In the cafe
My WI doesn’t have a formal meeting in August, but we usually get together in someone’s garden or arrange to meet up for a walk or something. A year or two ago, we read of a book, supposedly written by “the village”, though no-one seemed to know anyone involved in the project. We wanted to know more - who? how? why? and for our August meeting we invited the author to come and tell us about it. It was clear that, though we thought we knew everyone, actually, we didn’t. We ladies of a certain age had grown together by means of the babysitting circle, playgroup, WI, school…but how might the men meet? And what about this bunch of home-based professionals who found it isolating and difficult to network? There’s no Post Office these days, no village shop, neither of the two pubs open at lunchtime. There was a definite need for a place to meet!
A village cafe was the answer. With cake!
Had it been left to those of us sitting chatting, it would have ended there, but thankfully, our friend Jennie is a bit of a star and one of those women who get on with it. In no time at all, she’d rallied the troops, booked the Social Club for Tuesday mornings as far as the eye could see and had a long list of volunteers. We were set.
We agreed from the start, it couldn’t be a “WI thing”, a “school-mum thing” or a “church thing”. It needed the involvement and participation of everyone and that’s exactly how it’s turned out.
Every Tuesday morning then, the Community Café is open for business, with a range of home-made cakes, coffee and tea and things for the children too. It usually begins around 9am, when the children have been taken to school and the Mums (and one or two Dads) drop in for a coffee before getting on with their day. By around 10.30, the club is usually packed with groups of friends and those who simply fancy a chat over a hot drink and piece of cake. From behind the counter, I see people I haven’t seen for years and made the two young women in my “team” smile as I described the group of grey haired ladies as “the baby sitting circle” : well, that’s how I knew them! No matter that those babies are all in their thirties and forties now - we are all still just the same as we were then ;-)
Each week, around sixty people drop in and enjoy a bit of company and chatter. There’s a bunch of chaps who sit and read their papers and a few couples who enjoy the walk and a breath of fresh air. The last couple of months we’ve been trying out a programme of activities; a seed swap, a book swap, an art dabble and this morning, a knit and natter.
Of course, the morning flies by and in no time at all, everyone’s up to date with all the latest village news, the cake stands are empty and the washing up is almost done. Those of us who brought their knitting and crochet have a few rows done and one or two have been tempted to give it a try.
I’m not sure any of us any wiser or more optimistic about world events or government, but I’m sure everyone leaves feeling a little lighter as a result of a morning spent in good company.
It’s a very good thing you started, Jennie!
My fun continued for a little while longer, because I took the interesting route home to buy carrots. It wasn’t much of a chore, was it?