As a work-from-home freelance writer, this is often the internal monologue I am forced to listen to at the start of my day:
"Ok, sitting down. Laptop on: good, let's get started. Hmm, I'll just make a coffee first. Right, coffee made. Let's do this. Oh, better get a wash on so small boy has something resembling a uniform to wear tomorrow. Done. Definitely going to to get going now. Oops, now being invaded by squeaking cats, forgot to feed them. Did I remember to write that birthday card? Needs posting today. Ooh, and I must book that haircut, I'll quickly phone them first. Fab, all done. Have to focus now. Actually, it's almost lunchtime - might as well have that, then I'll definitely start writing."
Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love working from home. I don't have to make polite conversation with an office full of people, I can listen to whatever radio station I fancy and I'm not forced to make seventeen other cups of tea whenever I get up to make myself one.
But there are times when the noise of a silent house is just, well, deafening. Add to that all the little chores that are shouting out to be done and you can (well, I can anyway) write off a big part of the day without actually doing anything that anybody is paying me for.
So, occasionally, I pack up my laptop, grab my purse and head on out. Sitting in a café, away from the minutiae of daily life and soaking up the buzz of other people, often helps me to focus on a writing project for much greater periods of time than in the pin-dropping quietness of my home.
This habit of mine has given birth to an idea: creating a list of perfect Surrey places for freelancers to work from. Over the coming months I'll be adding new places to this list and giving you a little bit of detail as to why I think they make a great temporary office. And that will hopefully include more than an analysis of their cake.
And so, my first recommendation is...
The Caballo Lounge, Epsom
The Caballo Lounge has only been open since April 2015 but it has the cosy feel of somewhere you've already spent a lot of your time in. Its unusual decor gives it an eccentric charm and, despite being part of a pretty large UK chain it certainly doesn't feel like it. Step off of Epsom High Street and once the door's closed behind you you're suddenly in a quirky great-uncle's drawing room. Which is not a bad thing if you're looking to be creative.
The Caballo Lounge is situated on the high street in Epsom, so it's easy to park - and it's just a short walk from the train station or an even shorter one from the nearby bus stop.
The coffee is good and the WiFi is fast which is all I really need but if you get peckish while you work then the menu is interesting and tasty (the food I mean, I tend not to nibble on the bit of cardboard on the table), particularly the brunch.
I generally go in the mornings when it's quiet and you can choose from an upright table and chair (the better posture gives you a more professional working mindset) or a comfy leather sofa (kick off your shoes, adopt a slouchy position and remind yourself why you chose not to work in an office).
The staff are friendly and attentive but not intrusive - buy a drink every now and again and you can work in peace. There is also the garden terrace upstairs: if you can angle your screen away from the glare then sitting outside in the company of the sun is another definite tick in the 'Have WiFi, will work' freelancing box!
The Caballo Lounge is definitely one of my favourites but there are plenty of other places where a freelancer can log on and chill out. Keep an eye out for the next one in my ongoing project!
(For the days you are at home you should check out Coffitivity and bring the café sound to you instead. Can't quite figure out why but I'm definitely more productive when I've got it running in the background!)