Archive for the ‘books’ Category

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.

The Alchemist: three hundred and ninety seven weeks in New York Times best-seller list

March 28, 2016
The Alchemist three hundred and ninety seven weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist three hundred and ninety seven weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist three hundred and ninety seven continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list.

That is an amazing seven years, eight  months and one week.

And it is at No 8.

What a way to end March 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.

And many thanks Paulo and Christina for the St Joseph’s Day Party in The Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle the weekend before.

And many thanks Paulo for taking the trouble to sign books as you were leaving.

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

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

January 31, 2016
The Alchemist three hundred and ninety weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist three hundred and ninety weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, today The Alchemist three hundred and ninety continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list. That is an amazing seven years and six months. And it is at No 5.

What a way to end January 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.

The Alchemist: three hundred and eighty-six weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 3, 2016
The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six weeks New York Times best-seller list

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, today The Alchemist three hundred and eighty-six continuous weeks in New York Times best-seller list. That is an amazing seven years and five months. And it is at No 2.

What a way to welcome in the New Year.

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.

The Arabian Nights

January 3, 2016
One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights

Your fortune lies in Cairo. Go seek it there.

A modern retelling of The Arabian Nights.

Ata Madri, an expert in Mediaeval Arabic and The Arabian Nights receives an e-mail with an attachment. When she opens the attachment, it alludes to The Arabian Nights.

She has a dream:

Your fortune lies in Cairo. Go seek it there.

She is led to a bookshop in Caro, where believes she will find a Medieval manuscript of The Arabian Nights containing a long lost tale.

A wonderful re-telling of The Arabian Nights, tales within tales.

The ending of this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation is remarkably similar to The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.