Sunday, 2 December 2012

Costa culture

Rare spectacle stocks - Painswick

During our recent Cotswolds break we visited Painswick which describes itself as:-

Nestling quietly in the famous Cotswold hills, surrounded by some of Gloucestershire's most delightful countryside is the historic wool town of Painswick.

Built of mellow Cotswold stone from the local quarry on Painswick Beacon the town's many beautiful buildings can be seen as you wander around its quaint and narrow streets.


Yes, it is certainly an attractive little place, even on a cold and sombre November day. We seemed to be almost the only visitors though. An art exhibition warmed us for a while and some fine ceramics caught our eye, but it was too chilly to linger long. 

As Painswick is only a few miles from Stroud, we decided this might be the place for a warming cup of coffee and a snack. We hadn't been to Stroud before, but we'd seen some tourist info where the main street was linked with the rather dubious phrase cafe culture. Presumably this culture has nothing to do with the science of the petri dish. Or maybe it does?

Whatever cafe culture may be, we soon realised we should have sampled Stroud's version on a better day. We did see a large Costa outlet in the centre, but Costa isn’t our kind of place unless caffeine desperation has set in. Average coffee at soul-shrinking prices isn’t our notion of a jolly, although the Stroud branch seemed to be reasonably popular with people using their phones.

I confess I don’t really understand the Costa success story. Three quid for a cup of very ordinary coffee and an ambience similar to the waiting room on Nottingham station. It’s not easy to see the appeal, let alone join in.

So we left Stroud to its corporate coffee and found a cafe in Tetbury where the coffee was barely half the price and the food very reasonable too. Nothing fancy about it, but a raw day out isn't the time for fancy.


Sam Vega said...

Part of the problem with Costa (and to a lesser extent, Cafe Nero and Starbucks) is that they are also attempting to sell an image, a sense that one is somewhere other than (say) an English provincial town. All those pictures of wrinkly-twinkly peasants or stylish interiors, or thoughts about good coffee scrawled as if in some trendy globetrotter's notebook. It just offends my intelligence. It wouldn't be so bad if it were different in every branch. But there is something particularly depressing about mass-produced quirkiness and committee-sanctioned "character".

In fact, it has just occurred to me that it might be deliberate. I normally need an extra-large and something full of sugar to lift my spirits back to their normal level...

Demetrius said...

But was there any Prinknash pottery around I ask? I think they may have stopped doing it now. For Laurie Lee's "Cider With Rosie", Slad was to the south. However at Prinknash, I suspect they would not celebrate one person from around those parts, namely William Tyndale. Also, Ann Boleyn was there in July 1535.

A K Haart said...

Sam - yet it seems to work, because Costa is very successful. I don't think much of the images either, they just leave me cold.

I suppose if such businesses ever manage to create real variety between their outlets, they may find it's not wanted.

Demetrius - the ceramics were local studio pottery - very well done but expensive.

I'd like to have visited Slad, because I've never been there before. Unfortunately we didn't have time and late November may not be the best time for a visit anyway.

James Higham said...

What do you think of McDonald's coffee, by the way?

A K Haart said...

James - I've never tried it as far as I remember. We rarely visit the big corporates, it's just that Costa seems to be everywhere and you can't help noticing them

banned said...

Tesco breakfast used to be quick and cheap but not particularly nice. Now that they have tied up with Costa it's not even quick.

A K Haart said...

banned - I had a Tesco breakfast once - as you say quick and cheap but not nice. Didn't know they had tied in with Costa - their coffee doesn't seem to fit in with a cheap breakfast.