Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide

September 18, 2017

I had popped into Madame Waffle and noticed that not only Standart on sale, they also had The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide on sale.

Now in it third edition, what was the The Northern Independent Coffee Guide  now includes Wales, hence the change in  tittle.

Inclusion of Wales  a huge mistake. North Wales is not the North of England. Why not a guide for Wales?

A new editor, and I guess to justify her existence the format has changed.

Moot point whether for the better or not.

The maps are now associated  with their relevant entries, which is an improvement.

Gone the information about coffee, which is a great loss.  Instead, a brief sketch of key coffee people.

Noticeable by his absence, Bruce Whetton at Madame Waffle,  like Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden, a pioneer of speciality coffee before it became trendy. Hopefully an omission to be corrected in the fourth edition.

A noticeable increase in the thickness. Whether due to an increase in the speciality coffee scene or being padded out with North Wales, I do not know.

Several entries, light text on a  dark background, not a good idea, as nigh unreadable.

A noticeable absence from the first edition, was Stokes, included in the second edition, now relegated to the footnotes, and deservedly so.

From Christmas to New Year, a noticeable loss of quality. Several months later their house blend undrinkable.

Stokes need to decide what they are.

Are they a supplier of catering supply coffee to greasy spoon cafes, bars and hotels, in a race to the bottom with local supplier Lincoln Tea and Coffee, that bag from bulk roasters low quality commodity coffee, over-roasted, defective beans with an unpleasant aroma? Or are they a supplier of speciality coffee? At the very least, form a separate and distinct division, Stokes Speciality Coffee, with its own distinct packaging, and show case at The Lawn.

A shame to see a fourth generation family coffee business fall by the wayside.

Stokes have recently relocated their roastery and offices to The Lawn, and opened Stokes Lawn Cafe at The Lawn, though Stokes at The Lawn would have been a better name. At The Lawn they have three excellent baristas, have invested in top quality equipment, the ambience is pleasant, as are the staff,  then let themselves down with poor quality beans.

I am pleased to see Madame Waffle has now been included, a noticeable omission from previous editions.

But why no inclusion of Makushi, a coffee shop and roastery half way up Steep Hill?

Another addition I would recommend The Little Tractor Coffee Shop, hidden within Bird’s Yard, a junk shop at the bottom of Steep Hill.

Coffee trails are new for this edition.

My suggestion for a Lincoln Coffee Trail (starting in the High Street where the River Witham flows through the town centre): Stokes on High Bridge,  Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle,  Stokes at The Collection, The Little Tractor Coffee Shop, Makushi, Stokes Lawn Cafe. [see Coffee culture in Lincoln]

Personally I would not use a guide, I prefer to see where my feet take me, wander around, discover for myself. I did though find interesting, the various coffee shops and if I was in one of these towns, then yes, I may be tempted to pop in.

The downside  of taking me where my feet take, may have the advantage of discovery, but too many bad coffee shops, too much bad coffee.

I have never understood why anyone opens a coffee shop to serve bad coffee, though too many do. If I wanted bad coffee I would frequent the chains.

There can though be no excuse for drinking that undrinkable yuk in Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks or Caffè Nero, when armed with a copy of The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide it is easy to find somewhere that serves coffee worthy of the name, and once tried, you will never go back.

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Coffee

July 1, 2017

I often find interesting books in Cafe Mila, not the rubbished hyped by marketing.

It was in Cafe Mila, I picked up and had a browse of Coffee.

A glossy picture, with facing page text printed on glossy paper making difficult to read. The two contributors not experts  on coffee.

Not a book I would recommend.

For a brief introduction, cannot go far wrong with How to Brew the Perfect Cup from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.

For something can easily read in afternoon, or browse in a coffee shop, Coffee and Cold Brew Coffee.

For something more substantial, the definitive guides to coffee, but still can be browsed whilst sitting in a coffee shop, The World Atlas of Coffee, The Best of JimSeven and Real Fresh Coffee.

To curl up and read, God in a Cup.

Yanis Varoufakis discussing Adults in the Room

May 1, 2017

Yanis Varoufakis and Paul Mason in conversation at Union Chapel to discuss Adults in the Room, an account of the European Deep State.

Larry Summers asked Yanis Varoufakis, are you in the inside or the outside?

In other words, are you one of us?

Christine Lagarde, after hours of fighting with Yanis Varoufakis, relaxing afterwards, admitted, he was right, and what was was being done to Greece was wrong, but it had to be done to satisfy the political establishment.

In discussion with US Treasury, they admitted, what was being done by the EU to destroy Greece, they were not happy with, but Greece was Germany’s sphere of influence, and they could not interfere.

Yanis Varoufakis was then  warned, be aware, in a week, a smear campaign will be launched against you by the EU.

One week later, that was what happened, a smear campaign was run. Lazy journalists, with ties to the Deep State, were briefed, they print their lies, and the rest  of the media regurgitates. Lies become facts.

If Yanis Varoufakis attempts to correct the lies, it is then reported as Yanis Varoufakis denies he said. That was never said, not reported.

Until that is he was interviewed by the New York Times, and said it was all a  pack of lies. Who should we believe, it is your word against theirs? Ah, yes, I recorded the meetings.

Not all journalists are of the calibre or integrity of Paul Mason.

Greece was neither here nor there. Greece had to be destroyed to serve as a warning to others.

We are seeing the same with Brexit. UK cannot be seen as being better off outside the EU. It must be punished to serve as a warning to others. That this will destroy Europe is seen as irrelevant.

Yanis Varoufakis set up the Untouchables, a secret task force to deal with Oligarchs and tax dodgers. They obtained records from the banks to show where the money was flowing, then compared with tax receipts. They then offered an amnesty, declare and we will tax you at 15%, we are letting you off lightly, fail to declare and we will bring criminal prosecutions, and by the way, we know who you are.

This programme, which would have brought in billions of euros, was scrapped by the Troika.

The Troika was supported by the Oligarchs, the Troika in turn supported the Oligarchs.

When Greece held its referendum, the media campaigned against No to the Troika. The media owned by the Oligarchs. The Greeks showed courage, they voted No, even though they knew there would be a price to pay. They were betrayed by Greek politicians.

A condition of the next bailout, was to scrap the programme to claw back the tax that had been dodged.

Know who is your enemy, the enemy within. In Labour, those who sabotage the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

In Brighton, it is insanity for Labour to oppose Caroline Lucas.

Everyone urged to join DiEM25 to form progressive alliances across Europe.

We have to transfer power back to nation states, back to town halls, back to people, at the same time, network and cooperate.

When Greece needed help and support, they were betrayed by politicians across Europe, politicians who pretend to be progressive.

When someone says they want to be a politician, want power, they are the people not to vote for.

Cappuccino in Makushi

April 11, 2017

A pleasant afternoon, sunny, but cold in the wind,

I walked up Steep Hill, to Makushi.

Well strictly speaking, I did not, I walked up The Strait, went on a detour to The Collection, then carried on up Well Lane, along Danesgate, which brought me half way up Steep Hill, opposite Makushi.

I walked up Steep Hill, as far as Pimento tea rooms, and looked in Imperial Teas located in Norman House, Bookstop Cafe is located in the undercroft below.

Mainly tea, but they also do coffee.  I counted seven shelves, each with five large jars of coffee. More shelves of the same coffee behind the counter.

I did not sample any, but they looked over roasted.  No roast date given, and when I asked, given the usual story, freshly roasted, only yesterday. Unless large turnover then I doubt at their best.

I was reminded of La Cafeína in La Laguna.

On the way up, I popped in Madame Waffle, picked up latest copy of Caffeine, inquired if they had copies left of Standart, yes they did, I said I would pick up later.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been waiting for the latest batch of beans in Makushi, this time from Brazil, today they were in.

When one thinks of Brazil, one thinks of large mechanised plantations, low quality commodity coffee.

But they also grow and produce quality coffee.

Today, florentines. I resisted the temptation, had three put in a box.

The little garden out the back is now open. I am pleased to report, No Smoking.

Back down in the town, Standart issues 6 and 7 picked up from Madame Waffle. I wish I could find issue 5. Strange Standart do not list Madame Waffle as a stockist.

Looked in Ruddock’s, which is closing after 163 years in business, last day Easter Saturday.

Henry’s tea rooms will also have last day on Easter Saturday.

Cappuccino in Makushi

March 21, 2017

Last week, a lovely sunny warm spring day. Today, first day of spring, bitter cold wind blowing.

Today a different barista, moonlighting from Coffee Aroma.

Makes the point, little independent coffee shops cooperate.

Makushi is one of the coffee shops that has Standart, an excellent  quarterly journal devoted to coffee culture.

I would have liked to have been able to borrow a copy to read, bring back, but no can do.

Back down in the town, I popped in Coffee Aroma and picked up a copy of Northern Independent Coffee Guide.  Served by the same barista who had served me in Makushi.

Ruddock’s to close after 163 years in business

March 4, 2017

Ruddock’s and Stokes on High Bridge are permanent features of Lincoln High Street.

Ruddock’s, a printer and a shop, the shop a bookshop, stationary, art supplies, upmarket pens, located in the top half of the High Street in Lincoln.

Or was, the printing business is to remain, the shop is to close.

Ruddock’s is to close after 163 years in business. A family business, the plan is to close in April 2017, 113 years in the present location, prior to that a little further up the High Street.

Henry Ruddock blames the lack of parking.

That is not the problem, the High Street is busy, there is footfall on the street, the problem is people are not passing through the door into the store.

I am sorry to see Ruddock’s close, but sadly not surprised, it lost its way years ago.

Lack of car parking in the town centre is simply an excuse. Yes, there is a problem of traffic congestion, solve that by improving public transport.

I see a High Street packed, but I see Ruddock’s empty.

But I would agree most of the developments within the city centre have been to the detriment of the town centre. For example the ugly high rise buildings, destruction of Sincil Street and the market, allowing motorised traffic through a pedestrianised city centre.

Ruddock’s used to be an excellent bookshop. Ruddock’s lost their way when they stopped selling books, though difficult to compete with on-line and Waterstone’s selling cut price best sellers, deals that are not offered to indie bookshops. Walk in now, and it is newspapers, magazines and rubbish.

Though first floor is a specialist art supplier.

Henry’s tea shop upstairs, is nicely done out, has atmosphere, but the coffee when I tried was not good. These days if open a coffee shop, ok it is a tea shop, you have to employ top class baristas and take a pride in the coffee you serve, not leave it to someone who makes the sandwiches. And how many passing by know there is a tea shop upstairs?

The tea shop will remain open or for the time being, but it is difficult to see how this will work if the shop is to close.

The tea shop is also placed at a competitive disadvantage when Starbucks and Caffè Nero dodge tax.

Ruddock’s also sells high quality pens, and I do not mean trendy rubbish Ted Baker as they promoted on twitter.

Montegrappa The Alchemist

Montegrappa The Alchemist

One of the rare shops I have found selling Montegrappa pens though not their top range, for example The Alchemist pen.

Lincoln will now have lost all its indie bookshops, or soon will have.

Readers Rest closed a couple of years ago. A great loss, and still missed.

Harlequin is going, driven out of business by a greedy landlord hiking the rent.

BookStop Cafe remains, local authors and second hand books, located in an undercroft beneath a Norman building with stunning view down Steep Hill.

Business rate hike is going to kill off many more indie businesses.

Development of Sincil Street has done an excellent job of driving out indie businesses. The street is now derelict. It used to be between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon busier than the High Street.

What is left? The same boring chains as seen in every town.

And where we do see indie coffee shops like Coffee Aroma, harassment from the County Council for leaving their tables and chairs outside in a pedestrianised area.

Yet what we see sadly is not only Lincoln, planners who care not for the local town, lack vision, lack understanding of town centre planning, and too often in the pocket of greedy developers.

When I attend a planning meeting and find a planner arguing on behalf of a greedy developer, dismissing any local objections, often quite well founded local objections, blatantly lying on the presentation, then I know something stinks.

And we only have to look at the results.

That is why time and time again, when English visit small towns across Europe, and still find the butcher, baker and indie bookshops, the historic centre free of traffic and unspoilt, they ask, why is my town not like this?

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

In Bassano del Grappa, a small town north of Venice nestling in the foothills of the Alps, we find traffic free streets, little shops, three indie bookshops, one of which is in a former palace where Napoleon once stayed.

Lincoln City Council, shedding crocodile tears, wringing of hands, not us guv.

Of course they are at fault, they are the planning authority hand in hand with Lincolnshire who are the Highways authority.

A classic case study in bad town centre planning.

And then have the gall to blame Lincoln for being a historic town. That is its attraction, there is nothing else of attraction. Or do they think people visit to admire the ugly buildings, to shop in the same shops as found elsewhere?

I fully back Henry Ruddock in his damning critique of the City Council.

Lincoln would make a case study in unimaginative, bad town centre planning.

Where I would disagree, is in the comments on car parking.

In the last decade or more we have seen ugly high rise buildings, each one uglier than the other.

Brayford is an eyesore.

This was an area of old warehouses and mills. This area could have been restored, to create an attractive and vibrant atmosphere, ground floor indie coffee shops and other indie businesses, first floor small businesses, design studios, hi-tech, top floors living accommodation.

Look to Bristol for an example.

A couple of years ago Sincil Street was thriving, between ten in the morning and four in the morning, it was busier than the High Street.

Now it has been blighted by development and sky high rents. And if look at the hoardings, more High Street chains, where once we had indie businesses.

Look to North Laine in Brighton, three streets each longer than Sincil Street, associated side streets, always busy, not a single chain, all indie businesses.

We see harassment of Coffee Aroma for leaving their tables and chairs outside, rather than deal with the real issue of stopping traffic through a pedestrianised area and delivering by handcart and trolley, as the norm in Europe.

The Alchemist: four hundred and twenty three weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 22, 2017

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred and twenty three  weeks in New York Times best-seller list, ie eight years and two months.

What a way to start 2017.

Not bad for a book that was first published nearly three decades ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

Cowboy Amazon Logistics dump parcel on doorstep

November 7, 2016

I open my front door to find Amazon Logistics had dumped a parcel on my doorstep.

It is an educated guess left by Amazon Logistics, as no card left.

Last two deliveries were by Amazon Logistic, and both times they dumped the parcel, first time behind a wheelie bin, the second time in a wheelie bin.

Amazon has not denied parcel was dumped by Amazon Logistics

Royal Mail does not dump parcels. They may lose, but do not dump.

The location where the parcel was left, in full view of passers by in the street.

Whoever dumped the parcel blatantly lied, they claimed in tracking notes:

Parcel was handed to resident to K P

Not the first time they had lied. When the parcel was dumped behind the wheelie bin, it was claimed it had been handeed to myself. I was not even there.

Had it rained, the parcel dumped on my doorstep would have got soaked.

I was home at the time the parcel was dumped.

This is the third time  a parcel from Amazon has been dumped. Complaints are made, complaints are ignored.

Note: Tracking notes show delivered by Amazon Logistics.

The Final Reckoning

August 21, 2016

The Final Reckoning by Petros Markaris, dramatised for BBC Radio 4.

Set in Athens during the economic crisis, shortly after the 2008 banking crisis and before Syriza come to power, with roots in the dark Fascist past.

Wealthy tax dodgers receive demands for unpaid taxes, when not paid, they are killed with hemlock, their bodies dumped at archaeological sites. Next are corrupt politicians.

Socrates was killed with hemlock. His dying words, the final reckoning, was that his debts and taxes be paid.

The Alchemist: four hundred weeks in New York Times best-seller list

April 24, 2016
The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist 400 weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list.

What a way to end April 2016.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty seven years ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.