Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Steep Hill another one bites the dust

January 11, 2019

A soap shop at the top of Steep Hill is to close.

According to the Lincolnite, regurgitating what they find on facebook, a popular soap shop is to close due to lack of customers.

Er, spot the oxymoron.

I never knew there was a soap shop.

I was told adjacent to the Russian Doll shop.

I decided to investigate.

Yes, between the Russian Doll shop and a clock shop. A clock shop that is never open.

A tiny nondescript shop, easy to see why I had missed it before.

I found it to be in darkness, closed, which at least explains why no customers.

As I was looking, a lady popped out of the Russian Doll shop with a key in her hand offered to open for me.

I declined, but said I may look on my way down.

On my way down, I again found to be closed.

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Lincoln hosts smallest farmers market in the country

January 11, 2019

At one stall, Lincoln can proudly lay claim to the smallest farmers market in the country.

The farmers market used to be held in the High Street, to be pedantic two different locations in the High Street, one week north of the level crossing, the following week south of the level crossing.

By swapping locations, guaranteed to ensure the market was never a success. A couple of stalls, maybe three, if very very lucky six.

It has now relocated to the side of the river, outside the side entrance to the Central Market, with little footfall, maybe out of sight, out of mind.

There is no information in the High Street to say the farmers market has relocated, therefore it is assumed it has finally collapsed.

Nor is there any information at its new location.

I found by pure chance.

I hoped last week to find the fruit and vegetable stall, but too late, it had already packed up and departed. I was in time to see a van for Redhill Farm departing.

In the week, I checked with Redhill  Farm shop in Bailgate and they confirmed, the farmers market had relocated.

Sincil Street has been trashed by the local Council in cahoots with the local Coop, the Central Market trashed by the local  Council, which guarantees very little footfall.

I found the regular Friday fruit and vegetable stall, this one stall is what constitutes a market in Lincoln, a market town, a bread stall, a disgusting doughnut stall and one stall for the farmers market.

At two o-clock, the one stall for the farmers market had already packed away his stock. I visited the fruit and vegetable stall. When I looked around, the guy running the stall had gone.

The doughnut stall should be kicked off. The stomach churning stench is guaranteed to kill any market.

Vegan friendly

January 9, 2019

What is vegan friendly?

Either a product is vegan ie plant based or it is not vegan. Vegan friendly is meaningless.

Holland & Barrett has on sale Vegan Friendly Dark Chocolate.

I queried their use of the term vegan friendly as meaningless.

They asked for more information, tried to blame the store.

I sent a picture of the chocolate bar sitting on the shelf in store.

No further response from Holland & Barrett. The usual corporate big business High Street chain customer care.

A bull in a field may be vegan friendly, a bar of chocolate not. To apply to a bar of chocolate meaningless.

Vegan is an excellent dosa of Ollo Foods stall on Guildford farmers market.

The bar of chocolate does not prominently state percentage of cocoa solids. Without, Dark Chocolate, is meaningless.

Quality chocolate, and that immediately rules out Cadbury’s,  now owned by Kraft, does not substitute. One of the commonest cheapest nastiest substitutes is palm oil.

If chocolate, or any product, contains palm oil, complain to the retailer and ask not to stock, and complain to the manufacturer.

Palm oil is bad for people and planet.

Quality chocolate use cocoa butter.

Quality chocolate is from aristan chocolate makers, expensive.

Quality chocolate is often bean-to-bar.

Artisan chocolate makers are following the lead of coffee, direct trade, often single origin, cocoa beans roasted to bring out the best flavour profile of the beans.

Cold wet mid-December afternoon in Farnham

December 15, 2018

Today could not have been worse, cold, heavy rain and windy.

I caught a bus that goes around the houses, to save waiting for the next bus.

I had no idea where I was, until it was driving down Castle Street. Ideal for Gail’s bakery, but still ideal for centre of Farnham.

No surprise, no one about in Farnham.

Passing by vegan cafe Okomoko I noticed a board saying zero waste. I walked in to inquire, I was curious to learn how they achieved zero waste. Whilst waiting, I noticed a sign pointing upstairs to a zero waste shop. Curious and curiouser. I climbed the stairs. I was expecting to maybe find a counter selling off old stock.

What I found was a little shop in a room, an Aladdin’s cave of delights.

Keep, a tiny version of Hisbe in Brighton. Two pleasant and helpful young women. They told me they rented the room.

Quite a clever idea and not the first time I have come across this arrangement, Anonymous Coffee in Reading, down an alley leading from Broad Street to Reading Minster, has a similar arrangement, rent space in a wine shop.

By renting space, in this case a room, overheads are low, for Okomoko, assuming they are not busy, it helps share the rent and puts to use unused space.

What is the alternative, a pop up shop, a market stall?

On offer, grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit weigh and buy what you want. At the back, large containers of liquids, for example detergents, buy what you need.

Even ecoffee bamboo coffee cups on sale.

What would be a clever idea if Okomoko and Keep crowdfunded a joint glass KeepCup.

As I explained, a similar concept to Hisbe in Brighton. I recommended they visit.

A pity I had not seen before my visit to the butcher, as I would have mentioned to him, and he would have let his customers know.

They are reliant on word of mouth and social media. Maybe something the Farnham Herald should run a feature on.

A pleasant change to Waitrose where fresh produce wrapped in plastic, bananas rotting on the shelves.

It is unfortunate the shop across the road never got their act together. It could have been an excellent wholefood shop, something like Grocer and Grain in Brighton.

Very late lunch in Gail’s. I had hoped for soup. Too late. A sausage roll was the only thing available hot. At £4 a bit pricey, on the other hand the size of at least two sausage rolls and top quality.

I followed with a pecan and maple tartlet (ie very small tart) and a cappuccino. The cappuccino not great but at least an improvement on the last time I had a coffee. At least drinkable.

Waitrose was all but deserted

Cold afternoon in Winchester

December 12, 2018

The day started off cold and misty. Mist went but it remained very cold.

Nightmare getting down to Winchester.

Train to Alton running late. I miss the bus at Alton. I then miss the next bus sitting itn the Alton Staion Cafe. I almost miss the following bus, stopping off at Alton Books,

I pass by Coffee Cherry, note it is empty. I cannot see it surviving.

Bus gets into Winchester late.

I finally arrives in Winchester at a quarter to four.

Too cold for street food, too late to eat anywhere, I have a pizza in the street.

Chat with cheesemonger, buy some cheese.

Head off down to Flat Whites. Too late for a coffee. I stay and chat in the warm whilst closing. Then someone calls in and has a V60. I too get a V60.

Guest coffee this month Assembly. They won coffee roasting campionship this year for UK. I have tried their excellent coffee before at Kiosk in York.

I head to City Square. They are closing earlier and earlier. I did not know they were closing at eight. It is now six. Though six is reasonable for winter. Hopefully they will stay open later in the summer when it is pleasant to sit outside.

https://mobile.twitter.com/PoluEcoProducts/status/1066275148775518208

They have a reusable coffee cup Polū I have never heard of. Sustainable bamboo, or claimed to be, clone of ecoffee cup. Maybe ecoffee cup under a different name, or maybe, as this is the second copy I have come across, the other in Robert Dyas, one manufacturer different branding.

I wander to the Christmas Market. No one about, apart from the ice skating rink.

I have a chat with the guy with Comte cheese. He offers me a slice for £3-00. Er, no. I will buy from King’s Cross.

Next shed fake Cheddar encased on wax. No thanks.

Christmas market packing up at 6030. I have time to catch 1850 bus. I arrive to see it leaving at 1845. I check timetable. Throughout the day, xx20 and xx50. Showing 1845, next bus 1930.

I decide to go for a walk along the river and around the back streets, back through now deserted Christmas market. Very dark.

I catch the bus. I ask driver when did timetable change? He says early in the year. I am baffled when he says bus should have left at 1920, and I was lucky to catch, only leaving late because a kid has wrong ticket.

I go and check timetable. I had been looking at wrong timetable, but the reason I thought correct, shows bus leaving at 1845. Thus bus left as I originally thought, five minutes early.

What has changed, where late bus used to leave hourly at xx50, now hourly at xx20.

Something going very wrong.

Old bus, double-decker no wifi, no usb charging ports. Usually late bus new single-decker with wifi and usb charging ports. I assume they use these new buses as more fuel efficient.

At Alton, not train until 2044.

I pop in Waitrose. Even by the low standards of Waitrose shocking the amount of rotting bananas on the shelves. And no excuses as someone had stuck pitiful reductions on the rotting bananas.

I raise with two members of staff. Greeted by total indifference.

The fresh produce only reduced by pence. Store about to close. Will then be thrown away.

When I alight from train, fifteen minutes wait for a bus.

I finally arrive home a little before ten.

Afternoon in Reading

December 10, 2018

A cold day that got colder.

GWR trains Gatwick-Guildford-Reading have usb charging ports and 13A mains sockets. Great, can charge phone, top up power bank, only one problem, half the time not working. Not working because Guard has not turned on the power. Same applies to wifi, the trains have wifi, but half the time not working. The Guard rarely walks through the train, thus passengers unable to inform the guard there is a problem, or buy a ticket.

Not able to buy a ticket on train, Guard fails to pass through the train.

Queues at Reading Station to buy a ticket.

New timetable? None on display. No one manning Information desk.

In January, rail companies will justify hike in rail fares claiming they are improving the service.

Reading Station has a side exit. Not sign posted. Hidden behind shops. I only know because I came in that way once. It is handy as leads direct to Reading Town Hall and cuts out the town centre.

Pass by CUP Reading Town Hall. Convenient if catching a train, but I would not otherwise recommend.

Chicken and noodle soup at Mum Mum. They are going backwards, was wooden utensils now plastic.

Why does every town centre think they have to have Christmas sheds selling disgusting junk food?

Reading town centre no exception. Sheds selling German sausages, doughnuts. The stomach churning stench wafting down the street from the doughnut stall makes one want to throw up.

Sales in High Street stores falling every month, mainly due to the service so bad. Instead of looking at how to enhance the town centre, some worthless jobsworth in a bullshit job who can not see further than the end of their nose, rents out space to these sheds to earn a few quid for the council, even though cost far more in loss of pleasant environment.

I look in mobile phone alley. I do not find what I want.

Opposite alley to Reading Minster and CUP coffee shop.

I look in Anonymous Coffee Shop. I ask why owner never there? I learn running a private coffee shop in Thames Tower, ugly office block outside the station.

Why open a coffee shop, ok a coffee counter in a wine shop, if never going to be there?

As always excellent cappuccino in CUP Reading Minster. Barista advises Costa Rica from The Roasting Party excellent.

But why no information about the coffee? The Roasting Party do not care. CUP have a sign, please ask barista for further information on the coffee.

Note: If go to The Roasting Party website there is still no information on their coffee. This is bad, very bad.

On leaving CUP and passing back down the alley, I see owner of Anonymous Coffee or at least who I assume to be the owner wheeling in a bicycle. I am about to walk in, he locks the door and says we are are closed. Odd for a wine shop.

Had I arrived earlier in Reading, I would have caught train around 4-30 to miss later packed train.

I catch 1732 Reading to Gatwick. As I expect packed, standing room only. Toward the front more room. A fat woman occupying a seat and a half.

Wifi not working, though usb power port working.

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.

Cold damp misty Friday afternoon in Guildford

November 28, 2018

Last week, cold, damp and misty Friday in Guildford.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Hot, freshly prepared, good service, far better than Pho in Tunsgate.

Surrey Hills Coffee as always deserted. Well ok two customers. 10% off everything not pulling the punters in, if have Guildford book of offers. A different person serving the coffee. At least she was not stood there looking bored stiff. Once have a poor reputation for coffee, nigh impossible to recover.

Cappuccino, hot chocolate in Krema.

Walking through Tunsgate Quarter, as always deserted,

Cold wintry late November afternoon in Reading

November 26, 2018

A cold wintry afternoon in Reading, but at least not raining.

As I am about to board the train to Reading, doors closed and train drives off. Half an hour wait for next train.

I go direct to Reading Town Hall from Reading Station.

As I expected to find, CUP Reading Town Hall empty.

Chicken noodle soup in Mum Mum, back to hard to find chicken.

I show the biodegradable cutlery I had picked up from Pure at Waterloo Station last week. Nothing to state who supplies.

I wander to phone shop alley to have a chat with one of the phone shops.

Walking down the alley leading to Reading Minster and CUP I do not see owner in Anonymous Coffee. It has always been empty when I pass by. What is the point on opening a coffee shop, not being there and employing someone who cannot make coffee?

I found Reading Minster open, wander in.

I did not notice times when open, but appears to close at dusk. At 3-30 a lady closed a side door.

CUP hidden behind Reading Minster is worth finding as always excellent coffee in a pleasant environment.

Today no exception, an excellent cappuccino.

I catch 4-30 train. Crowded, but not as crowded at five o’clock train. I could have caught a train at 4-50 but it probably would have been packed.

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.