EDitorial ± 29-Mar-2011

TT1011, Week 25

Last but last but one game of the season and the pressure's off. Looks like we're comfortably in 4th place and may even drop to 5th as and when Manor Club catch up with their backlog of games. Bit of a shame since we walked this division a couple of years back, remaining unbeaten. The times, they change, no? Meantime:

  • not Rene's night, again, squeezed out in two five-enders (Kieron, Kamil) and losing the other
  • not especially Andy's night either, also going down in two five-enders (Phil, Kieron) but winning the other
  • leaving Ed to weigh in with a thankfully predictable maximum

For once, Andy and Ed didn't screw up the doubles and so claimed a hard-fought draw. All back to the Black Tile for hot chocolate, latte and a broadside, plus a sneaky HobNob or two.

EDitorial ± 24-Mar-2011

Ipswich Lunches: Upper Crust

Struggling to synchronise a lunchtime slot, Andy suggested another pre-pingpong high tea rendezvous (cf Morrison's). Half decent idea but where, oh where, is Kipper's Bear? Last minute text: he's on the 6:40pm shuttle, the AndyBus, from Adastral to town. QED, cogito ergo sum, choice of location resolves itself. Allons-y a la gare.

Head into the station shortly after seven of a Tuesday and you're swimming against a tide of disgruntled commuters squeezing through the bottleneck of the auto-fascist ticket barriers. 'Scuse me, Mr Guard, can I get a coffee from the platform? Phew, I'm through. There, in what they used to call the buffet -- current nomenclature Upper Crust -- is Freddy Folding-Byke himself. He's scanning the surprisingly good choice of "famously fresh baguettes" and goes for the alliterative chicken, chorizo and chilli. Fresh enough, is his verdict.

To preserve my own domestic bliss, I've already eaten, hence straight to sweet with a non-shrink wrapped banana muffin (had worse) and a latte (ditto). Handy Andy kindly flashes his Bitesize card to save us both 20% and make those prices a tad more reasonable. All change since I was last here, what with sofa-type seating at one end, a mini WH Smith at the other, plus assorted fruit machines and a bar (like Jack's). There's even some of that there WiFi if you're in the BT OpenZone.

Not wishing to short change those Crusties, I went back for savoury ... on Thursday lunchtime. Ignoring the sarnies, Ginsters and ready-to-toast paninis, receipt reads: "Chicken BcnClub 3.99, OJ Tropcn 250ml 1.80, Red Sky SaltVing 1.00, subtotal 6.79". Wot no Bitesize card to ease the pain. Baguette is good 'n' crunchy. I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days. Hang on, that was Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter. And I don't think she was referring to the refreshment room at Carnforth Station.

If it was a car -- LTI TXII.
If they were passing by -- Bertrand Baguette.

EDitorial ± 22-Mar-2011

TT1011, Week 24

Always a sociable if tough night against the mighty Sparrows of Britannia, formerly of Norbridge parish. Straight into it with a showdown between the two highest scorers in division 3, their Colin against our Ed. Tight match, Ed goes 2-1 up, Colin levels and nails the decider. That's why he's top of the shop.

Wasn't Rene's night, losing out to on-form John in a really close match and going home with no points. Andy also came unstuck against big Colin but did well to get past John and Bill, who initially annihilated Ed before going down 3-2, Ed digging furiously.

With each match going to home then away in sequence, Defiants were guaranteed a doubles win. Inevitably Andy and Ed lost.

Tip of the hat to Michael Williams, playing for Manor Club on another table: he triumped in the IDTTL championships at the weekend, putting out Ed in the semis before going on to win the division 3 singles.

EDitorial ± 18-Mar-2011

Ipswich Lunches: Burger King

Key to this whole light lunch labour of love -- this journey, if you will, Dermot -- is that there'll be highs (Pump St) and lows (Cafe Tempo), ups (Jimmy's Farm) and downs (Wicked Cafe), the sublime (Cook's Shed) and the ridiculous (El Taco Loco). Can you guess which part of the sine wave we're on this week?

Up on Ransomes Europark and playing David to B&Q's Goliath is a Burger King, one of a handful dotted in and around Ipswich. Andy, the ethical consumer, guesses that BK might be greener than McDonalds. I'd confidently told him that at least it would have free WiFi. Not the case, even though the town centre branch does. Fail, as my daughter would say. Current kids' meal toys are from Rango, by the way.

Staring at the large Falling Down overhead menus presents you with that classic wedding reception choice: beef or chicken? Gotta be a Whopper meal for me. Go large? Only if I keep coming here for lunch, boom-boom! I'll have a bottle of Tropicana to offset all those empty calories. Andy wings it with his chicken tenderthingy. Bluetoothed lady grabs our ready-cooked burgers, shovels some salty fries, offers us sachets of sauce and we're off to a comfy table in the corner. Very much like Vancouver in here, all that glass and light.

Concentrating on the earnest lunchtime conversation isn't helped by (a) Cheryl Cole fighting for her love on the loudspeakers, (b) Sky TV's breaking news banner of LIBYA DECLARES CEASEFIRE on the flatscreen telly and (c) snarfing down my big ol' burger and mouthfuls of tasty fries. Guilty: tick. Pleasure: ditto.

Getting busier in here. I'm completely suckered by a promo dessert poster: as Oscar said, I can resist anything except pancakes and ice cream. Small waffly chunks, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. We have it good. And the coffee is multilingually hot and coffee-like. Hard to argue with change from a tenner for hot meal + cold drink + dessert + hot drink.

If it was a car -- GT Super-Van.
If they were passing by -- Ledley King.

EDitorial ± 15-Mar-2011

TT1011, Week 23

Men against boys, tonight. No, literally men -- 40something Andy and Ed -- against boys -- teenage Peter and Matt. Those kids might have the curly hair and the musical skills, but we've got the cunning and the guile. Shock-haired Peter wasn't even born when we started playing in the Ipswich & District Table Tennis League. We remember when this was all fields.

Very good of PC Andy to drop by and double his points tally for the season; he always does well playing this lot. Though his match could easily have gone the other way: heads you win, tails you lose.

EDitorial ± 9-Mar-2011

TT1011, Week 22

With PC Andy cracking heads in Woodbridge and Rene avoiding the rain in Spain, that left the Division 2 stalwarts of Ed and Andy to take on the long-legged Avocet waders up at that there Britannia dome. Waddya know, we arrived late -- all Ed's fault, blaming a sloooow puncture -- and left early, a 7-3 victory in our pockets.

Andy did well to pull a could-have-gone-either-way game out of the bag against tricky Kevin, and grabbed a 3-1 win over James with his peculiarly surfaced bat. Otherwise straight victories for our chaps, and those pied Avocets were lucky to take those 3 conceded points.

EDitorial ± 8-Mar-2011

Ipswich Lunches: Taste Community Cafe

If you unfold Andy's Google map of Ipswich coffee and tea shops -- go on, have a quick look -- you'll see that there's a cornucopia of cafes in the town centre and precious few in the 'burbs. Honourable non-supermarket exceptions would include Al's, Kenny's and Mega Byte, any of which could feature Ian Beale behind the counter.

Who's taking care in the community? That would be a matter of Taste, a self-proclaimed "church led" (not the stuff that keeps getting nicked off the roof) "community cafe". Affiliated to sizeable St John's round the corner (cf River Of Life), they've recently opened up on Woodbridge Road near Sidegate Lane. We're here on a Tuesday. Why? Most days they close at midday but today they're open for lunch. Those limited hours are what you get when you rely entirely on volunteers. Political itch scratched, let's move on.

Aware that Andy was Brompton-ing into a mighty headwind, I got chatting to some other customers about the invaluable and revitalised Ipswich Film Theatre. Discussing a community based cinema in a community cafe, we very nearly vanished into a voluntary vortex.

Behold my bottle of Drench (half the price that it was at The Range) and a home grown fruit scone. Savoury options are, at best, limited, due to food safety rules. Only when Andy was tucking into his two bits of cake did we discover that those Tasty folk have an understanding with neighbouring Victoria's Bakery: "you're welcome to buy something from next door and eat it here". Which we duly did, going back from sweet to savoury with our breakfast baps.

Over coffee and a free Lichfield cafe caramelised biscuit -- Fairtrade -- we had an informative chinwag with the nice couple giving up their time and minding the shop today. Apparently there's a knitting group meets here, they're hoping to extend their opening hours, they might get WiFi, they'd like to offer hot food, etc. Early days. We paid up, a paltry amount, and cycled off. Good luck to 'em: Taste's good.

If it was a car -- Peugeot Boxer 17 Seat Minibus.
If they were passing by -- Roger Lloyd-Pack.

EDitorial ± 4-Mar-2011

Ipswich Lunches: The Range

Stick a compass point in Broom Acres and draw a circle, radius one mile, and you'd encapsulate a handful of hotspots. Out of town for Al's on Meredith Road, into the edge of the town centre for the Sunrise and Star Express, or down Yarmouth Road for Jack's. All of 'em decent down-the-line caffs. Lurking unlisted is an even more local light lunch location.

Occupying the site of the old greyhound stadium off London Road is the grandly named Suffolk Retail Park, dead handy for bike fixes (Halfords) and The Boy's Lego habit (Argos). Arguably of more general use, though, is The Range, essentially Woolies without the 7-inch singles. Art supplies, pet stuff, DIY bits, plants, furniture and enough storage crates to crush a hoarder. There's even pick 'n' mix. Upstairs -- there's two floors -- is their CoffeeHouse cafe. Was slipping through the gears when Andy's text arrived: "ordering now."

Open plan, wood, metal, teenager's purple-orange decor and with a fine view over the landscape of Brabantia swingbins and scented candles. There at the counter is Andy, still ordering. Like Sainsbury's, the person who takes your order then makes your hot drinks, regardless of the queue, which therefore tends to regulate itself. I see that this is (gulp) a Eurest establishment:

Great People, Great Service, Great Results

Despite the mantra, there's no soup -- "hasn't arrived yet" -- so it's an inspirational prepack sandwich from the cold cabinet or a motivational savoury slice from the hot cabinet. I'm sure they're teasing me with that blow-up photo of a jacket spud ... but no, they have them round the back: there's your great result, belatedly. One JCKT TUNA for me, pls. Here it is -- er, OK, I'll fetch my own cutlery -- it's surprisingly good, laden with salad and generous with the oily fish. Yum.

Pumped full of carbs, dessert will be a challenge. After years of similar reviews, however, we're prepped to man up: Belgian Buns all round, my good lady, though my get-up-and-go and got-up-and-Ghent. Good bun, average Americano. The Range: it's a bit like home, home, but you may hear the odd discouraging word.

If it was a car -- GM Ranger.
If they were passing by -- Tom Peters.

EDitorial ± 1-Mar-2011

TT1011, Week 21

Always good to encounter the King's Men of Felixstowe parish: compared to these venerable chaps, we're bright young things. As it happened, they were also fielding a weaker team up against our strongest line-up.

In six words: zero for them, ten for us. Yep, 10-0! Reasonably straightforward wins for banana-powered Andy and Yazoo-fuelled Ed, plus a very encouraging hat-trick for Rene (first of the season), coming good in two five-enders. Even with Rene and Ed in the doubles, we won that too despite doing our best to make a match of it.

On to the Black Tiles for customary foaming steins of, er, hot chocolate and latte with an extra shot. Good crisps.