Dulltown, UK: Today’s weather will feature: high streaks of overcooked bacon, a large watery poached egg rising in the east, cloying white steam clinging to the low bushes and grass, and some silent marital upsets as the day wears on.
As you probably know, I am quite fond of sitting in cafes, drinking tea, nibbling the odd cake, and, under the influence of caffeine and sugar, writing these blog pages in my little helical-bound notebook – in fact, here I am, doing it right now…
I generally visit cafes that are part of a national chain, Caffe Nero, Costas, and if desperate Starbucks with their nasty plastic cutlery and their rather weird tasting tea.
A couple of people have said that really I should support local independent cafes rather than these horrible big corporate tax dodging companies; I suppose I should, but having tried one or two local establishments, I have decided to stick with the big chains.
Well, whatever town you happen to be in, you can pop into a branch of say Nero’s, where you know exactly what to expect in the way of drinks, food and service – service, even when really busy the staff are always very good and friendly. The local cafes don’t seem to give their staff any training at all, and it all feels a bit lackadaisical (what a great word that is!) and of course going in there you have no idea what the food or drinks, or the staff, are going to be like.
Recently I went into a trendy independent Dulltown cafe with a couple of friends (Nero’s was packed full with noisy people and jumping running children). There didn’t seem to be an actual counter where one could order, but we soon found someone and we chose our drinks and snacks and went and sat down by the window at a strange thick low wooden table with a wide crack down the middle of it (I think this must have been a very trendy and stylishly designed wide crack) and we waited.
After about ten minutes the barista (?) came over with two of the drinks and two cakes and then went off to chat to the kitchen chap for ten minutes – it took another trip to the virtual counter to get the third beverage and cake out of her. By the way, the drinks arrived with, for some reason, small rectangular sample pieces of sticky cake in their saucers which oozed a little and clung to the sides of the cups. I think the idea was that customers should taste the sample and be so impressed that they would order a full expensive wedge of the stuff. The trouble was that they were almost impossible to pick up because they were so sticky and they also fell to pieces when one tried to get a hold of them – it was a messy business. Welcome to Dulltown!
On another occasion I tried a town centre independent cafe and ordered a Cheese and tomato panini (panino). I noticed that it was a bit more expensive than the Nero’s version and when it finally arrived it wasn’t a panino at all, but turned out to be a white bread toasted cheese sandwich on a plate accompanied by a wispy slice of tomato and half a packet of salt and vinegar flavoured crisps. Ho ho!.. Welcome to Dulltown!
I suppose there must be some good local cafes around here, but of course it is a bit of a gamble finding out which ones they are.