We’ve all had that feeling. An unjustified annoyance when something you’ve loved, but loved secretly and all alone, has suddenly been propelled into popularity with, and this is what hurts, people other than yourself.
I had this feeling recently. But it all started with another feeling, a different one… let me explain.
There’s a certain joy when you find yourself a little cafe, a new favourite place that you came across all by yourself. Somewhere that instantly stands out and leaves a lasting impression. Somewhere you actually want to return to, again and maybe even again! Who knows what did it, does it even matter now? You’re already hooked. It could have been the location (unassuming, subtle, the balance of modern and quint), the decor (simple, modern, yet unmistakably charming), the staff (wonderful), the food (a welcome break from mass produced, chain branded grub), the excellent cups of coffee (or latte, or cappuccino, or tea, or hot choc… yeah I tried them all. For research.) You could even strike lucky and have it all (you may be able to tell by now what’s going on, and yes, I did indeed strike lucky.)
Recently I’ve found myself experiencing a rather lovely rare breather in my working day on Thursdays. A whole hour where I finish my morning tasks but don’t quite have to be elsewhere. That’s right, one whole unadulterated hour to do as I choose. This time was to be spent in the Cotswold market town of Fairford.
I had always known of Fairford, having grown up in Cirencester, but it wasn’t until recently when my work took me out this end of town that I really spent any time here.
It’s a truly lovely town. Old buildings with a mix of picturesque country cottages and regency town houses in all their glory. There’s a post office, a Coop and a Londis. A market on a Wednesday and a butchers. A hairdressers, dentist, pharmacy and opticians. There’s various pubs and restaurants and take aways.
And then there is a cafe, Cafe 7a, it isn’t quite tucked away but neither is it in-your-face glaringly obvious either. You stumble upon it from the road, just around the corner from the market place. The pale green window ledges and shop-sign look so complimentary against the historic buildings along the row that I came to it by chance. It was cold and wet and windy (when isn’t it?!) and I could have declared my love for it then and there based only on having somewhere light and warm to rest my weary brain.
It’s not big, but the friendly, chatty atmosphere does just hit you in the face as you walk in. In a good way, a nice friendly slap in the face… There’s that signature smell of coffee, a smell that feels so deeply rooted you wonder if it just simply in the very bones of the place now, a smell I find so welcoming and comforting. Like an enveloping hug from the loveliest of all loved ones. One bright orange wall, and chairs in all different colours brighten up any rainy day, which is nearly every day at the moment. There’s even prints hanging like bunting that have come from the local primary school providing a quirky charm.
The staff are friendly and chatty, anyone who recognises that brownies are needed as “rocket fuel” on a Thursday, midday, is a good person in my eyes.
Ah yep, those brownies. Now I love brownies, and I really love their brownies. There is a whole section of the deli counter just dedicated to brownies, from After Eight ones to Terry’s Chocolate Orange ones, to Revels, to just good old plain chocolate. They have become a signature of the cafe for me. If I have work to do, tucked away in the corner wrapped up in a scarf and hiding from the world, I usually just have whatever flavour brownie takes my fancy that day (white choc chip today) and a pot of tea.
It was after seeing all the customers (it’s always nearly full, which boasts its popularity) eating their paninis I, too, was drawn in and started sampling their choice of the day. It was so nice to have some proper homemade and non-artificial cafe food that hasn’t just been churned out by a machine, all lacking in flavour and thin on ingredients.
And this can bring me nicely back to the start. Obviously I know that this is popular local place, and I can’t keep it to myself. But now, well, now Cafe 7a has gone and won an award. The Best Brownie award at the Cotswolds Awards 2015. And now I have to face up to the fact that my little secret hidden gem was perhaps not such a secret hidden gem after all, and actually… maybe… I was the one that was late on the scene?!
Either way… I’ll relish my one-hour-escape-from-reality on a Thursday midday, brownie in one hand and cup of tea in the other.