Posts Tagged ‘bookshop’

Yogurt and cappuccino at Little Tree

November 27, 2019

Wednesday four weeks ago, end of October, I was intending to climb Hill of the Muses, last warm day before the weather changes.

Last warm day end of October before the weather changes to cooler weather. I got as far as Little Tree, and no further.

AirBnB causing major problems in Athens and other major cities. In Athens dirty Turkish, Russian and Chinese money buying apartment blocks, local residents forced out creating ghettos.

Graffiti most apt.

Synchronicity: Passing by the derelict mansion behind the Acropolis Museum a lady stopped and spoke to me, asked was I interested in buying as she had similar properties for sale. I learnt such properties were protected, could not be demolished, expensive to buy and would cost as much again to renovate. She was on her way to an appointment, could not stop and chat.

I regret I did not ask how much to buy?

Derelict mansion featured in Walking in Athens, a collection of essays by Nikos Vatopoulos, in an essay A forgotten staircase beside The Acropolis.

Yogurt and cappuccino at Little Tree bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop located behind Acropolis Museum.

I made a mistake ordering a freddo cappuccino not a cappuccino. Waiter brought me a freddo cappuccino before I could correct my mistake. I said a mistake, he took away freddo cappuccino, brought a cappuccino, billed me for both.

A chat with a young lady who had a white e-scooter, her own not a rented e-scooter. She agreed the dumping of e-scooters everywhere is a menace.

I mentioned Mallorca was now taking action on e-scooters. We agreed long overdue Athens did the same.

Then a very long chat with a young guy, H G Wells, democracy, AirBnB, Greek financial crisis.

By then it was dark and turning cool.

Little Tree

November 22, 2019

Coffee at Little Tree. Saturday it was packed.

Note to self: Avoid Little Tree on a Saturday.

Walking to Little Tree passed a derelict mansion.

Flipping through a book in little tree, it fell open at an essay about the very same house. Walking in Athens, a collection of essays by Nikos Vatopoulis, A forgotten staircase beside The Acropolis.

Little Tree a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop is tucked behind the Acropolis Museum.

Blue Bear Bookshop opening launch party

November 16, 2019

Serendipity I was in Farnham passing by Blue Bear Bookshop during their opening launch party.

For the last week or more, dreadful weather, cold, raining, never sure what the weather will do as check the day before then within less than twelve hours the weather has changed again.

I have gone out when it looks like it is not about to rain.

This week and last week, I have popped into Farnham midweek, thus no need to visit today, but on the spur of the moment, I changed my mind, even though no need to visit Farnham.

Usually I alight from the bus and walk into Farnham along the River Wey and up Downing Street. I also cut through alleyways, avoiding The Borough.

The Borough is unpleasant, heavily congested, narrow pavement jostled-into the road, very heavily polluted.

Today though I was walking through The Borough.

I noted Oxfam had swapped shops, the bookshop now in The Borough. A very professional job, remove the Oxfam sign and would never know it was an Oxfam shop.

Past WHSmith, a dreadful store, a huge mistake relocating tho Post Office into WHSmith.

I then noticed a new bookshop, Blue Bear Bookshop, a new bookshop packed with people.

I looked in and happened upon the launch party of the Blue Bear Bookshop.

Food, cakes, flutes of Champagne or at least fizzy wine. In a corner a young lad knocking out poetry on demand on an old typewriter.

I went in search of the Big Issue seller, could not find her, by the time I got back, the food had all but gone.

Whoever did the catering did an excellent job the food and cakes excellent.

People, kids, dogs. Barely able to move.

The books aesthetically arranged on the shelves, though means fewer books.

Very much work in progress.

Currently a wider selection in the Oxfam Bookshop.

And therein lies the dilemma, stock best sellers which are the bread and butter, but in doing so will be undercut by Waterstone’s and the supermarkets, or stock more interesting titles which may not sell.

Worth a visit to P & G Wells in the backstreets of Winchester behind Winchester Cathedral, the bookshop Jane Austin used. Always interesting titles in the window, how bookshops used to be, books tempted to buy, not the best selling hyped rubbish the publishers dump on Waterstone’s.

Blue Bear Bookshop not only a bookshop, also a coffee shop. The coffee shop side very much unfinished business.

I ordered a cappuccino. My expectations were not high. To my surprise drinkable, on a par with Krema in Downing Street, thus now have two excellent coffee shops in Farnham.

The coffee Wogan Coffee I have never heard of, nor has anyone I have spoken to, a coffee roastery in Bristol.

The image on a box resembled a 1960s Soho gangster.

Coffee served in takeaway coffee cups not good. But I was assured a temporary measure for the opening and they will be serving coffee in ceramic.

The staff trained, but training a barista does not make, learn by employing a skilled head barista, who acts a mentor. Small changes make all the difference.

I did though note the coffee freshly ground, coffee carefully weighed.

The girl who served me had worked in a coffee shop in Finland.

I know not of Finland, but Sweden has a high reputation for coffee, as does the Baltic States.

Currently only from the espresso machine. Future maybe pour over. I strongly recommend source from Coffee Gems as local to Farnham and very high quality coffee.

I am reminded of Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop come coffee shop where sit drinking coffee under the shade of the trees, later in the evening craft beer.

At Little Tree, a far greater choice of books, philosophy, poetry, literature, politics. Not that I have ever seen anyone buy a book. Though I am told people buy books in the morning.

Having said that, I recently bought Walking in Athens, a collection of essays, little vignettes of Athens. And in the past have bought music.

Something Blue Bear Bookshop may wish to copy from Little Tree, bookmarks featuring writers, writers of literature not best sellers, the bill for the coffee, always brought with a glass of water, attached to the bookmark with a paper clip.

On the coffee counter by the cakes was a pile of a magazine I have never heard of, Chapter Catcher.

Chapter Catcher launched in June by John Bird, the guy behind Big Issue, a selection of reading, samplers to encourage people to read if not buy books. It cannot have gone beyond the launch issue as it was the launch issue on the counter.

But who is going to pay a fiver for a magazine never heard of that is sealed in an envelope and cannot browse the content?

I suggested they may wish to sell high end magazines, Standart, Drift, Ambrosia, Cereal, or at least dot around for people to browse.

In the centre a large communal table. Good for discussions, poetry reading, and they are planning events.

Possible future events Dhan Tamang UK latter art champion on latte art, a talk on The Alchemist.

A must for the large communal table, The World Atlas of Coffee.

Down wooden stairs a cellar. Appearance of a store room. More work in progress.

Opening an indie bookshop or even a coffee shop, is a risky business, especially in today’s failing High Street.

The location not good, a very polluted street which is best avoided, but may have been all that was available.

We hear much of the failing High Street, of towns turning into ghost towns, each week of another corporation chain gone into liquidation.

But chains have brought it upon themselves. They focused on expansion, not on profitability, paid ludicrous rents, and in doing so drove up rents for everyone and put local businesses out of businesses and are now paying the cost of their unsustainable businesses practices.

When chains collapse, we should welcomes the news, as it provides the opportunity for local small business.

I have seen too many good bookshops close, Thorpe’s in Guildford, Readers Rest in Lincoln, to name but two.

To see a new bookshop open is good news, and a double reason for celebration, a coffee shop too serving speciality coffee.

It is now for local people to support. If you see a book in Waterstone’s not discounted then buy from Blue Bear Bookshop. And unless you really enjoy drinking disgusting undrinkable coffee from tax dodging chains that have to be doused in syrups to make palatable, there are now two coffee shops serving excellent coffee in Farnham, Krema and Blue Bear Books.

A Strange Attractor

May 16, 2019

There are many second hand book stores in Exarchia. A Strange Attractor is one of them. Also a record store.

Café W

January 31, 2018

What used to be Ottaker’s in the High Street got taken over by Waterstone’s. It had a Costa, which has been replaced by Café W.

Ambience ok nearly always empty apart from a few working on laptops or reading books scavenged from the book shelves.

Girl serving pleasant enough though not a clue on coffee. I have never ever seen anyone pour out of the side of a pouring jug. She did at least ask did I want chocolate.

My cappuccino undrinkable. Served piping hot and a very unpleasant bitter taste indicating rubbish coffee.

The coffee Mathew Algie catering supply. A skilled barista would be pushed to do anything with this rubbish.

Yes, excellent Waterstone’s have kicked out Costa, but if running as your own coffee shop, at least buy in quality coffee, employ skilled baristas and buy a decent espresso machine and grinder. Otherwise why bother?

For excellent coffee in Lincoln try Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Makushi.

Little Tree; a film of their own

December 14, 2017

The Witch of Portobello in a bookshop

April 15, 2011

The Witch of Portobello

I was in a bookshop today in Guildford. I let a lady go before me as she was laden down with books. There is one book you have missed I said, and you are very lucky I have not taken it, The Witch of Portobello. Her eyes opened wide. That was the one book that caught me eye she told me, but I did not get it as I did not know the author. Well now is your chance I told her, and she added it to her purchase.

I will tell you a story I said.

I then told her the story of a stone as told by Ken Crane at the end of Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day party. His wife Yumi picked a stone. When he was asked to pick a stone, Ken picked the same stone. The stone was the Alchemist Stone!

I explained to her that these were examples of synchronicity, a term coined by Carl Jung

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.

I gave her another example. The previous week I had come to Guildford for lunch and had hoped to find a friend. Sadly I did not. I was again in Guildford on Monday. Before I left the house I had a message from Paulo Coelho to say O Aleph (Elif in Turkey) had been released in Hungary and had shot straight to No One. I arrived in Guildford, was on my way to lunch, when there was my friend sat by the river reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My friend is Hungarian!

The Witch of Portobello tells the tale of Athena. Sherine Khalil, or Athena as she is known, believed to be of gypsy descent, was rescued by her adoptive parents from an orphanage in Transylvania in Romania. Her early childhood was in Lebanon, then in London. My Hungarian friend is from Transylvania.

When I chatted to my Hungarian friend, I said Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a good choice to read. I commented on the love you put into your work, something I said Paulo Coelho had said at his press conference in Istanbul. I had long forgotten I had written something similar when I wrote of the film of The Witch of Portobello.

Scribes had an important role in early Judaism, theirs was the task to copy out ancient scriptures. They had to be in the correct frame of mind. The same was true for illustrators of early Muslim texts. It does matter what you do, be it write a book, paint, draw, compose music or carve a piece of wood. Robert Pirsig captured the essence of this in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Only then do you cross the transition zone.

I mentioned to the lady I met in the bookshop that Carolena Sabah starred as Athena in the film of The Witch of Portobello and that I had the pleasure of meeting her at Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day party in Istanbul.

I wandered to the Castle Grounds and flipped through the two books I had picked up, one of which was 500 Illustrations by G Curtis Jones and Paul H Jones, a collection of inspirational and thought-provoking stories and anecdotes. Or as the subtitle says: Stories from Life for Preaching & Teaching. One of the stories which caught my eye was Good Samaritans, a tale of a random act of kindness, a motorist stopping to help a fellow stranded motorist. When I got home in the evening I found Carolena Sabah had posted as a facebook note a very similar story Kindness is Contagious involving herself. Not only that, the time when she posted the story was at the same time I was sat in the Castle Grounds in Guildford reading Good Samaritans!

I knew Paulo Coelho had posted on his blog today a story about dance, but it was only when I got home this evening I saw it was taken from The Witch of Portobello! [see Dance!]


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