Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Heighington

March 25, 2017

Pleasant spring day in Heighington.

Frost at six in the morning, a lovely warm sunny spring day.

Garden flowers

March 25, 2017

For about a week, spring flowers have been out in the garden.

Frost at six in the morning, a lovely warm sunny spring day, sat in the garden reading Standart issue 6.

Cappuccino in Madame Waffle

March 23, 2017

I have passed Madame Waffle many times, and pass is what I do, not somewhere I would set foot in, gives every impression of being a chain fast food joint.

It therefore takes a lot of persuading for me to cross the threshold and enter.

The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop: They serve good coffee, excellent baristas, Square Mile Coffee, Standart.

The last two were the clincher. If they serve Square Mile Coffee, then they must know something about about coffee. Similarly if  Standart in the coffee shop.

I was after Standart issue 5 and 6.

Even so, it was with great reluctance, it was a pleasant day, I wished to walk up The Strait and Steep Hill to Makushi. If nothing else, I may get a decent coffee.

Thus my expectations were low.

Walking through the door, I was pleasantly surprised, an excellent job has been done on the decor, exposed brick walls, wooden tables, a pleasant atmosphere. It looked every bit a quality coffee shop.

Maybe it was  a coffee shop that served waffles.

As I walked in, Square Mile Coffee on sale.

No room, ok, we have a first floor.

I ordered a cappuccino.

I had not seen Standart. I asked.

They said it was on sale. I expected, like Makushi,  to browse.

I did find  Caffeine free to take away. I never knew it was free. But easy to see why. Patronising drivel, hacks paid to fill column inches.

The girl brought me Standart issue 7.

Do you have issue 5 and 6?

Off she went and came back with Standart issue 6. Sorry we do not have issue 5.

My cappuccino arrived. It was excellent. But then I expected no less with Square Mile.

On my way down, I bought Standart issue 6, £9.

This I queried, I can subscribe for four issues for 11 euros.

They were surprised, they order for resale and  pay £9-17 each when they order ten for resale, to sell at a loss.

Something going very wrong. I then looked again, as something did not add up. Oops. To subscribe a single issue, which is then automatically renewed, 11 euros per issue, to subscribe four issues, which is automatically renewed, 40 euros. I thought it did not make sense 11 euros a single issue or four issues.

On leaving, I was asked had I seen the floor below?

No, I did not know there was a floor below.

Below, I found there was an undercroft, indicating the building much older than external looks would suggest, or built on the foundation of a much older building.

I was told there are tunnels connecting all these lower levels.

Whether true or not I do not know. Maybe an urban myth, as not something I have ever heard of.

Occasional live music and other events in the evening.

Ruddock’s is closing after 136 years in business, but leaving Henry’s tea room open. This  I could not understand how this could work.

Today, I noticed a side door, leading direct to the tea rooms without having to pass through Ruddock’s. Something I have never noticed before.

I inquired in Ruddock’s. They said Henry’s too will be closing.

They blamed high car parking charges. This is not the problem The problem is they are selling rubbish.

Flag over The Stonebow flying half mast, a mark of respect for those killed yesterday afternoon during a terrorist attack in London.

The Great Correction

March 7, 2017

The Great Correction, wonderful song and imagery from Eliza Gilkyson.

From her album Beautiful World.

She needs to release on bandcamp, not all the wrong sites that are owned and controlled by Big Business

Special thanks to 

Blockadia are the flash points, where paramilitary forces are used against protesters defending the commons. 

 

Ruddock’s to close after 163 years in business

March 4, 2017

Ruddock’s and Stokes on High Bridge are permanent features of Lincoln High Street.

Ruddock’s, a printer and a shop, the shop a bookshop, stationary, art supplies, upmarket pens, located in the top half of the High Street in Lincoln.

Or was, the printing business is to remain, the shop is to close.

Ruddock’s is to close after 163 years in business. A family business, the plan is to close in April 2017, 113 years in the present location, prior to that a little further up the High Street.

Henry Ruddock blames the lack of parking.

That is not the problem, the High Street is busy, there is footfall on the street, the problem is people are not passing through the door into the store.

I am sorry to see Ruddock’s close, but sadly not surprised, it lost its way years ago.

Lack of car parking in the town centre is simply an excuse. Yes, there is a problem of traffic congestion, solve that by improving public transport.

I see a High Street packed, but I see Ruddock’s empty.

But I would agree most of the developments within the city centre have been to the detriment of the town centre. For example the ugly high rise buildings, destruction of Sincil Street and the market, allowing motorised traffic through a pedestrianised city centre.

Ruddock’s used to be an excellent bookshop. Ruddock’s lost their way when they stopped selling books, though difficult to compete with on-line and Waterstone’s selling cut price best sellers, deals that are not offered to indie bookshops. Walk in now, and it is newspapers, magazines and rubbish.

Though first floor is a specialist art supplier.

Henry’s tea shop upstairs, is nicely done out, has atmosphere, but the coffee when I tried was not good. These days if open a coffee shop, ok it is a tea shop, you have to employ top class baristas and take a pride in the coffee you serve, not leave it to someone who makes the sandwiches. And how many passing by know there is a tea shop upstairs?

The tea shop will remain open or for the time being, but it is difficult to see how this will work if the shop is to close.

The tea shop is also placed at a competitive disadvantage when Starbucks and Caffè Nero dodge tax.

Ruddock’s also sells high quality pens, and I do not mean trendy rubbish Ted Baker as they promoted on twitter.

Montegrappa The Alchemist

Montegrappa The Alchemist

One of the rare shops I have found selling Montegrappa pens though not their top range, for example The Alchemist pen.

Lincoln will now have lost all its indie bookshops, or soon will have.

Readers Rest closed a couple of years ago. A great loss, and still missed.

Harlequin is going, driven out of business by a greedy landlord hiking the rent.

BookStop Cafe remains, local authors and second hand books, located in an undercroft beneath a Norman building with stunning view down Steep Hill.

Business rate hike is going to kill off many more indie businesses.

Development of Sincil Street has done an excellent job of driving out indie businesses. The street is now derelict. It used to be between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon busier than the High Street.

What is left? The same boring chains as seen in every town.

And where we do see indie coffee shops like Coffee Aroma, harassment from the County Council for leaving their tables and chairs outside in a pedestrianised area.

Yet what we see sadly is not only Lincoln, planners who care not for the local town, lack vision, lack understanding of town centre planning, and too often in the pocket of greedy developers.

When I attend a planning meeting and find a planner arguing on behalf of a greedy developer, dismissing any local objections, often quite well founded local objections, blatantly lying on the presentation, then I know something stinks.

And we only have to look at the results.

That is why time and time again, when English visit small towns across Europe, and still find the butcher, baker and indie bookshops, the historic centre free of traffic and unspoilt, they ask, why is my town not like this?

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

In Bassano del Grappa, a small town north of Venice nestling in the foothills of the Alps, we find traffic free streets, little shops, three indie bookshops, one of which is in a former palace where Napoleon once stayed.

Lincoln City Council, shedding crocodile tears, wringing of hands, not us guv.

Of course they are at fault, they are the planning authority hand in hand with Lincolnshire who are the Highways authority.

A classic case study in bad town centre planning.

And then have the gall to blame Lincoln for being a historic town. That is its attraction, there is nothing else of attraction. Or do they think people visit to admire the ugly buildings, to shop in the same shops as found elsewhere?

I fully back Henry Ruddock in his damning critique of the City Council.

Lincoln would make a case study in unimaginative, bad town centre planning.

Where I would disagree, is in the comments on car parking.

In the last decade or more we have seen ugly high rise buildings, each one uglier than the other.

Brayford is an eyesore.

This was an area of old warehouses and mills. This area could have been restored, to create an attractive and vibrant atmosphere, ground floor indie coffee shops and other indie businesses, first floor small businesses, design studios, hi-tech, top floors living accommodation.

Look to Bristol for an example.

A couple of years ago Sincil Street was thriving, between ten in the morning and four in the morning, it was busier than the High Street.

Now it has been blighted by development and sky high rents. And if look at the hoardings, more High Street chains, where once we had indie businesses.

Look to North Laine in Brighton, three streets each longer than Sincil Street, associated side streets, always busy, not a single chain, all indie businesses.

We see harassment of Coffee Aroma for leaving their tables and chairs outside, rather than deal with the real issue of stopping traffic through a pedestrianised area and delivering by handcart and trolley, as the norm in Europe.

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.