EDitorial ± 30-Nov-2013

130Story: Tail / Mine / Trade / Fault / Squeeze

The rules of 130Story are simple: given a random seed word, write a story in 130 characters.






More to follow.

EDitorial ± 29-Nov-2013

Ipswich Lunches: Cool Beanz

Oh, Russell Road. Back when Adam Ant was at it, us cool kids from the computer studies O-level class had a tour of Russell House, then home of Eastern Electricity. We were there to regard the blatterers and expungers, or whatever the proper terms are for the machines which spit out bills. School trips were great, and that one must have sown the utility seeds for my future brilliant career.

On the former site of Russell House stands Endeavour House, futuristic home of Suffolk County Council. Standing directly opposite like a poor relation is Grafton House, functional home of Ipswich Borough Council. Underneath IBC are various units: there's a Premier Foods, the print unit and, as of May 2013, a coffee shop named Cool Beanz. They must be doing something right 'cos they're still here six months down the line. I'm hoping that the Xpresso mobile coffee cart is still doing business over there outside Staples too.

Unlike our last outing to Baker & Barista, I'm first there, oh yeah. Lots of space, loads of tables, much squishy seating round the back plus papers and mags (Glamour, Red, OK): looking good. Turning away from Steve Bruce's fizzog on the wall-mounted telly, I survey the menu of tempting signature sandwiches and paninis. Cold today, though, so jacket spud, please, with the last of their chicken korma, and some blood orange juice. Andy's arrival coincides with my food, all of us gathering at the picnic table in the window. Good spud and served with a smile.

At the neighbouring table is talk of "spinal points", clearly IBC internal business. Reminds me of overhearing judicial gossip in the Wolsey Theatre cafe a long time back. Some warming minestrone soup for him with his usual unusual milkshake accompaniment, this one apple pie flavoured. Oh-Kay. For dessert, he buys a double espresso and pours this in to the dairy remnants. He's a class act, that lad. Since we're running late -- we didn't meet until 2pm -- CB is beginning to shut up shop, bringing in the chairs from outside.

Thankfully there's time for a chunky slab of ginger cake and a very good large flat white made with Paddy & Scott's coffee. They're big on local suppliers, which is nice. Well done, Cool Beanz, and may they one day host a school trip to see how a good independent coffee shop is run.

If it was a car -- Hadfield Bean.
If they were passing by -- Don Most.

EDitorial ± 26-Nov-2013

TT1314, Week 7

That rotation system ain't for everyone. Steve, our most consistent player so far, holds on to his place, out go tired Andy and Kev, and in come rested Ed and Yang. Much like bringing on Scholes and Giggs. As we enter that testing winter period, quality on the bench is what wins titles.

Crunch tie tonight against ISC D. Through the door walk cranky Geoff, 80-plus years of age, retired since 1987 but still Duracell powered, plus two new faces: father and son Terry and Rob, the Butler boys, ex of the Colchester league. Warming up, they look like they may have held a bat before. In brief:

  • a battling 2/3 for Yang, coming back from a straight ends defeat to Rob to win an epic five-ender against Terry, then doing enough to beat Geoff
  • a pleasing 2/3 for Steve, beating both Geoff and Rob (!) in straight ends before going the distance against Terry, losing in the 5th
  • a maximum 3/3 for Ed, losing only one end (to Geoff) the entire evening

Yang once more stepped aside for the doubles, pleading lack of practice. Super confident start for Ed and Steve going 2-0 up before the opposition changed tack and stopped going for their shots. No matter. A most satisfactory 7-3 win and that's the unbeaten run preserved like a jar of Bonne Maman for another week.

EDitorial ± 23-Nov-2013

130Story: Bear / Future / Hold / Just / Robot

The rules of 130Story are simple: given a random seed word, write a story in 130 characters.






More to follow.

EDitorial ± 19-Nov-2013

TT1314, Week 9: Taking The Biscuit

(another guest review by Kevin Cockerill: thanks, Kev!)

This week we’ve been mostly eating ... Bisquits. Not your normal boring ol 'hob nobs', oh no: these were the "Mcvities Tasties" (other biscuits are available). We were playing host to the youthful Kingsfleet team this week, which included a pleasant drive back home to Container Town with Frank, their senior player, who has been playing ping pong for 65 years! Gosh how his arms must ache.

Well, our team comprised Andy (who, still managed not to turn up on time even though he was staying on site), Steve and myself - Kev. As Andy was biking home he wanted to play his matches ASAP to miss ol' Jack F on his journey, so we were playing two tables.

1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, and 3-3 it went as they matched us at every step and stomp, then a break through. Both Andy and I won matches and made it 5-3, meaning that we still are the only unbeaten team in the whole league!

Steve and I found ourselves in the doubles which we easily won 3-0, sweeping away the opposition just as convincing as the club’s Broom. The match was won with a well deserved/placed 'edge' shot from yours truly, which was a fitting end to the evening, as the guests had a great number of these dreaded net/edge shots throughout the night.

EDitorial ± 16-Nov-2013

130Story: Hidden

The rules of 130Story are simple: given a random seed word, write a story in 130 characters.


More to follow.

EDitorial ± 15-Nov-2013

Ipswich Lunches: Baker & Barista

Half of the twelve and the race is afoot. Andy's on the bus -- his bus -- and I'm on the bike -- my bike. Destination, the 'Swich, half of fifteen miles away. While I'm zeroing in on the central business district, he's already inside and mildly concerned that the single table for two is occupied. He'll soon discover plenty more seating round the back. Got a handy lamp-post to secure my wheels? I'd loveone.

We're on the best shopping street in Ipswich by half a mile. This is St Peter's Street, as ridden on in last year's Tour Of Britain and still home to Saints, a bit further up the road. This stretch past Rose Lane, though, is hipster heaven. Squeezed into a charmingingly bijou space is Baker & Barista, set up, run by and lived in by "two coffee making cake baking sisters". From the moment you walk in, there's a vibe which tells you that this place is something special. Today's menu includes:

  • smoked ham & Suffolk chutney with leaves in a brioche bap
  • French brie with cranberry sauce in a ciabatta toasted
  • ploughman's board of smoked ham, mature cheddar, bread and crackers, pickled onions, Suffolk chutney and leaves
  • rich tomato & pesto soup with a chunk of bread

Since he tends to land on his feet, Andy's grabbed the long-ish table (like Olivers of Sherborne) towards the rear with a view of the chilly courtyard. His lovingly presented ploughman's, items tastefully arranged on a board, is under attack, as is his very good banana milkshake. Super tasty soup for me on this drab day with a local tangy Jame White apple & cherry. Soon there's a couple at the other end of the table, then a lady in the middle, and a chat ensures about that Brian Cox on Dr Who lecture. Highly sociable and all helped by that table.

As it happens, I've seen online that B&B have a little photographic competition going on at the moment. Since I is a local contemporary artist, as I like to remind the kids, I'm gonna have a go at that. Which is why I'm arranging our empty plates in a Turner prize stylee and why, at that very moment, the nice lady appears and removes them. We suffer, we LCAs.

Past the tray of coffee mags and vintage market fliers to the counter at the front of the shop. Layout of the cakes with their handwritten labels is a picture in itself, up there with The Firestation. It'd be all too easy to whip out the phone for a quick snap. Not terribly original. Instead, there are generous helpings of apple and cinnamon for me, toffee apple sponge for him, and some seriously good coffee. Soon as we're done, I get to work with the ceramics and a handy glass vase to take an OK picture. Clearly nobody else has entered since a few days later comes the message: "Congrats, you are the winner".

If it was a car -- Westfield Sport Turbo.
If they were passing by -- Kirstie Allsopp.

EDitorial ± 11-Nov-2013

TT1314, Week 8: Baylham's Lot

(guest review by Kevin Cockerill: thanks, Kev!)

This week saw us take on the Pickwicks of Stowmarket but in Bayhlam: stay with me, you can get easily lost on these back roads. We were pre-warned not to park at the hall as an ongoing neighbourly dispute meant we had to drive up the road to the church and use their grounds. When we arrived it started to feel very familiar to me, like a scene from a made-for-TV scary film that still lurks in the shadows of my childhood memory. Walking down a dark narrow road without any lighting apart from a solar powered, wind up torch, courtesy of Mother Nature's forgotten son, Andy Cassy.

We made it to the village hall without bumping into Mr Soul and his glowing bottle of holy water, in which we were rewarded by a vision of freshly made sandwiches and mince pies. Welcome to Baylham.

I am given the chance of first blood to which I respond with a resounding 3-0 defeat. Luckily Mr Cassy wins the next to square it 1-1. Steve makes it 2-1 to us before I lose the next match in a thrilling 5-ender to again level it at 2-2, but once again Mr Cassy, who is on form and on target, puts us ahead. With Steve winning his next match it is 4-2 and time for those sandwiches: do I don't I? "Winners only", Andy informs us all. Then I dig in, accepting he means the team and not individuals but too hungry to check.

Energy levels suitably replenished, Steve takes to the floor as does a ladybird awoken by the now warm breeze of the electric heater which sits noisily in the far flung corner of the hall. Steve loses and now with my final match I have one last try to break my duck and win a match... which I do, and at 5-3 it secures our unbeaten run for another week. Andy's last game secures our 6th point of the night and it is down to the duo of Andy & Steve in a thrilling 5-ender win to make it a conclusive 7-3 final score!

Thanks to Pickwicks for the hospitality and great team spirit. Look forward to returning the honour in the new year.

EDitorial ± 7-Nov-2013

Endorse It Again

Back once more (previously) in the land of Williams Barnes (1800-1886) and Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), the former known as the Dorsetshire Poet, the latter known as the Dorsetshire Novelist. Not him with the monument but him what wrote Tess and such. Rustic? That's what happens if you leave it out in the rain.

Monday and it's been a fearsome night with the St Jude's winds whipping up a storm. Dorset, though, seems to have escaped the worst. Late morning and we've already made inroads to reclaiming our National Trust membership with a family ticket to Montacute Hall. Magnificent frieze of a Skimmington Ride, note. Come on, you must remember that scene from The Mayor Of Casterbridge?

Mid-afternoon, overpriced NT lunch a distant memory, and we're in search of coffee and cake. Clever old me knows just the place. There's a highly recommended cafe at Yeovil Junction, so I've read. Station YJ turns out to be less than central, we discover. Parking facing the windswept platforms, there's little sign of a warm welcome. I cross the bridge and ask the ticket fella. "Peppers Cafe? Closed for months." Ah. Oops. Which is how we end up in non-indepedent Quedam centre Costa. Should have gone to Coffee#1.

Tuesday and we're halfway there on the yearly NT fee with a trip to family favourite Corfe Castle. Genius idea to have a teddy bear zipwire, by the way. Lunchtime and, guess what, Dad's done a little online research. It's five minutes drive, I say. Down the narrowest of country roads, at one point reversing out of a farmyard, and here's Kimmeridge on the coast.

Over there is Clavell Tower which has given its name to the well-regarded Clavell's Cafe. Parking next to a generator, there's little sign of life. I cross the car park and read the sign on the door: "Sorry, closed today, no power." Ah. Oops. Which is how we end up down in Swanage at the perfectly fine Brook Tea Rooms.

Honorary mentions for:

  • River Cottage Canteen at Axminster: obligatory and classy HFW destination
  • Lyme Regis Penny Black Cafe, tucked away behind the post office at the back of a gift shop: intimate and welcoming
  • Carriage Cafe at Exmouth: lunch on a train!
  • Exeter's Tea On The Green: cathedral view, awesome cream tea
  • Oliver's at Sherborne: long tables, alcoves and good food, hence two visits in one week

Roll on the next half-term.

EDitorial ± 6-Nov-2013

TT1314, Week 1

Just when he thinks he's out, they pull him back in. Such is the ping-pong career of one Kevin Cockerill, the Sinatra of the Defiants. Part of the backbone of the team in the early 1990s, he then dropped out for some years before returning in late 2006, leaving again in early 2009. Now he's back Back BACK and showing some excellent lunchtime form. But can he translate those backhand zingers into actual points?

Rearranged game up at The Dome tonight versus the avian Avocets. Only two of 'em, alas, being Quo James, he of the pimply bat, and child prodigy Daniel, barely a teenager but already on the way up. In brief:

  • only 1/2 for Ed, overcoming James then losing three super tight games to Daniel, maybe losing his only chance to beat him
  • an excellent 2/2 for Yang -- maximum! -- not losing a single end
  • a rusty 0/2 for Kev, going close by taking awkward James the distance before losing 3-1 to Daniel

Highly decent of Yang to stand aside and let the lesser performing players, namely Ed and Kev, do the doubles. One controversial serve aside, it was all over in a relative flash, Defiants triumphing and winning the second end 11-1. There may even be video evidence at some point. So, including our three walkover points, that'll be 7-3 to us.

EDitorial ± 4-Nov-2013

Runway Avenue

(75 word short story published on Paragraph Planet on Monday 04-Nov-2013)

Rain lashes the windows of the control tower as Stanley rises to get a better view of the Boeing's descent.

It's been five years since the council deemed the airport "unviable".

Architects behind the new housing estate have won plaudits for retaining many original features, including the tower and landing lights.

Now the first families, including Stanley, are living on Runway Avenue.

Back on his sofa, Stanley opens a small bag of peanuts and braces himself.