Archive for the ‘Farnham’ Category

Gostrey Meadow Christmas lights switch on

November 17, 2018

Gostrey Meadow is full of people for the Farnham Carnival in the summer, but nothing like today.

Gostrey Meadow was packed with people, so crowded it was nigh impossible to move.

A different stage to the summer carnival, also a large screen.

As I approached, I could hear drumming. I assumed it was a professional group. To my surprise a group of school kids.

The drumming then ceased and they left the stage.

Then as I was about to leave the drumming started again. Whether the same kids, I do not know, but I think a different group of kids and very young.

But what was amazing was how good they were.

Sadly the usual crap stalls as the Farnham Carnival, the same low environmental standards.

I am at a loss why the low environmental standards, and why they do no make the effort to offer quality street food. If the Sustainability Fayre can maintain high environmental standards, host quality stalls why not other events in Gostrey Meadow?

To see rows of stalls serving disgusting food in polystyrene containers, drinks served in plastic-lined paper cups or plastic cups, is not acceptable.

On my way to Farnham, I looked in on the Aldershot Christmas Market. Not intentionally I did not even know it was on. I missed the bus and rather than wait twenty minutes in the cold, I went for a walk.

Walking to Gostrey Meadow, I looked in a charity shop on the corner of Downing Street. A water colour of Newport Arch in Bailgate in Lincoln, a Roman arch. Also, maybe a different artist, a water colour of an alley in Canterbury.

Many people walking to and fro Gostrey Meadow, lots of traffic, and yet still an inconsiderate idiot parks their 4×4 on the double yellow lines causing chaos in Downing Street. These arrogant people think it ok to park wherever they wish as they pop into a shop.

A cappuccino in Krema. As last week chocolate was added to my cappuccino I specified no chocolate. It arrived in a takeaway cup with chocolate. Then at five o’clock harassing people to leave.

Not good.

At five maybe before, church bells ringing. A Christmas market in the Parish Church, but now packing up. As I walked in, one of the tables collapsed, smashing all the crockery. As I was leaving a man asked me to clean up the tables.

In Waitrose, bananas once again rotting on the shelves.

I let the guy on the checkout know, and the girl on the information counter. She admitted not good. I agreed not good, especially as I told them last week bananas rotting on the shelves.

On Guildford street market, bananas in this state would be thrown away. But then they have fresh stock, and not sweating in plastic bags.

I mentioned to one of the stallholders. He was appalled, but not surprised. For them, fresh produce is their business, they care.

Nor would find Hisbe in Brighton have fresh produce rotting on the shelves.

But as a lady in Krema said, in Waitrose they do not care, which is why she dos not shop there.

Too often local papers have offers encouraging freebies in corporate chains. Excellent therefore Farnham Herald has an offer of free coffee in Coffee Cherry Artisan Coffee Shop in Alton, no strings attached. Though in realty it is a third of a page ad in the local paper.

Coffee Cherry Artisan Coffee Shop is the weirdest experience I have ever had in a coffee shop. I was refused a coffee because I knew about coffee.

In the offer owner claiming she has nine years experience in coffee indutry. Not the impression I was given.

By by all means take up the offer.

Advertisements

Bananas rotting on the shelves in Waitrose

November 10, 2018

Not for the first time I find bananas rotting on the shelves in Waitrose.

Not the first time I have to draw to the attention of staff, bananas rotting on the shelves, but no one cares.

Bananas rotting on the shelves in Waitrose, sweating and rotting in plastic bags.

Pomegranates in plastic boxes.

A handful of sliced green beans in plastic, shipped from Kenya.

Are the customers of Waitrose so lazy, so useless, they cannot slice beans? And why ship green beans from Kenya?

The service no better. Only three tills manned.

As I am leaving I mention the rotting bananas. Not the first time I have raised bananas rotting on the shelves.

No one cares.

This is the norm for Waitrose, piss-poor service, fresh produce packed in plastic.

Waitrose and M&S, with their high prices, are the two worst supermarkets for piss-poor service and obscene use of plastic.

Contrast with Hisbe, fresh produce loose, cereals, nuts and dried fruits loose, liquids for example organic shampoo top up own container, and excellent service.

And yet Iceland has a TV commercial banned for highlighting damage palm oil plantations cause to rain forests.

Afternoon in Farnham

November 10, 2018

An unpleasant day. Heavy rain all night, heavy rain all day. I was delayed by two hours until the rain eased off a little.

I looked in St Mark’s Church. They have a World War One window which has recently been restored. I have not noticed before and could not find.

Tomato and basil soup with toasted bread, followed by cappuccino and flapjack at Krema.

Cappuccino had chocolate which ruins the coffee. Krema should know better.

Out of control children, mother makes no attempt to control them.

Sigh of relief from staff and few remaining customers when they leave.

An idiot with a large 4×4 parked on the double yellow lines and on the footpath. This is the norm for Farnham, no enforcement.

Cut through church yard.

What I assume to be Christmas lights in Lion and Lamb Walk. Could they not have waited until lights are officially turned on next week, with festivities in Gostrey Meadow from lunchtime onward?

Bananas rotting on the shelves in Waitrose, sweating and rotting in plastic bags. Pomegranates in plastic boxes. A handful of sliced green beans in plastic, shipped from Kenya.

Are the lazy people of Farnham so useless they cannot slice beans? And why ship beans from Kenya?

Only three tills manned. As I am laving I mention the rotting bananas. Not the first time I have raised bananas rotting on the shelves. No one cares.

This is the norm for Waitrose, piss-poor service, fresh produce packed in plastic. Waitrose and M&S, high prices and the two worst supermarkets for piss-poor service and obscene use of plastic.

Contrast with Hisebe, fresh produce loose, cereals, nuts, dried fruits loose, liquids for example organic shampoo top up own container, and excellent service.

And yet Iceland has a TV commercial banned for highlighting damage palm oil plantations cause to rain forests.

St Mark’s Church open, a vigil to mark Armistice Day. I quietly walked around the church. I still could not find the window. I remained a little while in silent contemplation. I thought of the horror of those souls who died in the trenches.

Farnham Maltings Market

November 3, 2018

Cold afternoon in Farnham, lunch at Krema, I picked up a bookmark for Farnham Maltings Market on first Saturday of the month. As today was first Saturday of the month and the Maltings nearby I decided to pay the market a visit.

I picked up a lost couple on the way who were looking for the market or at least The Maltings.  Please follow me. I showed the way and advised if wish to have a coffee try Krema instead. I checked, the little cafe still serving disgusting CupSmith coffee.

To my annoyance a pound to gain entry. Stalls were already packing up.

Does this mean a pound to gain entry to the cafe? Not that I would wish to.

The market was similar rubbish to their Christmas market.

The bookmark said fresh produce.  Where? Gin on my way in. After passing through a rabbit warren of different rooms, all much of a  muchness what was on sale, I found a room with bread, cakes, chocolates, and CupSmith.

The roasted coffee beans were as the stall on Guildford farmers market on display in open hessian sacks. Dark roast to the point of being burnt. Great for hiding defects of low quality coffee beans, not so great for bringing out the best of the coffee. Burnt coffee is burnt coffee. One claimed to be a lighter roast, and yet it was darker. Maybe labels got switched. Decaffeinated claimed to be a natural process. Means nothing. State what the process is.  The beans will oxidise, they had no aroma. Contrast with beans I have from Taf,  The Underdog, Mind the Cup, a wonderful aroma.  People are duped into buying  rubbish. When purveyors of coffee  are this clueless on coffee steer well clear. If want excellent coffee try Krema, if want to buy quality coffee beans visit Krema. There is absolutely no excuse these days for buying cheap rubbish coffee. We are spoilt for choice. And that applies to the catering manager buying this rubbish for Maltings cafe.

Cakes and cookies were expensive on the cake stall. Cookies at a pound each were reasonable. I bought a couple and as it was the end of the day the lady kindly have me a third.

Back downstairs, a little section serving coffee. I was told even worse than CupSmith. Did I wish to try? Er no.  The coffee served in takeaway coffee cups to a captive audience. This is not acceptable, but Farnham Maltings do not seem to care. 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year, and Farnham Maltings doing their best to keep the numbers up.

Far more interesting stalls autonomous market Apostolou Pavlou last weekend in Athens, but that was Athens and this is Farnham.

Cold afternoon in Farnham

November 3, 2018

A cold afternoon in Farnham. Not as cold as Friday in Guildford nevertheless cold.

I would have alighted and walked along the River Wey into the centre of Farnham, but no longer possible as access fenced off.

Krema packed. I had a bowl of tomato and basil soup, followed by cappuccino and flapjack. But too many people and not pleasant.

Krema need to open a second coffee shop in Farnham. Maybe take over failing Barista Lounge. Or maybe Coffee Lab or someone who wishes to serve quality coffee. Krema currently the only coffee shop worth a visit in Farnham. Now that people have acquired a taste for quality coffee, time for a second specialty coffee shop.

I picked up a bookmark for a market in Farnham Maltings.

A lost couple, please follow me. I showed the way and advised if wish to have a coffee, try Krema not the Maltings cafe.  I checked, the little cafe still serving disgusting CupSmith coffee.

To my annoyance a pound to gain entry. Stalls were already packing up.

Does this mean a pound to gain entry to the cafe? Not that I would wish to.

The market was similar rubbish to their Christmas market.

The bookmark said fresh produce.  Where? Gin on my way in. After passing through a rabbit warren of different rooms, all much of a  muchness what was on sale, I found a room with bread, cakes, chocolates, and CupSmith.

The roasted coffee beans were as the stall on Guildford farmers market on display in open hessian sacks. Dark roast to the point of being burnt. Great for hiding defects of low quality coffee beans, not so great for bringing out the best of the coffee. Burnt coffee is burnt coffee. One claimed to be a lighter roast, and yet it was darker. Maybe labels got switched. Decaffeinated claimed to be a natural process. Means nothing. State what the process is.  The beans will oxidise, they had no aroma. Contrast with beans I have from Taf,  The Underdog, Mind the Cup, a wonderful aroma.  People are duped into buying  rubbish. When purveyors of coffee  are this clueless on coffee steer well clear. If want excellent coffee try Krema, if want to buy quality coffee beans visit Krema. There is absolutely no excuse these days for buying cheap rubbish coffee. We are spoilt for choice. And that applies to the catering manager buying this rubbish for Maltings cafe.

Cakes and cookies were expensive on the cake stall. Cookies at a  pound each were reasonable. I bought a couple and as it was the end of the day the lady kindly have me a third.

Back downstairs, a little section serving coffee. I was told even worse than CupSmith. Did I wish to try? Er no.  The coffee served in takeaway coffee cups to a captive audience. This is not acceptable, but Farnham Maltings do not seem to care.

Then to Waitrose. Very busy, but at least stock on the shelves. Very busy, not all the cash tills manned.

Cold wet afternoon in Farnham

September 22, 2018

A very unpleasant cold wet and rainy afternoon in Farnham.

Bus to Aldershot, then bus to Farnham.

On bus to Aldershot, Nepalese stagecoach employee stood chatting to and distracting Nepalese driver. Woman gets on the bus, dumps buggy in disabled bay with no brakes applied, woman leaves buggy rolling around whilst she goes and sits on the top deck. No action by either of the Nepalese employees. Who liable had there been an accident?

Usually I walk along the River Wey, a pleasant walk, avoids the traffic in Farnham, not though today, too cold and wet and possible not even possible to gain access due to it being fenced off to build an unwanted shopping centre.

Surrey County Council poured £50 million into this unwanted development. Surrey County Council has a deficit of £100 million.

Inquiry at WHSmith, Hippie available prior to publication date. WHSmith a shop I avoid as service is so bad. I have not been in for well over a year. The service has got a whole lot worse. Only two members of staff. No they did not have, no did not know if would have. Long queue forming, people told to use the self-service.

High Street retailers cannot compete with on-line, their answer, cut the service to the customer.

It is not only WHSmith, though they are one of the worst and the surprise is they still exist.

Poundland in Guildford yesterday, long queues half way to the back of the store. In M&S the usual piss-poor service only two tills manned in the food hall.

And faced with this hassle, people go on line,

Gail’s busy a rarity for Gail’s, and the tables promptly cleared, again a rarity for Gail’s. A tiny roll stuffed with smoked salmon, sufficed for lunch.

The vegan place, before 2-30, sign saying kitchen closed, chef gone for lunch.

Barista Lounge packed, a rarity for Barista Lounge.

Krema packed, the norm for Krema. I saw soup, first day soup. Sweet potato, butternut squash soup with added herbs, served with toasted sourdough bread. Followed by cappuccino and a flapjack.

I was tempted to go for a walk, but on leaving, heavy rain and turned much colder.

In Krema, flipped through a booklet for Farnham Food Festival. Mention of a Heidi bakery in Elphicks.

Elphicks is a department store. I decided to check it out. Far larger that I expected. A dump. On the first floor Heidi, more like a greasy spoon cafe. Coffee LavAzza, in other words give it a miss.

Inquired of Hippie in Waterstone’s. Yes they had, it was hidden. All of one copy. A best selling book from a best selling author and Waterstone’s has one hidden copy. I ensured it was prominently displayed.

The usual piss poor service in Waitrose. Find the bananas that are not rotten, though not as bad as my last visit. Why are bananas prepacked in plastic, why indeed is everything prepacked in plastic, potatoes, apples, fresh produce? Young guy struggling to slice ham with a blunt knife. Not all tills manned. Staff are embarrassed by the poor service, customers pissed off.

Afternoon in Farnham

August 18, 2018

A pleasantly warm afternoon.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to walk along the riverside walk along the River Wey.

Once again, publicly minded citizens have torn down a section of the fence obstructing the footpath. The problem is getting out the other end.

And why is the footpath closed? To enable a bridge to be built to bring construction material in from the A31, one lane of which will be coned off for months if not years, to build a shopping centre that no one wants, a shopping centre that will be empty, a shopping centre that will destroy the character of an historic market town. Many empty shops in the town but corrupt local councils decides to build a shopping centre, a shopping centre that will sit empty.  The only reason it has been able to proceed, the developer went bankrupt, is because Surrey County Council has handed over £50 million of public money to keep the project afloat.

A festival in Gostrey Meadow, some sort of 1940s celebration, an American band playing. Nothing to say what it was, no people. Closing the footpath leading into the park does not help.  I learnt later, a VE/VJ fete.

Just made the butcher before he closed. I missed last week. I asked did he close on the dot if not early. He admitted he may have closed early as very quiet last week.

Vegan restaurant very strange soup, watermelon, apple, and mint. I cannot see how this can be soup. I was willing to try, but no we stop serving food after four. Not, sorry we have run out. That is why these little businesses fail, lack of flexibility, turning away custom. Maybe I was lucky.

On to Gail’s. For once tables outside clean. Not busy, only one table inside occupied. Gail’s is never busy.

Tomato and red pepper soup was good.

I sat outside. It is not pleasant inside.

People sat next to me after the table was vacated. When whatever they had ordered was served, they had to ask for the table to be cleared.  The table the other side of me not cleared. When they left, no attempt to clear the tables.

I rarely see the same staff twice at Gail’s. Again new staff.

To Krema for a  cappuccino and flapjack.

I dropped off a card for Coffee Festival in Winchester.

Then walk around 23-acre Bishop’s Meadow. They have introduced cattle at the far end, but already removed as not sufficient grass in the dry weather. There is in other parts but lacks secure fencing.

Cappuccino in Caracoli

August 16, 2018

I would usually have a coffee in Krema, something I look forward to, though of late I prefer their coffee shop in Guildford.

On my most recent visit to Farnham, Krema was closed. I with reluctance decided to have a cappuccino in Caracoli in Lion and Lamb Walk, not somewhere I would normally  choose to have a coffee.

I was brought a cappuccino with chocolate. I sent it back.

Why does no one know how to make a cappuccino?

What was brought next had a very unpleasant taste. I suspect bad cheap coffee. It was a tad too hot, but I do not think the barista was at fault.

I inquired of who roasts their coffee?  Mozzo Coffee, the same people who supply Flat Whites, but then added a  blend for them. Maybe cheap catering supply coffee.

Caracoli is both deli and coffee shop and does neither well.

Only one place for coffee in Farnham, Krema in Downing Street.

Afternoon in Farnham

August 11, 2018

Another cool day, threatening rain, had been raining earlier.

I attempt to walk along the riverside walk, then through Gostrey Meadow and into the town.

Only to find I cannot, it has been fenced off. Luckily people had torn down part of the fencing. Let us hope they continue to do a public service, tear down the fence.

I then find my way is blocked when I reach the far end.  Luckily I am able to walk through the trees and find my way around the fence.

It is not acceptable the walk has been fenced off. The reason why even less acceptable.  To enable contractors to build a bridge to bring their materials straight off the A31, resulting in one lane closure, to build a grotty unwanted shopping centre that will be detrimental to the character of Farnham. The only reason it is going ahead is because the local council Waverley has pushed it against the wishes of the town, and Surrey County Council has poured in £50 million of public funds.  Greed and corruption writ large.

I make the butcher only to find closed.  Either closed on the dot if not closed early.

I was looking forward to a cappuccino, only Krema closed.

A visit to Farnham Parish Church.

Whilst in the church, as it was closing, came an extremely arrogant man, with a woman and child in tow.  American accent, I suspect an Israeli, but I may be wrong. He asked for something with a name, that neither I nor the lady locking up had a clue what he was asking for. He then showed on his phone, and said the Hebrew letters for God.  No, we had not seen. I also explains Jews do not say out loud or write the name of God, they write G-d.  The man disagreed. The woman he was with very quickly found. How did she know where to look? A discoloured board for the Ten Commandments, with the word he was looking for at the top, clean and glowing. Again odd. The letters bore little resemblance to what he said he was looking for. He argued, got out his phone. No they did not look the same. They then departed. They showed no respect for the church, the child making loud vulgar noises. A not very pleasant man.

What was he really looking for?

The printed sheet he had in his hand, had a few lines instructing him to look in the church.

Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant, half a chicken ten pounds. This is to directly take on the chain eatery in Lion and Lamb Courtyard. It always has a weekend special, half a chicken, Difficult to see how a special, if always the same. It used to be £9-99, now £11-50. If success was based on innovation, now also selling fresh flowers, Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant would be packed.  It is not, it is always empty. The menu is always enticing. I have ate there a couple of times. The food has always been awful. The coffee not good either, even though sourced from Union, but Union sadly supply anyone.

It was then to Caracoli for a coffee. Not somewhere I would normally go for a coffee. I was brought a cappuccino with chocolate. I sent it back. Why does no one know how to make a cappuccino? What was brought next had a very unpleasant taste. I suspect bad cheap coffee. It was a tad too hot, but I do not think the barista was at fault. I inquired of who roasts their coffee.  Mozzo Coffee, the same people who supply Flat Whites, but then added a  blend for them. Maybe cheap catering supply coffee.

Then to Waitrose. Loose bananas were not in very good condition. Those in bags rotten.

Waiting for a bus, cold. More like autumn than summer.

Cupsmith

July 16, 2018

When I came across Cupsmith at the Guildford farmers market I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

I first encountered Cupsmith last year running a stall at Farnham Maltings Christmas Market. The conversation that ensued was to say the least bizarre. If roast the beans, have a stall, at least have someone knowledgeable about the coffee manning the stall. The lady running the stall impressed me with her lack of knowledge of coffee.

To put in context, Workhouse have in their coffee shop, a choice of single origin, blends, I counted 18 different, available to be weighed and bagged. Staff were only too helpful to explain the beans, how roasted, where sourced from, roast date.

Roast date, not on the bag. Roasted the previous day, so at least freshly roasted but would it not be better and no excuse to actually have on the bag? Best by is meaningless.

The lady disagreed. She claimed their customers did not want to know the roast date.

Really, have they been asked, do they know the importance of roast date?

And why the silly names, Breakfast coffee, Glorious espresso? Quality coffee will have country of origin often the name of the farm, how the coffee has been processed. All important information.

Q grade of the coffee? Did not know, would need to talk to the man who roasts their coffee.

Would I like to smell the beans. I did, and they did not smell good.

Quality beans have a lovely aroma, these did not. I would certainly not buy coffee that smelled liked this.

If the coffee I had tried was not good, that was the fault of the barista. It was a problem as coffee roasters they were up against all the time, lack of good baristas, impossible to find in Farnham, it was not London.

I had not encountered this problem in Farnham, I can think of an excellent coffee shop Krema, source coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters a reputable roaster, had at the time of the conversation at least three skilled baristas who never failed to serve me excellent coffee. Krema now have a second coffee shop in Guildford.

Nor elsewhere, be it Winchester, Brighton, Lincoln, Nottingham, York, Hull or Athens. But then apart from skilled baristas, they are also using quality coffee.

The high end of the coffee industry, traceability, transparency, quality is important.

I had wished to visit their roastery outside Farnham, a request to visit a year ago was ignored.

I have come across Cupsmith coffee served in two places, neither occasion good. The first time a skilled barista tried his best, the result was not great, and he would much rather have had better quality beans, the second time at Farnham Maltings Riverside Cafe, the coffee was disgusting.

When I next encountered Cupsmith the first Tuesday of July on the Guildford farmers market I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

Local yes, quality they are not.

The roasted coffee beans were in open hessian sacks, exposed to the heat and sun. One thing you learn in coffee is respect the beans. When coffee is treated like it says all you need to know about the vendor.

A sign on the stall cited Jamie Oliver as praising their coffee.

Coffee any Italian would be proud of — Jamie Magazine

Jamie Oliver may be a celebrity chef, that does not make him an expert on coffee, as his coffee kiosk at Gatwick demonstrates. The Gatwick kiosk is a tragedy and a lost opportunity. It could be a showcase to visitors to the UK for local coffee roasteries, serve excellent coffee, not barely drinkable coffee, corporate catering Italian brand coffee.

Coffee any Italian would be proud of. Was this meant to be ironic? Italy is infamous for its bad coffee. Something Italians are finally getting to grips with.

There are exceptions, there are always exception, Bar Italia, The Speciality Coffee Shop, Rubens Gardelli coffee roaster and owner of Gardelli Coffees won the World Coffee Roaster Championship in China last year, but these are exceptions, not the norm for Italian coffee.

I asked of the Q grade. Over 80.

The coffee lacked aroma. But then hardly surprising when exposed to the elements.

Cupsmith a roastery supplier of catering supply coffee, the bags lack essential information, country of origin, roast date, where sourced from.

To supply catering supply coffee is a mug’s game, a race to the bottom. Up against dodgy practices, we supply the machine, you have to buy our rubbish coffee at higher price then you would pay for quality coffee.

There is a myth peddled, people do not want quality coffee.

And yet, when speciality coffee shops open, they are busy, as when people discover what quality coffee tastes like, served by people who care about coffee, there is no going back.

These days spoilt for choice for quality coffee, no excuse for frequenting coffee shops serving poor quality coffee. And if wish to buy bags of coffee, good indie coffee shops will often have on sale, or go direct to the coffee roasteries.

Cupsmith also deal in tea and chocolate.

The chocolate I cannot comment on as I have not tried.

The tea is supplied in tea bags. Er, quality tea is supplied as loose leaf tea. The tea bags looked remarkable similar to those supplied by a tea supplier in Winchester.

To experience quality tea, try CUP, Coffee Lab Academy, Bamboo Shoots, all of which serve quality loose leaf tea.

In Guildford for loose leaf tea, Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage is a must. They also serve excellent tea.

For coffee spoilt for choice in Guildford. Krema has a choice of single origin and espresso blend from Horsham Coffee Roasters. Canopy Canopy has guest coffees. Surrey Hills has coffee. FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station. And for a drink of coffee, Krema end of Tunsgate.

Yes, I wish to see coffee on the market, but quality coffee, not poor quality catering supply coffee. Invite Chimney Fire Coffee, speciality coffee roasted locally in the Surrey Hills.

I will leave last thoughts with Stephen Leighton, head honcho, green bean buyer, coffee roaster at Hasbean and author of Coffeeograpghy:

And do remember, life is too short for bad coffee.