Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

Daffodils

March 26, 2017

Unusual daffodils, very pale, growing at the roadside.

Cappuccino in Madame Waffle

March 23, 2017

I have passed Madame Waffle many times, and pass is what I do, not somewhere I would set foot in, gives every impression of being a chain fast food joint.

It therefore takes a lot of persuading for me to cross the threshold and enter.

The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop: They serve good coffee, excellent baristas, Square Mile Coffee, Standart.

The last two were the clincher. If they serve Square Mile Coffee, then they must know something about about coffee. Similarly if  Standart in the coffee shop.

I was after Standart issue 5 and 6.

Even so, it was with great reluctance, it was a pleasant day, I wished to walk up The Strait and Steep Hill to Makushi. If nothing else, I may get a decent coffee.

Thus my expectations were low.

Walking through the door, I was pleasantly surprised, an excellent job has been done on the decor, exposed brick walls, wooden tables, a pleasant atmosphere. It looked every bit a quality coffee shop.

Maybe it was  a coffee shop that served waffles.

As I walked in, Square Mile Coffee on sale.

No room, ok, we have a first floor.

I ordered a cappuccino.

I had not seen Standart. I asked.

They said it was on sale. I expected, like Makushi,  to browse.

I did find  Caffeine free to take away. I never knew it was free. But easy to see why. Patronising drivel, hacks paid to fill column inches.

The girl brought me Standart issue 7.

Do you have issue 5 and 6?

Off she went and came back with Standart issue 6. Sorry we do not have issue 5.

My cappuccino arrived. It was excellent. But then I expected no less with Square Mile.

On my way down, I bought Standart issue 6, £9.

This I queried, I can subscribe for four issues for 11 euros.

They were surprised, they order for resale and  pay £9-17 each when they order ten for resale, to sell at a loss.

Something going very wrong. I then looked again, as something did not add up. Oops. To subscribe a single issue, which is then automatically renewed, 11 euros per issue, to subscribe four issues, which is automatically renewed, 40 euros. I thought it did not make sense 11 euros a single issue or four issues.

On leaving, I was asked had I seen the floor below?

No, I did not know there was a floor below.

Below, I found there was an undercroft, indicating the building much older than external looks would suggest, or built on the foundation of a much older building.

I was told there are tunnels connecting all these lower levels.

Whether true or not I do not know. Maybe an urban myth, as not something I have ever heard of.

Occasional live music and other events in the evening.

Ruddock’s is closing after 136 years in business, but leaving Henry’s tea room open. This  I could not understand how this could work.

Today, I noticed a side door, leading direct to the tea rooms without having to pass through Ruddock’s. Something I have never noticed before.

I inquired in Ruddock’s. They said Henry’s too will be closing.

They blamed high car parking charges. This is not the problem The problem is they are selling rubbish.

Flag over The Stonebow flying half mast, a mark of respect for those killed yesterday afternoon during a terrorist attack in London.

Cappuccino in Makushi

March 15, 2017

A lovely warm sunny spring day.

A walk up Steep Hill, then on the way back down, coffee at Makushi.

Different to last week, different barista, different beans.

Makushi change their beans roughly every month.

Interesting conversation with fellow coffee drinkers and the barista.

Makushi roast their own single origin beans and unlike undrinkable coffee from Costa, the beans are not over-roasted and burnt.

Barista recommended I try The Plant Room in Brighton. Not a coffee shop I am familiar with.

Other places to try coffee in Lincoln:

  • Stokes on High Bridge
  • Coffee Aroma
  • The Little Bicle Coffee Shop

One to avoid, Angel Coffee House.

Henry’s tea room, marginal.

Had I had time, I would have popped in The Cheese Society and picked up some cheese.

Plenty of people wandering around, High Street was packed.

Cappuccino in Makushi

March 7, 2017

A pleasant sunny morning to walk up Steep Hill.

High Street follows Ermine Street, an old Roman road, as does The Strait, as does Steep Hill.

Makushi is well located, half way up Steep Hill, but I prefer to drop in on my way back down.

Excellent cappuccino.

Today a different barista, noticeably different coffee.

On my way back down, Cornish yarg from The Cheese Society.

A new coffee shop opening at the bottom of The Strait, it what until recently a deli,and before that a second outlet for The Cheese Society.

Neither did well, lack of footfall. Wrong location for a coffee shop, beginning of the climb, not halfway up.

Advertising for baristas. Hmm, if opening a coffee shop, that should have already been sorted. If know nothing about coffee, forget it, there are sufficient number of outlets serving bad coffee.

Pleasant spring day in Heighington

March 4, 2017

A little after midday, a pleasant sunny spring day in Heighington.

Pleasantly warm in the sun. Crocuses and daffodils were in flower. Snowdrops have been out for at least a month.

Heighington is a village of stone cottages, narrow lanes, lined by stone walls, with tiles on the walls, not far from Lincoln.

If you want excellent pork pies, then visit the local butcher, hidden at the back of the Spar shop. He is famous for the quality of his Lincolnshire sausages.

Butcher and Beast is an old pub with an open fire, or was. It serves food, or did. The menu board outside contained blank sheets of paper. A couple of years ago, the food was overpriced and not very good. It now seem to have improved.

A small stream, Heighington Beck flows through the village, with a disused mill a little way upstream. There was a tea room by the Beck, but sadly this has closed.

Ruddock’s to close after 163 years in business

March 4, 2017

Ruddock’s and Stokes on High Bridge are permanent features of Lincoln High Street.

Ruddock’s, a printer and a shop, the shop a bookshop, stationary, art supplies, upmarket pens, located in the top half of the High Street in Lincoln.

Or was, the printing business is to remain, the shop is to close.

Ruddock’s is to close after 163 years in business. A family business, the plan is to close in April 2017, 113 years in the present location, prior to that a little further up the High Street.

Henry Ruddock blames the lack of parking.

That is not the problem, the High Street is busy, there is footfall on the street, the problem is people are not passing through the door into the store.

I am sorry to see Ruddock’s close, but sadly not surprised, it lost its way years ago.

Lack of car parking in the town centre is simply an excuse. Yes, there is a problem of traffic congestion, solve that by improving public transport.

I see a High Street packed, but I see Ruddock’s empty.

But I would agree most of the developments within the city centre have been to the detriment of the town centre. For example the ugly high rise buildings, destruction of Sincil Street and the market, allowing motorised traffic through a pedestrianised city centre.

Ruddock’s used to be an excellent bookshop. Ruddock’s lost their way when they stopped selling books, though difficult to compete with on-line and Waterstone’s selling cut price best sellers, deals that are not offered to indie bookshops. Walk in now, and it is newspapers, magazines and rubbish.

Though first floor is a specialist art supplier.

Henry’s tea shop upstairs, is nicely done out, has atmosphere, but the coffee when I tried was not good. These days if open a coffee shop, ok it is a tea shop, you have to employ top class baristas and take a pride in the coffee you serve, not leave it to someone who makes the sandwiches. And how many passing by know there is a tea shop upstairs?

The tea shop will remain open or for the time being, but it is difficult to see how this will work if the shop is to close.

The tea shop is also placed at a competitive disadvantage when Starbucks and Caffè Nero dodge tax.

Ruddock’s also sells high quality pens, and I do not mean trendy rubbish Ted Baker as they promoted on twitter.

Montegrappa The Alchemist

Montegrappa The Alchemist

One of the rare shops I have found selling Montegrappa pens though not their top range, for example The Alchemist pen.

Lincoln will now have lost all its indie bookshops, or soon will have.

Readers Rest closed a couple of years ago. A great loss, and still missed.

Harlequin is going, driven out of business by a greedy landlord hiking the rent.

BookStop Cafe remains, local authors and second hand books, located in an undercroft beneath a Norman building with stunning view down Steep Hill.

Business rate hike is going to kill off many more indie businesses.

Development of Sincil Street has done an excellent job of driving out indie businesses. The street is now derelict. It used to be between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon busier than the High Street.

What is left? The same boring chains as seen in every town.

And where we do see indie coffee shops like Coffee Aroma, harassment from the County Council for leaving their tables and chairs outside in a pedestrianised area.

Yet what we see sadly is not only Lincoln, planners who care not for the local town, lack vision, lack understanding of town centre planning, and too often in the pocket of greedy developers.

When I attend a planning meeting and find a planner arguing on behalf of a greedy developer, dismissing any local objections, often quite well founded local objections, blatantly lying on the presentation, then I know something stinks.

And we only have to look at the results.

That is why time and time again, when English visit small towns across Europe, and still find the butcher, baker and indie bookshops, the historic centre free of traffic and unspoilt, they ask, why is my town not like this?

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

In Bassano del Grappa, a small town north of Venice nestling in the foothills of the Alps, we find traffic free streets, little shops, three indie bookshops, one of which is in a former palace where Napoleon once stayed.

Lincoln City Council, shedding crocodile tears, wringing of hands, not us guv.

Of course they are at fault, they are the planning authority hand in hand with Lincolnshire who are the Highways authority.

A classic case study in bad town centre planning.

And then have the gall to blame Lincoln for being a historic town. That is its attraction, there is nothing else of attraction. Or do they think people visit to admire the ugly buildings, to shop in the same shops as found elsewhere?

I fully back Henry Ruddock in his damning critique of the City Council.

Lincoln would make a case study in unimaginative, bad town centre planning.

Where I would disagree, is in the comments on car parking.

In the last decade or more we have seen ugly high rise buildings, each one uglier than the other.

Brayford is an eyesore.

This was an area of old warehouses and mills. This area could have been restored, to create an attractive and vibrant atmosphere, ground floor indie coffee shops and other indie businesses, first floor small businesses, design studios, hi-tech, top floors living accommodation.

Look to Bristol for an example.

A couple of years ago Sincil Street was thriving, between ten in the morning and four in the morning, it was busier than the High Street.

Now it has been blighted by development and sky high rents. And if look at the hoardings, more High Street chains, where once we had indie businesses.

Look to North Laine in Brighton, three streets each longer than Sincil Street, associated side streets, always busy, not a single chain, all indie businesses.

We see harassment of Coffee Aroma for leaving their tables and chairs outside, rather than deal with the real issue of stopping traffic through a pedestrianised area and delivering by handcart and trolley, as the norm in Europe.

Cappuccino at Makushi

February 20, 2017

I walked up Steep Hill, then on the way back down, cappuccino at Makushi.

Today different beans, today from Honduras.

Cappuccino and latte at Stokes on High Bridge

February 16, 2017

The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

A cappuccino and latte plus a cookie at Stokes on High Bridge.

Cookie was excellent, but mixed feelings about the coffee.

We have third coffee wave, little indie coffee shops, small indie coffee roasters, coffee plantations, all working together to bring you the best in a cup of coffee.

The roasters go to the plantation, to ensure the best growing conditions, the best beans are then picked. Next stage is how the beans are extracted and washed. The coffee roaster attempt to bring out the best character of the beans. Finally the barista coaxes the best the beans can offer.

Get any part of the chain wrong, and you will have poor quality coffee.

Stokes, instead of moving forward embracing this third wave, are not standing still, they are regressing.

A latte should look good,  that is why it is served in glass. In Stokes, up until a couple of weeks ago, served an excellent latte, not any more.

A barista will take pride, not only in how the cappuccino is brewed but also in the art.

This used to be true of Stokes, not any more.

What is going wrong? Nothing like asking.

Orders from head office.  We have to serve the classic Italian cappuccino.  Repeated like an automaton with no great faith in what they were saying.

No, Italy does not serve great coffee. This is to go backwards.

It is a myth Italy is associated with good coffee. That myth has arisen because the Italians invented the espresso machine, though the French may beg to differ.

The myth that Italy is synonomous with quality coffee, is just that, a myth.

Italy invented the espresso machine, though the French may wish to dispute this.

It was the French who first applied steam to drive water under pressure through coffee.

In 1818, Mr Laurens of Paris used a percolator system to create coffee. Further refinements by Louis Bernard Rabaut in 1822.

It was not until the early 1900s Italians came on the scene.

antique espresso machine

antique espresso machine

In 1901, Luigi Bezzera created a primitive espresso machine.

It was not until post-WWII we had the forerunner of the modern espresso machine.

It was Italian Fascists who coined the term barista, to differentiate from the American barman.

The world has moved on from bad Italian coffee, leave that to the likes of Costa, with their over roasted coffee.

And speaking of Costa. Stokes has appointed a training manager, from er, Costa!

Stokes is a very old coffee business, dating from 1902, now a fourth generation family business.  The current location of Stokes on High Bridge, in a Tudor building on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham dates from 1937.

Stokes have recently acquired The Lawn, though begs the question when will it open? It will serve coffee, roast coffee, run coffee classes. Though why has the Joseph Banks Conservatory been relocated? A key feature of The Lawn.

The service of late in Stokes on High Bridge has been abyssal. Today service was much improved.

The River Witham, which runs beneath Stokes, was today running very fast and very muddy.

From Waterstone’s, four copies of The Spy. Strictly speaking, swapped four copies. Waterstone’s stick stickers on the front of their books, which damage the books.

Outside Waterstone’s, between Stokes and The Stonebow, a  man was playing a saxophone. He was quite good, but why oh why ghastly backing music? It would have been far better, a sax on its own.

A little further up the High Street, Richard Silvester playing violin. I suggested he recorded and released on bandcamp. He asked what would did I like? Paganini.

When is a pedestrianised street not a pedestrianised street?

February 13, 2017

It is a reasonable assumption, that a pedestrianised street is a pedestrianised street,  a safe area for pedestrians to stroll, free of cars, vans and lorries.

Not in the centre of Lincoln.

In the city centre, a pedestrianised area, where cars, vans and lorries drive through up until ten o’clock in the morning. That is the permitted time, they actually continue to drive through until at least 10-30.

Then a repeat after four o’clock.

Today the High Street was packed, and yet vans and lorries were driving through.

A lorry drove through, then turned right before the Stonebow.

Maybe the driver thought it ok, because he had his hazard lights flashing. Legally he could drive through as it was after four o’clock.

But earlier,  a car was driving up past The Stonebow up the High Street. Maybe the driver thought it was ok because he was  serf working for Hermes at less than the minimum wage and was delivering a parcel. Or maybe he thought it was ok because he or she had their hazard lights flashing.

Coffee Aroma have been ordered to remove their tables and chairs by four o’clock in the afternoon. And yet they are not the problem. The problems is crass planning policies that permit cars, vans and lorries to  drive through pedestrianised streets.

The week before, as I walked past Coffee Aroma at four o’clock with their tables and chairs stacked up, I was nearly run down by a white van.

Across Europe pedestrianised areas, vans and lorries park on the outskirts and deliver by handcart and trolley.

Why not in Lincoln?

It would be safer for pedestrians, minimise damage to the street surface, and improve the air quality with no diesel engines belching out their toxic fumes.

Sunset

February 2, 2017

Sunset,  Church Hill, Washingborough, near Lincoln

Yesterday, as I walked up Church Hill, I caught a magnificent sunset.

I am pleased the same today.