Posts Tagged ‘Afternoon in Winchester’

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.

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.

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.