Archive for the ‘Dark Mountain’ Category

BID extortion racket

June 20, 2022

This is appalling.

But at least we now know.

We force BIDs onto towns to extort money from local businesses.

It is hard to believe there are still naïve local businesses who think a BID is created to support them or help their local town.

Remember the good old days of the Soviet Union when a leader would be elected with 98% of the vote?

Experience Guildford carried out a survey of local business.

Over 95% find stated that they find our marketing, promotion and events programme (such as Street Festivals, Markets, Seasonal Events and Trails, Healthy Guildford Day) are important to their business.

Really, over 95% happy with the performance of Experience Guildford?

It was not an independent survey, it was carried out by Experience Guildford, thus worthless. The respondents were self-selecting, which again renders the survey worthless.

Actually even worse. Mosaic Partnership who brag they force BIDs onto town centres, the same Mosaic Partnership that Experience Guildford paid to produce a survey result that shows over 95% happy with the performance of Experience Guildford. One could not make up this shit if tried.

We do not know what the questions were. It is all too easy to get the result you wish for with carefully crafted questions. Especially when the results are what Experience Guildford paid for, and the survey carried out by a BID parasite that brags the service it offers is to force BIDs onto local towns to extort money from local businesses.

What then is the truth on the ground? From my own random sample, wandering around talking to a range of different local businesses, 100% opposition to Experience Guildford. Not a single business wishes to see them continue.

Of the businesses I have spoken to, I have yet to find any who support Experience Guildford, and there is now talk of refusal to pay the BID Levy. Businesses object to an enforced levy, little more than an extortion racket, for which they see no benefit.

We have parasitical organisations, in addition to the BID itself, associated bottom feeders Mosaic Partnership, Loyal Free app, Mi Reward app, that suck the life blood out of local businesses.

At least with the Mafia, receive protection.

Experience Guildford exposes its own failings

June 8, 2022

If the measure of success of a BID is a thriving town centre, then the number of empty retail shops in the centre of Guildford is a measure of the failure of Experience Guildford.

Posting on Instagram, Experience Guildford graphically illustrated its own failings. Note the empty shops in one short street. From my own survey end of last year, there are many more empty shops in this one short street. And it is not atypical. Every street I surveyed, including the High Street, row after row of empty shops.

We have a domino effect. Every shop that closes its doors, less reason to visit Guildford, fewer people will visit, fewer people shopping, eating out, drinking coffee. There are always 10% of businesses that are marginal. Lower footfall, they go under, even less reason to visit Guildford, further pressure on those that remain.

Remember the good old days of the Soviet Union when a leader would be elected with 98% of the vote?

Experience Guildford carried out a survey of local business.

Over 95% find stated that they find our marketing, promotion and events programme (such as Street Festivals, Markets, Seasonal Events and Trails, Healthy Guildford Day) are important to their business.

Really, over 95% happy with the performance of Experience Guildford?

It was not an independent survey, it was carried out by Experience Guildford, thus worthless. The respondents were self-selecting, which again renders the survey worthless.

We do not know what the questions were. It is all too easy to get the result you wish for with carefully crafted questions.

What then is the truth on the ground? From my own random sample, wandering around talking to a range of different local businesses, 100% opposition to Experience Guildford. Not a single business wishes to see them continue.

Of the businesses I have spoken to, I have yet to find any who support Experience Guildford, and there is now talk of refusal to pay the BID Levy. Businesses object to an enforced levy, little more than an extortion racket, for which they see no benefit.

Across the country, and it is growing, a refusal to pay the BID Levy. Enough is enough.

Carmarthen 57 refuseniks refused to pay the BID Levy. Summons issued. Case successfully defended in Court. They won. The Court ruled they do not have to pay. The local council has indicated it will not try to recover the monies not paid. The lawyer who took the case will now on their behalf, file in the High Court for the BID to be wound up.

Markets?

In Guildford there are two regular markets. North Street market, a very popular weekly market every Friday and Saturday, cheese, fruit and vegetables, fish, cakes. A monthly farmers market in the High Street, the first Tuesday of the month, with occasional extra markets, seafood, paella, cheese, coffee, meat, fruit and vegetables, cakes, bread, wine, gin, chutney, jam. An occasional craft market. These markets are run by the local council.

A well run market is an asset to any town , it brings folk into town, everyone benefits. In London successful markets have been established by individuals and volunteers, not bloated parasitical entities. These new markets have revitalised dying town centres.

Experience Guildford are even claiming credit for the Guildford Book Festival. A book festival long before Experience Guildford existed and I am sure will be there long after Experience Guildford has gone.

If local businesses wish to sponsor events in the town, either individual or collectively, that is for them to decide. It does not require an enforced levy.

Unlicenced unregulated private security roam the streets, no consultation, rarely seen. Very camera shy.

One of their roles is to deliver an Experience Guildford propaganda sheet to local businesses. On receipt it goes straight into the bin. An obscene waste of trees. How much to print, publish and distribute? What is its carbon footprint?

At the weekend I learnt a local business had been blocked from accessing the Experience Guildford Instagram page.

I checked, to find I too was blocked.

Accountability, transparency?

The level of corruption within these organisations needs to be investigated.

One BID held their AGM on-line. Only the board were present and re-elected themselves. This may not be an isolated example.

Struggling local businesses in todays harsh economic reality, cannot afford the luxury of a BID Levy, especially when they see no tangible benefit. The BID Levy can mean the difference between employing a staff member or not, between remaining in businesses or not.

Guildford has a ballot in October.

Experience Guildford this month are holding a series of workshops to obtain a YES vote to remain in business. That is they are using money extorted from local businesses to secure a YES vote to continue extorting money from local businesses.


https://www.instagram.com/p/CeOZnwsotNI/

#BID#ExperienceGuildford#fail#AgainstBID#Guildford

Dinner for Ukraine

April 14, 2022

Hosted by Jamie Oliver at Jamie Oliver HQ.

You are going to get to try some very authentic Ukrainian food. — Jamie Oliver

No more beautiful way to speak out against the war than through food. — Alissa Timoshkina


After drinks on arrival, shown to our tables, Jamie Oliver welcomed everyone and explained Cook For Ukraine. He then passed over to Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules co-founders of Cook for Ukraine.

Cook for Ukraine was founded by Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules, with the help of Clerkenwell Boy.

Their aim was to celebrate Ukrainian and Eastern European food while raising awareness of the humanitarian crisis facing Ukraine as well as emergency funds.

Alissa Timoshkina expanded on the founding of Cook for Ukraine.

Olia Hercules gave an emotional account of relatives in Ukraine and her fear for their safety.

Dinner for Ukraine a fundraiser for Cook for Ukraine.

By the side of each invited guest, a menu and cutlery wrapped in a yellow or blue ribbon.

The food prepared by Jamie Oliver and a Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko, served by a team of willing helpers, all volunteers.

On the table a large plate of fermented vegetables. Help yourself, washed down with Dima’s vodka, a three-grain Ukrainian vodka.

Followed by soup, borscht, a beetroot soup.

Followed by slow roast belly pork served with new potatoes.

Followed by dessert, dumpling filled with I think apricots, together with cream and raspberries.

Part way through the dinner, a lottery draw, with prizes which included a complete set of signed Jamie Oliver cookbooks. Myself and my guest twice missed by one number, then me by two.

I have never tried Ukrainian food before, I had no idea what to expect, the names meant nothing. Would I even like?

Menus wrapped in ribbons, alternated blue and yellow along the table and across the table.

The food was amazing. As was the white wine and vodka.

Special thanks to Jamie for an amazing evening, excellent food, and to all his willing helpers, who volunteered their time for free.

I had spoken to Jamie earlier, I have an idea. We like ideas, we must discuss later. But sadly did not see later to discuss or to explain the idea.

Last year I met Mad Heads, a coffee roastery in Kyiv. Excellent coffee. I have have been in contact with them recently. Yes, they can ship coffee to Ukraine.

i would ask, please talk to your local specialty coffee shop. Would they like to stock and serve Mad Heads as guest coffee?

Ukraine coffee in times of war

March 28, 2022

One month on from Putin’s attack on Ukraine, slowly slowly in Kyiv, life is returning to normal, if can count as normal the outskirts of the city shelled, people who fled are returning to the city, markets are open, coffee shops are open, roasteriers are functioning.

Dating from the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution and the start of Russian aggression, the Ukrainian coffee scene has been on a steady rise. Up to the coronavirus pandemic Ukraine was leading the charts in new coffee places openings, as evidenced by the Project Cafe 2020 Europe a report by the Allegra Group.

Ukraine was represented at the World Barista Championships with Slava Babych taking the Cezve-Ibrik title in 2018; and, more importantly, the local roasteries were growing in Kyiv and all over the country. 

Yellow Place one of the flagship Kyiv coffee shops still operational.

Also operational, Mad Heads, a roastery I met at the Limassol Coffee Festival, excellent coffee.

Sprudge featured Mad Heads [see Coffee Is Fueling The Resistance In Ukraine]

mad heads vradii 7 ukraine copy

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy could use a cup of joe. He’s been the unifying force his country needed the moment Russia launched a full-scale, multiple fronts invasion of Europe’s largest country. Zelenskyy’s case is the very definition of rising to the occasion, as illustrated by the 90+ percent approval rating he enjoys in Ukraine and the global media coverage. What drives his team in these unprecedented times? Ukrainian specialty coffee by the local Kyiv roastery Mad Heads Coffee Roasters.

There’s only so much you can do to help when your country is being invaded by a foreign adversary, says Mad Heads co-founder Artem Vradii. For the coffee community, it means delivering fresh brew to the armed forces, emergency services, and hospitals. Oh, and you can also provide coffee to keep the president of your country (and the current leader of free world) energized.

Vradii says that the Ukrainian’s Office of the President (think the White House of Ukraine) asked Mad Heads to provide coffee for Zelenskyy’s team. “There’s lots of people working through the sleepless nights there. That was clear enough after we sent them most of our coffee and 1,500-1,800 drip coffee bags,” he says. The next time they reached out Mad Heads also sent all the milk and branded metal cups they had at the roastery.

mad heads vradii 1 ukraine copy

There’s no way of knowing if Zelenskyy specifically is the one to enjoy specialty coffee but Vradii certainly hopes so. “I just imagine him drinking Mad Heads coffee from our cup when I go to sleep. I never asked but that’s what makes me feel better,” he says. He had a chance to communicate with the president’s staff though: “I just asked if [Zelenskyy] feels the support he’s been getting from all over the country. And they said that he definitely does, in fact that’s what keeps him going in these trying times.”

What motivates Vradii’s team is trying to help the country in any way they can. “Admittedly for the first days of war we just froze. You just don’t know what to do when your country’s suddenly at war. But then we started to find some ways to help. These days I can go to sleep only if I feel I’ve done something helpful,” says Vradii, responsible for the coffee that helped Ukrainian Slava Babych win the 2018 World Cezve-Ibrik Championship in Dubai.

The logistics system Mad Heads has in place makes it possible to provide coffee to numerous Ukrainian army checkpoints, hospitals, and volunteer centers. And they continue to deliver coffee to the cafes still open in Kyiv that are providing free coffee to the citizens that decided to stay in the city. “We have 30 or so points of delivery in Kyiv now. It’s harder to reach out to our clients all over the country but we try to anyway,” Vradii adds.

It’s not only the president’s team that prefers Mad Heads coffee. Vradii smiles when he tells the story of one of the Territorial Defenses units that defend Kyiv now. “They said, ‘Guys we have lots of coffee here but it’s all Lavazza. That’s fine, we’re not complaining. But if you have some of your good stuff please send it to us.’” Of course Mad Heads did. There’s no way Russian occupying forces have specialty coffee delivered to them in trenches, adds Vradii cheerfully.

I had a chat with Mad Heads last week (use Telegram for security), yes, they confirmed, we are still operational and yes, we can deliver coffee outside Ukraine, the Postal service is operational.

Please place an order. Chat with your local indie specialty coffee shop. Suggest Mad Heads as a guest coffee. And if anyone using disgusting Nespresso (owned by Nestle, trading in Russia), order Mad Heads coffee capsules (I can recommend their Colombian coffee).

Nestlé chocolate

March 27, 2022

With added bitterness of Putin’s war crimes.

No surprise Nestlé refusal to pull out of Russia, Nestlé ranks as one of the world’s most evil corporations.

Nestlé not the only Western corporation refusing to pull out of Russia.

  • M&S
  • Burger King
  • Subway
  • Total

Find Nespresso shops in your locality. Leave 1* review on Google maps that Nestlé trading in Russia, complicit Putin’s war crimes.

In Russia, find Nespresso outlets on Google maps, leave a 1* review of Putin’s war crimes.

Note: Please do not review Putin’s war crimes on indie business in Russia, it will endanger them. The Truth in Russia a criminal offence, fifteen years in prison.

For Total, a French oil company with major stake in a Russian oil company, write a 1* review on TrustPilot.

If have a friend using vile undrinkable Nespresso, treat them to coffee from Mad Heads, excellent coffee.

Chocolate, treat yourself to bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

St Mark’s retail desolation

February 3, 2022

St Mark’s retail is south of the city centre, over the level crossing, then cross a very busy road.

The lower end of High Street between the level crossing and St Mark’s was pedestrianised a couple of years ago, sleazy and run down, charity shops, pawn shops, gambling joints, greasy spoon cafes, closed shops and more due to close.

Pedestrianisation of this section of the High Street does not stop Deliveroo serfs riding through, the wrong way down a one way street.  Lack of enforcement.

St Mark’s retail desolation, once upon a time St Mark’s Railway Station. Many boarded-up shops, corporate chain coffee shops serving disgusting coffee, little footfall.

Two new retailers have moved in, Boyz and Fresh Local & Wild.

Boyz deserted. The only difference from when Boyz was off Sincil Street, lacks trip hazard of buckets collecting water from the leaking roof.

Fresh Local & Wild an interesting concept, a coffee shop, unmanned stalls for local businesses, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, zero waste and art, but in the wrong location. A few lost souls wander in, wander around out of curiosity, wander back out. A few stay for coffee.

The coffee from Seven Districts, skilled baristas, makes worth a visit if in the locality or passing through.

Fresh Local & Wild the saving grace of St Mark’s. Were it not for the coffee shop serving excellent coffee, possibility of topping up with zero waste groceries, picking up a loaf of bread and fresh fruit and vegetables there would be no reason to visit St Mark’s.

Now three coffee shops worth visiting in Lincoln:

  • Madame Waffle
  • Coffee Aroma
  • Fresh Local & Wild

Avoid the chains and greasy spoon cafes.

Grind appalling customer service

January 16, 2022

Grind a chain of coffee shops, started in Shoreditch in 2011. I have never visited a coffee shop, I have tried ordering.

This is my experience of placing an order.

Grind had a Boxing Day offer. I placed an order within hours of the offer expiring.

Order was dumped in the pouring rain by Hermes a week ago last Saturday. I by chance found the box four hours later. One very wet soggy dirty box.

Coffee should be stored in a cool dry place.

I placed the box in a greenhouse to dry. A day later, wet and soggy. Several days later dry. I have yet to examine the contents.

Grind were immediately notified. They offered a refund or a replacement order. I chose replacement.

Early hours of Sunday I ordered a copy the Grind book, Grind: A Modern Guide to City Living. It arrived Sunday. From Amazon safely delivered. Had I ordered from Grind, it would have been dumped by Hermes.

Irony: Grind recommended I ordered from Amazon, even with Grind offering 10% off, it was cheaper to order Grind: A Modern Guide to City Living from Amazon.

I made very clear to Grind, I did not want delivery by Hermes. My request was ignored. I should not even have had to have made the request, order should have been dispatched next day delivery by Royal Mail, all costs recovered from Hermes.

I also recommended Grind terminate their contract with Hermes.

Monday: Confirmation from Grind of my new order.

Tuesday: Confirmation from Grind my new order has shipped.

Friday: Confirmation from Hermes delivery afternoon.

Friday afternoon. Alert from Hermes. will not be delivered until night. No means to respond to e-mail.

A delivery at night is not acceptable.

I patiently wait. No delivery.

Late Friday night, I look out to find dumped on my doorstep. a cold wet foggy night.

Saturday morning, cold wet and foggy, everywhere dripping wet. Had I not by sheer chance found parcel Friday night, I would once again have had a wet soggy, dirty parcel.

No reputable company that cares about its reputation, cares about customer service, would use cowboy Hermes. Did no one carry out due diligence?

I have asked how to terminate my Grind subscription. I am still waiting.

I have asked be escalated to Dave, Grind founder and CEO.

Do not install banking apps on a smart phone

December 5, 2021

Who but a fool would walk around carrying large sums of money in cash, even less carry into a bar or a night club, not unless a drug dealer or engaged in money laundering? To carry around large amounts of cash is asking for trouble. And yet that is what fools are doing when they walk around with a smart phone with banking apps installed access by a fingerprint.

Fraudsters are spiking drinks, stealing smart phones, opening with a fingerprint, then emptying the accounts.

To safeguard never

  • install banking apps on smart phones
  • use on-line banking
  • use fingerprint scanner
  • post personal data on facebook

But something does not add in this story, we are expected to believe cash was emptied in a flurry of activity in the early hours of the morning whilst the victim was comatose.

Why were no AI algorithms triggered to stop the transfer of funds?

A month ago I tried to pay a sum of money for a bill. After entering all relevant details, I was asked to enter a six digit code sent to my phone. This I did. The transaction failed. A couple of minutes later, a message asking me to authorise or deny the payment. I authorised, no payment was made, I was not notified payment had been blocked.

The bank confirmed payment had been blocked. Begs the question why ask me to authorise if my instructions are ignored.

My complaint upheld. Asked to try again. Assured there would be no problems, payment had been cleared, but no guarantee.

I tried again. A repeat of first attempt. Although I am not informed, I find payment has again been blocked. No explanation why.

I am asked to try again.

If I have had these problems with a payment I have authorised, how does money get drained out of accounts in a flurry of suspicious activity in the early hours of the morning?

Faith in Nature offering big discounts to Big Business

July 29, 2021

Faith in Nature not playing fair. Big Business offered big discounts, the retail price less than what Indy retailers paying.

Plastic Free July drawing to an end. It is reasonable to expect Faith in Nature to be supporting small businesses that buy in bulk, offer refill, reducing plastic pollution. But apparently not.

Oxfam Shop, Faith in Nature and Bio D (not encountered before) 20% off.

Next I visit a zero waste shop to refill with Ecoleaf washing up liquid (Suma own brand) to learn the 20% off is cheaper than the zero waste shop can obtain from Faith in Nature.

Something very wrong here. Plastic Free July, encourage less use of plastic, but not Faith in Nature who would rather encourage use of plastic by offering big discount to Big Business charity but not to local Indy businesses.

Bio D very strong containers, made from recycled plastic. Very good for reuse and refilling. What are the contents like? That I do not know. Nor do I know if supply in bulk for refill.

Riverford declare Climate Emergency

May 16, 2021

Riverford Organic Farms are best known for their veg boxes, but they also supply individual orders of fruit and vegetables and recipe boxes.

Organic is not sufficient, we have to look after the soil, regenerative agriculture, rewilding, how do we ship, where do we ship from, what is our carbon footprint, are we carbon negative?

We must look at lifecycle costs. Too many businesses, hype, greenwash, one part of their business, to draw our attention from other aspects.

An example would be Nestle and the podback scam, to draw attention away from other aspects of their business. Do not be fooled, buy coffee capsules from reputable coffee roasteries.

  • Kiss the Hippo – compostable
  • Colonna – aluminium and compostable

Riverford ship in cleverly designed boxes which can be reused, when reach end of their life can be shredded and composted.

Within the box, loose fruit and vegetables, packed in paper bags or compostable plastic bags or in small boxes of compressed card.

The large box collected on next delivery, the compressed trays used for kitchen waste to transfer to the compost heap, used as seed trays, when reach end of life pop on the compost heap.

The carbon offset scam tends to be just that a ploy not to reduce carbon emissions. Planting a tree that takes at least 20 years to reach maturity does not offset an easyJet flight of four hours.

We are not only facing a Climate Crisis, we are facing an ecological crisis, mass species extinction.

Riverford will be increasing biodiversity on their network of farms.


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