Showing posts with label Starbucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Starbucks. Show all posts

Thursday 17 October 2019

A Day Not Reading - #Oktoberfest #19 - Starbucks - A

Yesterday I sort of didn't read, I had finished the 400 page "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins which I have passed on to a friend and this morning I have started Philip Pullman's "The Secret Commonwealth" clocking in at close on 700 pages. After "The Illuminatus Trilogy" (800 pages) it seems I have been taking fairly hefty tomes to read.

The odd thing about "The Secret Commonwealth" is that it is the second in "The Book of Dust" Trilogy , the follow up to "His Dark Materials" but "His Dark Materials" is bookended by "La Belle Sauvage" and "The Secret Commonwealth" , this is not a problem , just unexpected.

I'm actually telling a fib because yesterday, as a respite from big books, I dipped into "Ten Years In An Open Necked Shirt", poetry by The Bard of Salford John Cooper Clarke which is always entertaining.

#Oktoberfest continues with a brand name that is generally associated with coffee, but sell anything they can these days, that is Starbucks. The song is "Starbucks" by the band "A" from the album "Hi-Fi Serious" who with a name like that are impossible to search for on Google (a bit like "!!!") . The song is more about the company's dodgy employment practices rather than the product but the product association will do for my #Oktoberfest sequence.

Saturday 10 March 2018

A Grey Day Brightened By A Wildflower Visit

We wake up to rain spattered window panes, and walking out you need an umbrella and have to face a cold biting wind, hardly signs of Spring springing. Today I may finally catch up on my steps for March.

I started writing this this morning then had to go out. So basically I have ended up soing another 15K steps so have made up the steps I needed to for this month., so 11K a day for the rest of the month will suffice for me.

The weather has continued to be rainy and drab but has not stopped me walking and I got some shots of a foggy River Tyne here.

I decided to visit Wildflower at Kommunity and this is a lovely evironment to enjoy and have some brilliant vegan food, and was glad to hear at the Night Market last night they sold out of everything (they are that good) . I was chatteing to Asher about music before Jess came in with cake. I had already brunched at The Tyneside so just treated myself to some lovely vegan cake.

Too many times people say "Oh I must visit there sometime" and the still go and pay a fiver for a latte and a cellophane packed sandwich from Starbucks or Costa because "you know what your getting". You're getting homogenised packaged uniformity when you should be seeing what your local community is offering. Starbucks and Costa have their place but they are always seconday to local businesses in my universe.

Newcastle has a plethory of local food and drink providers though the new Eldon food court is a massive own goal in my opinion, I'm just waiting for the chains to start pulling out.

I mean what sort of moron goes to Jamie's Italian when you have Pani's five minutes away.?  There are hundreds of examples where the name chain has the highest profile locations and most people don't bother looking for something with some soul and heart.

Anyway I think we can go with a true Geordie anthem , Lindifarne's "Fog on the Tyne" (and not the aberation with added Gazza), the original.

Sleep well.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Coffee In Pints

I'm no Mug - Oh sorry I Am!!
I know I'm not the the most gentile or sophisticated person you might have encountered, but last night I decided for tea to have some packet onion soup (how sophisticated is that?), which required a pint of water to make it up. I was going to have it in a bowl but thought maybe I'll just try a cup full.

When I emptied the pan, there was room to spare in my mug!! We got the mugs over fifteen years back on  a holiday in Budapest, memorable for many things including nearly getting arrested for fare dodging on the metro.

What happened is that three stations had automatic ticket machines that were not working, so at the main interchange I approached a couple of ticket staff about where I could get a ticket. The older one said we would be arrested if we didn't hand over our passports. The younger one looked embarrassed, her boss was obviously someone used to the old communist methods and the assumption that everyone is out to cheat the system. We got away with on the spot fines, and were directed to a ticket office three levels up, where we served by a very affable old lady who spoke not a word of English (me not knowing a word of Hungarian, the presumptive ignoramus that I am), but we still managed to sort out tickets for the rest of the week, by sign language and smiles.

The thing is for fifteen years on a Saturday and Sunday and non work day morning I have been drinking my coffee in PINTS. You go in to Starbucks and Costa and they have all sorts of not specific names for their cups, so I may have been having pints there as well. It's just that you never think of going into a coffee shop and asking for a pint of coffee do you? Well I don't. If you go into a pub you will order a pint of beer or lager (or if in The Turk's Head in Darlington wine), but not a coffee shop.

The song I decided to go for is the angry "Perfect Coffee" by the wonderful Kate Tempest. There were lots of other options but I think this is something good to make us aware of the times we live in.

Anyway it's a lovely day and it's time to set off for work, have a great one my friends.

Friday 21 April 2017

The Wildflower Hour

It sort of makes me sad when I am in and outside work, and almost everyone is carrying a branded cup or foodbag, be it Costa, Starbucks, Greggs, Pret A Manger (they seem to have lost their accents)  or any number of the brands you see on every high street and railway station. People justify it because "they know what they are getting". If you try to dissuade people from buying this homogenised sameness they will always excuse it with a variation on the above excuse.

In Newcastle, you have no excuse because there are so many independent places where you can eat, get coffee, tea or whatever and today I'm going to gush over Wildflower cafe and art space on Westgate Road.

Firstly it's ten minutes walk from St James' Park , a place awash with student accomodation and therefore students. When I was at sixth form college I would have loved a place like Wildflower, but todays students seem to need a label on everything they buy.

The food is vegan. I'm not vegan, but I like good food, and I like to have something different. Today I was in two minds, the Lentil Dahl or Spanish Tomato Soup . I went for the soup (which also had a fair amount of lentils) , with a brown spread roll and a very green mango and papaya smoothie. Until I walked in I hadn't a clue what I was going to have, but it was gorgeous.

As I sat down Wire's "Outdoor Miner" came on the sound system and Asher told me about the joint smoking proprietor of a cafe up the road having a mini rave as he waited for customers.

I was soon joined by a big party of people to come and sample the delights of the cafe in the wonderfully art decorated welcoming surroundings, so I'd just got my order in in time.

Wildflower also host lots of events and themed meals and gatherings, and I love seeing how well attended these are and love the fact that it's popularity is growing thanks to the hard work of Jessica and Asher. They even have their vegan cookery slots on Tyne and Wear TV (and the vegan custard creams are lush).

If you live in Newcastle and haven't visited this place , shame on you, because it really is wonderful. It's the sort of place the media will airbrush over because it's not a big money brands, but for me it's the perfect sort of brand because it surprises me consistently with food and events and I try to eat there once a week, and I have to be honest the exercise walking the hill probably does me good and walking back down you get great views of the Tyne Bridge and The Sage.

It's very close to the town centre and if you message them on Facebook they will tell you what's on (the menu) and are open to suggestions for food ideas. Jess and Asher are both at least ten years younger than my girls so I'm old enough to be their grandad, but home I don't act that way.

So I will leave you with Wire's "Outdoor Miner" and I have the anticipation of what new delights will be served up next week.  The weekend is her.. Enjoy

Thursday 29 December 2016

Life's A Long Song.... With Tattoos

Tonight I had the chance to do some catch up TV, but I didn't catch up on any TV at all. I've been meaning for ages to test the soundbar out with a 5.1 album and decided to do that. The first album was Jethro Tull's "Thick as as Brick" and I was impressed, and realised I would be doing a lot more listening to albums like this (I  hope my neighbours understand). I followed this with "Aqualung" which I got for Christmas and also contains "Life's A Long Song" which is absolutely beautiful. I remember buying the original five track single which I think Jethro Tull charged 48p for because the price of singles was seen as exorbitant for what may be as little as four minutes of music Ithis was way pre punk). Any the final couplet in that song seems so appropriate for what's been happening recently:

"Life's A Long Song,
But The Tune
Ends Too Soon
For Us All"

That has been sadly true.

On a brighter note there seem to be a lot of Tattoo Parlours springing up.  There are some great names too. I love tattoos but I will never have one, because I couldn't decide which one to have. Two Tattoo Parlours I have friends in are Arthur T Sharpes (Newcastle) and Dirk Parker Tattoos (Shrewsbury) . It's far better having another Tattoo Parlour than another Mobile Phone Shop or Betting Shop or Greggs / Subway / Costa / Starbucks .

Anyway that's my lot, I'm going to bed now, if you want to come remember to switch the light off... I have an early start.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

BIG HUG WEDNESDAY: Keep On Smiling with a small Starbucks Rant - FIVE - #45 - 2001 - OPM - Heaven Is A Halfpipe

Real Coffee
I know I keep on about putting on a smile , being happy and hugging and kissing each other , but was tempted to write about this idiot  situation about the colour of Starbuck's Cups . Someone once said that once the threat of starvation had been eradicated then people's main hobby becomes being offended. Starbuck's are guilty of far worse things that the colour of their cups , but they still do good Frappacinos and I have no problem with the staff , just the company. But anyway that's by the by. Today let's make it a BIG HUG Wednesday , grab a friend and hug them and go for a coffee at an independent coffee place like Bar Loco or Pink Lane Coffee in Newcastle.

The Odyssey hits 2001 and for 2000 I had hoped for Heaven Is A Halfpipe by OPM , so it was a no brainer to choose for 2001 , despite competition from Gorillaz and other worthy choices

So go on make it a BIG HUG WEDNESDAY

Monday 1 April 2013

April Fools

Well it's a new month and new financial year and the school bullies (Cameron , Clegg , Osborne , Ducncan- Schmidt) have chosen the easy targets again (anyone on benefits). You can imagine them at school each September picking out the apparently weakest new pupils , then running home to mummy if they ended up with a bloody nose.

I'm lucky that I have a job and a house so am personally not affected , but was severely attacked under Thatcher , recieved no support when I had a hundred mile return commute when my daughter was severely ill in the Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital. I was helped through that by my bank manager at the Midland Bang in Tarleton who gave me the extra money I needed for petrol and said we'd sort when my daughter was better , which we did . The government gave no help at all bar still allowing the NHS to exist.

The current re organisation was tried fifteen years ago under the tories and failed then. It is designed for "private enterprise" to cherry pick profitable bits (often made profitable by tying the NHS intp extortionate contracts) . The last three governments don't seem to understand the concept of services and utilities.

The mass privatisations have just resulted in spiralling costs paid for by the electorate.

The government continually attack the low paid, the disabled and people on benefits while actively encouraging large corporations such as Starbucks, Amazon , Google  NOT to pay tax on monies earned in this country.

Benefit Fruad in this country is estimated ate 1.1 Billion though this site reckons it is more like 5.5 Billion. Corporation Tax avoidance (that we know about) is between 8 and 14 billion (see here) , yest this is not being addressed at all by this government . It's the school bully mentality , go for the easy target who cant fight back , and probably you will find that those companies are contributing to the government coffers. So even in the worst case scenarion Corporation Tax avoidance is 60% than benefits fraud.

I am not condoning either , but cutting benefits is the bullies answer. Providing living wage jobs and actually targetting fraud would mean that cuts would be minimal.

Sunday 24 February 2013

4:49 Sunday Morning

..and I've woken up , or rather been woken by an annoying tickly , chesty cough, In an Alan Bennett-esque piece of situationanist observation I'm sure I made myself a LemSip , well Boots own brand equivalent last night , but can't finsd any trace of it, and I'm still wondering whether I imagined it!!

Anyway it's one of those times where it's too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep. There's a thick carpet of snow outside and though it started to melt , it's now freezing , so not driving weather and the roads are very, very quite.

Was listening to an album of protest songs last nightfron the 40's and 50's from the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and many others about the oppression of the average man by a combination of banking and government. It's funny how banks and governments should be there to serve us , but in fact just exploit us. I'm one of the lucky ones in that I am keeping head above water , but lots of people arent so lucky, with fuel and food prices rocketing and wages either staying static or jobs just going and then people expected to take minimum wage jobs.

In yesterdays paper there wasreported a push by the Tory right to curb union power by not allowing strike action unless 50% of the members turn out. Be interesting to apply similar criteria to bills but through Parliament . Nothing gets passed unless 50% of MPs turned up. Can you imagine a company functioning with it's members have such a blatant disregard for their work and responsibilities?

Also yesterday the UK's triple AAA credit rating was downgraded to AA by the banks , who , don't forget put the whole world in this mess AND were bailed out by the governments of the world. George Osborne said that was justification for continuing austerity measures (ie tagetting people on benefits and the pensions of those on minimum wage). Yesterday the Inland Revenue was trumpetting the success of it's anti tax avoidance measures , apparently a Liverpool hairdresser and a Northumbrian Pipe Fitter were the top ones recovering about £20K. Letters of congratulation were probably sent to Amazon , Starbucks and Google. I am not getting at those companies for legally avoiding tax , I'm accusing our governments (and this goes back a long way) for facilitating this: Check this article on tax avoidance (which remember is legal and encouraged and facilitated by goverments all over the world)  and here are some telling figures:
  • 1% - Income tax rate reportedly available to members of the legal K2 tax scheme used by Jimmy Carr.  Source: The Independent
  • 98 – Number of FTSE 100 companies operating out of tax havens. Source: ActionAid
  • £25bn – Estimated annual cost of tax avoidance, according to 2008 research. £13billion of this is lost to individuals and £12billion to the 700 largest corporations. Source: Tax Research UK and the TUC
  • 10% - Average rate of tax paid by top earners, according to a confidential HMRC study seen by George Osborne. Source: The Telegraph
Plus a few telling figures from  1227 QI Facts:
  • In 2005, the 54 billionaires in Britain paide less that £15 million in income tax between them. £9 million of that was paid by James Dyson. To put it in perspective it's like me and you paying less than 10p a month on our earnings.
  • In 2011 only 9 of the 62 owners of apartments in One Hyde Park, London (the world's most expensive block of flats) paid any council tax.
  • Over 600,000 companies are registered in the British Virgin Islands (populaton < 29K)
  • In 2009 Exxon posted $19 billion profits and received a $156 million federal tax rebate from the US Government

So you can see goverments and big business are still in cahoots , taking profits for themselves and leaving us to pick up the tab. Anyway it's time to go back to bed now...

Saturday 9 February 2013

Who Will Be First?

Six years ago I walked into my present place of work (at the time Orange)  and picked up a company newspaper .The front page of the article stated that that they had a target of 30% market penetration with mobile phone ownership. The actual market penetratation at the time was something like 130% !! These figures may be coloured by the mists of time and so don't take them as gospel because they are based on my sieve like memory. However when you see suits on a train with a laptop , tablet and 3 phones trying to commandeer a table you can see the 130% market penetration in action.

Anyway, since that time companies have grown and evolved , and the things we have in our hands that we use to talk to each other bear no resemblance at all to Alexander Graham Bell's invention. In the late 80's a mobile phone required a briefcase sized battery pack and looked like you average military walkie talkie. Then battery technology came on leaps and bounds allowing creation of one piece phones that would actually fit in your hand. Sitting in the background at the the time you had the internet thing and you had the WAP protocol whence enabled very basic web access from the cutting edge phones. I always thought it looked rubbish but that's the only way progress is made. At the time it was groundbreaking , you could be in the middle of nowhere (assuming a signal) and find out the lasted horse racing results or football scores. A bit like Teletext and Ceefax on your phone.

Phones then got expanded keyboards , bigger screens , and eventually touch screen technology was integrated into the model. All the time capabilities are being enhances and phones can do more. I remember one of my Nokias had "Snake" on it , my Samsung Note 2 allows me to watch films , play "Broken Sword" , perform Office functions , connect to email , have a fully functioned web browser, and install new software if it takes my fancy. Of course this is all dependant on have a signal, but if my superfast 4G EE signal isnt available , I can connect to WiFi in Starbucks , Wetherspoons or wherever. So really it's not a phone is it?

It's a hand held computer, 20 years ago I was working on mainframes with less processing power that the device I have in my hand. It's three months since EE brought us into the 4G age in the UK , and the combined performance of device and signal means you can watch cath up TV whenever and wherever you want. My Samsung Note 2 is probably more powerful that the Star Trek communicators and tricorders. Combine with GPS if we had transporter beams we would be on a par with Star Trek. Even ten years ago you could not imagine being where we are now with these devices. EE is not , and never has been a phone company , it is about communications and connections , making the world more accessible and bringing people closer together.

Which brings me to the point of this post , we are not using mobile phones anymore , they are communication devices and hand held computers. However phone is a one syllable recognisable label. Mobil Phone is three but still recognisable. I am just wondering how long it will before someone instigates a new all encompassing name for these devices. If Steve Jobs were alive I would have said Apple , finally ditching the iPhone series with:

   "The iCom - It's not your phone , It's Your Life"

Wednesday 26 December 2012

A Very Merry Christmas to Starbucks and Manchester United

For all those corporation that governments allow to get away with paying little or no tax , while demonising the low paid and unemployed by cutting benefits and increasing taxes to make up the shortfall.

We cannot criticise these corporations because the decision makers would be crucified if their share holders found out they had paid taxes when the law allows them not to. Blame governments and law makers for this , doubly so when they then blame the people who don't have the financial clout  to actually fight back.

As well as Starbucks , don't forget Manchester United and City who run at a "loss" on paper and therefore don't pay any taxes . I don't hear them being pilloried like Starbucks , when it's about time they were. How can the most profitable football club in the world get away with paying no tax.

And how come Cameron and Osborne can never do anything when it's people like this taking the taxman to the cleaners rather than some immigrant or benefit cheat? Well will soundtrack it with A's Starbucks.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Connectivity, Eclipse and a First Time For Everything

Last night I watched via the internet , facebook , and Panasonic solar technology , on the recomendation of a very good friend a solar eclipse in Queensland Australia. Apart for the images and the event being spectacular it was amazing to see how connected we can all be in this digital age . Instant video feeds from 9000 miles and 10 hours away while being exactly in the same moment. How many thousands of us shared that . An event that even ten years ago could not have happened. People watch on their TVs , computers and phones , took and shared pictures . Absolutely amazing.

It reminded of seeing Bill Bryson a couple of years ago relating a story of a guy who organised a scientific expedition to India to watch a similar event a few hundred years back. The guy spent years preparing and was thwarted by thick cloud cover. Last night was good because of the twin feeds from Port Douglas and Fitzroy Island , making sure we had at least one clear view.

This brings me on to the excellent new advert for EE featuring Kevin Bacon selling the concept of total connectivity in todays digital world . Kevin Bacon is still a top guy and is excellent in the advert, telling us about the connectivity which the Eclipse event was made for. By the way Tremors is one of my favourite all time films:

And then this morning I relented in my Starbucks boycott to pay for my first coffee with my phone using their rather efficient app. That was fine only slightly marred by me being confronted by three beardy beggars demanding 40p as a walked out of the shop . I was bigger and scarier than they were so I made my way to the train to enjoy my coffee frappacino!

Sunday 19 August 2012

Homogenisation Hell

A couple of years ago I was reading a book by Bill Bryson in which he noted that every high street in every town or city was beginning to look the same. There was a Boots , a WH Smith , a Woolworths , a BHS , a Next  and a few others . I noted the Glastonbury was missing a couple of these and in a recent visit to Totnes their only concession was I think a WH Smiths or maybe a Superdrug.

Anyway , I was in Newcastle today in various parts of the centre and I seemed to be always in sight of a Starbucks , a Costa , a Pret A Manger , a Boots , a Subway etc . It reminds of the Sylvester Stallone film Demolition Man where the only brand left is Taco Bell . I dont know if they paid for that or just enjoyed the irony of the product positioning , but it does get scary when your choice is being whittled away like that.

Even on Newcastle Railway Station we have Starbucks , Costas and WH Smiths , oh not forgetting Greggs !!

Sunday 20 November 2011

What Is The Point?

Everywhere you go now tries to foist some kind of loyalty card , with the promise that you can earn "points". The reasons for these are to capture information about you in order to lure you into buying far more than you want or require.

There are a few that give a reasonable reward such as the 4% given by Boots and the free WIFI with Starbucks . But then you have the awful returns on Nectar and WH Smith cards.

Basicall my three are Boots , Starbucks and Tesco and I aint too keen on on Tesco!!
Also quite amazed to see that Tesco do Cars!!

Sunday 13 December 2009

Leonard Cohen and Wireless Connections

While on holiday I tend to use local libraries for internet requirements and usually these are adequate for what I need. However I was shocked to find that Stratford's main library , which was free last year , now charges £5 an hour!! Local residents don't fare much better with 30 minutes a day free then £2 per half hour after that. Not too good if you're unemployed or on a low wage. One of the reasons for the rise in library usage is the provision of internet access . It seems that Stratford are trying to drive people away.

We signed up for the library at Pershore which was free , this follows the one in Helmsley which is a very reasonable pound an hour.

BT Openzone is not much better with £6 for 90 minutes which has to be used within 24 hours with no comeback for slow connections and the like.

As an alternative I got a Starbuck's card and availed myself of their free wi-fi. I know I spent a fortune on coffee , but the surroundings are pleasant , the coffee is good and I could get stuff done. When watching "True Blood" a remark was made that the proliferation of these sort of Coffee Shops (Starbucks, Costas, Cafe Nero etc) has resulted in a decline in general calcium deficiency due to the amount of milk that people are drinking!! Maybe an urban myth , but a good one!

While in Stratford we discovered that the excelent Pub "The One Elm" give free wi-fi access with any purchase , and were extremely pleasant , and seemed to have an excellent menu as well. That's one to try the next time we are in Stratford.

Across the road was one of our target restaurant , Bernadettes , named after the Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes collaboration from "Famous Blue Raincoat" - "Song of Bernadette"apparently, a video is below...

It's a Champagne and Oyster Bar but does does excellent if slightly expensive food . The fish and chips is recommended and the service excellent!! Here's a video of one of their cookery schools.