Archive for the ‘Alton’ Category

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

vegetables

vegetables

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
latte

latte

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.

Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

July 18, 2015
roasted red pepper soup with goats cheese

roasted red pepper soup with goats cheese

tortillini

tortillini

garden

garden

Excellent roasted red pepper soup, followed by tortellini in the Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Service was appalling. Why, I do not know, as they were not busy and service is not usually a problem.

A pleasant afternoon, I sat out in the garden. No Smoking, which is excellent, as too many places allow smoking in gardens. Last year there was a rambling rose along the wall. Sadly no more. The garden though has been spoilt by umbrellas. Not even necessary as shade cast by a beech tree.

I waited and waited. No one came. Only one table occupied inside, one outside (two counting my table).

After waiting sometime, I went to the front of the shop and ordered.

I waited some more. Eventually my soup came. No utensils. I asked the girl. Instead of going and getting she went to two other tables to take their orders. I went to help myself, she handed me a fork and spoon. Not sure what the fork was for.

Bread with the soup, but no butter. When the girl came back, I asked for butter. She went off and got butter, but no knife.

My soup finished, she came and asked was I ready for my next course.

Learning they did not close until 5-30, I decided to get what I needed in Alton, then either go to Mog’s Deli, or pop back.

Mog’s Deli, where I would have liked to have tried their coffee, had closed. It only opened last year.

Back to Bottega dei Sapori, where I had a pot of tea and a tart. It was with reluctance I had tea, as teapigs, and teapigs is not quality tea.

I wish they would get better tea. They pride themselves on sourcing quality ingredients, then serve teapigs, not only serve but have on sale. Teapigs is not quality tea. Marketing hype does not make quality tea.

The Old Curiosity Shop

July 18, 2015
The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop, a venerable Aladdin’s Cave in Alton.

A strange eclectic collection.

Well worth a visit.

Afternoon in Alton

July 18, 2015
vintage bus

vintage bus

vintage bus

vintage bus

old watercress beds

old watercress beds

A pleasant warm sunny afternoon, though later it clouded over and turned cool, or cooler.

I just made the train to Alton.

As the train pulled into Alton, I was tempted to catch the bus to Winchester, but thought no, I need to pop to Brock’s Farm Shop, and there are decent paces to eat in Alton, which there are not in Winchester.

Guerilla gardening by ALFI (Alton Local Food Initiative) at Alton Station.

Sometimes I find a stream train at Alton Station, but not today. I would have if I had hung around.

I looked in Alton Bookshop.

The Old Curiosity Shop. A very interesting shop.

Brock’s Farm Shop was not open. Closed early? Everything in Alton closes early. Maybe but it had the look of dereliction about it.

Excellent lunch,  roast pepper soup, followed by tortellini, in the Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Service was appalling. Why, I do not know, as they were not busy and service is not usually a problem.

A coffee at Mog’s Deli. Shock, it had closed down. It had only opened last year.

To the fruit and vegetable shop, then back to the Italian coffee shop.

I wish they would get better tea. They pride themselves on sourcing quality ingredients, then serve teapigs, not only serve but have on sale. Teapigs is not quality tea. Marketing hype does not make quality tea.

On leaving the Italian coffee shop, walk back down the street, then out and along the water meadows, old watercress beds.

Walking through the town, many closed shops, drunks roaming the streets and outside the pubs.

Alton is the source of the River Wey. The stream bed, had dried up. All that was left was murky pools of water. No longer the flowing chalk stream.  This is only the second time, or second summer, I have seen it dried up. Though the last time, there was not even the pools of water, there was grass growing in the stream bed.

My sandal snapped in half. Hobbling along, I walked up the the Parish Church, then headed to the main road. I saw a man working in his garden. I asked did he have any super glue? He said no, but went to his van and brought out a brand new roll of duct tape.  A hasty repair was effected. I thanked him profusely.

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

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. 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, pork medallions with vegetables.

On leaving raining. Waitrose closed. Entrance to station blocked, footbridge closed, I made the train with seconds to spare.

Shedding Light on a Dark Mountain

April 16, 2015

Dark Mountain is an anthology, a collection of art, poetry, essays and short stories. It was an annual publication, since last year published twice a year.

The early volumes had writings by George Monbiot, Naomi Klein and other writers worth reading, volumes that sold out. Later volumes have gone steadily downhill. Dark Mountain 6 was dire, much of the writing unreadable, turgid, pretentious drivel. That is not to say all, there were some gems, a delight to read, but exceptions not the norm.

The art leaves much much to be desired, not helped by being badly printed.

The art in Dark Mountains 7, badly printed, little more than dark smudges.

wood cut in Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

woodcut in Monasterio de San Martín Pinario

Woodcut prints on old printing presses are of far better quality.

Why so bad? Bad editorial judgement, not sufficient submissions, too many submissions to make a sensible choice?

Dark Mountain has with some justification been accused of being nihilist, defeatist, failing to face up to, to fight the problems engulfing the world.

Ironically this is acknowledged in the opening paragraph of the editorial in Dark Mountain 7.

In Aeon’s review of Dark Mountain’s 2012 Uncivilisation festival, the author sounded a warning about the ‘sinister undercurrents’ of the movement: ‘The anti-technology polemics, the witchy nature mysticism and huntsman imagery,’ for this first-time attendee, ‘brought to mind nothing so much as English “neo-folk” acts such as Sol Invictus and Death In June, mainstays of Britain’s far-right bohemia, with its reveries about masks and antlers and the Brownshirts.’

Yes, we can sit back and do nothing, welcome in a world that will be uninhabitable, fiddle whilst the planet burns.

Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything, highlights the problem, that beyond 2C rise we do not know, the models break down. But she does not give up, wrap herself in a nihilist blanket, she proposes solutions, deep carbon cuts of at least 10% a year since yesterday, no longer business as usual, recognises that is is the capitalist system with its reliance on unlimited growth that is destroying the planet, not sit back and do nothing, but see as the opportunity for radical change, to create a fairer more equatable society.

Russell Brand does not stick his head up his arse, he is prepared to stand up and be counted, to enthuse others to stand up and be counted.

I would rather die fighting on my feet as a Warrior of Light, than give in on my knees.

Dark Mountain collection on Medium, is a collection of writings on the many problems we face, of the many solutions that are being put forward.

It is not part of Dark Mountain, has never claimed to be, has never passed off as acting for or representing Dark Mountain.

It came a surprise therefore to receive a complaint last year from Dougald Hine one of the co-founders with Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain. A complaint that quickly descended into an unpleasant exchange of e-mails.

The nub of the complaint was that it led to confusion. Difficult to see how, and when pressed for evidence of this, the best Dougald Hine could come up with was the quote cited from the Dark Mountain Manifesto.

The machine is stuttering and the engineers are in panic. They are wondering if perhaps they do not understand it as well as they imagined. They are wondering whether they are controlling it at all or whether, perhaps, it is controlling them.

This was ludicrous, so ludicrous, I could not stop laughing. How many pieces start with a quote? Does that lead the reader to confuse what they are reading with the source of the quote? Of course not.

The only reason it was used, was it quite eloquently summed up the state of the world. We think we are controlling Nature, but as many disasters have shown, we are not in control, and it is arrogant of us to think we are.

Had anyone been confused, they would have quickly been put straight.

Having got nowhere, events took a turn for the worse. There was then a crude attempt to persuade Medium to delete the account. A crude attempt that happily failed.

All went quiet, until today.

A rather unpleasant e-mail from Dougald Hine demanding once again theDark Mountain collection be deleted.

What triggered this latest tantrum, and it is like dealing with a petulant child throwing a tantrum, was a twitter exchange around ten days ago, with a person unknown to me.

To which elicit a response from Dougald Hine.

Deep ecological thinking is our only hope, something you will not find from Dark Mountain, instead, a nihilist, stick head in sands, dance around a bonfire dressed as animals, which is as about as effective as Nero fiddling whilst Rome burned.

Someone likes what they read, has come across a couple of times Dark Mountain Project, but this is immediately inferred to mean, must be a connection, that it is somehow passing off one as the other.

Had any connection been assumed, the misconception would have been addressed.

But in light of the tweet from Dougald Hine implying something that was not, a tweet was sent to ensure absolutely no misunderstanding.

At no time has it been claimed, masqueraded, passed off as part of or in any way acting as a representative of Dark Mountain Project.

But as I found, not only a tweet, also an e-mail:

Since you made no attempt to correct his misunderstanding that you were a representative of Dark Mountain, it is clear that you are making use of the Dark Mountain collection on Medium to pass yourself off as representing our journal and the non-profit company, The Dark Mountain Project Ltd, that publishes the journal.

As before, wild accusation, if not smears, but no evidence provided to support. At no time claimed to be a representative of Dark Mountain, the Dark Mountain collection is not being passed off to represent anything or anyone. Nor can any such nonsense be inferred from or implied by above tweets. Thus difficult to correct a misunderstanding that does not appear to be there.

Dark Mountain is a collection, an anthology of essays, poetry, art and short stories. Contributors do not get paid. They get a free copy. Copyright remains with contributors.

But having got nowhere with previous false allegations, now implying trademark infringement. Which puts in a whole new ball park.

Please take this email as a final request to either change the title of that collection or delete it. If you do not do so, we will file a trademark notice with Medium, asking them to delete your account, according to their policy:
https://medium.com/policy/mediums-trademark-policy-e3bb53df59a7

I would agree, trademark infringement is a whole new ball game.

I have before me Dark Mountain 7, the latest anthology published this week.

Dark Mountain is not a trademark, there is not even the usual copyright claim for the book, either for Dark Mountain Project as publisher, or individual contributors.

Trademark infringement would therefore seem to be yet another red herring.

Dark Mountain relies upon public support, both in terms of funding (first volumes crowdfunded later subscription) and contributions.

Are Dark Mountain supporters and contributors happy with what amounts to bullying and intimidatory behaviour being carried out in their name?

Reposted from Medium.


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