Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


July 14, 2019

— to be continued —

Sunday mid-July in Brighton

July 14, 2019

Train Reading to Gawtick running at least fifteen minutes late. As a result missed 1140 Gatwick to Brighton but made 1158. No explanation or analogue, no guard walks through the train.

Buy a ticket on Southern Fail to Brighton. Guard tells me toilet not working but toilets at Brighton Station now free. Money wasted to install a barrier to charge now sitting idle.

Look in Passenger Lounge, FCB Coffee Shop. Never for a coffee, sometimes interesting literature.

Small Batch kiosk in the station forecourt usually serves good coffee.

Walk under the station and down Trafalgar Street into North Laine.

Man standing in door way of Brew & Blend, beckons me in. What is this, Istanbul, dragged into the coffee shops?

As two weeks ago, coffee shop empty. Do I wish for a coffee? No. Asked what I think of the coffee I say poor quality coffee. I am talking to the owner. I tell him he has done a good job on the coffee shop, now needs better coffee, this is Brighton, spoilt for choice for coffee, cannot get away with serving bad coffee. Not buy cheap crap Italian coffee. He tries to bullshit me, he sells lots of coffee. So does Costa.

As always excellent Coffee at Coffee at 33. It is busy, usually is lunchtime on a Sunday. I find I am talking to the coffee roaster. Not met him before.

I head to Magazine Brighton. Unlike last time when a young lad drove the customers away with loud music, it is busy. It usually is busy. Last time I wanted Cereal only closed early. Today I find in stock Cereal, Drift, Ambrosia and Standart. A lot of magazines to buy and carry. I will return later.

Magazine Brighton, as with Ideas on Paper, one of those places where spoilt for choice and can easily spend a small fortune.

I look in Pelicano, maybe pop back later. Last year they had Drift and Standart on sale. If I buy either I get a free coffee. No Drift, but have back copies of Standart.

I look in Iydea. Singularly unappetising. A pity Iydea has gone down hill. It was not good last year. For at least ten years, my favourite place to eat in Brighton. Lunch at Iydea was always something to look forward to.

I head for Infinity Foods Kitchen.

Last time I raised zero-waste shops cannot return five litre containers for Faith in Nature shampoo. The guy I spoke to says he raised it, no one knows why. He will raise it again.

I head to Vinyl Revolution in The Lanes. It celebrated its second anniversary this weekend by closing down. I found it has already closed.

Last visit two weeks ago, I was shocked by the number of closed shops in North Laine. Today I notice many other closing down.

In The Lanes I find it far worse. Many closed shops. Looking down Duke Street, a sea of To Let Boards

One shop closes, less reason to visit a locality. Ten percent of shops will be in the edge. They go under. A domino effect. It can happen very rapidly. We are seeing in the The Lanes and North Laine a retail catastrophe. Talking to those with existing businesses, they are worried at the collapse of retail around them as in will be fewer people visit, which then impacts on their business.

I come across The Lanes Coffee House. A main entrance and a side entrance. I enter via the alley and walk through. A greasy spoon cafe serving coffee. Wary to tell me from where they source their coffee. Italian roasted. No thanks, I will give it a miss.

I happen upon Blackbird.

An idiot has illegally parked outside in a pedestrianised street with engine running.

I will return. I now have to get back to Magazine Brighton before they close.

I make Magazine Brighton with minutes to spare. Pick up Ceraalm Drift, Ambrisoa dn Stabdart.

En route pass by The Plant Room, a coffee shop I ahve yrt to visit.

En route aged Mods parjked up with their scotters.

In the 1960s they woudl descend on Brighton for poitched fights on the beach.

I look in Barney’s Delicatessen a cheesemonger cum deli where I had looked in earlier. A good selection of cheese and local produce. The young guy remembers me from last year when they had not long opened. I ask why Lincoln came into the conversation. He was born there.

I recommend Re-Inventing the Wheel, an excellent book on cheese. To follow Joanna Blythman on twitter. I could add Zoe Harcombe

Cappuccino at Blackbird served with chocolate.Cardinal servic.

Humbe aplogies, too many asking for chocoalte.

Ealier an idiaot had parkeda truck outside, engine running ina psdeatinese stret.

I am trated to Panaman Geisha.

Walk down to the sae front.

Pass by Srth Moragn busink. An excellngt msiician.

At tge sa frint I di ide to call it a day and head for the sation.

I pass along Dume Street. I notice the empty shops. When I get to the endm I look back and see thsea of To Let boards.

Make train withfifteen minutes tois apre. Fifteen minutes to ait at Gatwick.

— to be continued —

Coffee Gems

July 11, 2019

I had learnt of coffee Gems from two different sources. Time to pay a visit.

Head roaster Ricardo. Background in coffee, had grown up on the family coffee farm in Colombia, had worked across Latin America as an agricultural adviser to farms helping to improve their coffee to enable them to secure a better price, direct trade not the FairTrade scam that maintains farmers in poverty. Now he was at the other end, roasting high quality coffee beans, nothing less than Q grade 94.

Whilst we were catting he made me a cappuccino. Excellent.

I would have stayed and had a V60, but time was not on our side and he still had an order to process and deliver.

I gave me a bag of coffee he had literally just roasted, I could smell the roasting as I arrived, and invited me to return.

Highly tempting when I learnt he has Cup of Excellence from Colombia and Panama.

I made a number of suggestions:

  • Follow the example of Pharmacie in Brighton, open on a Saturday as a pop up coffee shop.
  • Hold coffee cupping.
  • In the summer have a stall on the Guildford farmers market.

I also suggested a number of outlets for his coffee.

— to be continued —

Development proposals for Aldershot

July 11, 2019

Walk through Aldershot, it is a dead town. There may be worse towns but I doubt it.

The streets are deserted, the shops boarded-up, the boarded-up shops far outnumber the few that remain open. Those that remain are merely biding their time before they too pull out or to find someone, anyone, to take the businesses off their hands.

How long before Boots, Wilkinsons, Argos, Morrisons pull out?

Santander has already pulled out, M&S long gone.

Decades of bad planning decisions by a dysfunctional planning department not fit for purpose, planners in the pocket of Big Business and greedy developers, planners and local councillors clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function.

Parts of the town centre have been bought by the council. Where did the money come from?

Today and yesterday a consultation by a developer who wishes to redevelop the ghost shopping centre and the multistory cat park opposite.

If you did not know about this consultation you are not alone, not a single person I spoke to knew about it, no posters in the street, all of two days, well a day and half, they packed up early afternoon today.

It was held in The Arcade or what is left of The Arcade after it was trashed and local businesses driven out. If you passed by The Arcade you would not have known about it, there was nothing

The developers claim 500 people visited. Really, I counted half a dozen if that. Multiply that up for the number of hours, nothing like 500.

And why only two days? It should have been two weeks.

And this was lunchtime market day, not that the market is worth visiting, not unless you wish to buy rotten fruit and vegetables that look as though scavenged from a skip. If I had fruit and vegetables this rotten, they would be on the compost heap.

The proposal is to build over 600 flats, three or more blocks, 10 to 12 stories high.

Traffic. Pollution. Congestion. Climate Emergency.

What the locality requires is family homes with gardens, not yuppie cubbyholes

The target would be commuters to London. But would they really wish to live in Aldershot?

The developers had no understanding of Aldershot.

They described Wastegate as thriving.

They talked of permeability, enable people to flow through a a thriving town.

What people? Had they not noticed the streets are deserted? Even today, lunchtime market day, the streets were empty.

They said the development outside the town centre will bring people into the town centre. It will not and has not. These are people with cars and money. Why would they go into Aldershot? They will go anywhere unless lack the time or money or mobility to go elsewhere.

They showed an imaginary street scene, well dressed attractive young women.

Had they ever set foot in Aldershot?

Streets are deserted, when there are a few people, druggies drunks, filthy Nepalese parasites. Even the Nepalese businesses are ordering these people to keep away from their doors.

The money will be in the housing.

But ground floor retail.

Who will take retail in a failing town centre?

The only interest the developer has in Aldershot is to make a fast buck, then move on.

The several years it will take to construct will kill what little is left of Aldershot. Noise, dust, traffic congestion.

This is yet another attempt at top down development.

Adlershot was dying long before on-line was killing town centres.

The only way to rebuild town centres is from the bottom up, to work with local communities, local businesses, and yet these are the groups the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor has shown the most contempt for, riding roughshod over the wishes of local people in both Aldershot and neighbouring Farnborough.

The irony is this so-called consultation was held where once stood a Victorian Arcade.

Criticism to one side the proposals are an improvement on what currently exists, but with modifications.

Ground floor low rent retail for quality local businesses. Something akin to the mixed retail see in North Laine in Brighton. But not the tacky Nepalese businesses that are turning Aldershot into an inner-city slum.

Aldershot lacks anywhere serving drinkable coffee. It needs a speciality coffee shop. A town of this size should have at least one quality coffee shop. Whether there is the clientele to appreciate let alone support a speciality coffee shop a moot point.

First possibly second floor should be low cost office space, maybe co-working shared space.

A vibrant town centre requires mixed use.

Roof top gardens on all the blocks to mitigate climate change.

Oxford Canal

July 10, 2019

A pleasant walk along the Oxford Canal, past a lock that drops down to The Thames, or at last a waterway leading into the Thames, over a footbridge and into Jericho, on my way to 101 Coffee.

The stretch before the lock, residential boats that have seen better days. They even have their own power supply and postal address. .

A beautiful arched iron bridge to cross the lock.

Curious arrangement, only one lock gate and a very narrow lock, barely accommodates a narrow boat.

— to be continued —

No trains Reading to Gatwick

July 10, 2019

— to be continued —

101 Coffee

July 10, 2019

101 Coffee could not be easier to find.

On a summer’s day, a pleasant walk along the Oxford Canal, after the first lock, cross the canal, a zigzag, out of Juxon Street, opposite ef other side of the street, 101 Coffee.

Only no sign, nothing to indite 101 Coffee. Only on walking in, thinking thsi looks intesting, diod \I saee on the Counter 101 Coffee.

I was the only wone tgehre, or at least I was, a stady straem of customers.

Pleasant ambience, natural wood tables with an impressive polish. Excllent varinish. No, it is resin.

Coffee I have not come caross before, Quarter Horse Coffee. Aparently they were in Oxford, a coffee shop and raoostering, then upped stick to Birmingham, clsoed tehir coffee shop.

101 an unsuall set up, a tiny coffee shop, up narrow stat on the fist floor a barer shop. They only indiaction of thism as wlak into 101 Coffee a barer’s chair. O commented on this, asking had |I wlaked intioa barer shop opr a coffee shop.

— to be continued —

Afternoon in Oxford

July 10, 2019

Cool in the morning, turned hot in the afternoon.

I set off for Oxford an hour later than I would have wished.

Why a bull outside Oxford Station, down the side of the Said Businesses Centre?

From Oxford Station, a pleasant walk along the Oxford Canal, past a lock that drops down to The Thames, or at last a waterway leading into the Thames, over a footbridge and into Jericho.

A choir singing outside a pub. No idea why.

I back tracked, a zigzag and opposite end of Juxon Street, 101 Coffee. It could not be easier to find, only not at first obvious as a different name displayed. It looked interesting, I stuck my head in, to learn it was 101 Coffee.

i little exploration of Jericho, one place had excellent lloking cakes on dpsialy.

Excelelnt cappuccino. A chopice of cappuccino, V60 or Aeropress. Alo batch brew.

Upsatirs abarer shop.

It was then back down the Oxford Canal. I could have carried on down the road an dit would have brought me out where I wished to be but I dediced Oxford Canal would the more leeant walk tan along a roda. |

Lunch at the Oxford streey food market. What I had Persian was nota ll that good. A stall I saw earleir, when I returned was already packing up.

It was tehn too Sociarty Cafe. I wish they woudl revise their decison no cash, but I was running late. I picked up Society issue 1 and 2 and scoupel of editions of Caffiene. Society far superior to Caffeien. Anythinfg supertio to Caffeien.

I noticed tehy had Cereal. Did anyoen know where to obrtain it from? No.

Chatted with their head nbarsta outside.

A guy had lined bottleds up on a wall. Was he seting uo a bar I asekd. He laughred and said no. told mehe was homless and offered me one. I said no but I would pay hi, We agreed ona price of £2w. I had no change. A fiver? OK, I will give you tow. I sai dno, one was ok. What I do dnot at firs undersnand was he was offering me tow bottels as he had no change. I took tow.

He opened one for m,e.

We sat chatting. He told me he had mobed recently from Reading, had got a hostel in reading. He did not like it, but it was one step up the ladder from being homles and would lead to better accomdation.

He laiked to buy a few buys, spend the day in the park.

It wa snot carft beer. He agreed, not as good as craft beer.

I darnk half and asked wiould eg like the rset.

Wakiling down the street I wa spelased I had stayed and cahtted with him over a beer. Homeless peopel are rtared as theough they are invisble, or worse. Thsoi living on the street get atatcked, their belongings stolen.

It was then tio Oxford Covered Market. It was gone five. Every where clsoed. I foudm Columbia Coffee Roasters. They to were clsoed but the basrta beckeobeed me in to join him. Waht did I want. Was tgheir machne still on. OK, a capuccino. No, a V60. A special treate, Wush Wushma very rate coffee,w hat the Columbian chamion barsta had used.

It wa satrneg. I coudl not make my mind up if I liekd it or not. He agreed.

They have bean-to-bar schocilate, but not in stock and no idea when.

Bags of chocialte. One small chips, the other chocolae buttons. They are actaually for deinking chocolate. I tried. Excelelnt as chocialte. I bought a bag. For quality cocolate, cheap for what woudl pay fora bar.

The amrket had long clsoed. Eveety locked. I was told a way tio get out.

Securty man was very surpsied when I wlaked out. Where ahve you been? I told him I was good at hiding.

A wander aroudn Radcliffe Square.

I though laevaing at 7-30 I owuld catch the same train as |I did a coupel of weeks ago leaving at 6-30. Either I was too late ofr no CrossCountry train, whci I had assumed runs hourly. Wait until 2006b and catch train for Paddington which stops at reading.

Train ran slow. I just missed a train from Reading.

Next train at 22235, not trains for two hours for what is a service two tarins an hour.

What of trains to Gawtwick, planes to catch, waht alternatiev tramnsport. Nothing, no information, no annoncements.

I woasl told to find Duty Manager.

A train to Basingstoke ,leaving at 2107. I coudl go a very ling way roudn. Gurad and driver sa me not lookong hapy. Asjed waht’s up. I told them. I asked coudl I catch the Basingstoke train. They said yes.

At Basingsyoke just missed a train. Have to cross to a central platform to see diapaly for trains, then cross back again. A gikl came in late from Salsibury, next rain to Reading canceleld.

Sej asled did the train I was wating for go to Woking. I said yes, ten told her she had jsut missed a Woking train.

Thne I reaslied iif she wanted Reading, she wanted Wokingham not Woking.

I caught the train to Wokingm tehn bus. Arrived honme 2220, 15 minuted before the train woudl ahve left Reading had I waited two hours.

Nightmare. Go out anwyere, bever knwo if will get back home. :Lst week at lton, no trains, all trains canceleld, no information.

Situaation is not jhelped by statiosn not nmammed, or at arge stations like Reading, no straff around, no annoncements, no apology. And no oen casre, at elast the train comanies do not care. The saf are alsmost begging tfor the tarins to be taken into public ownershiop as they asee on a daily bassi how bad the sevcie has become.

— to be continued —

Monday afternoon in Farnham

July 9, 2019

I do not think I have visited Farnham on a Monday afternoon before. Everywhere was clsoed.

I stpped off firts at Queen Hotel in Aldershot.

Burger and chips reasonable, at least the burger reasonable, th chips as always disgusting. The burger was not dried up and burnt on the outside as what I had at Tilly Shilling in Farnborough tow weeks before. The difference it did not come too soon, at Tilly Shilling I supected it had been sitting there.

I would hav eeaten at the Inonesian street food restaurant but I do not think open on a Monday,a ndwlaking by the end of the street \i dod not see tables and chairs outside.

In Downing Street, Baista Lounge, butcher, vegana restaurant all closed.

Krema was open. I had a cold brew coffee. I was suprised it was made with espresso blend not a single origin. Enjotable nevertheless.

Saturday, I walked all the way around Bishop’s Meadow. Not today.

Cook I was surprised to see had sea bream. I decided to try. But why stuffed, it is a dlecate flaour fish?

Waling through Lion & Lamb Courtyard, I noticed Liion & Lamb Resturabnt and Cafe closed. monday, or has it closed doewn? It has been closed the last few times I have passed by.

If it has clsoed I would not be surpised. It was always empty. The menu alwasy engticing but if tried the food was neber good.

A lady and myslef peered in the the window. We were disgusted tio see dirty coffee cuos lned uop. Sureley was at the end of the day?

WE thne walked to Waitriose, had very long converstaion about Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, Paulo Coleho, coffee.

She recomneded Coffe Gems on an indsutrailk estae in Franham. Soemone else had mentioned to me.

I hgave her a list of coffee shops tp try.

V60 Karuna Coffee stall Airborne Forces Day

July 6, 2019

Airborne Forces Day Princess Gardens. A handful of stalls, army veterans, a brass band in the bandstand, a sprinkling of army top brass. Local councillors noticeable by their absence. Earlier there appeared to have been an unravelling of a statue pf a paratrooper.

Once of the stalls was a coffee stall manned by Karuna Coffee serving V60 filter coffee.

Did I wish for a V60 off the Karuna Coffee stall they wished for my opinion? Had they improved from what I had last year?

Last year their V60 was undrinkable, I poured it away in disgust, every mistake that could be made was made.

I was shown a bag of coffee. Apologies in advance for the coffee having been ground earlier not freshly ground as no power, and the same for not precisely weighed.

No criticism of the pouring. It was a good cup of coffee, as always with V60 improved as a it cooled. A pity the clientele wished for milk. Given freshly ground, precisely weighed it would have been even better. It is good to see people improving their coffee skills.

An interesting conversation followed on coffee and dire state of Aldershot.

The coffee was Mexican. It is rare to see Mexican coffee. Specialty coffee shops in Mexico City are dealing direct with the farms, paying a high price, making it untenable for foreign buyers.  [see Drift Mexico City edition]

My only criticism, Karuna Coffee are selling their coffee too cheap