Chirk Castle Coffee

Chirk Castle

I made a visit to the National Trust’s Chirk Castle close to Wrexham. Partly to have a coffee, but also to see the castle.

A 13th-century Marcher castle, that from 1595 became the home of the Myddelton family for over 400 years.

The castle was an English castle (now in Wales) that became a family home. Swapping sides during the English Civil War, it  sustained serious structural damage from a parliamentary force in 1659 and underwent a major rebuild.

Chirk remained in the Myddelton family until it was transferred to the National Trust in 1981.

The cafe is located in the castle’s historic kitchens, and when I headed to the additional seating I really liked the environment. The additional seating room was in one  of the towers.

The flat white was expertly made, and really good. It was a lovely place to sit and drink coffee.

flat white coffee on a table

It was nice that the cafe was in the heart of the castle, many time when visiting National Trust properties the cafe is more often than not, in one of the outbuildings, usually the stable.

Jimmy and the Bee

I was in London and had a meeting in the afternoon, so I walked up to City, University of London. 

I arrived earlier than planned, so I went to Jimmy and the Bee, which is close by, and ordered a flat white. They took my order and I took a seat.

Jimmy and the Bee looks to be an independent cafe, which predominantly sells tea and coffee. There were some cakes and pastries on the counter, and I saw board with some breakfast items (avocado on toast).  The furniture is distressed wood, but there are also some comfortable looking sofas as well.

My flat white arrived.

flat white

In some other places this may have been described as a Cortado. It was a really nice coffee and I enjoyed it.

I also got a 10% discount; I think they thought I was City staff as I was wearing my work lanyard.

Time for a flat white

We were visiting the National Trust’s Wightwick Manor in the West Midlands.

Victorian half-timbered Manor House which was home of the Mander family, with a world-class art collection and Morris and Co. interiors.

After visiting the house and walking around the grounds we headed to the cafe for a coffee.

I ordered a flat white, but wasn’t tempted by the cakes.

The coffee was expertly made, and it was really nice. I enjoyed it. I was pleased it came in a proper china cup.


Time for a German Flat White

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany.

I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin. Though when it came to coffee I usually used the coffee machine in the hotel, but I did have a nice flat white at a branch of Einstein Kaffee. I was out and about walking around Berlin and did quite fancy a coffee. I had seen a Starbucks, but I hadn’t travelled to the heart of Europe for an American style coffee. I had seen a fair few branches of Einstein Kaffee across Berlin, so when I came across a branch I headed in and ordered a flat white.

I did think about having a cake, but nothing took my fancy and they all looked quite expensive. So, in the end I ordered just the coffee.

The place was quite busy, but I found a stool and sat down to drink my coffee.

It was a nice coffee. 

Waiting for a plane


So there I was at Dublin Airport and I had a long wait, over five hours! So it was time for a coffee, there were a few choices.

The main reason I went to Starbucks was that there were power sockets. This meant I could drink coffee and charge up my phone and laptop.

I ordered a flat white and took a seat, plugged everything in and then drank the coffee.

I am not a great fan of Starbucks coffee, but needs must and in the end I thought it was alright. I certainly made it last though, so I could maximise the charge on my devices.

Coffee and a pistachio swirl

I decided to drive to work. Well there was a train strike, so the train was out of the question. I drove down the M5 and headed into Bristol on the A369. As I approached the junction with Bridge Road, I could see that Rownham Hill wasn’t moving due to loads of traffic, so I headed down Bridge Road to cut down Burwalls Road, with no luck. So, I turned around and headed back to Bridge Road and crossed the Suspension Bridge. There were lots of police and fire crews. There were signs saying the bridge was closed, but it was open when I crossed it. I headed down Sion Hill and then hit more traffic. 

Later I found out that there had been an issue, the police were concerned about the welfare of a man, so had closed the Portway and other roads around the Cumberland Basin, which was causing all the issues I was having.

Having given up at this point, I parked and headed into Clifton Village to get some coffee. I went to Spicer & Cole and at the counter ordered a flat white. They had some nice looking pastries so I added a pistachio swirl to my order.

I had my pastry, took a seat and waited for my coffee. I did seem to be waiting for a fair while, so much so, I went back to the counter to check. They had been prioritising takeaway orders over my coffee.

The coffee was actually rather good and I enjoyed it. The pistachio swirl was quite nice, I did feel that it was slightly dry, and there was an excessive amount of icing sugar, but there was a nice taste of pistachio. 

Overall it was nice place for a coffee break, a little more pricey than other places I frequent, reminded me of London prices. If I am back in Clifton Village I would certainly visit again.

Time for Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit

We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.

Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.

I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.

I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.

Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.

Made without care or love

flat white

Travelling home on the M4 I stopped at Membury Service for a coffee. I went to the Starbucks and ordered a flat white. I was drinking “in” but it still came in a paper cup and they also charged me 5p for the “privilege”.

I find that quite frustrating, I wanted my coffee in a china cup, but they didn’t do that, so I had to have a paper cup, and then I get charged for it. I guess I should remember this, and bring my own cup in the future. Hmmm, it was a motorway service station, not a regular haunt for coffee.

I watched the coffee being made, it was more of mechanical automated process for making the coffee and then there was a lackadaisical carefree approach to the heating and frothing of the milk, which was then added to the coffee without any care or love.

It’s not as though I had much of a choice of where I could go for coffee, and I thought for £3.40 I was getting ripped off. It did feel that it was not much better than the (instant) coffees you got years ago from cafes across the country, before the rapid growth of coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa filled our high streets.

Maybe I need to find some independent coffee places just off the motorway instead of stopping at the services. Having said that, the coffee at the Gloucester Services on the M5 was quite good, but that is on the M5, so not on the M4 or the M6, or the M25.

Great coffee

I was in London and wanting a coffee so headed out to one of my usual haunts of Coco di Mama on New Square.

I ordered a flat white and took a seat, always like it when they bring the coffee to you rather than hanging around by the counter until they’ve made it.

The coffee arrived in a proper china cup with a little chocolate on the side.

The coffee was smooth and delicious, with a real coffee kick.

It’s one of my favourite places for coffee and they delivered an outstanding coffee again.


When I am in a new city or town, though familiarity normally means visiting a place like Caffe Nero for a coffee, if I do get the chance I do like to try somewhere new, such as Kiss the Hippo in London.

Up in Manchester, close to our office, I liked the look of Ditto Coffee so popped in for a coffee.

The place has a lot of wood and looked inviting. I ordered a flat white and they said take a seat and they would bring it over. One feature of many independent places I visit, is this level of service. Something I never see from the major high street chains. There of course you order a coffee and then wait until it is made.

Taking a seat I could look at my email as I waited for my coffee.

The flat white arrived after a while and looked great.

It was a delicious cup of coffee and I really enjoyed it.