Archive for the ‘Guildford’ Category

Tunsgate

August 11, 2017

Looked in on Ben’s Records. Something I have not done since last year.

To reach Ben’s from the High Street, meant I had to walk through Tunsgate as Ben’s Records is at the end.

I was shocked by the state of Tunsgate. Work started then halted when it was discovered gas and water pipes too close to the surface. In the meantime small businesses in Tunsgate see a loss of trade. And did the street require work, er no.

Did no one conduct a survey before work commenced? Seemingly not.

The Tunsgate Shopping Centre is an eyesore, derelict now for years. It should be demolished.

Like all local councils, Guildford likes to indulge in vanity projects, whilst at the same time denying vital services money.

Resurfacing the High Street last year cost £1 million. Yes, the work was necessary, and the contractors carried out an excellent job, but why then allow traffic through after four o’clock, in what is a pedestrianised street?

The Village, at £1 million, plus a further £90,000 for summer relaunch, is an appalling waste of public money, badly managed, and that is only the costs we know about. The concept good, but ill-thought through, badly managed and the wrong location. It was known the location was wrong, as the farmers market collapsed when it was moved to this location last year when the High Street was dug up.

The Village is always deserted. Only the last couple of weeks has it been busy, and busy a relative term, with activities for kids during the school holidays

Dumping sand outside the Electric Theatre is another example of waste of money. And that is likely to empty The Village of kids.

Too many local councils have no idea of what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function. It was on that basis that In Business last night was a breath of fresh air, local communities rebuilding their local economies. Bottom up works, top down does not, and yet local councils are still in bed with big business and greedy developers who are destroying our town centres. One only has to look at Aldershot or Lincoln to see how bad town planning and greed is destroying once viable town centres.

In Lincoln they are to repave part of the High Street which has been recently pedestrianised at a cost of £800,000 which means it will probably cost £1 million. But it fails to address the problem of motorised vehicles allowed through a pedestrianised town centre before 10 am and after 4 pm and any times between time due too lack of of enforcement, or more accurately the lack of will to enforce.

A pedestrianised area should be just that, exclusive for pedestrians, emergency vehicles only. Deliveries via hand cart or trolley from lorry bays on the outskirts. The norm in Europe.

It does not get much worse than Aldershot. Decades of bad town centre planning, net result, empty boarded up shops. When even the pound shops pull out, you know the end is nigh.

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Afternoon in Guildford

August 11, 2017

Another of those days when the weather does not seem able to make up its mind between cool and warm.

The Village again not busy, busy would be an exaggeration, but more people as school holidays. Though once the beach or whatever it is called opens next to the Electric Theatre, they will probably vanish.

On my way to Bamboo Shoots, shop at fruit and vegetable stall. The coffee stall as I pass by, no one. I have yet to ever see a customer. The cheese stall is more or less the same since an excellent cheese shop opened on Guildford in Chapel Street.

It is easy to see why I never see anyone at the coffee stall. No roast date, if ask questions, reluctance to answer. No roast date indicates only one thing, old beans, and with a wide variety of beans and low turnover, another indication of old beans.

If you want quality coffee, go to a speciality coffee shop that has fresh coffee, knows about the coffee, and can and is willing to answer questions.

The coffee stall also has tea. For tea, visit Bamboo Shoots, a wide variety of tea imported from India and China with a very knowledgeable proprietor.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Steamed bun, steamed dough stuffed with Chinese roast pork char siu, followed by crunchy honey chicken served with rice and stir fried vegetables, everything freshly prepared.

Looked in on Ben’s Records. Shocked by the state of Tunsgate. Work started then halted when it was discovered gas and water pipes too close to the surface. In the meantime small businesses in Tunsgate see a loss of trade. And did the street require work, er no.

Like all local councils, Guildford likes to indulge in vanity projects, whilst at the same time denying vital services money.

Resurfacing the High Street last year cost £1 million. Yes, the work was necessary, and the contractors carried out an excellent job, but why then allow traffic through after four o’clock, in what is a pedestrianised street?

The Village, at £1 million, plus a further £90,000 for summer relaunch, is an appalling waste of public money, badly managed, and that is only the costs we know about. The concept good, but ill-thought through, badly managed and the wrong location. It was known the location was wrong, as the farmers market collapsed when it was moved to this location last year when the High Street was dug up.

Dumping sand outside the Electric Theatre is another example of waste of money.

Too many local councils have no idea of what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function. It was on that basis that In Business last night was a breath of fresh air, local communities rebuilding their local economies. Bottom up works, top down does not, and yet local councils are still in bed with big business and greedy developers who are destroying our town centres. One only has to look at Aldershot or Lincoln to see how bad town planning and greed is destroying once viable town centres.

Cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. Was able to try their latest guest coffee, Rwanda from North Star Coffee Roasters.

Walked through The Village, late afternoon and deserted. The businesses are closing earlier and earlier, and who can blame them.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 4, 2017

Morning quite cool, afternoon pleasantly warm

Today busiest I have seen The Village. Some sort of activity for kids.

A couple of weeks ago, an area had been laid out for crazy golf. I assumed for the summer, or at the very least school holidays.  The following week it had gone. By the time word of mouth gets out, it has gone. Just one of many examples of mismanagement of this site, and why it needs a change of management.

Last week and I looked again today in Lakeland. It is a shop that sells kitchen ware. I somewhat foolishly assumed maybe they sell coffee making equipment, eg Chemex, V60, Japanese syphon, Kalita Wave, French press, coffee grinders, maybe even swan-necked kettle for pouring, digital scales. But no, instead shelves of Nespresso machines and clones thereof, ideal for making rubbish coffee. I would have asked, but was ignored by staff. A man looking, I advised do not waste your money. He thanked me and walked out.

I contrast with Coffee Island in Covent Garden.  An excellent range of coffee making equipment. And no, they do not insult their customers with Nespresso machines.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Excellent honey coated crunchy chicken as I had last week. I also decided to try steamed bun. I assumed a dumpling, but no. It is dough as a bun but steamed and much larger, maybe the size of a small stuffed apple. Very tasty. Not something I have come across before.

Food at Bamboo Shoots highly recommended.  Everything freshly prepared.

A cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. Followed by a filter coffee using Kalita Wave and one of their guest coffees, I always let them choice,  Sumava Lourdes from Costa Rica roasted by Square Mile. I have been spoilt.  Nothing now compares with Finca Immaculada Laurina  let alone Martin Hudak Signature Geisha, first from Colombia, second from Panama, both roasted by Union.

I walked through The Village. Now early evening. Back to the moronic music thudding out. Empty.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots

August 1, 2017

First Tuesday of the month, farmers market in Guildford.

I was looking forward to a dosa, but when I passed by a queue, when I passed by later nothing left.

By now, mid-afternoon,  I was hungry

I set off for Canopy Coffee, but coffee shops are never good places to eat, or rarely so.

I passed by Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, a Singapore noodle joint. I decided to have honey coated crunchy chicken.

The man asked if I remembered the Chinese girl. Yes, I was about to ask about her. She had graduated and left the country.

When we met, she shared her tea with me. I in return took her for a coffee.

We had a brief conversation about tea. He imports tea from China and India, maybe around 50 different loose leaf teas.

He knew of Imperial Teas, halfway up Steep Hill in Lincoln.

He kindly gave me a small sample of Dragon Well, a Chinese tea, explained how to brew.

I say kindly gave, £20 per 50 grams, very expensive tea.

What I had was quite spicy, I needed to remove the taste as was going to try high quality coffee at Canopy.

I tried Purbeck stem ginger ice cream. Very poor quality ice cream, if not for the ginger, it would have been even worse. I suggested he try Dylan’s ice cream. Either from the van on the farmers market or from The Village.

And then on to Canopy Coffee, a quick look in Food for Thought. A young guy working there who I had talked about coffee a few weeks ago thanked me for recommending to him Union coffee.

Guildford farmers market

August 1, 2017

First Tuesday of the month, Guildford farmers market in the High Street.

A pleasant warm and sunny afternoon.

Walking up and down the market, I notice the absent of regulars, who have been absent since the debacle last year when the farmers market was relocated to a  car park. The same location where The Village is an unmitigated diesaster indicating no lessons have been learnt.

Bread and a couple of sweet ad savoury pastries of Celtic Bakers.

The apple stall, new season Discovery.

I had a chat about coffee cupping at Taylor St Roasted, the different varieties from the same estate.  The man was able to point to the apples and tell me which trees they came from, differences most people would not even notice.

No dosa. Queues when I passed by earlier, when I returned later nothing left.

By now very hungry.

I set off for Canopy Coffee, but coffee shops are never good places to eat, or rarely so.

I passed by Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, a Singapore noodle joint. I decided to have honey coated crunchy chicken.

The man asked if I remembered the Chinese girl. Yes, I was about to ask about her. She had graduated and left the country.

When we met, she shared her tea with me. I in return took her for a coffee.

We had a brief conversation about tea. He imports tea from China and India, maybe around 50 different loose leaf teas.

He knew of Imperial Teas, halfway up Steep Hill in Lincoln.

He kindly gave me a small sample of Dragon Well, a Chinese tea, explained how to brew.

I say kindly gave, £20 per 50 grams, very expensive tea.

What I had was quite spicy, I needed to remove the taste as was going to try high quality coffee at Canopy.

I tried Purbeck stem ginger ice cream. Very poor quality ice cream. if not for the ginger, it would have been even worse. I suggested he try Dylan’s ice cream. Either from the van on the farmers market or from The Village.

And on to Canopy Coffee, a quick look in Food for Thought. A young guy working there who I had talked about coffee a few weeks ago thanked me for recommending to him Union coffee.

Cappuccino in Canopy, then try Geisha, brewed with a Kalita Wave, which I took along for them to try. It was excellent.

Canopy Coffee is a connoisseurs coffee shop, ever changing coffee to try.

Today North Star but will not be available until the weekend.

Sue who organises the farmers market, it was her last day, she retires. I would have said goodbye and wished her well, but she was too busy chatting with her cronies.

Anyway, all the best Sue.

Kalita Wave at Canopy Coffee

July 28, 2017

My third visit to Canopy Coffee aka Coffee House at 62 Haydon Place.

Tomorrow they will have been open a month

A new barista, ex of Harris + Hoole.

The lovely juicy Kayon Mountain batch brewed on Moccamaster – just brewed! So sweet..

A post shared by Canopy Coffee (@canopy_coffee) on

After a cappuccino, they asked would I like to sample their filter coffee, a Keyon Mountain, maybe brewed 45 minutes earlier.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia, sadly now past its optimum, as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

The resultant clear brew poured into small glasses, we all tried, including a couple of customers.

All agreed excellent filter coffee.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 28, 2017

Cool, an hour warm, then rain and cool.

Just when could not think The Village could not get any worse, today looking like a used-car lot.

Walking on site, moronic music blaring out of the in-site speakers. Sufficient to make one turn on ones heals and walk out.

It was having the desired effect, even fewer people than usual.

The guy selling burgers, who only opened a couple of weeks ago, full of enthusiasm,  has woken up to reality, and has already pulled out.

To put in context, Guildford town centre this afternoon packed.

No Greek food.

Last week a drama performance, nothing to say who or what it was, even the stalls had no idea.  I subsequently learnt it was a pre-performance of The Railway Children, now on at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

I learnt that last Saturday The Village closed at 3-30 in the afternoon due to heavy rain.

Serious questions need to be asked of the management of this site.

Lunch at Thai restaurant not great. When the boss not there, never very good and these days the boss rarely there.

Third visit to 62 Haydon Place. They still do not accept the coffee has been bitter. Tomorrow they will have been open a month.

Today a new barista who used to be at Harris + Hoole. A much better cappuccino, though different coffee, today Resolution blend from Origin Coffee.

I was asked to try a filter coffee. I would have preferred freshly made, not made, then stored.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia,  sadly now past its optimum., as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a  Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

We all tried, including a couple of customers.

As on previous visits, a continuous stream of customers. Word is getting out. What I also noticed, discerning customers, they ask questions, wanting to know more about the coffee they were drinking.

I took a takeaway to Dylan’s ice cream in The Village.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 21, 2017

Coolish start then turned very warm.

Jazz musicians in the High Street giving it all they had. Very good. Never seen before. No idea who they were.

It has now been several weeks since The Village opened, still a disaster, still devoid of visitors.

This afternoon a play. What I glimpsed, looked interesting.  Depressing an audience of only three, and one of them appeared to be a performer.

I have visited every week, had no idea this performance was on. And even whilst performing nothing to say who they were or what was the performance, so short of interrupting the performance, no idea. Nor was there anything on the facebook page for The Village, which is very repetitive, but not informative.

As I had a couple of weeks ago, meatballs, rice and a salad off the Greek shop. It was good, which I cannot say of the Greek sausages.

Strictly speaking, The Village opened for Christmas, at a  cost of a million pounds expenditure by Guildford Council. It closed after only a  few weeks, a disaster. A further £90,000 spent on a  summer relaunch.  Nothing like a council when it comes to wasting public money, our money.

The concept reasonable, it is the ill thought through implementation that is the problem.

Last year, this was where the farmers market relocated to when the High Street was closed. It was an unmitigated disaster, wrong location. But is seems no lessons learned, or maybe no one in the council talks to each other.

Last week BBC spent hours filming at The Village. Their journalist claimed a success, but even with clever editing by BBC, can see as camera pans around, empty.

Unbelievable bullshit from Councillor Michael Illman, claiming a huge success, yes they could keep up the momentum when it turns cold and wet. What momentum?

A classic example of shoddy reporting by BBC.

I was there when the idiot councillor was interviewed. He had to be called, as he had not turned up at appointed time.

A new eating place in Jeffries Passage. Pick various salads to fill a bowl. Currently half price until the end of the month.  I would not pay full price.

Looked in Food for Thought.  As it was they who last week had told me of the new coffee shop 62 Haydon Place I thanked them. As they  had asked my advice on what coffee to stock, I suggested an informal arrangement whereby, they stocked the guest coffee, if people want to  taste, send to the coffee shop, and vice a versa from the coffee shop if wish to buy a bag of coffee.

They commented, that people they had sent to the coffee shop came back saying the coffee was bitter. I said maybe they had the guest coffee from Glen Lyon which was over roasted.

At 62 Haydon Place aka Canopy Coffee I suggested the same informal arrangement, they advised Food for Thought of the guest coffee.

Bearing  in mind that last week the coffee was bitter, I decided to stick with Square Mile, which I know to be excellent coffee. But no Red Brick. Again the coffee bitter.

Why I do not know. But at guess, they cannot tell it is bitter. Though why it is bitter I do not know.   A well crafted cappuccino should be smooth and creamy.

It was then return to The Village for an ice cream off Dylan’s ice cream.

Dark clouds forming.

I arrived home as the first heavy drops of rain were falling.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 14, 2017

Coolish start to the day then turned very warm.

Excellent moussaka off Greek shop at The Village.

I think this is now my fifth visit to The Village, still a disaster, still devoid of visitors.

A new unit has opened selling burgers. Only his second day, but sat outside eating my moussaka, disturbed by the loud music from his stall. The use of polystyrene burger boxes is not acceptable. If nothing else, The Village must set high environmental standards. If individual stalls are going to cut corners, then The Village must set the standards as a condition of opening a unit.

The burger guy comes all the way down from Stevenage.

I look in Food For Thought. They tell me of a new coffee shop, further down the street. I say I will check it out. I have a long chat about coffee. I suggest check out Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop and Standart. I also recommend Real Fresh Coffee.

I look in Oxfam Bookshop. Nothing on coffee.

Outside Oxfam Bookshop, a group of Italians about to cross the road to tax-dodging Starbucks. I ask do they not like coffee? Probably not, as Italy infamous for bad coffee. I suggest Harris + Hool, FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station, Dylan’s ice cream or the new coffee shop I have yet to try.

I head to the new coffee shop. I double check where it is. Someone else recommends. They tell me Surrey Hills not good, a rude female with attitude problem and yes, the new coffee shop is good.

Claimed to be an artisan coffee shop. A bold claim to make. especially if not. Caracoli claim to be best coffee shop in Guildford. They are not, not by a long way, which simply makes them look foolish.

I find the new coffee shop, 62 Haydon Place. A long chat with the owner. He has Square Mile coffee which is a good sign, plus guest coffee. He says he is going to host different guest coffees, which also a good sign. I suggest try Karuna Coffee.

Then return to The Village, BBC have been filming around Guildford all day, no idea why, now filming at The Village.

Someone who appears to be responsible for The Village tells me how well it is doing, that it is busy. I look around and see the lack of people. Maybe she sees invisible people. That last week they were forced to halve the rent says the exact opposite.

I learn there is to be a food festival maybe September. I suggest invite Bedda and Karuna Coffee. I should have added Curries from Home.

I try my hand at latte art. Not very good, but I at least realise what I was doing wrong. Not bad for only second attempt. Last time was May at Miyu Coffee, and that was far worse, so at least improving.

Cold brew coffee at FCB kiosk

July 7, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, FCB kiosk at Guildford Station was experimenting with cold brew coffee. They were using their FCB espresso blend. I suggested use the Kenyan coffee they have as a guest coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters. They have heeded my suggestion.

It is now available in a bottle from the fridge.

Straight out of the bottle, excellent. On ice not quite so good. The ice waters it down. If to serve with ice, need to make cold brew with half the water the other half is in the ice.

Begs the question why is Harris + Hoole serving rubbish nitro brew coffee out of a can when they could be serving cold brew coffee?