Archive for the ‘Lincoln’ Category

Failing tea and coffee shops in Lincoln

November 27, 2018

What could be a microcosm of anywhere, a tale of failing, closed and for sale tea and coffee shops in Lincoln.

Tickleberry Lane Bakery & Tea House opened over 18 months ago. It was doomed to failure as did everything possible that could be done wrong.

Poor quality tea and coffee. When prominently display serving teapigs, may as well run up a flag stating we know nothing about tea. The coffee over-roasted catering supply commodity coffee. On the other side of the street Coffee Aroma serving high quality tea and coffee.

The serving of lunch was upstairs via narrow steep stairs, but no menu on display outside the shop. No one is going to walk up steep narrow stairs with no idea what is on offer when they arrive.

Rather late in the day, a few months before they closed, they placed a couple of tables and chairs in the window. Too little, too late.

The writing was on the wall, firstly claimed closed as not busy, then claimed illness, finally a To Let sign. Other businesses that were ordering bread and cakes complained of unreliable delivery. The staff walked out complaining they had not been paid.

Two weeks or more after the To Let sign went up the useless local press reported it had closed, it had actually closed many months before, and regurgitated as news what had been written on facebook.

The Angel Coffee House is up for sale. A couple of years ago, it would have put some squats to shame. A major refit and yes has improved, but not the coffee.

The owner will give advice, if sold, but hopefully not on coffee. And has ideas on expansion. Which begs the question, why, if these are such good ideas, why were they not implemented?

Increasing takeaway, especially if using Deliveroo, is a retrograde step, not unless do not care about the environment, or exploitation of serfs working for an app.

We must reduce the grab it and go takeaway culture part of pointless consumerism, encourage relax with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Pimento Tea Rooms half way up Steep Hill has closed. Once excellent for tea and cakes, new owners took over and destroyed the business.

Steep Hill Tea Rooms, a tea shop at the top of Steep Hill one of many tea shops on Steep Hill has closed. When I passed by in September, the premises gutted, the name still on the window.

New tea shops have opened on The Strait and in Bailgate. All chasing the same tourist pound. When there is money to be made, for example AsylumX the recent steampunk festival, they still close early.

Coffee by the Arch is for sale. Catering supply coffee, service poor, tea supplied by tea pigs. Again one of many tea and coffee shops in Bailgate, Steep Hill and The Strait chasing the same tourist pound.

Coffee by the Arch was for sale, but the sale fell through early November when the buyer pulled out at the eleventh hour. Not clear if it is still on the market. At the time of writing it is still listed as cafe lease for sale. Owner has complained on their facebook page of inaccurate reporting by the media.

It is not helped by a tea shop of very similar name in Bailgate. Someone failed to do their homework.

For any new business the odds are stacked against success. 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. And even if make it past 18 months it is not plain sailing, the chance of becoming a sustainable business is only 1 in 20.

Where once, maybe up to five years ago, could open a tea or coffee shop serving low quality tea in tea bags, catering supply coffee, not employ skilled baristas, not be prepared to invest in the required equipment, not any more. To do so is to be on a hiding to nothing.

For low quality tea and coffee, we have the corporate chains, why therefore open up in direct competition? This is like the fools and their money easily parted who take on the tenancy of a tied pub, the pubcos see you coming, another mug to relieve of their redundancy money or life savings.

Lincoln has three quality coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Base Camp. Any one of these failing, failed or for sale businesses has the potential to be a quality coffee shop, serving specialty coffee in glass or ceramic. They will not be in competition, specialty coffee shops never are, they help to expand the market by introducing coffee drinkers to how coffee should be served, what it should look like, taste like.

There is never any point in entering a crowded market. Create the market, be the big fish in the pond because you have created the pond, then expand the pond.

In addition the focus has to be on quality, being the best. To try to compete on price, to lower quality, is to engage in a race to the bottom, as there will always be someone who can undercut you.

In Winchester, two years ago, Coffee Lab opened, spread by word of mouth, followed by Coffee Lab Academy, followed by The Square. In the meantime Flat White kiosk, followed by Flat White coffee shop. They are not in competition, they have grown the market for specialty coffee.

In Guildford, Krema serving specialty coffee, busy since it opened. Coffee shops serving poor quality coffee, pretentious coffee shops where the owner talks bollocks on focus groups, brands and marketing, are either empty or closed.

It is like a tied pub serving what masquerades as beer from a corporate chemical plant, competing in a shrinking market where pubs are closing every week. Open a coffee ship serving undrinkable catering supply coffee, in competition with the corporate coffee chains in a stagnant if not shrinking market.

The irony, far more likely to find quality craft beer, even decent wine, in a coffee shop than a pub, and far more convivial company. Little Tree, half a dozen craft beers from different Greek Islands. The Underdog, over twenty different craft beers. Warehouse, over 200 different wines.

And yet no one learns.

Ye Olde Mouse House, proclaimed to be a cheese cum coffee shop, a weird combination, has opened in the former Steep Hill Tea Rooms at the top of Steep Hill.

The name says it all. Maybe a better name, Ye Olde Tourist Trap.

They talk of cheese as a brand. Cheese is not a brand not unless talking of plastic wrapped Kraft plastic cheese.

And yes, their adulterated cheese is sold prepackaged in plastic, other cheese coated in wax.

In an Appendix to Reinventing the Wheel excellent advice by Bronwen Percival on buying cheese:

Buy unadulterated cheese … if a cheesemaker hides behind added ingredients, whether smoke, added fruits or spices … it is either a tragedy … or a sign their milk was devoid of character in the first place … Buy raw-milk cheese … Buy complex cheese … Buy from a cheesemonger … good cheesemongers are curators of good cheese.

Adulterating cheese is akin to adding syrups to coffee. Don’t. It either ruins a good coffee or is used to hide bad coffee.

And their use of social media to say the least perverse. A badly filmed video of their coffee shop located in a cellar. A picture of a dog tied up outside in the cold and wet(since deleted). Questions posted on their cheese and coffee, not only lack the courtesy to answer, the questions are deleted.

Footfall on Steep Hill has in recent years dramatically fallen. The only way to attract business, to offer quality, word of mouth.

For quality cheese in Lincoln, The Cheese Society, top of the High Street, bottom of The Strait. Or if in Bailgate next to the Post Office try Redhill Farm Shop which has a small selection of quality local cheeses. There is also local cheese on the monthly farmers market in Castle Square.

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The Green Cottage

September 17, 2018

Wandering around Louth I could only find two places to eat, a pie shop and a tea shop. I settled on the tea shop

Celery and cashew soup excellent. As was the quiche with salad and new potatoes.

The coffee awful. Poor quality catering supply coffee, someone clueless on how to make coffee. Chocolate dumped on a cappuccino, the cappuccino froth and foam with a small amount of insipid coffee at the bottom of the cup. I was spooning the foam out.

— to be continued —-

Afternoon in Louth

September 17, 2018

Louth is a small market town in the foothills of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an hour by bus from Lincoln.

Main feature of interest, St James’ Church in the centre.

Monday quiet, few people around, many shops shut, too many have closed down, even the local newspaper closed down, a town that appears to be dying.

Caffe Nero moved in, local tea shops hit hard. What does that say of the local tea shops if they lose custom to Caffe Nero?

A handful of foodie shops worth knowing about, a deli near the church,a workers coop, a cheese shop. But although the deli near the church had Dark Woods coffee, it was ground, not freshly roasted and not the coffee they served. The cheese shop tea from Lincoln tea and coffee, which if anything like their poor quality coffee, will not be good.

Stokes as in Lincoln, has more or less a monopoly on tea shops serving their coffee, which means no quality coffee. One tea shop made the point they did not use Stokes, another is getting rid of Stokes as the service poor.

An ice cream parlour on the way to the bus station, ice cream ok, not good. Coffee would not say, others may jump in the act. This is laughable. If have quality coffee, prod to say where it comes from. Impressive but pricey bouquets made from cupcakes.

Places to eat a little tea shop and a pie shop.

Celery and cashew soup excellent. As was the quiche with salad and new potatoes. The coffee awful. Poor quality catering supply coffee, someone clueless on how to make coffee. Chocolate dumped on a cappuccino, the cappuccino froth and foam with a small amount of insipid coffee at the bottom of the cup. I was spooning the foam out.

One place that looked interesting, Auction House, had sadly closed.

The Auction House would be ideal for a speciality coffee shop, something Louth lacks and needs.

Excellent local strawberries in the front of a greengrocer, but when I popped back, dispaoointed to find sold out.

A tea shop that I had looked in, it called itself a coffee shop, but in reality and cafe serving paninis and catering supply coffee, closed at 3-30, many others including shops by four.

The streets interconnected by little alleys, one Pawnshop Passage led to a little sweet shop, Jassies.

Name to fame of Louth, the Greenwich Meridian passes through.

— to be continued —-

Heritage Open Day Lincoln Cathedral

September 15, 2018

Heritage Open Day, the one day of the year free entry to Lincoln Cathedral, unless of course attend a service.

Rather than walk up the High Street, up The Strait, up Steep Hill, I took a different route. Along Sincil Street (sadly trashed by the local Council in cahoots with the local Coop), over the River Witham, up past The Collection, then Well Lane which brings out on Steep Hill a little past Base Camp.

To my pleasant surprise, a farmers market in Castle Hill, held the third Saturday of the month.

Spending time on the market meant I had very little time to wander around Lincoln Cathedral.

I noticed seats laid out, each labelled. Front row, County Council chief executive, chairman, and other County Council jobsworth, then rows Lincoln City Council, then RAF, then cadets, and almost as an afterthought, a few seats for the public.

I asked. A Battle of Britain Commemorative Service 3 pm on Sunday.

Where then the seats for Veterans? And was the priority not wrong? Should not the worthless parasites be at the back, Veterans on the front row, followed by RAF?

Inquiries were made. Veterans were not even aware of the Service.

Castle Hill farmers market

September 15, 2018

I was on my way to Lincoln Cathedral. Heritage Open Day, the one day of the year free entry to Lincoln Cathedral, unless of course attend a service.

Rather than walk up the High Street, up The Strait, up Steep Hill, I took a different route. Along Sincil Street (sadly trashed by the local Council in cahoots with the local Coop), over the River Witham, up past The Collection, then Well Lane which brings out on Steep Hill a little past Base Camp.

To my pleasant surprise, a farmers market in Castle Hill, held the third Saturday of the month.

A wide choice of stalls, a marked contrast to the pathetic market held in the High Street on a Friday, now alternate Fridays, all of two stalls, three stalls if lucky, half a dozen stalls if very lucky.

I would question that Bailgate Deli having a stall, unless to make up numbers, as nether a grower nor a producer.

As with too many markets, low environmental standards, food served in plastic containers. What though was in many ways worse, two organic stalls with produce in plastic, as they should have known better.

I stopped and chatted with one of the organic stalls about their use of plastic, an organic growers association.

A guy on the stall also drinking poor quality coffee in plastic-lined takeaway cup.

There is absolutely no excuse for use of plastic on market stalls or from food stalls, as alternatives exist. Whoever is responsable for this market must set higher standards.

Off a bread stall, scones, OK, not great, sweetcorn off the organic produce stall excellent. Excellent cheese from Cote Hill.

Nothing off Redhill Farm as visited their shop in Bailgate, where a wider choice.

After visiting Lincoln Cathedral, cappuccino from Base Camp then a V60 from Madame Waffle from their excellent choice of guest coffees.

The way to enjoy coffee, is relax and enjoy out of glass or ceramic. But had I a takeaway, compostable takeaway coffee cup that can then be dropped on a compost heap.

Evidence in Camera

September 7, 2018

Art exhibition by Mandy Lee Jandrell at The Usher Art Gallery at The Collection.

One room, coloured lights bouncing of mirrors, another room two large screens, images of light used for signalling.

Evidence in Camera takes its title from the book of the same name by Constance Babington-Smith, published in 1957.

Constance Babington-Smith was head of Photographic Interpretation at RAF Medmenham’s Central Interpretation Unit, she was one of several women – including the archaeologist Dorothy Garrod – involved in the highly skilled interpretation of aerial reconnaissance photography during the Second World War.

Stokes at The Collection

September 4, 2018
Stokes at The Collection

Stokes at The Collection

I have in the past looked in on Stokes at The Collection, but never had a coffee.

Visiting an exhibition at The Collection, Bastion in the Air, I decided to take a break and have a cappuccino and a cookie.

Service was slow, even though Stokes at The Collection was empty.

The coffee when delivered, looked disgusting, tasted disgusting. The girl serving completely clueless on coffee.

When the coffee was brought to my table, I did not touch it for a couple of minutes, so disgusted by its appearance. When I did, I found it to be scalding hot. It must have been nigh on 100C when brought to the table.

Not helped by poor quality, over-roasted catering supply coffee.

The only good think I could say of the undrinkable cappuccino was that it did not have chocolate dumped on top.

I have had cookies at Stokes on High Bridge and they used to be excellent, the same can not be said of the coffee. The cookie was not good either, hard and dried up.

There are better coffee shops nearby, Base Camp on Steep Hill, Madame Waffle in the High Street and Coffee Aroma in Guildhall (through The Stonebow), all within a few minutes walk.

Stokes is an old family fourth generation coffee business. They have three coffee shops in Lincoln. Stokes on High Bridge, Stokes at The Collection, Stokes at The Lawn. Stokes at The Lawn is also a coffee roastery.

Bastion of the Air

September 4, 2018

The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit in our lifetime. — Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, 3 August 1914

An exhibition at The Collection, an arts cum museum complex, looking at Lincoln in World War One.

England was vulnerable, airships launched by the German Navy, dropping bombs on England, were untouchable, at too high an altitude to be reached by the existing British warplanes.

The next generation of planes could fly at higher altitude, and used incendiary bullets.

British aircraft were operated by the Army and the Navy. These were amalgamated to create the Royal Air Force.

Lincoln had three manufacturing plants, these were crucial to the war effort, and Lincoln became one of the centres of not only aircraft manufacture, but also of the engines and the bombs.

Lincoln was where at Fosters, the WWI tank was developed and built.

These engineering factories have long gone, in their place sheds on the inner-bypass selling worthless consumer junk, tacky chain coffee shops. Where once there was highly skilled well paid jobs, now temporary, part time, zero hours work.

Within the exhibition clothes, black and white film of the period, paintings (though no date or information on the artists), medals (including the Victoria Cross and German Iron Cross).

The first VC to be awarded was to a pilot William Leef Robinson for shooting down a Zeppelin airship.

Surprising no mention of the airship disaster at Washingborough. An airship was spotted, passengers rushed to one side of the Washingborough Ferry crossing the River Witham causing it to collapse.

The night before, a Zeppelin bombed Washingborough, mistaking for Lincoln. The Zeppelin was following a train, and may have thought it was Lincoln when the train stopped.

St John’s Church in Washingborough has unique Zeppelin Memorial Window put in by the Rector William Burland.

Note: No pictures thanks to copyright mafia.

If visiting the exhibition, visit the Tourist Information Centre in Castle Hill at the top of Steep Hill and pick up a 20% off voucher.

Also worth a visit, International Bomber Command Centre and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

Coffee at Stokes at The Collection is not recommended. There are better coffee shops nearby, Base Camp on Steep Hill, Madame Waffle in the High Street and Coffee Aroma in Guildhall (through The Stonebow), all within a few minutes walk.

AsylumX – Day 3

August 26, 2018

Welcome to the Asylum, a four day SteamPunk Festival in Lincoln, the largest known SteamPunk Festival in the solar system.

I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clock maker. — Voltaire

Day 3: The third day of AsylumX, a four day SteamPunk Festival in Lincoln.

Sadly a complete washout. A cold wet day, few people on the streets, street food gave up by lunchtime as no one about, the stalls on Castle Hill were forced by Council jobsworths to cease trading by mid-afternoon (previous day forced to cease trading at six when easily could have continued until seven).

This year, local shops take SteamPunk now in its tenth year seriously.

In Sincil Street, check out a charity shop, amazing SteamPunk creations.

A craft beer shop in the Strait, a special SteamPunk craft beer.

Near the top of The Strait, a wine shop with specially distilled SteamPunk gin.

Coffee connoisseurs are spoilt for choice with the Lincoln coffee culture, do not even think of going in any of the chains. Three coffee shops as walk from the town centre to Lincoln Castle.

Walking up the High Street, just after passing over the River Witham, turn left before passing through The Stonebow and find Coffee Aroma.

Pass through The Stonebow, up the High Street and find Madame Waffle.

Continue up the High Street, up The Strait, up Steep Hill, and as pass the cobbled section find Base Camp.

AsylumX a four day SteamPunk Festival over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Friday 24 August to Monday 27 August 2018.

AsylumX – Day 2

August 26, 2018

Welcome to the Asylum, a four day SteamPunk Festival in Lincoln, the largest known SteamPunk Festival in the solar system.

I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clock maker. — Voltaire

Day 2: The second day of AsylumX, a four day SteamPunk Festival in Lincoln.

Today, stalls in Castle Hill, in grounds of Lincoln Castle, many many steam punks. A food court open outside the Castle walls, street food, coffee van real ale, craft beer.

This year, local shops take SteamPunk now in its tenth year seriously.

In Sincil Street, check out a charity shop, amazing SteamPunk creations.

A craft beer shop in the Strait, a special SteamPunk craft beer.

Near the top of The Strait, a wine shop with specially distilled SteamPunk gin.

Coffee connoisseurs are spoilt for choice with the Lincoln coffee culture, do not even think of going in any of the chains. Three coffee shops as walk from the town centre to Lincoln Castle.

Walking up the High Street, just after passing over the River Witham, turn left before passing through The Stonebow and find Coffee Aroma.

Pass through The Stonebow, up the High Street and find Madame Waffle.

Continue up the High Street, up The Strait, up Steep Hill, and as pass the cobbled section find Base Camp.

AsylumX a four day SteamPunk Festival over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Friday 24 August to Monday 27 August 2018.