Crazy For Coffee

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”. 

Bow Wharf in Langport won H over with it’s marshmallow hot chocolate!

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! 

The path to the coffee shop – mind the cars!

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

Provenda Deli 

Bean Shot Coffee Bar

Finca Coffee

Bow Wharf Cafe



A Guide to Getting Your Hair Cut in the Countryside

I’ve never considered myself extravagant when it comes to pampering myself, but in Los Angeles a bi-monthly mani pedi was considered reserved, and no one batted an eyelid if the man sat next to you getting his cuticles trimmed was talking about spending the afternoon having his crack, back and sack waxed.

Sadly though when it comes to the hair on my head, I’m having what my brother calls “a bad hair lifetime”. I could hide it pretty well in America, under hats or by saying it was a beachy look but the British weather leaves me baring a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein or as my daughter says “a crazy lion”.

hair, countryside, albert einstein
My locks looked like a longer version of this pre haircut

In LA I had the luxury of incredible hair salons on almost every corner, and I was safe in the knowledge there was someone out there who could tame my mane.

But searching for a hairdresser in the countryside, when you’ve only got the recommendation from your 65-year-old mum, is a truly terrifying endeavour.

I trust my mum, she’s cute and trendy and has nice hair, but it’s white-blonde and short and I’m not ready to go down that route just yet. So when I asked her if the lady she uses does Balayage she looked at me blankly. “I can call her and ask,” she kindly offered. “What exactly is it again?”

For the record Balayage is just a painting technique for highlighting hair to give it a sun-kissed look, but I guess in the countryside blue rinses and a set are the most popular requests.

It turns out mum’s mobile hairdresser didn’t do Balayage but she’d “heard” about a salon that did. I got the number and gave them a call only for them to put the phone down on me.

robin james, hair, somerset
Robin James salon in Sherborne.

“I beg your pardon?” said the voice on the other end of the phone after I’d asked if their establishment did Balayage. Confused, I called back and the enraged receptionist warned me: “Don’t ever call back here again.”

I still don’t understand what she thought I was asking for, “can you give my balls a massage” is all I can come up with. Other suggestions are welcome.

My hair needed attention though and I was getting dangerously close to asking my mother-in-law, who once had a job washing hair in a salon 45 years ago, to give it a trim.

Many phone calls later, I finally found somewhere that did Balayage. I’ll admit it wasn’t that comforting when the lady put her hand over the mouthpiece to ask the stylists if they did it and then had to come back to me to ask me to spell the word, but I decided to go for it.

That was until, the talented guy snipping my husband’s hair in an actually quite trendy barbour shop, the next day, pulled a face and whistled: “You’re brave,” when I told him where I was going.

NOOOOO!!!!!! I almost asked him to just shave my head there and then. Fortunately with the bad news came some good. He gave me the name of a great salon 20 minutes away and when I googled ‘Robin James’ I was over-the-moon.

Hair, Robin James, Somerset, Sherborne
Yay for Robin James!

I did have to wade through the sea of ambling white haired wanderers in picturesque Sherborne to get to the salon’s front door, but once inside I felt like I’d been transported back to LA – so long as I didn’t look out the window that was.

Bean Shot Coffee, somerset, countryside
The best Bloody coffee I’ve ever had!

Ironically my young, tattooed and uber hip stylist talked me out of a ball massage, sorry Balayage, even though she could have made a lot more money from it! Unheard of.

To top it all off as I walked back to my car and dived into a doorway to make room for the approaching train of mobility scooters, I stumbled across the most amazing coffee shop. The sign in the window read ‘Bloody Good Coffee’ and it bloody well was. Thanks Robin James and Bean Shot Coffee for making what could have been a truly hair-raising day, amazing!