Treason

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A couple of months ago Caffé Nero finally opened their second branch (third if you count the concession in House of Fraser) in Norwich on the outside of Chapelfield, our big Intu shopping mall. I went in a couple of times because it was quiet and I was with other people, we sat in their comfy sofa and lounged/made phone calls. I found the place small and a bit intimidating because it’s so nice and new.

Fast forward to November and I’m moving in. I’ve promised Rachel (my favourite Starbucks partner) I will be coming back once a week and once I have New Dog. It’s just that my anxiety’s been awful recently, purely because of the number of ‘Where’s your dog?’ conversations I’ve had to have with people who recognise me as a regular. At the same time the business of the place is making it hard for me to actually work … I spent five hours one day sitting watching Netflix rather than actually writing plus I find the exposure … well, it’s too much.

I could have moved upstairs but the WiFi is shit (and there are steps steeper than my house stairs) and with my BFFs having dogs/boots on their foots, stairs seem unfair. Especially as my former seat was right by the bar and thus close to the disabled loo and the baristas who’d always watch my stuff for me.

As a kid I liked enclosed spaces where I was on my own and when I realised Nero had a nook (right by the bar which means it’s lovely and warm), I decided to move. Ironically, I’ve been a regular visitor for the last two weeks anyway as I wanted breakfast (buying some croissants and taking them next door as Starbucks food … well it’s not the chain’s strongest point). This is mainly as there’s been delivery issues and they’re going to start playing Christmas music on a loop.

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Nero’s is quieter, people leave me be and the baristas seem nice. I get the feeling they’ve been seening a lot of defectees recently. The only downside is they don’t quite have the speed of Starbucks partners, which actually, works in their favour. You get a few minutes to wait and savour the experience rather than waiting in a huddle with other caffine-deprived souls. It feels more impersonal but also a little more personal, which is a contraction to say the least.

The booth itself is larger, the bunkette bigger, as are the tables which means I can set up my full rig. There’s a powerpoint right by my ankle and loads of room for my coat, bag and cane. I can even set up my iPhone as a second screen for Westworld rewatching. The disabled loo is within my eye-line, the only downside are the pesky cushions and having to guess which of the seventeen WiFi networks is Nero’s/capable of connecting with Dropbox.

But I feel like a traitor.

Part of the problem, I think is the ease of Starbucks. You walk in, pay with your phone and walk out or sit down seconds later. I’ve frequently put £20 on my card while on the bus, only to frown at the transaction a day later when it hits my credit card. At Nero I pay with cash (I choose to) and have a stamp card which is good for my attempts at weaning myself off credit cards and onto a cash system. Living on cash is the secret to my getting out of debt plan (as is not checking TeeFury) or Kickstarter. It’s hard and there are always emergencies, some weeks are easiler than others but I’m transitioning.

Cash is also limiting but there’s plenty of water on offer which is just what I need as mochas make me thirsty. I also know croissants aren’t the best breakfast but considering I’m not usually a breakfast person, it’s a step up for me.

I know the novelty will probably wear off, especially once I get a dog as the place is very small (and I’d need to buy another dog bowl; I do it as a service for all guide dogs when I start living in a particular coffee shop, including my own). But for now it’s helping me; I’m not writing much, most of this morning was spent outlining The Broken World and praying my battery wouldn’t die. The point is I can focus in there, the nook has good sound-muffling and no one can see me (it’s impossible for me to write if people are sitting behind me, a weird psychological quirk).

I like it and I’m in early enough that it’s mine. MINE.

Until I get new dog, I think I’m going to keep it. I might actually get some working done.

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Hello Autumn: The 2016 Edition

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On Friday, I could smell it hanging in the morning air. the change in temperature, in intensity. Autumn’s coming. Autumn has a smell, a feel, just like rain does (as Doctor Who taught me, this is petrichor) but I’ve never found the word in English for the smell of a changing season.

Unless you’re in Starbucks, when the smell of autumn is most definitely PSL.

My year is connected to Starbucks because I spent so much time in there and is mostly tied into the latter half of the year with PSL and the Red Cups. This is a happy time of year for me, even as I hate the entire of winter. I could almost feel my Seasonal Affective Disorder waking up, like a snake in my stomach.

But the sunlight, the running of the hounds, helps. Exercise isn’t my favourite thing but I enjoy walking sedately throwing balls for dogs, meeting other walkers and having coffee with Mhairi. This week I think, counting today, we will have free run the dogs three times which must be some kind of record.

They love it and, frankly, so do we.

But autumn means other things; a shift in clothes, layers and my beloved, comfy rust red cardigan. It means thicker skirts and boots, new socks (all black) because I keep losing half of mine, always one foot and never the other.

But, as Shannon reminds me, this is also a time for re-starting work and new projects after the lazy summer days where it’s too hot or nice to work. She was asking me which of the seasons I favour and it’s always been the transitory ones: spring because it means winter is dead and finally buried and autumn because of the colours, the cooler weather and the abundance of blackberries on branches (which Uni loves).

Apparently, though, she loves them only when they’re on said branches or thrown at her. Not delicately placed on a platter for her to nosh on.

Fine, Uni, be awkward.

I find myself reaching for jackets, for shawls and wraps, wondering if I need to invest in some more skirts (I have two winter ones). I wonder when I’ll have to put the heating on, when I need to change the Direct Debit so I don’t go into massive debt over winter. I can feel it coming, whispering on the wind.

Winter is always coming.

This year, though, I’m not going to let it own me.

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