Archive for the ‘Lincoln’ Category

Cappuccino at International Bomber Command Centre

February 11, 2018

Last visits to the International Bomber Command Centre were a couple of weeks ago when not yet open to the public, press day and a preview for veterans, I was curious what it was like now open to the public, what better way to find out than to drop in for a cappuccino.

Sunday roast dinner at the Butcher and Beast at Heighington, then on to the International Bomber Command Centre for a cappuccino.

I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find how many cars parked in the car park, almost full.

Shocked to find have to pay £3 to park. This was a planning condition imposed by the local council. The money will go to the centre, but only I assume after covering the cost of the parking machines.

How to access by public transport I do not know.

There needs to be access from South Common, otherwise quite a trek if on foot.

Speaking with the Director, previous weekend, the first weekend open to the public,  was even busier, I think she said 1100 visitors.

Excellent news, as they need visitor numbers to make the centre viable and provide cash flow.

On entering the open plan reception area, I noticed cabinets arranged corralling a central area, books on sale, souvenirs, including bags of coffee and tea.

The range of books quite limited. I assume not long open, hopefully a wider selection in the near future.

My cappuccino, too hot, weak and insipid. Classic mistake to serve piping hot.

The coffee served, Bomber Command blend, is a blend from Brazil, supplied by Stokes, exclusive to IBCC.

The Bomber Command beans are on sale, but already ground. For freshness, beans have to be whole, ground on demand. Also essential when supply beans, the roast date, best by or use by is meaningless.

Information on the bag about a Bomber Command pilot from Brazil, but nothing about the beans, where sourced from in Brazil, Q grade, not even if Arabica or heaven forbid Robusta.

Also on sale Bomber Command tea, again exclusive to IBCC supplied by Stokes. Disappointingly, in tea bags, not loose leaf tea.

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Café W

January 31, 2018

What used to be Ottaker’s in the High Street got taken over by Waterstone’s. It had a Costa, which has been replaced by Café W.

Ambience ok nearly always empty apart from a few working on laptops or reading books scavenged from the book shelves.

Girl serving pleasant enough though not a clue on coffee. I have never ever seen anyone pour out of the side of a pouring jug. She did at least ask did I want chocolate.

My cappuccino undrinkable. Served piping hot and a very unpleasant bitter taste indicating rubbish coffee.

The coffee Mathew Algie catering supply. A skilled barista would be pushed to do anything with this rubbish.

Yes, excellent Waterstone’s have kicked out Costa, but if running as your own coffee shop, at least buy in quality coffee, employ skilled baristas and buy a decent espresso machine and grinder. Otherwise why bother?

For excellent coffee in Lincoln try Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Makushi.

Lincoln City Bus Station unmitigated disaster

January 31, 2018

This week the new so-called state-of-the-art Lincoln City Bus Station opened. The bus station is an unmitigated disaster.

What are being experienced are not teething problems, these are serious design flaws. Design flaws a first year university student would spot. Begs the question how the plans ever gained approval?

If there was an award for bad design, Lincoln Central Bus Station would be the leading contender, if not outright winner.

The building resembles a regional airport terminal building without the duty free.

Even before it opened, regular bus passengers were expressing their concern in comparison with the temporary bus station. These concerns have proved to be well founded.  The new bus station is far worse than anyone expected.

Journey times into and out of the town centre are now several minutes longer. And that is not rush hour. Rush hour it will be far far longer.

The bus station and 1,000-car car park both feed into the same narrow road.

Two large screens are not displaying all the bus times. Destination displayed, but not the route. Same problem at the bays.

In Hampshire and Surrey, live information linked to GPS showing the route is displayed at bus stops. Also in Prague, A Coruña, Athens, Tenerife.

There needs to be at least three sets of these overhead screens not only one near the entrance. There should be one near the entrance, one half way, one towards the far end.

The one and only set of overhead screens of no use if have arrived on a bus and have to change to another bus.

Where route information displayed it is wrong.

No 2 to Branston display at Bay A from which it departs shown as going via St Giles, Cherry Willingham, Reepham, Sudbrooke, Welton.  The No 2 bus route, Washingborough, Heighington, Branston.

As a consequence of incorrect information displayed passengers are catching the wrong buses.

1640 on a Friday afternoon the Information Office closed.

No timetables displayed as was the case at the temporary bus station.

At bus stops, still old timetables displayed. Why not route number prominently displayed at bus stops? The norm elsewhere.

A new bus fleet introduced by Stagecoach, serious design flaws.  Seats behind the driver, should be used for a buggy bay. Were the bus to suddenly stop, passenger in these two seats would be propelled out of their seats and smash their heads into the partition. USB charging points low down almost on the floor. Have to be a contortionist to access.  On start stop within the city these usb charging points are of little use. Their use is when on a bus city to city. Brand new bus fleet, the video screen displaying no useful information. Why not linked to GPS showing live where are on the route? Why not a display showing next stop? The norm elsewhere

The changed bus routes for Birchwood not acceptable, confusing for passengers, and less frequent, now every fifteen minutes not every ten minutes.

New bus fleet coupled with deteriorated service.

20p to use the toilets.

Floor to ceiling glass walls both sides of the building. One side is south facing. It will function as a greenhouse in the summer with passengers fainting in the heat.

Very congested with passengers. Nigh impossible to walk through the building. And that was mid-afternoon, not rush hour.

At the temporary bus station, a gyrator system. Not at the new bus station. Little room for a bus to manoeuvre. An accident waiting to happen. No 2 Bus to Washingborough, Heighington and Branston from Bay A, had to shunt back and forth to get out. It would be even more difficult for the other bays.

Wednesday morning the bus station log-jammed, no bus could move, none could get out, none could get in. A wait of 5-15 minutes from Pelham Bridge to enter the bus station.

A state-of-the-art bus station that lacks wifi.

The only good thing that could be said, is easy to access the  railway station.

But even this does not withstand close scrutiny.

At the temporary bus station, the train station literally the other side of the red brick wall. An entrance could have been created. Better still, an integrated bus rail station building with shops. Shops pay rent. For example Reading.

Car parking at Lincoln Central Station for pick up and drop off has been drastically reduced, creating an open windswept plaza serving no useful purposes

From Lincoln, no direct train services to anywhere.

There should be an hourly service to London and York.

Open the line Grantham to Lincoln, London Kings Cross, Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Doncaster, York.

Had an integral bus-train station been developed at the temporary bus station, where the new bus station has been built, could have been for delivery lorries and vans to park, to then deliver by hand cart or trolley to shops and other businesses. Not as we have at the moment, lorries driving through the pedestrianised city centre smashing up the surface of the streets.

The bus station has an integral coffee shop, Grand Coffee House.  Excellent design, let down by the coffee. Also not welcoming with a poster on the door telling people it is not a waiting room. Maybe explains why empty, and with that attitude to bus passengers deserves to be. If welcoming, passengers may be tempted to have a coffee whilst waiting. Though if appreciate good coffee unlikely to be tempted again.

On leaving  the bus or train station walk into Sincil Street, a once thriving bustling street of independent traders, now turned into a wasteland by the local council in bed with the Coop.

To see what could be, Hull Old Town, reported by Look North as one of the hipster places to be in the country, indie local businesses, not a chain in sight. Further afield, North Laine in Brighton.

This bus station is an appalling waste of public money. How much public money squandered the local council jobsworths manning the Information Office did not know.

The officials responsible should be fired, the councillors who granted approval should apologise and resign. Is it too much to expect of local councillors to actually scrutinise what is placed before them?

According to Lincoln City Council, to highlight design flaws, of which there are many, is to express negativity.

Lincoln City Council claim

Feedback from users of the facility have been incredibly positive so far, with very few issues raised.

This is not the view of bus drivers, it is not the view of the many complaints from passengers.

But then Lincoln City Council would claim the new bus station a success, wouldn’t they?

Lincoln City Council call this a Transport Hub.

No, it is a Transport Farce.  They have made the City of Lincoln a National Laughing Stock.

Grand Coffee House

January 20, 2018

An integral part of the Lincoln City Bus Station, Grand Coffee House.

Ambience and design everything would expect of an artisan coffee shop, to then having had  expectations raised, to be let down by the poor quality coffee.

Sacks as cushions, old recycled cable drums as tables.

Cappuccino served piping hot with chocolate dumped on top.

Cappuccino is not served piping hot, nor with chocolate dumped on top, and at the very least ask before dumping chocolate on top.

If wishing to open a quality coffee shop, and care has been taken with the design, that equal care has to taken with the coffee, which at the very least means sourcing quality coffee and employing skilled baristas.

For a  bus station, a kiosk would suffice, if the intended clientele are the bus passengers, grabbing a coffee exiting the bus station, grabbing a coffee when catching a bus.

The growing sector of the coffee market is speciality coffee.

For rubbish coffee we have the chains.

If we are to cut waste, cut plastic pollution, we have to end the grab it and go consumerist culture.

For the takeaway market, ideally located to catch passengers for bus and train, indeed will probably hit badly the chains in the High Street, which is good news, as which will be more convenient, grabbing a coffee in the High Street or grabbing a coffee at the bus station either when arriving or when about to catch bus or train?

In the UK we throwaway 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. We should be discouraging not encouraging takeaway coffee, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with quality coffee served in glass or ceramic and at the very least, compostable coffee cups, reusable coffee cups on sale with a substantial discount if use a reusable cup for a refill.

Saturday very busy and yet no one about, the bus station empty, not yet open.  It will therefore be very busy once the bus station opens.

The coffee shop officially opens when the bus station opens.  Why not in that first week, special offer on KeepCup, first coffee free, substantial discount thereafter?

The coffee not great, better than the chains better than Stokes on High Bridge, but there are far better places in Lincoln for coffee, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Makushi, for those who love coffee.

There are no toilets, have to go out in the cold to the toilets on the first floor in the bus station and pay 20p to access the toilets.

How was planning consent obtained when there are no toilets?

Lincoln City Council are the landlords, interviewed potential tenants for the coffee shop.  What  does the Town Hall know of coffee shops or coffee?

For those wanting a takeaway coffee they are going to be hit with a double whammy, 25p latte levy, 20p to use the toilet, making it an expensive takeaway coffee.

The coffee shop is run by Café 44 in Sincil Street. Locally owned and they are sourcing locally, which means money is cycled within the local economy.

The name comes from the Grand Hotel that used to occupy the site.

 

Lincoln City Bus Station

January 20, 2018

What is claimed to be a state-of-the-art bus station, it has automatic doors and a few display screens, part of a so-called Transport Hub linked to Lincoln Central Station.

A very cold day, barely above freezing and yet colder inside the bus station than outside.

The new bus station resembles a regional airport terminal building, absent the Duty Free and same shops find in any shopping centre.

Two Jobsworth from Lincoln City Council manning an Information Desk, did not know the cost of the bus station. Figures of £12 million have been bandied about. Although after several minutes looking on-line,  they were able to give a figure of £30 million for bus station, car park and cosmetic changes to the railway station.  This figure has been widely reported in the media, why did they not know?

A new road currently runs between bus and train station. Work having been done, this will be paved over and made pedestrian between bus and train station.

Pedestrianised as the farce in the town centre, where heavy lorries are allowed through after four in the afternoon, but take no notice of any restrictions and drive through before four as no enforcement?

The empty windswept plaza outside the train station has far less parking spots for pick up and drop off than before, probably less than a quarter.  Our helpful jobsworth could see nothing wrong with this.

There was no information at the Information Desk. Not even timetables.

The only bus timetable information was in a cardboard box by one of the bays, no one had troubled to place in racks.  This information was a simple leaflet telling what routes if any had timetable changes, but no actual timetables.

Automatic doors open to allow passenger to board or disembark from their bus. This is going to be fun when it goes wrong.

A barrier acts as a deterrent to terrorists hijacking a bus and driving into the terminal building. Or maybe a safeguard if a driver goes crazy.

A state-of-the art bus station that lacks wifi.

Elsewhere in the country, not only do the buses have wifi, they have usb charging points.

Toilets on the first floor. Cheap and tacky. Will not withstand the wear and tear of a bus station.

It is not acceptable to have to pay 20p to use the toilet.

A so-called Transport Hub that lacks direct trains to either London or York. There should be direct trains on the hour every hour.

This is claimed to be part of a  regeneration project. Why is it that local Town Halls always claim urban destruction to be regeneration?  The same number of people will be travelling every day by bus and train. How is this regeneration?

The City Council in bed with the Coop, has destroyed Sincil Street, a once thriving street of independent thriving local family business.

Integral to the bus station a coffee shop, Grand Coffee House.

Work is still ongoing, heavy machinery at work.

The old bus station was a disgrace, demolition a step in the right direction.

Easier access between bus and train also an improvement.

All we now need is a reliable bus services, buses that run on time.

The irony is most passengers seem to prefer the temporary bus station the other side of the railway tracks. Quick access into and out of town, quick access into the High Street through a narrow alleyway or over the railway bridge into Sincil Street.

Veterans preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 19, 2018

Excluding a couple of days ago, my last visit to International Bomber Command Centre last summer, muddy approach, portakabins, diggers, trucks, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the veterans a glimpse.

Inside, an open plan reception.

As pass through the entrance, a bust of Roy Chadwick, the man who designed the Avro Lancaster, the four-engine heavy bomber on which the RAF relied for its bombing raids.

Roy Chadwick also designed the Vulcan, a V-bomber powered by jet engines.

An auditorium houses a large screen, static and interactive displays, a timeline showing a bombing raid and a separate screen with a four part depiction of all aspects of aerial warfare.

Bombing started with bombs being dropped from airships. It was thought that air warfare would lead to fewer casualties, fewer causalities than trench warfare.

At the end of the First World War, Germany was in ruins, the victors exacted a very heavy price, even though warned by Keynes not to.

The result was the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War.

Have no lessons been learnt? Is 2008 our 1929? The Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression, rise of Fascism across Europe, the Second World War. Banking crisis in 2008, economic crisis, geo-political crisis, the economy has not recovered, a rise of Fascism across Europe, Fascist governments in Poland, Hungary and now Spain and Austria, Angela Merkel fears holding an election for fear Fascists will gain more seats, Greece occupied by the EU, the country destroyed to serve as a punishment for the Greeks daring to challenge the EU, banks used instead of tanks. UK threatened with punishment for leaving to serve as a warning to others, even though it will harm Europe and turn southern Europe into a wasteland.

The bombing of Guernica by Franco and Spanish Fascists woke the world to total destruction of a city.

At first Britain was poorly prepared for war, war production was ramped up, bombing raids were not accurate, change targets to cities,  would hit something, terrorise and demoralise the civilian population.

Around the perimeter of the auditorium a timeline of a bombing raid.

Static displays of playing cards, flying boots, a lamp.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Interactive with actors playing the part recounting first hand accounts. These narrations collected from first hand accounts. A race against time to collect these stories, as already a third of those who contributed are sadly no longer with us.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

Quite an emotive experience watching the screen.

Upstairs, on the first floor, a gallery with more display panels.

Themes covered the impact on civilians, war production in the factories, French Resistance.

And not forgetting Knight of the Skies, one of the Lincoln Knights who now keeps watch.

A gathering of eighty-nine veterans of Bomber Command, their guests, staff and volunteers, crew of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

I regret not chatting with the veterans, as this will probably be the last time they will all be gathered together. They included the last survivor of the Dambusters Raid, a prisoner of war from Stalag 13.

A good spread of food laid on, but many missed out. This was not due to failure of the catering. It was unfortunate that a lot of greedy people, piled their plates high, then left uneaten. More food was served later, no one went hungry.

The dining room was packed. When open, will be serving a special blend of coffee for the centre, but not today as it would have taken too long to serve coffee from an espresso machine.  It was though a pity the coffee beans were not on sale, as will be when the Centre opens to the public, as would probably have sold out. There will also be a special blend of tea. Both supplied by Stokes.

The site is in two parts. The Chadwick Building and the Memorial Spire surrounded by concentric rusting steel panels into which have been cut the names of those who died.

The path connecting the two, has stone tablets with more details of some who died.

Either side of the path, trees have been planted to represent each of the airfield. A plaque by each tree records the squadrons based there and the number who died.

The site looks across the Witham Valley to Lincoln Cathedral the other side.

Why Lincoln? Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

Costa demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 19, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Costa why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25p latte levy, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

Press preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 17, 2018

My last visit to International Bomber Command Centre, muddy approach, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the media a glimpse.

Walking in, after passing through an open plan reception, a large auditorium, large screen, various interactive and static displays.

The interactive displays, students dressed the part, speaking what it was like, based upon recorded first hand accounts.

The interactive displays in the prison cells in the old Victorian Prison in Lincoln Castle give an idea of what to expect.

For the Centre, to collect these first hand accounts, was literally a race against time.

Since the first hand accounts were collected, of people in their nineties, a third of those who gave these first hand accounts are sadly no longer with us.

The static displays, a pair of flying boots, a lamp, playing cards.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

I was privileged to be able to watch this in a room on my own, well almost on my own, a BBC film crew and one veteran of WWII Bomber Command.

The impact would not have been the same in a room full of people.

To describe as emotional would be an understatement.

I later congratulated the Centre Director Nicky Barr and said she should she be very proud of what she has created.

She said that even though she had created, the first time she watched, it was a very emotive experience.

There are other smaller rooms, including dining room, with coffee, San Remo espresso machine and associated kitchen.

Not today, but when up and running, will be serving a special blend of coffee and tea created for the Centre by Stokes. They will also have on sale bags of the coffee and tea.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

Ecoffee Cup

January 11, 2018

Ecoffee Cup is made from what is claimed to be sustainable bamboo. Only problem, plastic lid and surround.

I came across this reusable coffee cup on a shelf in an Oxfam bookshop.

Lightweight, price at £7-99, cheaper than a KeepCup, but lacking in elegance of a glass KeepCup.

Bamboo sustainable and compostable, the plastic lid and surround rules it out.

 

Vegware compostable coffee cups at County Restaurant

January 11, 2018

County Restaurant is one of the best kept secrets in Lincoln.

It is one of the best places to eat lunch weekdays.  Or was. It went downhill. I am pleased to say it has improved, at least if my roast dinner and sweet that followed is typical of the daily fare.

Sitting by the side of the coffee machine, vegware compostable coffee cups. Also some other coffee cups not sure what they were.  Also lids, not sure if compostable.

About half the people with a  drink were using the takeaway cups. There were ceramic cups available.

By the drinking water, plastic cups and glass.

The majority of people a takeaway cup to take back to their desk.

Unless bins for the composting of the cups, nothing has been gained and the cups will go to the waste stream.

It beggars belief, polystyrene burger-style boxes for takeaway food.

Encourage relax with a coffee in the restaurant, a coffee in a ceramic cup.

Though as there are indie coffee shops in the town serving speciality coffee, why not take a walk, relax in an indie coffee shop, support the local economy, not drink something disgusting out of a  machine?

For those wishing to take back to their desk, bring your own coffee cup, have KeepCup on sale, bulk buy, brand with Lincoln Imp and a slogan to encourage their use, sell at a discount.

As this is Lincolnshire County Council, responsible for waste disposable and recycling, why are they not setting much higher standards? They should be showcasing best practice for others to follow.

The lid and cup have been retained. They will be dropped on the compost heap to see what happens.