Monday, 22 April 2013

The Cafe

I'm sat in a little cafe. Coco. The only artisan cafe-deli in Croxley Green. Named after the proprietor's chocolate-brown Labrador - a docile, sad-eyed dog. I pause between thoughts to sip hot chocolate, sweet and velvety. I've always enjoyed people watching in this type of establishment. You know, the type of affair decorated with distressed furniture and tasteful paraphernalia hanging sparsely on muted walls of duck egg blue and grey. A cream-white Gerber - my favourite flower - sits in toddler-sized milk bottle on my table; I used to suck on a straw from such a bottle in '76 - a throw-back to free-milk break times in reception, dressed in a dark grey pinafore, nipped at the waist by a forest-green sash.


Today - Monday morning to be exact - Coco is very quiet. Empty. I've seen other writers on other days, thinking, tapping, drinking, blinking. And an actor type dressed in the same clothing every time. A plush maroon suit. A cravat. Jet black side burns. Side burns that point in the direction of the adjacent town - Watford. But not today. It's just me, sat at my regular table for two by the window, the rumble of moping traffic in my right ear, the soulful tones of Stevie Wonder in my left, the metallic clinking of knives and forks and spoons as the owner organises the cutlery into their respective drawers.

Over the last week this cafe has become my haven. Weekday mornings, barring Tuesday, I've been handed a calm respite, a window of tea and toast and French onion soup - from all the packing tape, card board boxes, the excel spreadsheet detailing the contents of our lives - to work on my novel. Our flat is currently a warehouse, no longer a home but a holding space, a prologue to the next act of our story. Did I forget to mention, the contracts finally exchanged? I know! We are moving this Thursday - at long last, after the arduous journey of selling and buying began five months ago. But why am I here? In Croxley Green? Now - this morning? Well Little A started her new pre-school last week, a stones throw from our soon home-to-be. You see, we had hoped to be living here by the time term began. That didn't happen. But I still thought it prudent for my threenager to settle in before we extricated ourselves from West London. An easing in to her new life, her new routine. And it seems to have worked. Little A loves her new school. In her mind, she's already moved, is a member of the local community - arrived before Younger Dad and I!

But the constant journeying up and down worn tarmac - morphing from the A40 into the M40 into the M25 - has been, at times, very trying; not helped by going to bed later than I should - it's the novel I'm reading, can't put the damn thing down. This morning I struggled to keep both lids open as we passed under the bridge that strongly advises 'give peas a chance' - I will. I promise - and over the white teeth of the speeding markers on the motorway. Over the course of the last week, my mind has mulled over these teeth, these tyre-taunting canines. In my tired imagination, they've come to resemble fish bones instead - I'm driving over the spine of a cod and now over a haddock and now a plaice. Such is the monotony of travel.

Still this is such a small price to pay. In less than three days, all this schlepping will be over.

We will be here. In our new home.

And I have promised myself that at least one morning a week I will come here, to Coco's, and sit at my table  - the one by the window - with a hot chocolate in hand and observe and write and smile.

Now if you excuse me, I have a bill to pay, a daughter to pick-up, and yet another forty minute journey back down the motorway.  

How long does your school run take? 

Amazingly, unbelievably, I have made the shortlist of the Britmums BIBS Awards under the category, Lifestyle. I am so ruddy grateful to everyone who voted for Older Mum in a Muddle. Now if you would like to see me in the Lifestyle final six, then please, please, please vote for me one final time. The champagne is on me if I make it this far...... (nominations close on 12th May)

32 comments:

  1. A gorgeous insight into your day. I envy you that cafe, I think I'd like it too. Thursday will be here before you know it and your new chapter will properly begin. Can't wait to read where it takes you all... x

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    1. Thank you! It's here tomorrow - getting very excited now! I'm sure I'll be doing lots of posts on our new adventures :o). X.

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  2. On Wednesday of this week we will have been in our new home for exactly one year, after a very painful 5 month sale/purchase transaction in the middle of a chain of 5, which all seems like a dream now. Once you are in your new home you'll soon forget all the hassle leading up to it.
    Good luck on Thursday, really looking forward to seeing your new home.
    Joy xx

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    1. Coincidence eh? I think it can take at least a year until you are settled in your new place. A chain of 5 - bet that was tough! Thank you - and there will be lots of photos. X.

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  3. A lovely post. I felt there in the cafe with you. Only 3 more days...counting with you! Hope the move goes well and glad your little one already feels she is at home.

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    1. Thank you! I hope it does too - yes, she does which is a relief, and she is very excited! :o)

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  4. That's fantastic news by the bucketload there! Congratulations on your impending move, settling Little A in advance and making a Bibs shortlist. All thoroughly deserved. Am SO happy for you for all of it and it's only just the beginning! :) XX

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    1. Thank you lovely! It's a very big week indeed - I think one of the best weeks I've had in a long while! Thank you again Anya - means a lot :o). X.

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  5. Yay! I'm going off to vote. Wish we had actor types with long sideburns in our neck of the woods. But I can't complain, we have suits skateboarding to the ferry. I love it. I half drive half walk poppet to school, but if I've got time we walk/scooter ride, along the esplanade that looks outnover the dramatic sydney heads, it's stunning. Good luck with the move - only a few more sleeps!!! x

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    1. Suits skateboarding to the ferry - love it! What a wonderful school/work run you have, I'm envious! Thank you - it's all happening tomorrow! X.

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  6. Ahh that cafe actually sounds lovely. Hope your move goes really well and you settled in just as easily as Little A does :)

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    1. It is - I am actually sat in it NOW as I write this! Thank you - me too :o).

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  7. I love writing in cafes. It feels indulgent, a luxury. I love people watching. Good luck for the move this week. It sounds like Little A has found her feet already. And mahoosive congratulations on the BIBs. Very well deserved. xxx

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    1. Isn't it just - I am back here again now - and I'm shooing flakes of pain au chocolate off my key board. Thank you so much MP - means a lot! X.

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  8. Congrats on your BiBs nominations, I'm thrilled for you, if a little surprised by the category! Good luck!!

    Love this post, such good writing. I am feeling seriously in need of some cafe time at the moment, so once you've moved I may come and join you in Coco! It sounds lovely. Good luck with the move xx

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    1. Thank you so much Ruth! I was quite surprised by the category too! Yes, yes - please do come and join me in Coco's! Thank you. X

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  9. I like the sound of your new writing spot. I have a favourite cafe to sit when Bibs is at guardaría. Some days I race the 20 minutes back up the hill to make the most of the time. Other days I sit with a coffee and my iPad in El Molino Viejo and while away a couple of hours.

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    1. It's lovely - I'm here right now, chomping on a pain au chocolate! I'll bet your cafe is lovely too, and you have the added bonus of sunshine too! :o).

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  10. threenager, I shall be using that I hope its not copyrighted to you OM!! I plonk myself in various cafe's around town to read, not write, my little luxury! Well done on your nom in Lifestyle will be voting! xxx

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    1. Actually threenager was conjured up by the brilliant Grenglish - and it seems to have caught on! Thank you so much MLM! X.

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  11. Congratulations on the BIBS! So pleased that you have finally exchanged, thats fabulous news. I cant wait to hear all about your move and lovely new house xxx

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    1. Thank you so much! I can't wait to get into our new home - there will be lots of photos and blog posts I'm sure! X.

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  12. haha I love the threenager image you've given me. Once again, your words suck me in Sarah and completely set the scene. I'm excited for your big move, I think you are going to love becoming a country lass and Little A has already settled in, so she'll keep you right!
    Massive congratulations on your nomination, you know that I am chuffed to bits for you and I will definitely expect to see you in the final 6 xxx

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    1. I have to credit that with Grenglish! She came up with the term - genius isn't it? We are all very much looking forward to it. Thank you regarding the nomination - not holding my breath on the final six though. X.

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  13. Oh, I can't wait to have a little bit more time for people watching in cafes. Sounds like heaven. And not long for the move for everything to calm down.

    I start with the nursery run next week. My beloved company car has to go back as well so we'll mostly be walking it - it'll take an hour there and back but there is a Starbucks close by so the baby and I can have a little rest before the journey home.

    Best of luck with the move xx

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    1. It is heaven - it's my favourite thing in the world. Yes, can't wait for life to get back to some normality. Such a shame your company car has to go back - that's a long nursery run, thank goodness it's spring - at least you have Starbucks as a stop off point. Thank you! X.

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  14. I love reading your posts and that photo is beautiful. Good luck for the move tomorrow and glad that Little A has settled in so well! :o) Looking forward to the second extract of your novel. xx

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    1. Thank you - that's very kind. Thank you - you should see the state of our flat right now! X

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