Duncan's blog

April 20, 2014

Funny A-boards

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 6:44 pm
Tags: , ,

Following up from my previous posts, Funny coffee shop A-boards and Funny pub signs, here’s some more of my photos of funny A-boards from a variety of places (but mostly coffee shops).

Happy Monday!! How 'bout some caffeine?Coffee! If you're not shaking you need another cup!!!Coffee - the antidote to childrenMathsHow is Fix Coffee made?Guns and CoffeeI've started drinking my coffee out of a clear mug so people know where my tolerance level isLids - get one free with every coffee you buy here!We got alllll the pastriesChang chang Leather Lane let us see you shake your thangThe older you get, the more you realise, nobody knows anything. Everybody's winging it!I have no idea what to write on this side :(

Thanks to:

March 13, 2014

Leather Lane street food

Leather Lane is a historic street in the centre of London, connecting the busy roads of High Holborn and Clerkenwell Road.  On week days it is full of market stalls, as it has been for at least 400 years.  Traditionally these would have been mostly clothes stalls, but contrary to what you might expect, that’s not how it got its name; it’s apparently from an anglicisation of the name of a merchant, Le Vrunelane.  Although these days it’s predominantly street food, there’s still lots of stalls selling clothes, bags, houseware, etc.  On the weekends the stalls (and indeed almost all its cafés and shops) close up, as the city centre loses its office workers.

I’ve worked about 10 minutes walk away from here for the past few years, although it took me probably a year before I was even really aware of it.  These days I go several times a week for lunch.

My two favourite destinations are the previously-reviewed coffee shops Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, and Prufrock.  However I decided it might be nice to write about some of its many food stalls and cafés.  This will be brief to start with, but I hope to expand upon it over the next year or so.

This will likely quickly become out-of-date too, due to the peripatetic nature of market stalls.  So don’t rely on it for accuracy; instead I hope it gives you a flavour of the variety of what’s available in the area.  So, in no particular order:

Daddy Donkey
I can’t write about Leather Lane without mentioning Daddy Donkey.  This started as a small van, grew in time with popularity to a larger one, before eventually opening as its own permanent venue.  It’s always busy, and continues to have a queue out the doors most lunchtimes (despite customers being able to place their orders in advance and collect from a side-window).  They do the typical selection of burritos and tacos, and they’re decent portions.



Korean street food served from a great-smelling streamline caravan.  I’ve tried their dak galbi (spicy chicken) and bulgogi (strips of beef).  In both cases lots of nice tasty meat, served in a box with sticky rice and salad. You can also get these as wraps.


Food Gangnam Style

As well as the YogiYo caravan at the top of the street, there is also a small Korean stall about half-way up, opposite Prufrock.  I tried their bibimbap, a mixture of rice, salad, kimchee, fried egg and beef or spicy pork.  I chose the beef, which was plenty hot enough, so I’m not sure if I’d have coped with the pork!  It came in a big plastic bowl with a lid, which can be re-used as a food container, unlike the disposable boxes you typically get from food stalls.  They were also sellling bulgogi sandwiches and fried dumplings.


London Paella
A small stall bedecked in the red and yellow Hispanic stripes.  The staff seemed very friendly.  They were doing medium and large boxes of chicken paella (£4 / £5).  A medium box I thought was plenty.  I declined the offer of a whole chilli, and also extra spices, which was a good decision as it seemed spicy enough already.  I noticed a large cinnamon stick in the paella pan, which the chef told me was his own idea.  Their loyalty card offered a free portion after 6 stamps, which is pretty generous compared to the more-typical 8 or more.  Also their chicken wraps seem quite good.


Moroccan Box

For £5.50 you get a flatbread served in a box covered with generous quantities of couscous, lentils, salad and some meat with a tasty parsley sauce drizzled over it.  For another 50p you can get some baba ganoush added, which I haven’t bothered with.  I’ve tried both the chicken and beef, and both times I’d have preferred more meat.



They have a busy café at the north end of the street, but towards the end of 2013 they also opened up a market stall towards the other direction.  The café often has a queue at the door, so I guess they’re just catering for demand, and covering both ends of the street!  Their scotch egg was quite tasty, although would be better served hot.  The Chicken of Aragon pie was hot, and yummy as always.


Black Sheep Coffee

A small coffee van that’s recently appeared about half-way along Leather Lane.  They have some strong competition from two of London’s best coffee shops, Prufrock and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, just a short distance away.  But their coffee was of a comparable standard.  The guy running the stall seems friendly, and I get the impression they’re good at latte art, which I always take as an encouraging sign.



Another Spanish food stall, they were doing chorizo baguettes (£4.50), chorizo tortilla (£4), tortilla with salad (£3.50).  They’ve also started doing chicken + chorizo baguettes, pretty nice.  Friendly staff here too, and the food authentically hispanic.


Greek Expectations

Great name, haven’t tried them yet.



Japanese sandwiches!  The teriyaki chicken was tasty but a real mess of sauce.  The okonomiyaki  (Japanese omelette) I had with pork and egg.  You might be thinking that of course it had egg, being an omelette, but this was actually a fried egg placed on top.  The okonomiyaki seemed to consist of shredded cabbage, pickled ginger and what might have been potato, giving it a texture more like tortilla (i.e. Spanish omelette) than a normal omelette.  It was also drizzled liberally with a tasty sauce and mayonnaise.

P1110044 P1110057P1110043P1110137-001 P1110139

Quiche & Roast

Doing three or four different vegetarian and vegan quiches, served in a box topped up to bursting point with a medley of vegetables (including potatoes, sweet potatoes, courgettes, aubergine, carrots, onions, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, lentils, cauliflowers).  A huge quantity of great tasting (and smelling!) meat-free grub.

P1110066 P1110067

Brad’s Rockin’ Jambalaya

This is a new stall that’s recently appeared, doing jambalaya in a box or as a wrap, with chicken and andouille (smoked pork) sausage, and optional prawns or calamari.  Seemed alright, bit spicy, but that’s no bad thing.


Carnivore Spitroast

This stall’s always got a queue, and for good reason.  I had a delicious ciabatta roll filled with herb-encrusted pork and apple sauce.

P1110219 P1110220

Killer Tomato

A brand-new stall specialising in vegetarian Mexican street food (but not tortillas or tacos!), they’re still tweaking the menu, so it’s something different on offer each week so far.  I tried the pambazo, a chilli-soaked bun filled with some random ingredients including crushed tortilla chips.  Also a box of tabbouleh done Mexican-style.  Both tasted pretty good, although I’d prefer slightly bigger portions for my money.  Nevertheless I’m going to keep an eye on this one for each time they change their menu.



A small restaurant doing Asian street food, eat-in or take-away.  I think they only intermittently have a market stall in the street, just doing steamed buns filled with pork belly or roast duck.  £3.50 each or two for £6, which seems like a good deal.  I’ve tried both the pork and duck, each served with cucumber, spring onion, hoisin sauce and chilli sauce.  Pretty nice, not too spicy.  The only problem is they need to sort out their logistics on this stall; both times I’ve had to wait at least 5 minutes for their steamed buns to heat up sufficiently. and they’ve had to turn customers away.

P1110820 P1110821P1110873


Warung Tempeh

This is a new stall doing Indonesian tempeh , a sort of sliced soybean cake, served in wraps with a variety of sauces and vegetarian fillings.  That’s not a very good description, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. The guy running the stall is outgoing and friendly.  So far I’ve tried the satay sauce, which seemed to be pretty popular, and spicy tahini with pomegranate molasses, which I preferred because of its more subtle blend of flavours.

P1110889 P1110941P1110890 P1110891

Where it’s at


March 2, 2014

Funny pub signs

Filed under: Funny — duncan @ 5:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Following on from my previous post, Funny coffee shop A-boards, I thought I should do a similar post of pub signs.  These are all from the same pub, The Alexandra in Wimbledon, who do a particularly nice line in funny A-boards, quite often topically themed on politics, the weather or sporting events.

PS: it’s also a very nice pub, and they do some good food, especially for a Sunday roast.

Happy Birthday!No, your bum doesn't look big in that!Thank God for global warming!Is it me or is it warming up a bit? Just me? Thought so :-)You're alive so live a little!Dear PopeWe've just been killing time 'till you got hereOff the scale on the international funk indexSave the Anchovy!Wi-Fi here!  Flippin 'eck, its the 21st century!On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...Flippin eck, FIFA look like they may be a tad corrupt!  Who would have thought that?Andy Murray - some advice. Cheer up for God's sake! (& get your barnet cut)

Well done Andy for winning the US Open!  Now sort your barnet out mateBeer 1p off!  The future's so bright you gotta wear shades!Don't use hosepipes for gawd's sake!  Place is flooded enough as it isKim Wrong-Un is up for World War Three. Ignore him, come for a beer!All we are saying... is give sprouts a chance!Rudolph the red nosed reindeer... probably over endulged in the sherry we all leave outLondon - the best city in the world!They might take our self respect but they'll never take our beer!Can't read my can't read my p-p-p poker faceComma comma comma comma comma chameleonFunny shaped balls!An oasis amongst the madness

(that last one was during the riots of 2011, when a lot of places across London boarded themselves up in self-defence; see the department store in the background).

All photos are by me, licensed under Creative Commons.  Feel free to re-post them, but link back to either this page or the photo page on Flickr, with a credit to myself.

February 11, 2014

Funny coffee shop A-boards

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 6:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Caffeine magazine published a selection of funny coffee shop A-boards in their latest issue, including a few of mine. I thought I’d do a collage of all my own favourite ones here, enjoy!

_  BrooklynToby's Estate Coffee, BrooklynKahailaBowery Coffee (NY) 1ArtigianoBorough Barista 1Borough Barista 2Borough Barista 3Bowery Coffee (NY) 2Brick Lane CoffeeDepartment of Coffee 1Department of Coffee 2Department of Coffee 3Department of Coffee 4Department of Coffee 5Department of Coffee 6DoseFleet River Bakery 1Fleet River Bakery 2Fleet River Bakery 3-001Fleet River Bakery 4.Fleet Street Press 1Fleet Street Press 2Fleet Street Press 3Fleet Street Press 4Fleet Street Press 5Fleet Street Press 6Fork 1Fork 2Goswell Road CoffeeKaffeine 1Kaffeine 2SlateBea's of BloomsburyLa GourmandinaP1090580P1090579P1090342P1090341P1090294P1090287P1090222P1090155P1080847

Many thanks to all these coffee shops for their wit and wisdom:

  • Artigiano
  • Bea’s of Bloomsbury
  • Borough Barista
  • Bowery Coffee
  • Brick Lane Coffee
  • Continental Stores
  • Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
  • Dose Espresso
  • Fix 126
  • Fleet River Bakery
  • Fleet Street Press
  • Fork
  • Freestate
  • Goswell Road Coffee
  • Kaffeine
  • Kahaila
  • La Gourmandia
  • Slate
  • Toby’s Estate Coffee

February 4, 2014

CFStoredproc / Duplicate() bug

Filed under: Coldfusion — duncan @ 1:03 pm
Tags: , , ,

Came across this weird one while doing some unit testing using Testbox.  After much head scratching I realised it was a bug in Adobe ColdFusion rather than our testing framework.

Suppose you have a stored procedure which returns more than one recordset:

        <cfstoredproc procedure="foobar" datasource="DSN">
            <cfprocresult name="rstFoo" resultset="1">
            <cfprocresult name="rstBar" resultset="2">

Then you do something where you need to duplicate the first recordset:

        <cfset foo = duplicate(rstFoo)>

That was throwing an error like:

java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: 1 at coldfusion.sql.imq.Row.getColumn(Row.java:237) at coldfusion.sql.QueryTable.populate(QueryTable.java:230) at coldfusion.sql.QueryTable.<init>(QueryTable.java:77) at coldfusion.sql.QueryTable.<init>(QueryTable.java:72) at coldfusion.runtime.ObjectDuplicator._duplicate(ObjectDuplicator.java:95) at coldfusion.runtime.ObjectDuplicator.duplicate(ObjectDuplicator.java:63) at coldfusion.runtime.CFPage.Duplicate(CFPage.java:5059)

Strangely, this only happens with the first recordset.  This is fine where I do the same with just the second recordset:

        <cfset foo = duplicate(rstBar)>

And if I just remove the second (and subsequent) cfprocresults (without making any adjustment to the stored procedure itself), this also works:

        <cfstoredproc procedure="foobar" datasource="DSN">
            <cfprocresult name="rstFoo" resultset="1">
        <cfset foo = duplicate(rstFoo)>

I came across a couple of bugs in Adobe’s bugbase that basically have the same problem, although both tickets have been closed:

The second of which included this workaround:

        <cfset foo = duplicate(deserializeJSON(serializeJSON(rstFoo), false))>

Which fixed it for me, but ideally Adobe would reopen this bug.   Update: the first of those bugs has now been reopened.

PS: this was running CF 9.01, version 9,0,1,274733

January 13, 2014

Places to eat and drink in Zagreb

Filed under: Food — duncan @ 11:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Latte with a straw!

Latte with a straw!

A brief list of some decent places we ate and drank at during a week’s holiday in Zagreb recently.  A few general thoughts firstly:

Zagreb has a lot of cafés (1901 according to this blog) and we only went to a handful of them.  However most places seemed to do similar coffees, and we only went to a couple of places that did the sort of coffee I was hoping to find.  In general the lattes were slightly sweet, served very frothy in tall glasses, and once even with a straw!

Also most places seemed to be both cafe and bar, unlike the typical coffee shops in the UK.  So I saw people drinking coffees well into the evening, and on the other hand having beers early in the morning… in the same type of venues.

In the city centre a lot of cafes are geared up for large groups sitting outside in all weathers.  Meaning in winter covered heated seating areas, with additional blankets.  Croatia hasn’t introduced a smoking ban yet, so some places were unpleasantly smoky inside.  A few had separate smoking rooms, but still the smell permeates the whole venue.

In the restaurants there was usually a good selection of foods at reasonable prices, and some very nice Croatian wines.

Eli’s Caffe

Ilica 63, 10000 Zagreb (map)

This was one of two places that I went to which did what I’d consider a proper coffee.  They had a mission statement on the wall, with credit to Norwegian Tim Wendelboe.  They’re four-times Croatian barista champion, so know what they’re doing.  It’s quite small, and it’s no smoking.  Recommended.



Dream Coffee & Wine Bar

Frankopanska 1, 10000 Zagreb (map)

And this was the second place we found doing good coffees.  More of a wine bar than anything else, but as with everywhere else in Zagreb, people seeming to enjoy coffees well into the evening.

P1080338 P1080339 P1080779



Ulica Ivana Tkalčića 39, 10000 Zagreb (map)

We came across this place by chance on our first night, but were lucky to get a table as they ended up turning away lots of people who hadn’t booked.  Had a really good Dalmatian red wine, Korlat Syrah.


Pod Gričkim Topom

Zakmardijeve stube 5, 10000 Zagreb (map)

This little restaurant is on the hill between the old and new towns, just down a few steps from the top of the funicular.  They had a large covered outdoor area which seemed warm enough to sit out, although we went indoors.  They didn’t have a printed menu (at lunch time anyway); just specials chalked up on a board, which I took as a good sign.  Letters of endorsement from Hillary Clinton and a Director General of NATO.  It’s name means ‘under the Grič gun, which is a cannon on the nearby tower which fires a deafening shot at 12 noon daily; watch out if you’re in the area!



Dežmanova ulica 9, 10000 Zagreb (map)

A nice little cafe doing soups, sandwiches and cakes, with walls lined with books.



Kamenita 5, 10000 Zagreb (map)

A good restaurant up in the old town next door to the stone gate.  We got two different tasting menus (one meat, one fish), all daily-changing specials based on what the chef has picked up from the nearby Dolac market in the morning.   Our waiter was a lot of fun.


Bistro Karlo

Gundulićeva 16, 10000 Zagreb (map)

Doing a similar dinner menu as Trilogija, with a choice of two different 4-course menus, one mainly meat, the other mainly fish.  Not quite as good I’d say, but generous quantities.



Ulica Ljudevita Gaja 9, 10000 Zagreb (map)

A large basement Italian restaurant, with big portions.  Owned by Croatian footballer Zvonimir Boban.




Ulica Ljudevita Gaja 9, 10000 Zagreb (map)

This is a little cafe doing just traditional Croatian soup.  It’s next door to Boban, and is owned by Zvonimir Boban’s wife.  They had two soups when we went there, one vegetarian (tomato), but we got the other, which had a huge medley of ingredients.  Very nicely presented, large bowlful.



Masarykova 18 (Obrtnički prolaz 7), 10000 Zagreb (map)

A big smart restaurant, with an impressive selection of wines.


Bottles of Pétrus – I don’t think they actually had these on their wine list!


December 31, 2013

2013 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — duncan @ 10:07 am

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 18, 2013

Google Maps API – polyline labels

Filed under: Google Maps,Javascript — duncan @ 6:40 pm

Someone recently asked a question on StackOverflow about how to add labels to a polyline in response to user clicks on the line, displaying the coordinates.  I had previously posted an article here where I displayed labels on multiple polylines showing their distance.  I simplified that code to provide a solution to the question, and thought it worth posting as a new blog article.

Again all the tricky label code is from an article by Marc Ridey.  I won’t re-post that to this article, just the contents of the initialize function that ties the labels together with the polyline.

function initialize() {
    var stavanger=new google.maps.LatLng(58.983991,5.734863);
    var amsterdam=new google.maps.LatLng(52.395715,4.888916);
    var london=new google.maps.LatLng(51.508742,-0.120850);

    var map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById("map_canvas"), {
        zoom: 5,
        center: amsterdam,
        mapTypeId: google.maps.MapTypeId.ROADMAP

    var flightPath=new google.maps.Polyline({

    // create an invisible marker
    labelMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
        position: stavanger,  
        map: map,
        visible: false

    var myLabel = new Label();

    // lets add an event listener, if you click the line, i'll tell you the coordinates you clicked
    google.maps.event.addListener(flightPath, 'click', function(e) {
        myLabel.bindTo('position', labelMarker, 'position');
        myLabel.set('text', e.latLng.toString());

And you end up with something like:


One issue with this code is that the label obscures part of the line, so you can’t always click anywhere on the line, only those spaces that don’t have the label over them.

December 15, 2013

Dublin coffee shops

I had a flying visit to Dublin recently; I had a couple of spare hours when I managed to find myself two decent cups of coffee.  I thought them good enough to merit writing up a little  summary, like I did after my New York trip.


31 Drury Street (map)

I came across this one first while walking around randomly in the city centre, and straight away realised it would be good.  And I wasn’t wrong.  Coffee perfectly tasty, nicely-done latte art.  The whole place very carefully designed  Playing some good music too, which I’d forgotten about, but their website specifically mentions this, so it must be one of their USPs.

P1070086  P1070088P1070087


Coffee Angel PSL

27 Pembroke Street Lower (map)

I read about Coffee Angel in the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine on the way over (which also mentions Prufrock and Talkhouse in the same section), and knew I should try and find it.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Unusually they don’t have a drinks menu at all; instead they’ll make whatever you want how you want it (not sure how they let you know of their prices though).  Also only the second coffee shop I’ve seen who have their latitude and longitude listed on their website (after Four Corners).

P1070104  P1070106P1070105


December 8, 2013

Small & Cosy Tea House

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 4:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Tea and cake

Photo © Roz Lawson

So I’ve previously reviewed several coffee shops, but up until now I haven’t looked at anywhere that specialises in tea.  But I thought I’d write about this one, partly inspired by Brian’s review of To A Tea in Farringdon.

I was on holiday on the Isle of Skye for the first time earlier this year.  We were driving on a day of typical Scottish weather (four seasons in one day).  At that point it was blustery and pouring with rain, and we were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch, at the north end of the island.  I spotted the sign on the front of a house as we drove into Staffin,  “The Small and Cosy Tea House“.  I hadn’t heard of it, but it looked inviting, and frankly it didn’t seem like there would be a lot of other choices in this very rural area.

And it turned out to be a very good place to stop.  The tea house is an old crofthouse, which has had its living room converted to seat about 18 people in quite a cosy atmosphere… as the name indicates!

There was a wide range of teas available, as you’d expect, and some filter coffee for the non-tea drinkers.  And there were lots of different home-made cakes available.  We sampled a couple and they were both lovely.  There was also a thai soup which was v. nice too.  And everything was presented beautifully, with some local stoneware and Yixing clay teapots.

The teahouse is set amongst some stunning scenery.  You look out the back windows to some mountains, and the view out the front looks over the sea towards the west coast of the mainland.  It’s about 10 miles north of the Old Man of Storr, which should be on the to-do list of anyone visiting Skye.  So if it is, you should make a short trip up to Staffin to sample the tea and cake here.

Be sure and check out this review on Blackberry Rambles which has lots of good photos (I foolishly didn’t bother taking any of my own).

Take a look inside using Google Streetview!


Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 515 other followers