EDitorial ± 28-Nov-2008

Light Lunches: Bridge Street Cafe, Framlingham

Not a nice November day, and a free Framlingham parking spot, much like a good man, is hard to find. No solace at the Almshouses, nor at the market square: set your controls for the heart of the Solar car park. Riverside stroll -- Grenvyle on a go-slow -- brings us to a T-junction and it's a right turn, sidestepping the Pizza & Grill and into the geographically named Bridge Street Cafe.

Neon signs proclaim OPEN (in red) and BREAKFAST ALL DAY (in blue). Everything you could need to know is on the big white board, from bacon baps to butties. We're simultaneously a stone's throw and a million miles away from Kitty's. Two of us are reminded of another unassuming eatery, namely Felixstowe's Family Cafe.

Jacket for me, with bacon & onion (odd combo), and a naked side salad. Does the job, washed down with a cold can. Service at the BSC is pleasantly absent-minded, but nobody's complaining, and most if not all other tables are taken. Take a house point for today's EADT on the counter, plus a few Gok Wan mags. Got an idea that, in a former life, this was called Jackie's. Definitely been renamed / taken over since we first did the Fram thing back in the summer.

Always good IMHO to see a variety of choccy bars (Mars Bars, etc) behind the counter, though there's also a compact cake cabinet gazing longingly into the street. Umpteen varieties of shortbread on offer. Mine's the maple slice with a macchiato. Need those calories for the long journey back.

If it was a car -- Fiat Fiorino.
If they were passing by -- Marc Warren.

EDitorial ± 25-Nov-2008

TT0809, Week 11

Week 11, in which the giving away of stupid points continues apace. My, how weak we were, weak as a wicker basket of kittens. Those Wherstead Novas had Great Scott (g), Where's Wally (vg) and, thankfully, a Willie (not so good but gracious in defeat).

  • Kev, 1pt: first to score and thereby pile the pressure on his team-mates
  • me, 1pt: next to score, though couldn't serve against Scott and made Wally earn his victory
  • Rob, 1pt: last to score and understandably gutted after being 9-2 up in the deciding end v. Scott, then losing nine points on the trot; not his night

In brief, Kev managed another infamous backward serve, Ed called an edge which the opponent didn't see, giving Kev a leg-up, and the yin/yang doubles pairing of Rob/Kev was gelling nicely before being found to be chemically unbalanced.

EDitorial ± 17-Nov-2008

TT0809, Week 10

I'm not being funny but the fact of the matter is that tonight, Team Defiants let themselves down. To be fair, the oppos, Pickwicks, gave 110% and deserved their win. By the end of play, we were down, depressed and defeated.

Last week we'd all been in tune, singing from the same hymn sheet, you know? Actually we had a solid start, Ed cruising past Early George. Going forward, hopes were high before Kev came undone and took one in the eye against Big Mark. And let's face it, Rob is the first to admit that he's slow off the blocks, so no great surprise when he lost his first to a sharp-bladed Gillette John.

I screwed up against Big Mark; can't get my head round it. Rob struggled against their weakest player, to be honest, though eventually won out. Like Rob, Kev had brought his own fan -- hi, Neil -- but another loss was in the pipeline as our man threw away a 10-8 lead. Basically it was bad to worse as Rob blipped out v. Big Mark. We were all guilty of giving away stupid points at crucial times: lessons will be learned, I'm sure.

Keen to win his final game, the reason being that both Ed and Rob had already beaten this guy, Kev touched base with Neil, the latter advocating a raft of proposals, e.g. stay in focus, keep it simple, etc. Demonstrating that he doesn't just talk the talk, Kev came up trumps, securing a much needed team point. We rolled out coins to decide who'd double up, Rob losing out, leaving Kev and Ed to win the first before going down in the next three.

At the end of the day, we were, quite literally, pants. This write-up contains all 20 of your most hated cliches.

EDitorial ± 14-Nov-2008

Felixstowe Light Lunches: Caffe Nero

Pop quiz, people: Fahey, Woodward and Dallin are better known as? That aside, it's a midday run for the good fellas to see what's showing at the F'lix. The mission: to visit every darn coffee shop on Big F's mean streets. Today's taxi driver transports us to the city by the sea and everybody's fine as we glide past Silks and the Baker's Oven to number 59, Hamilton Road. In we go: it's showtime.

Despite no mention on their official website, this place has been open for a full five days: yes, we've kept Caffe Nero waiting, serving Italian coffee. As revenge, they'll keep us waiting too, while the trio of trainee baristas go inefficiently about their business. U may normally follow a Q, but I 8 M. Minutes pass, then I pay for my San Pellegrino limonata (wot no chinotto) and hand over my bread product for them to toast. In return, I'm given a lovely tactile and smooth wooden block with my lunchtime number.

Initially we take a utilitarian table at the rear before landing prime comfy chairs by the permanently open doors. Not long to wait for my heated dough, a mundane meatball and mozzarella panini; Andy's lasagne looks better. BTW, there's talk that the shop opened without the requisite change-of-use permission. No grande deal, perhaps, 'cept that the very same issue forced the closure a year or two back of Puccino's, a very popular coffee shop over the road. Surely they wouldn't burn this down due to Nero's fiddling?

Back into smaller queue for the caffeine and cake component. One sizeable plus point for CN is the quality and strength of the coffee, partly due to the inclusive two (count 'em) espresso shots. If the lady in front had asked for a single shot, I might have had hers too. Much like Costa, you know what to expect with such a heavily branded chain: let the folk of Felixstowe be grateful that this isn't Jimmy Starbucks.

If it was a car -- Europcar Vauxhall Astra.
If they were passing by -- Christine Bleakley.

EDitorial ± 12-Nov-2008

TT0809, KO Cup, Round 1

Nights drawing in, shorts put away, midway through a new series of Spooks, so must be time for the annual Knock Out Cup. Possible that I've told you already that the Defiants are former winners of this prestigious Carling Cup-alike comp. Imagine in a Yentob stylee that Arsenal are drawn against, oh, I dunno, Aldershot. They play the full 90 minutes, it finishes 7-2 to the Gunners, but then the score is adjusted according to each club's handicap. Adjusted score works out as 3-4, i.e. Aldershot go through. Everyone clear?

Out to Burstall village hall (love that wiring) for an opening round encounter with a Capel team who play a division above us. To complicate the not quite complicated enough scoring, players now have individual handicaps. It's as if I'm Walcott, Rob is Gallas and Kev is Song Billong. Kind of.

Awful start by Ed, failing to click against their Janet and giving away four adjusted points. That's a lot. Thankfully Kev's showing some latent potential and Rob wins a game outright, giving us a five point lead after the opening singles. Which we then extend to nine points after some competent doubles. Obliged to cite two cracking Kev moments:

  1. their guy smashes a forehand, Kev smashes a backhand return at a Federesque angle
  2. Kev's serve and he hits it not forwards (too obvious) but backwards

I make a game of it by giving away another four points, dumbhead, before Rob and me win four games on the bounce to give us an unassailable lead. Quality team performance: I'd say ping pong was the winner, but it'll be our name that goes through to the next round. Now waiting for the televised draw from ITTF headquarters.

EDitorial ± 11-Nov-2008

TT0809, Week 7

Are the stars out tonight? Actually, no: Cassy's crooked and Red Bull Rob is inDISSposed. Out, then, with the classic Defiants line-up circa palindromic 1991 -- Ed + Grenvyle + Kev. Quake, opposition, quake.

Undoubted highlight of the night was an unexpected point secured by (just happy to be here) Grenvyle, powering his way past Danny Boy at maximum velocity. If it went high, he'd hit it. If it went low, he'd hit it. Thwack! Our man somehow found the stamina to win on a deuce in the fifth & final end. Naturally, he all but collapsed afterwards, but hey.

Poor Danny had already gone down in another juicy five-ender to Ed, who dug disproportionately deep to come back from 10-5 down and save five matchpoints on the trot. Not to mention an embarrassingly unbalanced amount of nets and edges in favour of us, the home side.

All six players (yep, even Kev) nabbed at least one point, which is always nice and equitable and a smidge socialist. Best to gloss over the dodgy doubles performance phoned in by Ed and Kev. Still, we'd have taken the draw if offered it before the game.

EDitorial ± 7-Nov-2008

Felixstowe Light Lunches: Silks

Two little birdies, Tweety 1 and Tweety 2, chirruped that a new coffee shop had flung open its French windows in Felixstowe. Anxious to be among its first paying customers, me and Andy grabbed our buckets & spades, parked, then found out that said establishment wasn't due to open for another two days. Fiddlesticks: let's do this one next week.

Nevermind, Like Kurt said: back we trot to Orwell Road and through the open door of the Shoka cafe, bar and bistro. Hang on, that's out of date, for these premises are now Silks wine bar, coffee bar and restaurant. In an ambitious attempt to be all things to all punters, they're open from 8:30am to 10pm and offer OJ, beers, spirits, tea, plus main meals ("very competitive prices") and a "healthy bite" menu. You want it, they'll pour it or cook it.

Alas, their houmous and pitta soldiers had decamped that morning, causing a quick swap to a bolognese baked spud. Meanwhile, yet more options: flick through a free newspaper, stare at one of the various flat screens (hello Cafe Libra) showing Sky News, or try the (free!) WiFi. Handy EEE netbook to hand, I did, and it worked well, so that's a Silky thumbs aloft. And here's the food: served in good time, tastes good too.

Popular, this place, with the locals having a quick drink and/or light lunch and/or cuppa coffee. Facing us is an old fashioned display cabinet of huge and fabulous looking cakes. Shame that neither of us has the stomach for it, opting for a small caffeinated jolt instead. Silks, shine on.

If it was a car -- Hyundai Terracan.
If they were passing by -- Alan Price.

EDitorial ± 4-Nov-2008

TT0809, Week 9

(guest review by Mr Rob Crawford: thanks, Rob!)

Tonights outing was against our closest opponents last year, Sidegate Lane, like us, newly promoted from division 3 and still acclimatising to the dizzy heights of division 2, not yet having won a match.

Rob, Kev and Andy were tonights line up for the Defiants, with Ed mysteriously unavailable.

A pale Andy, doubtful to play for most of the day, decided to turn up at the last minute, and played all his games in succession so he could go home early to recuperate.

Playing in his usual style (is this guy really ill?), Andy breezed past Jim Follett and Richard Wyatt, only dropping an end to give us an early 2-0 lead. His last game appeared to be in-the-bag but an on-form Martin Westlake dashed his hopes of a maximum, taking Andy down 3-1 with some outstanding hitting. Maybe that last game was just too much for Andy, allegedly not having eaten all day.

Exit Andy, leaving Rob and Kev to battle on for the rest of the evening, Rob takes to the table and with a shaky start, unable to find his hitting range, goes down disappointingly 3-1 to a steady Richard Wyatt.

Kev, showing marked improvement with his new bat, narrowly loses his first against Martin Westlake. Although losing 3-0 it was a close match.

Rob, still frustrated from his first match, and determined to do better then takes on Jim Follett, quickly re-discovers his form, winning easily 3-0.

Kev, growing in confidence then takes to the table against Richard Wyatt and puts in another good performance, unfortunately going down 1-3.

Rob then takes on an unbeaten Martin Westlake, with Rob winning comfortably 3-0.

A steady Kev, buoyed by his recent improvement, bounced back and won his last game convincingly against Jim 3-0, giving a jubilant and revitalised Kev his first win of the season!! Pats on the back resound around Adastral park.

Kev was quick to the table, realising he had "auto-entry" to the doubles and tells Rob "We can do it". And we did!! Winning 3-1 on a slippery floor giving us an 6-4 win overall.

3 wins out of 6 should ensure we remain in our mid-table comfort zone.

EDitorial ± 3-Nov-2008

Barrack Oban

Barrack Oban

Me, I'm in the Bar(r)ack Corner.

EDitorial ± 1-Nov-2008

Light Lunches, Derbyshire

Back in the Umbrian summer, us Brooms were constantly in search of some shade. Not nearly so much of an issue in Derbyshire towards the end of October with the clocks turned back. Still, always good to get away, even with our delightful offspring in tow. Memo to self: replace "even" with "especially".

Let's do as Cliff did and take a busman's holiday (less shade, more shadows), popping into tea rooms at every available turn. Here's a few highlights:

  1. Eyam Tea Rooms: visit a notorious plague village, tour the excellent local museum, buy a cute 75p black rat in the gift shop, pause for thought in the rain at Mrs Mompesson's tomb, then dry off and take a marshmallow crispie in the tea rooms
  2. Grindleford Station Cafe: park near the station, amble by the babbling gorge, scramble down the marshy slopes, then sate your appetite with an almighty fry-up at the awesome railway caff (as recommended by eggbaconchipsandbeans)
  3. The Three Roofs, Castleton: flash your English Heritage membership card, climb the steep steps to Peveril Castle, admire the views of the hills, hunt the Halloween ghosts, then back down into the Roofs for Yorkshire tea & parkin
  4. Bolsover Castle, English Heritage: reflash your EH card, trot around the riding hall, admire the view of the M1, hunt the Halloween witches, pass the bizarre fountain, then relax in the modern Whyld-run cafe
  5. Cafe @ Green Pavlion, Buxton: off to Parsley Hay, hire five bikes, set out on the disused Buxton to Ashbourne rail line, regret leaving gloves at home, snatch filled roll at Tissington, freeze on return leg of 21 mile round trip while urging on young son, then slowly thaw out in warmth of wonderfully welcoming Buxton cafe for cake and hot choc
  6. Costa, Arkwright's Masson Mills: fail to find Peak Rail open, drive through both Matlocks, fail to comprehend the bizarro world of Masson Mills (shortbread, golf clothing and George Formby CDs), then settle in a corner table of the basement Costa with a large Americano and a puzzle book
  7. Quarry Bank Mill, National Trust: via Chapel en le Frith to pay homage to the home of Ferodo, drive through real life Royston Vasey, then eventually find hot food comfort in the guise of belly pork and sausages at the NT restaurant before exploring the really rather interesting and not at all bobbins mill; ooh, then back for coffee cake

Not forgetting an honourable mention for the scarily large fishcakes served by the Bakewell fish 'n' chip shop.