Tag Archives: South West

Transported: In The South West But Maybe Not For Long

Today is Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) day and it is dire news for commuters. According to the Daily Telegraph, “Mr Osborne asked the Department for Transport to prepare for cuts of anywhere between 25% and 40% to its annual budget of £15.9 billion” before today’s announcement. The Association of Train Operating Companies said that “money from train tickets pays for around half the cost of running the railways with the rest coming from the taxpayer.” The media have anticipated that the government plans to shift the costs to the passengers and we saw a lot of that in the details.

The current rate of increase for tickets is the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus one per cent which in September 2010 stands at 4.6% (down from 4.7% in August). This will increase to RPI + 3% for three years up to 2012. As we read in the CSR “some public transport fare increases will be unavoidable. This will include raising rail fares where necessary” (p.31).

The Channel 4 economics editor, Faisal Islam, wrote four days ago that the increases to rail faire could be 30 to 40% in four years. He seems to be right. The increase will not be put in place until 2012 and there is some wishful thinking about inflation falling but there is no guarantee of this.

The department of Transport will implement “overall resource savings of 21 per cent by 2014-15. … Bus subsidy will be reduced by 20 per cent and local government resource grants by 28 per cent” (p.46).

The number of people this would affect is a huge amount. An estimate of South West workers who travel by rail to work in 2008 suggests that the numbers are over 12,000. The number of bus travellers is twice that. For a glimpse of some bigger effects we need only look at travellers into the London, one of the major commuter routes from Bristol, with 510,000 people entering the city in that same year using bus or rail.

My own costs would increase by a huge amount. I currently commute by bus and train at a cost of around £5000 pre-tax. A 40% increase by the end of 2016 would mean a year-on-year pay cut as the costs increase to around £7000. That doesn’t make rail travel much of an affordable option.

inside a train

Open University, South West – Open Day

The Open University is holding an open day for the South West region. This provides an opportunity to find out about starting a new course or continuing your studies.

The event takes place on Saturday 4 September between 11.00 – 15.00 at 4 Portwall Lane, Bristol BS1 6ND (opposite St Mary Redcliffe Church).

The contact email address is south-west@open.ac.uk

As they suggest it’s a great opportunity to…

* Find out more about life as an OU student including the
opportunities and support available.

* Talk to an educational adviser about which course to begin
with or what to do next.

* Drop into the library to view a wide range of course materials.

If you would like to find out more about the event you can visit the following link, email them at south-west@open.ac.uk or call on 01179 299 641.

Redcliffe: a church, a tree, some clouds

Fork 50: Restaurant Guide

Fork magazine have produced a restaurant guide of the top 50 places to eat in the South West. The twelfth edition of the magazine was published this month and the editor is seasoned reviewer Mark Taylor. He tells us that this guide is the first of a regular series of similar guides covering the region and beyond. This guide lists restaurants from Dorset to Cirencester including a few in Bristol and Bath.

The River Cottage Canteen, Flinty Red, Glassboat, RockFish Grill and Three Coqs Brasserie are just some of the restaurants listed. In case you haven’t had the chance to pick up a copy I have created a Google Map with all of the locations http://bit.ly/91HAK6.

www.forkmagazine.co.uk

Bath coffee festival, South West

In a surprising touch, my experience of the first UK coffee festival was mostly ginger. The refreshing and aromatic King Ginger liqueur, and the black coffee from Martin Cawardine’s coffee roasters with added ginger syrup. The ginger syrup was supplied by the Cotswold based Taylerson’s Malmesbury syrups and the liqueur by the London based drinks company. The Bath coffee festival was not a huge affair, they shared the Recreation field with some local rugby players and picnicking families, but they did have quite a range of local exhibitors and others from further afield.

The coffee roasters Martin Carwardines & Co are based in the South West and while they are not linked directly to the Cawardine’s cafes in Bristol, they do share familial roots going back five generations. Stephen Carwardine runs the cafes and one of his sons runs the coffee roasters. They also supply the coffee for the cafes.

After a brief discussion about the merits of Australia versus Bristol, I moved on to explore another local exhibition manned by people who shared my Southern Hemisphere origins. Extract Coffee is run by two New Zealanders who set up shop just three years ago and run a stall on College Green. They are looking to create a more permanent fixture somewhere in Bristol but for now have to think of a location for the shop. While there is some cost attached to exhibiting in a festival such as this, there is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the products on display to people who may not have seen them before. Extract Coffee roasters not only sell coffee to passing customers on the College Green but also sell coffee beans from their online shop.

The passing festive crowds were also given the opportunity to try some tea from another Bristol based company, Lahloo tea. Their elegant and distinctive produce can be savoured in places such as the Bristol Lido and provide a wonderfully fragrant experience.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to the Lahloo people because it was a struggle getting through the crowds in front of their stand. Instead I had a nice chat with the man at Orchard Pig.

This stand seemed to be more local than caffeinated for there were no hot beverages in sight. I visited Bath as a coffee enthusiast but I also managed to enjoy the local aspect to it as well. The South West theme was offset slightly by the big companies such as Whittard’s of Chelsea and Royal Taylors of Harrogate but the enthusiasm was at the grassroots level with the smaller producers. The bigger companies have already established their positions in the big stores and shops. The smaller companies have still got a little while to go in order to make their presence as well known as the others.

I chatted to Orchard Pig about their sparkling 4.2% cider which has yet to be bottled and sold because it still needs a design for its appearance. The local company’s products can be found in places like the Watershed and they were in fine form at the Cheese Taste Off a couple of days ago. I didn’t try any cider that morning but I usually have the sparkling apple and ginger juice when given the option. The apple juice is local too with a 75cl bottle containing over a kilo of hand picked, hand graded and farm pressed at West Bradley Fruit Farm in the heart of Somerset.

The only thing left is to figure out the origins of the ginger which seemed to follow me everywhere. Perhaps another local festival will do the trick and luckily there’s one even closer to me but held in September. The Bristol Organic Food Festival is held annually and was most enjoyable last year. I hope the UK Coffee Festival gets a chance at a repeat performance as well.

Update: Extract Coffee Roasters also provide implements and utensils for achieving coffee perfection. Coffee machines and shot glasses were also advertised at the festival. I skipped by them in my pursuit of coffee but am happy to browse through what’s available now that I have the time.