Cafes and Cafeterias


I’m not ashamed to admit I’m both a cafe snob and a coffee snob. I suppose I could call myself a discerning coffee aficionado, but it’s the same thing in many ways. My snobbisme is complicated and attenuated by a bit of inverted snobbery and nostalgia for the resolutely untrendy haunts of the 70s before gentrification and style took hold: I feel very comfortable in the atmosphere of small backstreet locals offering orange tea thick enough to hold your spoon standing after you’ve stirred in five spoonfuls of sugar.

But essentially as regular readers know, I’m a sucker for a nice espresso. Or a well-made tea. And it’s a great way to support local small independent businesses.

I thought I had brainwashed the children very well in this respect. Trained from an early age to sit quietly and read, it’s been useful in recent years for them to associate sitting reading in cafes as an exciting outing. it’s a great way of giving them a break from revision without actually preventing revision.

And so this morning I asked Middle Daughter if she’d like to go and sit and work in a cafe prior to taking her in for an AS chemistry exam this afternoon. She enthusiastically agreed and chose The Sunshine Bakery, which as its name suggests is a place to brighten the day of any chemistry student about to sit an exam.

Sadly it was closed today, so I asked her where else she wanted to try? With so many delightful possibilities close to hand, the only difficulty was choosing.

I waited impatiently.

“Waitrose,” she announced. “The Waitrose cafe.”

It took a few moments to register. Who on earth goes to a supermarket cafe for a drink without going to the supermarket? Who on earth willingly chooses a bright white sterile ambiance for a relaxing cup of tea? What was wrong with her? Still, her choice, her stressful day, not my place to quibble.

And so we found ourselves elbowing parked trolleys out of the way and gazing upon the upper shelving levels of bakery produce and magazines.

It’s clean. The coffee is fine. Middle Daughter has plenty of room for her large lever arch file.

But really!



6 responses to Cafes and Cafeterias

    • gillianholding – Author

      It was particularly funny when she picked up the post in the car afterwards. Claims her taste in cafes is excellent.

  1. Lucky you that your daughter will go somewhere with you before an AS level. My son has gone to the dismal library in Solihull to work!!! Hmmmm – staring at girls more like. And the coffee shop there is awful!

    • gillianholding – Author

      I’m pleased to say she also developed a love of the Henry Moore Institute library in Leeds a couple of months ago. In library terms the complete opposite of what waitrose is to nice cafe ambiance.

  2. Anna Dyson

    Kids and I love waitrose cafe! At least it’s not Sainsburys- completely soulless. And even if it’s raining you don’t get wet in the underground carpark. Surely that’s a bonus šŸ˜‰

    • gillianholding – Author

      Hahaha! I told you, I’m a cafe snob! Yes, what’s not to like about bright clean facilities with the car park close at hand and all the pushchair parking space to boot?.. Twenty years ago I would have been so grateful for it being there, I know, I know, but Izzy is old enough now to appreciate poor lighting, atmosphere, ambiance, some Italian or Turkish being shouted in the background and grubby daily papers. But you never know. It could be the start of new artistic inspiration:-D

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