Archive for the ‘London’ Category

V60 at The Espresso Room

December 9, 2018

Saturday in London, looking forward to a V60, I detour to The Espresso Room, which luckily I find still open.

Too late to eat at Home Slice in Neal’s Yard, Saturday evening there will be a long wait as very popular, I go on a detour to The Espresso Room, which I find open, open until seven.

I abandon all hope of eating at Home Slice, as there will be a long wait.

They remember me, I get a free coffee, as bought a bag of coffee on my last visit.

A Lithuanian girl makes me V60 using Kemyan coffee. Excellent. Best coffee all day. Very fruity.

We chat long gone closing time.

Available free Clipper. An example of a free magazine of quality. Comparable with Independent Life, a free magazine in Leeds and York.

On my last visit I was given direction to a shop selling Standart, Drift. I could not find. I followed directions, head down Monmouth Street to Seven Dials.

I learn a vital piece of information was missing, in Shorts Gardens.

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Balance

December 9, 2018

I looked in Balance on my way to Four Corners.

Chatting to Jessica Moscrop by her stall JesSpoke, her own designs, I noticed Balance, a new coffee shop across the street.

Mushroom and chestnut soup in Balance had sounded good when I looked in earlier. I double checked it was still available and that it was mushroom and chestnut, not chestnut mushrooms. Sounds good.

Sadly when served weak and watery and lukewarm almost cold. The toasted bread soggy, as they had already put the butter on the toast.

I ordered a cappuccino. Served too hot.

The menu says we do not serve coffee hot, thus absolutely no excuse.

The salad looked enticing except it looked no different to when I looked in much earlier. Not therefore so enticing.

Moronic music playing in the background, fortunately not too loud.

A coffee shop trying to be trendy and failing miserably.

Four Corners

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up. They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

At the far end of Lower Marsh I found Four Corners.

I order a cappuccino. Blended with cocoa. Why, why use Ozone coffee, then ruin with cocoa? I cannot be bothered sending back.

On the way I encountered drunken idiots in Santa costumes, more and more and kept turning up. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Impossible walk down the street. Eventually coffee shop door is locked to prevent then walking in to use the toilet. Not a singe one buys a coffee, not even a takeaway coffee. They are also sitting on the coffee shops seats outside, leaning on the window. When they finally leave the street is covered in rubbish. They have managed to kill trade for the day or the street market. Whoever was responsible for this charade should be made to pay to clean up the street.

In indie coffee shops it quite common to find books on coffee. In Four Corners a long bookshelf lined with travel books hence the name. They also supply Four Corners passports, mugs, little notebooks and sweatshirts.

Amazing poster hidden in the toilet.

Finally the drunken idiots depart leaving a trail of rubbish.

Four Corners were giving away free books. No idea why and I did not see any. Maybe publisher is nearby and have surplus stock to dump and what better way to obtain free publicity? But why promote a book on trash? Pulp fiction?

JesSpoke

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

It was on the craft market whilst looking for a coffee shop I found JesSpoke.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up.

They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

She was looking stunning dressed with one of her own designs.

I had a chat, would have stayed longer, but it was raining and I had a coffee shop to find.

I regret I did not stay longer, ask her about her designs, and the materials used. I would recommend organic cotton and lambswool, both are soft to the touch and organic cotton far better for the environment.

The problem is we are drowning in consumer junk, pointless consumerism. typified by M&S plastering their shop windows with Must Have.

Stuff stays in our possession all of six months, a brief respite en route from extraction and manufacture, to incineration or landfill.

In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has a brilliant critique of fast fashion.

It is all about image, be it wearing the latest fashion or consuming a can of coke. We think we are in control of our own destiny, but we are not, we are being manipulated by con men.

Fashion. Whatever can people be thinking? Do they think fashion is something that changes according to the season of the year? Did they really come from all corners of the world to show off their dresses, their jewellery and their collection of shoes? They don’t understand. ‘Fashion’ is merely a way of saying: ‘I belong to your world. I’m wearing the same uniform as your army, so don’t shoot.’

Ever since groups of men and women first started living together in caves, fashion has been the only language everyone can understand, even complete strangers. ‘We dress in the same way. I belong to your tribe. Let’s gang up on the weaklings as a way of surviving.’

But some people believe that ‘fashion’ is everything. Every six months, they spend a fortune changing some tiny detail in order to keep up their membership of the very exclusive tribe of the rich. If they were to visit Silicon Valley, where the billionaires of the IT industry wear plastic watches and beat-up jeans, they would understand that the world has changed; everyone now seems to belong to the same social class; no one cares any more about the size of a diamond or the make of a tie or a leather briefcase. In fact, ties and leather briefcases don’t even exist in that part of the world; nearby, however, is Hollywood, a relatively more powerful machine – albeit in decline – which still manages to convince the innocent to believe in haute-couture dresses, emerald necklaces and stretch limos. And since this is what still appears in all the magazines, who would dare destroy a billion-dollar industry involving advertisements, the sale of useless objects, the invention of entirely unnecessary new trends, and the creation of identical face creams all bearing different labels?

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart.

The father works overtime to be able to buy his son the latest trainers because if his son doesn’t have a pair, he’ll be ostracised at school. The wife weeps in silence because her friends have designer clothes and she has no money. Their adolescent children, instead of learning the real values of faith and hope, dream only of becoming singers or movie stars. Girls in provincial towns lose any real sense of themselves and start to think of going to the big city, prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to get a particular piece of jewellery. A world that should be directed towards justice begins instead to focus on material things, which, in six months’ time, will be worthless and have to be replaced, and that is how the whole circus ensures that the despicable creatures gathered together in Cannes remain at the top of the heap.

What are people buying into, what are they paying a high price for? It is not the designer on the label as the design will have been by a young designer who wants out to set up his or her own label. It will have not even have been made by the company, it will have come from some Third World sweatshop, a dollar or less at the factory gate, one hundred dollars or more retail. All that people are paying for is the label, the brand name.

Not to be confused with buying real luxury, quality, for example a Montegrappa pen made by craftsmen, for when we buy something of quality, we tend to cherish it and keep it for life.

We need to move to Slow Fashion, emphasis on quality and style, clothes and other possessions we value, look after. The exact opposite of fast fashion, jumping to the diktat of fashionistas, cheap crap from sweatshops. Cheap crap that is worn a couple of times then thrown away.

On display at JesSpoke was as I would find on the autonomous street market in Athens, quality, and far better than the overpriced tat on the occasional craft market on Guildford High Street and at the markets at Farnham Maltings.

It was a miserable day, Lower Marsh empty, and no one appeared to be doing very well.

Saturday in London

December 9, 2018

Saturday in London in December not the best time to visit London.

Many people waiting for train. Train only five coaches, overcrowded, passenger standing. Come January when the rail fares go up, the rail companies will tell us the rise is justified due to improving train services.

Arrive Waterloo Station 2-30 early afternoon, time to wander into Lower Marsh, have a coffee, maybe look at South Bank Street Food Market then on to Covent Garden, lunch in Home Slice in Neal’s Yard, then maybe visit a coffee shop or two, then on to City of My Mind album launch party in Old Street, or so I thought. Though I would have preferred to have arrived lunchtime better still midday, but got up late.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, today a craft market.

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Long chat with Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs, though I wish I had asked her more about her work. Far better than the overpriced tat I see in Guildford High Street or at the Farnham Maltings markets.

Then to find Four Corners.

I look in Balance, a new coffee, maybe look in later.

I do not see Love & Scandal. Maybe no more, I see a new building going up.

I pass Colman Coffe. I have never found open.

Four Corners have a van outside Waterloo Station. I have a feeling I have looked in their coffee shop before, as looks vaguely familiar. It was through encountering their van that I was looking for their coffee shop.

I order a cappuccino. Blended with cocoa. Why, why use Ozone coffee, then ruin with cocoa? I cannot be bothered sending back.

On the way I encountered drunken idiots in Santa costumes, more and more and kept turning up. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Impossible walk down the street. Eventually coffee shop door is locked to prevent then walking in to use the toilet. Not a singe one buys a coffee, not even a takeaway coffee. They are also sitting on the coffee shops seats outside, leaning on the window. When they finally leave the street is covered in rubbish. They have managed to kill trade for the day or the street market. Whoever was responsible for this charade should be made to pay to clean up the street.

Four Corners has a long bookshelf lined with travel books hence the name. They also supply Four Corners passports, mugs, little notebooks and sweatshirts.

Amazing poster hidden in the toilet.

Finally the drunken idiots depart leaving a trail of rubbish.

I still could not find Love & Scandal. Maybe it is no more.

Note: I check later, Love & Scandal has closed. A pity as lovely coffee shop that at night was a bistro.

Mushroom and chestnut soup in Balance sounded good when I looked in earlier. I double check it is still available and that it is mushroom and chestnut, not chestnut mushrooms. Sounds good. Sadly when served weak and watery and lukewarm almost cold. The toasted bread soggy, as they had already put the butter on the toast.

I ordered a cappuccino. Served too hot. The menu says we do not serve coffee hot, thus absolutely no excuse.

The salad looked enticing except it looked no different to when I looked in much earlier. Not therefore so enticing.

Moronic music playing in the background, fortunately not too loud.

A coffee shop trying to be trendy and failing miserably.

Leaving Lower Marsh, now six o’clock.

Too late to walk over Hungerford Bridge. I decide against back way into Waterloo Station, and go in the side entrance, straight down into the Tube, only then walk for miles.

Exit Covent Garden, change at Leicester Square.

I go on a detour to The Espresso Room, which I find open, open until seven.

I abandon all hope of eating at Home Slice, as there will be a long wait.

They remember me, I get a free coffee, as bought a bag of coffee on my last visit.

A Lithuanian girl makes me V60 using Kemyan coffee. Excellent. Best coffee all day. Very fruity.

We chat long gone closing time.

Available free Clipper. An example of a free magazine of quality. Comparable with Independent Life, a free magazine in Leeds and York.

On my last visit I was given direction to a shop selling Standart, Drift. I could not find. I followed directions, head down Monmouth Street to Seven Dials.

I learn a vital piece of information was missing, in Shorts Gardens.

Leicester Square is nearby, but I decide to try and find the shop, then catch train at Covent Garden.

I catch MagMa before they close. Magazines are in the basement. A grave disappointment compared with Magazine Brighton or Ideas on Paper. No, not latest edition of Standart, not sure of new edition of Drift. As with everyone else, up against the bad distribution of Standart. They have Om Nom. Earlier editions? No, no room for back issues. They too have no idea what the name means. Quality print is not dead. They receive half a dozen new titles every week, or was it day, with requests to stock.

I find Covent Garden Station closed. I head back to Leicester Square, an hour wasted.

People are queuing in the street to get into the station.

I head to Old Street. Find what I am looking for, where Jewelia is holding a launch party for City of My Mind, her debut album.

A queue to get in, bouncers on the door. I walk to the front of the queue, show I am invited, they usher me in. Through a bar, down into an airless basement.

Jewelia welcomes me.

I was not going to stay late, maybe leave at latest by nine, in time to get to Lower Marsh and eat at Maria’s Cafe. But, I have arrived late, Jewelia does not play until late. I decide to stay. I will leave at 10-30 very latest.

She doe not finish playing until gone 10-30.

A brief chat, I feel guilt leaving, but do not know when last train.

A nightmare getting to Waterloo Station, I know there os a train at 2312, which is why I would have have left at 2230. I leave at 2245.

By mistake I get off at Bank, thinking London Bridge. Baffled why London and City Line, not Jubilee Line. I think will it be open. Miles to walk, I am thinking would have been quicker to have changed to train to Waterloo East. No trains shown on display. No trains or display not working. No one about.

I walk back, realising I should have got off at London Bridge.

At Waterloo signs for Way Out, Waterloo East. I follow signs to Way Out finding it literally is the way out. Head to Waterloo East. Exit way along a platform. Why were there no signs to Waterloo Station?

Five minutes to catch a train at 2335 a fast train.

Pick up a roll from Upper Crust. They used to be good, not any more. Stale.

12-coach train, packed.

111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss

December 3, 2018

Why 111 coffee shops, why not 100, why not 120?

That is what I hate about these series of books, an artificial list, someone hired to fill the list, rather than someone writes and publishes a guide to London coffee shops.

Having said that, 111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss exceeds expectations, excellent guide to coffee shops in London.

Each coffee shop occupies two pages, a page of text, a picture.  What to expect, the coffee, roaster used.

At the back, a couple of pages of maps. The largest concentration of coffee shops Soho, north of Oxford Street second. Strange therefore Bar Italia, located in Soho, one of the oldest, if not the oldest coffee shop in London, a Soho icon, Soho as once was, does not merit a mention.  Nor Monmouth Coffee in nearby Covent Garden, one of the first artisan coffee shops in London, well before they became trendy places to be.

A couple of coffee shops I am familiar with, if not visited. Pufrock I am told I should visit, but have not, Taylor Street Baristas I have not visited in London, I have the one in Brighton, which sadly closed a couple of years ago, the excellent Curio Cabal the only coffee shop listed that I have visited.

I would have liked to see as with The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide, telephone number, web address, twitter and facebook.

I like the hot tips. A place of interest nearby worth a visit.

How to get there, nearest station.

Coffee roasteries are not included, and no guide is complete without. All the more surprising when often mentioned in the description of the coffee shops.

Noticeable by their absence, Bar Italia, Ethiopian Coffee Roasters on the South Bank street food market, little coffee kiosk at foot of Hungerford Bridge on London South Bank, Monmouth Coffee.

At the back, a useful glossary of coffee terms. One term that was new to me, espresso flight, a single-shot espresso,  a single shot cappuccino, served side by side. Only one coffee shop have I been served this though not given a name and not side by side, in a line, was Coffee Aroma, an espresso, a cappuccino and a glass of water, served in a line on a hollowed out wooden board.

A QR code to pull up an interactive map. At least I assume it was, but is not. At least can see where the coffee shops are. It would though have been better if each pin had pulled up information on Google Maps. There is a menu, which takes through to a list of all 111 coffee shops. Click on any entry, and that does take through to Google Maps. A somewhat indirect route.

The problem with any guide, even on-line, is dated as soon as writ, if not before.

Taylor St Baristas no longer use Union-Hand Roasted, they roast their own beans at Taylor St Roasted and their excellent Brighton coffee shop has closed.

An indication of how things date, as I wrote this review, I learnt Taylor St Baristas were returning to Brighton. I miss the one that closed, I will look forward to their new coffee shop.  Or at least that was what I initially thought. Actually they will be supplying the coffee. Maybe one day.

111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss puts to shame the utterly useless Where to Drink Coffee.

An excellent well researched guide, a must if visiting London and appreciate good coffee.

I prefer to wander and discover, if not, reservations aside 111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss is an excellent guide to coffee shops in London.

Although I prefer to wander and take me where my feet take me, I have to admit, several of the coffee shops intrigue me and I am tempted to visit next time I am in London.

Also check out London Coffee, an account of London coffee culture rather than a guide to coffee shops.

Book in hand, I did attempt to visit one cold misty day in London at least a couple of the listed coffee shops. I managed all of one, Algerian Coffee Stores, and that only because my lovely Russian friend Tatyana told me it was a must to visit if I ever found myself in London.

I was not that I did not visit any other coffee shops, it is that I tend to go where my feet take me.

I found Four Corners a kiosk outside Waterloo Station. They told me they have a coffee shop in Lower Marsh. Beany a kiosk at the foot of Hungerford Bridge, excellent coffee but no time to stop. Grind in Covent Garden I looked in did not like and walked out. The Espresso Room, a tiny coffee shop in Covent Garden serving excellent coffee. I looked in Bar Italia in Soho, excellent coffee, but no time to stop. Jacob the Angel an English Coffee House, a new coffee shop in Neal’s Yard, serving Square Mile which is a good sign, but about to close. Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden I stopped for a cappuccino.

Thai meal Maria’s Cafe

November 22, 2018

Waterloo Station, tired after trek to Dark Mountain Terra book launch, several minutes wait for a train and platform not yet showing on display board.

I decided to walk to Lower Marsh around the back of Waterloo Station and find something to eat in Maria’s Cafe.

It was packed and noisy. I nearly did not stay but a pleasant Thai girl found me a table.

Cashew nuts and pork stir fried served with rice was excellent.

The only problem, a nearby table full of noisy drunken yobs. I relocated to another table to get further away from them.

On leaving the restaurant, I said they had to deal with the problem, otherwise they would lose all their quality customers.

An Asian couple who left at the same time as I did, said they left as soon as they finished their meal because it was impossible to relax.

They were pleased when I said it was not usually like this as they had not been before and enjoyed their meal. They agreed, something had to be done about drunken yobs, either asked to quieten down or asked to leave as disturbing other diners.

 

Dark Mountain Terra book launch at Baldwin Gallery

November 22, 2018

Dark Mountain Terra book launch at Baldwin Gallery, a trek out to south east London, a nightmare to find.

Before setting off, I ask of the Baldwin Gallery, a fee, need to book, how to find?

Sadly clueless on the use of social media. No reply, by the time I do eventually receive a reply, too late, but they did have the courtesy to apologise.

  • broadcast —> one to many
  • social —> interaction
  • network – many to many

Social media is not broadcast, the clue is in the name, social network.

Train from Charing Cross to Dartford, alight at Lee.

Can I find Baldwin Gallery, no.

When in the vicinity and unable to find, I ask a passing local. No he has never heard of.

I pass by and find myself in Greenwich. I retrace my steps.

I find the venue, Baldwin Gallery, eventually.

I expect to find no one there, I am surprised to find quite a few have turned up, maybe twenty or more.

The original concept of Dark Mountain, thought provoking essays and short stories, art and poetry, was excellent. I was happy to support. But the reality, incomprehensible writing badly written, very little worth reading, the art badly reproduced. And then to be insulted with a poor quality paperback when had subscribed to what Dark Mountain describe as ‘Each issue takes the form of a beautifully-produced hardback.’

The evening was reading from Terra.

Nothing more boring than reading what has been written, I can do that myself. Public reading of poetry a different matter, it is meant to be read out loud. Far more interesting is for the contributors to talk about the subject they have written about.

Reading of a short story, a postman posted to back of beyond, I must have missed something, as the end was back at the beginning.

Reading of two essays, a native Indian massacre, the struggle of Palestinians, deserved deeper exploration, which would have been been possible had the contributors discussed their contribution not read from it. Worse still, it was a waste of there being present.

One of the criticisms of Dark Mountain, apart from too much pretentious badly written incomprehensible drivel, is the typeface, too small, not easy to read.

What was Terra?

I thought next volume, but when I saw a tiny slim volume, I thought no, must be a supplementary book, especially when I learnt this was the second book launch.

The topic was travel, a sense of place, how we interact with the landscape, how the landscape interacts with us.

Terra is the next volume, the typeface microscopic, needing a magnifying glass to read.

Copies of Terra were on sale. I did not see any sold. Nor did I see early volumes of Dark Mountain on sale.

At £20 for a slim volume, too pricey, especially when paid for by subscription, unlike most publications which go from publication to remainder to pulp.

It was only later when I checked the Dark Mountain website I learnt why no other volumes on sale, all sold out. Only available as a pdf file. I would recommend upload to leanpub and have in an e-format that flows as is more suited to reading on a tablet or e-reader or smartphone than pdf, though pdf would still be a format to select from.

Interesting exhibits at the Baldwin Gallery, strong Mexican influence, or at least Cenrtral America.

Neal’s Yard Dairy

November 22, 2018

Neal’s Yard Dairy is a mecca for cheese lovers.

I look in, but no time to do justice.

They ask me to try a cheese, Doddington. It is excellent, I buy a piece.

Cappuccino at Monmouth Coffee

November 22, 2018

I was going to go in search of coffee shops in Soho, but no time, although I had decided against Monmouth Coffee no time, and so Monmouth Coffee it was, even though no time for Monmouth Coffee.

I ordered a cappuccino.

As expected, it was not great.

Girl serving was plesant and helpful.

Not so pleased with someone chatting on their mobile phone even though a sign says No Mobile Phones, and common courtesy would dictate go outside if using phone.

The coffee is on sale in open boxes which is not good.

A pity as Monmouth Coffee were pioneers of specialty coffee in the 1970s but have sadly lost their way.

They are still though very popular. They were busy when I passed by in the afternoon busy in the evening.