Thursday, August 31, 2006

If only all wibbles could be like this.

Our favourite cafe here in Leamington is Victorias, at 95 Warwick Street. We discovered it quite by accident. There was a particular shop we wanted to go to, we got there, there was a sign on the door saying "back in 20 minutes", so we decided to walk round the corner towards the main shopping centre and get a cup of tea in the first place we came to. We were expecting a Subway or a Cafe Nero, instead we spotted Victorias.

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It's a proper, traditional tea room/coffee shop. You are greeted and invited to take a seat, anywhere you like. The staff are neatly dressed, polite, friendly, and unlike Starbucks or Druckers, they are attentive without crowding you, and efficient without rushing you. Tea, whichever variety you choose, is leaf tea served in a proper china teapot, and coffee (all sorts of varieties, ground on the premises) is in a glass cafetiere. It's all done properly.

They get involved in local projects, for instance the recent Warwick Arts Week, and it isn't unusual to go in and find the "resident" artist sitting by the window painting, or a professional storyteller, or a nutritionist available for free consultations (a calendar of these things is kept on one wall but I like surprises).

On a more up-to-date level, David (the owner) also owns the upstairs which he hires out as meeting rooms, with the cafe providing refreshments. He set up wireless internet access which covers the whole building at a very reasonable rate too.

And the cake. Oh boy, the cake. When mum asked me to sort out her wedding cake, and I knew she wanted something that would taste GOOD rather than three tiers of alcoholic fruit cake in inch-thick white icing, I went to Victorias and David gave me the phone so I could call the lady who makes his cakes.

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You get the idea. It's a wonderful cafe.

So anyway, I was in town the other day, on the scooter, and pottering about as one does. I parked the scooter and pottered into Waterstones. The downstairs is mainly the kids section but, hurrah for them, they have a lift going upstairs, so upstairs I did go. Unfortunately going up in the lift I just drained. By the time the door opened, a ghost-white Mary staggered out and sunk to one knee.

Understandably this alarmed the upstairs staff a little, luckily I was able to reassure them, and after sitting down for a minute or two and drinking a bit of water (why does it always make people around me feel better if I drink some water?) they were happy to let me get back in the lift and go back downstairs.

I sat on my scooter for a bit and pondered my options. I wasn't really in a fit state to drive anywhere much. Victorias was just down the road. They know me. They know I am ill. They have had many conversations with me and know I am sensible. I turned the speed on the scooter down a bit, just to be extra safe - I would rather people got annoyed with me for going slowly than for running over their toes - and trundled off.

If Victorias hadn't been nearby, I'd have pulled into an alley to rest. But alleys don't have comfortable surroundings and tea.

I pulled up outside and somehow managed to organise my legs into getting me into the cafe. Alex, a lovely girl about my age or maybe a bit younger, helped me to my preferred table, a nice quiet out-of-the-way corner without too much direct light. Did I want my usual tea? Yes please. Then it occurred to me, I had to eat something before taking my painkillers. I picked up the menu but the text was all blurred, I couldn't even tell if I had it the right way up or not. Alex saw me turning the menu around and asked if I wanted something to eat. I said I just needed something before my pills, like maybe a bit of bread and butter. Alex told me Kate was in charge that day and she'd go ask her.

The picture above shows what I was given. A warm, buttered ciabatta, some crisps, and a small leaf salad with some cherry tomatos and grapes.

Furthermore, as I found out the next time I went in, Kate asked all the staff to keep an extra eye on me that afternoon as I wasn't feeling well. I did wonder why the four of them seemed to be having a rotating break that consisted of reading the paper a couple of tables away from me. I laid my head down on the table for a bit once, as a wave of headache washed over me, and raised my head again to see this and Kate saying "you don't have to have these if you don't want to, but I think it might do you some good."

She was right, and after about an hour of peace and quiet, an opportunity to do some breathing techniques, some food inside me and some sugary drink, I was in a fit enough state to get home safely.

I have no idea how much they charged me for any of these extras or even if they did. I know when I left I handed over a fiver and then put the change I was given straight into the tips bowl.

Starbucks wouldn't have looked after me anything like as well.


lyb said...

I think people like this, who 'watch' rather than 'take over' are worth their weight in gold. You clearly know both yourself and what your doing, and folk that 'watch' realise that, and dont feel the need to rush in and 'take over' because they think you dont know anything.

Horray for the 'watchers!' .... food looked good too!

staticgirl said...

That was very caring of them.

Mary said...

They're great. Plus, I count them as sort of friends by now. I go in there often enough when I'm not having a wibble in any way, shape or form, and am greeted by name with smiles and enquiries about whatever we were chatting about last time, and I do the same for them.

Little family-run businesses are ace.

Almost American said...

What a nice story! Well, not nice that you weren't feeling well of course, but you know what I mean . . . It sounds like a very special place!

Leiro said...

and I dare say it would have taken more than a fiver for some food in starbucks (used to work there!)

Not checked in on your blog for a while but only cos I'm busy. Sorry to hear you hit a rough patch recently but it is always nice to know you have friends to count on. Sounds like a lovely place!

Mary said...

I have fantastic friends :)

Leiro said...

I guess you are not feeling so great since there is a long time no post. Just thought I'd let you know I still check in and I'm thinking of you. You have really informed me about ME and I feel I understand it a bit better now.

Take Care of yourself and I look forward to hearing more about you when you feel better.