Archive for the ‘Alton’ Category

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.

Begin Again

September 19, 2015

Megan Nicole, Alex Goot and ThePianoGuys, with their take on Begin Again from Taylor Swift from her album Red.

Note the hint of J S Bach Sheep May Safely Graze (Cantata No. 208).

And better than the Taylor Swift original (though it is good too).

Dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

September 10, 2015
dinner at O'Connor's Secret Garden

dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden



O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

Wednesday is street food day in Winchester.

Excellent cappuccino off Jimmy Bean, but then I expect nothing less. I also had lunch, mozzarella cheese and tomato in bread hotted up in an oven, which was excellent. For dessert ginger shortbread, which was also excellent. Jimmy Bean, one of the few places in Winchester to get not only decent coffee, but also something decent to eat.

Afternoon wandering around Winchester,  bus to Alton Station.

Bus arrives at Alton Station as train leaves. Either pop into Waitrose (I did not need anything) or find somewhere to eat. I decided on O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

I alighted at one end of Alton and walked through Alton. Peter was surprised to see me, as not Saturday. I could have had gammon, but decided upon pork medallions with vegetables and colcannon potatoes. It was excellent, but then I expect no less in O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

He asked what would I like to drink. I said tea, meaning the beer. I was served tea. Easy enough mistake to make.

I did not think I would make the train, stayed for crumble. Not up to the standard of the main course, crumble should be crunchy.

I washed it down with tea.

I made the train with a couple of minutes to spare.

No 64 Bus Winchester to Alton

September 3, 2015
Alton Station bus stop

Alton Station bus stop

This week a new timetable came into force on this route, though you would not notice, as no timetables on the buses

For some years, the 64 has been timed to leave Alton Station at the same time the train arrives, guaranteeing most people miss the bus and have to wait half an hour for the next bus.

The good news on the revised timetable, is the bus has been re-timed to leave five minutes later, meaning connection with the train, assuming of course the train on time and not delayed.

That is the good news. The bad news the ongoing journey to Guildford.

The 64 bus, would at Alton station, continue onwards to Guildford as the No 65. And likewise the No 65 from Guildford, continues onwards from Alton Station to Winchester as the No 64.

Not any more. Buses go as far as Alton Station, then return from whence they came, the passengers having to change buses at Alton Station.

No timetables on the buses. No announcement that necessary to change buses at Alton Station.

The 65 passes by Alton Station, through Alton, then back to Alton Station to pick up passengers for Guildford.

Drivers are under no instruction to wait for the connecting bus.

These buses, or at least this route, was to have been cut. It has been granted a temporary reprieve until July 2016, with the passengers numbers being evaluated in March.

Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

July 29, 2015


Excellent lunch at the little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Courgette soup with garlic,  followed by sea bass served with  new potatoes and beans.

The soup not quite piping hot. The sea bass delicious.

Started outside in the garden, then had to rush indoors when it rained.

On last visit, the service was awful, today exemplary. Why the service was so bad on the last visit, I do not know, as not the norm. At a guess, maybe  a new girl who had only started and did not know what she was doing.

Afternoon in Alton

July 29, 2015
The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop

water meadows

water meadows

Heron at Kings Pond

heron at Kings Pond

A dull, cool, cloudy day. Hazy sun broke through and it warmed up a little. Then it rained and temperature dropped.

Looked in The Old Curiosity Shop.

Excellent lunch at the little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Courgette soup with garlic,  followed by sea bass served with  new potatoes and beans. Started outside in the garden, then had to rush indoors when it rained. On last visit, the service was awful, today exemplary.

A walk to the source of the River Wey. The stream bed still dry. Through the water meadows, then a walk around the Kings Pond.

From Kings Pond, I found an alley that ran alongside the railway line that led to Alton Station.

Arrived at Alton Station, just in time to catch a train before it departed.

Dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

July 18, 2015
O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

pork medallions

pork medallions

selection of vegetables

selection of vegetables

I looked in on Peter O’Connor in O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

Peter offered me a drink.

I mentioned Brock’s being closed, Mog’s Deli closed and the general state of Alton. He said Brock’s had closed several months ago. A shock as an excellent butcher. Peter said the lease due for renewal, therefore at a guess another local business driven out of business by rent hikes.

Alton a few years ago had an excellent food festival. That was where I first met Peter giving a cookery demonstration. What happened? Sponsorship by Costa one year,  Iceland another year, which somewhat lost the plot for a celebration of local food. Then taken over by Hampshire farmers markets, which killed it.

What is Alton Town Council doing? Godalming Town Council is very proactive. Maybe the example of Frome should be followed, a Flatpack Democracy revolution, ordinary  citizens take over the Town Hall.

I decided to stay and eat, even though it was turning cool and looked like rain. I was though a little disappointed to learn Peter was not cooking, but I need not have worried. The meal was excellent.

A lovely garden out the back, but as it was getting cool, I sat inside.

Pork medallions, covered in a sauce, served with vegetables.

The pork medallions, were more like slices of pork. I do not know what the sauce was, but delicious. the vegetables cooked to perfection, not overcooked, not undercooked, piping hot and served in a piping hot dish.

The potatoes, a choice of new potatoes, chips or colcannon potatoes (an Irish dish and a speciality of O’Connor’s Secret Garden). I chose colcannon potatoes as not something you get elsewhere.

A stunning blonde waitress, charming and competent.  Peter has a knack of choosing good staff.

I complimented Peter on the meal, adding that I had been worried that he was not in the kitchen.  He told me that the two of them had worked together elsewhere in the past, and yes, he had a good chef in the kitchen.

A few years ago O’Connor’s Secret Garden had very nasty fake reviews on TripAdvisor. It was therefore pleasing to see he had received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. He said it came in  the post.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden is not simply the best restaurant in Alton, it is the best in the area.

On leaving, it was, as I had feared, raining.