Friday, 18 September 2015

Wales, Kent and Caveman Coffee

From July, some wondrously hot and sunny days in Wales and Kent.


C and I helped Joy Miller of the Sauniere Society, with her book stall at the Conference  in Dinas Mawddwy organised by the Network of Ley Hunters. I don't dowse for leys, though many years ago I was taught how to dowse with a pendulum.
I was staying at the nearby camp site in a minuscule tent. 

Evening at the camp site, after the Conference.


By the river, thoughts may be like the light reflected in the water. Stillness, after the day's hubbub, the rain, the coffee, the tipping into sunshine. The sky's brass band, burning an entourage of shadows.
During the day, we are introduced to straight tracks, waymarkers on a path towards the centre of the sky, with the circumference lightly indented at the edges.
To standing stones that mark – as well as dusty, infinite horizons – the paradox and the complexities of longing. The way the sun bisects the earth with morning, creeps like a snail across the surface of our memory, sparking it like a bottle of champagne.

The sky grows dark. The blue and red lights, in the misty evening, round the camp, will soon be twinkling.


 The path back from the village to the camp site is through darkness and long grass. After being with so many people, it's good to walk the darkling, misty path, alone. To zip the tent closed. To know the night is close, a thin tent skin away, the moon swinging, trapeze artist, in between the hills. Which crowd in close, a cradle for the moonlight, misty meshes fluttering like flags, just above the trees. The lights come on. The sun is long gone. Night lifts up from the ground it seems, a hesitation of the dark green tops of trees.


Kent. I'm staying in a caravan here, such bliss, after the tiny tent!

The morning we left Wales, I woke up, looked out of the tent flap. It was very early, about five or so. And I glimpsed that feeling I had when travelling in Asia, of being in an utterly strange place, quite new and unknown to me, an immense sky, and the wondrousness of being there, in that totally unfamiliar place.

Of course I wasn't, I was in Wales, but I did glimpse that feeling – so thrilling in its sense of total unfamiliarity and strangeness yet this very newness and strangeness had a sense of belonging.

Perhaps it's always the unfamiliar we crave; or rather, that the familiar, however beloved, can get in the way, can block, something that we yearn for, however dimly – or sharply – aware of this we are. At least for those of us who feel this, who have yearnings for something intangible, it could be that, the desire to lose all familiarity, in a moment, under foreign skies, in quite unknown terrain. Breathing unfamiliar scents in the air.


 Walk along the downs, near Folkstone

A visit to Canterbury

We take a bus from Folkstone and arrive at Canterbury's bus station. Coffee is on my mind, as I haven't had one yet today. And right away I spot the Lost Sheep coffee stand. It's just a few metres away from a sculpture of a lamb which is on the site of the old cattle market. So the young man in the coffee stand tells me. He also says that 'Lost Sheep Coffee' was here before the lamb sculpture was made. The coffee is really good. (He says it's 'Caveman' blend). This is important. Everywhere I go, I rate the coffee. Sometimes I've wished that I'd made a note of every cup I've ever had, so I could publish a guide, of where to get the best coffee, and which shops or stalls to avoid. But if I think about it, it's almost certainly already been done. Yet, on the other hand, since there are so many cafés throughout the world, there would surely be room for another guide. Possibly the worst coffee I have ever had was from a kebab shop (it was the only place open at the time) in Kehl, Germany. Another recent dreadful one was in Machynlleth in Wales, but I don't remember the name of the café. It would hardly be fair to mention it anyway, even if I did. Far better I think, to mention the good ones. The Lost Sheep coffee stand on the site of the old cattle market in Canterbury gets five stars from me.

We walk along the city walls then in the parks beside the river in Canterbury. There are boats on the water, moving slowly, someone standing in the stern, pushing the boat with a long pole. There's the chapel built over the river, enclosing both banks, in an embrace of utmost and perfect equality. Right and left, destra and sinistra brought together in these arches of ancient stone. Gothic, slightly pointed, rising just above the water. 


The Solitary Walker said...

Excellent coffee the other morning in Chambres d'hôtes Cambrini, via Pandolfino, Marina di Massa, Tuscany — served at breakfast in a bowl with a jug of hot milk and warm brioches...

dritanje said...

Ah, you're in the right place for good coffee...

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Reading the previous comment, the whole breakfast experience sounds wonderful!
I noticed you had sunshine when you were away - it makes all the difference, especially when camping!
Ruby xx

dritanje said...

Ruby - had it rained, I might have been terminally put off camping - but it didn't!
M xx