Posts Tagged ‘Guildford’

Redber Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre

June 21, 2019

Redber purveyors of crap coffee have opened a coffee shop in the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

A weird set up, in front of a shop unit not within, a coffee roastery and yet no coffee beans on sale.

The girl, I hesitate to say working as was too busy chatting to a female security guard to notice a potential customer, who after several minutes walked away.

Not a pleasant location, an empty shopping centre, zilch atmosphere, stuffy no fresh air, loud music, and that’s even before we get to the crap coffee.

And why even bother opening when Krema serving excellent coffee outside in Tunsgate?

Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre

June 21, 2019

Boarded-up shops, devoid of people, its only use as a short cut from High Street to Castle Street, especially when raining. How long before it files for administration?

An with an unwanted shopping centre being built in Farnham that will destroy the character of a  small market town, no lessons learnt.

Experience Guildford presides over collapse of Guildford town centre

June 21, 2019

Experience Guildford presides over or should that be complicit in collapse of town centre retail in Guildford.

It may initially have been a good idea but now Experience Guildford is seen as a parasitical organisation, controlled by Big Businesses, acting for Big Businesses, squandering the money it raises.

Has anyone yet worked out what the Town Rangers are for other than make it appear Experience Guildford are doing something?

It is not acceptable when Experience Guildford promotes Cosy Club, Pho, Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

But they are not the only ones doing this. Visit Guildford are also promoting Big Bushiness. Are Visit Guildford doing as Visit Lincoln, taking money to promote crap corporate chains?

Why would anyone visit Guildford for the same crap corporate chains as found in every other town centre?

Visitors come for something unique.

Afternoon in Guildford on Longest Day

June 21, 2019

Today the longest day.

Not a single train at Guildford Station. I came through on one of the few trains ruining, GWR Reading-Guildford-Gatwick. SWR RMT train strike. If SWR claim trains are running they are a bunch of lairs. A week long  train strike. The only people it is hurting are the long suffering passengers who pay obscene rail fares for piss-poor service even when trains are running.

Cappuccino off FCB kiosk. They used to have guest coffee from different roastery with their own house espresso blend from Horsham Coffee. Now roast their own. Last week I tried their espresso house blend, three attempts, each one slight improvement but not great. Today different barista with their guest roast, ok, but again not great.

Coffee cup and lid claimed to be compostable. But begs the question what to do with cup and lid, where to compost?

I saved to drop in with groceries off the market, to then drop on the compost heap in my garden.

Six months ago, market seemed on the point of collapse, fewer and fewer stalls. Last week I noticed new stalls, including a French cheese stall. Excellent Comte. Sadly not there today.

Last week, Surrey Hills Coffee busy mid-afternoon. An anomaly as never seen busy before. Today at lunchtime empty, ok, three customers, two staff, neither of which seen before apart from the guy who I saw last week.

I looked in. Instead of coffee in bags, coffee in plastic boxes, which they then weigh and bag. They also ship coffee beans in plastic to customers, then refill the empty boxes. Not sure if good idea or not. I can see cons and pros.

I wish people in coffee shops would not bullshit me on coffee. Guy tried to tell me coffee beans in open boxes do not oxidise.

Excellent as always honey crunch chicken at Bamboo Shoots.

Last week and this week, the number of shops and other businesses that have closed, Jamie’s Italian, Caracoli, Steamer Trading, Debenhams to close soon.

The closure of Caracoli appears to have taken Steamer Trading with it, loss of income from floor sub-let to Caracoli.

Looked in Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre. Boarded-up shops, devoid of people. Its only use, a short cut High Street to Castle Street when raining, no other use, The only change, loud unpleasant music.

Redber purveyors of crap coffee have opened a coffee shop. Weird set up, in front of a shop unit not within, a coffee roastery and yet no coffee beans on sale. The girl, I hesitate to say working was too busy chatting to a female security guard to speak with a customer. And why even bother opening when Krema outside in Tunsgate?

Tunsgate Quarter in many ways indicative of Guildford now seeing a collapse of retail presided over by Experience Guildford a parasitical organisation on all local businesses.

V60 at Krema.

Guildford Station no trains, other than GWR Gatwick-Guildford-Reading.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill closing subject to rent negotiations

December 19, 2018

A sign on the window says Edinburgh Woollen Mill closing subject to rent negotiations.

I checked with staff. They do not know when or if closing, as per sign, but acting as though it will close, as unless obtain a rent reduction, it will close.

The same applies to their store in Winchester.

I had never set foot in before, top of North Street, corner of Jeffries Passage. A very shabby shop. I have set foot in better charity shops.

We see deserted town centres, but greedy landlords and developers refuse to drop their extortionate rents. They would rather see empty boarded up units than charge realistic rents. And for new businesses, additional hurdle of six months deposit up front.

The reported 9% footfall reduction in national High Streets and shopping centres last weekend is calculated how?

Last Saturday, heavy rain, Farnham was deserted.

How many retailers will be around in the New Year?

House of Fraser bankrupt, Debenhams on the verge of bankruptcy, at least one coffee shop closing, others on the verge of closing, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill will close if unable to negotiate a lower rent, Tunsgate Quarter boarded-up units, corporate chains selling overpriced tat, devoid of people other than those using as a short cut when raining.

It is difficult to see how coffee shops that are always empty can survive into the New Year and beyond, not unless drawing on a hidden pot of gold.

In Jeffries Passage, the only business I see busy, Bamboo Shoots.

In Tunsgate, Ben’s Records and Krema busy.

Visit North Laine in Brighton indie businesses and not a chain in sight is always busy.

There is a pattern emerging here, indie businesses offering quality of service are surviving.

Chains, be they shops or coffee shops or restaurants, the answer to on-line competition, falling footfall, cut service, longer wait at the checkout, automated checkouts, dirty tables, dirty dishes piled up, poor quality ingredients. A death spiral to extinction.

Why go out in the cold and wet, to have to tolerate appalling service in a corporate High Street chain, to find they do not have what you want, are talking to ignorant staff, when can order on-line and have it delivered to the door the next day?

I ordered books late Monday night, if not early Tuesday morning. Delivered Wednesday.

Why have coffee in a coffee shop where they have not a clue about coffee?

Town centre planners have much to answer for. They are clueless on what constitutes good town centre design or how local economies function, in the pocket of greedy developers and big business, our town centres are trashed, every town looking the same, loss of sense of place, increased alienation.

Rents are too high, far to high, they bear no resemblance to the current financial situation, which is likely to continue to the foreseeable future.

Local councils should maintain a register of rents. Where this happens, it has helped to force rents down.

Business rates need to have a complete overhaul. They are based on the property value, but it is not the property value that is generating revenue for the business.

A new system needs to be brought in based upon turnover. Not profit, as that can be too easily fiddled, as we see with Starbucks, leading to non-payment of tax.

On-line business need to be taxed on the turnover in the country they are operating, and that would also apply to tax-dodgers like Starbucks.

For those companies where we generate the revenue, for example Google and Facebook, 10%of company shares to be placed in a community trust. This would fund a basic income and community projects.

A basic income would mean people would no longer be forced by poverty into soul destroying McShit jobs.

On-line retailers are also seeing a collapse in sales, at least those selling tat.

This is a good thing, as maybe it signals an end to pointless consumerism.

Guildford farmers market

December 18, 2018

A day like last Saturday, windy and heavy rain. Luckily the rain held off until afternoon, then killed the market.

I learnt from one stall the market was open until four, but closed earlier due to the inclement weather.

A farmers market should be growers, farmers and producers. Non-producers only allowed at last minute if a spare pitch. It would also be worth following the example of South Bank Street Food Market, a couple of spare pitches reserved for guest stalls.

There is something very very wrong when producers are denied participation on the market, told fully booked, when pitches are taken by non-producers and on the day spare pitches where regulars or maybe not regulars have failed to turn up. All the worst when producers are local and have experience of other markets, where they are made welcome.

Stalls selling tat, an importer of Spanish foodstuffs, tea.

If something from a chiller cabinet is found on the shelves where it should not be in a supermarket, it is not put back in the chiller cabinet as not known how long it has been out of the chiller cabinet.

Why then a stall with poultry, turkeys, turkey sausages, the worst meat products to leave outside of a fridge, sitting on stall all day with temperature a little below 10C? Though not as bad as the summer when on a stall with temperatures exceeding 25C if not 30C.

Why no action by Environmental Health?

Talking to one cheese producer, cows the black and white bulk milk producers, I asked was the milk unpasteurised? No. Did I wish to buy? No. I did not ask were they using bought in cultures for the milk, or traditional methods for what was claimed to be Cheddar.

I can do no better than cite the excellent advice given by Bronwen Percival on buying cheese in an Appendix to Reinventing the Wheel (the book on cheese):

Buy unadulterated cheese … if a cheesemaker hides behind added ingredients, whether smoke, added fruits or spices … it is either a tragedy … or a sign their milk was devoid of character in the first place … Buy raw-milk cheese … Buy complex cheese … Buy from a cheesemonger … good cheesemongers are curators of good cheese.

We are fortunate in Guildford, excellent cheesemonger at end of Chapel Street.

One stall had 10% off vouchers for the cheesemonger, but objected to taking any on the grounds that I had taken a few off her stall before. Whilst this was true, I had given these away to encourage people to visit the cheesemonger. Not only had I given away, but at the time I had asked could I take more then one as I wished to give them away. Her attitude short sighted and infantile to say the least, as the only loser is the cheesemonger.

Cupsmith appear to have given up. No bad thing. Excellent coffee can be obtained in Guildford either from Krema in Tunsgate or FCB Coffee kiosk on Guildford Station. In both cases will be talking to baristas knowledgeable about coffee.

A long queue at the paella stall.

What looked like peanut butter was not. Very cloying when I tried. A nut, I cannot recall what, and added espresso. Did they mean coffee beans? Yes. If so, say so, espresso is from an espresso machine. Tasted not of coffee but of chocolate.

Engaging in one conversation, overhearing another, lack of knowledge on use of social media. To be fair, I would not expect otherwise.

One stall, was I going to tag on Instagram? Absolutely no way. Another how a food writer increased their sales. And no it was not me.

In use of social media, twitter is a must, facebook a very low second, instagram a major no no. Always post pictures direct to twitter, never via instagram. If posted via instagram, not visible on twitter.


  • claims ownership rights of pictures
  • acts as bait to entice into facebook walled garden
  • facebook business model theft and abuse of personal data
  • pictures posted to instagram not visible on twitter

Social media should never be used for marketing, it is an intrusion into personal space. It is not broadcast, the clue is in the name, social networks, ie interaction, many to many.

  • broadcast — one to many
  • social — interaction
  • network — many to many

A blog may be useful if have something worthwhile to say, if can write. For example a chocolate maker may describe bean to final product, direct trade, why use cocoa butter, not pad out with cheap alternatives such as palm oil, a cheesemaker rare breed cows, out on pastures, unpasteurised milk, a cake baker recipe for a cake.

The market was to be plastic free in 2019, except no one knows anything about it, and the very idea is being denied.

How many retailers will be around in the New Year?

House of Fraser bankrupt, Debenhams on the verge of bankruptcy, at least one coffee shop closing, others on the verge of closing, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill will close if unable to negotiate a lower rent, Tunsgate Quarter boarded up units, corporate chains selling overpriced tat, devoid of people other than those using as a short cut when raining.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, the only business I ever see busy in Jeffries Passage. The coffee shop, three customers.

Excellent coffee in Krema. Like Ben’s Records next door, always busy.

Unlike chains which compete with on-line by cutting service, in other words engage in a death spiral, indie businesses offer quality in products and service.

Cold misty afternoon in Guildford

December 14, 2018

A cold afternoon. In Guildford not misty, but looking down the High Street to North Downs across the valley shrouded in mist.

It used to be if saw any reusable coffee cups it was Keep Cup, then inferior clones of Keep Cup started to appear, and now one clone ecoffee cup is starting to dominate, only it is not that simple.

What is ecoffee, is it a company making coffee cups with a horrible rubbery, actually silicone, surround and lid, or is it several different companies, all buying from the same Chinese factory branded under their name?

So far

POLŪ Coffee Lab variety dark blue, logo on the rubbery surround, ecoffee FCB Coffee version multicoloured, logo on the rubbery surround.

Discussing this with both Coffee Lab and FCB coffee, why logo on the rubbery surround, which many remove as serves no useful purpose, would not it better to be on the cup, after all coffee shops put their name on the cup for takeaway throwaway cups (though I have never understood the logic of wishing to put ones name on trash that is littering the environment)?

We assumed cost, same cup, different bands. Though on reflection this makes no sense, as all the cups are different multicoloured cups. Though that raises questions on the dyes used. Maybe it is copying Keep Cup, the logo on the surround.

There are further questions, sustainable bamboo, compostable?

Crossing the road from Guildford Station to the River Wey, Harris + Hoole demonstrating why we need a latte levy.

Descending down to the River Wey to walk along the river into the town centre a noticeable drop in temperature.

Looking in Harris + Hoole, fairly busy, usually nearly empty. Since takeover by Caffe Nero they probably attract those who frequent the corporate chains, as they have lost any kudos they once had as a specialty coffee shop.

Looked in Food for Thought. Serving a disgusting concoction to drink. I suggested they check the Christmas farmers market on Tuesday. If Chimney Fire Coffee have a stall, talk to them about stocking their coffee.

As always excellent lunch in Bamboo Shoots.

On leaving, now very cold.

As always Surrey Hills coffee shop empty. Well OK, two customers, as good as empty.

By contrast, Krema as always busy. I am lucky to find a table.

I have a cappuccino followed by a V60.

Guildford farmers market

December 4, 2018

Hazy sun, frost first thing, a cold day around 7C.

Market very busy but also a lot of overpriced tat.

Celtic Baker had sold out of most bread.

Apple stall sold out of small apples, and brought extra lot.

The stall that occupies where once Secretts Farm had a stall, I learnt was the former head grower at Secretts Farm. He had managed to find a plot of land and has started up his own business. The quality of the produce always high.

A cake stall got shirty when I took a picture of the stall, wanted to know what I was doing. I would have thought obvious. I wish people would learn, it is ok to take pictures in public space.

The market is due to go plastic free next year. No information on this and news to the stall holders.

Interesting conversation with Riverford, suppliers of veg boxes, on their moves to go plastic free by 2020.

Ever wondered why never see any Police? Half a dozen Police at the Experience Guildford stall, who now have a presence to try and justify their squandering of public funds, like for example offering free car parking on the lead up to Christmas, the one time of the year the car parks full to overflowing and delivering a one sheet newsletter devoid of content that is treated as junk mail and goes straight in the bin.

And what were the Police doing, a farmer branching out into illicit poppies? I have no idea.

Last market everyone thought the turkey stall had been kicked off the market. Sadly not, they are back, with turkeys siting on their stall, plus their usual turkey sausages. At least not covered in flies. And who buys turkeys three weeks before Christmas?

Fresh meat and poultry should be kept in a fridge at  between 0-5C. Today, although a cold day, 7C. Last few days not far off 15C. Next few days hovering above and below 10C. Or in other words not the temperature inside a fridge.

During the summer poultry sat on their stall at plus 25C if not above 30C.

And where were Environmental Heath? They claim to regularly patrol the market. Strange how no one ever sees them. Maybe they would care to give dates and times, stalls inspected, and why the turkey stall is still on the market.

Why would anyone wish to buy turkeys three weeks before Christmas?

If wish to buy a turkey, buy from a reputable local butcher.

Excellent local butcher in Downing Street in Farnham.

Mushroom stall had oyster mushrooms growing. I commented could grow on coffee grounds. He said no, alien species could grow. He uses a mix of sawdust and straw. Those using coffee grounds would beg to differ, they also add straw. Coffee grounds are sterilised but could subsequently become contaminated.

One thing one learns from coffee roasteries, even if nothing else, is respect for the coffee bean. Not so Cupsmith. During the hot summer, roasted coffee beans in open hessian sacks. Cold damp winter days, roasted coffee beans in open hessian sacks.

There are two places to obtain quality coffee beans in Guildford, and two places only. FCB Coffee kiosk on Guildford Station has occasional guest coffee on sale. Krema in Tungate has coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters on sale.

When buying cheese, things to look for, rare breed cows, cows pastured on grass, unpasteurised milk, traditional cheesemaking. What you do not want is pasteurised milk from black and white bulk milk producers, and cheese made on the farm where  simply replicating an industrialised process on a smaller scale including adding cultures. And never vacuum packed adulterated fake Cheddar in 17 flavours or waxed cheese with a picture of a Lancaster bomber.

But do not take my word for it, heed what Bronwen Percival has to say on buying cheese in an Appendix to Reinventing the Wheel:

Buy unadulterated cheese … if a cheesemaker hides behind added ingredients, whether smoke, added fruits or spices … it is either a tragedy … or a sign their milk was devoid of character in the first place … Buy raw-milk cheese … Buy complex cheese … Buy from a cheesemonger … good cheesemongers are curators of good cheese.

Adulterating cheese is akin to adding syrups to coffee. Don’t. It either ruins a good coffee or is used to hide bad coffee.

For quality cheese in Guildford spoilt for choice in the cheesemonger end of Chapel Street.

Farmers markets are synonymous with quality, or so they would like us to think, but do not be fooled, that something is produced locally, does not make it quality.

I will buy bread off Celtic Bakers, eat a dosa off the dosa stall, fresh produce off the stall that has taken the place of Secretts Farm, apples and apple juice off the apple stall, meat from the farm cooking the roast pork.

I noticed many of the stalls were stickered with little black Great Taste Awards maybe half, maybe more than half. Do not be fooled, these stickers mean absolutely nothing, and are certainly no indication of quality.

A dosa off the Indian stall, as always excellent.

Excellent honey crunch chicken with brown rice in Bamboo Shoots.

Passing Surrey Hills Coffee to and from Bamboo Shoots, as always empty, ok one customer. On my second pass, a girl I have not seen before. Pleasant and helpful. I commented that one of the bags of coffee grounds sat outside had been picked up. Did I want she asked, more behind the counter. No, as wrong time of year.

As always, excellent coffee at Krema.

I was greeted by an ex-barista from Harris + Hoole. Since the takeover by caffe Nero and death by a thousand cuts, Harris + Hoole have lost all their good staff.

There will be an extra market in two weeks time, a special Christmas market. If there was any information or publicity, I did not see. I only know thanks to a  couple of the stalls telling me.

The market needs to up its game, better environmental standards, emphasis on quality having priority over local, though ideally both.

A must for the Christmas market, Hidden Curiosities Gin and Chimney Fire Coffee, local producers of exceptional quality.

Afternoon in Guildford

November 30, 2018

Cold in the shade, pleasantly warm in the sun.

Adding insult to injury, former head of Network Fail awarded CBE, train companies try to justify a hike in rail fares in January.

What looks like a disgusting concoction on offer at Harris + Hoole, a Christmas filter coffee. Caffe Nero doing their best to destroy a once excellent coffee shop.

Organised crime, what appear to be Albanian beggars on the street, all with the same badly written card, please help me I am hungry. They are not the local homeless.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Honey crunch chicken with brown rice. As always excellent. Today busy, but then I did arrive lunchtime, usually I am early afternoon.

I was tempted to try tea, but instead decide on coffee at Krema.

Guildford Rangers handing out a newsletters strictly speaking a news sheet, a single A4 page of zilch content. One in four kids have mental health problems, Experience Guildford encouraging taking of selfies. Car parks full to overflowing at Christmas, Experience Guildford offering free car parking. These are some of the many scams Experience Guildford dream up to waste public money.

Surrey Hills Coffee as always empty as I walk past. Literally no customers. I cannot see how they survive, always empty. Coffee not good, vegan cakes disgusting.

Caracoli surprisingly busy. I ask when are they closing? They look quite shocked when I say not time of day, when is the store closing? Appalling staff kept in the dark. Another member of staff, surprised I know, no one is supposed to know, admits they are closing some time in the New Year.

I am talking to a lady, and let her know closing sometime in the New Year. Whilst we are talking, what I assume to be a cappuccino passes us by on the way to a table. Cup size too large, looked disgusting, chocolate dumped on top.

That is one of their problems, poor quality coffee. Another is not knowing what they are. Are they a deli, a coffee shop? Exasperated by Vulture Capitalist wanting a return on their investment. It is not possible to creates a coffee chain, not unles aping Starbucks.

Sticking a large A-board outside obstructing the High Street falsely claiming serving best coffee in Guildford is asking for trouble, at the very least opening up to ridicule.

V60 at Krema.

Krema busy, I am hard pushed to find a table.

Each time I visit Krema, there are more people.

Instead of walking down the High Street or cutting through Tunsgate Quarter, I head off down Castle Street to the cheesemonger end of Chapel Street. They are gobsmacked when I tell then of a shop recently opened selling plastic wrapped cheese laced with ginger.

I query the seats outside. They tell me they now serve toasties.

Look in M&S. Olive oil spread healthy? Think again. Bulked out with palm oil, bad for planet, bad for health, high in saturated fats. Vegetables oils, including palm oil, highest content. Begs the question why not called palm oil spread or vegetable oil spread?

M&S not the only ones conning the public.

Bertolli olive oil spread, heavily promoted as healthy alternative, bulked out with palm oil.

Why are they allowed to advertise and yet Iceland Palm oil Christmas commercial banned?

To the Station.

FCB Coffee kiosk, guest coffee Costa Rica from Hundred House Coffee.

Empty Christmas boxes on FCB Coffee kiosk Guildford Station wrapped in red ribbon. Why not fill with bags of guest coffee, drop loyalty cards with e-mail address in a pot for a Christmas draw?

1730 Guildford to Ascot via Aldershot only running as far as Aldershot, where safety checks will be carried out on the train. The train then cancelled. No train until 1800. Yet another example of the failing rail network.

Cold damp misty Friday afternoon in Guildford

November 28, 2018

Last week, cold, damp and misty Friday in Guildford.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Hot, freshly prepared, good service, far better than Pho in Tunsgate.

Surrey Hills Coffee as always deserted. Well ok two customers. 10% off everything not pulling the punters in, if have Guildford book of offers. A different person serving the coffee. At least she was not stood there looking bored stiff. Once have a poor reputation for coffee, nigh impossible to recover.

Cappuccino, hot chocolate in Krema.

Walking through Tunsgate Quarter, as always deserted,