EDitorial ± 27-Jul-2007

2007 Tour: Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar, Woodbridge

While parts of Worcestershire were underwater, Woodbridge, for once, was inundated with sunshine. Mere handful of coffee shops left to visit. Group decision to grab and go. If you're on the Thoroughfare, start at Mrs Piper's (number 65), perambulate past Jars Of Clay (number 49) and the Georgian Coffee House (number 47a), decelerate once you hit The Cake Shop and here, at number 17, is the Sandwich Shop & Coffee Bar. All on the map, needless to say.

Been spoiled with waitress service the last few months; odd to join the hoi polloi in a queue. Wait our turn? Don't you know who we are? I'll be writing this up on my website! Ashley, we *could* have taken three-quarters of the shop's seating capacity -- they've squeezed in two sets of two chairs and tables -- and shouted out our orders. As mentioned, far too pleasant to linger indoors.

Above the serving ladies, there's a big ol' board crammed with filling choices. Decision paralysis can easily set in. Focus on a known quantity and go with it. Don't be put off by the Mexican chicken or brie & bacon or bacon buttie -- go for the aromatic duck. On white or brown? Only you can decide. Brisk and efficient service. Large baguette was a very reasonable £2.50. Extra for Quavers and a bottle o' pop. Though certain parties couldn't resist the red bottled temptation of a Spa Barisart.

Wandered down past the bookshop and into Elmhurst Park, "beautifully set between the Town Centre and the historic River Deben". Doesn't get much better than plonking yourself down on the grass, feeding your face and watching the world of Woodbridge go by. Always good to see a mum trying to teach her daughter not to throw like a girl.

Still time for coffee and cake at Browsers (do this properly another time?) and to pick up a ginormous Potter poster, free to a good home.

If it was a car -- Toyota Yaris.
If they were passing by -- Bonnie Langford.

EDitorial ± 21-Jul-2007

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

21st July 2007, book the seventh, Deathly Hallows, and a full four years on from mine and Eldest's 6am Waterstones trip to purchase book 5, Order Of The Phoenix. You'll already know that I'm a close personal friend of JK Rowling, though she remains unaware of this.

Hadn't pre-ordered, hence casting around for hardback prices. In a damp Woodbridge, yesterday, had spotted (a) Browsers bookshop advertising it for £15.99 -- yikes -- including a £5 voucher, and (b) Woodbridge Books proclaiming a £10.99 price. Both had launch parties that night.

Biked back (the wrong way) along the Buttermarket around 6pm on Friday: already a handful of hardy souls queueing outside Waterstones. Make the most of Starbucks while it's still open. Couldn't interest Eldest in heading down there for midnight, so opted to pick up a copy or two in the harsh daylight of Saturday.

Results of the Potter trawl of the town centre:

  • WH Smith -- £8.99 if spending another £15 on other books and stationery, else £10.99
  • Woolies -- £6.99 if spending another £10 in store, else £8.99
  • HMV -- £8.99, no catches
  • Waterstones -- £8.99, no catches
  • Sainsburys -- £8.87, no catches

Our hard-earned found its way to Mr Waterstone, partly 'cos we could get the normal version and the "adult" version (longer words, less pictures).

Post Script: did the Asda run later that afternoon. Fully expected to be confronted with an host of Hallows displays in the entrance, but none to be seen. Figured they'd not resolved their dispute with Bloomsbury. Eventually asked one of the Here To Help ladies:

[me] So you didn't get any of the Potter books?
[lady] Er, yes, we sold out at lunchtime.
[me] And how much were you selling it for?
[lady] Five pounds. Why, did you want one? I know where you can get one ...
[me] Er, maybe. Where?
[lady, whispering] Morrisons -- £4.99.

Oh, and Mr Tesco will sell it to you for a fiver ... if you spend another £50 on groceries. Generous to a fault.

EDitorial ± 20-Jul-2007

2007 Tour: Jars Of Clay, Woodbridge

Three weeks into July and well wet on way to Woodbridge, with wipers whipping the windscreen. Parked at the Turban Centre, pulled on the Pac-a-Mac, pounded past that pet place and proceeded to the Thoroughfare. Next door to the Georgian Coffee House for this week's rhyming slang destination, Jars Of Clay. Think they pop round to each other's to borrow a cup of sugar? See them both on the map of Woodbridge coffee shops.

Like the more snappily titled All Fired Up in bigtown Ipswich, JoC is a "ceramics cafe". Come in, grab some paints and a plaster figure, then exercise your creative bent. And while you're here, have a cuppa coffee with a slice of cake. Not really the place, then, for an extensive savoury menu.

With that in mind, let's review the hot food on offer:

  1. two thick slices of toast ... with cheese
  2. two thick slices of toast ... with pate
  3. two thick slices of toast ... with jam
  4. two thick slices of toast ... with marmite
  5. two thick slices of toast ... with marmalade
  6. two thick slices of toast ... with lemon curd

They've got a toaster and they're not afraid to use it. I had option 1 of 6, the cheese: unexpectedly this came in the form of two miniature blocks of Cathedral City, plus pickle. Silly me thought it would be toasted. Mais non. There was another lunchtime punter who appeared to have a plate of sandwiches. Could be she'd asked for raw toast.

Moving on, you can flick through various pottery design books in lieu of the daily papers while nibbling a slice of homemade-looking cake. We both opted for a pre-packed bakewell slice, which says much about us, while my large Americano needed an appropriately large vessel to hold it. So, not the most imaginative menu in the town, but they fed us and kept us dry one soggy lunchtime.

If it was a car -- Daewoo Matiz.
If they were passing by -- Tony Hart.

EDitorial ± 13-Jul-2007

2007 Tour: Tea Hut, Woodbridge

Fresh off the blocks, this one, and well off Mrs Beeton's track. Only been open a couple of months when we visited, and they were still building the loo. Yes, it's the Tea Hut, to be found ... well, actually I don't know its official address. Nearest point of reference is the model yacht pond close to the level crossing by The Avenue, in the vicinity of Kingston Field, by the tennis courts. Oh, you know. Check the map for a better idea.

Was a little bit concerned that we'd be the only ones there of a Friday lunchtime, and initially that was pretty much the case. Didn't stop the lady insisting on handing us a "number 4" marker to place on our table to stop our orders being mixed up. Sat on the decking round the back, though there's other seating down the side, out the front and, of course, indoors. Our position gave us an excellent vantage point to observe a reconstruction of the sinking of the Graf Spee on the boating pond. Well, some bloke with his radio controlled yacht.

Limited-ish menu of paninis, sarnies and jackets, so didn't know what to expect. Slight clue when the cutlery came to us wrapped in a EuroPochette. Then my chorizo and rocket panini emerged, lovingly presented on a square white plate with kettle chips and salad with dressing. Meatily tastily satisfying it was too.

Bit breezy out. Inside for dessert, admiring the lovely old clock above the door and puzzling over the Alice In Wonderland wall paintings. Cafe was a lot busier by this time, customers attracting other customers. I gather there's free WiFi too, if that's your bag. Thumbs aloft for having some free newspapers to read, and raised even higher for their Victoria sponge and Americano. Well done, Tea Hut, and may your business stay afloat.

If it was a car -- Nissan Figaro.
If they were passing by -- Ellen MacArthur.

Update: 08-May-2009

Wow. Best part of two years since we last hit The Hut. Counter position has shifted 90 degrees but the papers, WiFi and EuroPochettes remain, fer-yew. As, thankfully, does the good quality grub in the guise of a granary BLT, still en-crisped and be-salad-ed (ooh, that word doesn't work), plus can of Abbotts ginger beer. I think they've done very well to survive, given their none too central and un-obvious location. Though I gather you can't move of a sunny weekend what with ice creams flying out of the serving hatch. As old Mr Grace used to say, you've all done very well.

EDitorial ± 9-Jul-2007

Dolmio, June 2007

Ever had the unremitting joy of being called upon to clean up an in-law's or friend's PC? You got your spyware, you got your malware, you got your pop-ups. Are those warning messages genuine or fake? Got latest Windows updates? Run CCleaner? Ah, the delights of keying F8 to boot into safe mode. Everything ... takes ... so ... long. Kick off that full search and destroy scan, make a cuppa, and write up last month's Dolmio (Doings Of Last Month Innoparticular Order).

That is to say, an attempt to capture past(a) events before they slip... my... mind. June 2007 was spent:

  • laughing at an inventine Midsomer Murders about a photographic club resisting the rise of digital cameras
  • spending a fab weekend in surprisingly sunny Sedbergh
  • gawping at the small screen:
    • try-and-keep-up industrial espionage of Cypher,
    • razor sharp Hot Fuzz,
    • terrific Pan's Labyrinth,
    • so-so Over The Hedge,
    • disappointing Happy Feet,
    • very poor Dr Who Movie with Paul McGann
  • keeping up with Danny Baker's All Day Breakfast Show podcasts
  • making the most of a free LoveFilm subscription
  • switching to a shiny silver Motorola phone
  • flogging the Nokia N70 dumbphone
  • getting lost in Neal Stephenson's 800 page The Confusion
  • being swept along by Rome, The Return

And that was June 2007.

EDitorial ± 7-Jul-2007

Seven Wonders Of Ipswich

Twelve months ago, as part of Ip-art, the wildly successful and prolific author Jasper Fforde came to town. Reading about him on the web beforehand, I'd come across his highly entertaining mini site entitled The Seven Wonders of Swindon, a bizarre mix of fact and fiction. Would be good, I thought, to devise my own set and have it up on the web before his visit.

They say that nobody can recall more than two of the originals -- well, here's the established list of the seven ancient wonders of the world:

  1. Great Pyramid of Giza
  2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  4. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  6. Colossus of Rhodes
  7. Lighthouse of Alexandria

Dug out my trusty index cards, had a thunk, scribbled notes, and eventually decided on a septet of Ipswichian equivalents. Ran out of time, no surprise, and did nothing further apart from carry around my cards in the rucksack.

Until very recently when I noticed that on 07.07.07, July 7th 2007, there was going to be an announcement of The New Seven Wonders Of The World. Right, that's it, time to buckle up, knuckle down and get to work. Cue many late nights and lost sleep, but finally, finally, ready for the Big Day, I present The Seven Wonders of Ipswich. My list comprises:

  1. Great Pyramids of Crown House
  2. Charter Hangings
  3. Statue of Sir Alf
  4. Towers of Cumberland
  5. Mammoth on High Street
  6. Colossal Stone by the Road
  7. Electric House

There's bags of info about each of the above, piccies galore, and obviously a hugely detailed Lego model of each and every one.

EDitorial ± 6-Jul-2007

2007 Tour: Georgian Coffee House, Woodbridge

From last week's finery at the Waterfront Cafe to less fancy fare at the much more mainstream Georgian Coffee House in the Thoroughfare (see map). Signs by the hanging baskets outside proclaim "light meals, table service, licensed". Slightly delayed by fun and games bagging a parking spot by the library, so glad that AC, Mr Punctuality, had already bagged a table for us, 'cos it was busy-busy.

Lots to choose from but no particular hurry: only appeared to be the one poor waitress attending to the inside, conservatory extension and the outside tables, yet still she kept smiling and serving. Meantime we played spot the difference with the official place mats that depict the cafe -- there's obviously more than one version of the artist's etching, and it kept us amused. Ooh, must make mention of a big plus point: newspapers!

Dear cafe owners, please take note and do as the Georgian does. Put aside a fiver each day and purchase (a) couple of broadsheets, (b) couple of red tops and (c) local paper too. You know it makes sense.

Quick flick through the Independent and the food was with us. Nice bacon and cheese toasted sarnie with an obligatory Orangina. Fellow diners' ciabatta and salmon tagliatelle looked good too. Various cottage pies and lasagnes being being consumed around us.

Plenty of cake-shaped room left for afters. Up to the front to be talked through the diverse display. What's good? It's all good. Cheesecake, tarts, big wedges of chocolate cake, you name it. Long-suffering waitress duly obliged, eventually, also bringing proper strong coffee. And so back to work.

Website: The Georgian Coffee House.

If it was a car -- Vauxhall Zafira.
If they were passing by -- Griff Rhys Jones.