Coffeeneuring is a relief when the daily news is depressing, and in Britain and the United States recently, it’s beyond depressing. So Saturday I cycled to Coventry Cathedral. Like most people who live with tourist attractions, once you visit them shortly after moving to the area, you tend not to return, unless you have guests. I walk by the old Cathedral most days I’m in town, and sometimes I look in, but mostly I don’t visit it.
So coffeeneuring seemed a good opportunity to get re-acquainted. I was sure there’d be a coffee shop, but I didn’t know where or anything about it. As it turned out, the coffee shop wasn’t “it” but “them.” The Cathedral has two associated coffee shops. I first had coffee in the gift shop. They had three small tables and offered either instant coffee or Rombout’s one-cup filter, as well as cake. (Britain drinks more instant coffee per capita than any other country, so offering instant coffee in a shop isn’t simply perverse.) I chose the Rombout’s. The people working in the shop were kind and might have been volunteers supporting the church, but I can’t recommend the coffee.
I left the gift shop to find a shot of the cathedral for this post, and noticed a sign for the Rising Café, which I’d never noticed. I walked around the outside of the new Cathedral to the north end behind the alter, and there, tucked under the Cathedral, was a warm and rather busy shop starting its lunch service. I had a double espresso and an almond pastry, both good. As I found out later, the Café is in the crypt of the Benedictine monastery, founded by Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and Lady Godiva (yes, that one), that preceded the church of St. Michael.
I continued my walk around the Cathedral looking for a picture to illustrate this post. It happened to be about noon, and a priest and a lad with a stick came to the alter of the old Cathedral to lead a brief service of remembrance and reconciliation for me and the other tourists who happened to find ourselves in the bombed out shell of St. Michael’s. Brief though it was, it commemorated the bombing on 14 November 1940 and renewal of the Cathedral since then.
While I visited the coffee shops, I left my bike in front of the Council House, where there are about a half dozen bicycle loops. Coventry is the city where the elements of our modern diamond-frame bicycle first came together in James Starley’s Rover (about 1885), but we’re poorly served for parking our bikes. The Council refreshed Godiva Square for the London Olympics in 2012 (Coventry was a training venue), and in the process removed a brace of bicycle loops, so we now have fewer places to park than before the Olympics.
Saturday, 8 October, from home to coffee and then home again, 13.81 miles (the long way); cycling, good; the espresso and pastry, excellent; Rising Café, recommended.