Posts Tagged ‘London’

Reclaim the Streets Soho

June 3, 2020

The impact of covid-19 has hit everyone hard, every sector, but none so hard as the hospitality sector, with no sign yet of when they may be able to open.

Look at Soho, boarded-up streets and unless action is taken soon, they will remain boarded-up. And unlike airlines and travel sector which spread covid-19, are victims.

And yet it should not have been. Opening up too soon, relaxing lockdown, will create a second wave, but there was absolutely no reason why indie coffee shops and restaurants, not chains, could have not opened up in May, the weather was ideal, opened up with their tables and chairs spread well spaced apart in the street to maintain social distancing.

What has stopped this happening is the intransigence of local councils who would rather see local businesses die than give them a helping hand.

We can hear birdsong, streets are traffic free, city centres pollution free.

Covid-19 has jolted us into another now.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

Time to Reclaim the Streets.

Pedestrianise not only Soho but also Covent Garden, leaving only the arterial routes for through traffic. Deliveries park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart or trolley.

Kick start the local economy, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables well spaced apart into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking, social distancing maintained.

Win win for everyone, local businesses helped back on their feet, improves the ambience.

Soho Summer Festival:

We’re proposing that streets around Soho are temporarily pedestrianised, in order to allow restaurants and bars the space for outdoor seating. This would allow the public to enjoy the Soho we know and love, while maintaining a safe social distance.

The norm in Athens, local streets at night turn into restaurants.  The Mayor of Athens is extending the pedestrianised streets.

The norm in North Laine in Brighton, coffee shops and restaurants, tables in the street. Brighton is extending its pedestrianised streets.

This does not require a change in licencing laws, it does require a change in the mindset of local jobsworths who would rather see local businesses go to the wall than improve the ambience of our city centres.

An initiate to Reclaim the Streets in Soho has been launched, an initiative dubbed the Soho Summer Festival. Initially pedestrianise the area for the summer. 

Once the summer has passed, it should be made permanent.

2025: The Long Hot Winter

December 25, 2019

Christmas 2025, the future.

Brian Eno narrates this fictional documentary set in the year 2025, interviewing Londoners about their first Christmas heatwave.

A terrifying missive from the near future.

Though do we even have to look that far ahead?

Fires in California, Chile, Siberia, Australia. Floods in England, floods across Europe. Melting polar ice caps, disappearing glaciers.

King’s Cross food market

November 28, 2019

When passing through or by King’s Cross Station it is always worth having an extra half an hour to spare to visit the excellent food market located outside the front of the station.

Spoilt for choice, cakes, cheese, savouries.

Excellent Comte cheese off one stall, Cheddar off another.

Then when perused the food stalls, wander down the side of the station to find Craft Coffee, serving some of the best coffee in London.

Borough Cheese Company cheese stall

December 20, 2018

When passing through King’s Cross, always worth giving extra time to visit the King’s Cross street food market, especially to visit the Borough Cheese Company cheese stall.

Excellent Comté and Tome cheese.

The stall used to only sell Comté cheese, and whilst that is still their main cheese, they compliment with a couple of other cheeses, which have been different each time I pass through.

And add a little extra time for a coffee off Craft Coffee.

King’s Cross Street Food Market

December 20, 2018

When passing through King’s Cross, always worth giving extra time to visit the King’s Cross street food market, especially to visit the Borough Cheese Company cheese stall.

And add a little extra time for a coffee off Craft Coffee.

Cappuccino at Craft Coffee

December 20, 2018

I emerged wrong entrance from King’s Cross Underground, but had an advantage. I emerged to find Craft Coffee.

Craft Coffee a kiosk down the side of King’s Cross Station, between King’s Cross and St Pancras serves one of the best cappuccinos in London.

If passing through King’s Cross, always worth setting aside extra time to visit Craft Coffee, to stop, relax and have a coffee. Note relax, not grab it and go, relax and enjoy.

My cappuccino, the best since Athens, and that is high praise indeed.

Coffee, La Vega, a Colombian single origin, an exclusive roast for Craft Coffee from nearby Notes.

Notes is nearby, literally a couple of minutes walk across the open space.

Also worth setting aside extra time when passing through King’s Cross to visit the Street Food Market in front of King’s Cross Station, especially the Borough Cheese Company cheese stall.

V60 at The Espresso Room

December 9, 2018

Saturday in London, looking forward to a V60, I detour to The Espresso Room, which luckily I find still open.

Too late to eat at Home Slice in Neal’s Yard, Saturday evening there will be a long wait as very popular, I go on a detour to The Espresso Room, which I find open, open until seven.

I abandon all hope of eating at Home Slice, as there will be a long wait.

They remember me, I get a free coffee, as bought a bag of coffee on my last visit.

A Lithuanian girl makes me V60 using Kemyan coffee. Excellent. Best coffee all day. Very fruity.

We chat long gone closing time.

Available free Clipper. An example of a free magazine of quality. Comparable with Independent Life, a free magazine in Leeds and York.

On my last visit I was given direction to a shop selling Standart, Drift. I could not find. I followed directions, head down Monmouth Street to Seven Dials.

I learn a vital piece of information was missing, in Shorts Gardens.

Balance

December 9, 2018

I looked in Balance on my way to Four Corners.

Chatting to Jessica Moscrop by her stall JesSpoke, her own designs, I noticed Balance, a new coffee shop across the street.

Mushroom and chestnut soup in Balance had sounded good when I looked in earlier. I double checked it was still available and that it was mushroom and chestnut, not chestnut mushrooms. Sounds good.

Sadly when served weak and watery and lukewarm almost cold. The toasted bread soggy, as they had already put the butter on the toast.

I ordered a cappuccino. Served too hot.

The menu says we do not serve coffee hot, thus absolutely no excuse.

The salad looked enticing except it looked no different to when I looked in much earlier. Not therefore so enticing.

Moronic music playing in the background, fortunately not too loud.

A coffee shop trying to be trendy and failing miserably.

Four Corners

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up. They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

At the far end of Lower Marsh I found Four Corners.

I order a cappuccino. Blended with cocoa. Why, why use Ozone coffee, then ruin with cocoa? I cannot be bothered sending back.

On the way I encountered drunken idiots in Santa costumes, more and more and kept turning up. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Impossible walk down the street. Eventually coffee shop door is locked to prevent then walking in to use the toilet. Not a singe one buys a coffee, not even a takeaway coffee. They are also sitting on the coffee shops seats outside, leaning on the window. When they finally leave the street is covered in rubbish. They have managed to kill trade for the day or the street market. Whoever was responsible for this charade should be made to pay to clean up the street.

In indie coffee shops it quite common to find books on coffee. In Four Corners a long bookshelf lined with travel books hence the name. They also supply Four Corners passports, mugs, little notebooks and sweatshirts.

Amazing poster hidden in the toilet.

Finally the drunken idiots depart leaving a trail of rubbish.

Four Corners were giving away free books. No idea why and I did not see any. Maybe publisher is nearby and have surplus stock to dump and what better way to obtain free publicity? But why promote a book on trash? Pulp fiction?

JesSpoke

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

It was on the craft market whilst looking for a coffee shop I found JesSpoke.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up.

They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

She was looking stunning dressed with one of her own designs.

I had a chat, would have stayed longer, but it was raining and I had a coffee shop to find.

I regret I did not stay longer, ask her about her designs, and the materials used. I would recommend organic cotton and lambswool, both are soft to the touch and organic cotton far better for the environment.

The problem is we are drowning in consumer junk, pointless consumerism. typified by M&S plastering their shop windows with Must Have.

Stuff stays in our possession all of six months, a brief respite en route from extraction and manufacture, to incineration or landfill.

In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has a brilliant critique of fast fashion.

It is all about image, be it wearing the latest fashion or consuming a can of coke. We think we are in control of our own destiny, but we are not, we are being manipulated by con men.

Fashion. Whatever can people be thinking? Do they think fashion is something that changes according to the season of the year? Did they really come from all corners of the world to show off their dresses, their jewellery and their collection of shoes? They don’t understand. ‘Fashion’ is merely a way of saying: ‘I belong to your world. I’m wearing the same uniform as your army, so don’t shoot.’

Ever since groups of men and women first started living together in caves, fashion has been the only language everyone can understand, even complete strangers. ‘We dress in the same way. I belong to your tribe. Let’s gang up on the weaklings as a way of surviving.’

But some people believe that ‘fashion’ is everything. Every six months, they spend a fortune changing some tiny detail in order to keep up their membership of the very exclusive tribe of the rich. If they were to visit Silicon Valley, where the billionaires of the IT industry wear plastic watches and beat-up jeans, they would understand that the world has changed; everyone now seems to belong to the same social class; no one cares any more about the size of a diamond or the make of a tie or a leather briefcase. In fact, ties and leather briefcases don’t even exist in that part of the world; nearby, however, is Hollywood, a relatively more powerful machine – albeit in decline – which still manages to convince the innocent to believe in haute-couture dresses, emerald necklaces and stretch limos. And since this is what still appears in all the magazines, who would dare destroy a billion-dollar industry involving advertisements, the sale of useless objects, the invention of entirely unnecessary new trends, and the creation of identical face creams all bearing different labels?

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart.

The father works overtime to be able to buy his son the latest trainers because if his son doesn’t have a pair, he’ll be ostracised at school. The wife weeps in silence because her friends have designer clothes and she has no money. Their adolescent children, instead of learning the real values of faith and hope, dream only of becoming singers or movie stars. Girls in provincial towns lose any real sense of themselves and start to think of going to the big city, prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to get a particular piece of jewellery. A world that should be directed towards justice begins instead to focus on material things, which, in six months’ time, will be worthless and have to be replaced, and that is how the whole circus ensures that the despicable creatures gathered together in Cannes remain at the top of the heap.

What are people buying into, what are they paying a high price for? It is not the designer on the label as the design will have been by a young designer who wants out to set up his or her own label. It will have not even have been made by the company, it will have come from some Third World sweatshop, a dollar or less at the factory gate, one hundred dollars or more retail. All that people are paying for is the label, the brand name.

Not to be confused with buying real luxury, quality, for example a Montegrappa pen made by craftsmen, for when we buy something of quality, we tend to cherish it and keep it for life.

We need to move to Slow Fashion, emphasis on quality and style, clothes and other possessions we value, look after. The exact opposite of fast fashion, jumping to the diktat of fashionistas, cheap crap from sweatshops. Cheap crap that is worn a couple of times then thrown away.

On display at JesSpoke was as I would find on the autonomous street market in Athens, quality, and far better than the overpriced tat on the occasional craft market on Guildford High Street and at the markets at Farnham Maltings.

It was a miserable day, Lower Marsh empty, and no one appeared to be doing very well.