Tag Archives: coffee

Scone Chronicles XXIX – Dry, Disappointing and Drizzleless

We saw an interesting sign today whilst shopping. It was outside Wagamamas, and advertises “Vegan Tuna”.

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Vegan Tuna? No chance!

This is slightly confusing from a grammatical point of view. As a lifestyle choice, this is unlikely as I can’t see tuna ever sticking to an ethical vegetarian diet. It is even less likely from a biological point of view as tuna are made of meat.

I’m also tempted to say that there’s something strange about a vegan eating something dressed up to look like meat. Not just vegans, any vegetarian in fact. I’ve never really been a fan of any vegetarian food dressed up as meat.

We had Thai green curry tonight, with mini corn cobs, mangetout peas, broccoli, carrots and cashews. You don’t need quorn or fake tuna to make perfectly good vegetarian food.

Talking of which, and getting back to the point, vegan tuna is made from dried watermelon. It looks like thinly sliced tuna and, it seems, tastes like watermelon. It’s £12.95 a portion. That seems like a comfortable profit margin.

This isn’t actually the thing I was going to write about. We had coffee and lemon drizzle cake at Costa Coffee this afternoon after we bought socks.

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Coffee and Cake

The coffee was good, but it should have been considering the price and the fact that it’s pretty much the only thing they do. On a volume to cost basis it was reasonable value as it came in a cap that is smaller than some of the mixing bowls we use at home.

The cake was very lemony in a nice fresh way. Sadly it was also quite dry and very lacking in drizzle. This would be acceptable in lemon cake, but not in lemon drizzle cake. I won’t labour the point but it doesn’t say much for your professional standards if you can’t get the drizzle right on a lemon drizzle cake.

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Dry, disappointing and drizzleless

I will say no more.

 

 

Scone Chronicles XXVIII

Cafe Nero, Springfields Outlet Centre, Lincolnshire. A scone-free report.

We hadn’t expected much from the day as we had an electrician coming round to give us a quote and British Gas would only tell us it was between 8.00 and 1.00. Fortunately he texted ahead and arrived just after 9.00. The news was not good – we need to declutter a lot more before they can start ripping floorboards up to rewire.

That left us at a loose end by 10.00 so we set off to look for adventure, This is “adventure” as we now define it, rather than how we used to define it. Standing on one leg to put my trousers on is dangerous enough for me, so we set off to seek lunch and relaxation.

In the car we discussed our spending. Julia is feeling guilty about the amount she spends on herself – which is basically gym membership and hair appointments. She worked it out as £3,000 a year. She really is a bear of very little brain – cute but rubbish at mental arithmetic. The true cost of this spending was, as I pointed out, just £600 a year. Having saved us £2,400 I felt quite good about things. This also diverted attention from my eBay habit, which has been getting out of hand recently.

At Springfields we had a look round The Works and confirmed that the stock situation is woeful, before deciding to have a coffee. Considering our earlier conversation, this ironic as coffee is one of the hidden costs of modern life.

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Two Coffees

Cafe Nero seemed rather empty, to say it was lunch time.

The coffee – the cheapest they had, was just under £5 for the two of us. If we do that once a week it will cost us £250 in a year, which is a lot of haircuts.

We didn’t have anything to eat. The staff were neither good nor bad. They let dogs in. The one that came in whined a lot then dog and master went to sit outside. Fair enough – better than tying it up outside. Chairs are comfortable. Snacks looked well presented but we were saving our appetites so didn’t have anything.

They now have a vegan range, which seems to be the new fashion. You may be expecting some sarcastic comment about vegans, evolutionary dead ends and modern fashions, but you will be disappointed. I like vegans.

Though I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Cafe Nero Vegan Menu

Cafe Nero Vegan Menu

The sound you hear when viewing the vegan menu is that of a bandwagon being jumped on. Once Gregg’s went for the vegan sausage roll, everyone followed.

All in all, nothing to rave about and nothing to complain about. It’s a more leisurely atmosphere than Costa Coffee further down the centre, and I enjoyed the break.

 

 

Wetherby Services

I have so much material from the last few days, I’m struggling to get it all down. However, as promised, I am having a rest from scones.

I need more time for the Harlow Carr post that I’m going to move to the next day. The first stop on the way to the Yorkshire coast was Wetherby Services.

On looking it up for the link I was amazed to find that it’s now ten years old and scores highly for customer satisfaction. I’ve always found that it scores highly for being crowded and uncomfortable. I don’t know why, I just don’t feel relaxed there. The crowds, I suspect, are evidence that other people like it. On Wednesday a lot of the crowds were university sports teams.

We had coffee there, and the barrista put a heart in Julia’s coffee. I got a blob.

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Coffee at Costa

Then we bought a vegan sausage roll on the way out and photographed it. Last time I had one I didn’t get a photo. It was equally as good as the last one and, like the last one, I ate it in the car. I am very predictable.

We would have had one each but they only had one left. Yes, massive service station – just one vegan sausage roll. Strange.

 

More on Scones

This is Number Two in the series about Scone Consumption.

Julia’s brother and sister-in-law were up visiting their grandson. That’s my great-nephew. Obviously it’s a bit too soon to make a judgement but he’s shaping up nicely – decent chunky build and a tendency to eat anything left in range. I’m sixty years older than he is but we clearly share the same attitude to food.

I limited myself to a scone and jam, as we met in John Lewis. It’s convenient, but there is a tendency to need a mortgage if you get too adventurous with the menu. Plus I really don’t need the fat or the calories.

I used to shop there regularly but they aren’t really my sort of shop these days. Too old-fashioned, too drab, wrong size profile and, let’s face it, too expensive. I once asked a question about the lack of large sizes via one of their employees and the General Manager’s (uncensored) reply  was that they didn’t cater for freaks.

What with that and the store detective following me round one day and muttering “watch this one” to a member of the management team, I decided not to bother shopping there again. I’ve not missed it.

However, back to scones and jam. The scones were OK, though nothing special. The jam was OK too, made in Tiptree in Essex – well known for its jam, though still mass produced. Ditto for the coffee. I had an Americano, which is what used to be called “a coffee” in the days before coffee became pretentious. I checked it up on Wiki and they, being Wiki, have quite a bit on the subject. I’d have been happy with a nice instant coffee.

I’ve provided a link to Tiptree as I like Tiptree. I haven’t provided links to John Lewis or Americano as I don’t want to encourage them.

That’s about it – not much about scones but some days are like that.

Scones and Jam - John Lewis

Scones and Jam – John Lewis

Lots of Errands and a Traffic Jam

Big day today. Off to the letter office where five parcels were waiting for me. There was no queue today and I parked in a disabled space as my knee was killing me. I know it’s not a good thing to do, but there were three others left empty and I was having to use my stick.

It turned out there were six parcels, which was a bonus. While I’ve been at work the postmen have been taking them back to the letter office. The trouble is that everyone wants them to be signed for. There’s no trust in the world anymore and everyone wants proof. I posted over 2,000 parcels when I was dealing by mail order and I only ever lost one.

In general I like to believe that people are honest, and the proliferation of distrust on ebay tells you a lot about the way modern society is going. I also have my suspicions that ebay and Royal Mail are in league to take as much money as possible from us. Remember that ebay also charges commission on postage costs. I was happy with my purchases, but you’ll have to take my word for it as I haven’t photographed them yet.

After that we had breakfast and set off for Newark market where, noting the lack of customers, I did the old show business joke. It basically hinges round the phrase “there’s no business (pause for effect) like show business”. It tends to amuse us, though we don’t have high standards.

Then things took a turn for the worse. We stopped at Grantham for a toilet break and a drink. Julia’s coffee, in a paper cup, cost £2.75. We’re going to have to start taking a flask.

Forestry land in Brazil costs as little as $50 an acre – about eighteen cups of coffee. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

After that we joined a queue on the A1. The traffic spent ten minutes travelling fitfully then ground to a halt. In the next two hours we listened to a Terry Pratchett talking book, chatted, watched red kites and fell asleep. Well, one of us did. The other one recorded me snoring and sent an audio file to my sister.

It seems that a trailer had become unhitched from a car and emptied itself on the road. Nobody was hurt, which is good.

Finally we arrived in Peterborough just in time to miss a low key but photogenic sunset, visited my father for a couple of hours, wished him a happy 89th birthday for later in the week and returned home without incident.

All in all, quite a worthwhile day, with the bonus of a relaxing snooze in the afternoon. I know it’s generally frowned on to sleep on major roads, but I think it’s OK if everyone has stopped.

 

Breakfast Review – Sainsbury’s

This review relates to breakfast at Sainsbury’s Arnold store, just outside Nottingham. As luck would have it, they also had a decent cook on today and we had a good, enjoyable meal. If a proper reviewer had been on the job, you would probably have had a photograph too. But I didn’t take my camera and I left my phone in the car.

I’m not really a fan of the current Sainsbury’s set up as the coffee set-up slows things down and, as a tea drinker, I don’t see why I should stand in a queue for 10 or 15 minutes as people are served, at great length, with coffee. In the good old days, when British establishments served a choice of tea or instant coffee I didn’t mind coffee drinker,s but now I have to stand round while they decide on which of the eight coffees to have I find them quite irritating.

However, today there was no queue, and we soon ordered (two Big Breakfasts and two teas) and sat down at one of the few remaining tables. It was filthy – covered in rings from cups, with a selection of crumbs and some horrible sticky patches with fluff in them.

Breakfast arrived swiftly and was excellently cooked and presented. This is not always the case.

The fried egg looked good, the sausages and bacon were both excellent (for taste and presentation). The hash brown was particularly good today, the toast was also good and so were the beans. Even the half tomato was reasonable, though a half tomato always looks a bit miserly to me.

So, that’s it. When the system is working well it is capable of producing an excellent breakfast. To be fair, it isn’t always as quick, well cooked and nicely presented as this – the last few visits here have included crusty beans and congealed eggs that seem to have been flung randomly at the plate.

In terms of a star rating – if the tables had been clean today’s breakfast would have been 5 stars. On an average day, with a queue and a breakfast that’s been flung at the plate it’s probably a 4 – good but could be better.

At £11.40 it’s not as good as the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast, but it’s almost half the price.

I’m going to try to persuade Julia to make breakfast reviews a regular feature of the blog. Wish me luck!

 

 

Reflections, Shopping and Scent

We went to the doctor his morning as Julia has now been caught up in the excitement of the endless round of blood tests and unwanted health advice. She had two appointments so I waited in the car park and did some paperwork.

After that we had breakfast and headed off for Springfields. I first went there when I was a small child, feeling like I was being punished by being made to walk round ornamental gardens full of tulips. On a really bad day we had to stand and watch an entire tulip festival. It was like a visit to the garden but the tulips drove past, so you didn’t even get the excitement of walking.

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The Fragrance Shop, Springfields

There are clearly big savings to be had if you like scent. However, as I am explaining to Julia, reflected in the window, it still looks expensive to me. Aftershave, as you may gather from looking at my reflection, does not play a big part in my life.

The gardens were looking good in the sun, though the autumn colour has been disappointing this year. I’m sure we will be back in Spring and will take more pictures, which will give a better idea of the gardens and sculptures.

Things don’t change much, even after the passage of fifty years. There’s a large shopping complex and garden centre built on half the gardens now, but as I walk round the shops with Julia I still get the feeling of being punished. Only the presence of a bookshop lightens my load.

And cake. Even the worst pre-Christmas shopping trip can be brightened by the presence of a good slab of clementine drizzle cake.

 

Confessions of a Mediocre Gardener

Twenty years ago I’d have had to go to the library to find answers but today, courtesy of the internet, I’m a coffee-growing expert.

Of course, I was a tea-growing expert at one point but that hasn’t worked out too well. I first thought the deteriorating of the tea plants was due to over-watering and/or scorching. So we shaded them and let them dry out a bit. It hasn’t really helped; they still look a bit shabby and down at heel. Then it occurred to me – we’d been doing a lot of watering with tap water. Tap water contains lime and tea plants, liking acid soils, don’t like tap water.

Seems like a good bit of deduction but trying to get the group to remember is more difficult than you’d think. Then, after more research, I find that it might not be a problem from tap water.

(And before you tell me to get more rainwater storage, I generally have enough, but people will insist on using the hosepipe for ease and speed. I confess that I do it myself at the end of a long day.)

So I’m going to add some ericaceous food, some organic matter and tap water.

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They look slightly better here than they really are.

The coffee plant looks in need of a little help too, but according to the web all I need to do is replicate conditions on a tropical mid-level mountainside and all will be OK.

Should be easy enough in a mock-Tudor semi in Nottingham. Apart from the tropical bit, and the mountainside…

So – humidity (gravel tyray), good drainage, temperature above freezing and preferably above 65 degrees F (18 degrees  C), plenty of sun (but not direct) and it likes acid conditions and orchid fertiliser.

I reckon I can do this.

But that’s what I said about the tea.

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Looks better than the tea, at any rate.