Archive for the ‘Brighton’ Category

Black Mocha

August 19, 2017

Coffee shop in North Laine in Brighton.

I had noticed Black Mocha in North Laine on a previous visit to Brighton last year, a relatively newcomer to the Brighton coffee scene.

Chatting with a girl sat outside, I asked what was it like, she said good.

OK, I am on my way to Coffee at 33, maybe some other day.

OK, we will compare notes.

Passing by again, I was heading for the seafront, then changed my mind, as it was  a pleasant late afternoon, I decided I would stop and sit outside.

Black Mocha, which I had passed earlier, I tried a cappuccino. Not very good, not helped by chocolate dumped on top.

Staff very pleasant.

Interior pleasantly laid out.

I am not to sure of the ad hoc tampering of their espresso machine. The metal panels removed, replaced by glass, glass I am assured that  is shatter proof. Espresso machines have inside high pressure boilers.

Coffee from a local roastery, Cast Iron Coffee Roasters.

Black Mocha has potential, if employed skilled baristas.

Day in Brighton

August 13, 2017

All day, clear blue sky.

Thameslink train from Gatwick to Brighton running ten minutes late, lucky for me as I was able to catch.

It was packed, it was like Tube during rush hour.

New trains no wifi, display on train said out of service.

A chat with the girl running FCB at The Waiting Room.  I mentioned Standart, suggested they ordered and stocked. She has not heard of Standart. Said they would look into it.

A cappuccino off the Small Batch kiosk in the station forecourt. I though it was smaller. It was. I wondered how they towed it a way. Then I saw in three sections, arranged to give a larger space.

The cappuccino was  excellent. Best of the day.

I asked of Standart. Guys running the stall had never heard of Standart, even though Small Batch listed as distributors.  They suggested I try Small Batch in North Laine.

I looked in Grocer and Grain. Sadly the owner not there, expected later.

Excellent selection of coffee, Grumpy Mule and UnionUnion. Plus excellent selection of cakes. They also serve coffee.

Why buy coffee from a supermaket, when can buy from coffee shops or shops like Infinity Foods or Grocer and Grain?

I headed to the sea front.

Shocked by the number of homeless and beggars in the street as I walk down to the seafront.  A sharp increase to autumn of last year, the last time I was in Brighton. This was of the level I am used to seeing in Athens. It was as though I was in Calcutta.

Along the seafront, almost to Brighton Pier, then across to Brighton Pavilion.

I then waste nearly an hour looking for a coffee shop. Had I known where it was, I would have headed straight there.

An entirety wasted journey, The Plant Room has closed down. Google Maps was correct, it was shown as closed.

Walking through North Laine saddened to find the remainder bookshop near Resident had closed. It always had good books.

I learnt later, as too many good businesses, driven out of businesses by rent hikes.

I look in Resident. Nothing of interest.

Seats outside Iydea occupied, then a couple vacate. Excellent timing.

Lunch at Iydea excellent. Always consistently good, but today they surpass themselves. Mushroom stroganoff, served with rice, roast potatoes, mangetout  peas and seeds and tzatziki. Generous portion size and quite filling.

Followed by fresh fruit juice, carrot, apple, ginger and lemon.

I head to Magazine Brighton, pick up copies of Viva Lewes and Viva Brighton. I ask for a bag, and offer to pay, but owner says no, he knows me.

I suggest, he stocks Standart. To my surprise he says he does and a new issue is overdue, and I have reminded him to chase it up.

He also tells me Standart did a feature on Magazine Brighton, but it was never published. I try to think what angle. I tell him I will think about it, and do it.  He used to stock coffee from Coffee at 33, and that is how I first learnt of this coffee shop, a few doors further up the street.

Just in time for a coffee in Coffee at 33. Guy was grumpy. He was grumpy the last time. The first time I visited, excellent service, and interesting conservation about coffee.

On my way there, I look in Pelicano, but do not stop.

I notice Bond Street, have coffee from Los Nogales Project.

I enquire in Small Batch of Standart. No, they have never heard of it. And I must admit, I have never seen it on sale. They tell me unlikely to be on sale.

All very strange, as Small Batch listed as  a distributor, whereas Magazine Brighton not.

Black Mocha, which I had passed earlier, I try a cappuccino. Not very good, not helped by chocolate dumped on top.

Staff very pleasant.

I am not to sure of the ad hoc tampering of their espresso machine. The metal panels removed, replaced by glass, glass I am assured that  is shatter proof. Espresso machines have inside high pressure boilers.

Usually my phone, Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 lasts all day, but not today. Usually by the end of the day, maybe down to 50%, sometimes down as low 20%.  Not today.

Sat outside Black Mocha, warning below 14%. When I leave 3%

Down the the seafront. Cockles off the stall.

A walk along Brighton Pier, but not  to the end.

I could have stayed to watch the sun set, but would have meant catching a train an hour later.

There are two places to see the sun set. End of Brighton Pier and on the sea wall at Puerto de la Crus.

I am surprised having been warned phone down to 3% still able to take photos.

I arrive at Brighton Station early as I did not know if my train for Gatwick was 2025 or 2035, to find no train, running 15 minutes late, which means I miss the train at Gatwick an hour wait for the next train. I may as well have stayed on the pier.  Next time I look, train on time.

Front coaches of the train, no working toilets.

At last, Southern have wifi on their trains, but it is not acceptable to use ‘free’ wifi as an opportunity to trawl for personal data on passengers, wanting name, e-mail address mobile number.

Phone has switched off. I connect power bank. I only reach 6%, before power bank fails.

Power bank 2200 mAh. It should have lasted longer. Either not charged or faulty.

Train from Gatwick, no functioning toilets, one out of action, the other no water. No water, disease spread through the train if passengers cannot wash their hands after using the toilet.

Broken windows on the train, cold air chilling the passengers.

No sign of the guard.

Second power bank reaches 20% before it fails.  Capacity 1200 mAh.

Phone Samsung Galaxy A3 2016, battery 2300 mAh.

When I alight from the train sometime after 2200, it has turned cold. I am glad of the warm jacket I have been carting around all day.

Nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse

October 30, 2016
North Camp rail works

North Camp rail works

The nightmare of weekend rail works, travelling down to Brighton last Sunday, could not get worse, could it? Unfortunately yes.

This Sunday, rail works on the line Reading to Gatwick and a repeat of last weekend’s nightmare with rail works Gatwick to Brighton.

Bus Reading to Guildford, then train to Gatwick.

As the clocks had gone back to GMT, and it gets dark an hour earlier, I set off an hour earlier, plus twenty minutes because bus was twenty minutes earlier.

A journey to Gatwick, that would take an hour, now an hour and a half.

I arrived ten minutes early for the bus. Road to station closed. Where to pick up the bus? No information at the station, nor an amended timetable or where to pick up the bus.

Displays on the platforms were not showing amended times, merely rail works and a bus service in operation.

No bus. The bus failed to turn up.

A bus for Reading arrived. The driver was asked to either contact the driver or his office. The driver refused on the grounds that he did not know the number of his own office.

Passenger decided to walk to another station and get to Guildford that way. Either way, train from Guildford to Gatwicks missed, an hour until next train.

Tough job passengers with a  plane to catch.

Not possible to cross the line due to rail works.

A detour to cross via a road bridge.  Dangerous to walk along, no footpath

On crossing the road bridge, bus turns up. Flagged down, and passengers get on the bus.

Now twenty minutes late.  No explanation or apology from driver as to why twenty minutes late.

For some perverse reason, driver decided to drive down the closed road. For what? There are no passenger to pick up, we are the passengers.

We tell him one passenger for Gatwick is on the other side, but not possible to cross due to rail works.

Driver decides to pick up passenger, even though pointless exercise, train missed at Guildford.

Driver, instead of going to car park, drives to another station.

Bus then stuck, as not possible to turn around the bus.

Eventually after much manoeuvring, bus turned around. Bus now running 40-50 minutes late.

He then goes to another station to pick passengers up. No passengers to be picked up.

Arrive at Guildford, train for Gatwick long gone.

Had though the bus been on time, sufficient time to walk through the station and catch the train, insufficient time to buy a ticket.

Any passenger coming by bus without a ticket should be allowed through to catch their train.

At Gatwick, no announcement how to get to Brighton.

I saw a train leaving in five minutes for Havant, stopping at Three Bridges, nipped across to Platform 7, and caught it.

At Three Bridges, unlike last Sunday, no announcements. I assumed as last week, walk through car park and catch a bus.

Very efficient, as soon as a bus full, dispatched.

Double-decker buses, as last week.

As soon as bus pulled out, luggage rolling around, nowhere to safely stow. Area for wheelchairs and buggies doubled as luggage space

French girl on the bus, said she had no idea what to do on arrival at Three Bridges as no announcements. She said trains in France do not provide this appalling service nor are they expensive.

Return from Brighton as efficient, as  soon as  a bus full, dispatched.

At Three Bridges, choice of two trains, one for St Pancras, the other for Victoria, both stopped at Gatwick.

Train to Guildford, then bus.

As train pulled into Guildford, announcement where to catch the train, and again at the station.

Bus driver appeared to know the route, in contrast to the driver in the morning who did not seem to have a clue where he was going.

Day in Brighton

October 30, 2016
Brighton seafront

Brighton seafront

Last Sunday, nightmare of rail works Gatwick to Brighton. This Sunday, same nightmare, plus rail works on line to Gatwick.  The nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse.

As clocks had gone back, set off an hour earlier. Bus failed to turn up, no information at station, as a result missed train at Guildford.

Misty in the morning, dull and grey, then en route to Brighton, clouds broke up and the sun came out.

Arrived an hour late, thanks to rail works and late bus.

Walked down to the sea front. Pleasantly warm and sunny.

Mistake of chips and fish cake from Carousel’s on the sea front. Both were disgusting. Even the sea gulls did not try to steal, that was how bad.

Walked back to the North Laine up through the Royal Pavilion Gardens.

Lunch at Iydea. Not as good as last week. Very variable, sometimes good, some times not so good.

Had I been earlier, sun would have been shining through the street, now too late.

From Resident a copy of Citizen Of Glass and a special limited edition of Aventine.

I asked, and they knew what I was after. I popped back alter to buy, and they had playing Citizen Of Glass, a wonderful album.

I suggested they would also like Jewelia.

I also picked up two more of the special bags.

From Magazine Brighton, copies of November issue of Viva Brighton and Viva Lewes.

I was told could also find at the station. Picked up a couple more copies of Viva Brighton as I passed through later.

Walked back down to the seafront, but no time to take a walk.

Cappuccino at Pelicano House. I thought I would miss the bus, but luckily time to catch as I did not wish to catch a later bus.

Apart from much longer journey, not problems en route.

At M&S at Gatwick girl serving was curious about the bag, said she liked it. I said it was special for the album Citizen Of Glass.  I should have said, pop down to Brighton, visit Resident in North Laine, buy the album, and ask for the special bag.

I noted for her Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel.

Thanks to the rail works and bus failing to turn up and missed train, my day in Brighton four hours.

Nightmare of weekend train travel

October 23, 2016
bus Three Bridges to Brighton

a bus is not a train

Train to Gatwick, no rail works.  Relief short lived. Rail works from Gatwick to Brighton. Journey that would take 20 mins fast train, 30 minutes slow train, now over an hour if train and bus, or hour and a half by train.

Train from Gatwick to Three Bridges, then bus.

Chaos at Gatwick. Screens not working properly. Kept flashing on and off, no time to read the information. Three pages of information scrolled through one screen. Can they not afford three screens?

No announcements. I knew had to change at Three Bridges, I saw a train was leaving for Portsmouth, stopping at Three Bridges, so hopped on.

Chaos at Three Bridges. Platform heaving with people. An accident waiting to happen. But at least they announced find your way to the buses in the car park.

Five minutes walk, out of station, through car park, to find buses.

No coaches, the double-decker buses that serve Brighton.

Buses left promptly, so promptly that passengers were left behind.

Return journey as bad. Had no idea what bus to catch. Turn up at station and hope for the best.

At Brighton, one screen scrolling five or maybe six pages.

Again a double-decker bus. Total inadequate luggage space for people with roll-on hand luggage. Would have been even worse if normal luggage.

Chaos at Three Bridges. At least people kept to one side through subway, but at the top, massive jam of people, people trying to climb out of subway over the rails because of the jam.

At Gatwick, further chaos.

I arrived at Gatwick to see the train I wished to catch running ten minutes late just leaving. Hour wait for next train.

Gatwick is a major international airport, is seeking a second runway, and yet the rail connections are a nightmare and unable to cope now.

We pay for a train, but get a bus. Journey takes much longer, but not classed as delayed, due to amended timetable in force.  No compensation is offered let alone paid.

Rail works on this route has been ongoing for a decade.

Cold day in Brighton

October 23, 2016
North Laine

North Laine

Relief at no rail works to Gatwick, short lived as rail works Gatwick to Brighton. Bus replacement from Three Bridges to Brighton. Journey from Gatwick to Brighton that would take 20 minutes, 30 minutes if slow train, now over an hour, hour and a half if by train.

Looked in Grocer and Grain. Hakan not there, not well. I asked wish him well.

Straight to North Laine, too late to walk down to the sea front and hungry.

Excellent lunch in Iydea. Sweetcorn fritters, peas and roast potatoes.

Looked in Magazine Brighton. Thanked them for directing me to Coffee at 33 on a previous visit. Also looked in and was lucky to pick up copies of Viva Brighton. Man suggested also take Viva Lewes. I said no, as only one copy left.

Looked in Coffee at 33. I would have liked to have had a coffee and a cake, but it was packed. Visit sea front first, then have a coffee at Small Batch on way to station.

A couple of albums from Resident. Speculative purchase, could be rubbish, hopefully not. Citizen of Glass by  Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel and ….

Given a smart back. Gift with one  of the albums.

Apples, bread, muesli, scones from Infinity Foods. Apples delicious. As too the scones.

Chatting to a homeless man outside. I said council has a statutory duty to house him. He said yes, but waiting list. He was at 25 from from the top, was at a 100, has taken him nine months to move up the list.

In Finland, Homes  First. People are housed.

I asked did he go to the food at lunchtime? He said no, he had a church to go to in the evening.

Infinity Food Cafe, chat with Greek guy. I suggested they opened another shop, served fruit juices in jam jars like nova gea in Plaka in Athens. Open as an open coop. Already have the fruit and vegetables in Infinity Foods.

Too cold to walk down to the sea front, but cannot visit Brighton and not visit the sea front.

Crab sandwich to eat on way home.

All summer, Guildford has had cows dotted around the town. Brighton has snow dogs.

Looked in Small Batch. Packed and no  cakes. Not a pleasant ambience, horrible corporate feel.. But I wished to try there coffee.
On my way to Coffee at 33,  Brighton sausage Shop. Did I want a sausage roll? No.

Interesting conversation on democracy.

Coffee at 33 closed.

Coffee at Pelicano. Then to the station.

Burger from what is claimed Gourmet Burgers, a stall outside the station. Vile and disgusting, anything but gourmet.

Bus to Three Bridges. Chaos at Three Bridges. Platform jam packed with people.

Chaos at Gatwick. Arrive to see the train I want running ten minutes late just leaving. Hour wait for next train

Nightmare rail works train journey

September 11, 2016

That time of year, dreaded rail works. Been ongoing for at least ten years.

Nightmare journey down to Brighton.

No amended timetable at local station. Female guard on train, fails to walk the train to collect fares. I search her out. She refuses to sell a ticket. Barely sufficient time to leave Guildford Station and catch replacement bus service. No time to buy a ticket, and certainly no time with long queue. Luckily able to get on bus without ticket.

I had no luggage. Worse for those that did. Especially as no clear direction where to go when train terminated at Guildford.

Bus leaves ten minutes late. No explanation or apology.  But at least  rail personal announce on bus, where bus is going and that mandatory to wear seat belt.

Major traffic jams en route.

Traffic jam on A3, tail back from RHS Wisley Gardens, jam waiting to join M25, massive jam existing M25 onto M20, police road block on slip road into Gatwick.

Bus arrives Gatwick 15 minutes late. Two trains to Brighton missed.

Chaos at station concourse, queuing back into airport. Luckily, I am allowed through the barrier.  Twenty minutes wait for Brighton train, which is then five minutes late.

Poster on platform stating free wifi. No wifi.

At Brighton cannot exit, no ticket. 10-15 minute wait to buy a ticket. Asked why no ticket? I explain station closed, train guard refused to sell a ticket, replacement bus service.

Train companies only last week were complaining of fare dodging, that it costs them millions. Maybe man their stations, get their guards to do their jobs properly.

Forced to leaving Brighton earlier than I wished. My reason for doing so, rail works. A bus journey of over an hour. Had I waited, next bus journey was showing around two hours for bus and train, for a journey that would normally take an hour. .

Train Brighton to London Bridge packed. At Gatwick, platform heaving, passengers trying to get on a packed train.

A sign in the airport, wait here to be taken to the bus. No one there. Luckily I knew where to go.

I asked, was directed to a bus. No driver. Bus in semi-darkness. When driver appeared and bus set off, he did not announce where the bus was going, nor state it was mandatory to wear seat belts.

Luckily journey only 45 minutes, but twenty minutes wait in the cold at Guildford Station for a train. Had the train ran all the way, but for rail works, no wait in the cold.

Less time in Brighton. Arrive later, forced to leave earlier. Pay for a  train, get a bus. Longer journey time. No compensation. Thus the train companies screw their passengers.

Gatwick is one of the busiest airports in the world, second busiest in UK, and yet chaos at station concourse, totally inadequate train service to and from Gatwick. They cannot cope now, with existing infrastructure and yet they are wishing to expand, demanding a second runway.

Sunday in Brighton

September 11, 2016

That time of year, dreaded rail works. Been ongoing for at least ten years.

Nightmare train journey down to Brighton.

No amended timetable at local station. Female guard on train, fails to walk the train to collect fares. I search her out. She refuses to sell a ticket. Barely sufficient time to leave Guildford Station and catch replacement bus service. No time to buy a ticket, and certainly no time with long queue. Luckily able to get on bus without ticket.

I had no luggage. Worse for those that did. Especially as no clear direction where to go when train terminated at Guildford.

Bus leaves ten minutes late. No explanation or apology.  But at least  rail personal announce on bus, where bus is going and that mandatory to wear seat belt. Major traffic jams en route. Bus arrives Gatwick 15 minutes late. Two trains to Brighton missed.

Chaos at station concourse, queuing back into airport. Luckily, I am allowed through the barrier.  Twenty minutes wait for Brighton train, which is then five minutes late.

Poster on platform stating free wifi. No wifi.

At Brighton cannot exit, no ticket. 10-15 minute wait to buy a ticket. Asked why no ticket? I explain station closed, train guard refused to sell a ticket, replacement bus service.

passion flower

passion flower

Walking down from Brighton Station to Grocer and Grain on my way to the seafront, I came across passion flowers growing on a garden wall.

Looked in on Hakan in Grocer and Grain. As always, excellent display of cakes. With the exception of Pelicano, better than most coffee shops, and good coffee too. Not surprising, very busy, people wanting cakes and coffee. I was tempted to buy Union coffee beans, but not recently roasted.

Looked in The Fair Shop.

Get On Go Somewhere

Get On Go Somewhere

Clever idea on the side of a bus, where would you like to go?

Street Kitchen

Street Kitchen

Off the soup kitchen, bacon and sausages and mushrooms frying, I could not resist, I was starving. I said I felt guilty, as I was not homeless, and offered a donation. Please do not feel guilty, they said. You stopped and had a chat. The guilty ones are those who walk by. The guilty ones are the council that says no homeless on Brighton.

What a  difference the sun makes. Very busy people walking down from the station. Seafront packed. More people than Bank Holiday Weekend two weeks ago.

Two excellent musicians playing on the seafront. I picked up a couple of their CDs

Seth playing in The lanes. I said hi. I already have his CD.

Lunch at Iydea. I did not enjoy as much as I usually do. Roast potatoes were not up to their usual standard, peas cold.

Cappuccino at Coffee at 33. I also picked up two bags of freshly roasted coffee beans of their house blend, which is what they use. They also have single origin coffee. Recent roast date 7 September 2016. Single origin even more recent, 9 September 2016.

A criticism. No weight marked on the bags. No price either.

I suggested they talk to Hakan in Grocer and Grain, as he is interested in selling their coffee beans, and using for his coffee.

I just made Infinity Foods. Apples. Very poor selection of coffee. But then makes sense, when probably better to buy from the many coffee shops. Far better selection in Grocer and Grain.

I looked in Small Batch Coffee. Two bags of their coffee beans as used by them. Also single origin. Again recent roast date, 8 September 2016.  Shocked though when their barista, at least I assume he was the barista, said roast date does not matter, that he had beans at home in the cupboard at least a year old and he could not tell the difference.

Looked in Bond St Coffee. They are the coffee shop for Horsham Coffee. And yet the beans on sale roasted sometime mid-August. Maybe that is why their coffee is a disappointment.

Graffiti artists in action in an alley off Bond Street. I mentioned the murals in Puerto de la Cruz. They said hosts an annual graffiti festival.

Back down to the seafront. Six o’clock, and yet still hot in the sun.

Watched the sun set from Brighton Pier.

I left later than I intended, only just made the train. But leaving earlier than I wished. My reason for doing so, rail works. A bus journey of over an hour. Had I waited, next bus journey was showing around two hours for bus and train, for a journey that would normally take an hour.

Train Brighton to London Bridge packed. At Gatwick, platform heaving, passengers trying to get on a packed train.

A sign in the airport, wait here to be taken to the bus. No one there. Luckily I knew where to go.

I asked, was directed to a bus. No driver. Bus in semi-darkness. When driver appeared and bus set off, he did not announce where the bus was going, nor state it was mandatory to wear seat belts.

Luckily journey only 45 minutes, but twenty minutes wait in the cold at Guildford Station for a train. Had the train ran all the way, but for rail works, no wait in the cold.

Less time in Brighton. Arrive later, forced to leave earlier. Pay for a  train, get a bus. Longer journey time. No compensation. Thus the train companies screw their passengers.

The Fair Shop

September 5, 2016
The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

I came across The Fair Shop walking down to the seafront on a trip to Brighton.

Sustainable fashion, slow fashion, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers a fair price, clothes we value.

One range in The Fair Shop, was from a group of women in Malawi.

Fashion is one of the most damaging industries on the planet, from cotton that is one of the most polluting and water intensive crops grown, to the hazardous chemicals used to processes and die the cotton, to the sweatshop labour used to make the clothes, through to disposal clothes, worn once and then thrown away.

But it does not have to be.

The Fair Shop in Brighton is an example that shows it does not have to be, as does Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus.

Mojo Independent Artisan Coffee House

September 5, 2016
Mojo Independent Artisan Coffee House

Mojo Independent Artisan Coffee House

On my way down to the seafront on Sunday, on a trip to Brighton, I passed by Mojo Independent Artisan Coffee House.

I did not wish for a coffee, having just been served an excellent coffee by Hakan, the Turkish owner of Grocer and Grain.  But always worth taking a look, for a future visit.

Interior pleasantly laid out, though poor location.

What were the beans? The girl did not know. She went down to the cellar and brought up a box of LavAzza coffee beans.

LavAzza!

No indie artisan coffee shop would use LavAzza beans, no self-respecting barista would use LavAzza, not if they wish to be taken seriously.  This simply demonstrates they know little about coffee.  Ok in  a cafe, but not if claiming to be an independent artisan coffee shop.

I asked why LavAzza? Why LavAzza when there are are quality indie coffee roasters?

Only the owner knows, and the owner was not there.

Brighton is spoilt for choice for indie coffee shops.

Try Coffee at 33 or Pelicano Coffee and Tea House or even a coffee from Grocer and Grain, where if they do not roast there own coffee at least source from quality indie coffee roasters (and by doing so, are supporting local businesses).