Posts Tagged ‘Afternoon in Winchester’

Afternoon in Winchester

December 15, 2017

A very cold day, only a few degrees above zero, wind chill making feel much colder.

I missed the train to Alton thanks to dysfuncytional Stagecoach bus service. I missed a bus, half an hour wait for the next bus, a bus service that is supposed to be every ten minutes.

At Alton, popped in The Station Cafe, wished them Merry Christmas. Next Bikers night will be last week in February.

On the way to Winchester, charged power bank. It was fully charged last trip a week ago, only used as occasional flash light, It showed fully charged, half way through journey, fully charged.

I was tempted to alight from bus and walk down into Winchester, too cold.

I would usually visit Winchester on a Wednesday, when they have a street food market, albeit a very small street food market that is getting smaller. Today market day, many more stalls.

Pasta off the Sicilian stall. Far too cold for street food. The High Street seems to focus the wind.

I learnt last week, Flat Whites have opened a coffee shop. I decided to find it, take a look, but not stay.

It is down Parchment Street. I have never before walked down Parchment Street. Lined wth interesting shops, far better than find in the High Street.

Flat Whites towards the end of the shops, in a little courtyard.

Abby who owns it has done an excellent job, guest coffee, coffee beans for sale, on display Standart latest issue and Drift the Melbourne issue.

It was then to Coffee Lab Academy, now nearly five o’clock.

I asked what time were they closing, there are a lot of people in the High Street, I added, hopefully.

Seven o’clock.

I decided to take a walk to the Cathedral Christmas Market, then come back.

Winchester Cathedral Market is far more impressive at night than during the day. In the daytime it lacks atmosphere. Plenty of people enjoying the ice skating. Contrast with the pathetic ice rink at The Village in Guildford, which has now closed, and The Village will also close Christmas Eve, having cost the local taxpayer £1.2 million.

Back to Coffee Lab Academy. No Dhan, but luckily, he has signed copies of Coffee Art for me.

Cappuccino and date slice.

I find there is not a bus at 1850. I am sure there used to be. Now hourly from 1820. Lucky for me Coffee Lab Academy not closing until seven.

Train from Alton, intersting conversataion with an American economist from New York, he had studied at LSE.

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Afternoon in Winchester

December 6, 2017

A cold damp dull afternoon in Winchester. Temperature was 10C, but it did did not feel as 10C, due to cold wind and wind chill.

I pop into Alton Station Cafe. Confirm I will be at Christmas dinner this evening. Had I booked? No, but was invited. OK, we will fit you in.

Rain all the way down from Alton to Winchester.

Charged power bank on the way down. 75% full, though only used occasionally as flashlight since last charged on the bus two weeks ago.

Still charging on arrival in Winchester, journey of 50 minutes.

The output from the usb ports on the No 64 bus must be very low. Maybe deliberately low, as not to burn out any device being charged. There is no warning, use at own risk, thus bus company would be liable.

I would usually alight and walk down the hill, but cold and miserable day.

Very cold when I alight from the bus.

Concrete barriers in the street. No one knows why. Is Winchester expecting a terrorist attack?

Fewer stalls. And will get worse. Stallhlolders worried Council wish to reduce the number of stalls.

No consultation. The usual contempt for the people.

No consultation with stall holders, no consultation with people in the street. Usual dicktat.

A good street market, which sadly Winchester has not, pulls people in.

No one visits Clone Town, a town with the same crap chains as in every other town, selling the same sweatshop labour goods from the same Third World sweatshops

Ttagliatelle  off Sicilian stall.

I learn Flat White, the coffee stall, had opened a coffee shop. No one knew where. Odd no sign on their coffee stall proclaiming they have opened a coffee shop.

On checking, I find Stonemasons Court Parchment Street. I walked down Parchment Street, but where Stonemasons Court?  Press report wrong. Says no plans to open in other towns.  Not true,  Flat White opened a coffee shop in Southampton several months ago.

It was then to Coffee Lab Academy. Too cold to wander to the Christmas market.

Cappuccino and date slice.

No Dahn. I leave Coffee Art for him to sign.

Walking to catch the bus, I notice the grey concrete barriers merge into the background, no lights. Normally a barrier in the street has lights. An accident waiting to happen.

Power bank fully charged as reach Alton.

A table has been reserved for me at the Bikers Night Christmas dinner.

The full works, turkey and all the trimmings. Followed by a small slice of Christmas pudding served with brandy sauce.

Afternoon in Winchester

November 22, 2017

Mild when I set off, in Winchester very cold.

Almost missed the train.

Dysfunctional Stagecoach,  bus driver refused to allow an elderly lady to board the bus, even though she had a valid bus pass, holding up the bus for several minutes when all he had to do was issue a paper ticket.

At Aldershot Station, no ticket office open, man manning the barrier refuses to open barrier as have no ticket.

Does public transport employ people based upon their level of stupidity?

Wifi live on No 64 bus to Winchester, but not connecting to Internet.

Tried charging power bank from usb charging point.

Last week, power bank showed full, but kept charging through journey until fully charged.

Monday, power bank used to charge Samsung Galaxy A3 from around 20% to 50% whilst in use.  Power bank showed 75% charged.  As charging, shows 75% charged.

I would normally walk down the hill into Winchester, but stay on the bus.

No 64 bus now arrives and departs from the street. It saves time going around the back streets to the bus station.

Bus Station has been refurbished. It is now worse than before. One big open space, nowhere for passengers to shelter from the rain.

I inform bus driver wifi live bus does not connect to Internet. Driver not interested.

It has turned very cold

Pasta off the Sicilian stall. Only thing worth having from the street food market.

Too cold for street food.

A wander around Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market. The ice skating rink puts to shame the one at The Village in Guildford.

Hot chestnuts off a  stall very poor quality compared with the hot chestnuts off the stalls in Athens. Very misleading stall, chopped wood, but fired by a hidden gas cylinder. And why use Italian chestnuts when there are English chestnuts?

Look in Coffee Lab. Do not stay as too cold with door open. Explains why empty.

Coffee Lab Academy busy, but again no Dhan.

Coffee Lab Academy closes at five, but they do not chase people out. I am there until gone 5-30.

Walking to catch the bus, passing Bus Station I notice in darkness. It would also help to have lights by the bus stands in the street.

I ask the driver why is the Bus Station in darkness.

The refurbishment failed to install lights.

Wifi live and connecting to Internet.

I again charge power bank for entire journey. Still charging, but is now showing fully charged when I remove from usb point.

As last week, woman, not same woman, with dirty boots on a seat. This is a new bus fleet that only officially came into service on Sunday.

Tonight no dinner at Alton Station Cafe. I learnt on way down, Bikes Night tonight cancelled.

Nearly twenty five minutes wait for a  train. I possibly just missed one.

It would have helped if new timetable tied in with the trains, though bus did leave five minutes late.

Pop in Waitrose.  I notice Union coffee beans, at least the ones I check, Yayu Forest, one month old, in Waitrose Farnham two months old, which is not doing Union any favours.

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.

Afternoon in Winchester

November 8, 2017

Last night, knowing there was to be a two day rail strike, I decided not to travel down to Winchester and did not get to bed until early hours of the morning, had I decided otherwise, I would have had an early night.

This morning, I decided why not, I will travel down to Winchester, if I do not make the train, I will not bother.

I was reluctant for another reason, train strike, I would be crossing a picket line.

No picket line, barriers open, train of twelve coaches, empty.

Bizarre strike. The new Chinese owners have not said they will not get rid of the guards, on the other hand they have not said they will get rid of the guards.

A strike simply alternates the travelling public.

Train down to Alton, only one an hour, not two, I check I can get a train back.

Alight off bus and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Sunny but very cold. Winchester acts as a frost trap, cold air rolls off the hills into the valley.

I find return bus is still operating from the street, though now opposite side of the street, work on bus station appears to be finished

Pasta off the Sicilian guys. Sadly they have still not reverted to their original menu even though far better.

I warn them their business will now drop off until warm weather in the spring. They will be lucky to break even.

I suggest why they do not offer lessons in Italian cooking or offer home cooking.

I decided to go home, too cold, but will visit Coffee Lab first.

Look in Coffee Lab Academy no sign of Dhan, I check Coffee Lab, no sign of Dhan, I return to Coffee Lab Academy where it is warmer.

Both are empty.

I guess the cold weather. In the summer coffee shops should be open late, in the winter five o’clock as more than late enough. People wish to get home, cold and dark.

On my way down 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.

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

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.

Then to catch the bus. Far later than I wished.

I decided catch 1720, catch a  little before it leaves, then not hanging around in the cold. Bus is late, ten minutes waiting the cold.

As a result of bus being late, miss train at Alton.

Luckily Alton Station Cafe open. Bikers night. Every Wednesday in the summer, usually once a month in the winter. Empty.

When they prepare their own food it is excellent. Tonight chicken Kiev, bought in crap.

I leave, they prepare me breakfast. I leave most of that too, as now not hungry.

Train again twelve coaches, empty.

Afternoon in Winchester

August 18, 2017

A pleasant warm sunny day.

On passing through Aldershot Station, I noticed a board outside The Coffee Bean Club, indicating it must be open.

I noticed The Coffee Bean Club at Aldershot Station a couple of weeks ago, not to be confused with the cafe at the waiting room, but only open in the morning.  Until today, I had never found opened. As my train was running a few minutes late I ordered a cappuccino. Undrinkable. I emptied it into a flower bed at Alton Station.

An Inspector on the bus to Alton, which otherwise was almost empty. He told me something very interesting, never present Bus Pass in a wallet, always present separately. The reason why, the machine will charge a fare to your card. He only believed this when he was shown a bank statement. It simply confirms my fears of contact less cards. Anything can be can be scanning and charging your card.

As always, alighted from the bus and walked down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Wednesday is street food market in Winchester.

Pasta of the Sicilian guys. They are still using their new menu, which is a pity. Tagliatelle with creamy mushroom sauce was excellent, with tomato sauce disgusting. I tried with pesto. An improvement.

On my last visit, I was told of a new coffee shop that was using The Roasting Party. I trekked up the High Street to check it out. I was led to believe it was Eat Drink and Be, that maybe had changed hands.

No, it was still using Winchester Coffee Roaster, though whether it had changed hands, I do not know.

It was a little after three o’clock and they were already clearing out the food. Why, what do they do with it? Do they throw it away, dish it out the next day?

Having got thus far, I decided to carry on.

I passed by West Gate. Saw some run down shops on a corner.

I had thought I was on the road to the station but I was not.

I was about to give up, when I saw a board flat on the ground telling me coffee from The Roasting Party 50 yards.

A few more boards, each different.

I passed by an army barracks, was it here? I carried on, found nothing, retraced my steps.

I found myself at Copper Joes, in the guard house of what was once a military barracks, Peninsular Barracks, part coffee shop, part museum.

Three people and a very hot dog sat outside.

I ased was the coffee good, they replied yes.

I went inside. Myself and the three outside, the only customers.

I ordered a cappuccino, sadly spoilt by the addition of chocolate.

On my way back down, I found a side door into West Gate, stone steps, that led to a museum, once a debtors prion, further steps led to the roof.

It was then to Coffee Lab, but now too late for a coffee.

I asked why were they being forced to change their logo?

Classic case of Copyright Mafia. Some jerk is claiming he owns the typeface of the C they use.

A walk around the back streets, just in time to catch the No 64 bus to Alton.

As a pleasant evening, alighted from the bus and walked through Alton to Alton Station Cafe.

Packed with bikers, too late for the special, settled for breakfast, sausage, bacon, baked beans, hash brownie, fried bread.  Far superior to English breakfast at Wetherspoon.

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.