the place

January 31, 2012

The twinkling fairy lights in the bay window, are such a welcome sight on this frosty Cotswolds morning. As I walk in my eye is drawn to the floor: a crazy mash-up-mosaic of different coloured tiles, it contrasts with the calm white walls and the occasional framed picture or photograph. Hanging in the eves of one corner, is a massive papier-mâché bird. Its unexpected quirkiness makes me smile. There are old wooden tables with mismatched chairs, and a big squishy sofa beside a well-stocked wood-burning stove that blazes away.  Indie folk music plays from an impressively discreet sound system. I just know this place has free wi-fi.

The smell of fresh coffee is incredible. I seem to be the first customer as the papers sit unopened on a little table next to a hand-written ‘help yourself’ sign. I opt for a window seat where I can see the fire.

From the kitchen, behind a counter chock-full with pastries, cakes, bowls of salad and a massive coffee machine, a woman emerges. She smiles as she walks over to hand me a menu. Her long curly red hair tied up; she is dressed simply in a fitted white t-shirt and short flowery apron over her jeans. She looks healthy and relaxed. Happy.

‘Coffee?’ she asks expectantly.

As the familiar hiss and grind commences, I realise that this must be the owner I have heard about. She’s the kiwi woman who left London behind to pursue her dreams. This cafe used to be the community library and I think she managed to save it from development. My eye traces the length of the room, there is an old rusty sign: ‘adventures this way’, and another book-lined room is partially visible behind the sofa.

A minute or so later she sets my double-shot long black onto the table and offers to take my breakfast order. The door opens and an impossibly handsome man strolls out of the Toast catalogue and walks in armed with a crate of veges. ‘Mornin’ Sas, here’s today’s lot!’ he says with a grin, ‘there’s fresh butternuts in there, so I’ll be back for my free soup later’. She rolls her eyes and thanks him, bizarrely calling him Mr Photobird.

More people arrive: most greet her by name and she takes the time to visit each table and ask after ill family members, school plays, the controversy over the parish church flowers. A young woman of about 18 races in, and shouts ‘Sorry Sas!’ ties up her hair and immediately starts serving.

The coffee is strong and hot and the crema silky. I order another after my poached eggs. By now the place is full of locals and tourists. Children with cafe-branded book bags slung over their chairs are given crayons and paper to scribble on; apparently The Storyman will be in the library room in the afternoon, this news causes much excitement. A group of pension-age ramblers offer up thermoses to be filled with the butternut squash soup and take a loaf of fresh sourdough between them. They promise to be back in a few hours when the scones for afternoon tea will still be warm.

I look around me at this place and realise I don’t want to leave. I stare at the red-headed woman as she jokes with a middle-aged couple and hands them a box of cake. This is her place, and its magical.

She catches my glance and her eyes are sparkling.

Leave a reply

67 Responses to “the place”

  1. Andrew says:

    I’m so glad you’re going to be running my local.

    I long for this place.

  2. Francesca says:

    Oh dear, what a wonderful, wonderful image you painted, and the best part is that it is going to happen! Mazal Tov!

  3. NT says:

    This made me cry. How incredibly exciting and wonderful!! Hope to see you soon xx

  4. fine. i’ll move to the cotswolds.

    i love you and all of your dreams. your crown is showing. xx

  5. Sophie says:

    Sas, I keep coming back to this post, because I can see so clearly what it is you dream of. And, by stating it out loud and publicly, it not only gives it so much energy, but is such a brave thing to do. You’ve inspired me, and I am so looking forward to reading more as the dream unfolds into an amazing reality.

    • sas says:

      yes a bit scary to put it out there but whats the worst that will happen? i spend my life savings building the place and no-one comes? better than spending my life wishing for a life i am not brave enough to try for. i think the odds are good 🙂
      and i have a couple of years to do my research, minimise the risks, learn my trade properly. I need to up-skill sure, but also have faith that my years of building things from an idea to reality for other people/company’s will put me in good stead.
      soul jobs ahoy!
      what’s yours?

  6. The divine Ms G says:

    Oh Sas, so wonderful. I THINK both babies are asleep and rather than grab a rare daytime snooze myself I am going to write my dream future too, I’ll keep you posted my dear inspiring friend. I can sleep when I’m old! xx

  7. Anne-Marie says:

    Hi Sas, this is my first time reading your blog, too. And I also took some time to realise you were talking about your dream. It sounds delightful … and I get the feeling you know how to make your dreams happen.

    I have a “good” job that makes me miserable but I don’t know where to go from here. I think I might write the story of my ideal life and try to decide how I can make it happen.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Okay ~ for some bizarre, unknown reason this is the first time I have read your blog.
    You may be delighted/thrilled/incredulous to know that only after reading some of the comments did I realise you do NOT already have this place. I read it as if it was already yours, and this is what you did when you first arrived in Blighty.
    So clearly, it is yours darling. And I can’t wait to skip over from the antipodes to visit.
    Oh … and you’ve made me want to change the way I blog. For that I want to hug you (and kick you too!! 🙂

    • sas says:

      I have just looked at your blog for the first time too 🙂 I love your graphics! I think we follow each other on instagram but its lovely to properly meet x

  9. TP says:

    The atmosphere is right but some of the physical description isn’t quite there. You see it’s the Wholemeal Cafe in Takaka and it’s ME with my community. But OH I soooo get where you’re at and I want a reserved seat by the bookshelves. Every morning before work and twice on Sundays :o)

    Swap you my kiwifruit chutney recipe for your butternut squash soup?

    • sas says:

      *reserves seat*
      yes on the reciepe exchange 🙂
      and yes I think it will be like a little bit of kiwiland by way of english whimsy x

  10. Clare says:

    gosh you have such amazing clarity in your vision. I have no doubt it will be yours – it sounds like a beautiful way to live.

    • sas says:

      its a coaching exercise that i love to do with others – what does your dream look like? how does it feel? if you met yourself living your dream what would you see? taste? smell? hear?
      when imaginations get involved it all gets pretty awesome!

  11. Donna Burgess says:

    Every now and then I dip into your blog, prompted by a tweet, and I’m always glad I do. Such lovely writing, so honest and inspiring. And this post is totally captivating. Sounds like this place is going to be very popular. May I place an early order for a real hot chocolate please? 🙂

  12. Debra says:

    I had chills as I read this and was a little teary by the end. I’m SO feeling this for you. xo

    • sas says:

      thank you darling. you will be loving the coffee bars of aussie? just remember they learnt everything they know from the kiwis 🙂

  13. Tor says:

    D’ya know what, I seem to have found myself in the Cotswolds on a frosty morning and I really fancy coffee and cake. I know, I’ll head to Sas’ Magical Mystery Cafe. I’m there girl, as soon as you open. Just make sure there’s a cat for my lap and a dog for my feet. xx

  14. moira says:

    DO IT !!!! XXX

    • sas says:

      i will i promise. and you must visit.
      i keep thinking that mum died at 53 and she never got her house by the sea, a tribe of cats and a stack of books.
      so i can’t NOT try really xxx

  15. Jo says:

    There’s nothing so powerful as making a place and then simply setting out on the walk towards it. Most of the work is already done.
    We have a permanent booking for the seats nearest the woodburner on Sunday mornings. Dogs allowed if they’re good right?
    You’re already there, hon. Already there 🙂

    • sas says:

      there will be a big squishy cushion by the fire.
      and probably a secret stash of dog biscuits.

  16. Robyn says:

    Goosebumps and BIG ones as I read that.
    I too can see and feel that so strongly. I am freezing at the moment, but I feel warmth from that fire, from that amazing food and from you – your personality warms all those around you.

    I can’t wait to come and see you in that place.


    • sas says:

      i have goosebumps from all the bloggy love. thanks so much for stopping by.
      when are you next in london? DM me for a kopapa meet up? x

  17. Mel A says:

    Can’t wait…. It’s right ahead of you… 🙂

    • sas says:

      cheers mel! i do believe it is. i always knew that the afternoons i spent at Governors talking politics and bollocks would somehow be more beneficial than the lectures i was missing 🙂

  18. sas says:

    am a bit teary in public reading your comments. you are just so ace!

  19. Thursday says:

    Clearly yours within the first paragraph. Can’t wait to go there and finally meet you.

  20. Leonie says:

    I know this place. I hear it, smell it, see it, see YOU.

  21. Randi says:

    And so it shall be… it is. xoxo

  22. shauna says:

    oh yes! can see the sparkles in the eyes and i am drooling at the cake. go for gold sas! 🙂

  23. kimberley says:

    I hope she serves tea.
    I’ll see you there, then. x

  24. pen says:

    Oh my. This place IS real.
    I cannot wait to go there xx

  25. Bea says:

    Shit. This is so awesome that surprise tears are getting plump in the corners of my eyes. This is it. There is a little corner of the world needing a local as lovely as this. Do it. Don’t delay.

  26. Susannah Conway says:

    😀 YES

  27. angie says:

    Goodness! I want to go to there.

  28. Debbie says:

    Absolutely wonderful. What a vision. I need to know more!

    • sas says:

      i intend to blog the whole journey debbie. even the boring bits about council regulations. and when it all feels insurmountable. and when i have absolutely no money!

  29. Phil says:

    I see it too. It’s yours, and it’s you. And who’s the 18 year old girl…she has me really intrigued!! 🙂

    You paint it all so beautifully with your words, but I know you have what it takes to make whatever you envision a reality.

    Adventures this way, indeed.


  30. Ragster says:

    I totally hope you are really doing this! I would move across to the other side of the world, just for this to be my local. LOVE!!!