Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hermes cowboy delivery company

February 14, 2017

A parcel delivered to the wrong address whilst out, delivered to a neighbour.

Though to say ‘delivered’ is to stretch the meaning of the word.

Dumped by the bins in the wet.

Yesterday the lower half of the top of the High Street, a pedestrianised street, a Hermes driver obviously thought it ok to drive through with hazard lights flashing.

Lunch at Park Street Eatery

January 17, 2017

Roast dinner, roast beef, tasted better than it looked, but not great.

Park Street Eatery must be the busiest restaurant in Lincoln, it was packed.

Contrast with a chain eatery in the High Street, where half price and trying to drag business in off the street.

For starters parsnip soup, and a cake for dessert (which was free).

Very reasonable prices. A little over £6, with a free dessert (special offer for January). Otherwise £6-50 for three courses.

Very hot. Failure to use the thermostat on the radiators.

Bailgate Independent

January 17, 2017

I picked up a copy of Bailgate Independent in Stokes.

A glossy magazine, primarily advertising, crammed with advertising and a handful of articles not worth reading.

I am surprised Stokes stock it.

I left my copy in the Park Street Eatery. Maybe someone will appreciate it.

A tragic waste of trees.

I contrast with the excellent Viva Brighton. Brighton has creative talent, maybe Lincoln does not.

Cappuccino at Stokes on High Bridge

January 17, 2017

The last couple of occasions I have avoided Stokes and Coffee Aroma and decided to try a couple of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln.

A risky endeavour, as I can end up in somewhere like The Angel Coffee House, as I did last week, shabby, lack of ambience, filthy threadbare chairs and awful coffee.

Today I decided to play safe and visit Stokes on High Bridge.

As always, excellent cappuccino.

I picked up a copy of Bailgate Independent. A glossy magazine full of advertising, articles not worth reading. Tragic waste of trees. I am surprised Stokes stock it.

I contrast with the excellent Viva Brighton. Brighton has creative talent, maybe Lincoln does not.

On my way I passed through the grotty shopping centre opposite Stokes on High Bridge.

Not where would expect quality coffee. I stopped and had a brief chat with a guy with a little coffee stall. I said I would pop by one day and try his coffee. Several brewing methods, maybe too many for a little one man stall. Wrong location, a grotty shopping centre is not where would expect quality coffee. Central Market would be ideal location, except for one problem, thanks to the destruction Coop and the local council have wrought down on the area, footfall is low. Beans sourced from Makushi.

From Stokes, roast dinner at Park Street Eatery. It tasted better than it looked, but not great.

Cappuccino in The Angel Coffee House

January 12, 2017
The Angel Coffee House

The Angel Coffee House

I wanted to have a cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge or Coffee Aroma, but no, I would keep to my resolve, try a few of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln, even if it meant missing out on an excellent cappuccino and being forced to try something dire. But you never know, I may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Today was the turn of The Angel Coffee House in the centre of town.

From the outside it looks like a Victorian chapel, replete with gargoyles.

Actually it is the old church hall of St Swithin’s opposite. The grassy park with headstones acting as paving slabs the former graveyard.

I had looked in a few years ago, but never stopped for a coffee.

The promise of the exterior, is not met by the interior. Very shabby, the same photos on the walls. The chairs were a disgrace, shabby, threadbare and filthy. The cushions even worse.

Occasional events. One, I may have got the name wrong, 15 minute fiction, where aspiring writers could share ideas. But why charge an entrance fee?

Bookstop Cafe, would be an excellent location for these events, an undercroft of a Norman House, as they already support local writers.

It was very noisy.  Not a pleasant environment within which to relax and enjoy a coffee.

I ordered a cappuccino.

When a cappuccino looks disgusting, first impressions are usually not misleading. It was awful. If I wanted disgusting coffee, there is always Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks. I took a couple of sips and left it.

And no, you do not sprinkle chocolate on a cappuccino. Or at the very least, ask. And you do not use chocolate, you use cocoa. The only reason chocolate is added is to hide disgusting coffee.

The cup was too large. Not a soup bowl as Costa, but still too large for a cappuccino.

I asked from where they sourced their beans.

The Forge in Sheffield, or was it The Foundry in Sheffield.

Roast date of the beans they were using 9 December 2016. Borderline to say the least.

No quality indie coffee shop would use beans this long past the roast date, at least not if concerned about their reputation. Check with Stokes, Coffee Aroma or Makushi Coffee House, and you will find they would not dream of using beans this old.

The lady serving was quite pleasant.  Service was slow, though to be fair she was on her own and it was busy.

Coffee shops are not in competition, far from it, good coffee shops help each other. But these days if you open or run a coffee shop, you have to know about coffee, you have to be able to serve quality coffee, the only competition, is a pride in serving the the best.  I am used to baristas, where they serve me a coffee, and say no, not good enough, and pour it away. Or they bring me a second coffee. Why, I ask? What you have is not good enough.

Usually, if things are wrong, I will say. I may have mentioned the roast date, or at least hinted roast date too long ago, but so many things wrong and I was already running late.

That I left the coffee, should have said how awful it was, and one look at it, it should never have been served.

The Angel Coffee House is not any time soon if ever going to make it into Northern England Independent Coffee Guide.

Once again TripAdvisor shown as seriously flawed. The Angel Coffee House listed as No 2 for tea and coffee in Lincoln. I cannot comment on the tea, but coffee awful and undrinkable, with not a clue about coffee. On the other hand Pimento Tearooms No 4, Coffee Aroma No 5, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 7,  Henry’s Tea Room No 8, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop No 12.

No way is The Angel Coffee House No 2, or better than those I have listed. I cannot comment on others on TripAdvisor, but unless dire, I would expect The Angel Coffee House to be somewhere near the bottom, with Coffee Aroma No 1, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 2, or joint No 1, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop  No3,  Pimento Tearooms No 4, Henry’s Tea Room No 5.

It is laughable The Angel Coffee House is No 2 on TripAdvisor. It does little for their credibility, especially when they delete critical reviews and fail to deal with fake reviews.

Use the Northern England Independent Coffee Guide to decided where ‘s best, that is if you need a guide. On sale in Coffee Aroma. In Lincoln is featured Coffee Aroma, Stokes on High Bridge, Stokes at The Collection, Stokes Coffee Roasters and a mention of Stokes at The Lawn.

Stokes,  Coffee Aroma and Makushi are in a different league. If they are Premier League, Angel barely makes it into Division Four. Pimento and Henry’s are tea shops. Both have a lovely ambience, especially Pimento. Excellent tea in Pimento. Coffee not good in Henry’s, but potential to be much better as the girl who was waiting on the tables knew a lot about coffee and was keen to learn more, and it is a tea room not a coffee shop, I have not tried the tea.

I looked in W, new coffee shop in Waterstone’s. Not an indy coffee shop, they have one in Brighton, but great news to have kicked out Costa. Ambience pleasant. I will have to try their coffee. But no roast date, best by is meaningless. Beans roasted by Matthew Algie, a special blend for Waterstone’s.

Cappuccino in Makushi Coffee House

January 5, 2017

Half way up Steep Hill can be found Makushi Coffee House. A new coffee shop, it was not there a year ago.

Inside very agreeable environment. A knowledgeable barista.

From the outside, it does not look much. Not so inside.

Whitewashed walls, stonework poking through, wood. At the rear a room with a solid wooden table and seats, further in a stone vaulted room, more upstairs, and upstairs a coffee roaster. Also upstairs a door leading to a terrace, but not open. It will be pleasant to enjoy a coffee in the summer, but please do not allow smoking.

Cappuccino was excellent, but, it had a somewhat unpleasant  taste, which then lingered as an aftertaste.

I doubt lack of skill of the barista or machine. Barista had worked before at Coffee Aroma and talking to him he knew what he was talking about.

I suspect the roasting. Makushi roast their own beans, and roasting requires more skill that brewing coffee.

More inquiries are needed.

On the counter bags of their own roast beans. And had roast date, roasted the day before, 4 January 2017.  I would though disagree with their enjoy by 4 March 2017. I would have put 4 February 2017. One week to let the oils adjust following roasting, then three weeks beans at their optimum. But full marks for roast date and recently roasted beans.  Contrast with Stokes, who somewhat surprising, do not put roast date, but do put best by which is meaningless.

Apart from roast date, also told you something about the beans, their origin.

Every bean has a story to tell. I am surprised rarely seen told. Not only on the bags, but also a chalkboard telling the story of the coffee served.

Chatting to a charming young lady, she said she played the flute. I probably made her late.

I suggested, why not have recitals in the coffee shop? Better still, get hold of some decent recording equipment, someone who knows how to record and master, release on bandcamp. At least release if good. But always record. Can always throw away if not good, but cannot record what has been and gone.

I suggested she checked out Agnes Obel and Berlin Live session of The Curse with looping.

The strange name? Apparently Makushi is the name of a tribe in the Amazon, who the owner, who I did not meet, had spent time with learning survival skills, and with had his first experience of coffee.

Makushi is in a former tea shop, which has been derelict for years, or if not, it always had that appearance as I never found it open.

Makushi Coffee House is next to and below what was Readers Rest, now a tacky beauty parlour. What a pity Readers Rest no more, it was an excellent second hand bookshop and the two would have complimented each other.

Many are opening coffee shops, jumping on the bandwagon. Few have  a clue about coffee.

Lincoln is unusual, for its size it has a lot of indie coffee shops, and few chains serving their disgusting undrinkable coffee. This is mainly due to Stokes, a fourth generation family business.

Now we are a seeing, with Coffee Aroma and Makusihi a new generation of indie coffee shops, where great care is taken over the coffee.

I can see Makushi Coffee House being added to Northern England Independent Coffee Guide when the third edition is published, or an oversight if not. It was a major oversight Stokes never made it into the first edition.

On my way up, I would have looked in the cheese shop in The Strait, only not there, now a deli, and he said he would not be there long, as bad for trade.

Sincil Street would be ideal, create as it was, indie shops, but the local council and Coop seem determined to trash the area with a shopping centre and sky high rents, the area once busy, now blighted with boarded-up shops. .

I was always surprised the cheese shop opened, when they have a shop and restaurant around the corner.

I was going to collect something from the deli on my way back down, but already closed.

Popped into the cheese shop and picked up Cornish yarg.

Then I remembered, a book to collect from Waterstone’s in the High Street.

The Spy marked Just £12-99, implying a reduction. It is not reduced. Order from Amazon at £6-50 (but pay postage unless over £10). Order from Waterstone’s on-line. pay £6-50 and collect in-store. I picked up two copies. In the Cornhill, there is a chalk board, order on line, have a coffee (no thanks Caffe Nero), then collect your order.

Cost of e-books is zero. The Spy, download from Kobo £9-49, Google £9-49, Amazon £9-49. When price of an e-book exceeds that of a hardback, for The Spy nearly 50% more, something is seriously wrong. Readers are being ripped off big time.  To download an e-book should be no more than a pound.

European owned British rail companies

January 4, 2017

Passengers on European railways would like to thank British rail passengers for supporting their railways.

Foreign state railways own most of our rail network.

When we see rail companies making massive profits, and those rail companies are owned by foreign state railways, the profit they make is ploughed back into their own national railways.

Also true of electricity. EDF is a French electricity company.

State-owned railways is ok, so long as it is a foreign state railway does the owning.

We must take our railways back into public ownership.

Not nationalisation.
 
It has to be some form of open coop, where the rail staff, passengers and the state have a stake.

The beginning of the working week, saw yet another inflation busting hike in rail fares, for a service that is abysmal.

 

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

January 3, 2017
Stokes on High Bridge

Stokes on High Bridge

Excellent cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge but easy to see why these days when I pass by, not busy.

Two lads who I have not seen before, standing by to guide to a table.

Then at least a five minutes wait if not longer, to take my order.

I popped back later, as I walked in, I asked for a cappuccino.

No, we have table service.

I contrast with Coffee Aroma, prompt service and the coffee better.

And I am not one of those who wishes rapid coffee. I am quite happy for a barista to take their time so long as I get excellent coffee.

Nor am I saying cappuccino not good in Stokes. Cappuccino excellent, but Coffee Aroma has the edge.

On the counter Guatemala coffee beans organic and FairTrade, though no logo for either.

But no roast date.

I checked other coffee beans. No roast date.

Best by is absolutely meaningless.

I asked the girl, and she told me they had been roasted the week before.

I asked how did she know?

Either she or or colleague had roasted in-store.

Fair enough, but they should write the roast date on the bags.

And she had no idea why roast date was important.

Stokes are expert coffee roasters and should know better.

Their staff are usually well informed on coffee.

The high standards which set Stokes apart are slipping.

Any coffee connoisseur seeing no roast date and not knowing Stokes, would simply assume, unless they made further inquiries, that they know nothing about coffee.

Stokes have two coffee shops in Lincoln, plus a warehouse where they roast coffee. They are featured in the second edition of Northern England Independent Coffee Guide, which surprisingly they do not  have on sale.

Stokes on High Bridge, a long established family business, in an Elizabethan building, on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham flowing through the centre of Lincoln, is one of the top coffee shops in the country. But Stokes need to up their game, as whereas  others are innovating  Stokes appears to be going backwards.

My Way

January 3, 2017

Robbie Williams performed live in London to see in the New Year.

A poor lacklustre mediocre performance.

Not a patch on Frank Sinatra classic live at Royal Albert Hall where he had edge.

Happy New Year 2017

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Feliz año nuevo

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος

С новым годом

Image courtesy of my lovely Russian friend Dasha.