Archive for the ‘Winchester’ Category

The Other Sam

August 17, 2018

I came across these three kids playing in the High Street during a recent trip to Winchester.

They were amazingly good. A sense of music few posses.

A must for Staycation Live, which this year was dire.

Let us hope someone grants them free studio recording time as they deserve it.


V60 at Coffee Lab

August 16, 2018

After a not very good lunch at The Square by Coffee Lab it  was then head to Coffee Lab.

This was the first, the original Coffee Lab, that opened a couple of years ago in Winchester, now known as little Coffee Lab, the other two being Coffee Lab Academy (though the Academy was short lived and no more) and The Square by Coffee Lab.

It is unfortunate Coffee Lab now closes at three, as the only one that has V60 and cold brew, the only one that has guest coffee and coffee beans on sale.

A different guest coffee from Hundred House Coffee to last week, this time from Colombia.

I learnt why ripping people off, charging £10 for a bag of coffee that retails for less. If not, would have to charge more for coffee brewed with the guest coffee. The logic is perverse. No other coffee shop applies this perverse logic. Need to have a rethink.

V60 with the guest coffee which I sat outside with and enjoyed. The street very quiet.

Pour with swan-necked kettle with water just off boiling to clean the filter.

Pour for around 30 seconds, leave for around 30 seconds to allow the coffee to bloom.  This enables the release of CO2.

Continue to pour.

The swirling motion I have not seen before.

Afternoon in Winchester

August 15, 2018

A pleasant warm afternoon.

First to dentist, then hop on a bus to catch a train.

I missed the train I would have liked to have caught, but still early. I would still arrive Winchester lunchtime, earlier than I usually arrive, in time for lunch at The Square.

A steam train at Alton Station.

I inquired at Alton Station Cafe, what was the dinner tonight. Nothing, we are not cooking. Had I got the wrong day? No, it was Wednesday, Bikers Night.

Passing through Alton I see a new coffee shop that I had not noticed before about to open. Claimed to be an artisan coffee shop, claim is one thing, reality another, and artisan is meaningless. We will see.

I was very tempted to alight from the bus at Arlesford, then continue on to Winchester, but if I did, I would not make lunch or Coffee Lab before three.

Arlesford was busy but then so was Winchester. Maybe because lunchtime.

I made The Square, but lunch, mushrooms on sourdough bread was not very good, not as good as when I last had.

The Square busy and noisy. Not an environment in which to  relax and I was pleased to leave.

It was then head to Coffee Lab. A different guest coffee from Hundred House Coffee, this time from Colombia.

I learnt why ripping people off, charging £10 for a  bag of coffee that retails for less. If not, would have to charge more for coffee brewed with the guest coffee. The logic is perverse. No other coffee shop applies this perverse logic. Need to have a rethink.

V60 with the guest coffee which I sat outside with and enjoyed. The street very quiet.

Back in the High Street, three kids playing. They were amazingly good. A sense of music few posses.

To the cheese stall. Whilst sat outside Coffee Lab, an e-mail inviting me to a coffee and cheese event at Purfrock Coffee.  It was due to have taken place several weeks ago, but cancelled at very short notice.

Looked in Flat Whites coffee shop. Their new guest coffee not yet in. Maybe next week.

Cappuccino and peanut butter brownie at The Square.

1820 bus to Alton.

Fish n chip shop near the station appears to have closed, as second time I have passed by and seen it closed.

Chicken curry at Alton Station cafe, but as last week, nothing left.

Afternoon in Winchester

August 10, 2018

A cold wet day.

Before I set off heavy rain.

I miss train to Alton. Trains are switched platforms. If there was an announcement, I did not hear. I board wrong train and head off in the wrong direction.

At Alton, torrential rain. Bus fails to stop at bus shelter, stops further down the road. Passengers get soaked running to the bus, then cannot board the bus, bus driver has not opened the door whilst he is having a drink.

Torrential rain all the way down to Winchester.

I stay on the bus into the centre of Winchester.

I make Coffee Lab as closing. A girl who knows what she is doing. I raise they are overcharging for the Hundred House Coffee guest coffee, She says yes, ten pounds correct price, but shocked when she learns retails at six pounds. Says she will raise it. She realises Coffee Lab are not doing their reputation any good ripping people off.

A wood-fired pizza off the pizza van. Not as good as on Wednesday. Not long enough in the oven.

Today Friday market day in Winchester. Rows of stalls selling complete and utter crap. More food stalls than when street food market, but the extra stalls not what would wish to eat from.

The few quality stalls, wood-fired pizzas, Flat Whites coffee, bread stall, cheesemonger.

No surprise the market not busy, especially if compare with the vastly superior street market in Guildford on a Friday and Saturday.

Cappuccino and chocolate brownie in The Square. Tables not cleared, tables dirty. Coffee Lab once again not doing their reputation a lot of good.

Evensong in Winchester Cathedral.

Find grave of Jane Austen on leaving.

One of the ushers on leaving on locking up, shows the key for the main door.

Then just sufficient time to walk around the back streets.

Passed by the house where Jane Austen spent her last few days on earth and the bookshop where she bought her books.

Catch the 1920 bus from Winchester. A marked contrast to the journey down, a lovely sunny evening.

— to be continued —

The Wing Faced Earth Figs

August 9, 2018

I chanced upon The Wing Faced Earth Figs playing in the street on a recent trip to Winchester.

They were excellent and attracted a large crowd.

Avant garde folk.

They were scheduled to play at Boomtown.

If only this talent at Staycation Live.

I picked up a CD.  It is an absolute must they are on bandcamp.

I found The Wing Faced Earth Figs later packing up. People were still going up to them to thank them. One lady popped out of her shop to tell them how enjoyable it made her day.  An ice cream vendor gave then free ice cream.

Afternoon in Winchester

August 8, 2018


Today, much cooler. Yesterday over 30C, today barely above 20C.

Catching a bus to catch a train always risky, bus late, bus does not turn up, then miss the train. Luckily today, only couple of minutes wait for a  bus, catch train OK.  Maniac bus driver, pulls onto a roundabout in front of a  car, car narrowly avoids ploughing into the side of the bus.

At Alton Station, clapped out double-decker No 65 bus from Guildford sat for several minutes with engine running belching out pollution.

1315 No 64 bus to Winchester driven by a lunatic. At Four Marks and Ropely had to wait a couple of minutes as ahead of schedule. At Four Marks bus drove ogf as a girl was about to board the bus. Girl threw her hands up in horror.

Boomtown massive, runs 9-13 August. Watch towers on the security fence.

Sicilian guys still not serving pasta. No one likes their disgusting junk food, but they do not listen.

Chat with cheesemonger, tell him I now have Re-Inventing the Wheel. Also of my conversation with a cheese maker at Guildford farmers market, pasteurised milk, back and white cows, feed in one end, watery milk out the other, why produce farmhouse cheese if only to replicate industrial cheese production?

Playing in the street, The Wing Faced Earth Figs. They were excellent and attracted a large crowd.  If only this talent at Staycation Live.  They are scheduled to play at Boomtown. I pick up a CD.  It is an absolute must they are on bandcamp.

Last week, no guest coffee at Coffee Lab, shipped out, no new guest coffee. Today only one bag left of the new guest coffee, Hundred House Coffee. Kids running the coffee shop who don’t have a clue. Different staff each time I look in.

I am charged ten pounds for a bag of coffee by a girl who admits she does not know the price.  I query the price I am charged. Six pounds a bag on the Hundred House Coffee website.

I learn Dhan is in The Square. I make the mistake of ordering a cappuccino. I was so pleased to get there before they shut at three.  Though what I should have ordered was a V60.

Tables outside, dirty, cups and saucers and pots not cleared away, rubbish blowing off the tables down the street.  Not good.

I find Dhan in The Square. A big mistake having had a cappuccino as he would have made me a cappuccino. At least he has signed my book, Coffee Art.  I thank him for signing the book.

To the wood-fired pizza stall. Only a small wood-fired oven. I choose mushroom with truffle oil. At least one stall worth eating at.

I look in Flat Whites coffee shop as they are closing and drop off latest Caffeine. No new guest coffee maybe next week.

I find The Wing Faced Earth Figs packing up. People are still going up to them to thank them.

Back to The Square. A cappuccino and date slice.

I go for a wander down the River Itchen, along the back streets and around the back of Winchester Cathedral.

I look in the bookshop. Recommend they stock Re-Inventing the Wheel. They are pleased when I tell them that Paulo Coelho has a new book out in September, Hippie.

1820 No 64 bus, anther maniac driver. Crosses the white line in the middle of the road to overtake on a blind bend where thee road on approaching Arlesford goes under a railway bridge.

At The Alton Station Cafe, arrive to see the last of the night’s special vanish. I dd not really fancy meatballs.

Catch a train, then a bus.

Arrive home a little after half past eight, very very tired.

Afternoon in Winchester

August 1, 2018

Journey down, the rolling hills, most of the harvest in, straw bails in the fields.

Take advantage of usb charging point on the bus.

Alight and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Hope springs eternal, Sicilian guys will have pasta, but sadly not.

I make Coffee Lab before they close. No guest coffee beans, shipped out to Southampton and Chichester. What this means is they get old beans. Not doing reputation of Coffee Lab any good.

Something to eat at City Square. Was not good. Basically leftovers.

Then head to Flat Whites Coffee Shop.

Their guest coffee now old stock. Importing new beans from Ireland, but expensive, as shipping costs doubles the price.

Their next guest coffee will be from Outpost Coffee. A good choice.

I suggest try Taf in Athens, but on refection they may only ship their basic coffee, not their best coffee, as will not know the coffee shop. If need be, I will talk to Taf.

I also suggest try Makushi aka Base Camp.

Interesting conversation in Flat Whites whilst drinking cold brew with guest coffee from The Good Coffee Cartel.

Cheese guy has already gone from market. Market long closed, but he is always one of the last to leave.  Sicilian guys said he left early, little trade. Also problem maybe  keeping cheese cool, though today was not a  hot day. It will be hot next few days.

Back to City Square. Cappuccino was not hot enough. I also had a brownie. Not a great fan, but this was excellent.

My main reason for returning, the coffee beans, so much trouble to obtain, I had left behind.

1920 bus to Alton.

Once again, all the food at Alton Station Cafe gone. Too many bikers turn up.

I finally arrive home 2145 very tired.

— to be continued —

Afternoon in Winchester

July 18, 2018

A strange day.  Cloudy and yet very warm. Only walking down Magdalen Hill cool. Had the sun come out or clear blue sky it would have been very hot.

On the way down rolling hills, yellow with ripening wheat. At least I assume wheat, it could be barley, oats doubtful.

I pass by the site for Boom Town under construction. It is huge. This year 9-13 August 2018.

On the street food market I keep hoping the Sicilian guys will revert back to their excellent pasta, not the disgusting food they now sell, but hope in vein. It is tragic, they had an excellent food product, and now they have rubbish. Everyone I speak to is of the same opinion. People have told them and yet they do not listen. To say the least, perverse.

I find Coffee Lab open. Sadly they now close at three.

I make the mistake of not buying their guest coffee from Clifton which they tell me is every good.

Clifton Coffee are not doing their reputation any good by supplying coffee to Cosy Club, a corporate chain, a fake 1930s bar, so fake it is a parody of fake.

I learn Dhan is around.

On my way to Coffee Lab Academy, I spot Dhan at a table by the window, he spots me, smiles and waves.

I walk in and we greet each other. We have not seen each other since last year. I pass greetings from baristas I met in Athens last year. So long ago, I can no longer remember who.  I tell him of some of the coffee shops.

He kindly signs a copy of Coffee Art which I wish to give as  a gift and makes me a cappuccino.

It is then to The Square for lunch. They warn me in Coffee Lab Academy I am too late for lunch.

They are correct. Lunch now ceases at two. When nothing on the street food market, I think no problem, excellent lunch at The Square.

Winchester is weird. Everywhere stops serving food at two. If you are lucky three.

The Square was serving food into the afternoon, but the residents of Winchester are now so brainwashed into believing no food after two, that The Square had no custom after two.

What I have suggested is they follow the example of Just Made 33 or 200 Degrees, freshly made food, once it has gone its has gone.

No Laura today.  Off ill. I ask wish her well.

It was then to Flat Whites Coffee Shop.

They prepared me something to eat. It was not good.

It is rare to find coffee shops with good food.

I try their cold brew. It is OK, but not great. I am sure the last time, it was not concentrate, then watered down.

Two new guest coffees from The Good Coffee Cartel.

In a tin, as though a tin of meths. Not sure this is a good idea. The idea is reuse the tin, but from where the beans to top up the tin? It is not like going into Grocer and Grain and topping up with olive oil.

I am now back to my original dilemma, where to eat in Winchester. A tourist city that has nowhere to eat. Utterly bizarre.

Now too late to buy anything off the cheeses stall. We have a chat,  and had a short chat earlier.

I tell him of the turkey stall on Guildford farmers market and Godalming street food market and the ludicrous advice given to stallholders, poultry and turkey sausages sat on the stall in these high temperatures. He said even with refrigeration, he is having difficulty keeping the cheese cool, and some days has had to pack up early, otherwise would have to throw the cheese away.

I mention Re-Inventing the Wheel. He knows the book but has not read. I ask of Salers Tradition, from the Auvergne, made in 45 kg wheels. He knows the cheese, knows the area, has a  house there and has recently returned.

A couple of weeks ago, I was to have attended a talk at Pufrock, Bronwen Percival and James Hoffman on cheese and coffee. It was cancelled at short notice It is due to be held again end of July or early August I will let him know if I learn more.

Back to The Square. A cappuccino and a cake.

I stay until a little after seven, catch 1920 bus. It is tempting to go for a walk, catch 2020 bus.

Five coffee shops visited, five if I count Flat Whites van.  A coffee in three.

Nothing left at Alton Station Cafe. It was chicken curry, I had looked in earlier on my way down to Winchester.

I would have liked moussaka They often used to have moussaka, and I never tried,  once I tried and could not believe how good.  In Athens and Cyprus not as good, but the bikers do not like and they do not make any more. I suggested do a special for the bikers, but also a small amount of moussaka.

Wednesday night is Bikers Night, but now they are becoming a  pain, too many are turning up.

I walk in Waitrose. Long queue in Waitrose. I walk out. No trains. I go back. Train turns up. Not leaving until 2115. There has been no trains since 1735 which did not turn up.

Does Waitrose hate customers? The cheese counter was closed at least twenty minutes before the store closed.

I arrive home at ten.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 20, 2018

A pleasant afternoon in Winchester.

Missed a bus, missed a train.

Looked in Alton Station Cafe. Tonight for bikers night, chicken casserole.

Driver of 1415 No 64 bus Alton to Winchester running several minutes late, driving like a lunatic, exceeding speed limit, hit curb and smashed bus at Four Marks.

Alight and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Sicilian guys still serving crap from their stall. It is tragic, they used to serve excellent pasta from their stall, worth a trip to Winchester for.

Flat Whites stall no food, all gone. Different guest coffee to last week.

I decide to check out the food at The Square. Spoilt for choice. Sourdough toast with grilled mushrooms.

The people sat outside, relaxing with a coffee, chatting with friends, I am very much reminded of Tailor Made in Athens.

Shocked to learn it is already five o’clock.

I head off to Flat Whites coffee shop. Too late, closed. I drop off a couple of copies of Caffeine. As last week, I recommend, do not subscribe to Caffeine, instead subscribe to Standart.

Back to The Square, but first check out Coffee Lab. I am shocked to find now closes at three. Coffee Lab Academy, as last week, chairs piled up, there were still people sitting there. It has gone rapidly down hill with no Laura in charge.

A cappuccino at The Square. Different barista and not as good as last week. Very large slice of walnut and coffee cake. Best I have ever had.

At Alton Station, same problem as last year, an ice cream van illegally parked in the car park, obstructing access, engine running, serving ice cream.

As last week, no special left at Alton Station Cafe.

As I board train, steam  train leaving.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 13, 2018

Miss train to Alton by twenty minutes due to usual piss-poor service by Stagecoach.

At Alton run to Alton Station Cafe to inquire of tonight, bikers night, lamb casserole.

Bus to Winchester large crack in the windscreen. Why is it still in service, especially as reported this morning by another driver?

Shocked to find the excellent greengrocer in Alton has closed. Maybe they have relocated. Let us hope so.

Walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Looking forward to pasta of Sicilian stall, shocked, annoyed, angry and upset to find no pasta, only rubbish. I try, looks like a pasty but is not, the pastry like a doughnut, yuk, inside disgusting cheap ham, tomato sauce not even tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. It was as bad as it sounds.

What is wrong with these people? They start with good food, then cut corners and and serve rubbish.

On the Flat Whites stall, guest coffee. They say go to their coffee shop and try.

The coffee shop opened end of last year, hidden in a courtyard.  I notice a good selection of guest coffees, also coffee soap, made with coffee grounds (a novel use of coffee grounds).

The coffee I was recommended, no V60, but have Chemex. I notice cold brew.

The cold brew excellent, a little cloudy as not filtered. I was surprised they brew for 24 hours.

I suggest serve in a  glass carafe with a smaller glass.

They subscribe to Caffeine. I recommend do not waste your money, subscribe instead to Standart and get a free sample coffee with each issue.

It is then to Coffee Lab Academy. I am surprised to find closed at five o’clock, chairs piled on tables.

Where is Laura?

The Square.

They have opened a third coffee shop, each one street apart.

I find a long queue outside for a pizza shop opposite. Free pizza.

The Square is a lot different to the other two coffee shops, which are each different. Much larger, seating outside and out the back, seating upstairs, and packed.

I order a cappuccino. It tastes different. I query Laura. Same coffee, they have changed the grinders, and it has made all the difference to the coffee, plus they are monitoring and adjusting the grinders during the day.

Do I queue for a free pizza? No, I am tired, I will catch the bus and join the bikers at Alton Station Cafe.  I arrive and find no lamb casserole.