EDitorial ± 23-Aug-2018

Ipswich Lunches: Hullabaloo

It's entirely possible that, in the past, I've had the odd dig at friend Kev for not keeping up with the caffs in his seaside town of The Stowe. Not like me with The Swich, painfully poised with my nose to the pavement and my ear to the fence. Until this very morning when Mr. Google informed me of a headline from June's East Anglian Daily Times saying "Partners Open a New Vegan Cafe in Cemetery Road". Seriously? Happens that Andy's in the vicinity and I'm WFH. Let's veg it.

One pm on the dot, more or less, and I've locked up the Raleigh outside a flat-roofed raspberry-coloured rectangle that used to house Wrights of Ipswich, stonemasons. It's now Hullabaloo and home to Jon and Jennie's upcycled chairs and couches. Their colourful brunch 'n' lunch blackboard boasts beaucoup de waffles plus:

  • guacamole on Pump Street sourdough
  • Syrian falafel, lemony tahini dressing, hummus, pickles, red onion, radish with runner bean pesto and olives, plus PS sourdough

Guac for the cyclist, falafel for the driver, and while we're waiting, a thick summer smoothie for him, served with a spoon, and a not Fentiman's nor Karma Kola nor Belvoir nor Old Jamaica ginger beer for me. I swore I'd remember that name. Truth be told, we're there for a goodly while until our food comes -- maybe they're still growing it round the back -- but it's very much worth the wait. Super fresh, hyper colour, maximum taste. Bit of a change from our regular ADB bap.

Despite being a drizzly Thursday and its unique off-off-Woodbridge-Road location, there's an extremely healthy selection of other healthy folk in here. Inevitably there's talk of the veggie Museum Street Cafe still going strong in town. Andy's gotta hit the road, bless him, leaving YT to seek sweetness in the form of a berry crumble and decent flat white. (By the way, if you see me and you've got a couple of minutes, ask me about my mum buying a piece of gluten-free carrot cake in Framlingham.)

Totally hats off and doffed to J&J. Locally sourced, renovated building and doing good things for their community. Food's not half bad too. This, friends, is veg with edge.

If it was a car -- Nuna 9 solar car.
If they were passing by -- John Robb.

EDitorial ± 17-Aug-2018

Light Lunches: Aldeburgh

Nobody said it was easy, this light lunch malarkey. Andy's original proposal back in 2007 AD was to have a Friday lunchtime bite to eat somewhere nearby -- Woodbridge, say -- then return to work. Quarter of an hour's travel there, solid hour at the cafe, quarter of an hour back, all comfortably wrapped up within 90 minutes. Everyone's happy.

Time passed, as Kurt Vonnegut predicted, and we'd ticked off everywhere within easy reach. That hour and a half became two hours as we ventured to Orford and Yoxford and even Darsham. Pushing it as we were, some places remained ever so slightly out of reach. What we should do, said Andy some years back, is take the afternoon off and "do" Aldeburgh. You know, see how many places we could visit in a half-day, say. I said, sure, and we did nothing about it. Until now.

With Kev sunning it on his last pre-Brexit holiday, time for yours truly to take some TOIL and meet Andy at Melton. Half-twelve, pleasantly warm and Aldeburgh awaits. Allons-y.

— Aldeburgh Cafe —

Sensibly keeping its distance from that crowded centre is the plainly named Aldeburgh Cafe. Andy does good work here every now and then as a Parkinson's cafe co-ordinator. Round the back by the garden centre and vintage shop, this is a no-nonsense venue with art for sale (by Susie Hammond) and much welcome outdoor seating among the jolly bunting.

Now gone 1pm and I'm hungry and drooling at the specials that include pork and chorizo pie or a fish finger sandwich. Pros that we are, we decide to resist all food options in favour of drinks. Fruit smoothie for Andy, milkshake for me. Surprise us with the flavours, we say to the smiling waitress, who duly does and presents our choices in glasses like old milk bottles. Ah. That shake turns out to be fairly filling.

— Aldeburgh Market —

Parking the car outside town, we swap four wheels for two and pedal past Maggie's Scallop and into the hurly-burly of the high street. Andy finds handy Sheffield bars right outside Aldeburgh Market. Taking a table, I'm concerned that this place more resembles a restaurant than a cafe, bit like Darsham Nurseries. No sign of being open in the evening so we'll let it go.

Blackboard here is pushing the (£14.75) half lobster salad with new pots or the (£12.95) salmon fillet on beetroot. Not a bacon roll in sight. Further up and more affordable are the (£6.75) sardine fillets with poorly spelt remalade (sic), very very nice indeed, while Andy's the shaky fish soup, also darn fine. Bit upmarket in here. Carafe of water cost us nothing. Welcoming, too.

— Munchies —

Search TripAdvisor for "Aldeburgh cafe" and you'll see mention of East Coast. That occupies the old Cafe 152 site opposite the Peter Pears gallery. A stroll outside revealed EC to be a "restaurant - bar - cafe - store", i.e. definitely outside our guidelines. Over the road, then, to Munchies.

Their sizeable lower-case green menu boasts breakfast baps, fry-ups, burgers and paninis galore. Handwritten insert offers gazpacho or vegan cous-cous provencale, natch. None of that for us, however. Seeing it as an in-house speciality, we both order tea. Jasmine for him, lapsang for me, both high on the odours and working well to keep the wasps away. Quality glass pots, branded tea-cups and a free Lotus biscuit too. Sweet.

— Chopping's Hill —

Time out to buy a postcard and take in some local art at the set-back baptist church. Inside the pews are covered with prints by Theronda Hoffman who promptly introduces herself to us: I'm the artist! Hi, I say. I pass your place -- Kesgrave Arts -- every day on the way to work. Nice chat and a bit of culture while we let our enzymes get to work.

Gotta get back on the saddle so it's chop-chop to Chopping's Hill. Plenty of breakfast and brunch options here, some previously sampled by Andy, but we're here to satisfy our sweet tooths. Some highly tempting goodies are staring straight at us. He can't resist the salted caramel slice while I'm a sucker for a slab of white (!) rocky road. Table outside by the dog bowl, another jug of lukewarm water -- ain't there any ice in this freakin' town? -- and we get stuck in to our sugary offerings. Thanked by not one but two dog owners for allowing their pets to take a drink.

— Cragg Sisters —

Approaching 4:30pm and some shop doors are beginning to close. Not the case, though, for Cragg Sisters, definitely the most traditional place on today's list. Once again we're lucky to land a table outside within a pebble's throw of that beach. Cream tea? I suggest.

Cafe numero five and finally it's coffee time, thank goodness. Cafetiere for two, ta very much, and may I borrow your pen to write my card? Oh, and a piece of coffee and walnut to share, please. Much-needed jolt to the system but no idea what was in our tiny minds, ordering that cake. While other punters struggled with small flying things, those bugs didn't dare come near us for fear of the fatty calories pumping through our bloodstreams.

Concluded that a hardcore cafe crawl is a pretty fine way to spend a sunny afternoon especially by the seaside. Felt good to get back on the saddle and take an unnecessarily long diversion by the martello tower and posh Park Road back to the motor. Five caffs visited and tried out. May return at some future time for the umpteen ice cream parlours.

EDitorial ± 13-Aug-2018

Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Email arrived saying "Just wondering if you fancied a day at the festival named for you: Ed Fest?" That was in June 2017. It's taken until this long for the stars to align and, entirely thanks to friend Adam (see Latitude 2016), I am now returned from my first Edinburgh Fringe. Flippin' 'eck.

How I wish I was in Ed-in-bu-rgh, sung MES (RIP) some years back. I hadn't been there since the early 1990s to take in a Heart of Midlothian UEFA Cup game. Half-seven on Saturday morning, we set off from a Hopkins home past Penrith, Carlisle and Gretna to hit the north. Park and ride with une famille de Lille and there we were in central Southside by 11am, tickets in hand.

In our final year at Exeter, Adam and me shared a hall of residence with Richard, Andy, Adam, Gary, plus many others including one Joanne Rowling. Where better, then, for a spot of brunch at the cafe where JK penned her first Potter book? Into Elephant & Bagels off Nicolson Square for savoury goodness. Only later did I discover that this isn't the place. Caff taking all the credit is The Elephant House. Oh well, we tried. Showtime!

(11:50) The OS Map Fan Club at theSpaceTriplex
Solo show by the delightful Helen Wood about her love of the paper Ordnance though not the double-sided version. Funny photos, a bracing walk around Tetbury taking in Prince Charles and Poldark, flag-waving, sweets and quiz questions for the men. Props to the props. Full of Reithian values in that we were educated, informed and entertained. Super start plus a free badge on the way out.

(13:30) Fred MacAulay in Conversation at Gilded Balloon at the Museum
Underestimated the pulling power of this one and found ourselves towards the front of a mahoosive queue for a midsize theatre that rapidly filled up. Out came Mr. Mac himself, genial and chocka with anecdotes, then first guest Sally-Anne Hayward, up and coming self-styled comedienne-ess. Sofa then crammed with two stars of Scot Squad (me neither), Chris Forbes and Jack Docherty. That's Mr. George from Absolutely! Big laughs.

(14:50) Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything at Underbelly, Bristo Square
Took my takeaway tea into the sultry subterranean depths of the curiously named Dexter venue for an hour of storytelling from Aussie Wil, heartily recommended by Daniel Kitson. A child in bed, a beetle in flight and a dog called Rhubard. Classic Margo. Felt myself welling up but manfully clung on.

(17:40) Showmanship at C Royale
Enough with the funnies, it's time for some the-a-tre. Lucy Roslyn portrays a circus oracle who may or may not have the gift. Sat on the front row and tried to hold her eye when she looked my way. Wasn't easy and made for an intense hour. Relieved to get back out on the pavement and breath.

(20:20) John Kearns: Don't Worry They're Here at Pleasance Dome
After time out on the grass of Nicolson Square Gardens to enjoy takeaway delights from Palmyra, over to the packed Pleasance to queue for some Show & Tell. Another fella picked out by Kitson, an odd character takes to the stage, all teeth and hairpiece. The favourite was Thistlecrack but he bet on Many Clouds with tragic consequences taking in a creme egg, triplets and a £100 massage voucher. Loved it.

...and still missed Rob Auton, Nish Kumar and Limmy.

Found a return bus, avoided the boy racers assembling in the P&R and once again over to the driver for the long return journey. Cheers, Adam, and thanks for all the biscuits!