Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Froth without Bites (hopefully)

Went to look at Daily 5 the beginning of last week. R had told me there was a cappuccino bar in Lakedale Road. I had been up there to find it without luck which is quite a hard thing to do given the limited amount of shops there. It was the very last outlet on the left when heading towards the hill. The shop was empty apart from a man preparing food behind the counter. He said they had been open three months which surprised me and I said how the need for a coffee bar was often mentioned round here. A few pastries were on display above the glass case containing the sandwich ingredients. Some mini Red Bull Energy Boost bottles were also on the counter - perhaps some assumption about the popularity of coffee was being made here? The interior was clean and bright with two sets of metal tables and chairs getting wet on the pavement outside.

I ordered a cappuccino which I took without sugar but with chocolate and a latticed pecan pastry. It came to the grand total of £1.50. "A special promotion" the man said. It was all "to go" and I stepped outside to take a photo. An unleashed and unattended Rottweiler was strolling up Lakedale Road like they do and it paused to sniff my coffee before strolling into the cafe. It's rear end can be seen disappearing inside in the first of my photos above.
I set off to the station wondering if the man was aware of his new customer. When I was a bit further away I started wondering if he was still alive.

The coffee was disappointing with only the mildest hint of coffee flavour - it almost took an act of concentration to notice it far beneath the watery surface. By the time I had got past the Post Office the froth had all but disappeared leaving just a thin film. I decided to do a compare and contrast with Caffe Nero's offering at London Bridge which was on my way. When I got there I was surprised to find how lacking in flavour that was too. I had unbalanced things a bit by asking for a dash of cinnamon as well as chocolate at CN so it wasn't a true like for like comparison. I had however avoided sugar to start with to match my Plumstead brew - though I did sugar it when I was half way through and by this stage the coffee flavour really seemed to be stronger than my initial tastings. The froth of the CN was miles ahead of of the Daily 5's effort. It looked like it would never deflate - the choc and cinnamon powders sat neatly on top of the foam and added to the filtering effect. The chocolate with the Daily 5 went practically unnoticed - it just adhered to the bottom of the lid. If you took the lid off all the chocolate would be on the lid with none on the foam. And another thing, the first thing I noticed with the London Bridge drink was that it was HOT. Was this because I didn't have a sleeve on the cup - or does CN's coffee machine kick out more steam?

The pecan thing from Daily 5 tasted like a sausage roll that had been hastily converted into a danish -a tang of animal fat struck my tastebuds with gusto. It was not too bad after the first few bites though and it filled a hole but was a rather stolid experience. Still the combined price wasn't to be sniffed at. Or woofed at. So I'll score it two out of five - after all it is trying to be something that some people are very keen on having. I certainly want to see more espresso machines in action round here and not necessarily manned by mass-produced baristas. On the other hand I am not in a mad rush to get back there for more.

It deserves a bit of support though and a second chance so I aim to test out their double espresso - there is no hiding with an espresso. That will have to taste of something. My half-empty-bottle mentality means I suspect it might bear more resemblance to the distilled essence of a Turkish wrestlers post-bout battle trunks than to the humble, vivacious and not-too-difficult-to-use coffee bean. Let's hope not.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nathan's Way....

...could have been the name for my new blog. Perhaps it should have been. I just couldn't afford the the fee for Susan Sarandon's image rights. It is called Plumstead Hi and is really just very short notes about Plumstead things. It is hoped to have more than one contributing editor. In the meantime it's mostly.....well have a look if the subject interests you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ridgeway development in Thamesmead

Have you ever been to Thamesmead? I have several times. Including the rather bizarre experience of watching a film under a flyover there on this very Friday evening. The event was part of a Design for London, Borough of Bexley and Borough of Greenwich redevelopment programme. The austere-as-they-can-be railings were garlanded with flowers and gold painted thrones were lined up on the pavement of Sewell Road as can be seen in the top picture.

The focus of the re-development is the Ridgeway. Basically its a sewer pipe running out of Sir Joseph Bazalgette's Crossness Pumping Station that has become a place of wild natural attractiveness. It has caught the eye of the above agencies and the evening was to introduce us to various ideas that are being floated.

Food made from fruits picked on the Ridgeway was given away along with a recipe book based on the same food. I enjoyed the horseradish and the damson compote.

A film had been specially produced with comments from some of the Thamesmead locals about the wonders of nature and all that kind of thing. Thamesmead locals are a kind of wonder of nature themselves although a disappointing number of them availed themselves of this pleasant freebie.

The film was a very broad brush affair - people did silly things on the Ridgeway. Yachts floated along the path - a questionnaire had been handed out and one of the questions had been what kind of new uses could be found for the Ridgeway. Sailing hadn't occurred to me - neither had "Ridge-ball" which is a game where people stand in a line along the path and rather lamely pass footballs along to each other. It was to get us thinking imaginatively about the future. Someone grasping at straws might have been more approriate. After all there isn't much you can do on what seems to be a narrow path atop a hump that has become a bit overgrown and flowery.

The film was projected against the supports for the Harrow Manor Way Flyover and cars and trucks would pass between the viewers and the screen - often with rather surprised-looking drivers taking in the rows of people in gold-painted chairs. Fun.

A slide show listed elsewhere in the underpass introduced various objectives and projects for improving the path and surrounding environment. It included a paddock for those Thamesmead folk who leave their horses grazing outside their tower blocks. The idea of little hideaways for children was greeted with a bit of scorn - a natural habitat for the not infrequent drug addicts of Thamesmead. Planting more edible plants was more welcome.

There were also two short films about the development of Thamesmead - a delightfully silly advert for the place where jolly old dears ran for buses full of vim and joie de vivre. Then there was a piece of socialist realism detailing the horrors of Life Before Thamesmead. It involved very bad wallpapering and outside toilets apparently. Thank God for the outright alienation of the concrete jungle.

I look forward to seeing how this all pans out and am pleased something is happening. I said I would litter-pick if such a thing ever got organised. R is very positive and thinks it's the beginning of something big.

The older films reminded us that big things have happened here before. Let's hope its more like Crossness in its durability than Thamesmead in all it's ......well.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pottering About

Its Bank Holiday Time at last and there are plenty of things to postpone doing.

R is downstairs re-building the house as usual and I am trying to resist the urge to itch (and to help out).

A few weeks ago I went to visit the doctor. It was all a bit of a deja vue experience. I had being having very bad scratch attacks - a few years ago I made a succession of visits to doctors that culminated in one of them getting concerned about my liver and all that that involved.

I didn't hold out much hope of getting anywhere new with this visit. The Doctor immediately started saying it was eczema and suggested a whole bunch of unguents and creams that I had used before. I raised my concerns saying I had done all this before but she managed to convince me to give it another go.

So, for what seemed a vast cost I acquired the various gunks (one prescription per item-is that new?) then went home and have really enjoyed oiling myself up, with aqueous cream and the like, three times a day.

And do you know what ? - the scratch attacks didn't make their usual daily and nightly visits. (Sorry for the gory detail but I would frequently end up with bleeding shins - the scratch marks are now fading).

Aqueous cream is made of Liquid Paraffin with a bit of White Soft Paraffin thrown on top and a speck of cetostearyl alcohol to give it a bit of zing. Of course I smell a bit "gasoliney" but there are worse things I suppose - I feel it's my duty to bring a bit of excitement to our office anyway. It is just as well I don't smoke - I could easily go up in flames coated in this stuff.

I was also pointed in the direction of T-gel shampoo by the doctor. This has a new fragrance - what on earth was the original fragrance like as this smells very very medecinal (old school unsugared medecinal). This guy's review (scroll down the page) pretty much says it all. Or this gentleman's product review entitled -"T-Gel - Smell Like A Boy From The Blackstuff".

The attacks haven't completely gone away but my oiled up skin can cope with any scratching a bit better. So well done Doctor for urging me to go ignore my reservations and give it another try. As well as the relief of physical symptoms I also feel a bit happier thinking it's just my childhood eczema returning to annoy me. I had been anxious that this was a symptom of my damaged liver not doing its job properly and that it would be chronic and unrelievable. So for the time being ...PHEW!

Thanks to PayImaginaire at Flickr for the photo

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taking the chocolate biscuit

Chocolate is in the firing line now that smoking has been pretty much banned and alcohol is on the same road. Some doctors thought it would be a good idea to slap some tax on the sweet brown stuff.

A smug Health Secretary insisted they wouldn't be putting those proposals in the next manifesto.
The oh so trustworthy manifesto....

What is to come I wonder - continual footage of younsters blubbing out in provincial town centres on Saturday night their faces all gunged up with Mars bar residue? Scary dentistry statistics and the "Cost to the NHS"? Vast signs declaring "It is illegal to sell chocolate to anyone over 10 stone in weight" will stare out from the newsagent's windows - provided they can find any room what with all the other imposing signs the government has already forced them to display.

I need a fag.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Enthusiasm, Despondency, Arrogance, Lust, Exhilaration, Tax

Well all you buzzing young things - I know you're desperate to contribute. And now's your chance with HM Revenue and Customs' something-or-other portal that helps you shape your future relationship with the taxman.

Don't forget to save it to delicious, join the Facebook group, tweet like crazy and jump off that tall building.

Here it is - I'm sure you little groovers will agree that was well worth the wait.

Thanks to Symic at Flickr for the picture

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Icing on the cake

I was very glad to be in attendance at the Wedding of the (former) Miss MB. She had come along to this blog's Readers Meeting back in the distant past (pictured on the left).

She's an ardent supporter of West Ham and her delightful husband Bobby is Chelsea through and through. (He's not the shiny chap in the main picture - he's a self effacing man and might not want his picture posted up).

Given the fierce rivalries between these two sets of supporters they are lucky to have the (former) Miss MB's calm and reasonable Irish temperament to smooth over any disagreements.

I wish them both joy, happiness and a good local hospital.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

To bloggin'

Setting off this morning on the icey streets of Plumstead I found myself in a sidestreet several yards behind another pedestrian. He was carefully making his way along the pavement – he was also puffing occasionally on a skunk-based cigarette.

I have braved the “worst snow in 18 years” over the last few days (hence my pretty picture of St John's Waterloo above). A surfeit of the Blitz Spirit seemed to compel me to go to work on the day when it really hit London Transport Services -Monday 02 February 2009. It was a rare opportunity to visit Central London in one of its deserted days (cue silly video). R and I were also able to check out the new DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal. We cycled there as there were no buses. It offered some specatular views with snow still falling heavily.

Now – smoking and snow. Is it ever a successful combination? I really can't remember much more than a great risk of cigarettes getting extinguished. Unlike with rain people tend not to use umbrellas in the snow and so there is less protection for your little friend.

It wasn't actually snowing today though – but I seem to remember keeping your balance took precedence over enjoying a hit. It did go well with the inevitable wait for the delayed train however.

The lack of snowfall probably decided it for my fellow pedestrian as he weighed up his options before leaving the house this morning. Should he or should he not assist the problematic journey with a semi-hallucinogenic drug or should he try it sober? I know which way the decision went.

If he slips over in a quiet backstreet I hope he remembers to get back up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad Time to Quit?

Originally uploaded by wellohorld
Times are hard. Sacrifices are being made. Take my breakfast - Scambled Duck Eggs (Sainsbury Basics Range) with Blinys (Tesco Value Range) creamed cheese (Somerfield Essentials Range)and Smoked Salmon (ASDA Scrapings Range). No caviar whatsoever. Oh well. Che sera.

One sure fire way to cut down on your little food treats is to cut down on all food. And one way to achieve that is to take up smoking. If you really need to suppress your appetite you might as well get some minor drug thrill along the way.

So things must be particularly hard for anyone who decided to pack it in this New Year just gone. Not only is it the usual post-Christmas depression its possibly your actual 1930's Depression as well.

On the other hand with the kind of tax on tobacco goods you'll help with that backs-against-the-wall-postwar-austerity budget you're going need to survive. Alternatively you can take inspiration from the last depression and sign up as a pin-striped Mobster.

It surely can't be long to the appearance of the first, wholly tax free and wholly Patricia Hewitt - free, smoke-easies.

thanks to wellohorld of flickr for the pic.