15. Feb, 2017


'Coffe-e-e-e.' Uttered in a low growl, sounding desperate, which you are. The only way to utter it. Alternatively you could utter: 'Pope.'

   Many cappuccinos ago, Himself Indoors asked me one morning if I wanted a coffee. Before I could respond in the affirmative, he pronounced: 'Is the Pope Catholic?' Yes. Do I want coffee? Duh (yes). We've been 'pope-ing' and 'coffee-ing' ever since. It's a case of who cracks and says 'pope' or 'coffe-e-e-e' first. Our timetables revolve around the frothy-with-chocolate-on-top beverage. Have we got time to do whatever before coffee? Sometimes we only attend an event cuz we like the coffee.

   Coffee-itis is a disease. It has to be right for some folk, particularly Husband. The right ambience, the right cup/mug, the right coffee. Me? I'd drink instant from an empty cat food tin if I had to, with the tramps who sit around their fires beneath London’s Charing Cross Bridge arches. Good company. Warm.

   What is it about coffee? When you analyse the stuff, it tastes pretty...well...weird. When you take that first sip – 'Aaaahhh...'- that first gulp of caffeine slithers down your gullet, leaving behind a frothy moustache, a frothy blob on your nose and possibly a line of choc powder on your forehead (yup – I've walked round like that, and it's only later – on purpose - that Husband points it out), you love everybody. Except Husband.

   Our holidays are planned around it. If there's no coffee shop within a hop, skip and jump of our destination – forget it, no matter how serene/beautiful/fun/perfect the place seems. We've had coffee in a variety of places. Husband often adds the other utterance if the place is worthy of it.

   'I've had coffee in worse places.'

   One intriguing spot which earned this epitaph was on the Isle of Wight, a tiny island just off the south coast of Hampshire, UK, separated from the mainland by the Solent, a narrow strip of sea, and favoured strongly by Queen Victoria. A Victorian coastal fort, used during both wars, perches upon the cliffs high above the Needles - three distinct pillars of chalk rising from the sea, punctuated at the end by a lighthouse. It's literally a breathtaking view from the old look-out tower. The tower has been converted into a café, and half-a-dozen windows give an almost three hundred and sixty degree panorama over the Needles. Stools and thoughtfully provided binoculars occupy each window.

   Another place worthy of our coffee utterences took place on one of our family holidays, umpteen years ago. Slovenia's Lake Bled is beautful. Bled Castle (original name, huh?) is a red-roofed, medieval white bastion perched on a chalk cliff, nestled in forest high above the lake. Another bonkers view. And here we indulged in the inevitable coffee with our kids, outside on the battlements, and here Husband uttered his:

   'I've had coffee in worst places.'

   Views are the thing, or novelty, or out of the ordinary (same thing, I suppose).

   Last year, we won't forget the cappuccinos we sipped on the roadside in Barcelona. The Familia Sagrada Cathedral, covered in wierd and wonderful religious sculptures and carvings, a spit across the road from us, loomed. And it loomed. Definitely loomed. Awesome.

   Our latest cappuccinos, of course, were last week (or was it two weeks ago? Oh – how time flies!). Madeira. How exotic. Madeira, part of Portugal, is an extinct island volcano or two some miles off the north west coast of Africa.

   There we sat, Himself and me, halfway up this volcano in a tree lined village called Monte. And here are two coffee spots. One sits just below the cable car station, so you can sip your cappo and watch the giant cogs and teeth grinding and murmuring and going round and round while each car reaches the zenith above you and the next one departs and you watch them coming and going, imagining James Bond having a wrestle with Jaws on the roof (they're too small for that). You're sitting above the side of the mountain looking down over the umpteen red rooftops spilling down towards the sea and the port in the far distance. On a clear day it's magnificent, it really is.

   There's another spot just up the road from this one, literally, and the view is, again, bonkers. This time we sat and looked down into a valley deep, deep down below (said in a deep voice...). From here you can see a hairy walking trail from miles away on the other side of the valley. There, indeed, we watched a speck, wearing luminous wet weather gear, marching along. It disappeared, then, minutes later, our gazes bulging to find it, it reamerged on this side. The speck/he was walking a Levada, one of many, sometimes very hairy – very narrow mini canals populating the mountains. You need a head for heights for this. Eek. And Husband wants to walk one. So do I, now. I'm not letting him get away with it.

   And all of this with your frothy cappucino. Many tales. Many thoughts. Go on. Join me. Cappaccino or flat white? Whatever the latter is. I've just Googled it. An Australian or New Zealand style of coffee developed during the eighties. Fancy. And Australia's on my bucket list of destinations.

   Excuse me while I gulp my coffee while I'm thinking about that. Garibaldi anyone?