Posts Tagged ‘Haslemere’

Stagecoach bus driver drugged out of his brain?

November 29, 2014

This afternoon a Stagecoach bus driver who I strongly suspect was drugged out of his brain, or at least he gave every indication of being so.

Bus was running twenty minutes late.

Driver drove past bus stops even though passengers were clearly requesting him to stop.

He ignored requests from passengers for the bus to stop, then at last minute, pulled up past the bus stop.

He sailed past my bus stop. Passengers shouted out he was passing my stop, I shouted at the bus driver, we were ignored.

I alighted at the next stop and asked him why he did not stop, even though a request to stop had been made. I got no reponse, he looked like a zombie with glazed eyes.

I got off the bus thinking OMG that driver is drugged out of his brain.

I was sufficiently concerned that I considered calling the police or Stagecoach, but could not as had no phone on me.

The Quest for NeverSeconds

November 20, 2012
Neverseconds book launch

There weren’t many left at the end of the night. – Martha Payne, NeverSeconds book launch, Waterstone’s Glasgow

NeverSeconds selling about 300 copies a day. That’s 7,500 Malawian children each day who’ll get a meal due to book. — Cargo Publishing

I think we broke Amazon by selling out … — Martha Payne

It would seem simple enough, a book that has had oodles of publicity, an author that has had even more publicity, to walk into a bookshop to find on display, piled high.

But sadly not the case. Not only do I find not on display, not in stock, the bookshops I have tried have not go a clue what I am talking about.

NeverSeconds, co-written by Martha and David Payne, is the story of Martha and her food blog NeverSeconds, currently selling at 300 copies per day, but walk into Waterstone’s and ask for a copy, and they have not a clue what you are talking about.

I tried today Waterstone’s Godalming.

I had tried last week, but in the end walked out as I got fed up waiting to get any service. The same today. I walked around the shop to see if there was anyone to ask. Nada. I had to wait. Eventually when I came to be served, the person woke up to the fact the queue was now half way down the shop and called for back up.

NeverSeconds please.

Long pause. Is it a book?

Now I appreciate it is stretching the point to call Waterstone’s a bookshop, but they are a chain that sells books. Now what would I be asking for, a Harley-Davidson bike?

Yes, it is a book.

Do you know the author?

Yes, Martha Payne, and just to be helpful I spelled Payne.

No, we do not have, but we do have one on order.

Would you like to know if any other Waterstone’s have copies.


Edinburgh has ten copies.

I was in Godalming in Surrey, south of London. Was I really likely to go up to London, catch the overnight Caledonian Sleeper to visit Waterstone’s in Edinburgh?

NeverSeconds was launched last week in Waterstone’s in Glasgow, a huge pile of books, which according to Martha, almost all were sold. Now does this not tell someone in Waterstone’s, we have a best-seller on our hands, we better get stocked up, sit back and watch them walk off the shelves? I have been at book launches, book signings, with well known authors, and seen only half a dozen books sold.

There weren’t many left at the end of the night. Our book is going to be in WHSmiths across the UK, Waterstones in Scotland and independent bookshops everywhere. I think we broke Amazon by selling out but more copies will be there tomorrow and the printers are making more today. It went into the top 200 on Amazon. You can also get it on a Kindle from Amazon websites all over the world but my favourite is in Japan! It doesn’t matter where you buy our book every copy gives children 25 meals in Malawi and that’s why we wrote it.

The pathetic excuse I was given Waterstone’s Godalming was that NeverSeconds was only published last week.

Surely you do not wait until after a book is published before ordering? You order in advance so that on publication day, you have copies on display, on the shelves.

Waterstone’s Lincoln same response, not in stock, not on order.

But it is not only Waterstone’s.

I tried WHSmith. No joy there either.

I then had the bright idea, catch the bus to Haslemere, visit an independent bookshop. The bus dropped me opposite The Haslemere Bookshop.

In one window trash the sort of trash one would find on display in Waterstone’s, only at a massive discount. Hardly inspiring. On the door a notice No coffee from Costa. I was not sure, was this anti-coffee or anti-Costa. I resisted the temptation to ask.

NeverSeconds please?

Do you know the author?

Yes, Martha Payne, which I spelled to be helpful.

No, we do not have, nor is it on order.

I expressed surprise that they did not know this book, to be told they could not be expected to know every book. I said I agreed, but I would expect them to know a book that has been serialised in the Sunday Times, has had lots of publicity. Not their department, they are not the buyers.

I suggested that as this was a book in demand, they ordered copies, put on display, and that way steal a march on Waterstone’s.

I am amazed how a bookshop like this stays in business. I visited it last year, then they did not know of Aleph, then latest book by Paulo Coelho, an international best seller.

The Haslemere Bookshop compares very unfavourably with a lovely indie bookshop around the back of Winchester Cathedral. They always have a wonderful window display, books that tempts one, a love of books.

It also compares unfavourably with Judd Books which I came across near the British Museum whilst in London last week.

A couple of days ago I contacted One Tree Books, an indie bookshop in Petersfield, a couple of years ago Bookshop of the Year (though I was not impressed when I paid them a visit last year). I asked did they have NeverSeconds? They have not had the courtesy to reply.

How do indie bookshops remain in business? Sadly they don’t. We have lost a quarter in the last five years. It is easy to why. Apart from a few noticeable exceptions, they compare very unfavourably with bookshops in Bassano del Grappa.

It is also easy to see why Waterstone’s is a failing book chain. I experienced the same problem last year when asking for Aleph by Paulo Coelho.

Amazon are not only winning on price, they are winning on service. If you want NeverSeconds, unless you live in Scotland, you have no choice than to go to Amazon, and even Amazon appear to be asleep on the job and the best they can deliver on is an e-book.

I do not wish to see all or indie bookshops wiped out, but unless failing bookshops get their act together, that is what will happen. They cannot compete on price, which means they have to compete on service.

NeverSeconds is now on at least its second print run. Maybe one day I will lay my hands on a copy, then I will write a review.

Wet afternoon in Godalming and Haslemere

November 20, 2012

Train to Guildford, train to Godalming.

Wet and raining all day.

On the Gatwick train, speaking to a lady reading The Book Thief.

A good book. Yes. Given it by a friend, will the pass on. I suggested register on Book Crossing.

I do not know why, conversation turned to Waterstone’s. She was scathing about Waterstone’s, staff who know nothing about books. I saw no reason to differ. I told her of the NeverSeconds fiasco, and that it was not a one off, same thing last year with Aleph.

I popped in the Parish Church, lit a candle for Gaza. Had a chat with man who was getting the church ready for a Christmas tree festival. I said I went to one a couple of years ago. He said there was a growing popularity. I offered to drop a poster and flyer to Café Mila.

Lunch at Café Mila. I had a chat with Steve, he has agreed to sell copies of NeverSeconds, which is great. If the bookshops cannot get their act together, then let’s find alternative outlets for NeverSeconds. I am not sure why, but tea and cake was on the house.

Waterstone’s. Did they have NeverSeconds? No. They did not even know what it was. Is it a book. No, it is a Harley-Davidson bike! I know it is stretching the point to call Waterstone’s a bookshop, but it is reasonable to assume I am asking for a book.

No joy in WHSmith either.

I then decide to hop on the bus to Haslemere, by now heavy rain, and try the indie bookshop.

Plan was catch the 71 bus, hop off, then catch then following bus, which changes to the 19 to Aldershot

Bus only a couple of minutes late, only it is the 70. Change of plan, hop on the 70 bus, which goes a more direct route, missing out the villages, then catch the 71/19 which was running late.

Bus stops opposite Haslemere Bookshop. I ask. They have not got a clue what I am asking for. I got the same response last year when I asked for Aleph.

I walk to bus stop. Not sure if I have missed or not, lady at stop says not. 71 bus turns up 20-30 minutes late, changes to 19 bus.

At Aldershot, not long to wait for next bus.

A round trip of three counties: Surrey, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire.

Afternoon in Godalming

September 14, 2012
cottages in Mill Lane

cottages in Mill Lane

I decided lunch at Café Mila in Godalming. Train to Guildford, train to Godalming.

On alighting from the train, I went a different way into Godalming, past the old mill, sadly not working but the mill race is still there, past some lovely old cottages.

Outside the old mill a strange contraption, several feet across, 19th century engineering. I was baffled as to what it was.

Beneath the Pepper Pot a Doctor of Chiropractor was offering free consultation. Apparently my spine is slightly curved laterally, my pelvis slightly tilted, and each vertebral twisted one way then the other all the way up my spine. I can see I am going to have to see my doctor and be referred to a specialist.

Café Mila very busy, though not as busy as Tuesday. Lovely food laid out.

I decided to try the Green Curry chalked up on the board. Not something I would try other than in a Thai restaurant. I could not believe how good it was. I had also ordered a carrot cake, but was too full. I said I would come back.

I mention the Costa Coffe (dis)Loyalty Card scheme. Let us hope more indie coffee shops take this up and introduce people to real coffee.

I looked in Costa. Dull and dingy, I cannot see why anyone would wish to go there, but looking at the people who were there, they looked typical McDonald’s customers (and I do not know why people eat there either).

Godalming has an independent record shop, Record Corner. A rarity these days. I picked up the latest Bob Dylan CD, Tempest. I made the mistake of paying extra for the limited edition deluxe version. My advice is don’t, it is a rip-off.

I twice looked in Waterstone’s (yes I know it is not a real bookshop). I wanted to see if they knew when the latest Paulo Coelho Manuscript Found in Accra was out (sometime end of this year or early next year). I never got to ask the question as I was ignored both times.

A walk to the end of Godalming and back, then I caught Café Mila before closing and sat outside and had my carrot cake and a cup of tea.

I then decide rather than catch the bus Godalming to Guildford (and train from Guildford), I would catch the bus to Haslemere, which then continues on to Aldershot.

It was an interesting journey. To Haslemere through little villages, through wooded countryside, along sunken lanes. With the trees overhead, it was as though travelling through a green tunnel.

Prior to the turning to Haslemere, I was amazed at the number of classic cars on the road. I even saw parked up in a pub an E-type Jaguar in Racing Green.

Somewhere on the approach to Hindhead, the countryside changes. Still heavily wooded, but now pine trees not oak. At Frensham, change again, now open heathland.

Then from Aldershot bus.

Afternoon in Godalming and Haslemere

September 11, 2012
Godalming Parish Church

Godalming Parish Church

I would usually go to Guildford, hop on the bus to Godalming, then sometimes take the train rather than the bus back to Guildford.

Today, train to Guildford, then train to Godalming as I wished to have lunch at Café Mila.

At Godalming Station I noticed something I had not noticed before, a Victorian postbox.

As I left Godalming Station I noticed something else I had not noticed before, probably because it would be closed, a lovely little coffee shop called Daisy Sandwiches. It stood out as special as usually at a station it will be a cup of tea and not much more, or as at Guildford Station, a Costa Coffee shop.

Nearly everything Daisy Sandwiches was serving was made by them, from fresh locally sourced produce, including their own sausage rolls and cakes. Whilst I was there, and this was lunchtime when the station is quiet, there was a steady flow of customers.

As I was passing by, I popped in Godalming Parish Church, but did not have a look around.

The Chief Wireless Officer of the Titanic is commemorated in the church.

I looked in Piggies, never found it open before. Two bored looking women who looked like they wished they were anywhere other than Piggies, dried out corn beef curling up at the edges. No thanks. No surprise it was empty.

I also looked in …. Better than Piggies, but again no customers.

I found a market stall beneath the Pepper Pot from which I picked up Coxes apples and Victoria plums. I later ate one of the Coxes. Crisp and juicy with a sharp bite. As apples should be, not the tasteless French Golden Delicious sold in supermarkets.

With the distractions, I got to Café Mila later than I had expected, probably around 2-30pm, to find it was very busy. In contrast to the two places I had looked in on my way that were empty, it was packed. As I had been told last week when I had afternoon tea, an impressive spread on the counter. This was nothing, I was told, to what I would have seen had I been earlier.

I chose a salad. A mistake. Nothing wrong with it, ideal as a side salad, but not as main course. Followed by a lovely piece of carrot cake and a cup of tea.

I popped into Godalming Museum to see the latest art exhibition. Nothing worth spending any time on.

General James Oglethorpe founder of Georgia hails from Godalming. He was the Member of Parliament for Haslemere. He wished to empty the debtors prisons and resettle the released prisoners in Georgia. He saw that the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution was kicking people of the land and depositing them destitute in the cites where they resorted to a life of crime. He wished to see them settled in Georgia. He also fought the Spanish over Florida.

It was then catch the bus to Haslemere.

The bus passes through heavily wooded countryside, along sunken lanes, through little villages. A load of school kids got on. Noisy but well behaved. A large group of them got off in the middle of nowhere. All I could see was trees and a track.

I visited Haslemere last year. It was cold and raining. There did not seem to be much there. My thoughts then were correct, there is little there. I found it to be a very depressing place and a waste of time visiting. For such a small place, never seen so many High Street chains. For its size, must be a record.

Costa was apparently the first, the rest followed. Totnes please take due note!

An interesting main street with one side higher than the other on an elevated walkway. Try crossing the road and nearly get killed. Why no measures in place to slow the traffic? Middle of a small town and yet no path the other side of the street.

A coffee shop called Barista Coffee. I thought maybe an indie, but when I walked in, I assumed I was wrong from its soulless corporate look. I learnt later, it was an indie. But one would not have thought so, it was as if the owner had walked into Costa and decided to replicate what he found, the same soulless look, same factory cakes. And had the gall to charge £2 for wifi (free everywhere else).

I did though find indie baker, fishmonger and a cheese and wine shop. For my tea bread and a cake from the bread shop and cheese from the cheese and wine shop.

I learn there was an indie coffee shop worth looking at. I popped into Hemingways, they told me everything freshly prepared, fair trade tea and coffee. At night it transforms from a coffee bar into a wine bar and music venue. A good idea.

I cross the road and see two Latina women waiting for a bus. I ask is this the bus for Guildford? They tell me yes, and that it is the last bus. It is 5-30pm. I thought last year I caught the bus from the other side of the street, but I must have been mistaken.

The bus took a different route back to Godalming which bypassed all the little villages. Much quicker.

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