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Back Buzz - March 14, 2011

pumping heartJava Lounge, 2-6 Holme Lane, Hillsborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

I like to think that as a caffeinated Seattleite residing in Sheffield I keep track of new coffeehouses, especially on the western side of the city where I live. I'll admit I haven't been in Hillsborough for at least a year. But on a recent walk down the hill from Walkley I was surprised to spot the Java Lounge prominently located on the busiest corner of Hillsborough. As it was a Sunday and the place was closed, I made a point of returning on a weekday morning to investigate.

Originally called Owlerton, Hillsborough was renamed in the late 18th century when Thomas Steade built Hillsborough House, named after his stately home in County Down, Northern Ireland. A hundred years later the estate which had grown on the site was split into lots, the largest becoming Hillsborough Park, with the Hillsborough Library in the former stately home. Hillsborough was one of the areas severely damaged during the Great Flood of 1864.

Famous as the sight of the Sheffield Wednesday football ground, Hillsborough is not exactly the sort of place one would expect to find a popular coffee house serving proper espresso drinks. But then being a hill dweller who doesn't get down to the valleys very much, what do I know?

As I descended the curvaceous Walkley Lane and neared the bridge under which the River Loxley gushes, the cafe was easy to find. Inside I found a single room filled with little tables, the obligatory coffee-house coffee table with two sofas and cushy chairs at one end, window ledge seats, and two tall window tables. I sat at one of the window tables with a grand view of the chaotic Hillsborough Corner, with a constant flow of cars, lorries, buses, and Supertrams, the curving tram rails dominating the street. Beyond was a view back up the end of Walkley Lane past the Freemasons Arms, toward the left a view of Legends Sports Bar, William Hill, HSBC, a fireplace shop, and the back of Rawsons Spring. A surprisingly large number of pedestrians were walking everywhere on this Friday morning. I never realised Hillsborough Corner was so popular, so busy, with so many people rushing here and there. Where were they all going?

My double macchiato was served in a perfectly sized and shaped macchiato cup with saucer and demitasse spoon. The shots were nice and strong, just what I needed to clear away the misty haze outside. The foam cap was a bit bubbly but that could be the effect of the churning river just across the road.

As I sipped my spro I perused the food menu, which starts off with bagels, including one with smoked salmon and cream cheese: something I could easily be tempted to order. There are also jacket potatoes, cold sandwiches, hot paninis, wraps, and ciabatta sandwiches with no less than 6 vegetarian creations and a hot tuna choice. Also on the menu are salads, deserts, speciality teas, smoothies, milkshakes, breakfast bagels and paninis, cheesy crumpets, and croissants which are served with butter and jam like they should be -- sorry, you fat-cutting dieters, but it's true.

So I do like the style of this place. My double macchiato was £1.95 which is a bit pricy, but that's my only real objection. The cafe was packed as well, albeit with mostly OAPs and mums with prams. But it was a Friday morning and the working people were probably all at work.

And then there was me, of course. But I was off to work as well, once I had finished my leisurely pause to enjoy a coffee and muse over the twaddle floating around my brain. After all, as the famous Dr RP Jasinski once said, "if enough people talked twaddle, there wouldn't be time for wars and hatred."

Speaking of twaddle reminds me of a recent e-mail exchange with a workmate:

Last night I dreamed I was on a helicopter with several other people flying across the English Channel. Suddenly the helicopter lost power and we started diving, and I wondered if we were going to crash into the water. And we did. And I woke up.

After I got back to sleep, I dreamed that a friend had just bought a very expensive sportscar and wanted to take it out to the Peak District for a spin. It was a 2-seater with the top down, and I was enjoying the ride except I was nervous when he was taking mountain curves very fast. And then we were speeding out on a straight road across Ladybower Reservoir, and by the time we realised the road hadn't been finished and only went halfway, we were going so fast my friend couldn't stop the car, and we drove into the water. Knowing that he wasn't a strong swimmer like me, I grabbed hold of him and dragged him back onto the end of the road. And then I woke up.

After I got back to sleep again, I dreamed that I was on a little airplane with two friends and a former workmate (who I will call X). We were all going to Catalina Island off the Southern California coast. A bus driver was piloting the plane, and she started to do a fancy loop-the-loop and lost control, and we crashed into the water. Fortunately we were close to Catalina, where X and I both worked at a new library, and amazingly I got out of the water so fast my clothes didn't get wet. X was soaked, but she went happily skipping off to the library, giggling and saying how much fun it was going to be to be wet all day at work.

And then I woke up.

And I wasn't even overheated, much less wet. But I do have a heavy chest from a cold.

So what about it, Dr Freud? Hmm... I sense a theme here. Crashing into water... This indicates, thirst, wetness, a desire to go to the toilet, the channeling of a late Scottish rally driver, sexual desire, or the suppressed memory of a smushing. I suspect it may be one of the latter pair. The fact that you were dry when you left the water, but that X was wet, providemonstrates that you want to smush X.

I assume you are a strong swimmer on account of your buoyancy (owing something to your heavy chest). I suggest tying balloons to your nipples today, and enjoy a Bizarre Bust Day. I've always had trouble tying balloons shut, just like tying shoelaces. So I'm afraid I'm not enjoying a Bizarre Bust Day. So how are things at your library, anyway? Are you all okay? No, seriously, I care. Does X have enough towels? Things here at our library rumble on as ever. Looks like we are going to start moving the stack around again soon, so that the journals are all together.

We all seem to be ok, and X is looking reasonably dry. I was worried she'd catch a chill but she's a hardy sort and loves the feel of evaporation.

Is your library still ok or have you crashed into the water?

(Just seen X leaving the building with a towel in her bag. I think she's going to be fine.) Funny you should mention the stack, because a bunch of videos were just returned that belong in the Stack here. Or that's what I'm assuming. I don't think they were music videos, but could they possibly belong to Stax? Is Stax still in business?

Ouch! I seem to have stumbled on your head. I do hope you won't be suing my head after your trip. I thought it would be a nice trip. I won't sue your head. I expect your head -- or your face, anyway -- to make me some money. When you said it looked particularly beardy on my earring, I was reminded last night that as part of my parallel life in my dreams, not only can I fly anytime I need to, and not only does my mother have 2 secret giant wings on each side of her house (whatever her house may be, which can be several things), but sometimes some women have beards, which always confuses me.

Perhaps I should write an operating manual for my dreams, so that I remember what is normal in a dream and what isn't. But then I'd dream that I'd misplaced the operating manual and things are flooded and I can't find my clothes, much less the operating manual, and... I do think more women should grow beards. I think the beard is a good look on a woman.

Here at our library they are rebuilding the main counter, because it was wrong before. I don't know what will change. Maybe the new counter will be a different colour. Or perhaps it will be a Monopoly counter; the little terrier maybe. That would be quite cute. I think your library's counter should look like the Countdown set. That would be fun. They're installing the giant clock right now, although I fear the constant tic-tok music will be something of a distraction if not an annoyance (they say it did drive Whitely mad). The CECIL-esque number generator is due tomorrow, though we're still working on a name for it. After the depressing fiasco of the new cafe, I don't think anybody's given it any thought at all. They delivered the wrong sort of whiteboard yesterday, so we don't know when we'll get one of those. And Susie Dent remains in her packing crate. She refuses to get out until the OED is returned here from your library.