Monday, 27 June 2016

Coffee Love

It was the best of cups and the worst of cups

When it comes to coffee shops we love the whole experience ... the coffee of course, the ambience, the convenience, the staff and the people watching opportunities.
At the moment our most often visited, like once a week, isn't even here in Margate, it is in the nearby shopping centre at Westwood. And that is where Caffe Nero, atop Waterstones bookshop, ticks all our boxes.
I mean, all of the above AND books! What's not to like?
Across a few roads there is a Tesco Extra where possibly the worst coffee in town is served at Harris+Hoole [Or thrown at you by surly staff amongst cluttered tables in half filled cups of lukewarm brown liquid]  I was surprised to learn a few days ago that Caffe Nero had bought H+H from Tesco and even more surprised that they plan to retain the Harrassed + Hooligan brand name.
Meanwhile ... over in Paddington
On a happier note - very much happier, when I mentioned coffee and books there is an equal pleasure that is coffee and magazines.
That Nero picture above features Monocle magazine whose publishers opened their strangely named Kioskafe in Paddington last October. Celebrating the convenience of a traditional newsstand and great coffee along with their love for printed material like books, magazines and newspapers. They have most international dailies along with hundreds of other foreign papers as print-on-demand while you wait,
A perfect concept - almost! Except for paper cups?
These pictures were featured at
 http://, a blog that is always worth a look for great coffee shops around the world along with good photography. 

On the photography front I have been incredibly lazy lately which will be a relief to folk who complained that I wrote too much about it. I still use this pair of digital cameras having flogged off all my 35mm gear last year.

Happy 4th birthday
Happy 14th birthday
 At last my cold seems to be getting better!
More next time.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Summertime Blues

Now on the 5th Day of a three-day summertime cold.

Don't even think the words man-flu.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Do you remember Concetta Rosa Maria Franconeri?
This is her real name and she Is ten months younger than me. Maybe that's why I have followed the highs [and too many lows] of her life.
All will be revealed after this Shades segment!
Living here on Kent's sunshine coast, sunglasses are not a vanity nor simply a fashion accessory. They are essentials.
At sea I used aviator style polarised shades to help with bright water reflections at each end of the day. I guess they were Ray-Ban but, cannot clearly remember.
On coming ashore for good in 1965 I cast them aside for the now traditional 'La Dolce VIta' look which was then the style, even  if they were never really needed in South East London - especially after dark in coffee bars.
They are still popular around these parts.
Some very similar examples
These very similar examples range enormously in retail price. The most expensive pair would set you back almost £1000. Can you spot the pair that cost £1? I will tell you which in a moment.
A pair of sunglasses are very simple ... four screws, a plastic frame, two lenses and that's all. So is the price variation about competition? No! All these examples along with dozens of other 'designer brands' are made by one Italian company which is the world's biggest 'eyewear' manufacturer. With a head office in Milan it is now a global enterprise named Luxottica. They also own the retailer Sunglass Hut and several chains of optical stores.
Luxottica's genius has been to take a medical device or aid and, over the last 50 years turn it into a fashion accessory. They typically wholesale their products at some 20 times their manufacturing costs. The retailer probably doubles that price for their own profit margin. When one of the 'designer' names is stuck on the lens or printed on the side shank you can double the prices again.
Before you splurge on a fashion pair of shades, think on this? When was the last time you even noticed or could recognise a designer name being worn? Does it matter? I guess not if it made their owner feel good to buy them.
My £1 pair came from Poundland this week and are pictured against the GQ cover immediately above the Chanel pair.
Then again, you could grab some for nothing at all as they are being given away with the July issue of Tatler magazine. I guess that these, like my Poundland pair, emanate from China rather than Italy.
Concetta is better known as Connie Francis and a double CD of her best Italian flavoured hits is released today.
38 tracks on two CD for just £4.71 is a bargain for great music from a time-served professional artiste.
Finally ... My fave radio station right now is on air 24-7 at
Thanks for stopping by ... same time, same place next week?


Friday, 10 June 2016

Magazine[s] of The Month + A Book

Pic via internet /Almay
Magazines have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and that's a l-o-n-g time. Owing to other priorities on our limited income and the ever escalating cost of periodicals they are now an occasional luxury rather than a routine purchase.
I have mentioned Monocle before because it is more than just a magazine. The publishers operate a radio station, shops, a café and various global events. It is decidedly up-market but hey, even if I cannot embrace their lifestyle any more I can still keep an eye on what the movers and shakers are up to. The current issue [Number 94] is £6 for 225 pages,  ... but I only buy issues 'as and when' Great journalism and reporting allied with top drawer production standards are never going to be cheap.
The current issue of Esquire demonstrates many of the reasons that I stopped buying it some ten years ago. The regular cover price is around £4.30 and the current 146 page issue is on offer at £2.50. A reduction like this may be considered as desperation resulting from falling sales and diminishing advertising revenue. Esquire was established in the USA as a quarterly back in 1933. It was riding high in the 1950's thanks to a mix of thoughtful articles and urbane sophistication that attracted top writers, photographers and models of the day.
It saddens me to see that it seems to have become a gutter location for articles with more expletives than I would utter in a month, poor grammar and syntax and only one female ... a post-it size mono shot from the 1960's of Marilyn Monroe. It appears to be aimed at men who are seriously in touch with their feminine side, who are too young or lazy to shave, who wear tattoos [but no socks with formal suits] and think that shorts are a good look for inland towns. An epic fail waiting to happen!
And so to the jewel in the crown of mens' magazines [not to be confused with Lads' Mags !]  GQ is all the things that Esquire aspires  to be and misses. Serious and thoughtful articles, playful features and even a couple of pulchritudinous ladies to restore our faith in female attractiveness. 250 pages of reading pleasure where even the upmarket advertisements are showcased in a suitable environment. A great mix although they do tend to go overboard on sport from time to time ... in issues that I skip. I just don't get the appeal.


I thought I had bought a second hand paperback book for £1.90 via Amazon. The package was too big for the letterbox which meant a pick up at the local sorting office. Published at £25 in 2001, this luxuriously presented coffee-table hardback book features 400 superb colour photos of Italian interiors and homes. Appropriate enough as we are having a refurbing staycation this year.
So what's with all this reading? It is true that I would rather be strolling along the local beach but the prevailing NE winds have never been my favourites. It appears that summer may have arrived and the weather is set fair for a few weeks. Wall to wall sunshine, zephyrs of breeze and calm seas. Wow! 

Friday, 3 June 2016

A Design Classic

Fashions in furniture undergo frequent changes and yet there is one design that seems to remain a constant favourite ... and if you have ever sat in one you will know why.


DUNELM KIDDY VERSION £39 with free footstall
I have no idea who created the first tub chair or when this was, I am just happy that they did.
USA HERITAGE BRAND $4380  that's about £3,000
Children are intuitively drawn to the ones that are junior size, guess they feel safely surrounded ... like this top trio pictured on the internet.
At the other end of the age spectrum, tub chairs are a delight for anyone with lower back pain or, who needs firmly supporting arms to facilitate upward leverage when it is time to leave their comfortable hug.
We have just bought a couple as part of our '2016 staycation refurb plan'.
Here in Margate we enjoy our coffee at Bentley's High Street restaurant, where tubs are featured and at nearby Westwood they are found in Waterstones' and the in-store branch of Caffe Nero. 

Waterstones' / Café Nero Westwood
 Thanks for stopping by and I hope to bring you more in a week or so.