I love writing out. It gives me a chance to escape from the domestic distractions, even if it’s just a chair in the garden, with my back to the house. The sound of birdsong, the whisper of the breeze in the bamboo and the feel of the sun on my back, all help me relax and enjoy a moment of writing. But I also love cafe culture, which means watching the world go by with a chunk of cake and a hot chocolate. So I combine these great loves and head to cafes to write.
Although there are distractions in a cafe or pub, it still helps me write. We can’t write in isolation, so a bit of people watching is good for the soul. Plus, by taking that time out with my laptop or often just a pencil and paper, I’m declaring it time to write. I put two or so hours on the clock and get going and come away having achieved something. And it doesn’t feel like work, when you’re in a cafe.
I urge you to give cafe writing a try. Keep a notebook in your bag or use your smartphone. If you’re meeting a friend in town, why not turn up an hour early and get some writing done, while you wait? Writers Anon is based in Taunton, Somerset, so here are my top writing spots for Taunton:
The Castle Hotel Bar
In the centre of Taunton, the Castle Hotel is in the prettiest part of town, forming the historic Castle Green. Once the site of a Norman fortress, the hotel is draped in wisteria in summer and the interior has the feel of a medieval library – ideal for writers. On sunny days, the walled garden is perfect for a scribbling session. It’s not used very much, so tends to be quiet. The bar serves food, cake, afternoon tea and all sorts of drinks, so you can stay here all day.
Good for: Period charm, hot chocolate, coffee and cocktails. Friendly. Open late.
Cons: Can get noisy with groups in the evening.
The Shed is Taunton’s only riverside cafe. It’s cute, friendly and has lovely views, with a seating area outside, for sunny days. It serves cake, cafe fare and drinks, including cider. It gets rammed and noisy with yummy mummies at lunch time. Best time to go is after 2pm, but it closes at 4ish, so you only get a couple of hours. They have nice, dreamy music, on low, so no distractions, once it’s quiet.
Good for: A room with a view, quiet after lunch. Nice soup.
Cons: A hot spot for yummy mummies, with kids. Not open on Sundays.
The New Mill
A refurb of the old Bathpool Inn, The New Mill has a lovely atmosphere and a nice food menu. It’s got tweed-clad chairs, an open fire and lots of nooks. It’s really popular for Sunday lunch, so avoid if you get distracted by people watching.
Good for: open fires and comfy chairs. Food and drink.
Cons: music and speakers in every corner. Bad coffee. Busy on Sundays. Out of town.
Coffee #1 is a small, British cafe chain, with a great atmosphere. Leather sofas, gentle jazz music, good coffee and hot chocolate, plus cookies and cakes. It gets really busy, so get there early to snag the best seat, which is at the back, by the ornamental fireplace, or one of the window seats (rarely available).
Good for: people watching and good cafe drinks and cakes. Open every day. Ethical trading and not being a US monster chain.
Cons: no decent food for lunch, other than panini.
Taunton Library Cafe
Taunton Library Cafe is catered by the Castle Hotel, as is the Somerset Museum cafe. If you like things to be quiet, but don’t want to feel like you’re studying for exams, then this is the place to come. Grab a drink and a snack and hunker down without distractions. Plus it’s good to support your library. Use it or lose it.
Good for: quiet and research resources. Open til 7pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Cons: Too quiet for some. Closed on Sundays.
Where are you based and what are the top writing spots in your town? Let us know in the comments to help your fellow writers get out there and start scribbling away from their desk.