Archive for the ‘Alton’ Category

Coffee Cherry Artisan Coffee Shop

November 1, 2018

Weirdest experience ever in a coffee shop.

New coffee shop in Alton which I had passed some weeks ago with a sign promising artisan coffee.

Fancying a decent coffee I decided to pay a visit, even though out of my way on a cold wet November afternoon.

Coffee sourced from Union.

What was the coffee like?

I do not know.

Chatting with who I took to be the owner, she refused to serve me a cappuccino on the grounds I appeared to know a lot about coffee and she would not wish to disappoint me.

I then asked for a V60.

Again refused as on a high shelf and too much trouble to get down.

To say the least, her behaviour was bizarre.

Equally bizarre, her claim that the owner of Krema had helped her to establish the coffee shop, as he had not and it was news to him that he had.

The cafe, I would not call a coffee shop, screams fake. Fake plastic marble counter and table tops, wallpaper fake exposed brick wall. I was sat adjacent to a fake log fire giving out no heat.

Why bother? Why not use wood? But do not fake something that is not as will look cheap,

The day before, in Coviar white marble from Tinas, also green marble, maybe a darker marble too. In the restroom, a long marble wash basin.

No surprise the coffee shop empty.

It is not located in the centre of Alton, just outside, where footfall is not great, not that a lot better in the centre, Alton has all but died

It could be serves great coffee, but I was not permitted to discover.

The reviews on TripAdvisor all singing from the same hymn sheet, written by people who by their own admission frequent Caffe Nero or Costa.

What I did notice was the coffee was served in cups too large and the row of syrups on the shelf.  Both are a sign of bad coffee, or at least do not care about the coffee being served. It is what to expect in a cafe serving bad coffee, not in what is claimed to be an artisan coffee shop. Though sadly artisan has no meaning, as neither does gourmet, when  applied to coffee

80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. With a coffee shop, have a couple of weeks, maybe a month, to get it right, if not will fail. People will try. If good will return bring their friends, If not good, will not return will tell their friends not good,

I have spent several weeks with the elite of the coffee world, everyone knows everyone. What I find is openness, a desire to innovate, open minds, willingness to share. No one will say I do not wish you to try my coffee. Quite the opposite, try this, what do you think?

A speciality coffee shop is a welcome addition in any town, especially a dying town like Alton where there is no decent coffee, and once one arrives, others follow. The only way Alton will recover is by way of quality indie businesses, from the bottom up.

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Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

June 16, 2018

Late lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori where once I used to eat regularly.

The food was good, the service terrible.

A long wait, I went to the cake counter and ordered.

Soup and main course delivered together. Main course I sent back, with orders not to bring back but to cook fresh. No butter for the bread.

Baffled why each serviette stuck down.

Tea is tea pigs, another small business taken in by marketing.

Coffee has changed, now supplied by Winchester Coffee Roasters. I have had twice elsewhere, not good.

I ordered a cappuccino. Then went and told them not to dump chocolate on top, as I would only have sent it back. They would have otherwise served with chocolate and not asked.

Served too hot, not good. But then from previous experience with Winchester Coffee Roasters, I was not expecting anything better.

Bottega dei Sapori need to improve their tea, their coffee and their service.

The world has moved on, will no longer get away with poor quality tea and coffee, poor service.

Visit Winchester, see what indie coffee shops Coffee Lab and Flat Whites are serving as tea and coffee, look at their delicious mouth-watering cakes.

These little indie businesses need to get their act together, otherwise they will not exist. The day before, I had a Vietnamese dish in Pho in Guildford and it was excellent.

Alton Regency Day

June 16, 2018

Strange weather, warm one day, cold the next. Yesterday warm in Guildford, today cold in Alton.

Had I not missed a bus, I would have caught an earlier train, and seen a steam train at Alton.

I would usually walk into Alton, but as a bus was about to leave, I hopped on the bus.

I had no idea what a Regency Day was, I had seen mention as I passed through on my way to Winchester earlier in the week.

At the far end of the town a pathetic farmers market already packing up and it was not yet three o’clock. And the stallholders were complaining they usually leave at two.

Then a few craft stalls, and that was it.

I saw a couple of soldiers but not as I expected to find, people in period dress, though the two soldiers were two more than I had seen at Aldershot Victoria Day the week before.

I learnt, had I been there in the morning I would have found people in period dress.

Cafe Plus I have never found open. I walked through the open door, to be told they were closed. As only a little after three o’clock I queried why they were closed. We close when we run out of food. But are you not a coffee shop, do people not pop in for afternoon coffee? We close when we run out of food.

The coffee catering supply coffee so not missing out.

It was then late lunch at little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Food fine, the service terrible, the coffee not good either.

I then had a little wander through Alton, but not through the water meadows.

I used to like Alton, an unspoilt little market town, but not any more. Many closed shops, too many indie places closed, the little wholefood shop, O’Connor’s Secret Garden, Brock’s Farm Shop, and now the excellent greengrocer has gone.

Alton once had an excellent food market, Hampshire farmers took over the running and destroyed it.

Wandering back through the town I saw people in period dress. With blankets and wicker baskets they appeared to be heading to a picnic.

I looked in the bookshop, at least it is still there. They were closed, but said come in.

Had I not popped in, I would have caught a steam train leaving as I approached the station.

Alton Regency Day is the start of a week of commemoration of Jane Austen, who lived at nearby Chawton.

Bikers Night Christmas dinner

December 6, 2017

Bikers Night Christmas dinner at Alton Station Cafe.

Wednesday night is Bikers Night at Alton Station Cafe, a wooden shack outside Alton Station.

On my last visit, three weeks ago, I was invited to the Bikers Night Christmas dinner.

On my way down to Winchester, I stuck my head in. Confirm I will be at Christmas dinner this evening. Had I booked? No, but I was invited. OK, we will fit you in.

After a cold damp afternoon in Winchester, I return.

I find a table has been reserved for me at the Bikers Night Christmas dinner.

The full works, turkey and all the trimmings. Followed by a small slice of Christmas pudding served with brandy sauce.

No 64 bus route Alton to Winchester

November 19, 2017

A new fleet of buses on the No 64 route Alton came into service last week.

Officially came into service today with the introduction of a new timetable.

The last couple of years has seen new buses introduced on this route.

Now a dedicated fleet.

Free wifi and usb charging points.

Very bad design of the usb charging points, low down between the seats making access very difficult. Though not as bad the new Goldline introduced on the Aldershot-Farnborough-Camberley route a few months ago where the usb charging points are even lower, and ideal for passengers to kick with their feet or rest their feet on. Same bus, internally different seats. On the No 1 Goldline, the usb charging points are almost on the floor.

A power bank, indicating full, charged a couple of weeks ago and only used as occasional torch, to fully charge, what I thought would be a few minutes, from leaving Alton Station until approaching Winchester before indicating fully charged. Either low output or high capacity power bank. Power bank new and have not used before.

I would not risk charging a phone or tablet, but quite happy to use to charge a power bank.

Depressing to see an ignorant female with dirty feet on the seats of a brand new bus. This problem not restricted to this route, also on the Goldline route, passengers putting their dirty feet on the seats of new buses.

On the trains, can be fined for feet on seats.

Timetable improvements that should be made on this route, cut out the detour around Alresford, better connection with trains at Alton.

On the new timetable, the buses are running an hourly late night service.

Cottage pie at Alton Station Cafe

May 3, 2017

Wednesday night, bikers night. Though few bikers, too cold and wet.

This little black shed is not where to expect high quality food. Be pleasantly surprised.

I was looking forward to moussaka, no moussaka.

A choice of cottage pie or a chicken casserole.

I opted for the cottage pie, and they knocked out a salad to go with it.

The cottage pie was excellent. So good, I could have done with seconds.

I opted for crumble and custard, which also was good.

I mentioned O’Connor’s Secret Garden appeared to have closed. I suggested they looked into taking it on, provided they did not change it.

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

No 65 Bus Guildford to Alton

August 10, 2016
65 bus no longer calls at Alton Station

65 bus no longer calls at Alton Station

At Alton, the bus stop used to say bus-train interchange. It no longer does.

The 65 bus used to come down from Guildford, change to a 64 bus at Alton Station, then carry on down to Winchester. And vice a versa.

September last year, it came as far as Alton Station, turned around and went back to Guildford. The bus up from Winchester did the same.

No warning, passengers who thought they were on a through bus, found themselves going back whence they came.

The drivers were under no instruction to advise passengers to alight and change at Alton Station, as no longer a through bus. They were also under no instruction to wait for the connecting bus if late.

Now at the bus stop, a poster telling passengers to take a ten minute walk into the centre of Alton to pick up the 65 bus.  It also no longer states bus-train interchange.

What if it is raining, what if not capable of a  ten minute walk, what if carrying luggage?

This is an appalling way to run a bus service.

Christmas dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

December 17, 2015
O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

Wednesday evening, on my way back from a visit to Winchester Christmas market, I alighted off the bus, walked through Alton, to eat at O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

I knew what I wanted. Peter welcomed me in. We do not  have pork medallions on the menu, but we can do for you.

Why did I have two menus? One was a Christmas menu.  I was going to treat myself to steak. The Christmas menu was cheaper than having steak. Against my better judgement, I decided on the Christmas menu. A mistake, as not very good. Unusual for Peter, as food usually excellent.

I recommended he ditched Hog’s Back Brewery and instead bought in from The Little Beer Corporation.  And certainly not serve rubbish such as Fosters.

Friday night out

November 15, 2015
Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

candles lit in Paris #unebougiepourParis

candles lit in Paris #unebougiepourParis

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Those killed by  Isis on Friday night, were ordinary people relaxing, enjoying a Friday night out, eating out in restaurants, watching a football match, attending a rock concert.

One of the restaurants targeted was Algerian.

The Taliban in in Afghanistan outlawed alcohol, music, kite flying, dancing, football.

People enjoying themselves is not permitted by Muslim fundamentalists.