Archive for the ‘Winchester’ Category

No 64 bus route Alton to Winchester

November 19, 2017

A new fleet of buses on the No 64 route Alton came into service last week.

Officially came into service today with the introduction of a new timetable.

The last couple of years has seen new buses introduced on this route.

Now a dedicated fleet.

Free wifi and usb charging points.

Very bad design of the usb charging points, low down between the seats making access very difficult. Though not as bad the new Goldline introduced on the Aldershot-Farnborough-Camberley route a few months ago where the usb charging points are even lower, and ideal for passengers to kick with their feet or rest their feet on. Same bus, internally different seats. On the No 1 Goldline, the usb charging points are almost on the floor.

A power bank, indicating full, charged a couple of weeks ago and only used as occasional torch, to fully charge, what I thought would be a few minutes, from leaving Alton Station until approaching Winchester before indicating fully charged. Either low output or high capacity power bank. Power bank new and have not used before.

I would not risk charging a phone or tablet, but quite happy to use to charge a power bank.

Depressing to see an ignorant female with dirty feet on the seats of a brand new bus. This problem not restricted to this route, also on the Goldline route, passengers putting their dirty feet on the seats of new buses.

On the trains, can be fined for feet on seats.

Timetable improvements that should be made on this route, cut out the detour around Alresford, better connection with trains at Alton.

On the new timetable, the buses are running an hourly late night service.

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Afternoon in Winchester

November 15, 2017

Not as cold as last week, but cold.

Sun came out at Alton, sun and mist.

New bus, No 64 bus Alton to Winchester.

This must be third or fourth generation of new buses on this route in the last couple of years.

USB charging points, but poor design, low down between the seats, though not as low as on the No 1 Aldershot-Farnborough-Camberley route. It beggars belief, such bad design,

I would not risk a mobile phone, not unless desperate, I would though charge a power bank.

Late bus from Winchester, is a single decker, usb ports, wifi. I charge a small power bank. Last week, not so late, a double decker.

I decided to try on this new bus with a new power bank.

As showing fully charged, and only been used as a torch since charged a couple of weeks ago, I expect only a few minutes charging.

Charging entire route until approaching Winchester.

Suggests either very low output from usb port, at a guess only 500 mAh or problems with power bank. Could also be power bank is higher capacity then I realised.

I would normally alight and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester, but decide to stay on the bus into Winchester.

No one at the Sicilian pasta stall, I walk up the High Street to see what else on offer.

I find a French stall I have not seen before, tomatoes, nuts, onions and shallots. The tomatoes are rare heritage varieties.

The stall will not return until 20 December. They do a tour around England and France.

Tagliatelle off the Sicilian stall. It was better than last week, but I wish they would revert to what they had in the summer, served with a creamy mushroom sauce. Pasta is fine, but ideally it needs to be with something, not pasta on its own.

I suggest they sell extra virgin olive oil. I learn the oil they use comes from their family farm back in Sicily. I also suggest a Christmas hamper.

The street food market only allows one of everything. Why then was another stall selling inferior pasta allowed on the market?

This rule is wrong, there should be at least two to give choice, but correct to limit to maintain variety.

I look in Coffee Lab. I speak with the barista who I talked to last week.

I visited Workhouse in Reading.

What did you think of the coffee?

Unfortunately I did not try.

But I did try CUP speciality tea and coffee. Excellent.

No sign of Dhan.

A cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy.

Had I waited, Dhan would have appeared.

1720 Winchester to Alton, ignorant female has her dirty trainers on brand new seats.

I learn from the driver, new fleet, does not officially come into operation until Sunday 19 November when new timetable is introduced. Which may also explain why no working wifi, as not yet gone live.

Excellent chicken curry at Alton Station Cafe. They invite me for Christmas dinner.

For inexplicable reasons, train is divided at Farnham. I could understand adding coaches, not removing coaches. No explanation given. No announcement if in correct part of the train.

National Cappuccino Day in Coffee Lab

November 8, 2017

Where better to have a cappuccino on National Cappuccino Day than in Coffee Lab?

On my way down to Winchester I learn from Guildford Tourist Information that today is National Cappuccino Day. No one is aware of this, and neither was I.

The coffee shop they show is not somewhere I would recommend. Not unless you enjoy bad coffee and cigarette smoke blown in your face.  A cafe serving coffee masquerading as coffee shop.

If I were in Guildford there are better places for coffee.

Lucky for me, cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy , though sadly no Dhan.

I had hoped to find Dhan, but he was nowhere to be found, I looked in both Coffee Lab and Coffee Lab Academy, but no Dhan. I returned to Coffee Lab Academy where it was warmer.

Both Coffee Lab and Coffee lab Academy have had a makeover, forced by change of logo. I like the new look.

Charming lady who I often chat with is pleased to see me.

I am surprised when she makes my coffee. I did not know she was a barista. She is very good.

I have a brief look at Coffee Art, a book by Dhan released a month ago. It looks worth having. None are signed.

A flapjack as well. I learn made in the Salisbury coffee shop.  Excellent.

If you wondered what really happens when a cappuccino is made, a clip from the BBC Archive.

Afternoon in Winchester

July 12, 2017

Coolish in the morning then turned warm.

Alighted from the bus and walked down Magdalene Hill into Winchester.

A Chinese girl on the bus with luggage. I assumed she had like me, alighted from the London train. I found her waiting at a bus stop. I asked where she was going. I was surprised when she said Heathrow to catch a flight to China.

I asked where she had come from, when she was on the bus. She said she lived in Alton. I explained she was going a very long way around. She should have from Alton Station, caught the train to Woking, then bus to Heathrow. Maybe she will do this when she returns.

Pasta off Bedda was not good. Two Sicilian guys have been there since beginning of May. Their pasta usually excellent, tagliatelle with creamy mushroom sauce excellent. Today tomato sauce, like spaghetti Bolognese minus the meatballs. Not good

Why do people do this? Start off excellent, then rapidly deteriorate.

I eat my not-so-good pasta in the Cathedral Grounds and pick up a new found friend, a dog joins me.

Flat Whites packed up early. No. I had not even said what I wanted. I do not want a coffee, a cake. The answer was again no. I asked why were they leaving early. An ignorant man, who I have never seen before, argued, said they always leave at this time, and he should know because it was his van. And no, they do not usually leave early

Odd, it belongs to lady who usually runs the van, and when not there, helpful young lads. Has she sold the business since opening a coffee shop in Southampton? Or if staff, not doing her reputation any good at all.

Too late for a cappuccino at Coffee Lab machine shut down. A chat with Dhan. Which then made me too late for a coffee in Coffee Lab Academy.

A cappuccino at The Dispensary Kitchen, which unfortunately spoilt by the addition of chocolate. Nothing wrong with it, but when using a quality blend from The Roasting party, not getting the best out of it.

A walk along the river and around the back streets and through the Cathedral Grounds.

Luckily on arrival I had noticed the bus station being demolished, as had to catch the bus in the street.

Ice cream van in the car park at Alton Station, blocking access through the car park, engine left illegally running belching out toxic fumes.

Popped in Waitrose. Compared with Sainsbury’s or Asda, only about half the coffee on sale rubbish brand coffee, the other half at least an attempt at quality coffee. Only that from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee appeared to have a roast date, and then only just inside the optimum as roasted a month ago. Makes the point that the furore about Sainsbury’s pulling out of the FairTrade scam is meaningless.

One of the counter arguments against Sainsbury’s ditching FairTrade, is can buy FairTrade in Waitrose. I did not notice any of the coffee to be FairTrade.

Union is direct trade. Union pay farmers a better price than FairTrade, they want quality coffee not commodity coffee.

If you want quality coffee, why buy from a supermarket? Buy from indie coffee shops or coffee roasters where not only will get fresh quality coffee, but the farmers are getting a higher price for producing quality, not FairTrade commodity coffee.

For example in Winchester can buy coffee from Coffee Lab or Coffee Lab Academy, which is their specified blend from The Roasting Party.

Excellent chilli con carne at The Station Cafe. Apart from too spicy. But far better than the disgusting meal when I last passed through.

I would have sat outside as a pleasant evening. But not possible because of the pollution from the ice cream van.

I do not know who owns the car park, but South West Trains or Alton Town Council need to deal with this problem.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 14, 2017

A hot day. First hot day since May.

Alighted before bus station and walked down the hill into Winchester.

Pleased to find the Sicilian guys had pasta. At first I thought not as they were not there.

I looked in The Dispensery Kitchen, but no time for a coffee. Maybe later.

From Academy Lab an affagato. I had to explain how, but at least this time they had ice cream, Jude’s ice cream which is excellent ice cream.

Comments from several people, a coffee culture in Winchester,  Coffee Lab, Coffee Lab Academy, Flat Whites, The Dispensary Kitchen.

Just had time to walk alongside the River Itchen, a little way into the countryside, then around the back streets, through the Cathedral grounds, back into the High Street and to the bus station.

Very disappointed with the food bikers night at Alton Station Cafe. Doubly disappointed. I had hoped for moussaka. Not only no moussaka, not even there wonderful freshly prepared food. Scampi and chips or fish and chips, which can get anywhere.

A very warm evening.

Next time, I will try and set off much earlier, then maybe stop off at Arsleford, maybe even get a steam train to Arelsford. Or maybe get off bus and have a wander over St Catherine’s Hill.

The Dispensary Kitchen

June 3, 2017

Although I was earlier than usual in Winchester, I was too late to have a coffee at Coffee Lab due to time spent at the street food market.

This though proved to be a mixed blessing, as I found The Dispensary Kitchen.

Earlier I had been recommended to try by the bank manger in Santander. Coffee Lab also recommended I try.

Banks managers used to flog dodgy financial products, for which a few years down the line the bank would be hit with multi-million pound fines. Now they play safe and recommend coffee shops.

A Victorian building, which has been sympathetically restored, stark modern furniture which provides a pleasant contrast.

A long chat with the owner, who also made me a cappuccino.

He actually apologised, was not the barista, but no reason to apologise, it was an excellent coffee.

Beans a blend, Elixir 22, sourced from The Roasting Party, the same roastery that supplies Einstein and Heisenberg blends to Coffee Lab.

Named 22, as use 22 grams of coffee, the norm is 18.

A light roast, though not as light as the single origin roasts by Makusihi, which I am starting to think may be too light.

A fresh bag was opened for me. Not much of a aroma.

I kept the bag for reference. Journey home, wonderful aroma of the coffee wafting by.

Currently 1 kg bags. They may have smaller for retail sale.

Later in the evening The Dispensary Kitchen  turns into a restaurant.

A good idea, as makes better use of resources.

I have never understood the coffee shops in Guildford that close at five o’clock, turning away customers.

It is always a pleasure to visit a new coffee shop and be served excellent coffee.

Very new, had only opened the week before.

Winchester needs more quality businesses like this that take a pride in the quality of service and what they serve. Local businesses that recycle money within the local economy, not chains that serve rubbish and drain the local economy.

Winchester is starting to develop its own coffee culture: Flat Whites, Coffee Lab, Coffee Lab Academy, and now The Dispensary Kitchen. It was only a year ago that Coffee Lab opened.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 3, 2017

A coolish start to the day, sun came out and turned quite warm in the afternoon.

Earlier than usual in Winchester, alighted from the bus and walked down the hill into Winchester.

Wednesday is street food market day in Winchester.

I thought I would not be eating off the falafel stall, I would try the pasta stall Bedda.  But no falafel stall. No pasta either. I was earlier, but not early enough.  All that was left was spaghetti. I am no great fan of spaghetti. It was spaghetti or nothing.

Although I was early, by the time I got to Coffee Lab and Coffee Lab Academy, too late for a coffee.  I had hoped to try their affogato.

I tried a new coffee shop, The Dispensary Kitchen. Strange thing was, I was recommended by bank manager in Santander and by Coffee lab.

A long chat with the owner of The Dispensary Kitchen.

Excellent cappuccino, made for me by the owner. He apologised, said he was not a barista, and would have been even better if brewed by his barista.

Coffee a blend, Elixir 22, from The Roasting Party,  who also supply Coffee Lab.  Named 22 because they use 22 grams of coffee, not 18 as is common.

I learnt something very interesting. One sees on sale in a coffee shop ‘home made cakes’, it is from a company of that name.

Something I had noticed on the market, a stall selling identical cakes to a stall in Guildford.  I queried this, to be told they buy from the same supplier. Everyone in Guildford has been led to believe the stall is selling their own cakes.

No time to walk along the river or the back streets.

Alighted early from the bus and walked through Alton.

Sorry to be able to confirm, O’Connor’s Secret Garden has indeed closed. The place gutted, nothing left.

I inquired opposite. Apart from being able to tell me had closed about six weeks ago, they knew nothing more.

Wednesday night bikers night at the Staion Cafe. I arrived in time to see the last portion of the night’s special being scooped onto a plate.

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab

May 3, 2017

Coffee Lab, if nothing else, I was glad of the warmth.

Did I wish to sit outside?

Normally yes, but not today, far too cold.

Can I please close the door?

Now a choice of two different blends, Einstein or Heisenberg.

I chose Einstein as I was familiar with it.

Excellent walnut cake, made by a local lady.

I sat in my second favourite place, by the window.

Lovely paper flowers.

Written on the mirror, courses they are running at Coffee Lab Academy in May.

I then popped around the corner to Coffee Lab Academy, for them to weigh me out a bag of Einstein beans.

As I was about to leave, in walked Dhan,

A  quick hi, sorry got to run, a bus to catch.

I just had time to suggest he checked out Standart, maybe stock it.

Bedda

May 3, 2017

Today, Wednesday, is street food market in Winchester.

Each visit, the market gets smaller. Though loss of many of the stalls is no loss.

Bedda is Sicilian for good.

Bedda is a Sicilian stall on the Winchester street food market.  Two Sicilian guys doing pasta. Today was their first day.

I tried their tagliatelle or was it tagliolini. Lovely creamy sauce, with added sliced oyster mushrooms (at least I think they were oyster mushrooms).

It was excellent, in fact worth a trip to Winchester for.

The only time I have had as good, was from El Maná in Puerto de la Cruz, and from an Italian chef in Bassano del Grappa, president of north Italy food association.

We had a long conversation. I was suggesting where they could have a stall.

Maybe Guildford farmers market first Tuesday of the month. I do not know if they would meet the criteria, though their food is clearly made locally and there is a stall with paella.

An absolute must for them would be Godalming Food Festival  and Staycation Live.

They should also check various events in Gostrey Meadow in Farnham, especially the Farnham Carnival.

 

Afternoon in Winchester

May 3, 2017

Mayday was wintry, winter had returned, yesterday was a pleasant warm day, today worse then Mayday.

Why was I travelling down to Winchester on such a cold, unpleasant day? On the way down rain.

Passing through Alton, I was shocked and saddened to see O’Connor’s Secret Garden had closed. This was an excellent restaurant.

On the way down, cowslips on the grass verges and on roundabouts.

The road leading down to Winchester, a meadow carpeted with cowslips.

I would normally alight, and walk down the hill into Winchester, but today, such a cold miserable day, I stayed on the bus until the bus station in the town centre.

Wednesday, Winchester has a street food market. Each time I visit it has become smaller.

Today many of the stalls had gone. Though many it is no loss.

But no fruit and vegetable stall, no fish stall (though I was told had packed up early), the bread stall and the excellent cheese stall still there.

But no falafel stall. What was I to do for lunch?

I walked up and down, eventually settled on a Sicilian  stall Bedda doing pasta.  A good choice, the tagalette was excellent. Worth a trip to Winchester for.

It was then to Coffee Lab for a cappuccino, and to get warm.

A brief chat with the lady running Flat Whites where I would have a coffee but for Coffee Lab. I did though buy one of her excellent cakes.

Excellent cappuccino from Coffee Lab.

I then popped to Coffee Lab Academy where they weighed out and bagged coffee beans, Einstein blend. Now a choice of Einstein blend or Heisenberg blend.

Just as I was leaving, Dhan popped in. I said hi, apologised, had to run, a bus to catch.

I would have walked through Alton to double check that O’Connor’s Secret Garden had indeed closed, but cold, drizzling of rain, alighted at Alton Station.

Bikers night at The Alton Station Cafe. Not many bikers. Too cold. I had hoped for moussaka. Excellent cottage pie.

I suggested they look into taking on O’Connor’s Secret Garden.