Warning – sentimental post to follow. Expect gushing statements of love & adoration. Do not read if eating, of delicate constitution or one who turns their nose up at any public declaration of affection. You have been warned…
I thought that I would dedicate my second post to a very special lady in my life. Now I know what all of my friends reading this are thinking and the answer is yes, you are all equally special in my eyes. But as is the way with Communist emotions, some of you are more equally special than others. Today, however, is my Mum’s birthday – turning 60 but don’t look a day over 40 Mum!
So, to mark the occasion, I thought I would get sentimental and reminisce about a little coffee shop back up North (yes it is colder, yes it is windier, yes the people are friendlier) that has quickly become the centre of the community. As an aside, if you’re reading this Mum, I have also bought you birthday presents – rest easy, this isn’t a cop-out of a gift from your son! A little coffee shop that Mum & Dad, now retired, pop on down to every other day for a coffee, a perusal over the local paper and a general moan about life with all the other regulars and owners of this independent chain.
First a little background to put Elephant Coffee shop into context. Mum and Dad decided to retire to Neston, a little town on The Wirral (North West England for you Southern folks) that my sister and her family live in. Something about being closer to the grandkids I suspect. Neston boasts a lovely array of Tudor buildings, a parish church and some typically quaint shops. It has a local market on Fridays and all the residents seem to either know each other or at the very least stop and say hello as they wander about their business. Fairly recently, Neston acquired a Sainsbury’s (and not the Local size either) and there was uproar – imagine it, a well-known supermarket chain invading the peace, tranquility and independence of this community. Tut tut.
Elephant Coffee shop opened up three years ago and immediately was faced with stiff competition from the Sainsbury’s cafe. I say stiff competition, the locals were so against the supermarket chain that Elephant was the perfect antidote to its poisonous orange luminescence. Naturally the little coffee shop flourished and nowadays you almost never see it uninhabited, even in the middle of the week. It provides shelter for mums’ morning meetings after dropping the kids off at school; retired folk to wile away the hours in warm temperatures and even warmer company; even the youth of the town, most of whom now have a part time shift there.
That last fact is not entirely true… Some of them work at the second branch of the store on nearby Parkgate front (incidentally home also to the ‘famous’ Nicholls ice cream shop). Elephant is expanding, which caused some concern amongst the Neston locals. Will it turn in a corporate giant and ruin the aesthetic of Neston? Will it forget the locals that helped it succeed when it was just that one little store in the small town? It’s the stuff of great film scripts to be honest. Rest assured residents of Neston, Elephant is not likely to be the next Costa…
I’ve waffled on about Elephant, but I do hear you ask, ‘how is the coffee?’ Actually, it’s very good. Not quite Monmouth for you Londoners, but easily as popular up in this rural town. Smooth, mellow, medium roast Arabica beans made by well-trained baristas make this a pleasing way of passing an hour. Well, Mum and Dad like it, ‘not quite as good as a Starbucks’ says Dad on many an occasion, but what does he know about coffee eh? But then again, Dad would have to find something to complain about (he is a Northerner) and secretly I know that he loves it when he wanders in to the shop and is greeted by the same faces that all know his name and order off by heart.
So Happy Birthday Mum. I know that you’ll have a wonderful day, most likely involving a trip to Elephant. Don’t forget to take me there again when I visit at the weekend.