Archive for the ‘London’ Category

Benita Bakery

May 1, 2017

Opposite Union Chapel, alongside Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks.

The decor excellent, but the same cannot be said of either the coffee or the pastries.

Sadly not a clue. The coffee not ground fresh for each cup, I checked what they use, a freshly opened bag, it smelt disgusting, no roast date, basically rubbish for catering supplies.  Pastries and stuff to be hotted up. No flapjacks or cookies.

The best to be said of the coffee, drinkable.

But why bother?

There can be no excuse for sourcing cheap rubbish coffee when in  London have Monmouth Coffee, Union hand-roasted, Square Mile.

Ethiopian Coffee Roasters

May 1, 2017

The London South Bank Street Food Market is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a Monday if a Bank Holiday.

On this market there are two coffee stalls, one a battered old Citroen van, the other .

When a coffee stall adulterates its coffee with syrups, cannot be bothered to grind coffee fresh for each cup because it is too much trouble, then it is best avoided.

Which is why I had a coffee off . The other reason because I know they will serve me excellent  coffee.  I had actually been looking forward to this coffee since the day before.

Coffee off this stall is probably the best coffee in London.

I had a chat with the guy about their beans, but a girl from Brazil also was asking questions. I said would pop back. Sadly when I did, he had gone home.

But before the girl interrupted, as you are one of our regulars, would you like to come on a coffee trip to Ethiopia?

I had to say, no I am not a regular. I have chatted to the guy twice before, and once had a coffee, and that was over a year ago. But each time he recognises me, hence the regular.

The beans available on the stall: Yirgacheffe,  Sidamo and Harrar.

My cappuccino was excellent, a blend of two of their beans, Harrar and Sidamo Guji.

I took away a bag of coffee beans, Sidamo.

I then had hoped to visit Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden, but found they were closed for the Bank Holiday.

 

South Bank Street Food Market

May 1, 2017

South Bank Street Food Market is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a Monday if a Bank Holiday.

A wide variety of food and drink.

My only criticism,  becoming too crowded and needs to relocate to where more space.

I had a dosa off one of the stalls. Nowhere the standard of Guildford farmers market off the chutney stall.

Two coffee stalls, one a battered old Citroen van, the other .

When a coffee stall adulterates its coffee with syrups, cannot be bothered to grind coffee fresh for each cup because it is too much trouble, then it is best avoided.

Which is why I had a coffee off The Ethiopian Coffee Company. The other reason because I know they will serve me a good coffee.  I had actually been looking forward to this coffee since the day before.  Coffee off this stall is probably the best coffee in London.

I also bought cakes, Middle East Greek-style cakes, off one of the stalls.

Mayday in London

May 1, 2017

Mayday, a cold wintry day, more like winter than the beginning of May, though it warmed up a little in the afternoon.

South Bank Street Food Market is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, today being a Bank Holiday, also Monday.

I was heading to Home Slice in Covent garden, but as I was hungry, I had a dosa off one of the stalls. It was not great. Far better off the chutney stall on Guildford farmers market.

But my real interest was coffee.

There are two stalls, one a battered old Citroen van the other Ethiopian Coffee Roasters.

When a stall adulterates its coffee with syrups, cannot be bothered to grind fresh for each coffee, then avoid, which is why I had a coffee off the Ethiopian coffee stall. The other reason, it is probably the best coffee in London.

I also picked up a bag of Ethiopian beans.

Across Hungerford Bridge. One of the best views of London. And absolutely great news, the Garden Bridge which would have blocked this view will not be built.

Cut through Jubilee Gardens, marvellous bed of white tulips.

Up through Covent Garden, to Home Slice in Neal’s Yard.

Home Slice serves excellent pizza, but word has spread, now something of a disaster,  as even mid-afternoon, an hour or more wait to be served.

I was offered a slice of pizza to take out.

Too messy to eat outside.

Excellent organic tea in Neal’s Yard Remedies. Freshly made. I think, lavender, mint and elderflower, but I may be wrong.

Monmouth Coffee closed.

A long chat with a lovely Japanese girl.

I suggested read Debt by David Graeber, Sacred Economics  by Charles Eisenstein also Global Minotaur, And The Weak Suffer What They Must?  by Yanis Varoufakis.

I also suggested A Japanese girl’s dream come true.

Then on to Union Chapel for a talk and book launch by Yanis Varoufakis.

Opposite, Benita Bakery, a bakery and coffee shop, alongside Costa and tax dodging Starbucks.

But sadly not a clue. The coffee not ground fresh for each cup, I checked what they use, a freshly opened bag, it smelt disgusting, no roast date, basically rubbish for catering supplies.  Pastries and stuff to be hotted up. No flapjacks or cookies.

The best to be said of the coffee, drinkable.

But why bother.

Yanis Varoufakis in discussion with Paul Mason excellent. Adults in the Room, to be published 4 May 2017, an expose of the European Deep State.

Appalling bad organisation by Union Chapel, or at least by those who prepare the food. By the time the doors opened, no time to eat. This was explained to those preparing the food, that food should be available later. It was at the last event.  After the event had finished, no food, so few people stayed, whereas at the last event, it was busy.

Questionable the bookseller was charging full price for books. It is the norm at such events to discount. And the point blank refusal to hand people bags, was appalling.

I am all for supporting indie bookshops, but not when they have this attitude.

March of fools and future of Europe

March 26, 2017

#What are the leaders celebrating in Rome? These leaders are responsible for the disintegration of the EU. — Yanis Varoufakis

Europe is an idea, doesn’t know borders and we don’t accept borders in this continent. — Yanis Varoufakis

You can force the people into chains, but not very efficient. Or Manufacture Consent, they willingly forge their own shackles.

In London yesterday, we saw the march of the deluded, Green Party that has lost its way, LibDems who will jump on any passing bandwagon, an assorted rag tag, all united in their support of the EU.

The usual false claims made, prosperity, peace, democracy, betrayal of young people. They could not even differentiate between EU and Europe, the two are not the same.

War criminal Tony Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell ‏claimed 16–17 year olds supported EU. Maybe he failed to tell them the number of children died in his illegal Iraq War, that it is young people in southern Europe who are bearing the brunt of EU austerity, in Athens young unemployed wander the streets looking lost, in Cyprus the young are a lost generation, no future thanks the the EU.

Yes, there was prosperity, that was across Europe, post WWII, whether in EU or not. UK saw creation of welfare state, expansion of universities, a growing economy, environmental legislation, before Edward Heath took UK into the EU.

Post-2008, post-capitalism, the EU has stagnated, if not gone backwards.

In Greece, the people dared challenge the EU, for that Greece had to be destroyed.
Peace in Europe, for that we have Nato to thank, not EU.

And are we forgetting the bloody break up of Yugoslavia, the criminal networks now based in the former Yugoslavia spreading their tentacles across Europe, the people traffickers?

Are we forgetting the civil war in Ukraine, the seizure of Crimea, the West almost brought to the brink of WWIII, a direct result of meddling by EU in Ukraine?

In Poland and Hungary, Fascist governments, crackdown on civil society.

In Turkey, a Fascist Islamist president, crackdown on civil society.

In Russia, gangster capitalism. Over the weekend, mass protest against corruption, brutal crackdown against any protest.

In Belarus, a brutal crackdown against the people by a Fascist regime. The street protests are against what has been called a ‘parasite tax’, if you are unemployed you are to be taxed for being a burden on society.

Across Europe, we are seeing a rise in Fascism, as a direct response to the EU.

In London over 20,000 a year die due to air pollution. The main cause, diesel fumes. The EU pushed diesel. Why? Because they were lobbied by VW. The same VW that fiddled its pollution tests. Small diesel cars are more polluting than lorries. Small diesel cars are 12–13 times more polluting than top of the range diesel cars.

In Rome, protest against the EU.

In Rome the EU meet to celebrate. It is businesses as usual.

In parallel in Rome, DiEM25 are meeting to offer an alternative, radical vision for Europe. Note Europe not EU.

Skip the first hour and a half and go straight to Yanis Varoufakis. The first hour is an empty venue filling up, next half hour waffle, though interesting points are made.

Many criticised Yanis Varoufakis for touring the UK with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to support UK remaining in the EU. Is he not one of its strongest critics, does he not bear the scars on his back?

Almost as an aside, Yanis Varoufakis explained why. It was not because he supports the EU, it was because he wanted the British on the inside to help with the fight against the EU. But, unlike those who took to the streets in London on Saturday, he recognises why people voted to Leave, it was not because they were racist (though some were), it was because they were saying enough is enough.

Anti-EU is not anti-Europe. Those who voted Leave, are saying the three million EU citizens living in UK should be granted the right to remain, they should not be treated as a bargaining chip.

But unlike those on the streets of London, Yanis Varoufakis recognises what could happen, 2008 could be our 1929, a rise of Fascism across Europe, which is why we need a progressive alternative to the EU, a progressive alternative for all of Europe.

It is for these reasons that DiEM25 are proposing change.

A Green New Deal, money to be pushed to the maintainers of society, to the innovators.

The maintainers are the nurses, the doctors, the teachers, the carers, the road sweeper, people who without society could not function.

The innovators are those who will take us to a greener, fairer society. They will create open source, open coop platforms, to enable participation, to put out of business Uber and Deliveroo.

Is it fair, as a speaker before Yanis Varoufakis asked, that the head of Fiat in Italy earns more in one day, than the lowest paid worker at Fiat would earn in 20 years?

We have to, as an earlier speaker said, redefine what we mean by work. That someone is not paid, does not mean they are not doing useful work.

This leads directly to the need for a Universal Dividend. Not as we have at present, forced to work to earn a living, precarious low paid soul destroying McShit jobs, serfs working for apps as we see with Uber and Deliveroo, bullshit jobs.

Leads also, as the speaker who followed Yanis Varoufakis, to DiEM Voice, art to drive a new agenda.

EU can try to punish UK in which case all will suffer, the German car worker, the French wine producer. Or we can all agree the existing trade arrangements remain in place.

We need democratic reform, power passed back to countries, that they recover their sovereignty, create a network of cooperating democratic sovereign countries, power passed down to cities and regions, as we see in Barcelona and Catalonia. Power passed down to ordinary citizens, participatory democracy, not the failed representative democracy. New political parties, as Podemos in Spain, or a reformed Labour Party as desired by the leadership and the new members, but blocked by the reactionary Labour Party Establishment.

EU is a cartel for Big Business, a democracy-free zone, a haven for tax dodgers and corporate lobbyists.

The EU experiment has failed. The EU is disintegrating.

What we have to ensure, is that it is replaced by something better, where all citizens are represented, where wealth is fairly distributed, where the environment is protected. We cannot for example deal with climate change at national level, or even European level, it has to be at global level, with countries cooperating.

If people across Europe, do not fight for this New Europe, you will be delivered into the hands of Nationalists and Fascists, delivered by the gullible fools we saw gather in London on Saturday, who should be fighting for change, not supporting the existing rotten system.

Uber drivers unable to communicate in English

March 4, 2017
taxi protest Whitehall

taxi protest Whitehall

Drivers being able to speak English and understand information from passengers and licensing requirements is a vital part of ensuring passengers get the high standard of service they need and deserve. — Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

It beggars belief, Uber went to Court in London to challenge that their drivers had to be competent in English.

“TfL are entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance,” said Judge John Mitting as he rejected Uber’s claim.

It demonstrates once again that Uber is a rogue company, with very low standards.

Well done Sadiq Khan Mayor of London and TfL for establishing that Uber drivers have to have this minimum standard, of being able to communicate in English.

Now please take the next step, if Uber are operating a taxi service, then regulate as  a taxi service.

Uber are engaging in unfair competition with their unregulated drivers. That is why their fares are cheaper than a regulated London taxi, the traditional black cab, not because they have some technological advantage through booking a taxi through an app.

If I were to hail a taxi in London, I would expect at the very least, a local driver who knew London and who could communicate in English.

Uber claim it is discrimination against foreigners.

Who are these foreigners, who are working as serfs for Uber?

How did they get into the country if they cannot communicate in English?

Are they illegal immigrants?

Immigration should be checking on the status of all Uber drivers.

It also begs the question, if they cannot communicate in English, how did they obtain a  driving licence? Do they have a driving licence? Did they use a common scam, someone else took took the driving test on their behalf.

The Police should check on all Uber drivers.

Earlier in the week, boss of Uber was caught on camera abusing one of his drivers.

Earlier this month, Uber were caught refusing to pick up a blind man and his guide dog.

The month before, we learnt of a culture of bullying and sexual harassment of Uber employees.

The latest scandal to hit Uber, they are using hidden software to hide from regulators.

Uber is exploitation, serfs working for an app.

All of which are grounds to delete Uber, divest from Uber.

When will the Uber bubble burst?

No seats on Virgin Trains East Coast Mainline

December 14, 2016

A few months ago, Jeremy Corbyn caused a kerfuffle when found sitting on the floor near the door on a Virgin train on the East Coast Mainline.

Richard Branson claimed it was a publicity stunt.

As regular travellers are well aware, these trains either have occupied seats or are reserved.

And so it was today on the 1330 Kings Cross to Edinburgh train, arrives Edinburgh 1830.

Kings Cross Station Real Food Market

December 14, 2016

Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a handful of food stalls outside Kings Cross Station selling overpriced cakes, a few pastries and very expensive cheese.

To be fair to the cheese stall, it was high quality cheese. But 19 month’s old Comte, is not two year’s old, as the stallholder claimed. It was though excellent cheese, but very expensive. My piece came to £7-50.

The market seems to have shrunk compared with a year ago, and it certainly was not busy.

A good idea, but needs more variety and not so expensive.

ReSpacing Conference at The Hive

April 21, 2016

skipping breakfast

skipping breakfast

I arrived half an hour later than I would have wished as I caught two buses from Waterloo, rather than one, but at least arrived, and alighted more or less at the correct bus stop on Kingsland Road in Dalston.

The Hive is an office block just over the canal.

I recognised where I was as the social enterprise café established by Russell Brand is nearby.

Initial impressions, a legalised squat, though they would probably object to my description.

Up a flight of stairs, then a vast open space, but arranged into smaller areas, a kitchen cum café  in one corner, a  little rooftop garden outside. There were upper floors, these I did not explore.

Everything I saw, the chairs the tables, the stage, all had been salvaged and put to use.

Although half an hour late, an hour later than start time, I was still one of the first.

Did I understand Skipping Breakfast? Yes, food from skips.

We are told to recycle. Do we? No.

We waste food, we waste materials, we waste space.

Derelict building are everywhere. The Hive was a derelict building. In Aldershot, a dead shopping centre, with TechStart occupying one large unit, but begging to be used.

The Hive approached a developer, and with reservations, he agreed to let them use. A very short lease, the volunteers provided everything, all of which was salvaged.

The developer Michael has been completely won over, he is now a big cheer leader for ReSpace, putting derelict buildings to use for the community.

What is ReSpace?

ReSpace is a planning designation that any local council or planning authority can use.

Any property that is empty for six months can be designated ReSpace. It is then open to local communities to use, pay a peppercorn rent, the developer pays no businesses rates.

Everyone benefits.

There is now a petition calling for ReSpace to be written into planning law. Everyone is urged to please sign.

We are losing community space. We are losing green space, pubs, libraries.

Who runs these reclaimed spaces?

Volunteers.

How de we found them?

We don’t, they appear.

Nomadic Community Gardens: Two people toiling away at derelict land, bringing back into use. They did not ask for volunteers, the community joined in.

This is what happened at The Hive.

It is not only materials and spaces we need to recycle, we also need to recycle people. Idle hands, idle minds, that can be put to use on behalf of the community.

The Hive is a not for profit. The space is for use by not for profit, even for profit, they have helped set up several business, but they have to contribute to the common good. In other words they have to contribute to the collaborative commons.

The next step, having demonstrated the feasibility of The Hive, not forgetting an enlightened developer who wishes to contribute to the local community and without who The Hive would not be possible, is to establish a network of Hives, Holistic Urban Regeneration in action.

In Revolution, Russell Brand talks of Greys, a town in Essex, boarded-up shops, an air of desolation. Paul Mason mentions a similar town in PostCapitalism. These towns are everywhere.

The question is how do we regenerate them? Top down does not work. It has to be bottom up, small businesses, social enterprises, open coops, collaborative commons, sharing economy.

Aldershot is one such dismal town. Decades of bad planning decisions, a dysfunctional council with no understanding of what constitutes good town centre planning, no understanding of how local economies function, the need to recycle money within the local economy.  The streets are deserted, the shops boarded up, homeless in the shop doorways, the few who are on the street, no money to spend.

In the midst of this deprivation lies a derelict shopping centre. It could be the set for a post-apocalypse movie. There is even the occasional zombie walking through, saving on the need for extras.

The question is, what to do with it? It has been derelict for years. It is likely to remain derelict for the foreseeable future.

The one ray of hope, TechStart opened two years ago. Run by volunteers, they recycle old computers, run a net café, carry out repairs, provide training.

Last Saturday, TechStart closed, their funding had been pulled. The good news is, an outbreak of commons sense, funding for four months. But they have to become self-sufficient.

The empty shopping centre, instead of being seen as a liability, should be seen as an opportunity to showcase that alternatives are possible, that we do not have to be drawn into the addiction  of consumerism.

Look what could be possible:

  • TechStart
  • social enterprise café
  • repair shop
  • tool swap
  • credit union
  • start-ups
  • conferences
  • exhibitions

All it requires is vision.

Replicate across the country, make a difference.

What uses can that derelict building in your community be put to?

Does the local council maintain a list of derelict buildings, is it made public, are they designating as ReSpace?

For the developer, nothing worse than a derelict building, it soon falls into disrepair, becomes vandalised. Added to which the cost of securing the building. Occupation, put to community use, is better than sitting empty.

At the very least there has to be an exploration of what the The Hive in Dalston are doing. Hive started with just £250.

As a showcase building, The Hive in Dalston has demonstrated the feasibility of such a model and in only nine  months has seen over 4000 people, held 17 art exhibitions, numerous performance, environmental, political and cultural events and helped about 50 local charities. Has enabled people to start businesses and even had a skate park. This has all been achieved using a system that is self-sustaining and utilises volunteers, donations, up-cycling, recycling and sharing.

Local councils are almost an irrelevance. If they wish to work with the local community fine, if not bypass and work directly with a property developer.

The Hive are fortunate in not only having an enlightened local council, but also an enlightened property developer, who wishes to work with the local community, put something back into the local community.

Where else other than The Hive would you find activists praising a property developer, and vice a versa the property developer heaping praise on the activists?

Discussion of the London Mayoral Hustings to be held at The Hive the following day. Questions people wished to put. What are they going to do to resolve growing homelessness, we cannot sweep under the carpet or push into neighbouring boroughs. Air pollution, expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick. Encouragement of growing food locally cf Dig for Victory during WWII.

A handful of groups were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. The ideas in themselves not that interesting. What was of more interest, was the advice given and the constructive criticism that followed. One important piece of advice, have a property lawyer with you to help negotiate and draw up a contract.

The Hive held their ReSpacing Conference on Wednesday 20 April 2016. A second day will be for London Mayoral Hustings.

The Hive is reclaimed space.

The Hive is community space.

The Hive is Holistic Urban Regeneration.

Reposted in Light on a Dark Mountain.

Soup at Wild Food Cafe

April 20, 2016
Wild Food Cafe

Wild Food Cafe

Turkish lentil soup

Turkish lentil soup

The only reason I was here, Home Slice was busy and I had an hour to kill.

On walking in, very noisy, oppressively so.

All the tables were taken. I was invited to take a bar stool, sit at a shelf overlooking the kitchen.

When taking the order, neither I nor the person standing in the kitchen, could hear each other, such was the level of oppressive noise.

Turkish lentil soup, tasty, generous portion size, but like everything else on the menu, expensive and overpriced.

When paying over a fiver for a bowl of soup, expect at least the bread to be free.  But no.

Did I want bread. No.

I then changed my mind, and ordered what I thought was seeded bread. No, what appeared was a minuscule portion of seeds, somehow glued together, not much bigger than a 50p piece.

staff fare

staff fare

One of the staff came and sat with me. I asked what she was eating. She explained, adding, it was not on the menu. Staff apparently get a far better deal. It looked marginally better than what I saw being served from the kitchen.

Pretentious, noisy and overpriced, Wild Food Cafe very poor compared with Food for Thought, which is sadly no more, closed down last year, much loved and much missed, driven out of business by a greedy grasping landlord driving up the rent to unaffordable levels.

I then departed for Home Slice where I knew I would get an excellent pizza.

Wild Food Cafe is located in Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.