Archive for the ‘Guildford’ Category

Afternoon in Guildford

August 16, 2019

Cool wet afternoon in Guildford. Raining all day.

GWR Reading to Gatwick train, water flowing from disabled toilet through the carriage, no working wifi in next carriage.

At station before catching the train, I mention hassle yesterday, train Oxford to Reading running late, have to catch the following train. I am told expect problems on return. Why? No trains, lack of train crew, on holiday.

But we are told train fare rise of almost 3% in January is justified because train companies are improving their service. No one who uses the trains has witnessed an improvement, what they do see is a rail service in chaos with no guarantee will get home at the end of the day.

I like trains, but what I like are clean, reliable trains, not overcrowded, which run on time and are not charging extortionate rail fares. We need to shift people out of cars onto public transport but this is never going to happen until we improve our atrocious rail and bus service.

Market not very busy. French cheese stall not there. Last time when not there he denied he was no there.

I see an Infinity Foods lorry. I look in Food for Thought. Do they have problems returning Faith in Nature 5 litre containers? No, but then they do not use Infinity Foods, only for food items.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Closed for next two weeks.

Surrey Hills Coffee six customers. A record. When I passed later, only two.

Passing earlier Harris + Hoole on my way to the market it was busy. I let one of their baristas know how was Brighton Coffee Festival.

Cappuccino in Krema. I then try a V60 using Kenyan coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters. I was curious how it compared Brighton Coffee Festival. Good but not as good.

Long chat with Ben in Ben’s Records. Rain had by now eased off.

Guildford farmers market

August 6, 2019

Weather forecast was cool with rain. Not only did it not rain, it turned hot in the sun.

Small producers should set high standards, if not, what is the point, I can obtain low standards in a supermarket. Many take a pride in their produce, too many do not.

Coffee that is very poor quality. The only reason they get away with it is that the average Joe or Jo is used to bad coffee.

For coffee try Krema, excellent coffee, plus they sell coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters. They will also advise on what is best suited on home coffee making and no not a Nepresso machine, no not a home espresso machine, they will never produce a good cup of coffee, a French press, not really.

I had hoped Coffee Gems would have a stall. Excellent coffee.

Cheese, quality cheese, comes from raw milk, grass fed cows, not pasteurised milk, not the black and white bulk milk producers.

If want quality cheese, check the cheesemonger end of Chapel Street also the French cheese stall on the Friday market in North Street.

On farmers market in Lincoln not only cheese made from raw milk, also raw milk on sale.

A chat with a chocolate maker. Craft chocolate is a meaningless designation, we see the same with coffee, gourmet coffee, artisan coffee, meaningless designations.

Looking at the chocolate stall, only one chocolate would I call a quality chocolate, the rest had emulsifiers, additives, adulterated chocolate, and that is even before I try the chocolate.

Chocolate

  • cocoa mass – sugar – vanilla
  • cocoa mass -cocoa butter – sugar – vanilla

The purists will not allow vanilla, others say ok if enhances the quality of the chocolate. A moot point.

Always check the list of ingredients.

Quality chocolate will be bean-to-bar. Anything that is not bean-to-bar paying a lot of money for someone to buy in chocolate and turn into bars.

Asked why chocolate on the stall had soy? Soy destroys rain forests, likely to be gmo, most probably unless organic, sprayed with glyphosate. It could be worse. it could be palm oil. Green and Black chocolate is padded out with palm oil. Emulsifiers are used instead of cocoa butter. Why, because it is cheaper.

EU permits emulsifiers, USA does not.

Chocolate, high quality single origin bean-to bar chocolate has many subtle flavours, no quality chocolate maker would dream of adding additives. This would be like adding syrups to a good coffee.

Chocolate has more flavour profiles than coffee. Coffee has more flavour profiles than red wine.

We are going backwards. Chocolate wrapped in plastic. Why? Chocolate used to be foil wrapped, then wrapped in paper.

To claim cannot as small business is nonsense.

It is indie coffee shops that have been leading the way on reusable cups compostable cups, on direct trade not the fair trade scam which is little more than a marketing scam to make the smug middle class feel good. Being small, is being nimble.

What asked these questions, lady manning chocolate stall turned very unpleasant and refused to answer.

Excellent beer from the beer stall next to Silent Pool Gin stall. I bought three bottles, one chilled to have with my lunch. My only criticism, the bottles are too small, should be 330 ml not 250 ml.

A year ago I was assured the market would be plastic free this year. It is not, if anything it has got worse.

Persuasion is not working. It should not be individual stalls, the paella and dosa stalls set high standards. If stallholders are not cooperating and clearly they are not, then rules have to be set and enforced. No plastic. If not plastic free, then will not be allowed on the Guildford farmers market. If stallholders whinge its is costing them, tough. If their businesses model is not valid they should not be in business. It is not acceptable to externalise their costs onto the environment and the rest of society.

Guildford is the only farmers market where I see what should normally be in a fridge 0-5 C sat on a stall at 20 C or higher. Any stall wishing to sell meat, poultry, fish and dairy products must have refrigerated stalls. No refrigerated stall then not permitted on the market.

Last month Guildford declared a Climate Emergency. Empty words unless followed by action. Markets in Guildford should demonstrate best practice not worst practice, set a lead for others to follow.

And please get rid of the ice cream van at the bottom of North Street with engine running belching out toxic fumes at the height of toddlers.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots with a bottle of craft beer off the market, but 250 ml too little.

Passing by Surrey Hills coffee five people, when I passed by later one person. I cannot see how they survive.

Walking back down the High Street to Tunsgate, craft beer stall said they would return on Saturday. I was surprised as I was not aware there was a market on Saturday. A vegan market. No publicity, no mention by any of the stalls.

As always, excellent cappuccino at Krema.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 2, 2019

Coolish start, turned hot when the sun came out.

Not as many people around as last week, but market busier.

There must be a glut of strawberries. Two boxes of strawberries for a pound.

Harrs + Hoole empty when I passed by.

Coffee stall gone from market. Maybe on holiday, no great loss if gone.

Surrey Hills five people, one staff.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Possibility of chess unplugged at Bamboo Shoots, maybe charge a small fee with a meal included or a break for a meal and player order from the menu, six boards maximum as six tables. Details yet to be decided.

1/3 pint at Growlers & Cans. Mentioned beer stall in Oxford Covered Market well worth a visit.

Looked in Guildford tourist information office. They used to be helpful, not any more.

They knew nothing of the cycle hire scheme, were not in the least interested in the problems it will cause when rental cycles get dumped around the town causing obstruction.

The website and a downloadable brochure for these bikes sets a new high in corporate PR bullshit.

Visit Guildford funded by public money. Is it being wisely spent when used to promote corporate chains at the expense of local indie businesses? Question how the money is spent and blocked on social media. Accountability of a public body?

Cappuccino in Krema.

On Your and Yours Radio 4 lunchtime an M&S executive explaining why they close stores, Easy, they are losing money. And why is M&S a failing retailer, it provides piss-poor service.

It gave pause for thought what this guy was on when he talked of creating an inspirational retail experience.

No, customers wish to shop with no hassle, be able to walk in, buy what they want, walk out.

Today an illustration of why M&S a failing retailer, only one till manned in the busy food hall.

M&S Guildford Station, hot air blown onto customers as they walk into the store.

Train left on time. Nearly passed out in the heat, air conditioning not functioning, no windows to open. Luckily the train was nearly empty. I hate to think what like if overcrowded. The wifi was not working.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 26, 2019

Today hot and muggy at 24C with high humidity following thunderstom early hours of the morning, but at first felt cool compared with record breaking 38.1C on Thursday.

Once again wifi not working on GWR Reading-Guildford-Gatwick train.

Maybe I should try the impossible as suggested by GWR, e-mail them to get the wifi working.

By River Wey, electric cycles, unbelievably heavy, could barely lift. Construction indicates would be heavy. I assume must be collected at night and returned to a charging station. Download an app, scan the cycle, at least that is how I assume it works. Begs the question will Guildford experience the same problems as Berlin and Athens where cycles and electric scooters are dumped everywhere? I will have to pop in Tourist Information and ask how the scheme works. The problem, an unregulated sector, like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Man greeting customers at Santander, can I help you? Yes, try manning the tills. Why is customer service such an alien concept for Santander?

Duo, two guys busking at the bottom of the High Street. They were good and drawing a crowd. I bought two CDs. I wish I had stayed for a chat. Not seen them before. No idea quality of CDs. Problem is I cannot play on new laptop. New laptops do not have DVD drives, have to then buy external drive. They also have low capacity internal drives, then have to either buy external drive or as I did, open up, invalidate warranty, and install a far higher capacity internal drive. We are going backwards.

I was surprised at the number of people around. Maybe they have wisely stayed home last few days as too hot to go out and are now out and about.

People on the street, but retail collapse continues. The loss of chains we should not weep over, chains destroy town centres.

With the ever expanding empty retail space in the centre of Guildford it is highly unlikely the retail units in the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre will be let.

The retail collapse is not helped when Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford promote corporate chains to the detriment of local indie businesses.

Market though was not busy.

Nor was Bamboo Shoots busy. After four people left, I was the only customer, though as leaving, a couple of people popped in for a takeaway.

It goes without saying Surrey Hills Coffee as always not busy, two customers, four if count two standing at the counter, two staff. Contrast with Harris + Hoole and Krema, both were busy. I am at a loss how they remain in businesses.

Popped into Growler & Cans, same as last week, not yet changed what was on the board. What I ought to have done was popped in earlier, bough a bottle of beer and had with my lunch.

I learnt the Growlers cost something over £12 to buy. I thought expensive on the other hand 20% discount if filled with beer and a reusable coffee cup will cost this or more and do no get 20% discount if filled.

The cans, no one uses, now used for decoration. Problem filling, beer bubbles up inside whilst trying to fill. If the demand exists, talking to breweries to supply filled.

I find 1/3 pint too little, 2/3 pint too much. I settled for half a pint.

The lady running Growlers & Cans knows her beers and the breweries. More than can be said for most pubs where they serve whatever crap is dumped on them by the pubcos.

Lady is tying to get free beer from Brew Dog. She was surprised when I said I was going to Brighton maybe where Brew Dog are giving away free beer this weekend.

Note: Brew Dog giving away free beer Friday and Saturday, not weekend. My mistake.

I recall in the 1960s, when Guinness used to give away free beer in Skegness during the summer. Disgusting drink.

To Krema. Cappuccino.

Last year, once the long over schedule roadworks in Tunsgate were complete, Krema had tables and chairs in the street. Not this summer. A hot day, but far hotter inside than out. I wished to sit outside but no tables and chairs. Council has ordered their removal. Yet another example of how local councils and worthless jobsworths are killing local businesses.

Then to Waitrose. Good deed of the day, lent a girl my power bank and cable. Explained where she could obtain from. But the problem seemed to be her connection. Asked could she remove the battery. Answer in the affirmative I suggested get a stand alone battery charger.

I ought to have given her my e-mail address asked her to contact me and I would have looked up for her.

No train at Guildford Station, or at least a train but not going anywhere, no train crew, train finally leaves over twenty minutes late with next train following four minutes behind. Guildford to Reading cancelled.

Yesterday trains were not running. Too hot, risk of lines buckling in the heat, overhead power lines sagging.

And just when think cannot get any worse, East Midlands trains are once again on strike.

Climate Emergency, we need people to ditch their cars, walk, cycle, use bus or train, but an uphill struggle when public transport so bad.

V60 how not to Harris + Hoole Guildford

July 19, 2019

I have not visited Harris + Hoole for over a year. I stopped going when they were taken over by Caffe Nero.

It was then death by a thousand cuts, cost cutting, insufficient staff, lost all their good baristas, coffee no longer supplied by Union, now Caffe Nero.

Today popped in Harris + Hoole with a friend. Only place open after six.

Not been in for at least a year, not since acquired by Caffe Nero. It has got far far worse.

I asked for a pour over. Surprised to find on offer, V60. I wish I had not.

Beans at least a month old (beans this old should be used for training), barista is forced to use a pouring jug, no swan-necked kettle. Penny pinching cost cutting tax-dodging profiteering Caffe Nero refuse to supply the correct gear.

It goes without saying the V60 was not good. I should have had a cappuccino.

I would hasten to add, no fault of the barista, who was clearly embarrassed by the poor quality beans and lack of a swan-necked kettle.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 19, 2019

A change in weather, cool and rain all day.

Train on time, ticket office open. But Gatwick train always packed on a Friday. At least I used to think on a Friday, people going away for a weekend break, but seems to be packed everyday.

A world record for Surrey Hills Coffee, seven customers. Seven! I doubt will see beaten in a long time.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Excellent 1/3 pint at Growlers & Cans. Each week a different collection of craft beer on tap. Not open until four on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Open at midday on Friday. Closed at ten. Closed on Monday.

Was in two minds, Growlers & Cans midway between Canopy or Krema. I derided on Krema.

Young guy I had not seen before. But I should not have to dictate no chocolate in cappuccino. But otherwise excellent cappuccino.

Raining all day. It had stopped, but as I leave Krema stared rain. I cut through Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre, as always deserted, apart from a few people with same idea as myself, cut through because raining.

Sterile shopping centre not helped by loud music blasting out.

A Nespressso coffee shop. Why would anyone go into a coffee shop fora Nespresso? Maybe they do not, as empty. Maybe they give away free samples? Maybe one day I will ask. But I would not want even if free.

Redber have pulled out. Crap coffee so no great loss. But why a shop and stick a stall outside?

I decried to look in an upmarket optician. Curious how they survive. Pig-ignorant staff, ignored as chatting on mobile phone. I walk out. Contrast with Specsavers, where always politely greet as walk in.

More and more shops are now failing in Guildford. That is the High Street. Top of High Street, side streets and North Street far worse. Top of High Street is starting to look like Aldershot. OK, nothing can look like Aldershot.

Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping shopping centre with boarded-up shops and zero footfall can only go downhill. With growing number of empty shops in prime location in High Street and pressure on greedy landlords to drops rents, Tunsgate Zombie shopping centre is going to decline even faster as retailers will pull out and no one will be foolish enough to move in, as even with free rent would still be losing money.

Plastic Free July, plastic obscenity that is M&S gets worse. Shrink-wrapped coconuts, bananas rotting in plastic bags, and just when think cannot get worse, they are giving away plastic copies of their produce. Quite why anyone would wish for plastic replicas of M%S goods is beyond me. More totally unnecessary plastic waste. Another massive retail fail by a failing retailer.

Pop in Harris + Hoole with a friend. Only place open after six. Not been in for at least a year, not since acquired by Caffe Nero. It has got far far worse. I asked for a pour over. Surprised to find on offer, V60. I wish I had not. Beans at least a month old, barista is forced to use a pouring jug, no swan-necked kettle. Penny pinching cost cutting tax-dodging profiteering Caffe Nero refuse to supply the correct gear. It goes without saying the V60 was not good. I should have had a cappuccino.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 12, 2019

A hot afternoon in Guildford. Too hot, an afternoon for sitting in the shade of the trees in the garden.

Ticket office not open, guard on train unable to sell a ticket as machine not working, have to queue at Guildford Station to buy a ticket. I could have bought a ticket on my return, but then would have missed the train.

Given grief if board a train without a ticket, on the other hand made difficult to purchase a ticket.

Walking along the River Wey into the town centre a solar-powered narrow boats silently gliding through the water. The roof was covered in solar panels.

Watertone’s on the market. Maybe more than meets the eye. Mexico standoff to force a lower rent.

Greedy landlords are destroying our town centres. They would rather see empty shops than rents that reflect current retail reality.

I am no great fan of Wastersone’s, on the other hand if it closes, no bookshops left in Guidlford.

When in Oxford I was told by Blackwell’s that WHSmith sell quality magazines. I did not believe, but looked in WHSmith. No, they do not, racks of rubbish.
Never mind, hopefully will find what I want in Magazine Brighton.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

As always Surrey Hills Coffee empty. One customer, two staff. I am at a loss how they remain in business.

A beer at Growlers and Cans.

Cold brew coffee at Krema. Too much ice, watered down.

On leaving Krema, looked in Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre. As always empty. Made worse by loud music.

Redeber appear to have pulled out. No great loss, crap coffee.

Popped in Partisan, cheesemonger at end of Chapel Street. I advised they stocked coffee from Coffee Gems. Far better coffee than what they stock from Surrey Hills. And even if Surrey Hills were better than mediocre, why stock when could buy more recent date from their coffee shop?

Guildford farmers market

July 2, 2019

A warm sunny day, that turned very warm during the afternoon.

A loaf of bread and cake off one stall.

Riverford are working with Exeter University and hope to be plastic free by 2020.

Apple stall had raspberries in card boxes and hope to move their strawberries to similar boxes.

The farmers market was supposed to be plastic free this year. Why is it not?

I prefer to see strong paper bags to carry produce. Plastic bags I do not have too much of a problem with if people use and reuse, and as I do put out rubbish in. Though even these can be compostable as used by Infinity Foods. It is packaging for produce that is the problem, especially the obscene us of plastic and over packaging.

We though seem to be going backwards. What is claimed to be quality chocolate the bars wrapped in plastic.

The worst by far the turkey sausage stall. Their sausages in polystyrene boxes, shrink-wrapped with plastic.

But it gets worse, far worse, sausages taken out of the polystyrene boxes, cooked in a pan, put back in the boxes and offered to customers. Flies crawling over the cooked sausages.

The turkey sausages sitting on the stall on a very warm afternoon.

When the stall arrived, according to someone who was there at the time, an appalling stench from their van when they offloaded.

Why is this stall on the market? Where are Environmental Health?

Food and hot weather do not mix. Environmental Health should be patrolling the market. According to one witness they were seen first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning when it is cool. They should be there in the afternoon when it is very warm.

It is not though only Guildford. Every council market I have visited has had abysmal environmental standards.

A zero waste stall has appeared. Most of what was on their stall of no interest. Mainly of interest that people can bring their own bottle and refill with shampoo, washing up liquid.

Try Okomo zero waste in Downing Street in Farnham.

Cupsmith back with their low quality coffee. Coffee beans in open hessian sacks, bags of beans in the sun.

Coffee to avoid.

If wish to buy coffee, try Krema end of Tunsgate where they have coffee on sale from Horsham Coffee Roasters, a reputable roastery. Canopy opposite Waitrose have guest coffee, though last time I looked not on sale.

A pity Fire Chimney Coffee do not have a stall.

Three bottles of craft beer off a stall not seen before, Binary Botanical craft beer. One chilled to consume with lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Unusual, brewed with hop leaves, not with hop flowers. At least that was what I was told. Their websites says brewed with hop flowers infused with hop leaves.

Dumb to proclaim beer for wine drinkers. Beer should stand on its own merits.

Craft beer sells on taste and word of mouth, not on bullshit marketing.

Binary Botanical superior table beer is unlike any beer you have tasted before. Its tropical aroma, prosecco-like taste, and clean finish come from the infusion with organic hop leaves and choice of wine yeast. It is a flavourful beer brewed to be enjoyed with food.

The name “binary” not only refers to the stem of the hop plant, but also two-digit number system underpinning our technological progress; the stem of the hop plant; and the black and white perspective we take on brewing standards and quality. It conveys the sense of useful science that we rely on to make sure that our beers taste great consistently, travels well and are better for you than alternatives.

And there was worse. Whoever wrote this bullshit no understanding of either beer or wine. No surprise Growlers & Cans declined to stock. Had I seen this bullshit first and not come across on a market stall, I would never have tried. Not doing the beer any favours.

It resembles sparkling elderflower wine, very light. Ideal chilled, sitting under the shade of trees in the garden on a hot sunny day.

Popped around to Growlers & Cans. Had 1/3 pint of the same beer I had last week.

Would have had a coffee at Krema but very warm, decided to call it a day and go home.

But first looked in cheesemonger end of Chapel Street and recommended they stocked Binary Botanical craft beer.

Growlers & Cans

June 28, 2019

Popped in Growlers & Cans.

A rough bar, through not really even a bar, more of a shop where can also have a beer.

High quality craft beer, far better than would find in any local pub, though currently limited selection.

Strange set up. Buy a bottle of beer, then pay a pound to drink it. I’d rather take it to the park.

Beer on tap, 2/3 or a pint. I asked did they do a 1/3? I had a 1/3 of an excellence beer. At £2 for 1/3 that would make it £6 a pint, though cheaper if bought a pint.

Crap coffee from Redber. I advised ditch it and buy better quality coffee, but would also need to employ a top quality barista.

Never buy cheap low quality coffee, it is false economy. Spoilt for choice for quality coffee roasters. Try River Coffee Roasters or Chimney Fire Coffee.

These days it is coffee shops where find quality craft beer not pubs. It would be an interesting combination craft beer and speciality coffee, add food too.

Later I walked through the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre to find Redber had pulled out.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 28, 2019

Last night cold. This morning coolish. In Guildford hot, very hot.

France today hit a record temperature of 45.9C. Across Spain wildfires raging out of control.

Today trains at Guildford Station. Normal one may think, it is a busy station. True, but these are not normal times. Last week in Guildford on the longest day there were no trains, SWR were on strike.

Where once there was a chalkboard, FCB kiosk now a garish sign. A sign of the times, where once guest coffee, now their own coffee.

After a visit to the market, lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Before lunch looked in Surrey Hills Coffee, four customers, one more than last week.

Last week no French cheese stall on the market. Back this week.

Popped in Growlers & Cans. A rough bar, through not really even a bar. High quality craft beer, far better than would find in any local pub, currently limited selection.

Strange set up. Buy a bottle of beer, then pay a pound to drink it. I’d rather take it to the park.

Beer on tap, 2/3 or a pint. I asked did they do a 1/3? I had a 1/3 of an excellence beer. At £2 for 1/3 that would make it £6 a pint, though cheaper if bought a pint.

Crap coffee from Redber.

Looked in Krema but did not stop.

Walking through Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre. Redber have already pulled out.

It will be how long before other retailers start pulling out.

Called it a day, too hot, caught a train to sir in the garden under a tree.