Night after night we’d criss-cross the centre like a knitted sweater, connecting up places with thread. Then we’d pick a colour and chart a course through the night and in our heads to find the perfect setting.
Passing through the heights of Kingsdown, we knew every one of those tower block lights, twinkling with promise. Then we’d dip down to Park Street, not quite our scene except for a few sidestreets in between where the shirts didn’t go.
In the old town, we discovered bars where possibilities resided. The tunes were different, Bacardi Breezers didn’t feature and black wasn’t only for metal kids. Late nights, not fighting, but trying to find a sense of belonging was our commonality.
Weekends were spent on Gloucester Road, sitting in coffee shops before we knew what real coffee was. All the way down the stretch, we felt like we were keeping it all in check, clocking changes when a shop rejigged its name or a familiar figure no longer looked quite the same.
Sometimes we’d end up in St Andrew’s park, but I never went for that daytime lark, the air stiff with smoke and the sound of beer cans under foot while kids flew past their grans on bikes. Curiosity might push us on to the cusp of Montpelier, where, like tourists, we’d stare over the allotments and into the east, its neighbourhoods infamous and out of reach.
Occasionally, when the city got too much, we’d head up to the Downs and over to Ashton Court. Mess about in trees and talk awkward stuff on the grass, before wheeling it back down through Clifton, insecurities surpassed by the breeze and our expertise for shortcuts.
Writing in cafes is one of my all-time favourite things to do. There is something about being in a cafe that provides the perfect setting for generating ideas (just ask JK Rowling). They are places that are ripe for people watching and listening in on conversations while at the same time allowing you to be with your thoughts. And a hit of a real espresso seems to help too.
But finding that ideal cafe has always been something of a challenge for me. It’s not that there is a shortage of them where I live, particularly on Gloucester Road where there are enough cafes to rival downtown Paris.
Call me fussy, but I find there are a number of factors that come into play when looking for the ideal thought-rousing environment. These are as follows:
- The noise level shouldn’t be so quiet that the atmosphere is dead yet not so loud that you are unable to think.
- Coffee should be the predominant product on offer – the scent of fried eggs and butter wafting up your nose is somehow not as stimulating to the mind as the smokiness of freshly brewed coffee
- it helps if there are a few people of a similar mindset so that you don’t feel like a social recluse for huddling in a corner with your laptop, while at the same time not being a full-blown hipster fest where you’re out of place if you’re not a ‘creative’ (because that’s just annoying)
One of my favourite cafes is currently the Boston Tea Party in Clifton Village. Upstairs it has a wide bar area looking out over the street, which provides the perfect place for putting down some words and getting some daydreaming done. Even when the cafe is busy, it doesn’t seem like it, because the view always makes it feel spacious. Plus, there are usually one or two really hot university students in there bashing out an essay, which is never a bad thing.
What about you? Any other writer’s out there like working in cafes? Which one is your favourite?