Where to Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: A Coffee Addict’s Guide to Bath

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Those who know me well will know how much I love coffee (mine’s a latte, thanks).

Before I started my degree at Bath Spa I rarely drank it and was all about herbal teas (much healthier) but beginning my part time job at the cafe started an obsession. If I’m in town then I can’t resist grabbing a delicious coffee whether it’s one that’s festive and sugar packed from a chain or sugar free from a coffee shop that really knows their stuff.

I’ve come a long way since my first few dodgy cappuccinos. I’ve got a few latte art patterns under my belt and was recently told someone had made a phone call about a particularly good flat white I’d made (I was thrilled and will never get over it!). I love hunting for new blends for my cafetiere and I’m always up for a trip to a new coffee shop.

So here’s a few of my favourite places, in no particular order, to grab a really good cup of coffee or buy a bag of beans.

Cascara

A friend of a friend owns this place but that’s not why it’s made my list. The cakes are delicious, gluten free with an ever developing menu (great for your coeliac friends and you alike). They also offer a range of dairy free milks, so if you can’t stomach dairy but can’t stand soy then you can still enjoy a really good cup of coffee. I don’t visit Cascara anywhere near as much as I should, I mean they have a puppy there AND make delicious juices – what’s not to love?!

This is the kind of place I would take my friends from Hitchin when they fancy a coffee – it’s friendly, has a wide range on offer and on trend.

Coffee ✓
Cake ✓
Puppies ✓
Winner.

Cascara.jpg(Cheeky gluten free brownie in the background there)

Gillards of Bath, Guildhall Market

As I type this I am drinking “The Continental” blend that I bought from Gillards a week ago. Tucked away in the Guildhall Market this shop sells various high quality coffee beans and teas as well as fine china and cafetieres. The beans are roasted by Gillards and 125g can be purchased whole or freshly ground (and they will check what you’re using it for so you don’t buy the wrong thing) from an array that comes across the globe with various flavour intensities. Gillards have introduced me to some amazing blends from the dark and nutty to light and sweet.

For just over £2 you can purchase 125g which goes a look way for me as I only use my cafetiere on my days off.

If you have a coffee lover in your life and are struggling for a gift to get them, I’d recommend buying several bags of ground coffee in different blends and creating a sort of hamper for them – inexpensive yet thoughtful!

The Soho Coffee Company

Chains are good at what they do. They deliver a certain standard of coffee quickly and consistently as well as coming up with new seasonal choices. They do this well, but it’s rare to find a chain that actually makes a good latte (I just can’t get on board with how a certain chain makes their latte’s. Putting the espresso in last? Sacrilege.)

Soho is a chain. It opened a few months ago in Bath and is so good that I wasn’t sure if it actually was a chain after I’d ordered my first drink. They’ve managed to create the feel and taste of a small coffee shop while still having that hint of impersonality that will either entice or put you off depending on how you’re feeling.The lack of background music also makes it a perfect spot for reading – It’s where I go if I want a really good coffee but I’m feeling antisocial.

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(They make a legit latte and the sea of bulbs make for a great atmosphere)

Colonna and Small’s

My friend introduced me to this place a few weeks ago and it’s actually what inspired me to write this blog post. Colonna and Small’s has won a ridiculous amount of awards and from just one visit you can see why. The staff are incredibly professional and talented, some having won accolades such as “Best latte art” and “Best cappuccino” that are proudly displayed on their walls.

They offer 3 different blends of espresso and filter coffees and you can order each one how you’d like it. Considering the level of quality and skill that goes into each coffee it is surprisingly inexpensive. I have been thoroughly impressed with every visit and will be making a point of going there more often. This is the kind of place I would take someone I wanted to impress or just anyone that hasn’t been before because everyone must experience it!

colona2(My friend’s drink was prettier than mine so I took a picture of his, he wasn’t impressed)

So if you’re ever in Bath and want a really good coffee then look no further than these places. If you think I’ve missed anywhere from this list then let me know, I’m always up for checking out somewhere new.

A Handy List of Links:
Colonna and Small’s Website

Soho Coffee Company
Cascara’s Facebook
Gillard’s of Bath

P.s. All of those pictures of coffee I take have finally paid off, shout out to my long suffering boyfriend for putting up with this.

I’m Not Sure Where I’m Going, But I’ll Get There

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I’m not satisfied with a few aspects of my life and for lack of a better word I feel stale. I’ve had a few periods in my life where I’ve felt down and a bit lost, however this time it’s different because I am also restless and bored.

I’m tempted to wrap myself up in my duvet and cry it out but I doubt that will achieve anything and I don’t think I’m actually sad enough for the crying part. Instead I’m going to try and remedy the problem and break a few bad habits along the way.

“No man is an island” (Thanks John Donne)

I am rubbish at messaging my friends! I am also very good at letting my desire to lie on the sofa at home win against going out. This coupled with the fact my job often involves antisocial hours can mean that I will go without seeing people I love even when they live in the same city as me for weeks or even months.

So I’ve decided to make an effort to see these people more and do my best to work my schedule around it. Whether this means visiting friends who live far away, meeting up with people in Bath or popping into “the café” occasionally to say hello to my old work friends. I know this part of my life is down to me and while I shouldn’t be the only person reaching out I also can’t rely on contact always being extended towards me. I’ve already put this into action over the past month and visited friends in Bournemouth and met up with people in Bath. However I still need to contact some people I miss as they’ve left a hole that even a cheeky Nando’s can’t fill.

Just because no one wants to do something with you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all

My days off often land when my friends, boyfriend, housemate and anyone with a normal schedule are at work. It’s rare for me to have spare time with people to do stuff together and it’s easy to waste a day off by playing The Sims and waiting for people to come home. However I love exploring Bath, walking through Victoria park and finding new coffee shops to visit.  These are all things I can do by myself so why shouldn’t I?

So I’ve made myself a new rule. Whenever I have a day off during the week I have to go outside and do something – and no! Walking to Tesco at 6pm doesn’t count!

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(Vicky park looks amazing in Autumn)

Stop putting things off

At long last after maybe a year of having slightly dodgy roots and very multi-tonal hair I decided to do something about it and dyed my hair. Due to this it is now less dodgy – it’s not all the same shade of blonde but it’s now definitely all blonde and I feel a lot better about how I look.

On another hair related note, I’m currently growing it. Some of my friends may remember 2 and a bit years ago when I chopped my very long hair off and donated it –I’m going to do it again when it’s long enough and I’m really excited to have it short and fun again!

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(13 and a half inches chopped off – felt good!)

I’ve also put off donating blood over the past year because whenever I organise going with someone they bail last minute so I did too. Where’s the sense in that? I’m not even scared of giving blood, once the nurse had to tell me to start fidgeting to increase the blood flow as I was TOO relaxed. So I’ve made a blood donation appointment and I have no excuse not to go.

If you have never made a donation or it’s been a while since your last one you should sign up and donate too because chances are at some point you or someone you love will need to be given blood – so here’s a helpful link: https://my.blood.co.uk/Account/register

I have also asked my landlord if I can move my lovely cat in. I really miss my cat and I know that having him around will give me a bit more purpose, motivation and above all happiness. I was really scared to ask but he doesn’t see a problem with it although he needs to ask the committee that oversees the buildings we’re part of (the drawbacks of living in a converted chapel next to a manor). It’s all up in the air right now while we wait for a response – so keep your fingers crossed!

10325691_10153300462669157_2246568111075069558_n(He will always be my baby)

Allow myself to dream but remember that they don’t have to be just dreams


For a few years now I have had a dream of owning my own café. It’s seemed like a bit of a pipe dream and not worth thinking about but I have a real passion for coffee and enjoy being able to give good customer service. Having worked in several food establishments and visited many a coffee shop I have an idea of what I would and wouldn’t do. However opening a business also takes money, time and business acumen, and that I don’t have.

It’s OK to have a dream that feels out of reach. I don’t know many people that truly know what they want to do with their lives, and I know less who are actually doing it. These people are the rare few, and a lot of us are understandably confused, unsure and wondering where we’ll end up.

I know that my own business is not attainable within the next few years of my life. But who’s to say it won’t happen one day? I’m looking to start knocking down one of the walls in my way by considering taking business management and finance courses. I can’t see how it could hurt, if anything it would make me more employable.

Whether it’s just a dream or not, it’s a direction which is something I worry is lacking in my life.

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(Waterstones in Bath has a great cafe upstairs, the coffee is top notch and they do loose leaf teas)

To close, these are some things I’m doing to try to put a bit of motivation and inspiration back into my life. Don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m not OK but I’d like to be more than “just OK” again.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

A Month of Little Things: Kubo, The Wild Cafe, My Moped, Going Home and Things To Come.

I haven’t had any “big” things happen to me recently but as we all know, it’s not the big things in life that define you or make you truly happy. So instead I thought I would write about a selection of little things I have done/seen/visited that made my month happier and might be of interest to you too.

It’s a long one, so I’ve split it up into sub headings so you can skip anything that doesn’t pick your fancy.

Kubo and the Two Strings

About a week ago my boyfriend and I went to see this film, I was pretty apprehensive. The trailer looked good but I wasn’t sure about the story and am a little sick of CGI animation.
Well it’s not all CGI, the majority of the animation is stop motion and I have to say it was the most beautifully animated film I have ever seen. The story doesn’t let down either, Kubo lives in a small Japanese village where he earns money and entertains the inhabitants by playing music and telling stories to animate origami characters. At night he returns home to care for his mother and hide from people who stole one of his eyes as a baby, however when he forgets to run home before nightfall and he is found by those who want to blind him his mother must protect him – and this is when the main plot begins.

As you can see, I’m no good at explaining plots so here’s the trailer:

I laughed a lot at this film, I also cried a lot and was completely absorbed by the story. The soundtrack is also incredible and topped off by an excellent cover of The Beatle’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by Regina Spektor. I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone!

Visually stunning, compelling plot – 10/10.

The Wild Cafe

Going out for lunch or brunch is one of my favourite things to do, you get the sense of treating yourself but also don’t eat so much that all you can do is lie on the sofa and whinge about how full you are all evening.

I’ve been to The Wild Café in Bath twice now and both times I was in food heaven! A relatively small café, it has a rustic vibe with wooden tables, benches and tin cans to hold your cutlery. Behind the front counter is an open kitchen and coffee bar which surprisingly isn’t very noisy. Oh! And they also serve your food on a plate! A big plus for me in an ever growing foodie world of slates and chopping boards.

My first trip was for brunch with friends where I had eggs Florentine and shared some waffles, more recently I had lunch with my boyfriend and had a latte with a vegetarian breakfast. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is great and the staff friendly. If you’re meeting up with friends, having a lunch date or just fancy trying somewhere different give The Wild Café a go!

I’d recommend ordering anything with hollandaise sauce, it’s the best I’ve had in Bath and they make it in house!

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Developing a Green Thumb

After the “mysterious” death of my bonsai in third year, it was time to try looking after plants again. After all, houses are much more homely with plants/flowers about. I was gifted a herb garden of basil, mint and parsley, and a flowering succulent. I have added chives, begun growing some bell peppers and have planted a shrub, lavender and sweet Williams outside the front door.

So far there have been no deaths, which I don’t think is that impressive as everything is quite hard to kill and I no longer live where the bonsai incident happened. However I like having plants about and it’s something relaxing to focus on outside of work.

Going Home and Having, a Pre-Bake Off, Bake Off.

I had time between jobs at the beginning of September so I took the opportunity to take a well overdue visit home. Unfortunately my parents were on holiday but I got to see my sister, pets and hang out with my friends.

My group of girls back home are all fans of GBBO so we had a pre-bake off, bake off where we grouped up to see who could make the best cakes before sitting down together and watching the show. Varying degrees of effort were put in. One group went as far as to make their own lemon curd and jam, another came with soufflés they made at home. My boyfriend and I let the team down and used Paul Hollywood brownie packet mix, I stand by the decision. They tasted great. Paul Hollywood would be proud.

If you want to do something with your friends that doesn’t revolve around alcohol, this might be a good idea for you!

(Unfortunately the lemon and jam one wasn’t beauty or grace but it tasted good!)


My moped

Along with the new job came a need to travel from one side of Bath to the other. I could have got two buses every day or cycle for an hour each way. Instead, with the advice of my housemate and the completion of a CBT, I got a moped!
I’ve had 35 hours of driving lessons which I definitely think has helped me on the road, I’m not sure how safe or confident someone can be after only a couple of hours with an instructor.
I’ve been riding my moped for about a month and only just gaining the confidence to try some filtering – despite reading up on the laws surrounding it and watching a few YouTube videos I’m still very sketchy about when it is legal or safe.

However I do really enjoy riding a moped, it’s a lot of fun and so long as you follow the rules, a lot safer than people think it is.

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(I realise buying a vehicle is actually a pretty big deal but I wasn’t going to do a post only about this)

Things I’m Looking Forward To:

Wicked 10th Anniversary

My friends reading this are probably thinking “You’re going to see that show again? How many times is it now?” Well to be honest I’ve lost count, but seeing shows is something my family loves doing together and there’s not many things that makes me happier than looking at my Mum’s face when “As Long As You’re Mine” is being sung on stage.

I would recommend Wicked to anybody, whether you love or hate West End shows or if you’ve seen loads or none at all. To see it on its’ 10th anniversary, you know it’s going to be a great show. I’m also excited as it’s an opportunity to see my family, who I haven’t seen in a month or two now.

Visit from my Uni Friend

Unfortunately due to work commitments and my need to pay rent I have had to miss attending 2 big uni friend birthdays/reunions. Which not only makes me feel pretty guilty but doesn’t help with how much I miss my uni family when I know they’re all hanging out and having a great time.

I am beyond excited though as tomorrow one of my old housemates and brother from another mother is coming to see me (and his beloved chair) as he stops off in Bath on his way to a birthday/reunion that I can’t make. I can’t wait to see him and I’m also looking forward to when I’m able to book some time off for the next uni reunion.

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(I wasn’t sure if he’d want his pic on here so instead here’s a selfie at the beach where he’s looking mysterious)

Leaving the Cafe: Friendship and a lot of Patience – Not Just Coffee and Cake.

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(Mandatory graduation cafe pic)

In my second year of university I realized my student loan wasn’t going to be enough to both get me out of the overdraft that paying rent over summer had caused and to survive first term. It was time to get a job. Having had limited retail experience (a brief 2 month stint at McDonald’s) I didn’t think I would hear anything back from anywhere I applied.

I’m one of those people that doesn’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t know what possessed me to but I answered an unknown mobile call to be offered an interview at a small independent cafe in the centre of Bath. The interview was quick and despite fears my lack of experience would put employers off, it was actually my degree subject (Food with Nutrition) that landed me the interview and then a few trial shifts.

1 year and 9 months later I hung up my apron and locked the doors for the last time. The café had provided me with more than just money and a caffeine addiction.

For one it taught me the value of good customer service. Having to work by yourself for 6 hours is a real sink or swim situation. Sink: let stress take over, get snappy with customers and throw the towel in. Or Swim: Plan ahead, go above and beyond when possible, sense when someone may be difficult but also stand your ground if necessary. Choosing to swim actually made working by myself much easier, some customers will never be happy but good customer service can buy you a lot of patience with most.

Patience. I don’t think I’ve ever been known for having an amazing amount of patience. In fact my Mum once told me that the reason I fell out with one of my friends is because she’s a perfectionist and I like to get something done and then quickly move on to the next thing. I’d lost my patience with her while being forced into being patient – see? However at the café no matter how close I think I am to the end of my tether, I somehow always find more. This has enabled me to deal with repeating myself 100 times a day, customer complaints, incredibly busy rushes and challenging customers in a friendly, helpful and calm manner. There’s also something quite empowering about being able to keep your cool in the face of an unjustly angry customer.

Initiative. From breaking fridges to bursting pipes to the food order not arriving. Anything and everything can go wrong but it’s how you approach the situation that makes the difference. By our last shift together, my colleague and I on a Saturday were like a well-oiled machine. Dubbed the “dream team” by a physiotherapist, without a word we knew when each other needed assistance, over-heard orders, fixed things and generally just used our initiatives really really well. Saturdays were by far my favourite shift. When a whole team uses their initiative a busy shift will feel like a quiet day.

I realise this has turned into a bit of a job application covering letter but I’ll go on to the final and most important thing I gained at the café.

I gained a wonderful group of friends. My café friends are among some of my most favourite people on the planet. Our hilarious staff nights out become infamous in my uni friendship group. At uni the majority of my friends were boys, which was odd considering that all of my close friends from home are girls. Knowing I was coming in to work to hang out with a solid group of girls all day made work actually fun and kept me sane during my third year. I’ve gained friends that I believe I will have for the rest of my life, friends who I know for a fact can put up with me for 10 hours straight!

People put a lot of pressure on friendships at uni. It can seem like the end of the world if you don’t become friends with those on your course or in halls, where we often go looking for friends. Work is often overlooked as a place to form friendships, in a way they are more genuine. You don’t have to live/spend 3 years with these people, there isn’t the same pressure to make friends. When someone chooses to hang out with you outside of work, gets excited when they’re on shift with you and tells you to come over when you’re sad so you can sit in their bed and watch Made in Chelsea, you know they actually WANT to be friends. There’s no necessity or convenience about it.

This chapter has closed, I am ready to move on. Upon graduating I need a career and I’m very excited to begin my new job tomorrow. I’ll be taking the skills I’ve learnt with me as well as an openness towards new friendships, without forgetting my gorgeous café gang of course.

13064615_10153582496059157_2681227886258475837_o(The wonderful cafe gang minus Ella and Margaret)

Volunteering in Bath: What I learnt and Why It’s Important

Foodcycle

While living in Bath I have volunteered for two charities, FoodCycle and the Trusseltrust food bank. I initially volunteered at FoodCycle due to a university work placement module and I began volunteering for food bank on my own accord, looking to improve my CV.

FoodCycle is a charity that began in 2009 and has now served over 125,000 meals made from surplus food. Currently there are 29 “hubs” who rely on volunteers and spare kitchen spaces to produce free 3 course meals for vulnerable people at least once a week. The hubs are all “united by the simple idea that food waste and food poverty should not coexist”. This ethos is what drew me to choose this charity for my work placement module as it summed up the majority of research I had conducted on my course.

Despite initially volunteering for my degree, what really struck me was how much I learnt volunteering – both about myself and about the city of Bath. As someone who finds the prospect of cooking for other people very daunting and stressful I was extremely anxious when I began volunteering at FoodCycle, even missing a couple of sessions as I stood outside the building, not quite managing to will my legs to take me through the doors. Every time I made it in I did not regret it, the other volunteers there were incredibly positive and full of brilliant ideas. Faced with a table of seemingly random food, we somehow always managed to produce a 3 course meal that was delicious but more importantly warm, nutritious and filling. Feeding 30 people each week was rewarding, knowing I was making a positive impact on my community and even recognising some of the guests when walking around Bath.

Those worried about the stigma that people who attend free meal clubs unfortunately possess have no reason to be, many volunteers choose to mingle with the guests who are all interesting individuals with varied reasons for attending. The hush that descends over the guests when each course arrives is enough to tell you how important this solid weekly meal is to each guest and plenty come up to thank the volunteer chefs. Volunteering here taught me that I could overcome my own obstacles and produce something that people really valued out of food that supermarkets considered “waste”. Initiatives made by charities such as FoodCycle not only help to reduce food waste in their areas but are also hugely important in bringing communities together by both easing the burden of food poverty and providing an opportunity for those who feel socially isolated to meet new people. Unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend their weekly food club any more but I hope to again in the future!

Bath is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK and this is reflected by the abundance of upper and middle class people and, frankly, overpriced housing in the area. Something I’ve noticed just over the past few years is that there has been a remarkable increase in Bath’s homeless and poverty stricken population, this also hasn’t gone unnoticed by the TrusselTrust food bank that operates in Manvers Street. Last year the TrusselTrust gave 1,109,309 3-day emergency food packages to people in crisis. I have volunteered at the food bank for a year now and consider this one of the most important things I do with my spare time. In my experience most commonly it is a sudden cut in benefits or an unexpected job loss that brings people to access emergency food packages.

Volunteering there makes me profoundly aware of just how easy it is for anyone to fall below the breadline and how difficult some people find it to seek help they are perfectly entitled to. I believe the foodbank have responded well to this, the process is designed to be as simple and discreet as possible. For instance clients are asked to bring plastic bags with them or failing that they are provided with plain white bags with no food bank logos and can leave via a different door than they entered. The two hour shift is often split between sitting with those accessing the foodbank and putting together food parcels. If you are unable to or have an aversion towards one element of volunteering you can choose to only do the bit you prefer.

Over the past year I have learnt that I really can talk to anybody from whatever walk of life, something that uni didn’t teach me and I now consider an invaluable skill to have.

I encourage everyone to volunteer in their community, many voluntary opportunities are flexible and will look great on a CV. Volunteering is fun, it shapes you as a person, it is rewarding and above all you sacrifice a minute amount of your time to massively improve somebody’s day/week/month.

If you can, then why shouldn’t you? You never know, you may rely on one of these charities someday.

Find out more:-

Get Involved

http://foodcycle.org.uk/get-stuck-in/

http://www.vol-centre.org.uk/

P.s. Forgive my grumpy resting face – I didn’t know I was having my photo taken!

Moving Out (Properly) And Accepting That Uni Has Ended

Grad Crop

Last month I moved to a proper, non-student house with my boyfriend and our friend on the outskirts of Bath. After having lived in Bath for 3 amazing years as a student (2 of which in Oldfield Park), it may seem odd to say that only now do I feel as though I have properly moved away from home.

While at Uni it’s easy to feel detracted from the community and in your own safe bubble where everyone is a student. Especially when you go from living in halls to Oldfield park. Everyone you need to talk to lives down the road, you only go out on student nights and avoid Saturday nights in town like the plague (so expensive). You can understand how many students might feel that while they immersed themselves in student life, they don’t feel part of the community. But don’t get me wrong, I regularly stepped outside the student bubble. I had a part time job in a cafe at the leisure centre and in my second and third year volunteered at FoodCycle and the food bank respectively (Posts on all 3 of these things will come). But I was always sort of hyper-aware that I was a student who went home to Hertfordshire at the end of term and felt as though I was just playing at living from home.

After saying an emotional goodbye to two of my best friends and housemates, I now have moved into a lovely chapel conversion. We kitted it out with a mix of IKEA and donations from friends and family and after what felt like forever finally have internet! I work full time at a cafe (I actually have a new job lined up for September too!), paid council tax for the first time and will be purchasing a moped in the next few weeks.

I’m already feeling a greater sense of community from not living in a predominantly student area, it’s amazing that something as simple as short conversations when you cross paths with neighbours can have such an impact on your sense of belonging.

The student bubble has definitely burst and I miss uni more than I thought I would. Not the constant underlying guilt whenever I wasn’t doing any work but I certainly miss my friends who have moved back home.
Graduation was three weeks ago and I am slowly letting go of the fact that I won’t be seeing a lot of my close friends 3 – 4 times a week.

While it can be lonely at times, Bath is rapidly feeling more and more like home. While I will never let go of my uni or Hertfordshire friends, it’s important that I make a real effort to accept that uni is over and embrace this new, wider community