Coffee shops used to be about more than just a place to get my caffeine fix when I lived in Los Angeles. My local Starbucks was my office three days a week and the crazy clientele was as regular as my daily order – a tall Americano, chocolate covered salted almonds and a chicken, veg salad (not all together) in case you care.
There was Moty the Israely man who approached me because I was “always typing” and asked me to help write about the hangover cure he was marketing in return for some free samples! Not sure how I should have taken that?
Mrs. McDonald – as I called her – who always hijacked the corner table as a sales booth where she chowed down on her chicken nuggets and fries and in between mouthfuls attempted to round up clients to buy the same pair of shoes – clearly stolen…..and worn – day in and day out.
Mad bike man who reveled in walking around the joint in his crash helmet shouting: “Breaking news everyone. I have just proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes. She’s a Christian. First time for me, second time for her! Congratulations to me. That’s it for now. Over and out goodbye.”
But my personal favorite was the blind man who would tap his way up and down casually bumping into people – nearly always females funnily enough – with his white cane. I’d watch and sigh when a kind hearted sole would pull out a chair next to them and help him sit down. I’d fallen for this once before too so I knew what was coming. He’d unzip his military drum – and no, that’s not code for something else, he really did have an oversized military drum with him – and proceed to give a demonstration which, if you didn’t just walk away, would last FOREVER. Once you were trapped with him, there was no escape. I used to feign different voices because if he heard me talking in my British accent he was there like a shot, reciting every line from the old English show ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and blatantly ignoring me when I’d politely say “I’m so sorry but I’m actually working”.
I probably looked just as nuts as some of the other customers as I played musical chairs to try to avoid him. I know it sounds cruel, but this debacle happened every week for well over a year!
Amongst the unusual Starbucks frequenters was also a handful of regular celebrities. I’d marvel at how Rod Stewart always made time to not only buy the homeless man a coffee, but would sit and chat to him too and I’d look at ‘Sex and the City’s’ Mr. Big and wonder what Carrie would have to say about his slightly hungover, stubbly appearance.
So I was eager to find good coffee shops and cafes in South Somerset. I knew I wasn’t likely to stumble upon quite such an eclectic group of caffeine addicts in my local Caffe Nero but I have found some great places to sip on a decent roast or brew – listed below!
That being said I actually think my latest Somerset coffee experience trumps anything I came across in Holly’weird’. Because while sipping my coffee around a campfire – not a fire pit, an actually campfire with a giant black kettle alongside a tub of onions cooking – outside a woodland coffee shop, yep you heard me right – a lady approached me to tell me about proud she was that her ‘slightly psychotic’, sweet but once troubled son had just got this chainsaw license.
I gulped as she continued, envisaging a talented, all be it mildly troubled wood sculptor roaming the Somerset area wielding his rather dangerous work weapon.
But I could breathe a sigh of relief when she informed me that while they’re getting his meds sorted, he’s only using a chisel!!!
HERE’S MY PICK OF PLACES SO FAR (Feel free to tell me about more!)
The Orchard Food and Coffee House