EDitorial ± 27-Mar-2009

Ipswich Lunches: Coffeelink

All credit to Jim Kerr who, from the shiny black vinyl of my HMV Norwich 12" and dressed in a shiny blue suit, pre-emptively implored us to get on down To The Waterfront. We'll cover Go West another time. Move On Up, he continued, and to be sure the skyline is surely shooting up down there on the docks. Flats, apartments and other garden-less dwellings abound, as do places of refreshment. I cycled past the in-progress Dance East tower and bypassed Pizza Express -- whoops, there goes Jamiroquai's wing mirror -- then Bistro On The Quay, Il Punto, Isaacs, the Salthouse and Colours.

We're directly underneath the Nepture Marina (name copyright Gerry Anderson) development off the fantastically fossil-named Coprolite Street, and next to the impressive UCS building. A prime spot. Making use of some handy bike lock railings, in we go to Coffeelink. Must have been here a couple of years now, this place. Doesn't look over-inviting, though p'raps that's the building's fault. Counter is dead ahead with a smattering of tables to the right, and you could easily think that's it. However, the left hand wall becomes a small flight of stairs leading to a much lighter & airier space, with tables, some books, a magazine or two, and a three-quarters decent view of the docks.

Already here, tucking into a monster slab of carrot cake, is Greenroutes Andy. No Mr Scott today: v. little free parking in this vicinity. Place is pleasantly peopled with mums, suits and studes. Atmosphere is good. Small-ish savoury selection of soup or sarnies. Mine's a pepperoni panini plus kettle chips. We've got the prized window seat which, like a top parking spot, you're reluctant to leave. Big plus point is that Coffeelink is open to 8pm most days, very much unlike Costa and Starbucks in the town centre.

Andy, shortly to depart this country prior to Obama's arrival, tells me that WiFi isn't free: tut tut. On t'other hand, they *do* sell two varieties of Ritter Sport chocolate, making that dessert choice ever tougher. Ultimately, it's the chocolate cake that wins out. They pride themselves on the coffee here; they've got their own roastery, natch. When I order a double macchiato, the bloke says: "Have you had this before?" Not here, I haven't, though I'll certainly be back for another, possibly to sit outside in a T-shirt and shorts, watching trains and boats and planes. Well, boats.

If it was a car -- Kia Soul.
If they were passing by -- Jan Harvey.

EDitorial ± 24-Mar-2009

TT0809, Week 25

Was the annual Ipswich table tennis championships this weekend just gone, marvellously arranged by Mr Jimmy Farrow at the Corn Exchange. I entered the div 2 competition and found myself in a mini round robin with "Wardy" Martyn and Brian P from St Margaret's. Martyn the Lefty beat the both of us, and I scraped past Brian. However, I then had a straight KO game against The Boy Josh and finished second. Turns out that I lost to both finalists, Josh eventually edging past Martyn.

Josh was back playing at BT tonight; fortunately that was on the other table in a separate match. Facing over the net for the first time this season were Margaret's Saints Preserve Us, comprising the s(t)olid names of Bob, Colin and Brian. For us, only Ed and Grenvyle. Apparently, three other players are registered to play for the BT Defiants and have recently fallen off ladders or given up smoking or ticked the unavailable box.

Grenvyle's games are short and savoury, standing up but going down in straight ends to B, C and B. Ed takes ages to lose to Colin, furiously chopping like a sous-chef, and also comes unstuck versus Brian, who turns the TT table from our game at the weekend. One singles to play and we're 8-0 down, Saints Alive. Ed salvages a point from Bob "Wonderland" Ellis, and the crack doubles combo of Ed/Grenvyle is self-selecting but ultimately self-defeating.

EDitorial ± 20-Mar-2009

Ipswich Lunches: Central Canteen

Done with IP11. Enough of IP12. Out with IP13. Need to rethink, refocus, regroup: this is IP1, central Ipswich, aka The Swich. Yes, it may be more challenging to park, as one of our number felt obliged to point out, but there are other options. One drove, one biked, and one came by his personal shuttle bus.

In a different era, when jobs were plentiful, I worked near the town centre. Most days I'd innocently wander past the cop shop in search of lunch, be it an Appetisers sausage sandwich or a Butties bap or a Carrot Cake roast chicken doorstop. For a sit-down treat, I had a fistful of favourites -- why look, here they are! Heck, those mini reviews are eight years old. The time she flies, does she not?

A firm fixture on the rota was Vagabonds on Queen Street, home to the much missed tuna melt bagel and bowlfuls of cappuccino. Even now, I can hear the far-off sounds of the Sneaker Pimps cutting through the students' ciggy smoke to the tables right at the back. Some vague time later, the premises morphed into Central Canteen, and here we are. They offer reasonable food at a reasonable price, and no more passive smoking, thank ASH. Been here with the kids before and we've been treated royally, due in part to the foreign owners who value their customers. Sure enough, the very nice man comes over very shortly after we arrive and offers to move around the furniture to suit us while also singing the praises of the special lasagne.

Lots to choose from, and the boards on the wall have more specials than Two Tone records. Good crowd in, from campus kids to more mature (us!): we know town centre value when we see it. Drinks are quick to surface -- hot tea for A+G -- and the savoury main events follow soon after. BBQ chicken panini plus chips plus salad, and choice of condiments. Nothing fancy, note.

Before you know it, one's off to catch his bus and another's off to beat the traffic warden, leaving No Mates to enjoy a pleasantly heated lemon muffin and a jolty double shot latte. Ah, a cuppa caffeine in the canteen makes you feel like Emperor Palpatine. Now where's my Dentyne?

If it was a car -- Skoda Superb.
If they were passing by -- Kevin Whately.

EDitorial ± 17-Mar-2009

TT0809, Week 24

Twisty route to avoid the ITFC traffic, threading our way through town and up to the village hall within a stable block. Venue, near Jimmy's Farm, is home to the Novas of Wherstead, "a fine wool fabric". For them, Martin, Tracy and Scott. For us, Cassy, Broom and Scott. Let's play ball.

Lefty Martin, among the top 3 divisional scorers, is a tricky customer and opens the scoring v. Ed, who can only spindle his way to a single end. Wardy gees himself along all through the game and goes on to a cloth hat trick, outgunning both Andy and Grenvyle.

Tracy's up v. Grenvyle, and our man confidently wins the first end. She improves, his serge subsides, and card one up for the lady. Would have made for quite a yarn had our man from the renal unit won, though straightforward-ish wins for Ed and Andy.

Andy strains every physio-approved fibre to defeat Scott over the full five ends, and Ed takes advantage to land another well-woolen point. Two-thirds into the evening sees (a) Andy lying on the floor and (b) Grenvyle holding onto a chair while his blood pressure comes out of the clinically dead range -- yep, weave got ourselves a team of fit lads.

Classic no fuss Cassy/Broom line-up in the doubles. Won the first, survived a comb back in the second, secured the third: details are immaterial. And down to find one of the parking baize by the Oyster Reach for a celebratory draw-is-a-good-result drink.

EDitorial ± 13-Mar-2009

Felixstowe Light Lunches: The Sands

If, like me, you're a fan of the original Vegas-based Crime Scene Investigation, you'll be preparing yourself for Grissom's imminent departure. What a character, what a loss. You'll also feel a certain familiarity with that neon Nevada town. More than once the show has harked back to the golden era when you might have caught Frank and Dino on stage. Here in Suffolk, we have our own spin-off: welcome to CSI: Felixstowe.

Such an evocative name, The Sands. Plonked on the corner of the aptly named Platters Road, its locale might lead you to expect a slight chip-oil seediness, but you'd be wrong. Spacious, capacious, good gracious. Today's delightful Red Nose Day weather helps, and the large windows do the rest. Pick a table or sofa -- empty-ish today, though apparently chocker at the weekends -- and order from the counter stroke bar. This place is licenced, so J20 for me. Very interesting cafe culture chat with the lady in which we:

  • confirm that Froffee Coffee, up by The Triangle, is no more
  • learn that Tchibo is also due to shut soon
  • hear that Bonnet still has the same owner
  • express our joint fondness for Sangha

In the midst of our chinwag, chef arrives armed with our all-day breakfast baguettes, and they're atomic monsters: double egg, double bacon, double sausage, mushrooms, calorifically counterbalanced by some bits of lettuce. Can't even figure out a way to pick it up: this is Attack Of The 50ft Sandwich. Many napkins are deployed over the next 10 minutes.

Naturally, The Sands is part of the extended Mannings empire, and there's some great blown-up black and white images of how fings used to be, a bit like this. Plus, of course, some fruit machines at the back. To round off our outing, my latte (with extra shot) is pretty darn good. Bring on the dancing girls.

If it was a car -- Banana Splits Buggy.
If they were passing by -- Robert David Hall.

EDitorial ± 12-Mar-2009

TT0809, Week 15

Defiants descended on Hadleigh
Having recently played none too badly
Ed, Grenvyle and Kevin
First up to eleven
It didn't work out for us, sadly

First up to bat, Puma Ed
Put off by the fan overhead
As if under by a curse
He got worse and worse
Not at the races, they said

From A&E, it's Grenvyle Scott
His blood pressure's going to pot
In the final analysis
He needs more dialysis
We should sub him with that Martin Spott

Come on Kev, get a point on the card
Don't leave us emotionally scarred
The odd shot was on song
But the kids proved too strong
Did his best, gave it all, played damn hard

We thought we were in with a shout
We even looked forward to the bout
Down at Holton St Mary
Our form was contrary
Defiants scored nil, nada, nowt

EDitorial ± 10-Mar-2009

TT0809, Week 23

IrREGular line-up of Rob/Ed/Grenvyle was hand-selected to pit our wits versus Pickwicks, named after that rarest of commodities, a local coffee shop (in Stowmarket) which we haven't yet reviewed. Its time will come.

Despite three straight wins, expectations weren't great for tonight's result, what with (a) having been stuffed by this lot back in November and (b) seeing that they comprised The Cook, The Chaplin and John G., The Best A Man Can Get.

It wasn't the best of times for Grenvyle, going down 11-0 in the very first end and all but collapsing afterwards. That was as nothing compared to the hard times experienced by The Chaplin, barely able to complete his first game against Rob before retiring midway through game two and conceding the rest. Never good to capitalise on someone's misfortune, but that handed us three Scrooge-like points. And Rob insists he's good for a personal point since the game was underway at the time. Let's see what the div sec decides.

Not a good evening for our mutual friend, John G, losing 3-1 to Ed. He then fluffed two matchpoints against Rob in game three, our man demonstrating his Chuzzlewit to gain an improbable victory. We won't dwell on The Cook's weighty hat trick. Quick mention, though, for a 3-0 doubles for Chalky Ed and Cheesy Rob, sealing another overall win: God bless us, everyone.

EDitorial ± 6-Mar-2009

Light Lunches: Fynn Valley Golf Club

It had all been arranged that we'd meet up for 1pm at The Location: Grenvyle would drive from home, Andy from work, while I'd WFH then hit the parceltaped saddle. 12:30-ish, down to the shed to find Sir Walter's front wheel demised, bereft of life, and positively not pining. Some poor timing. Never fear and never care, that's why Moons is there. Fully fixed and 'flated in five mins. Big tip o' the hat to the fellas.

Didn't appear that far on Google Maps to The Location. Out through Westerfield, past the swinging Swan, there's Westerfield House, and still not there. Please, give me a sign. Finally, a welcome right turn into Fynn Valley Golf Club. How many such sporting salons have we done? Four! Er, this is number three, actually, after Seckford & Waldringfield. Long old driveway, too, before the rough of the car park.

G&A sitting and supping in the Courtyard Bar, a rung down from the posh Valley restaurant and a rung up from the adjacent riff-raff bar snacks area. Glad of my J2O as we ordered and took advantage of the two courses for an English tenner option; jolly service, too, the poor girl making more than one trip back to the kitchen on our behalf. Among the golfing gewgaws, a gathering behind us was failing to dent their overcatered buffet. Very much eyeing up the piles of sarnies and sausage rolls when, lo, here's course numero uno.

My choice was the ROTD: lovely lamb, large portion thereof, plus quality mint sauce, plus bonus bonanza dish of easily identifiable veg, cf Butley Barn. Polar opposite of a light lunch, tastily filling and fillingly tasty. Did I "need" course number two in the guise of choc brownie and ice cream? Nope, "need" would not be apposite. That return bike ride, however, was entirely necessary, and sure helped to burn off two, possibly three, of the larger potatoes.

If it was a car -- VW Golf.
If they were passing by -- Jimmy Tarbuck.

EDitorial ± 2-Mar-2009

TT0809, Week 22

New Shoes, New Shoes, repeated one of the more unpleasant characters in the wonderful Twin Peaks. Debut appearance for my pristine Pumas up at the Sidegate Lane Community Centre this evening, giving me (if anything) too much grip. So much so that I initially went 8-0 down to their Richard, himself having mislaid his own trainers while decorating today. I rallied, though, and fought through the pangs of pain emanating from my little toes. Help, we're squashed!

Rob took that difficult number 2 spot and slogged out a underperforming five-ender win v. their Jim, whose night it very much wasn't, losing 11-0 to me in our first singles. Ouch. His night descended further into the gutter when he was dispatched by Killer Kev -- grrr! -- returning from a month's (mostly) voluntary rest while Team Defiants gleaned some staying-up points. Nice one, Kev, who also came very close against similarly styled Martin.

With Ed winning all three (praise to the Pumas), the self-imposed pressure was on Red Bull Rob to slay his personal demon by beating Richard, thereby gaining revenge for our first-half meeting. Our Man starts well, Richard seems disinterested, but slowly the tables turn, Richard topspinning his returns and sending Rob to a bad place. Game can still go either way ... and it does, Their Man coming out on top. Good scalp for Richard, bad hair day for Rob.

Score at 6-4, same as last time, still doubles to play. Kev, the Duke Of Diplomacy, claims his rightful place, leaving Ed and Rob to toss a coin for that coveted spot. Heads, calls Rob. It's tails, and Ed's in.

Games 1 and 2 to us. Games 3 and 4 to them. Like a badly written script, it goes to deuce. Then 11-11, 12-12. They've got matchpoint at 13-12, things are looking bad, and Kev whips out an audacious backhand piledriver down the line. Quality with a capital Q. 14-13 to them, another rally and Jim's return looks to be going wide before it scrapes the edge. That'll be their doubles, then. Still, best ever performance by the Ed/Rob/Kev formation.