Today's Coffee Stop in UK and the lockdowns

When I was in Taiwan, I spent a lot of time checking out all the different cafes every week. They have a lovely cafe scene out there, with a lot of independent ones, all with their own character. I even had a #todayscoffeestop series on my Facebook page. I really miss that lifestyle in UK. The fact we've been in lockdown most of the time didn't help either. Given all the constraints, I still managed to make 5 visits in the latter part of 2020 to different cafes in UK. I don't always drink coffee during my visits, but I still call them #todayscoffeestop as it's the lifestyle that matters.

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The New Castle, July 2020

In early July we came out from our first lockdown that started in March. I remember on this particular day, we went on a long walk. It made a really nice change from the walk down the high street for groceries. When we arrived at our destination, this cafe, like many other places had opened up from the lockdown.

I walked towards the cafe with a sense of trepidation, it almost felt so alien like, as if I was about to enter a massive conference room to meet hundreds of people, a bit like going to HiveFest actually. In reality, there were only three other guests there, and it was just a normal cafe, someplace that I used to go everyweek in normal times. Every other neighbour table was sealed off to maintain social distance and for once I had no idea how to order my drink. Was I supposed to stay put at my table and not walk around, or should I enter the cafe and order at the till like I normally do? It was these small things, adjusting to the new world that I never thought we needed to think about.

The view was magnificent here, looking out into the sea. Even if this was not my first coffee stop after lockdown, it would have still been a very pleasant coffee stop.

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Good and Proper, August 2020

This is one of the many ethical independent cafes that have sprung up in town in recent years. It's located right in the middle of town, but the funny thing is I've never noticed it. It's like it's hidden in plan sight behind the trees and away from everyone's eyes. August was the height of the summer in UK, everything was rosy, people were out and about as if life was back to normal again. The UK government had a Eat out Help out programme to encourage people to eat out to boost economic recovery. It felt as if the nightmare was over.
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The Olde House Dunster, September 2020

I continued to enjoy my summer break and freedom. On one of those beautiful days, I went to Dunster, a medieval village in Somerset. No trip out to a traditional English village would be complete without a coffee stop. The Olde House building is believed to date back to the 16th century but the front is newer, from the 19th century. Being located in a popular tourist location, the cafe was so quintisentially English. The massive piece of lemon drizzle cake was the icing on the cake.

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Cafe Nero, October 2020

Cafe Nero is a national coffee chain in UK with over 1000 outlets. It's not difficult to find one in every High Street. I don't come here that often, as I prefer local independent cafes. Being the cheapskate I am, I only come here because I get free coffee. Cafe Nero has a subscriber benefit with a certain mobile company in UK, and every week you get a code to redeem a free cup of coffee. Both my sister and her daughter are subscribers and they don't live near Cafe Nero, so they give me their code and I redeem it. They say there's not free lunch in this world, but you get free coffee!!!

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Muffin Break, December 2020

In early December we came out from our second national lockdown. A week before Christmas I had to travel to Surrey, some 250km away to check out my property. I spent a night away, that was the nearest thing I got to going away in 2020. The following morning I had breakfast in a local cafe. It was nothing fancy, I just felt I had to make the most of my trip and make it as normal (or special?) as possible. This was my last coffee stop in 2020. A couple days later we went into our third national lockdown and we've been there since.
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We're three months into 2021, and we're still in the third lockdown. I haven't done a single TodaysCoffeeStop post for ages. I wonder how long I have to wait for the next one?

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It's nearly empty. But emptiness feels good nowadays to me. It's better than being crowded.
The cafe looks like a nice chit-chat place. I hope you enjoyed your day!

Thanks, the crowd really scares people nowadays, just trying to stay from more people, luckily we can do it quite easy as we're a small town here.

That's great.
Here in Dhaka-Bangladesh, it's almost impossible to get alone. Waiting for the day to live a covidstress free life.
Have a wonderful day ☺️

The next one won't be Thorntons, sadly :-(
I do wonder whether there will be any independents left either. God knows how people are paying rent and rates whilst their businesses are closed.
Hope you're hanging in there. The numbers get better and better each day :-0

Although I think Thornton is so so, it's all the culture and legacy that's being slowly stripped away that makes me sad. I mean if Top Shop can fall, what else can happen?

I had my jab the other day AZ in fact, but I'm not concerned at all. Hopefully things will start to get better soon. How's your mum doing? Did you 'see' her on mothering Sunday?

The UK are doing so well with vaccines. I know most of my friends have had theirs now with only a few mild side effects from the AV but nothing serious and better jabbed than not. We are having an AV plant built here just 4 miles up the road from where I live, the first doses are here but the govt jumped on the bandwagon last week and suspended its use. The PM was supposed to get his first on live TV but that was postponed!

We had the SIno here a few weeks ago but most of the people due to get the first few thousand jabs, mainly politicians, refused it and said theyd wait for the AV lol....
To be fair, the health minister has said that everyone will get a jab including foreigners and migrant workers whose cost will be born by their employers, I guess I'll be paying but fair enough! Time will tell.

And thanks for asking, Mum got her daily Skype on Sunday and Marks n Spencer had got her some flowers there on time, I've promised we will be there for Christmas no matter the cost so although she's disappointed it won't be sooner, I'm not making rash promises when everything is still so fluid. Christmas will be fine though I'm sure and it will be 2 and a half years since we were there last by then. Usually, we've managed to get there once or twice a year but that will have to change in future I think. The expense and bureaucracy is now ridiculous but it is what it is!
Shes more pissed off about Thorntons than me though, it was her favourite because of the cakes! On Sunday, she'd opened the wife's Christmas box of their chocolates and was munching through them in tribute lol She was going to make an early start on this year's Easter Eggs next as their sell-by date is July ....I've told her we want double presents when we get there this Christmas lol ;-)

It's going to be a whole new world we enter as we emerge from all this with no regard for culture and what went before. Anyway, onwards and upwards!

Hang on, how did you get your vaccine so early if you don't mind me asking?

I'm sure you can get back home to see your mum, but as you say it's the expenses and bureaucracy and of course you get hit twice, when you return to Thailand. Whatever the costs, my tuppence says it's worth coming back especially since it's been a while. Hopefully things would get better by the end of the year.

Do you know when will the jab be rolled out for the masses in Thailand? My second tuppence, avoid the Sino!!!! As for mine... let's just say the Lacura Ultimate Facial Cream from Aldi works wonder to keep one looking young 😊

By the way, I can't remember if I told you about my new LooLoo Community https://peakd.com/c/hive-165962/created

Love the photos of you looking contemplatively at your coffee! It sure felt strange for a while, going to sit down for a coffee after being in lockdown, but it's kinda back to normal here.

I didn't have a good coffee the whole time I was in the UK due to lockdown - it was the one thing I missed about Australia to be honest - I'm so biased about our coffee!

You couldn't have picked a worse time to come back to UK, that was so unfortunate 😔. At least it feels so normal back home for you guys, you done really well to protect yourselves.

I do a similar photo for all my coffee stops, mainly coz I always blink when I take photos and hubby keeps in telling me off as he has to keep on taking them, so I figured i won't look into the camera!

The different looks of the shops are so drastic. Its really neat seeing the contrast. I like the vibe of Cafe Nero the best. The dark wood and leather makes it look cozy to me. The view at at New Castle is something though as well.
That lemon cake and the last coffee look amazing.

Hopefully I can get out a bit more next month, really itching to just be able to sit down for a coffee and feel normal again. Hope you guys are doing well!

Yes. I totally agree. At this point I think a lot of people are ready for this to be over so they are able to do things again.

Hello @livinguktaiwan
Thank you for stopping by ;)
Just awesome!
Can't wait to be back on British soil, and looking forward to some freedom of movement soon. Always wanted to visit Sommerset, hopefully we will at some point.
Cafe Nero is a usual stop off for me in Leicester:)
Seeing Coffee Shop decor and architecture is so inviting and comforting 🙂
We're waiting in the airport lounge in Cebu...bwoy! Different times!
So much required paperwork - EXHAUSTING!

D day!! Look forward to having you guys back home, and hopefully we can meet up sometime. Let me know if you're down this way. Have a save trip!!

Thank you so much!
We arrived early yesterday because we got bumped on to an earlier flight as we arrived. We believe Qatar airlines was trying their best to ensure we arrived in time, as the airline falls under the red list category as of today.
Feels weird but great to be back :)

Welcome home!!

I didn't realise the red list changed today, great that you got back earlier. Hope the flights weren't too packed with people and that you can have a couple weeks rest now, not that you can go anywhere with quarantine 😊

Take care and hope you will settle down very soon.

The coffee scene definitely changed since the pandemic. I like Cafe Nero. We don't have one in the Philippines but I used to go to a chain in Dubai many moons ago. They played classical music (do they still?), I recognize the same type of leather couches and the blue card with stamps to redeem the free coffee.

seems like their branding is very successful if you still remember them! They still got the stamp collection thing but it's on the mobile app now. That's one thing I noticed since I been back in UK for a year, all the store loyalty cards on mobile apps now which is handy, but take up a lot of memory on my phone.

They didn't have any music on when I was there, it was like a scaled down operation as they had to remove a lot of the seats. Hopefully it will get back to norm soon

Thank you, that's helpful info to know that loyalty card mobile apps take a lot of memory space, in our part of the Philippines, we are still old school. Have a great Friday!

It is fun to see the different coffee places and they have their own character. It was fun to see your take on them.

Thanks Sara. As I wrote, I realised there was a common Covid theme amongst them all, my previous posts about the cafes were more about the actual cafe itself. Just shows how Covid has impacted our lives again

Hello @livinguktaiwan

Tasting a good coffee without company and in desolate premises is certainly not something totally different, since generally visiting this type of establishment is precisely to have an exquisite coffee and enjoy a pleasant conversation.

That's ture, it's a great place to just sit and meet up with friend for a chit chat, sadly something we can't do now

That's right the pandemic ruined everything in 2020, and continues to ruin everything, I already want to go out and share with my usual friends. Best regards, have a great weekend.