Hello, my little lightbulbs!
I hope that you’re doing well and feeling good and grounded in yourself.
I, personally, haven’t felt so grounded lately; the three-job-boomerang has left me feeling a little bit whiplashed, disorientated and out of sorts. To reconnect I’ve been prioritising activities that make me feel happy: spending time outside in nature, brain-dumping every 20 minutes, meditating (ever so slightly) more than usual and trying out some new cafes.
I fell in love with cafes during my time in Japan because that was a time when I was really finding myself and growing in confidence. The cafes I’d visit were absolutely beautiful- physically and for how they worked to soothe the mind. They were exactly what I’d want my cafe to be like if I had one; they were bright, spacious and peaceful places; with friendly people serving ethical, healthy and delicious food. I would go to the cafe, practice my limited Japanese and then enjoy my own company with delicious food, lovely views and a strong sense of self.
Some of my previous cafe blogs:
Kawaii Monster Cafe, Harajuku – Fantastically different to my usual cafe experience!
Sanpo Cafe and 525 Cafe (my favourite, most frequently visited cafes in Japan – I miss these so much!)
I’ve always been obsessed with spaces.
I’ve been in love with service stations and airports since childhood because they’re a ‘place of transit’ – meaning that in these spaces, usual social rules are out the window. Burgers at 6am? Shopping whilst wearing a neck pillow? Walking around in pyjamas during daylight? (Although that last one is pretty common where I’m from). There’s something about these places that makes people a lot more… human. Conversations flow more freely, actions go with less judgement and, in that short window of running into the services for a loo break, you get to see people for their real, beautiful, sometimes exhausted, selves.
Cafes are like that for me too. They’re a place of transit. You visit for a short time and get snapshots of people in their everyday. Couples laughing (or arguing) in the car at the drive-thru; kids dropping in for a coffee after finishing school; business crowds mixing professional talk with office gossip; new mums trying to juggle conversations with baby cries; students staring into the abyss as they rack their brains for the word they need. Cafes are really beautiful places.
They let you hop outside of your usual life and just breathe for a short time.
I’ve needed that time to breathe lately and so my cafe visits have increased over the last couple of weeks. I’m sharing three of my recent favourites and I’d love to know if you have any favourites that I should try out!
The Lookout Cafe, Preston
I came here one Thursday after my 9-11am uni lecture. I wasn’t quite ready to go home and wanted to make the most out of my 2-hour commute. I did my usual trick of cracking open Google Maps, searching ‘cafe’ and dragging the map around until I found somewhere decent-looking.
I was captivated by the Lookout Cafe straight away.
A little off the beaten track in Preston, this cafe sits alongside glamping cabins at Kidsnape Farm. It’s easy enough to get there in a car, not too far from Preston centre, but be sure to have your route loaded beforehand as you might lose signal on the way.
When I pulled up to the Lookout Cafe I was greeted with plenty of free parking spaces and three snuggling sheep in the field next to it. After gawping at the sheep and making the obligatory ‘baa’ noises (to no response) I headed inside.
My favourite thing about this place was the building itself. As soon as you walk in, you’re met with a full wall of windows, with natural light and beautiful landscapes flooding in. To my left, I could see alpacas walking past in the field outside of the window and straight ahead there were horses.
I immediately felt at peace.
I ordered the soup (sadly there weren’t many vegan options and most of the veggie stuff was cheesy), a Fentimans and green tea. I did some uni work without the usual grinding sound in my brain reminding me of the gazillion other things that I also need to be doing. Time seemed to slow down and I was able to enjoy just being in the present.
The soup was really nice and the staff were chatty and friendly. They seemed pretty popular, with people calling to make reservations for lunch quite often. I was feeling pretty full after the hunk of bread I had with the soup so decided to take some desserts to go for the fam. I got a lemon drizzle cake, a Crunchie flapjack and a Creme Egg chocolate cake – all of them were amazing and homemade.
I’m hoping to be back at the Lookout Cafe soon!
Daily Dose Coffee, Aughton
Another accidental find was Daily Dose Coffee in Aughton. After not being able to park up at the train station to head into Liverpool I did it again – pulled out Google Maps, searched cafes and up popped Daily Dose. It wasn’t far from me so I headed over, parked up and teetered inside. It’s a pretty new cafe that looked as close to 525 Cafe in Asagiri as I’d seen in the UK.
Clean, open aesthetic; laid back and friendly staff; plenty of food and drinks options. I went with the pesto and roasted red pepper on toasted sourdough which was DELICIOUS and (of course) green tea. The food was great, if not a little expensive.
The sign on the table (saying at busy times to keep visits under 50 minutes) suggested that this place got pretty bustling and I completely understand why!
The only real downside to this cafe, and it’s very small, was that some of the tables were metal garden sets, meaning that the chairs weren’t so comfy and it was really hard to get in and out. The seats running along the opposite wall, though, looked a lot comfier. They had branded ‘Daily Dose Aughton’ cushions too which I thought was absolutely adorable!
Vigour, St Helens
My final cafe is a local one. I’ve been here quite a lot now and it’s become quite the bestie date destination!
After being too scared to go in because we thought it was going to be full of gym bros- Vigour has become one of my favourite eateries in St Helens. While not specifically a cafe, the relaxed atmosphere and interior don’t quite fit the mould of a restaurant either.
Unlike a lot of cafes, Vigour is open until late and focuses on health-conscious eating.
Our most recent visit came after a Women’s Day Networking Event. We learned that there was a 5-plate-for-£30 deal and went for it. Vigour has plenty of veggie options, has a nice aesthetic and, much to my pleasant surprise, is full of really friendly, really grounded staff and customers.
I’m super glad I decided to try them out and would really recommend it to anyone local!
What’s your method for stepping outside the stresses and pressures of everyday life? Have you managed to do that lately? If not, make sure to pencil that time in. If not, your body will do it for you, trust me, I know!
I’d love to know what traits you look for in a good cafe and if you have any favourites- wherever they may be. Let me know and I’ll save them to my ever-growing cafe list on Google Maps!
Iysha’s group is well worth the look – dedicated to bringing positive community change through communication – there’s a lot to gain from projects like this!