Posts Tagged ‘Afternoon in Guildford’

Afternoon in Guildford

November 17, 2017

A very cold day, sunny but cold.

Waterstone’s has a reasonable, though not great, selection of coffee books.

O2 has the new One Plus Five. At £500 expensive. Though half the ludicrous £1000 for an iPhone X.

An ice ring at The Village.

Not as it may seem innovation, many towns are now doing this.

Something I did not learn until later, Guildford has an ice ring (I should have known this as I used to see people carrying ice skates), so why does it need one at The Village?

Not a single person on the ice ring.

The Village opened in the summer. It has never been a success. If not a success in the summer, it was unlikely to succeed once it turned cold and dark.

September, most of the businesses had pulled out.

A couple of weeks ago, more new businesses.

Looking today, I do not know whether these new businesses have already puled out, but few of the units were open.

But, what has now happened, sheds have been dumped on site selling junk food. What are they trying to do, turn Guildford into Aldershot? It is also unfair to the existing businesses who have stuck it out.

I walk by a stall on the market that sells coffee beans. I have yet to ever see anyone buy from this stall. The beans therefore must be old. I looked today. Anonymous plastic sacks, no information on the beans, no roast date. There are better places in Guildford from where to buy coffee beans.

Always buy coffee beans from a reputable indy coffee shop or from a reputable coffee roaster.

The stall also sells tea. This I did not check out, but if I wanted tea, I would buy from Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage where the guy is an expert on tea.

It was Bamboo Shoots where I was headed for lunch.

No honey crunch chicken. I had prawns with brown rice. Excellent.

Top of High Street, Steamer Trading, up market expensive kitchen shop.

Did they have coffee making gear? Not that I could see, Nespresso machines, and surprising, domestic espresso machines. I would not recommend either

A lady asked could she help me. Yes we do have, She took me to a corner, where V60, aeropress, though not Chemex or Japanese syphon.


I may have just made a train, but decided cappuccino at Harris + Hoole. High staff turnover since being taken over by tax-dodging Caffe Nero. Death by a thousand cuts. Today, once again new faces I have not seen before. Caffe Nero has now managed to lose all their good staff.


Afternoon in Guildford

November 10, 2017

A cold afternoon.

Lunch in Debenhams? Roast pork? Roast turkey, and not yet even December.

Does Waterstone’s have Coffee Art, London Coffee? Surprising yes Coffee Art, surprising no London Coffee.

Usually Waterstone’s has no books on coffee, today a reasonable selection.

But why promote Where To Drink Coffee which is rubbish?

Also promoting a book by Nick Clegg. Why would anyone wish to buy a book by Nick Clegg?

An example of all that is wrong with Waterstone’s.  I can wander around and be spoilt for choice and yet what they promote is crap.  Why? Because they are paid by publishers to promote the crap.

Pomegranates on the market at reasonable price, three for two pounds. There must be a glut.

As always, excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Earlier in the week shocked but not surprised to find Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage closed.

It used to be an excellent restaurant one of the few places in Guildford worth eating, but of late gone down hill, destroyed by the staff.  The decline noticeable that Bamboo Shoots has seen no jump in business following the closure.

I let Tourist Information know it is closed.

Pop back to the market, another stall, four pomegranates for two pounds, even better. I buy two for a pound.

Quick coffee in Harris + Hoole.

Strange how no one  was aware of National Cappuccino Day.

Cold and much colder once sun going down.

Afternoon in Guildford

September 22, 2017

This morning clear blue sky from sunrise. Afternoon sunshine and clouds.

It has been several weeks since I have passed through The Village. It has now all but collapsed. Many of the businesses have pulled out. I was sorry to see the ice cream shop had gone, about the only success story. Those that remain and new businesses are a classic case of self-delusion.

If it was not a success in the summer then it is not going to be a success as the nights draw in and it gets cold and dark.

Sticking outdoor heaters is not the answer. There is no better example of crass stupidity than trying to heat outdoor air. If it is too cold to sit outside, do not sit outside. These heaters should be banned. Or does no one still get it over global warming? How many more destructive hurricanes do we have to see? it is also to throw more good money after bad. How much longer is the local council going to pour public money into this black hole?

There is to be a street food festival at The Village. Not the best location. The High Street would be a far better location. But I can see why The Village want it, in the hope it will pull in the punters.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, honey crunch chicken with brown rice. Very tasty, generous portion size. A new Chinese girl working in Bamboo Shoots. Very pleasant personality.

Bambook Shoots is one of the best places to eat in Guildford.

The Thai restaurant next door closed. It says closed for staff holidays. Rumour has it that it has closed.

I am not surprised. It is always empty. It used to be an excellent place to eat, but the staff have done their best when the boss not there to destroy its reputation.

In Food For Thought, the young guy I sometimes talk to about coffee, told me he had spent three years at Lincoln University.

A sign outside Wairose directing to Canopy Coffee for eats. Unlikely to wish to eat, on the other hand directing to a coffee shop for coffee would make sense. I wonder how long before either Waitrose or the local council effect its removal.

A cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. I have spent several weeks visiting top class coffee shops. How does Canopy Coffee compare? It does not. Not to say bad coffee, but not in the same league as the best coffee shops. I picked up a bag of Santa Lucia from Honduras roasted by Origin Coffee. Strange not shown on the Origin website.

It was then a cappuccino at Harris + Hoole. Which is always consistently good, and today was no exception.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 11, 2017

Another of those days when the weather does not seem able to make up its mind between cool and warm.

The Village again not busy, busy would be an exaggeration, but more people as school holidays. Though once the beach or whatever it is called opens next to the Electric Theatre, they will probably vanish.

On my way to Bamboo Shoots, shop at fruit and vegetable stall. The coffee stall as I pass by, no one. I have yet to ever see a customer. The cheese stall is more or less the same since an excellent cheese shop opened on Guildford in Chapel Street.

It is easy to see why I never see anyone at the coffee stall. No roast date, if ask questions, reluctance to answer. No roast date indicates only one thing, old beans, and with a wide variety of beans and low turnover, another indication of old beans.

If you want quality coffee, go to a speciality coffee shop that has fresh coffee, knows about the coffee, and can and is willing to answer questions.

The coffee stall also has tea. For tea, visit Bamboo Shoots, a wide variety of tea imported from India and China with a very knowledgeable proprietor.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Steamed bun, steamed dough stuffed with Chinese roast pork char siu, followed by crunchy honey chicken served with rice and stir fried vegetables, everything freshly prepared.

Looked in on Ben’s Records. Shocked by the state of Tunsgate. Work started then halted when it was discovered gas and water pipes too close to the surface. In the meantime small businesses in Tunsgate see a loss of trade. And did the street require work, er no.

Like all local councils, Guildford likes to indulge in vanity projects, whilst at the same time denying vital services money.

Resurfacing the High Street last year cost £1 million. Yes, the work was necessary, and the contractors carried out an excellent job, but why then allow traffic through after four o’clock, in what is a pedestrianised street?

The Village, at £1 million, plus a further £90,000 for summer relaunch, is an appalling waste of public money, badly managed, and that is only the costs we know about. The concept good, but ill-thought through, badly managed and the wrong location. It was known the location was wrong, as the farmers market collapsed when it was moved to this location last year when the High Street was dug up.

Dumping sand outside the Electric Theatre is another example of waste of money.

Too many local councils have no idea of what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function. It was on that basis that In Business last night was a breath of fresh air, local communities rebuilding their local economies. Bottom up works, top down does not, and yet local councils are still in bed with big business and greedy developers who are destroying our town centres. One only has to look at Aldershot or Lincoln to see how bad town planning and greed is destroying once viable town centres.

Cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. Was able to try their latest guest coffee, Rwanda from North Star Coffee Roasters.

Walked through The Village, late afternoon and deserted. The businesses are closing earlier and earlier, and who can blame them.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 4, 2017

Morning quite cool, afternoon pleasantly warm

Today busiest I have seen The Village. Some sort of activity for kids.

A couple of weeks ago, an area had been laid out for crazy golf. I assumed for the summer, or at the very least school holidays.  The following week it had gone. By the time word of mouth gets out, it has gone. Just one of many examples of mismanagement of this site, and why it needs a change of management.

Last week and I looked again today in Lakeland. It is a shop that sells kitchen ware. I somewhat foolishly assumed maybe they sell coffee making equipment, eg Chemex, V60, Japanese syphon, Kalita Wave, French press, coffee grinders, maybe even swan-necked kettle for pouring, digital scales. But no, instead shelves of Nespresso machines and clones thereof, ideal for making rubbish coffee. I would have asked, but was ignored by staff. A man looking, I advised do not waste your money. He thanked me and walked out.

I contrast with Coffee Island in Covent Garden.  An excellent range of coffee making equipment. And no, they do not insult their customers with Nespresso machines.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Excellent honey coated crunchy chicken as I had last week. I also decided to try steamed bun. I assumed a dumpling, but no. It is dough as a bun but steamed and much larger, maybe the size of a small stuffed apple. Very tasty. Not something I have come across before.

Food at Bamboo Shoots highly recommended.  Everything freshly prepared.

A cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. Followed by a filter coffee using Kalita Wave and one of their guest coffees, I always let them choice,  Sumava Lourdes from Costa Rica roasted by Square Mile. I have been spoilt.  Nothing now compares with Finca Immaculada Laurina  let alone Martin Hudak Signature Geisha, first from Colombia, second from Panama, both roasted by Union.

I walked through The Village. Now early evening. Back to the moronic music thudding out. Empty.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 28, 2017

Cool, an hour warm, then rain and cool.

Just when could not think The Village could not get any worse, today looking like a used-car lot.

Walking on site, moronic music blaring out of the in-site speakers. Sufficient to make one turn on ones heals and walk out.

It was having the desired effect, even fewer people than usual.

The guy selling burgers, who only opened a couple of weeks ago, full of enthusiasm,  has woken up to reality, and has already pulled out.

To put in context, Guildford town centre this afternoon packed.

No Greek food.

Last week a drama performance, nothing to say who or what it was, even the stalls had no idea.  I subsequently learnt it was a pre-performance of The Railway Children, now on at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

I learnt that last Saturday The Village closed at 3-30 in the afternoon due to heavy rain.

Serious questions need to be asked of the management of this site.

Lunch at Thai restaurant not great. When the boss not there, never very good and these days the boss rarely there.

Third visit to 62 Haydon Place. They still do not accept the coffee has been bitter. Tomorrow they will have been open a month.

Today a new barista who used to be at Harris + Hoole. A much better cappuccino, though different coffee, today Resolution blend from Origin Coffee.

I was asked to try a filter coffee. I would have preferred freshly made, not made, then stored.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia,  sadly now past its optimum., as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a  Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

We all tried, including a couple of customers.

As on previous visits, a continuous stream of customers. Word is getting out. What I also noticed, discerning customers, they ask questions, wanting to know more about the coffee they were drinking.

I took a takeaway to Dylan’s ice cream in The Village.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 21, 2017

Coolish start then turned very warm.

Jazz musicians in the High Street giving it all they had. Very good. Never seen before. No idea who they were.

It has now been several weeks since The Village opened, still a disaster, still devoid of visitors.

This afternoon a play. What I glimpsed, looked interesting.  Depressing an audience of only three, and one of them appeared to be a performer.

I have visited every week, had no idea this performance was on. And even whilst performing nothing to say who they were or what was the performance, so short of interrupting the performance, no idea. Nor was there anything on the facebook page for The Village, which is very repetitive, but not informative.

As I had a couple of weeks ago, meatballs, rice and a salad off the Greek shop. It was good, which I cannot say of the Greek sausages.

Strictly speaking, The Village opened for Christmas, at a  cost of a million pounds expenditure by Guildford Council. It closed after only a  few weeks, a disaster. A further £90,000 spent on a  summer relaunch.  Nothing like a council when it comes to wasting public money, our money.

The concept reasonable, it is the ill thought through implementation that is the problem.

Last year, this was where the farmers market relocated to when the High Street was closed. It was an unmitigated disaster, wrong location. But is seems no lessons learned, or maybe no one in the council talks to each other.

Last week BBC spent hours filming at The Village. Their journalist claimed a success, but even with clever editing by BBC, can see as camera pans around, empty.

Unbelievable bullshit from Councillor Michael Illman, claiming a huge success, yes they could keep up the momentum when it turns cold and wet. What momentum?

A classic example of shoddy reporting by BBC.

I was there when the idiot councillor was interviewed. He had to be called, as he had not turned up at appointed time.

A new eating place in Jeffries Passage. Pick various salads to fill a bowl. Currently half price until the end of the month.  I would not pay full price.

Looked in Food for Thought.  As it was they who last week had told me of the new coffee shop 62 Haydon Place I thanked them. As they  had asked my advice on what coffee to stock, I suggested an informal arrangement whereby, they stocked the guest coffee, if people want to  taste, send to the coffee shop, and vice a versa from the coffee shop if wish to buy a bag of coffee.

They commented, that people they had sent to the coffee shop came back saying the coffee was bitter. I said maybe they had the guest coffee from Glen Lyon which was over roasted.

At 62 Haydon Place aka Canopy Coffee I suggested the same informal arrangement, they advised Food for Thought of the guest coffee.

Bearing  in mind that last week the coffee was bitter, I decided to stick with Square Mile, which I know to be excellent coffee. But no Red Brick. Again the coffee bitter.

Why I do not know. But at guess, they cannot tell it is bitter. Though why it is bitter I do not know.   A well crafted cappuccino should be smooth and creamy.

It was then return to The Village for an ice cream off Dylan’s ice cream.

Dark clouds forming.

I arrived home as the first heavy drops of rain were falling.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 14, 2017

Coolish start to the day then turned very warm.

Excellent moussaka off Greek shop at The Village.

I think this is now my fifth visit to The Village, still a disaster, still devoid of visitors.

A new unit has opened selling burgers. Only his second day, but sat outside eating my moussaka, disturbed by the loud music from his stall. The use of polystyrene burger boxes is not acceptable. If nothing else, The Village must set high environmental standards. If individual stalls are going to cut corners, then The Village must set the standards as a condition of opening a unit.

The burger guy comes all the way down from Stevenage.

I look in Food For Thought. They tell me of a new coffee shop, further down the street. I say I will check it out. I have a long chat about coffee. I suggest check out Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop and Standart. I also recommend Real Fresh Coffee.

I look in Oxfam Bookshop. Nothing on coffee.

Outside Oxfam Bookshop, a group of Italians about to cross the road to tax-dodging Starbucks. I ask do they not like coffee? Probably not, as Italy infamous for bad coffee. I suggest Harris + Hool, FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station, Dylan’s ice cream or the new coffee shop I have yet to try.

I head to the new coffee shop. I double check where it is. Someone else recommends. They tell me Surrey Hills not good, a rude female with attitude problem and yes, the new coffee shop is good.

Claimed to be an artisan coffee shop. A bold claim to make. especially if not. Caracoli claim to be best coffee shop in Guildford. They are not, not by a long way, which simply makes them look foolish.

I find the new coffee shop, 62 Haydon Place. A long chat with the owner. He has Square Mile coffee which is a good sign, plus guest coffee. He says he is going to host different guest coffees, which also a good sign. I suggest try Karuna Coffee.

Then return to The Village, BBC have been filming around Guildford all day, no idea why, now filming at The Village.

Someone who appears to be responsible for The Village tells me how well it is doing, that it is busy. I look around and see the lack of people. Maybe she sees invisible people. That last week they were forced to halve the rent says the exact opposite.

I learn there is to be a food festival maybe September. I suggest invite Bedda and Karuna Coffee. I should have added Curries from Home.

I try my hand at latte art. Not very good, but I at least realise what I was doing wrong. Not bad for only second attempt. Last time was May at Miyu Coffee, and that was far worse, so at least improving.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 7, 2017

Another very hot day.

A couple of weeks ago, FCB kiosk at Guildford Station was experimenting with cold brew coffee. They were using their FCB espresso blend. I suggested use the Kenyan coffee they have as a guest coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters. They have heeded my suggestion.

Cold brew coffee at FCB kiosk  is now available in bottle.

Straight out of the bottle, excellent. On ice not quite so good. The ice waters it down. If to serve with ice, need to cold brew with half the water the other half is in the ice.

Begs the question why is Harris + Hoole serving rubbish nitro brew coffee out of a can when they could be serving cold brew coffee.

Whilst there, an explosion on a train. Smoke then billowing from the train.

Time stood still. No one panicked.  Police and security running to the train. People stood, with concerned expressions, not sure what to do, as they assessed the situation.  A couple of Chinese girls asked me what was going on.  All I could tell them was what I had seen.

It was then announced, technical problem with the train, clear the platform, though no request to clear the station. It was then announced no trains.

I hazarded a guess, a major power short which then would have taken out the sub-station.

As I learnt later, may guess proved to be correct. But luckily no one injured as bits of the train blasted across the line, opposite side to the platform where I was standing. I was next to the train when the explosion happened further down the train.

Quick visit to the market, then looked in Food For Thought, where often something on offer on a Friday.

Lots of fruit and vegetables, a liquidiser demo making fruit juices. Watermelon and something else I cannot recall, but also some powdery rubbish.

This is the mistake Food for Thought always make, always an excuse to peddle some additive.

I asked what it was. A fibre additive. I pointed out, fruit and vegetables have natural fibre.

Watermelon on its own makes a very insipid drink. I suggested add apple. No one was listening, more interested in slavishly following a recipe in a book that required some additive.

Then to The Village. Maybe my fourth visit and still a  disaster. This now seems to be recognised, as rents for the units have been halved.

Wimbledon on a big screen. At a  guess  less than half a dozen people sat in deckchairs watching.

Yet again, no moussaka from the Greek shop, and now have opened a second unit. Must be gluttons for punishment.

The only unit that appears to be doing any business is Dylan’s ice cream. Today free coffee.

I tried an affogatto. Ideally two shots, but would not have fitted in the tub. We tried one shot. Excellent, but a lot of coffee flavoured liquid at the end. Maybe I did not eat it soon enough.

I tried a tea. It was excellent too.

Borrowed Real Fresh Coffee.

At Guildford Station, my guess confirmed, a massive electrical short. Fortunately trains were back to normal.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 30, 2017

A warmer sunnier day than has been of late.

I looked in Harris + Hoole. Pleased to see chiller cabinet now working and hole in the ceiling of the toilet has been patched.

Now we need Harris + Hoole to stop abusing coffee drinkers, passing their personal data to Murdoch when accessing wifi.

I spent the afternoon at The Village.

It was dead two weeks ago when it opened. It was dead today. Whoever is responsible seems determined to drive people away.  Today irritating distorted pop music from tannoys across the site.

I was looking forward to moussaka off the Greek unit. Again no moussaka. I tried the meat balls with rice and salad. This was quite good.

An ice cream off Dylan’s ice cream.

Needed, a good coffee shop. This may happen. Dylan’s ice cream will start serving coffee in about a week. They need though to source quality coffee. I have suggested Karuna Coffee.

Today, or yesterday, delivery of a brand new coffee machine. I spent the afternoon as volunteer coffee taster.

Both the Greek shop and Dylan’s ice cream, need tables and chairs. Either organisers of the village provide extra tables and chairs, or they reallocate the existing tables and chairs which are not in use.

One of the problems apart from lack of quality businesses to draw people in, the music driving people away, and the complete lack of any passing trade, is that three different organisations are responsible for The Village, Guildford Council, a private company letting the units and a third body organising events, a recipe for chaos.