Good coffee, good food, warm welcome

The Smith

The Smith is our newest venture and a little side-step away from our usual stamping ground of Oxfordshire! I am from Lancashire originally and as a child spent many happy holidays in the Lake District which was right on our doorstep.

We were approached by a friend to see if we might be interested in taking on an old forge building in the heart of Windermere. Once we saw the site, we could see the potential in this beautiful space. I'm currently spending most of my time up in Windermere developing the site as an outpost of the others. When we open, it will be as a Coffee House in the same style as Coffeesmith and The Rookery with an emphasis on amazing coffee, grilled sandwiches, cakes and light bites with a British tapas style offering in the evening with some carefully curated wines and beers to accompany.

The building was a shell and I'm very happy to see it gradually take shape. The big woodburning stove and gigantic flue will finally be connected on Monday, and that is going to make it a much warmer place to work in. For most of January I've been head to foot in thermals and fleeces, hats and gloves so it will feel positively balmy once I get the stove blasting away!

When finished there will be space for around 40 people to sit and eat and drink in comfort, with some squishy leather sofas, bar stools at the counter, a big antique table seating 8 at the back and lots of smaller tables of 2. Coupled with some local Herdwick fleeces and lots of cushions, we aim to be unpretentious and comfortable. And there's a story behind lots of the décor too- we are independent so we don't do things by numbers. 

You can follow our progress on Instagram @thesmithwindermere

Sarah x


The Best?

Since opening Coffeesmith in 2014, we've been really honoured to have been consistently no 1 in the tea & coffee category on TripAdvisor for Witney. We're also consistently in the top 3 for all restaurants in Witney - no mean feat when you consider the vast array of eating options in town! We think that it's no coincidence that the top rated places locally are all independent. 

We do believe that we offer the best coffee in Witney, Faringdon and Bourton on the Water, but just calling yourself the best, doesn't mean a thing without feedback- our reviews and ratings bear this out. We encourage all feedback and are aware of course that we can't please everyone, all of the time. At the end of the day though, chill out- it's just coffee!

We encourage you to seek out the best places that Witney and the surrounding areas have to offer- here are some of our favourites, for coffee and more:

Brew, 75B Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LX

We are often in Summertown and we always pop into Brew whilst we're waiting. Serving coffee from Round Hill in Radstock, we know that our flat white will be a good one. North Parade is a tiny little jewel of a street and a food lover's delight with the iconic Gees around the corner, and the North Parade deli and The Rose & Crown pub to visit too. Artur is a friend and we look forward to seeing his exciting new venture on George Street (opening soon!)

Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 8HZ

In an old service station site on the main A419, this is an eclectic little farm shop, tepee, florists and butchery. They do an excellent burger and the ice cream is out of this world. Worth a special trip!

La Bobina, Bromsgrove, Faringdon SN7 7JF

Buzzy atmosphere and consistently good tapas in this converted haberdashery shop, a stone's throw from The Rookery.

The Blanket Hall, 100 High Street, Witney OX28 6HL

Eleanor Martin runs a tight ship here- the restoration of this beautiful heritage site does her and her parents (of Cotswold Woollen Weavers), great credit. A part of Witney's heritage has been saved for the town. Admire the beautiful interiors, buy a Witney blanket and enjoy one of their regular pie-nights.

The Olive Branch, 66 Corn Street, Witney OX28 6BS

Cheap eats abound here but the delicious veggie wraps and friendly service are a cut above the usual 'kebab' style fare. 









The Rookery Coffee House

We're SO proud of the way in which The Rookery is evolving. It's been a tough start as we had to take it on at fairly short notice, and just run it! The refurbishment is now complete and we're loving the positive feedback from you all about the smart new exterior and the peaceful atmosphere inside. Don't forget that we are open 7 days a week now.

 Take a pew and watch the world go by....

Take a pew and watch the world go by....


Our new menu is also proving popular- Eggs Kerjiwal and our fresh salads proving popular, as well as the amazing local sourdough we use and sell. With deliveries on Tuesdays and Saturdays, get here quick as it sells out fast!

We've got a great team in place now- all local and passionate young people who love living and working in Faringdon. The indomitable Phil Carpenter has been training us all to get the best out of our premium coffee and inspiring the team. Our new manager & patissier, Lucy, comes to us from Daylesford Organic in Kingham and after having a week to settle into the routine, will be baking her beautiful cakes from next week.

We've just finished our Tea Menu which will be rolling out across 3 locations soon, beginning with The Rook' and The 'Smith, followed by The Mousetrap Inn. Our loose leaf teas are top quality and we love the organic loose leaf blends that Lesley of Calico Magpie makes for us so much that we're going to serve and stock them in each cafe too. 

Lots of small changes are afoot that will hopefully make your experience as our guests even better. We love hearing feedback from our loyal customers- speak to Dan at The 'Smith, Rob or Zoe at Cogges, Lucy or Sarah at The Rook' and Frank or Rob at The Mousetrap Inn.


The Mousetrap Inn

The Mousetrap Inn is a pub, on Lansdowne in the famous Cotswold village of Bourton on the Water.

Originally built to serve the men building the railway there at the turn of the century, this old Cotswold stone building has provided succour to weary workers and travellers for over 100 years. With 10 bedrooms and a cosy bar and dining area, we couldn't resist the opportunity to bring our brand of hospitality to this Bourton stalwart.

We took the keys on the 1st June 2017 and we are running it as is until we start the gradual refurbishment over the summer months. The bar and dining area will benefit first, followed by a rolling programme of room refurbishments in the new year.

Food wise,  we want to bring fresh local ingredients to the table and really showcase the best that this area has to offer. With this in mind, we are now recruiting for an assistant general manager, head chef, waiting & housekeeping staff.

See our jobs page for details or see our job adverts on . Or send your cv and a covering letter to




Faringdon is a fantastic little town in West Oxfordshire. It has a fascinating history, especially during the Civil War, and of course it is close to the iconic White Horse at Uffington- a magical place where we often go to walk our dogs and admire the view. Faringdon also has a strong community of independent businesses, despite the recent expansion into the area by Waitrose & Aldi.

To those of you in the know, The Rookery has long been the place to have coffee in Faringdon. In a converted coach works set in a prominent part of town, The Rookery is a labour of love for Shane and Lesley. Shane runs the popular Celtic Magpie hair salon & treatment rooms on the upper two floors, and Lesley has been running the coffee shop on the ground floor. And when they come into Witney, they are regular customers at Coffeesmith. We were thrilled when they approached us to discuss working together at The Rookery.

Lesley is re-igniting her passion for herbal medicine and is going to be concentrating on that going forward. Coffeesmith will be taking on the coffee shop from the end of April. Not much will change outwardly, other than a few cosmetic changes, and we hope to continue very much in the spirit of the place. It will remain vegetarian, so fans of the amazing vegan fruitcake need not panic- Lesley is entrusting her secret recipe to us! You can expect creative, freshly made, feel-good food, outstanding coffee and the warm welcomes you already get from Coffeesmith & The Cogges Kitchen. We are really looking forward to being part of the new chapter for The Rookery and bringing our hospitality to Faringdon.

Happy New Year!

Well, the weather has really closed in here and it is toe-tinglingly cold at the moment. Coffeesmith & The Cogges Kitchen are both open daily and full of comforting cakes, hot food, & homemade soups to really warm the cockles of your heart. And speaking of the heart, the Smith will be opening in the evening of Valentine's Day for a very romantic pop-up bistro. Details on the News, Events and Press page of this site. 

Also on that page are details of our inclusion in the Sunday Times 25 best Coffee Shops in the UK- an honour we were thrilled to receive. 

Guest coffee has arrived in the shop from our friends at Roundhill Roastery in Radstock, Somerset and all the details, tasting notes etc are up on the board in the Smith. There's a Kenyan filter available which we will put through an Aeropress. If you haven't seen an Aeropress before, then come in and Islay can demonstrate for you. They are really fantastic for making a very clean and pure filter coffee and best of all are small and portable- I even took one on quite a hair-raising sailing trip from Portugal to Spain last summer and in very rough conditions, my buddy and I could still enjoy fantastic coffee every morning! We've got a few left in stock, and the Roundhill beans are also available to buy in retail bags too.

Perfect Match

We are so lucky to live right here. We have the bustle of Witney as our local town, and we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. Whilst Witney is thriving, with new businesses opening all the time, not everyone makes their living that way. There are many working farms in this area, and for most of them it is very hard work for little reward. One of the highlights of the rural community's calendar is the FFF&B Ploughing Match held at the end of September each year. (Not the catchiest title - it stands for Faringdon, Fairford, Filkins & Burford). This year's event on 26th September was blessed by extraordinarily good weather- it really felt as if the summer was having one last stretch before curling up and making way for the autumn.


It is a very well supported and organised event, and this year was held at Home Farm in Kelmscott (also home to Kelmscott Country Pork who provide our sausage meat for Coffeesmith). I took the dogs and the children- Rob was working at the cafe as it was a Saturday, and two of my students who are from Macau, China. It was fun to see the event through their eyes- they were totally gobsmacked, and couldn't really get their heads around it, but fuelled by ice-creams and mini-doughnuts, they entered into the spirit of things!

We sat on straw bales in the baking heat in the middle of a huge field watching the falconry display which had come from Milletts Farm. The birds were truly awe inspiring and we made a mental note to go down to Milletts ourselves and see them again.

Next up was the Terrier Racing- Bingo Little was shoehorned into this race, and we all felt very proud to hear his name being announced over the tannoy!

Arthur was in charge of dog-handling and managed to squash Bingo into the trap for the starting line up, alongside our next door neighbour's dog, Murphy and a couple of others. We sat waiting for the start with bated breath, the children chanting Bingo, Bingo, Bingo. The traps were opened with the starting pistol...............and Bingo promptly walked out and ambled over to my seat wagging his tail, completely untroubled by the fierce race being played out directly behind him. Murphy could only be cajoled to run by our neighbour George running the length of the field in front of him. All in all, we decided that Bingo has other talents. There were no surprises in the other dog race where Nemo the greyhound retained his crown from last year. No wonder the students were perplexed by this very British of events!

Many local agricultural businesses have stands here and it is a great marketing opportunity for them. An animal rescue charity had a tent of reptiles which children could pet.

Our two greatly enjoyed that until Sophia was startled by a snake and dropped it- luckily it was recaptured swiftly, and we slunk off to the fairground rides before a long walk home across the fields for tea and cake. It was an unusual but fun day out and I can definitely recommend it next year.

There is something so beautiful about a freshly ploughed field; the work that has gone into it; the earth full of promise, ready to be planted with next season's crop. It got me thinking about another crop, far away on two special haciendas in Brazil and Colombia- coffee plants growing there now. Soon, their green beans will be harvested and set afloat on their journey across the sea to Britain, destined to end up at Coffeesmith. It's almost time.......Coffeesmith's very own beans, carefully chosen and roasted by us. Can't wait..........

Top Ten Paris (inspired by Phil C)

Our Barista Phil is away in Paris at the moment- he's an American living here for a few years and it's his first time in Paris. Needless to say, as a dedicated Oenophile, not long back from a wine trip to Reims & surrounding area, he is having a fantastic time and posting lots of photos on Instagram and Facebook. This took us back to our time in Paris last summer and inspired by the memories we are posting our Top Ten Paris*! There's no theme to this list, but a big part of any trip for us is food and tracking down a decent coffee!

* Other Top Ten Paris Attractions are available.

1) Museé des Plans-Reliefs- 6 Boulevard des Invalides, Hôtel National des Invalides, 75007 Paris, France (Invalides Metro)

This is a quirky museum, which we discovered on a weekend trip to Paris 7 years ago- our first weekend away without our then baby, Arthur. I think Rob saw it mentioned in a pamphlet; it was raining and we went! It is at the top of the Invalides building and is a dimly lit attic gallery of glass cases containing military models of various places that Napoleon planned to invade. It is very atmospheric and the models are detailed, yet strangely amateur. It is easy to imagine Napoleon and his men like little boys gathered around their war games. We loved it and always recommend it.

2) Cafe Marlette- 51 Rue des Martyrs, 75009, Paris, France (St Georges or Pigalle Metro)

We fell in love with this little cafe at a time when we were busy planning Coffeesmith. It had the essence of what we are aiming to create ourselves. Run by two sisters, Scarlette and Margot Joubert, hence the name, it is a beautiful tiny cafe on the picturesque Rue des Martyrs specialising in gluten free baking. They sell pre-packaged gluten free cake and bread mixes, and serve an amazing brunch called 'Le Frenchie'. We had a chat with them and their hospitality and service is great.

We spent a couple of hours there and it's well worth a visit, unlike the Rose Bakery on the other side of the street. We visited them having been big fans of their cook book  (and their marbled cheesecake recipe). Their hospitality in contrast was extremely poor- many of the staff are American and all speak English- we can get by in French so there was no excuse at all for being, frankly, rude! So Team Marlette every time!

3) The Eiffel TowerChamp de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

Hated and loved in equal measure by the Parisians, no trip is complete without a visit to La Dame de Fer (The Iron Lady to you and I). 

 We're here! Yeah!

We're here! Yeah!

Our kids loved the scary see-through floor which Arthur and I braved, and just the experience of being up the Tower (we had been watching a Monster in Paris a lot last year).

We looked for somewhere to eat, and ended up in a nasty cafeteria style place with no seats and horrid, plasticky Croque Monsieurs- come on La Tour Eiffel, we thought, you can do better than this! Then we discovered Le 58- the restaurant on the 1st floor. It is extremely cheesy, and is a fine dining restaurant in look, but not food or service. Nonetheless, for the views and the experience it was absolutely worth it.  The children had dessert made in Eiffel Tower shaped moulds- what more could you ask for?!

4) Le Coutume Café47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris, France (Sèvres - Babylone Metro)

Coutume is seen by many as leading the vanguard of third wave coffee in Paris and this is probably true. Four years after this, their first site opened in the heart of the Left Bank, it is still achingly hip and still serves the finest coffee we had in Paris. The tables are communal and the style is unfussy utilitarian white tile and stainless steel within the shell of a Belle Epoque building. Since we visited they've opened a site within the Finnish Cultural Institute (which Phil visited yesterday) and one in Tokyo too.

5) The Carousels of Paris- dotted across the city!

Paris seems to have as many carousels as it does cake shops! They are an especially French phenomenon-one story is that Louis XIV had his engineers design the first one to amuse his troops  when he moved his court from Versailles to Paris. This took place in the Place du Carrousel of the Louvre, hence the name. We especially liked the Dodo Manege in the Jardin des Plantes (of which more next).

 So pretty!

So pretty!

6) Jardin des Plantes (aka FRANCEUR'S HOUSE!!)- 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France (Gare d'Austerlitz Metro)

Our children became obsessed by the film A Monster in Paris. So much so that Sophia requested a Monster in Paris birthday party when she was 3! The film is a favourite of theirs and is strange in that it captures two different sides of their imaginations. On the one hand,  they love the soundtrack of accordian-backed breathy Vanessa Paradis pop; they love the romance and the beautiful Paris backdrop, but on the other hand it speaks to their primitive fear of darkness and monsters. They vascillate between loving it and being too scared to watch it. Anyhow, they wanted to see what they call, 'Franceur's House'- in the film Franceur is a flea who is accidentally gigantisized in a mad scientist's laboratory in Paris, which, it turns out is based on the Glass House in the Jardin des Plantes. The garden is near Gare d'Austerlitz- a place I used to visit when one of my school friends was at university in Paris. It was a real trip down memory lane, or as her street is actually called, Rue Nicolas Houell!

 La Maison de Franceur!

La Maison de Franceur!

7) Buvette- 28 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris, France (Pigalle Metro)

This place is actually the Paris outpost of a New York restaurant, and has a New York style pressed tin ceiling- it is at the top end of Henry Monnier in south Pigalle- a street lined with excellent neighbourhood style restaurants and bars- it's the kind of place where locals tend to outnumber the tourists. We had heard good things about it and decided to go for dinner and take the children. They do small tasting plates, tapas style. The cocktails are supposed to be very good, although we stuck to wine. Arthur has a tendency, despite living in a household of experimental cooks and spice lovers, to prefer plain food- but he absolutely loved the food here- we had to order more of the delicious thinly sliced rose coloured lamb with beans, just for him.  It's not just the food here that's exquisite either- they have beautiful menus, cards and coasters too- a feast for all the senses.

8) La Mere de la Famille 35 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris, France

The oldest chocolate shop in Paris, founded in 1761; this is an absolute gem of old Paris. By happy coincidence, we were staying directly opposite this shop  and passed it every day before finally going in and discovering the most delicious ice-cream we've ever sampled (and we've eaten a lot of ice-cream). Once through the door, heralded by the old fashioned tinkly bell, this place is like the inside of a jewellery box. Wood-panelled, gold lettered, mirrored, glass cases filled with glittering pâte de fruits, smooth slabs of orange-studded chocolate, and all of the old-school French confectionery you can imagine. (Made myself hungry just remembering this place!) We bought their book to bring home and there are some beautiful recipes including our favourite chocolate and pistachio biscuits.

 Chocolate Heaven.......

Chocolate Heaven.......

9) Bouillon Chartier7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris, France (Grands Boulevards Metro)

Chartier is a Paris institution and an experience not to be missed. Founded over a hundred years ago, its raison d'etre has always been to provide a decent meal at a reasonable price, originally to workers. It is housed through a yard between other buildings, in an old station concourse. We had noticed queues of people snaking down the street to get in, so on our last night, we joined the line. There is a convivial atmosphere in the queue- locals and tourists alike stand chatting as the Maitre 'D walks the line asking how many are in your party and matching groups to empty seats. Once inside, the festive atmosphere continues. It is rather like being on a film set- the waiters wear the traditional 'rondin' uniform of long white aprons and black jackets, and the space is extraordinary. Double height, wood panelled and stained with years of thick dark varnish and the patina of gravies and sauces long since enjoyed, there is a pillared mezzanine and a general hub-bub in the air. You sit with other patrons which makes for a sociable experience.

Don't go for the food though. The quality and presentation took me right back to early 1980's school dinners- gelatinous brown sauces and overdone meat. The snails were rubbery, as is their wont, the plonk was cheap and warm, and the service brisk and charmless. The bill is scrawled on the paper table cloth at the end, and money taken to an imperious and well-fed old lady who sits on high in a cashier's booth. And with in excess of 50 million meals served since they first opened, who can blame her for looking rather pleased with herself?

10) De Hillerin18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris, France (Les Halles Metro)

Strolling along on a beautiful morning, going nowhere in particular (but on the lookout for a decent coffee of course), we happened upon De Hillerin. This is the kitchen shop to end all kitchen shops. Do you want a 24cm Copper Tatin Mould with ears? They've got it! A 50cm Turbot Kettle? No problem! This place really is an Aladdin's Cave of kitchen equipment. When Les Halles was a big produce market, many of the city's restaurateurs would shop there, so lots of kitchen shops sprung up nearby, including this one which is probably the best known. They also ship worldwide. Rob bought some beautiful and ornate metal skewers- like mini-rapiers that we use for everything from mixing drinks to pricking potatoes- they make the mundane kitchen tasks that little bit more beautiful!

Don't worry Phil-fans- the Barista du Jour will be back from the City of Light next week with a spring in his step and doubtless some fine stories to tell.  Bonne Voyage Philippe et Famille!


Cherry plums- irresistible little flavour bombs that are everywhere at the moment and so delicious! There seem to be a glut of them growing around our new house, and the  little ones whiled away some time this morning collecting over 2 kilos (and eating a lot too!)

We decided that there was only one thing for it- JAM. 

Here is our recipe:


2 kg freshly picked cherry plums

1.75kg jam sugar (sugar with pectin added- widely available in the supermarket)

2 tsp ground ginger

2tsp ground cardamom

Few drops of vanilla extract (to your own taste)

1/2 pint water

Firstly wash and then weigh out the fruit.

Then add to the pan with half a pint of water and gently heat until they start to break up a bit- about 10 minutes or so.

Once they've started to break up, add the jam sugar. Stir until it has fully dissolved and then heat the mixture until it is fiercely  bubbling (around 20/25 minutes).

 We used a slotted spoon to sift out the stones- much easier to do once the fruit has broken up in the pan.

We used a slotted spoon to sift out the stones- much easier to do once the fruit has broken up in the pan.

Just time for a lovely cup of coffee from our friends at Roundhill Roastery in Somerset- available as retail bags and as one of our guest coffees at the cafe! And let the children do some more of the work for a change......,

 Kid's Club? This is WAY more fun.

Kid's Club? This is WAY more fun.

We then added the vanilla essence, cardamom and ginger to the mix. You don't have to do this, but these are flavours we felt go well with plum and as long as you don't use too much, they just round the flavour out whilst hardly being noticeable.

You could use a jam thermometer to gauge when the jam is ready, but we did the time-honoured 'wrinkle' test. Use a cold plate that has been in the freezer for 15 minutes and put a teaspoon of the jam mixture on the cold plate. Leave for a second or two and then turn the plate on its side. You're looking for the jam mix to 'wrinkle' and start to set, not run away. If it fails the test put the pan back on to simmer for a few more minutes, then try again.

 Don't forget to sterilise your jars and lids. We get ours from Lakeland. Other shops are available! We washed lids and jars in hot soapy water, then rinsed well, placed on an oven tray and put in the simmering oven of the Aga until we were ready to use them. They could be put in a normal oven at around 140 degrees Celsius.

Don't forget to sterilise your jars and lids. We get ours from Lakeland. Other shops are available! We washed lids and jars in hot soapy water, then rinsed well, placed on an oven tray and put in the simmering oven of the Aga until we were ready to use them. They could be put in a normal oven at around 140 degrees Celsius.

Once the jammy mixture has passed the wrinkle test, we poured into the sterilised jars and sealed them up. We made 12 jars in total, most of which are safely in our larder, but a few will be available to buy in Coffeesmith.

Making jam may sound like a boring way to spend a few hours, but it is strangely satisfying. I completely zoned out whilst sifting the stones, and then I rejoiced in the fact that the house smelt of delicious hot sugared fruit all morning! Best of all, one of our regular catering customers placed an order for Afternoon Tea to be delivered to their office in Witney tomorrow- they will be the lucky recipient of the first jar of amber joy, and I spent the afternoon baking buttermilk scones for their order too. They are also having finger sandwiches, clotted cream for the scones and jam and a cake- what a place to work eh?!



A weekend in Tilling

As we have just moved house- I thought that rather than regaling you with more pictures of boxes and empty rooms, I'd have a little throwback to May when we spent a fantastic weekend in Rye, East Sussex. 

We were in desperate need of a break and the sea was calling us. Rather than going to our usual seaside haunt of Cornwall, we decided to have a change and visit Rye. I must admit that this trip was totally inspired by the wonderful books of EF Benson, Mapp & Lucia, most of which are set in Rye- the fictional town of Tilling in the books. The books were written in the 30's but are just as relevant today. Tilling is seething with backstabbing, gossip and intrigue, mainly perpetrated by two rivals for the title of 'Queen'- Miss Elizabeth Mapp of Mallards and Mrs Emmeline Lucas (Lucia) of Riseholme (based on Broadway in Worcestershire). The books are laugh out loud funny, and a walk around the ancient citadel of Rye is a walk through their pages. 



Mallards is the Georgian Lamb House, now owned by the National Trust and well worth a visit, if only to have a cream tea in the beautiful walled garden. 

This is the view of the church and the famous 'crooked chimney' from the panelled study- home to EF Benson but also to Henry James who also lived there for a time. There was previously a garden room with a large bay window looking out into the street. This was where Miss Mapp did much of her spying on the good folk of Tilling. Sadly it was destroyed during the war, but the fantastic tv production of Mapp and Lucia which aired last Christmas (now available on DVD!) faithfully reproduced the garden room and there are lots of props, costumes, models and photos of the sets on display at Lamb House.

 Inside the dining room of the Mermaid Inn

Inside the dining room of the Mermaid Inn

The Mermaid Inn on Mermaid Street is probably the most famous of the Rye landmarks- steeped in dubious histories of smugglers, underground tunnels and murders! Here is Sophia inside the beautiful dining room.


There is also the Ypres Tower in Rye, built in the reign of Henry III. Great fun to be had (for all ages!) climbing on the cannon!

Although the sea has retreated a little from Rye these days- it used to lap at the foot of Mermaid Street, there are still beaches nearby and we caught up with an old Witney friend who now lives in East Sussex.

 On Winchelsea Beach

On Winchelsea Beach

We couldn't believe that we had never visited Rye before- it really is a perfect weekend break- great walking, tonnes of history, lovely cafes and inns (we recommend The George) and sea air. Now, back to the unpacking........

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere!

A cliche, I know. But don't most men have a man cave? A shed, a study, the pub, or even just a man- drawer as so wickedly drawn by the comedian Michael McIntyre. A place for 'stuff'- man stuff- batteries, wires that will never be connected to anything again, stuff they are going to repair but never will, little bottles of superglue with the lids superglued on etc etc. Well, this is Rob's:

I've only recently come across this because we are moving house next week and the garage has had to be opened up in order to have a clear out. Having moved only last October and filled a skip at the old house, I cannot believe all of the boxes and tools and 'stuff' we've accumulated again. Most of these boxes haven't been opened since last October and I haven't a clue what's in some of them. We've survived without them for the past 9 months, yet we can't bring ourselves to get rid of them!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As I write I have retreated to our room at the top of the house, the only one as yet untouched by boxes and piles of stacked furniture. As someone who loves to be surrounded by order and beauty, and who loves to make a home for her family, this chaos is unsettling and unnerving. Our new home will hopefully be a sanctuary away from the noise of town and back in the countryside where we've always lived since we moved here 6 years ago. But until we get there, there're another few days of chaos to go. 

 Everything is bare and just waiting to be unscrewed from the wall to pack.

Everything is bare and just waiting to be unscrewed from the wall to pack.

 Pictures stacked waiting to be re hung in their new home.

Pictures stacked waiting to be re hung in their new home.

But of course, 'home' is not just defined by objects, treasured or otherwise, arranged in rooms- it's also a feeling, that alchemy you get when you walk into your home and experience that warm sensation of belonging, of comfort, of familiarity, of a place that reflects who you are and your place in this world. Today, in order to get away from the house, I spent most of the day in Coffeesmith- surrounded by lovely regulars, drinking Oskar's new experimental Espresso Tonic (very refreshing, ask him to make you one!), in a comfy seat listening to Phil's eclectic musical choices, enjoying the smell of cinammon buns coming out of the oven, typing away on my Macbook, working on an exciting business plan. It felt like home to me.

And I concluded that the only 'people' who actively like packing-boxes, are cats....

 Charles enjoys a snooze in a box of rugs.

Charles enjoys a snooze in a box of rugs.

See you all on the other side, next Monday!