Neighbourhood Watch is the name of the feature I wrote for Caffeine Magazine. For five wonderful years from Issue 4, when I made my debut writing about Edinburgh, to Issue 31, when I visited Portsmouth, I was lucky enough to explore the coffee scene in towns & cities around the UK (plus one overseas excursion to Hong Kong in Issue 24). During that time, the majority of my articles were graced and enhanced by the wonderful photography of Amelia Hallsworth, although it always surprises people when I tell them that Amelia and I have never met, despite our prolific partnership. The way we worked is that I would visit the town or city in question, do the research, visit the coffee shops, then decide who would be in the article. Only then did I send a list of coffee shops for Amelia to photograph.
In all, I wrote 26 Neighbourhood Watch features (I got Issue 21 and Issue 28 off for good behaviour!) and I had a wonderful time, the job of visiting the various towns and cities fitting in perfectly with my self-imposed task of travelling around the UK finding all the best coffee shops for the Coffee Spot. However, all good things must come to an end, and, after my final Neighbourhood Watch feature was published in Issue 31, the editorial team decided that the feature had run its course.
Naturally, I was disappointed, but at the same time, relieved. I’ve never told the Caffeine Magazine team this, but for the last year, I’d been considering calling a halt of my own accord, so in many ways, the timing was perfect. My issue was simply one of time, or a lack of time, to be more precise. My new job, which I started in the summer of 2016, is increasingly onerous in the travel demands it places on me.
This year alone, I’ve been to America twice, Thailand and Tokyo. While I love the travel and opportunities it gives me to explore coffee shops around the world, inevitably, my ability to travel the length and breadth of the UK has been severely curtailed. Throughout 2017, I’d been struggling to fit in my Neighbourhood Watch trips and their associated deadlines around my other travel and work commitments. In the end, something had to give, so when Caffeine Magazine decided it was time to retire the Neighbourhood Watch, it felt right to me.
So it’s farewell to the Neighbourhood Watch, something which I’ve been incredibly proud to have been a part of for so long. I want to express my thanks to Caffeine Magazine for giving me a platform for five years and to Amelia for her wonderful photography. In closing, here’s a list of all the Neighbourhood Watch features…
- Issue 3 and technically the first Neighbourhood Watch feature: Bristol, although I didn’t write this one, ironically providing the photographs instead!
- Issue 4 marked my debut as a writer, with my first ever Neighbourhood Watch feature taking me to Edinburgh.
- Issue 5 saw me heading the other way to Brighton, the destination for my second Neighbourhood Watch.
- Issue 6 saw me back on the East Coast Main Line, but this time only as far as Newcastle.
- Issue 7 and the next city on the Neighbourhood Watch list, Oxford.
- Issue 8 and this time it was the turn of Britain’s second city, Birmingham, to get the Neighbourhood Watch treatment.
- Issue 9 marked the Neighbourhood Watch debut of the fabulous Amelia Hallsworth as we headed back to Scotland to visit Glasgow.
- Issue 10 we made it to Yorkshire for the first time, visiting Leeds.
- Issue 11 saw us heading over the Pennines to Manchester.
- Issue 12 and it was the turn of the delightful city of Bath.
- Issue 13 didn’t see us going as far, only as far as Ealing, in fact.
- Issue 14 saw us back in Yorkshire, South Yorkshire to be precise, in the lovely city of Sheffield.
- Issue 15 marked a change as instead of visiting a town/city, I took my first-ever road trip to Dorset, driving from Bournemouth to Lyme Regis.
- Issue 16 and we were back on the train to deepest, darkest Norfolk and the wonderful, medieval city of Norwich, which possesses a far from medieval coffee scene.
- Issue 17 saw us back in Yorkshire, exploring another part of the infamous Yorkshire coffee triangle, York.
- Issue 18 saw us dispatched across the border to Wales, where we visited Cardiff.
- Issue 19 took in the delights of Merseyside’s growing speciality coffee scene with a visit to Liverpool.
- Issue 20 saw us taking the short trip to Reading.
- Issue 22 saw Amelia and I were reunited after our issue off with a trip to Cambridge.
- Issue 23 was the turn of the East Midlands and Nottingham.
- Issue 24 marked another first as I jetted off for the delights of Hong Kong!
- Issue 25 and it was back down to (God’s own) earth with a bump for the third part of the Yorkshire Coffee Triangle, Harrogate.
- Issue 26 and the Neighbourhood Watch made it to Northern Ireland for a visit to Belfast.
- Issue 27 saw Canterbury firmly in our sights.
- Issue 29 and, after another issue off, we were off to Devon and to Exeter.
- Issue 30 saw Amelia and I staying in the West Country to re-visit Bristol, the subject of the first ever Neighbourhood Watch back in Issue 3.
- Issue 31: the final Neighourhood Watch featured another famous port, the home of the British Navy, Portsmouth.