Archive for the ‘Godalming’ Category

Staycation Live 2018

August 4, 2018

I was in two minds to visit Staycation Live this year, something I usually look forward to, a two-day free music festival in a park by the River Wey in Godalming.

Last couple of years I have not enjoyed as much as I used to.  Last year, both days I left early.

It was going to be a very hot day, though not as hot as Friday, there is very little shade on the site.

The clincher, South West Railways on strike.  The most ridiculous strike possible. Chinese owners have not said whether or not they will get rid of guards, the railway staff go on strike regardless. The only people it hits are the long suffering passengers, as though they do not suffer enough already from the appalling rail services in the country, as I often document.

I worked out I could get there, assuming train running, therefore set off to catch a train to Guildford, then on to Godalming.

I missed the train to Guildford. They drop the barriers and not possible to catch the train. Forty minutes wait for the next train.

At Guildford I leave the station and catch the bus.

A pleasant walk along the River Wey.

I have missed the first band, a blues band.

As I arrive a pop group playing.

I have a chat when they finish. Suggest they put their recently released work on Bandcamp, set free download, people can pay what they wish.

The cloisters used to be the quieter set, acoustics, jazz, blues, but not any more.

A rap artist with looped violin, overwhelming bass thudding out.  Had he stuck to looped violin, it would have been better. Check out Steve Lawson (looped bass) or Zoe Keating (looped cello).

I suggested to the guy who had music on sale, use Bandcamp.

Conversations on Bandcamp are either not aware of or aware of but do not use.

Maybe something on Bandcamp in the programme.

Fairly good choice of food and drink. Wheat and orange beer off The Little Beer Corporation, hog roast off  Milford Meat Roaster. Both were excellent.

A franchise coffee operation serving undrinkable coffee.

Far better would be Chimney Fire Coffee,  a coffee roastery located in the Surrey Hills, running a coffee stall next year.  Failing that Edge coffee van from Edgcumbes Coffee (though probably too far away from Chichester).

Godalming is a strange place, nowhere serving decent coffee.

I had a tea at Cafe Mila which was not good.  Their coffee is Cupsmith, undrinkable coffee. The tea also supplied by Cupsmith, which explains why not good.

There is no excuse these days for serving bad coffee. Could get away with it five years ago, not now.

Abysmal environmental standards.

Coffee stall said paper cups. Er no, plastic-lined paper cups that can not be recycled. Did though have paper straws.

Thai stall had changed to card boxes, wooden utensils. Apologised that their cups were plastic.

The Little Beer Corporation plastic cups.

There is absolutely no excuse these days for low environmental standards. It needs two things, minimum standards for the stalls, education of the people attending.

Cups can be compostable, the ‘plastic’ cups can be plant-based cellulose.

Information on each stall and in programme, take compostable items home or put in the clearly marked compost bins.

This makes rubbish disposable easier as all that is compostable can be collected for composting.

Most of the music seemed loud noise, enthusiasm but loud noise.

When I returned from Cafe Mila, a group playing, playing badly, TV theme tunes.

It was at this point I decided to leave. I had had enough.

Walking through the town, to the butcher then Waitrose, very tired, therefore probably wise I chose to leave when I did.

Not long to wait for a bus. It was then do I risk catching a train and risking no train, or go to the bus station and catch a bus. I decided on the latter.

I could have stayed later. The cloister which usually finishes early, was going on until late.  It looked more interesting later, but with no trains, no buses, not viable.

Running a festival is not easy. Who to invite? Bring back what was excellent last time, and that is assuming available?

In the past, I have bought a lot of music, often given away.  Today, none.

I am lucky, I encounter good music. And these days I only buy from those I encounter, supporting struggling musicians, even financing albums.

Do I make a note, suggest for Staycation Live?

I would certainly invite Jewelia, she appeared a few years ago in the cloisters, and give her the main stage.

Some of the reggae bands that have played in the past have been exceptional.

Alternative Dubstep Orchestra were amazing at Staycation Live 2013. A mix of avant garde rock, ska (reggae) and salsa. In many ways they were like a cut down, avant garde salsa band, with brass, strings, guitar, percussion and vocals.

Sunday I think I will give a miss.

 

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Godalming Street Food Market

July 7, 2018

A very hot day in Godalming.

The market stretched down Church Street as far as the Parish Church. It was though an illusion. A French market had been tacked on. A big mistake, as the French market is a travelling circus.

I was though pleased to see a French stall that I once found in Winchester, quality produce brought over from France. Not part of the travelling circus, an independent stall.

I wandered up and down, each year fewer stalls, at least fewer stalls of quality, fewer interesting stalls. Many stalls that used to come no longer do.

Gin tasting was a con, they were selling gin, and they were not even the producers.

It was good to see a Punch and Judy show. A rarity these days.

Music and dance at the Pepper pot.

Would it not be great if somewhere in Godalming served quality coffee? Sadly not.

I passed by Jory Cafe Gallery in Church Street. More a greasy spoon cafe than a coffee shop. What were the coffee beans? Would not say, may steal their secrets. Over roasted Colombian. I ordered a cappuccino. Chocolate dumped on top. I sent it back. Second cappuccino not good.

Were their takeaway coffee cups compostable? It did not say. Yes. On leaving I was handed a cup and lid to add to my compost experiment.

I popped in The Star, walked into their back garden. A mistake. Full of drunks. I took my beer out into the street. Remind me again why I prefer coffee shops to pubs.

All day I was wishing for a refreshing cold brew coffee. Chance would be a fine thing.

Disappointed Chimmney Fire Coffee did not have a stall.

Abysmal environmental standards on the market, food safety and obscene us of plastic.

The same stall as of Guildford farmers market, poultry sat on the stall with temperature in excess of 30C. Why was it not closed down? Were the butcher to put poultry on a stall outside the shop would very quickly be shut down.

Food and hot weather do not mix. In this hot weather Environmental Health should be patrolling food markets, not wait until people fall sick.

Humans have this strange ability to hold two contradictory and opposing views simultaneously. We know plastic is polluting our oceans and yet we continue to use plastic.

The amount of plastic on the market was appalling, drinks in plastic, plastic straws, junk foods served in plastic boxes. Even sweets in plastic coffee takeaway cups.

Paella stall an exception, but that an initiative of one stall. It should not be down to one stall, standards should be set for the market, no plastic.

It is not only Godalming. Farnham Carnival, Guildford farmers market, Winchester street food market, all have abysmal environmental standards.

Nor is it only local markets. Wimbledon is handing out bottled water. To add insult to injury, French bottled water.

Has no one heard of Plastic Free July? Does any one care?

From Cook a raspberry and mint lollipop. It was excellent. I went back and had a second.

In Waitrose rCup. Waitrose had their own reusable cup at £3, now the rCup at £12. Claimed to be made from a dozen recycled coffee cups. Which makes the point, plastic is not recycled, it is down cycled. Designed by a former designer for Dyson. Maybe should stick to vacuum cleaners as not barista friendly, something fairly basic for a reusable coffee cup. Greenwash by Waitrose to distract from fresh produce in plastic.

Afternoon in Godalming

December 12, 2017

A cold hard frost this morning.

A couple of minutes only to change trains at Guildford. I usually make it, but not today. Train was running late. I may have made it, but stopped to speak to the guard to alert that carry on luggage sitting on the luggage rack where I had been sat was not mine. Arrived at the platform as train doors were closing.

35 minutes wait for the next train. That was why I caught the earlier train, 20 minutes wait if I had caught the next train.

FCB kiosk not open. It luckily opened after about ten minutes.

Excellent Colombian guest coffee from Dark Woods Coffee.

Half the coaches of the train freezing cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

A walk along the River Wey. Pockets of frost in the grass. Ground waterlogged, pools of standing water.

Not much choice at Cafe Mila. I choose vegetable soup followed by quiche. Waitress brings me soup, says she will then bring quiche. I explain no. She asks was it the main course? What did she think I was going to do, dunk the quiche in my soup?

I had brought copies of Caffeine and The Alchemist to drop off. Whilst I am not looking, vanish from the table. I assume over-zealous waitress.

All the good staff appear to have left.

I walk to Waitrose at the other end of Godalming.

Throwaway coffee cups filling the bin. Waitrose contribution to the 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year. There is a cafe at Waitrose. Why do they not encourage customers to use the cafe? Though I note there is a queue. Or, compostable paper cups, with a bin for the cups?

What do they do with the coffee grounds? They could put outside with the garden gear and plants, free for gardeners to collect.

Two-month old coffee on the shelves is not doing Union any favours.

For mid-afternoon, mid-week, Waitrose busy. Not all the checkouts manned.

A slight detour to basket shop to say hello and wish Merry Christmas. I drop of The Fifth Mountain and The Devil and Miss Prym.

I look in Waterstone’s. Only one coffee book, the utterly useless Where to Drink Coffee. I draw to the attention of helpful assistants. They open book and see, yes, useless. I ask why, when we have many coffee shops, why no books on coffee? They agree, very strange.

I make it to Cafe Mila before it closes. Now closes early at four o’clock.

Pecan pie and a mug of tea spoilt by handful of out of control screaming kids. No one attempts to control them or keep them quiet.

Cupsmith is low quality catering supply coffee. Cafe Mila need to source better coffee. Hence my drinking tea not coffee.

It is commendable Cafe Mila may wish to source their coffee locally, support local businesses, but not if it means buying poor quality coffee. How local is local? High quality coffee can be sourced from The Roasting Party or from Horsham Coffee, and why not have occasional guest coffees? The world has moved on from serving low quality catering coffee, leave that to the chains.

I walk to the station. Train again cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

Staycation Live 2017

August 6, 2017

Alighting at Godalming Station, every one else seemed to have the same idea, as most of the train disembarked and headed for Staycation Live.

I noticed yesterday and today the Parish Church was closed. Always open. I hope not a change of regime and no longer open.

Nothing on the main stage, the bandstand, either running late or previous act had finished early.

I had no idea who was playing in the cloisters.

This only serves to empathise what I raised yesterday, the need for a playlist at each of the stages and something saying who is currently playing.

I headed for Cafe Mila for lunch.  Excellent marrow stuffed with mince served with rice. It said curried mince, but did not seem to be. Curried it would have ruined the mince.

On heading back, I was able to suss who was playing on the bandstand, but not in the cloisters.

Sometimes it is easy, for example solo guitarist or folk or blues, but not always possible, unless you know them, hence the need for a playlist and who is currently playing.

Ice cream off Dylan’s ice cream. Strange, it tasted different to  The Village. It could be a different batch but I suspect it was colder.

I went for a walk along the river, then back to Cafe Mila for afternoon tea and cakes.

Lunchtime, Cafe Mila was quiet, late afternoon very busy.

On return, back to the hog roast then a beer.

I was shocked by the amount of litter. People were throwing their rubbish on the ground, or leaving on the tables to get knocked on the ground.

This was not a problem yesterday, nor has it been a problem previous years.

One of the problems Stayctaion Live now has is the same problem Ambient Picnic had which then destroyed it, becoming too popular.

Today, there was too many people, and it lacked the atmosphere of Saturday.

Unusual for me, I left early, late afternoon as the last act was only just coming on.

Dark clouds, it was turning cooler, although no rain forecast, I did not wish to be caught in the rain.

  • PHOTOS Staycation Live 2017 (to be added)

At Staycation there is always reggae, usually lots, this time none, or at least none I noticed.

Wish list for next year

  • Steve Lawson
  • Jewelia
  • Imogen Heap
  • Charlotte Church

Steve Lawson played Guildford earlier this year. sadly I missed him.

Jewelia has played Staycation in the past. She has gone from strength to strength. I am surprised she has never been invited back.

Charlotte Church impossible? Saturday night she played a free gig in Liverpool. She had been pulled from where she was playing, as running two hours late. Not wishing to disappoint, she offered to perform for free if  a venue could be found.

What of food and drink?

The Little Beer Co, as last year, did an excellent job. A pity they are not at The Village rather than an outlet selling the output of a chemical factory.

The Little Cafe Co are relocating to Brighton. Who will provide the coffee? Of those I have recommended in the past, one no longer appears to exist, another has said no, too far, which only leaves The Hobo Co, if available.

Bedda, two Sicilian guys serving pasta are a must.

Staycation Live is  a weekend event, Saturday and Sunday, first weekend in August.

The Little Cafe Co

August 5, 2017

I came across The Little Cafe Co at Staycation Live.  An improvement as last year some ghastly franchise coffee van serving overpriced undrinkable coffee. I was pleased to see an effort had been made to invite a quality coffee truck.

At first I thought it was The Hobo Co and was about to say hello, but as I drew nearer, I saw it was not.

A row of syrups lined up is like raising a flag, we serve shit coffee.

Home made cakes.

I decided to try a cappuccino. It was not great but reasonable, I have had far worse.

Catering supply beans.

With decent beans, a skilled barissta, it would be serving great coffee.

Based in Guildford they intend to move to Brighton.

They will be in for a rude awaking, as Brighton is coffee mecca, with many wide and varied choice of high quality coffee.

If they do relocate to Brighton, back to square one for a choice of quality coffee truck for next year at Staycation Live.  Of those I have suggested in the past, The Hobo Co is the only one that may be available, as one no longer seems to exist, and the other is not interested too far away.

Staycation Live 2017

August 5, 2017

I usually look forward to Staycation Live, but today in two minds whether to go or not.

Last couple of years it has not been up to its usual high standards and it was forecast rain.

I set off with warm jacket, then changed to a light jacket, as it was quite warm, though the forecast was cool, with two periods of heavy rain.

At Guildford, I noticed heavy rain, Godalming, very heavy rain. It also turned cool, the temperature had dropped by several degrees.

No choice than to wait at Godalming Station until the rain stopped.

The next train pulled in, then blue sky started to appear.

When I arrived at the park by the River Wey I was surprised at the number of people.  They must have got soaked.

It then turned warm.

A few drops of rain, until the next heavy downpour.

Hog roast off Milford Meat Roaster.  Quite generous portions, tasty.

A cappuccino off The Little Cafe Co. It was reasonable. At least not the awful coffee of last year. Based in Guildford, but intend to relocate to Brighton. They are in for a  rude awakening.

I was pleased to see The Little Beer Co as they did an excellent job last year organising the drinks. I wondered were they still around as no stall at the Guildford farmers market.

Various food stalls, including Thai, vegetation, and of course Dylan’s ice cream.

Later, after a visit to Cafe Mila to escape the rain, I had sweetcorn based snack off the vegetarian stall. A little bland. maybe add peas and chickpeas to the sweetcorn.

Violinist Mike Dennis was excellent, at least what little I saw. Looped violin for first number, then ruined it with rap. It was though impressive in the thunder and lightning.

It was then to Cafe Mila before I got soaked to the skin, which meant I missed the rest of his set.

A cappuccino. Not great.

Cafe Mila no longer use Bristo, catering supply coffee, which is a step in the right direction. Though Cupsmith is not much better. I tried a couple of weeks ago. Not good. It could have been the beans or or lack of a barista. They now have their barista back, today was his first day. Coffee still not great. Having got their barista back, they now need to buy in quality coffee beans.

On return I caught the last of a blues group  Mule Train in the Cloisters. They were good, the cloisters packed.

Last act on the main stage otherwise known as the bandstand La Inédita. Interesting fusion of Latin American, without the brass section,  vocals, or percussion, mixed with a little reggae.

I missed the end. It was catch a train, a couple of minutes to catch the next train, hope it was not late. But, at Guildford, for some perverse reason pulled up way down the platform. Had the next train not been late, I would have missed it.

Organisation good but at times leaves much to be desired. It is irritating little things, that could easily be put right. Lack of a running playlist at each of the stages, a sign saying who is on, lack of coordination between the two stages. It would be helpful if the programme said a little more on each of the bands, links to more information, a twitter address for example.

Usually I pick up loads of albums. I did not see anything on sale. That may be I was not in the right place at the right time.

Staycation Live is  a weekend event, Saturday and Sunday, first weekend in August.  On a Saturday it continues at various venues in Godalming.

Love and Light

July 25, 2017

Art exhibition in Cafe Mila in Godalming.

Art by Julie Smallwood.

Natter Cafe

July 25, 2017

There used to be on the platform at Farncome Station, a little coffee shop, Coffee Charisma. I have never found it open.

In Guildford, on the market in North Street, a stall selling coffee, Coffee Charisma.

Confused? Me too. Especially as both had identical logo.

Last time I passed through Farncombe Station, I noticed no longer Coffee Charisma, now Natter Cafe. And no, not open.

Two different businesses, both with identical names. Something had to give.

Natter Cafe also comes as two. There is also outside Farncombe Station, Natter Cafe, and that was where I was headed for a  cappuccino, break my journey on the way to Godalming for lunch, only it did not quite work out that way.

I was looking at the menu, and was then given some advice on the coffee. Try our filter coffee, V60, single origin from Uganda. I do not know why Uganda was chosen, other than a single origin. Possibly because no single origin from Brazil.

I had a look around, before settling down in the garden outside.

Very pleasantly done, both inside and out, inside art on the walls, which is periodically changed.

The V60 was not poured as I would have expected, a continuous pour, not pour to wet the coffee, pause, pour again, and repeat a couple of times.

Compare for example with a V60 Japanese iced filter coffee at Coffee Island in Covent Garden.

I also noticed, did not first cleanse the filter with hot water, which is very important.

I queried this later with the barista. He said they had done that first at the espresso machine.

I found the coffee to be too strong, possibly why I was brought milk. It would also have been better served in glass.

I requested a glass of water, used the glass

Why it was too strong I do not know. Could be the beans which I suspected were over roasted, poor quality beans, maybe too much coffee. It could even be the method by which it was poured.  Also could have been the grind, which would determine how fast or slow the hot water passed through, thus the extraction time.  A courser grind maybe would improve the coffee.

I compare with a Japanese syphon. First time, awful coffee, second time excellent, third time too strong. Why,  poor quality Indonesian coffee, speciality coffee coffee from Columbia, grind too fine, filter clogged, and over-brewed. Small differences make a difference.

Also compared unfavourably with a filter Kenyan at Karuna Coffee and the V60 Japanese iced coffee. And compared unfavourable with all twelve lots from Los Nogales Project during a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

But to be fair, though I would have expected the V60 filter to be better much better than it was, I am drawing a comparison with very high quality coffee.

I asked of the beans.

Natter Cafe have their own blend which is roasted for them, also single origin, which is also roasted for them.

All the single origins, maybe even the blend, all roasted to the same roast profile.

Not how any competent roastery would roast beans. Roasted to bring about the best from the beans, also depends upon how the beans are to be used, espresso or filter.

I decided to stay and have lunch, having been tempted by watercress soup and fish cakes served with salad. Both were excellent.

Followed by a cappuccino and a flapjack dipped in chocolate.

The cappuccino not great, large amount of froth and foam. The flapjack excellent.

On sale bags of beans and the little V60 used to make my filter coffee.

Nothing was priced. No roast date on the beans nor could I find the weight. Best by for coffee is meaningless.  A speciality coffee shop would have more information on the beans, though more than would find in a supermarket on brand coffee.

Staff very pleasant and helpful.

I was looking forward to a coffee and was gravely disappointed. On the other hand I was not expecting to eat and found the food to be excellent.

I would highly recommend for the food and ambience, but not somewhere I would go for a  coffee.

Afternoon in Farncombe and Godalming

July 25, 2017

A pleasant hot sunny day, welcome after the last three cold, wet days.

Afternoon zig-zagging back and forth between Farncombe and Godalming.

The idea had been, set off an hour and a half early, coffee at a coffee shop in Farncombe, Natter Cafe, then on to Godalming for lunch at Cafe Mila. Only it did not quite work out that way.

No train for Farncombe, it had been cancelled. Half an hour wait for the next train.

I had intended, cappuccino at Natter Cafe, then on to Godalming for lunch.

Instead, a filter coffee with a V60, watercress soup, then fish cakes with salad, then a cappuccino and a cake.

The filter I found to be too strong. Many reasons, too much coffee, poor quality coffee, roasted to dark, grind too fine.

I asked for a glass of water. I used the glass for the coffee.

The soup, watercress soup, was excellent. As was the fish cakes and salad.

Surprisingly busy for lunch, I say surprising as nothing in Farncombe. Though it did then die down.  To then pick up again mid-afternoon.

Cappuccino was not very good, though chocolate dipped flapjack excellent.

Irony, I was there for the coffee, but found the food to be far better than the coffee.

I then found I had no money.

They trusted me to leave, go to Godalming, return, then pay, which I did.

I looked in Cafe Mila before my return.

On my way to the station I realised, no phone, I had left in Cafe Mila.

I could see it was one of those days.

Luckily, cafe Mila had my phone when I returned.

In Cafe Mila, an art exhibition, Love and Light.

A wander through Godalming, saw a bus at 1828, went for a walk by the River Wey.

Rather than walk back, I kept on along the river to catch the bus at the other end of Godalming.

I then found I had somehow misread the timetable, there was no bus.

I could have walked back though Godalming caught a bus to Guildford, but decided instead, catch a  train.

I did not know how long I would have to wait. Luckily only a  little over five minutes, again for a train from Guildford.

Coffee

July 1, 2017

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

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

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

Not a book I would recommend.

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

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

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

To curl up and read, God in a Cup.