Posts Tagged ‘Afternoon in Winchester’

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.

Afternoon in Winchester

November 2, 2016


Yesterday in Guildford for farmers market, cold and grey and misty.

Today in Winchester for street food market, sunny, but very cold.

On my way, looked in Alton Station Cafe. What was tonight for biker night special? Chicken casserole. Moussaka? OK.

St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist

Walked down the hill into Winchester, but then on a detour to St John’s Church. It would have been easier to have walked down to the church by going on a detour down the hill.

Inside, a very unusual church.

River Itchen

River Itchen

Instead of later, when it would have been cold and dark, a walk alongside the River Itchen, the boundary of the Roman city, around the backstreets, and into the High Street through the Cathedral grounds.

Popped into P & G Wells. They usually have a wonderful window display. Sadly not today. Even they admitted, would you wish to give or receive autobiographies of Nick Clegg or Ed balls for Christmas. And no, they have not sold.

I suggested put in the window And the Weak Suffer What They Must? and accompany it with The Global Minotaur.

Christmas Market and ice Rink opens on Friday 18 November 2016.

Around the back of the Cathedral, like walking into a deep freeze.

Falafel off Falafel stall. This time hot.

Then coffee at Coffee Lab. Coffee Lab too cold with door open, Coffee Lab Academy instead, where it was warm, but noisy. And I get a cappuccino by Dan. I asked him where had the training machines gone. He said they had been loaned out for an event, but would be coming back.

Longer in Winchester than I had intended. By now very cold.

Bus to Alton Station.

Moussaka at Alton Station Cafe, then train.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 26, 2016

Thanks to dysfunctional Stagecoach bus service, I missed my train. Half an hour wait for next train.

But luckily, as I alighted from the bus, there was a friend who I had not seen for over a month.

steam train at Alton Station

steam train at Alton Station

At Alton Station, a steam train. A locomotive I had not seen before.

On the way down to Winchester, the steam train on an embankment on the skyline.

Alton, warm and sunny. On the way down to Winchester, dark, black clouds, but as Winchester was neared, out came the sun.



Alighted at the last bus stop before bus station and walked down into Winchester.

Falafel wrap off falafel stall. Not as good as usual, but that was because I let it get cold.

Chatted to a young guy at the stall. He did not know Winchester, and we suggested what he could see, and I showed him the way to the Cathedral.

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

I then bumped into him a little later, showed him the back streets. He was delighted, especially as he appreciated good coffee and I took him to Coffee Lab.

He had a machiatao and was impressed.

Although he knew coffee shops in London, I suggested a couple he did not know:

I pointed him in the direction of Winchester Station for him to catch the train to London.

Not long after I arrived at Cafe Lab in walked my Spanish friend Emilio. We met in Athens the week before.

Long chat with Emilio, until we were thrown out of Coffee Lab an hour after closing time.

Not long after we arrived, in walked Dan, champion barista. I asked he make me a coffee.

He made me a cappuccino last week in Coffee Lab Academy. This was better. I wonder why?

Bus to Alton.

moussaka at The Station Cafe

moussaka at The Station Cafe

Bikers night at Alton Station Cafe. Only about half a dozen had turned up. Maybe too cold and dark, maybe they expected the winter regime, when bikers night only once a month.

But no special. In September, I had regretted not having their moussaka, as it looked good. Last week they said moussaka today. No moussaka, I had looked forward to it. The chef offered to make moussaka just for me. I thought he was joking. But no.

I popped to Waitrose, came back, and moussaka was served with a little salad.

It was delicius.

Then train to Aldershot, then bus.

Missed the bus, 25 minute wait with the drunks that have been hanging outside the station since the summer.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 19, 2016
cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy

cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy

Catching the train down to Alton the weather was fine. Alighting at Alton, cold. Rain all the way down to Winchester. Winchester colder still with temperature dropping all afternoon. By late afternoon more like November.

Pleased to see the falefel stall is now using card boxes not polystyrene.

Would have had a coffee in Coffee Lab, but no date slices. Having never had a coffee in Coffee Lab Academy, decided to try there instead.

I was privileged to be served by barista champion Dan.

Too cold to hang about, a bite to eat, coffee and then catch return bus.

Windows of bus too  filthy to see out, no heating, no wifi,  all too typical of the contempt Stagecoach has for passengers.

Reasonable chicken curry and rice at The Station Cafe at Alton Station.

Train no heating, wifi did not connect to internet.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 14, 2016
River Itchen

River Itchen

I would not have chosen one of the hottest days of the year to visit Winchester, sitting under the trees in my garden was the preferred option, but Wednesday is street food market, and it was not as hot as yesterday, the hottest day of the year.

Bus to Aldershot, train to Alton, bus to Winchester.

Bus to Aldershot unbearably hot.


steam train at Alton Station

At Alton a steam train.

Bus to Winchester bearable, as mot of the journey along dual carriageway, and flow of air through the bus kept it cool.  Bus almost empty.

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

Falafel stall said only there Wednesday Excellent food, falafel in pitta bread, with hummus and salad.

The Cathedral has a restaurant, last time, no ice cream with blackcurrants. Again no ice cream with blackcurrants. Why display what have not got? At least today able to sit outside in the walled garden. But sadly spoiled by an ugly marquee. I daresay for corporate entertaining, anything to make a fast buck.

Then to Coffee lab, but first what was on my last visit, Alexander Tea Shop. It has been turned into Coffee Lab Academy. A pity they did not retain as was, and instead incorporated Coffee Lab Academy.

To Coffee Lab, sat outside with a cappuccino and a date slice. Both excellent.

I wanted beans. 8 September. Nothing later, as in Coffee Academy 12 September, but in 1 kg unmarked bags. They looked, and found they had 1 kg with 12 September roast date. They kindly opened, then bagged 200g. They sell 150g.

matcha latte

matcha latte

I was joined by a Bengali guy, who introduced himself as the owner of Kyoto Kitchen, a Japanese Restaurant. He had walked by, looked, and I said excellent coffee. He said so he had heard. He asked did they do a matcha latte. I had no idea, for the simple reason I had no idea what it was. What looked like a coffee, a strange shade of green was served.  Not something I had ever seen before. Not coffee, tea, green tea.He kindly offered me a taste. I declined, but said I would order, but it was past closing time.  Something to try on my next visit.

He showed me his site on social media. A girl had posted a message, would someone please take me on a date to this restaurant.

He mentioned he was writing a book, somewhat in the style of  Paulo Coelho. Turned out he was a fan, and had read most of his books.

Long gone closing, a man turned up, suggested a drink I had never heard of, cascara. I tried. It was excellent, very refreshing, fruity and cold.

I juts had time to walk along the back streets and catch the bus.

Again it was one of the new buses.

I then popped in to the Alton Station Cafe. I made the mistake of not having the moussaka and salad, it looked good, special for Bikers Night. I am sorry to see the original owners have gone, but the new owners appear to be doing a god job.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 1, 2016


A pleasant warm afternoon.

At Alton Station, a little garden, help yourself. A lady had picked runner beans and placed on  chair. I helped myself to a handful. Hopefully they were not for her.  In the past, there has been a donation box in the station Ticket Office, but today I did not see one.

I wish they would repair the old bridge at Alton Station. It has been derelict now for months.

Bus down, No 64, was a City of Winchester Park and Ride. I double checked to ensure it was the correct bus. The driver said it was the only one available. It was a brand new bus.

Alight at bus stop before town centre and walk down Magdalene Hill. Apart from the traffic, a pleasant walk down into Winchester.

fleet of new buses

fleet of new buses

Winchester August 55

fleet of new buses

Winchester appears to have a fleet of brand new buses. Contrast with the old buses that serve Aldershot. At a guess, because in Winchester Stagecoach has competition from a rival bus company.

Wednesday is street food market in Winchester. Each time I visit, the market has shrunk. Mid-June, it was smaller than winter. Two weeks ago, it had shrunk again. Today, it was yet smaller. At this rate, it will soon be non-existent.

Luckily the falafel stall is still there. Falafel in a wrap with salad, my lunch in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral

I wandered into the Cathedral cafe. I fancied ice cream with blackcurrants. None in stock. I had a chat with the manager. They try and be as environmentally friendly as possible. To discourage people using takeaway cups, they give  a 25% discount on a drink if you bring your own cup. Water help yourself, even ice by the side, but why plastic cups?

I found there was a back entrance through a hole in the wall. This led into a maze of back streets which I had not explored before. I took one that led off at an angle. To my pleasure, it led to the street with Coffee Lab.

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

excellent reading material in Coffee Lab

excellent reading material in Coffee Lab

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab. I sat outside, but it started to rain.

I picked up a well thumbed copy of South West Independent Coffee Guide, now in its second edition. I have its companion, The Northern Independent Coffee Guide, or I did until I gave away my copy. I suggested to Coffee lab that they had South West Independent Coffee Guide on sale, as that was how I obtained The Northern Independent Coffee Guide  from a coffee shop, Coffee Aroma Coffee House.

I also suggested they sell bagged beans in 250 grams not 150 grams.

Coffee Lab have a coffee club. An annual fee of £25, gives discounted coffee mid-afternoon, free entrance to evening events.

Something I had not noticed on previous visit, on the communal table at the back, leads to charge phones and tablets.  I would have preferred a row of main outlets, plug in a charger, or usb outlets, but I can see if desperate, it could be useful.

cat sat watching the river

cat sat watching the river

Just time to walk down the side of the river, out into the countryside, around the back streets and back to catch the bus.  Walking down the side of the River Itchen, what used to be the boundary of the Roman city, a door in  a garden wall, a cat sat watching the river.

In the evening, it now appears they use their new fleet on the No 64 route. It appears to be the same as the Park and Ride slight different seats.  Why use new fleet. At a guess, more fuel efficient, better passenger satisfaction. Both have usb charging, in addition to wifi. This time I notice a blue light glowing, which I had not seen before. Maybe indicates working, in which case, previous bus trips not working.

There needs to be more information on the bus on thse usb outlets. What for example the output? If we assume 1A per usb outlet, that is a lot of amps if we add in all the seats. I noticed what I had not noticed before, two usb sockets.  I would be reluctant to plug in an expensive phone or tablet. Is it sourced from battery? If from a generator, could be very dirty supply. On the other hand, most vehicles these days have a lot of electronics, including on-board computers, therefore would need very clean power supply. I would only use, if no other option, and desperately needed to use phone or tablet and battery was dead or dying Maybe better to use to charge a power block, then use power block to charge phone or tablet.

Alighted one end of Alton and walked through the town.

Said hello to Peter in O’Connor’s Secret Garden. He said they had a wedding party. That was ok, as I was not stopping. He confirmed that The Old Curiosity Shop had closed.

Chips off the fish n chop shop near the station. Avoid. They had been fried hours ago.

The Station Cafe is now in new hands. The curry looked ok.

Wednesday night Bikers Night. Very few bikers around, many leaving as I arrived.

Excellent service in Waitrose. As always, puts to shame the piss-poor service in Waitrose Farnham and their appalling stock control.

Aldershot Station, just missed a bus. 25 minutes wait for next bus. Early this month, for about a fortnight, a gang of drunks hanging around the bus station. Not seen them for a couple of weeks. They are back.


Afternoon in Winchester

August 10, 2016


The morning started dull, cloudy and cool, more like autumn than mid-August. Luckily it turned into a pleasant warm afternoon, and the evening was not cold as I expected.

A steam train was pulling away from Alton Station.

At Alton, the bus stop used to say bus-train interchange. It no longer does. The 65 bus used to come down from Guildford, change to a 64 bus at Alton Station then carry on down to Winchester. September last year, it came as far as Alton Station, turned around and went back to Guildford. The bus up from Winchester did the same. No warning, passengers who thought they were on a through bus, found themselves going back whence they came. Now at the bus stop, a poster telling passengers to take a ten minute walk into the centre of Alton to pick up the 65 bus.  Tough luck if raining, unable to walk, or carrying heavy luggage.

On the way down, BoomTown Fair, with special buses from  Winchester.  Not something I have ever heard of, but apparently a music festival.

The other side of the road, a multi-car pile up.


I alighted last stop before Winchester Bus Station and walked down the hill into Winchester.

I was last in Winchester in June. I was shocked at how the street food market had shrunk since the winter. I was shocked to see it had shrunk again.  The local council seems determined to kill it. Do they not comprehend that a good market pulls people in? I like to visit Winchester but I visit on a Wednesday because of the street food market, but now there is very little reason to visit.

Falafel with salad in pitta bread.  The only thing worth eating.

I sat on a wall in the Cathedral grounds to eat.

I cut back to the High Street but found myself much higher up than intended. I had promised to buy cheese off the cheese stall, but realised if I walked back down then back up, I would be too late, if closed at five for a new coffee shop I wished to try,  Coffee Lab.

Coffee Lab is hidden down a side street off the High Street in what was Ginger Gelato, opposite Ginger Two.  I had noticed it on my last visit to Winchester a couple of months ago. A promise of high quality coffee. Many promise, few deliver. I was pleasantly surprised, excellent cappuccino.

Ginger Two is no more. I noticed on my last visit a name change to SO Winchester. It has changed name yet again, now Winchester Cafe, which seems singularly unimaginative.

Ginger Two I learnt closed owing the tax man over half a million pounds. It beggars belief how a little cafe can run up such a high tax bill.  Companies House records show that when the company was wound up in October, it owed around £289,000 in corporation tax, £275,000 in VAT and £16,000 in PAYE fees. They have also left behind a trail of unpaid bills.

Playing in the High Street Marvin B Naylor. I picked up a signed copy of 17 Guitar Instrumentals. I said £8 was too much, would sell more at a  fiver. OK. give me a fiver.  Lovely cover, a painting in the style of Impressionists.

It was then walk around the back streets, a very short walk along the river,then catch the bus as it was literally pulling out of the Bus Station.

It was one of their latest fleet of buses. I had admired them last time I was in Winchester but did not realise they ran to Alton, but appears they do in the evening, as happened on my last visit.  They claim not only wifi, but also usb ports to charge a phone. But where? I could not find on my last trip.  I then noticed the front seat had by the side of the bus, but not where I was sitting. I then noticed, in the least expected place, it was at the base between the two seats in front of me. Unless an emergency, I would be reluctant to use, as I do not know how clean is this supply. It is one thing on train to plug a charger into the mans socket which many trains supply, quite another to plug an unknown source direct into an expensive phone or tablet.

On my way down I noticed the Station Cafe closed.  Wednesday night is Bikers Night. A lot of bikers looking lost. Station Cafe is under new management. It used to serve great food. It has been taken over by the kebab van that forced them out of business.

A kebab shop has also taken over what was an excellent butcher in Alton.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 22, 2016
St Catherine's Hill leading down into Winchester

St Catherine’s Hill leading down into Winchester

Morning, before I set off raining. During the day, hazy sun.

Bus failed to turn up, missed train to Alton.

At Alton, a filthy bus could barely see out of the window.

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

Wednesday is street food market. Most, I would not touch, but one or two stalls worthwhile, the cheese stall, bread stall, the coffee van tucked to one side.

The market had shrunk.


Apparently action by the council following complaints from shops.

Once again, big retailers dictating what happens in our  town centres.

The Italian Table, was not there.  Neither was Jimmy Bean. But then Jimmy Bean lost the plot when he linked up with someone serving awful food.

Where to eat?

I tried a guy with falafel, hummus and salad and pita bread.

I sat and ate in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral.

Substantial portion, and actually quite good.

Whilst eating, a father and son, shouting to Vote Remain in the EU Referendum. They had a hostile reception.

A cappuccino off Flat White.

When I have a bad coffee, as I did off The Godalming Food Company yesterday, I wonder, is it my sense of taste. It takes a good coffee to tell me no, my sense of taste is calibrated.

I would not normally agree to chocolate in a cappuccino, as it ruins it, only advisable for a bad cappuccino to take away the taste.

I mentioned how it was done in Tenerife, cocoa, not chocolate, added half way through. Yes, we  do it that way too.

I encountered the father and son again. Still getting  a hostile reception, which sadly resulted in the son being attacked, but he was ok.

We walked up the High Street and had a chat. They could not see anything good in the EU, but wished to see reform. A touching faith in fairy tales. I said check out Yanis Varoufakis and DiEM25.

I suggested they read The Global Minotaur and And the weak suffer what they must? as they would then have a better understanding of the EU, how it came to be formed, why it is a democracy-free zone and why it is failing.

I wished I had suggested go for a coffee, though by now everywhere closed. Father though was in light of hostile reception, keen to get his son home.

Down a side street,  I found a new coffee shop, claiming to serve quality coffee. They all make that claim, few are.  To try on another visit.

I had time, just, to walk down the side of the River Itchen and around the back streets behind  Winchester cathedral.

I had noticed a fleet of new buses.  One of them was the return No 64.

Outside, usb for charging.

I saw no usb for charging. And I am not sure I would wish to use. It is one thing a mains outlet, via a charger. Quite another to plug usb straight into tablet or mobile phone. How clean  the supply?

I alighted at one end of Alton and walked through the town.

I looked in a pub. I fancied a drink. Doomsbar. No thanks. When are pubs going to serve decent beer?

Sad to see Brock’s Farm Shop gone It was an excellent butcher. Now a kebab shop.

Popped in O’Connor’s Secret Garden, had a chat with Peter O’Connor and had a beer.

I looked in the Station Cafe. Tonight Bikers Night. I expected hundreds, it was a lovely sunny evening, and yet very few.

Outside Alton Station, 2040 and yet still lovely and warm in the sun.

Then train.

Train down had no wifi, train back had no wifi.

Afternoon in Winchester

November 25, 2015
River Itchen

River Itchen

Four weeks ago, last Wednesday in October,  afternoon in Winchester.

I headed for Jimmy Bean, not only good for coffee, but also good for something to eat, which is a rarity in Winchester.  Where was he, not in his usual pitch that had been taken by another coffee stall?

I asked the ever helpful cheese stall, and heading back whence I had come.

Jimmy Bean is no more, now have Savage & Bean. Jimmy Bean still does his excellent coffee, but no longer food, Savage does food with a wood fired oven. I tried halloumi cheese in a burger-style bun, albeit a superior bun, but still a burger-style bun. It came with coleslaw, relish and mayonnaise. I rejected the mayonnaise. It was not good.

This is a retrograde step for Jimmy Bean. Originally I only had coffee, then I tried his food, which was also excellent. A rare example of somewhere worth eating in Winchester. I was looking forward to his mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato, in excellent bread, which he hotted up in an oven.

Now I am back to square one, nowhere decent to eat in Winchester.

Not to say no quality stalls on the food market. The cheese stall is well worth a visit.

Why are the standards on the Winchester street food market so low?

Where are the seats?

Why are the food stalls now all jammed next to each other?

The previous week I was at the South Bank street food market in London on the bank of The Thames. It puts to shame what masquerades as a street food market in Winchester. And they enforce high environmental standards. I was spoilt for choice. I had an excellent Indian a meal for what the Savage offering cost (or maybe one pound more). The coffee stalls were not good, and in that Jimmy Bean wins hands down. Or at least what I had on that trip was not good. Last weekend I had a coffee off the Ethiopian coffee stall. Excellent, in the same league as Jimmy Bean.

They need higher environmental standards. Why are stalls still serving coffee and food in polystyrene, using plastic spoons and forks? To be fair to Jimmy Bean, he does not use. But he is the exception. If he can, why not the others? At London South Bank, if you do not comply with high environmental standards, you do not get a pitch.

Edict from the local council, all the seats have been removed.

By evening, I was feeling ill from food poisoning. I hasten to add, the cause unknown. I had had chicken and sweetcorn soup off a nearby Thai stall which was disgusting. And a coffee and cake off the coffee stall in Jimmy Bean’s old pitch which was excellent.

I popped into P&G Wells, hoping for a copy of Change Everything. No luck. They had, but had lent for an exhibition.

On my way back, something to eat at the Station Cafe in Alton, Bikers Night, last Wednesday of the month. I was tempted to eat at O’Connor’s Secret Garden, but closed for the week.

On my way down, a steam train at Alton Station.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 16, 2015
Forte Kitchen

Forte Kitchen

Today was not a day for an afternoon in Winchester. Cold and wet.

Weather forecast was heavy rain, cool, all day. It started of fine, maybe it will not rain. As I set off the rain started.

Missed the train to Alton thanks to dysfunctional Stagecoach and failure of bus to turn up. This is third week in a row.

Bus journey to Winchester was horrendous. Torrential downpour all the way.

Usually I alight from the bus and walk down the hill into Winchester. Not today. I remained on the bus until the bus station.

The rain eased off on the approach into Winchester but still heavy rain.

Headed off to find Jimmy Bean.

No Jimmy Bean.

Either he had wisely not turned up, or had headed off home once the rain hit.

I cannot blame him, but meant no coffee beans for me.

A little after three o’clock, the market stalls packing up.

As no Jimmy Bean, I thought I would eat at Forte Kitchen. Not impressed. Sorry we stop serving food at 3-30, tea and cakes only. It was just gone 3-30. They were also closing at four. On the door it says five. As it was raining, I stayed and had tea and a cake. Nothing special. I cannot see them lasting long.

P&G Wells to collect Change Everything.

There was no point in hanging around, I was cold and wet.

Usually on this route, new double-deckers. No, a clapped-out double decker, no heating.

A lady struggled onto the bus, had to dismantle a buggy. Struggle back off, with my helping hand. I said complain to Stagecoach. She said she had not only complained, she had demanded a different bus. The driver also said he had requested a different bus.

I had considered eating at O’Connor’s Secret Garden. But I would have got wet walking through Alton, wet again walking to the station. It was to be the Station Cafe or catch the train. Bikers night. Only no bikers.

I read a little of Change Everything. It looks interesting.