This time last year, I remember writing that 2020 had been a very strange year, so much so that I almost forgot the Coffee Spot’s birthday! In many ways, the last twelve months have been even stranger, but at least this time I remembered the birthday, the Coffee Spot turning nine years old today. Not that I realised what I was unleashing on myself when I launched the Coffee Spot on Friday, 28th September 2012 (at 14.15 to be precise), with just a vague idea that it might become a useful resource for coffee (shop) lovers and an entertaining way for me to spend (some of) my spare time.
I ended last year’s birthday post noting that the country was at another crossroads in its journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, wondering what the Coffee Spot’s ninth year would bring. Sadly, it ended up being more of the same, with soaring infection rates leading to more restrictions through the winter. For a little while in the early summer it seemed that vaccination had COVID-19 under control, but the delta variant put paid to that. As the Coffee Spot enters its 10th year, we’re back to an uncertain future with far higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates than this time last year…
You can read a review of the Coffee Spot’s ninth year after the gallery.
The Coffee Spot’s ninth year started as its eighth ended, with my travel limited to the occasional daytrips to Reading and London, plus a final journey to/from North Wales to visit my Dad, calling into Chester on the way back. As October turned to November and COVID-19 rates continued to soar, I decided to stay even close to home, my last daytrip to London coming on 30th October, with Catalyst being the last place I visited.
By mid-November, I was out of new places to write about, so mostly caught up on my old Travel Spots, starting with my 2013 trip to New England & New York, although I did manage a couple of updates on how various Guildford coffee shops were managing during the pandemic, as well as my daily hikes in the Surrey Hills. December brought more of the same, with me reliving my weekend in New Orleans from 2018, plus the subsequent journey on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited to Tucson. However, there was the bonus of discovering Heartwork Coffee Bar in the heart of the Surrey Hills.
2021 brought no relief as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, although I did manage to write about local roaster, Chimney Fire Coffee, as well as Lily London, which opened in a telephone box in Guildford! Instead I took solace in the Travel Spot, finishing writing up The Grand Adventure, when, four years earlier, I’d driven from Phoenix via Joshua Tree, Los Angeles and along the Pacific coast to San Francisco.
February and March were no better, so I returned (via the pages of the Travel Spot) to 2016 and the Grand Canyon, while in March, it was Arizona in 2018/2019 and my drives along the Apache Trail. Closer to home, I wrote about some coffee, and more of my coffee kit.
By April, COVID-19 was on the wane, the government relaxing the restrictions in England, enabling me to explore a bit more in Guildford, including another new opening (The Old Roastery Coffee Shop). After almost seven months, I was also able to return to North Wales, calling in the likes of the newly-opened The Table in Walsall en-route.
With hindsight, May and June were the best months of the year, with COVID-19 rates bottoming out as the vaccination programme paid dividends. I managed several trips to North Wales to see my Dad, calling in on many coffee shops on the way. There were daytrips to London, plus I had more new coffee shops in Guildford to visit.
This carried on into July, but by then the delta variant had taken hold and COVID-19 rates were soaring again, just as the government decided to lift all COVID-19 restrictions in England. The one bright spot was that I was able to travel to Iceland, seeing Amanda for the first time since March 2020.
Returning to the UK in August, I made another daytrip to London, this time exploring Wandsworth Town, as well as continuing my travels to North Wales to visit my Dad. In September, Amanda came over and we spent three weeks in North Wales, exploring both the countryside and its growing coffee scene.
Now, as we reach the end of September, I’m once again wondering what the next 12 months will bring. Compared to this time last year, COVID-19 rates are a staggering six times higher, while three times as many people are dying from COVID-19 every week, despite a highly successful vaccination campaign. On the plus side, rates seem to be holding steady or falling slightly, but things are not looking particularly bright as we head into winter…
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