I love coffee

This post is about coffee in Britain.

Many people in my home country have a hard time accepting that Britain really is the way it is (when you live here, which isn’t the same as it is for tourists). It is not “just like the Netherlands except that the people in England (as the Dutch usually call Britain) speak English, drink tea, are reserved and prim and proper and walk around swinging walking sticks and bowler hats” or some version of that.

Most Dutch people blindly assume that everything in Britain works the exact same way as things work in the Netherlands. I can’t blame them. I too had no idea how vastly different Britain is relative to my home country, or the United States.

The people in my home country are also often convinced that the coffee here is bad, however. True, but that applies only to the cheap instant stuff.

Ground coffee – real coffee – is actually very good and, in my opinion, even much better in Britain than in the Netherlands.

I haven’t had an electric coffee maker in many years. After another one had broken down, I started making coffee with a separate filter and a large thermos. I ended up with much better-tasting coffee and it landed me absolutely perfect coffee once, so good it was stunning. The amount of coffee, the way I poured the water and its temperature must have been just right for my coffee to turn out so exceptional that morning.

Nowadays, I make my coffee in a French press, inspired by a remark made by a Spanish professor at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton in 2005. If I accidentally drop a French press and the glass breaks, I can order a replacement glass.

I have several favourites. Taylors of Harrogate makes great coffee, which sells at roughly £3.75 a bag these days, I think, but it is often on offer. I think that one bag contains 227 grams. It comes in many varieties, but not every supermarket has all varieties, and I have my favourites. The varieties occasionally change, too. Places like Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury sell Taylors.

Aldi – which is a much more luxurious supermarket in Britain than in the Netherlands – sells really great coffee too. People actually started going to Aldi for no other reason than its coffee. When coffee prices started to rise a few years back, Aldi tried to compromise on the quality of the coffee. I wrote to them about it. Others must have done too because Aldi later compromised again, but this time by making the bags smaller. They now contain 200 grams of great-tasting coffee instead of 227 grams.

Its “Rich Java” is so popular it often sold out. 100% arabica coffee. “Deep, rich, syrupy flavour with subtle notes of chocolate”. Rainforest alliance certified. Strength: 5.

I tried one of the other ones, but Rich Java was much better and kept selling out.

Aldi must have noticed, because it replaced one of the other varieties (I think it was “Ethiopian”, which I didn’t like) and introduced “Peruvian”. 100% arabica coffee. “Bold bodied with red fruit notes and a caramel finish”. Rainforest alliance certified (sustainable livelihoods, protecting the environment). Strength: 4.

I love them both! At times I prefer the Java and at other times the Peruvian. The Peruvian is a bit more refined, more subtle. The Java could be Brazilian. (It isn’t. Java is part of Indonesia and that is where this coffee comes from.) It plants its feet firmly on the ground and says “Here I am!”.

£1.99 for 200 grams for each of them.

Did you know that coffee has tremendous health benefits, too, for most people? It can do wonders for the liver, for example.

Why I sometimes call British culture “paranoid” or “narcissistic”

If someone writes to you “with the greatest respect”, isn’t it paranoid or an indication of extremely low self-esteem, hence possibly narcissistic, to believe that it means “I think you’re an idiot”?

That’s not “sarcasm”, folks.  That’s bonkers. Nuts.

YouGov survey: 
British sarcasm 'lost on Americans':

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46846467

So when a local shop owner suddenly started repeating “Don’t worry about it” a few years ago, I had no idea that it meant “Piss off!”, and I still have no idea why he suddenly wanted me to piss off either. I must have said something that he thought was intended as the exact opposite of what I said and meant?

Interesting is that before I moved from Amsterdam to the USA, I received some warnings/advice about Americans that turned out not to apply at all – for instance about the dinner invitations as mentioned in the BBC article – but I did later discover that some of it applies with regard to southern England.

For people in countries that don’t have English as their main language, the fact that British English is so vastly different from other forms of English can be really confusing.

There is also a thing in British English that we foreigners sometimes call hinting, and that people from other countries don’t get either.

I am not so sure that what the BBC writes about the British use of sarcasm applies to Scotland, by the way.

I do remember one occasion when I did catch the sarcasm. A year or so ago, I walked into a store to ask something and addressed someone whose last words to me before I left the store again were “and we’ll sort you out”.

What she meant was that they would teach me a lesson.

I suspect that I know what it was about and if I am right about that, then she considered the items she was selling “old junk”, felt that I had been comparing her to old junk by something I said (perhaps indicating that she was not very happy with what she was doing, even though I think she was an owner, not an employee).

This is typically British. Anywhere else, you’d be considered paranoid or otherwise not well in the head to have thoughts like these. Here, however, you are considered not well in the head – slow on the uptake – if you don’t get this stuff.

See how upside down the world can be and how tricky cultural differences are?

 

(My) human rights in Britain

The British (as a nation) tend to see themselves as the human rights champions of the world, and “foreign fucktards” as those who violate human rights.

That’s otherization, explains Kathleen Taylor in her book “Cruelty”. If only “foreign fucktards” commit human rights violation, it follows that you, therefore, don’t.

That it is okay to violate the human rights of “fucktards” (foreign or otherwise) is the other aspect of otherization. Think of the fact that any foreigner can be arrested and detained indefinitely in places like Yarl’s Wood, for example, or the British government deliberately pushing poor people and poor disabled and chronically ill people into even deeper poverty, even causing their deaths.

I took a look at my own human rights situation in Britain. (Okay, make that “Portsmouth” as I did have quite a few more human rights in daily practice when I was still living in Southampton.) This is what my life has more or less looked like for the past ten years.

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Lost black dog spotted in Portsmouth

This morning, between 10:45 and 11:00, a lost BLACK male dog with a bright RED collar was spotted near Manor Infant School in Portsmouth, England Little George Road/Inverness Road/Kingston Road). It looks like possibly a staffie/lab mix.

One woman who had business at the infant school noticed him too and she had seen him almost getting hit by a car when he crossed Kingston Road before. The driver of the County Supplies lorry saw him as well.

I spotted the dog from my window. He seemed hungry as he was sniffing rubbish bags, then walked back to one, decided to dig into it and ate whatever he had found in that bag.

I went outside with some dog treats, intending to grab him and track down the owners, but when I came downstairs he was gone. I walked around for 15 minutes or so, but did not see him anywhere.

(Unfortunately, I did not have internet access at the time because of this https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46464730 and I am posting this from elsewhere. I cannot send texts either.)

I will keep on the lookout for him and if I see him, attempt to grab and keep him at my place.

(He was energetic, in good shape, and while a little bit confused, did not appear to be a problematic dog in any way, and dogs usually get along well with me.)

I’d appreciate hearing it if the dog has meanhile been reunited with his owner. Thank you.

Why Portsmouth should diminish traffic

I wrote an article about it on LinkedIn. If you’re interested, you can find it, and you don’t need me to post the link here. Southampton can’t do anything as drastic as this. Bournemouth can’t. Chichester can’t. London can’t. But Portsmouth can.

And Portsmouth can turn this into a giant plus and use it to boost the economy, but it won’t. Because it is drowning in crap such as bullying and corruption, also at city council level, and likes seeing itself as the powerless whining underdog a little bit too much. There is very little true vision left in this town, where too much of the focus is on traditional capitalism and on the past. The industries of the past are GONE, folks. Quit waffling about that and move forward.

Here are a few links to supporting studies:

All I hear is stupid excuses.

  • The impact of cars on our space

    No space for trams. Sure there is!

  • The people with more than 2 cars will protest and shout very loudly. Wear ear plugs! (What about the 80 or 90% or 95% of the rest of your population? 70% have no car or only 1 car. Many of Portsmouth’s inhabitants hardly ever get out of Portsmouth.)
  • Shop owners will complain. Show them that most of their customers are actually coming from within a small radius and give them decent business support! Most are probably delusional in thinking that their customers come from miles away and may blame traffic measures for their own failures (a certain pet supplies shop owner comes to mind).
  • A certain lawyer will whine. Tell her to shut up. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. (If she makes you feel stupid and ignorant, that’s because she is talking complete rubbish!)

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