After my recent outing to the Caballo Lounge, I'm staying in Epsom for the second instalment of my Freelancer's Guide to Getting Out of the House.
Heading back up the high street, just past Wilkos and before you get to TK Maxx, is Café Rouge. I head there every week with my writing group and its low lighting and decor provide relaxed, arty, intimate surroundings which are highly conducive to getting into the writing zone.
Having never been to Paris I can't make a direct comparison but hiding away in the back of Café Rouge definitely makes me imagine that I'm actually sat, typing away, in a cute French cafe on a cobbled street in a little-known part of the city rather than in - ahem - Epsom. The quiet background music is non-intrusive and varied but occasionally extremely French which obviously adds to the continental atmosphere. I often expect René Artois to be casually leaning on the counter when I look round.
(I appreciate that is a slightly dated reference but I wanted to sneakily slip in a link to an article I wrote about 'Allo 'Allo once . Sorry France...)
I have a particular fondness for this one after last week: I walked through the door, headed to our usual table and turned on my laptop. I was just about to call somebody over to request a drink when one of the very friendly staff arrived at my table already bearing a frothy, chocolate-dusted cappuccino. Now, maybe not everybody does, but I love it when an establishment pays enough attention to its customers to remember what they order. (To be fair, I am there, in the same place, most Fridays and I always order exactly the same thing, but still...)
I'm also slowly working my way through their tasty breakfast menu. Last week it was a croissant (although this was a bit of a rookie error as it took me ages to get the pastry flakes out of my keyboard) - this week, sourdough toast and jam. The pain au chocolat might have to be tried a couple of times, just to make sure it's as good as I think it's going to be...
I've only ever been to Café Rouge on a Friday morning, so I can't really comment on what it is like on other days but it always seems to be fairly quiet. (Our group has a policy of 'shut up and write' so we all wear headphones anyway but no sound from the café itself has ever broken me out of my writing zone.) It's always warm and cosy in there; particularly satisfying when it's cold and miserable outside.
I always feel regretful when it's time to leave; I guess much of this is to do with the fact that these two hours of the week are the time I get to focus on my own projects, surrounded by like-minded people but it's also because of Café Rouge's inviting atmosphere. It's a lovely place to squirrel yourself away from the people and cars rushing past outside and, just for a little while, pretend that you are actually a cultured Parisian artist. (That last bit might be just me.)
So, that's a big tick in The Freelancer's Guide To Getting Out of the House for Café Rouge. Just don't all go there on a Friday morning and steal my seat please.
NEXT TIME: I'm getting all green-fingered and heading to Ashtead Park Garden Centre.