Posts Tagged ‘Farnham’

Cold December afternoon Aldershot and Farnham

December 4, 2021

A bitterly cold afternoon, low temperature made lower with a bitterly cold north wind.

Aldershot

A strange Christmas Tree Festival in Princess Garden.

Lunch at Indonesian street food restaurant, ayam woku. I learn lady is sister of who used to run it. Why the change I do not know. I also learn they were not closed for a year, only opened in the evening, now back to usual hours, open for lunch.

Farnham

Luckily I catch The Coffee Can before leaves Gostrey Meadow. Far too cold for coffee on the street. I am frozen the brief time I am there.

Christmas cards from Phyllis Tuckwell charity shop. All their best stuff is in this shop. Not looked in for at least a year.

Pleased for warmth in Electric Cycle Cafe.

When I leave bitterly cold. Time to catch a bus, actually two, and go home.

Very cold November afternoon Aldershot and Farnham

November 25, 2021

Sunny and very cold, cold north wind blowing.

Early afternoon, over 40 minutes wait for a bus, service that should be every 10 minutes. Sometime before 1400 bus shown 3 minutes failed to turn up. 1406 bus cancelled. 1432 two buses, another bus a couple of minutes behind. Four, maybe five, buses in opposite direction.

Entire day screwed as no time left for what I wished to do.

Ayam woku at Indonesian street food restaurant in Aldershot. At least ten minutes before woman emerges from the back to take my order.

Just make bus for Farnham.

Traffic jam when hit Farnham. Hop off bus and walk along the River Wey.

Too late to visit Coffee Gems.

Cappuccino at The Coffee Can in Gostrey Meadow. Too cold for coffee on the street.

Get warm at Electric Cycle Cafe. Espresso and a flapjack.

Look in Robert Dyas, but no time for a proper look around.

Mince pies from Cook. My phone does not work. Card only. Lady kindly gives me the mince pies. These are the best mince pies anywhere. Nothing else compares.

Quick run round Waitrose.

Not long to wait for a bus, 1750 from The Borough.

Aldershot, bus driver jumps red light. He actually took no notice of red light. I at first thought car coming in from the right had jumped red lights until I look up and see it is the bus driver who had jumped the red lights. It was only quick action by the car driver that avoided an accident. Passengers shot out of their seats. It could have been worse, luckily no one hurt or injured. At the Bus Station I tell bus driver he must report himself for what happened.

Damp cold November afternoon Aldershot and Farnham

November 20, 2021

A not very pleasant afternoon, cold and damp.

Aldershot

A Christmas market in Princess Gardens. Tat and junk food and a coffee stall with catering supply Italian coffee. I then found more stalls down Union Street.

Lunch at Indonesian street food restaurant.

I had learnt of a new coffee shop and headed down Union Street. Not open, though I did not have time to stop.

More stalls of tat. Another coffee stall. They refused to say the coffee they were using. Obviously not aware of transparency in coffee.

Farnham

Christmas market in Gostrey Meadow packed, could not move, gave up trying to wind my way through Gostrey Meadow. In another league to the tacky Christmas market in Aldershot.

Found my way back to The Coffee Can, a coffee truck I had found on Thursday.

Now able to fight my way through the crowds.

Not what I expected to fund, a bakery stall.

Electric Cycle Cafe packed. I go in to warm up. Excellent espresso. Interesting conversation with young barista from Singapore. Owner tells me he has sold two bicycles in last two days.

— to be continued —-

Aldershot and Farnham

October 6, 2021

A lovely warm sunny day.

First Aldershot

I wished to eat at Indonesian street food restaurant. Closed. As far as I can tell, closed end of lockdown last year and has never re-opened. I inquired of a local massage parlour. They claimed it was opon. I let them know it was closed.

A sign welcoming to Aldershot does not make Aldershot any the more welcoming. Deserted streets, boarded up shops.

Lower part of the town centre demolished for an ugly development. I lacked the time to walk down and investigate further.

Lunch at Caffe Macchiato. It was not very good.

Ice cream parlour him coffee shop has closed. No surprise, the only surprise it lasted as long as it did. A pity as the ambience and decour was pleasant. The coffee was not good. The mood point if exceĺent coffee would have made a different where locals lack taste, a town centre infamous for disgusting junk food. Was only busy Saturday for ice cream. An owner who lacked people skills did not help.

For coffee, nowhere in Aldershot. Visit Farnham or Guildford.

On to Farnham

Called at Coffee Gems, the only coffee roastery worth knowing about in Surrey.

Then on to the coffee shop Electric Cycle Cafe that has taken over what was Krema.

Poorly named, as not a cafe, a coffee shop serving specialty coffee.

A speciality coffee shop selling electric cycles or a cycle shop serving speciality coffee. Take your pick.

Farnham coronavirus tier 2 day seven

December 8, 2020

A pleasant sunny morning, though very very cold, barely above freezing.

A trip to Coffee Gems with beans roasted in Ceylon, confirms my thoughts, over roasted at too high a temperature but underlying notes suggested possibilities. Need 1kg of green beans to evaluate, or if different varieties available, 1kg of each variety. Shipping roasted beans from Ceylon is not a realistic or viable option.

Very cold walking along the River Wey and through Gostrey Meadow.

Downing Street is going through a phase it went through several years ago, with many businesses closing.

To Blue Bear Bookshop. A coffee and a cake. Cakes and coffee better than Gail’s bakery.

Many of the books shrink wrapped in plastic. This is not good news. The only reason to visit a bookshop is to browse.

Hand sanitiser before touching books, then leave books to one side for a couple of days.

Dead stock, but no more dead than if shrink wrapped.

It is possible to buy from Blue Bear Books on-line via Bookshop.org but its ethics no better if not worse than Amazon, bookshops get less than if book purchased in-store and they are forcing independent publishers to give bigger discounts than Amazon. What amounts to little more than a thin veneer of greenwash, we are not Amazon.

To the Oxfam Bookshop. A good selection of books.

I picked up The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula le Guin, and to my surprise found Gone With the Wind.

Oxfam has hand sanitiser by the door but it is hidden, only seen as leaving the store.

Waiting in the cold for a late running bus.

Coffee tasting Blue Bear Bookshop

October 3, 2020

Passing by Blue Bear Bookshop, oh just who we need, would you please come in and give your opinion of two blends of coffee we are trying?

Yes but first I am going for lunch. I checked when closed and said I would pop back.

When I popped back after lunch at Gail’s bakery it was less busy, earlier very busy, too busy.

I had given some thought and decided would have four coffees, two as expresso and two as cappuccinos.

I decided to be a little more professional, asked for pen and paper to make notes.

I would emphasise this was coffee tasting, not coffee cupping which is a formal method of tasting and evaluating coffee.

Of the two, one a slightly smoking aroma and a slight fruitiness, the other insipid by comparison. Not a lot in it and neither were pleasant as espresso.

My cappuccino was intended for a customer, too hot, too much foam and horror of horrors, chocolate on top. Not a very good cappuccino.

My opinion, neither of the two blends were good.

I was also not happy with coffee beans being bagged as Blue Bear Bookshop. No reputable roastery would do this. Coffee, specialty coffee, traceability, transparency, through roastery, to region to the farm.

Blue Bear Bookshop need a good blend as a basic workhorse for espresso based coffee.

I recommended visit DT Roastery in Winchester, speak with Dhan Tamang and recommended their espresso blend which they serve in Coffee Lab.

An idea, try the Congo coffee from Waitrose. By the till. At the front no, but that at the yes, beautiful aroma.

Coffee at 33 their espresso blend is excellent.

If going to sell bags of coffee, there are many excellent coffee roasteries to choose from spoilt for choice, but ensure does not sit on the shelves.

I suggested an Ethiopian from Cartwheel Coffee very unusual as an espresso.

Cakes are far better than Gail’s.

I would suggest Blue Bear Bookshop stock high quality bean-to-bar chocolate from Luisa’s and Bullion.

The only downside of Blue Bear Bookshop they are in a lousy location, on a busy congested polluted road.  Long overdue the centre of Farnham was pedestrianised.

Unlike Gail’s in Farnham, Pho in Guildford, no issues with covid-19 biosecurity, but then that is the difference between an indie business that cares about reputation and customers and a corporate chain employing bored zero hours minimum wage temporary staff.

 

Lunch at Gail’s bakery

October 3, 2020

What is it with these places, why no understanding of covid-19 regulations?

I walked in, unpleasant loud music blasting out.

I explained breach of covid-19 regulations, explained why, noisy, customers shouting, emitting 30 times coronavirus at high velocity across the room, I had to shout to make myself heard repeat to make myself understood.

I ordered a sausage roll. Usually they hot it up. Not served cold. A fresh batch was brought out of the oven, one of which I was offered.

I found a clean table as far removed from others as possible. I would usually sit outside, too cold, raining and no free tables.

Sausage roll was good, and was cooked Previous visit not cooked through.

Very noisy, music not turned down, unpleasant atmosphere, not possible to relax and I was starting to get a headache.

Tables not cleared of dirty crockery. This is the norm in Gail’s, tables not cleared, tables not cleaned. Bad enough in normal times, unacceptable during coronavirus pandemic.

Eventually tables were cleared, but not not cleaned, not wiped down and decontaminated.

I left, asking for a drink of water on my way out. I had asked for a drink of water when I ordered but none ever arrived.

For some perverse reason only half a door open, causing congestion on entering or leaving.

Covid-19 biosecurity appalling. I was not asked for contact details, loud music blasting out which was not turned down on request even though explained why, dirty dishes piled on tables not cleared away, tables not wiped down and cleaned. Only plus, staff wearing masks at all times and wearing correctly. Gail’s must be shut down and hit with a hefty fine.

Loud music, noisy environment, people shouting, are projecting thirty times covid-19 at high velocity across the room. Quiet conversation, minimise the ejection of covid-19 and only into the immediate surroundings of those talking.

If we are to get a grip of coronavirus, establishments like Gail’s which flout the rules must be shut down.

Gail’s is a chain, overpriced bread, low paid temporary staff, never see the same person twice, due to open soon in Tunsgate in Guildford.

Neither cakes nor coffee good. Far better cakes and coffee in Blue Bear Bookshop and Krema, where also take covid-19 biosecurity seriously.

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.

Afternoon in Farnham

August 17, 2019

On the way to Farnham popped into Aldershot.

Walking through Gostrey Meadow a rather sad pathetic VE/VJ Fete. little there and few people. Sad too because these people gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Why do idiots think ok to park on the double yellow lines in Downing Street?

Poor quality pork chops in the butcher. He apologised for the poor quality.

Lunch at Gail’s. Nothing left. Empty.and yet tables not cleared.

To Krema for a cappuccino.

A walk around Bishop’s Meadow. I was disappointed to find no cows. Then I spotted them, they had settled down for the evening.

Waitrose was almost empty. Served promptly, wonders will never cease.

Afternoon in Farnham

August 10, 2019

Very strong winds, cool compared with of late.

Alight from bus and walk along River Wey and up through Gostrey Meadow.

This used be an enjoyable pleasant walk, but since building of an ugly bridge to facilitate building of an unwanted shopping centre not so, but still better than walking through the narrow streets and enduring traffic fumes.

I looked in Okomoko zero waste shop, almost filled a jar with muesli, then topped off with dried apricots.

Why were the apricots dark brown? I have seen dried apricots like this before, but not in England, in Athens.

Girl said the orange coloured ones were dyed. Seemed odd.

I checked. No, treated with SO2 to retain their orange colour, the dark ones are not and turn a dark colour as dry naturally in the sun.

Gail’s the service has never been great, never see the same staff twice.

Tables covered in dirty dishes. Customers were having to clear.

When my order was brought, a sausage roll, the sausage pink and under-cooked, no attempt to clear my table.

Gail’s is not god for coffee.

As always cars parked outside Gail’s on the double yellow lines.

To Krema for a coffee.

I thought of going for walk around Bishop’s Meadow, dark clouds were not far away. I thought best to go to Waitrose.

Irony is lost on Waitrose. A notice where the shelves stacked with toilet rolls stating Waitrose going plastic free, the toilet rolls warped in plastic.

The usual poor service in Waitrose. Only two tills manned.

No 1 Bus from Aldershot going on a diversion. Nothing at the bus station to inform passengers.


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