Wednesday, 30 September 2009


I can remember clearly the first time I had a coffee in a Starbucks café. It was quite a few years ago now, an in store branch in Selfridges in London. I can't recall what I was doing there in the first place but I do recall thinking 'oo-er so this is what they're like' as I stood in line with my plastic tray trying to decipher their almost impenetrable coffee jargon. I clearly remember the first Mc Donalds 'restaurant' coming to London too, but that's another story. Now, the disappointment of my first Starbucks experience is still clear in my mind and my opinion about the overpriced product I queued up for is still the same today, although I now know a shedload more about how decent coffee ought to be enjoyed.

Here are a few points to illustrate what mean

1/ Cappuccino (and more especially espresso) should be served in a porcelain, bowl shaped cup, kept nice and hot on top of your machine (the bowl shape helps retain the 'crema') and not in a flat bottomed 'builder's' mug.

2/ The ideal cappuccino ratio is approx. 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk & 1/3 Foam. Not 2/3 Foam 1/3 'tepid' espresso.

3/ The customer should always be offered a coffee spoon and not have to delve through his/her foam with a 'lolly stick'

4/ The beverage should still be nice and hot when it reaches the customer (especially Café Latte) not just warm to facilitate faster turnover of tables.

I could go on but I think you see what I mean, so, you can imagine our amusement yesterday upon reading this little piece in yesterday's Guardian...

Am I wrong in feeling that somehow that little vignette enshrines all that is both socioculturally unappetising and fiscally unsound about Starbucks? Not at all. Socioculturally, it is obvious that few independent coffee-dispensing entities are likely to survive the homogenising onslaught. And as for fiscal weakness – well, yes, it turns out that if your business model involves saturating local markets, no matter what the rental cost of many prestigious locations, with products made with imported coffee and aimed particularly at the young and affluent, especially those working in the banking and finance sectors, you inadvertently create the conditions for the perfect shitstorm once demand and sterling collapse. Ta-daaa!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

TBTE 29.09.09

It is somewhat reassuring that in this digital era of gigantic flat screens, i-pods and ever decreasing attention spans that watching the sun set over Feldy marshes is still a deeply satisfying thing to experience. This evening Mabel (our Lab.) and I watched for twenty minutes as the sun went below the horizon and with hardly a breath of wind, mirror like, the creek reflected the sky. This scene with the exception of a few details has been the same for centuries.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Colchester Open Studios

My Little Studio

Well, 'Open Studios' has started today, so if you'd like to come and see me and my little garden studio please drop in. My opening times are 26th & 27th September 11.00am ~ 6.00pm and 3rd & 4th October 11.00am ~ 6.00pm...I'd be pleased to see you. For more detailed information about the various participating artists and their opening times take a peek at 'Colchester Open Studios'

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Open Studios

'The Packing Shed' ~ Watercolour

It's that time of year again when participating artists open their studios to the general public on selected weekends as part of 'Colchester Open Studios'. So, for me and many others, things have been getting rather hectic in preparation for the event. This in part is responsible for the appalling dearth of posts in recent weeks and for this I apologise but my paints and brushes have had to take priority.