the morning, but at first felt cool compared with record breaking 38.1C on Thursday.

Once again wifi not working on GWR Reading-Guildford-Gatwick train.

Maybe I should try the impossible as suggested by GWR, e-mail them to get the wifi working.

By River Wey, electric cycles, unbelievably heavy, could barely lift. Construction indicates would be heavy. I assume must be collected at night and returned to a charging station. Download an app, scan the cycle, at least that is how I assume it works. Begs the question will Guildford experience the same problems as Berlin and Athens where cycles and electric scooters are dumped everywhere? I will have to pop in Tourist Information and ask how the scheme works. The problem, an unregulated sector, like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Man greeting customers at Santander, can I help you? Yes, try manning the tills. Why is customer service such an alien concept for Santander?

Duo, two guys busking at the bottom of the High Street. They were good and drawing a crowd. I bought two CDs. I wish I had stayed for a chat. Not seen them before. No idea quality of CDs. Problem is I cannot play on new laptop. New laptops do not have DVD drives, have to then buy external drive. They also have low capacity internal drives, then have to either buy external drive or as I did, open up, invalidate warranty, and install a far higher capacity internal drive. We are going backwards.

I was surprised at the number of people around. Maybe they have wisely stayed home last few days as too hot to go out and are now out and about.

People on the street, but retail collapse continues. The loss of chains we should not weep over, chains destroy town centres.

With the ever expanding empty retail space in the centre of Guildford it is highly unlikely the retail units in the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre will be let.

The retail collapse is not helped when Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford promote corporate chains to the detriment of local indie businesses.

Market though was not busy.

Nor was Bamboo Shoots busy. After four people left, I was the only customer, though as leaving, a couple of people popped in for a takeaway.

It goes without saying Surrey Hills Coffee as always not busy, two customers, four if count two standing at the counter, two staff. Contrast with Harris + Hoole and Krema, both were busy. I am at a loss how they remain in businesses.

Popped into Growler & Cans, same as last week, not yet changed what was on the board. What I ought to have done was popped in earlier, bough a bottle of beer and had with my lunch.

I learnt the Growlers cost something over £12 to buy. I thought expensive on the other hand 20% discount if filled with beer and a reusable coffee cup will cost this or more and do no get 20% discount if filled.

The cans, no one uses, now used for decoration. Problem filling, beer bubbles up inside whilst trying to fill. If the demand exists, talking to breweries to supply filled.

I find 1/3 pint too little, 2/3 pint too much. I settled for half a pint.

The lady running Growlers & Cans knows her beers and the breweries. More than can be said for most pubs where they serve whatever crap is dumped on them by the pubcos.

Lady is tying to get free beer from Brew Dog. She was surprised when I said I was going to Brighton maybe where Brew Dog are giving away free beer this weekend.

Note: Brew Dog giving away free beer Friday and Saturday, not weekend. My mistake.

I recall in the 1960s, when Guinness used to give away free beer in Skegness during the summer. Disgusting drink.

To Krema. Cappuccino.

Last year, once the long over schedule roadworks in Tunsgate were complete, Krema had tables and chairs in the street. Not this summer. A hot day, but far hotter inside than out. I wished to sit outside but no tables and chairs. Council has ordered their removal. Yet another example of how local councils and worthless jobsworths are killing local businesses.

Then to Waitrose. Good deed of the day, lent a girl my power bank and cable. Explained where she could obtain from. But the problem seemed to be her connection. Asked could she remove the battery. Answer in the affirmative I suggested get a stand alone battery charger.

I ought to have given her my e-mail address asked her to contact me and I would have looked up for her.

No train at Guildford Station, or at least a train but not going anywhere, no train crew, train finally leaves over twenty minutes late with next train following four minutes behind. Guildford to Reading cancelled.

Yesterday trains were not running. Too hot, risk of lines buckling in the heat, overhead power lines sagging.

And just when think cannot get any worse, East Midlands trains are once again on strike.

Climate Emergency, we need people to ditch their cars, walk, cycle, use bus or train, but an uphill struggle when public transport so bad.

Winds of Change

July 24, 2019

Very moving BBC Radio 4 documentary on Winds of Change how it came to be written, impact on people’s lives, interwoven with East Berlin and fall of Berlin Wall, and hopes of people in Soviet Union.

Meant a lot to me as at Checkpoint Charlie in May, walked along a stretch of the Berlin Wall, was in East Berlin.

Also Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions a friend.

Had me in tears.

A pity BBC did not play song in full, spine chilling.

For me chilling to walk along the Berlin Wall, to visit Checkpoint Charlie.

Inspiration for Winds of Change was a peace concert in Moscow, and Perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev.

When the Berlin Wall fell, people across Europe had hope.

Now we have a thuggish state in Russia headed by Vladimir Putin, rise of Fascism across Europe, political show trials in Spain.

Catastrophic collapse of retail in Brighton

July 22, 2019

North Laine in Brighton is always busy, no closed shops. Yes businesses close, but a steady turnover, not empty retail units.

Three weeks ago I was shocked at the number of empty retail premises. Two weeks later, ie a week ago, I was further shocked to find not only closed, but many more closing.

A week ago Vinyl Revolution celebrated two years in business by closing.

I paid a visit last week, unfortunately they were already closed.

I was shocked to find The Lanes far far worse than the North Laine in terms of retailers closed.

Duke Street where Vinyl Revolution was located nearly half the shops closed and boarded up, graffiti covered shutters, a sea of To Let Boards as look down the street.

I passed by a new retail development, a row of empty shops, not a single one let, and it is difficult to see they ever will be let when so much retail space sitting empty.

It is difficult to understand why Vinyl Revolution has closed, as their video describes a thriving business, which is why I wished to talk to them.

To blame Brexit is nonsense, equally to blame rail works.

Duke Street was the wrong location. Comments on Brighton Argus echo this.

I never visited therefore cannot comment on their stock, but comments on Brighton Argus describe the stock as crap.

Resident in North Laine an excellent music shop always busy and has in recent years expanded.

If I wanted second-hand vinyl I would visit Ben’s Records in Tunsgate in Guildford. Then pop next door to Krema for a coffee.

Not that I would wish to buy second-hand vinyl as rarely in pristine condition, no guarantee of the condition and highly unlikely to have been played on top end equipment, and equally unlikely anyone with top end equipment would part with their vinyl.

In Resident, new releases always displayed with a limited pressing high quality vinyl.

But even Ben’s Records is struggling.

It is not helped when Market Street and surrounding pedestrianised streets in The Lanes, that pedestrianised is ignored, vehicles parked, vehicles drive through using as short cut, Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs ride motor scooters through at speed weaving in and out of pedestrians.

Sat outside a coffee shop in The Lanes last week a Ford truck parked outside, engine running, whilst driver having a chat with a passer by.

I have more than once narrowly missed being run down by Uber Eats and Deliveroo serfs, usually learners displaying L plates. Are they insured to carry out business?

Deliveries to the area, and what I observed were not deliveries, should park outside the pedestrianised areas, deliver using hand cart or trolley. The norm in Europe. The Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should be required to park in designated zones and walk through, walk through with crash helmets removed.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should not only be fined for riding through a pedestrianised aream they should be charged with dangerous driving. Sooner or later a child or elderly person will be knocked down and seriously injured. Deliveroo and Uber Eats should terminate their contracts.

Reputable businesses should not be employing Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And it is not only the exploitation and less than minimum wage. If food is ordered to be delivered, it is killing footfall.

There needs to be enforcement by the City Council.

When retail collapse occurs it can happen very fast, as we are now seeing in North Laine and The Lanes. One retailer closes, one less reason to visit the area. At least 10% will always be on the edge, the small loss in footfall sufficient to push them over the edge. Now even less reason to visit. More retailers pushed over the edge.

Businesses I have talked to are worried. They say as businesses around them close, they become isolated, fewer people in the street. Others tell me it is now tough.

What can local government and national government do to support small business? These are the businesses that bring people in, who circulate money within the local economy, who provide local character, who provide a reason to visit Brighton.

Please sign and share the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

The Flour Pot Kitchen

July 21, 2019

Located in the arcehs at tghe foot of the Brighton iSore.

— to be continued —

Lost in the Lanes

July 21, 2019

I was warned not good, but seeing Has Bean I deiced to give atry.

Not goodm a cafe serving coffee, nit doing Has Bean any favours.

— to be continued —