July 2013

Having your cake and eating it

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Our coffee shop kitchen is pretty small. On busy baking mornings there’s a lot of sashaying and shimmying past each other to get our respective bakes ready and out of the ovens in time. We’ve adjusted our initial recipes to get the results we need and are confident now that they will sell and be enjoyed. Here are flapjacks, brownies, tomato & gruyere tarts and Portuguese custard tarts, prior to a busy Saturday. Of course, if we fancy one ourselves, it’s usually sold just before we close. Probably just as well, or the shimmying would get more difficult!

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Like everyone’s I guess, our plants have been thriving in the glorious weather. You can almost see the sunflowers growing. Daily watering is part of our closing down routine. There’s something very soothing about the splash of water drops on thirsty foliage. What is it about hosepipes and kinks though? The honeysuckle plants on either side of our entrance gates are beginning to look the part.

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We’ve just had the last of our precious Mondays off before the school holidays start. Last year we worked through with only one day off (due to an electricity ‘outage’) between April and September. We were running on empty by the end of that and decided to pace ourselves this year. We try and make sure we get our daily walk or tandem ride in after work to clear the coffee fumes from our minds and remind ourselves of life beyond school bounds. We realise we can cope better these days and, as ever, our spirits are lifted when people appreciate the place and what we offer. We are struck by the enjoyment families get when their children (and often the adults too) are able to play in our playground as an adjunct to the refreshments. Our hula hoops are in constant use. I wonder if they’re often available in current school playgrounds.

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Our young team members are settling in well. Some have been with us since last year and have graduated to making coffee on the machine. Newer ones are getting used to our routines and visibly growing in confidence. Our nieces and nephews have booked their slots over the long holiday and will be joining us in the coming weeks. We’re looking forward to seeing them and have booked refresher courses for them with our super ‘barista’ from our coffee supplier.

Our new postcards (mainly photos by Bill) have gone on display and are selling well.

Sticky Stuff

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Yesterday one of our young customers was pleased to find his favourite book among our collection: Stanley’s Stick, written by our friend John Hegley. It’s a great book that is popular with lots of our visitors. He loved seeing it in a new setting, sitting at one of our old school desks. We really enjoy seeing children and adults reading together from our collection of books.

We changed over our library loan collection this week. One hundred and fifty books from the North Yorkshire Library Service form the basis of Grosmont community library, hosted by us in the coffee shop. The number of regular borrowers is small but increasing and lots of visitors from further afield enjoy browsing through the collection while savouring their coffee and cake.

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While we get through the washing up at the sink, looking through the window into the playground, we get to see young people effortlessly having fun hula hooping with the hoops provided by us.

Often, accompanying adults then try to emulate their offspring. There is clearly some inverse relationship between the diameter of the hula hoop and the hula hooper’s waistline that results in crashing failure for even the most determined adults. The message is: if you’re going to hula, do it sooner or, maybe, get a bigger hoop!

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The plants we put into tubs in 2012 under and around the pergola are doing well. The Ena Harkness rose is in bloom at present and looking good. The grapevines we planted last month seem to have ‘got away’ as the plantsman said. And the two honeysuckle plants we put on either side of the entrance gate last month have started to grow. We’re hoping the entrance arch will be festooned with fragrant blossoms by the end of the month to tempt customers in.


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We spent the morning of our day off getting in logs for our log burning stoves. It feels very organised doing it in the middle of summer and there’s something very pleasing about seeing the logs stacked and imagining them drying out between now and when we start using the stoves again in the autumn. A bit like laying down bottles of wine in the cellar.

Lots of positive comments in our visitors book over the last few weeks about the quality of our coffee. We seem to be selling more these days as word gets around.