Coffee with that? How coffee combos are rescuing the high street

Corporate coffee can be unpopular with people who value independent shopping on high streets. There are often objections to mega-chains such as Starbucks and Costa taking premises on British high streets and out of town locations (one in Wales here).

Cycle42, Orpington

Yet the high streets and shops that are doing best (or are, at least, surviving) frequently do so by adapting and mixing things up. Two are in Orpington in the London Borough of Bromley. Cycle42 is a bike/bike repair shop that has Lizzie fixing the coffee and Charlie fixing the bikes. Apparently there are cakes too, which means we’ll have to go back to investigate….

New Bookshop, Cockermouth

Meanwhile, we’ve also visited and greatly enjoyed the New Bookshop in Cockermouth in Cumbria. It isn’t that new, but it is very nice, and it too has coffee and cakes, and a few products related to the cute local sheep, the Herdwick.

The Orpington, Record Store Day 2019

Back in Orpington, a new part of the night (and day) life is ‘The Orpington’, a record shop and restaurant, another example of coffee meeting something different. That in turn isn’t a long way from Nicholas James, a butchers in Locksbottom that has, you guessed it, alongside the butchers, a coffee shop, a deli, wine and drinks, and a deli.

You could argue that all this is a bit confusing. Shouldn’t we have bakeries that are bakeries, DIY shops that are DIY shops, etc? The blunt answer is with so many of those closing, perhaps we can’t. Nor can we trust the government to help the shops out, as high street guru Mary Portas found. It may be too much to say that coffee is rescuing high streets, but it is certainly helping when used imaginatively. Perhaps it is time for more places on the high street to wake up and smell the coffee.


Get out there and do good #1

This is the first of a series of blog posts that talk about, unsurprisingly, getting out there and doing good.

The ‘getting out there’ is anywhere, really. Preferably real places with real people, or online, or a bit of both, but something positive. The ‘doing good’ is literally what it says – talk with people (many actually like that, some lonely people really need it); start or help a business; start or help a charity, sports club, or any non-profit activity that you love. Plant a tree. Stroke a cat or dog. Network. Meeting people online or, better, offline and face to face means you have more chances to help make this world a better place, something it badly needs. If you can walk to those meetings and not drive everywhere that is also good for your health and for the environment.

All of this – or the positive attitude behind it, I’ve not done all of those things (start a sports club? no!), has helped me and others in lots of expected and unexpected ways. The most memorable to date for me was helping out the Welsh Charitables RFC by sharing online what they do, as I love it. They help charities in Wales via the medium of their national sport, rugby, both playing it and having fundraising dinners.  A few years ago, a highly unexpected result of this was their inviting me to a fundraising event with the seven players involved in the most famous rugby union try of all time, from the Barbarians vs All Blacks match in 1973, which I am pretty sure I watched on TV as a young man.

The move was started under his posts by Phil Bennett and polished off by a flying Gareth Edwards. For more, read this from The Guardian newspaper –
I met all of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ and have their autographs and it makes me very proud, so an added and belated thank you to the Welsh Charitables RFC and particularly their Hon. Secretary, David Power. Without that invitation, I’d not have heard the speech by Tom Pullin, the only Englishman in the move, who said, ‘The only reason I got passed the ball is because I faked a Welsh accent’.

Cool Local will be sharing more stories like this, including many from guest writers. Meanwhile, if you’re not doing so already, why don’t you get out there and do some good?

By Darren Weale

Links to Welsh Charitables RUFC – their events also appear on our Events page:




Cool at the Croft

We like the Croft Tea Room in St Mary’s Cray in Orpington. It is a small, neat, and tasty place for food and drink. We don’t make empty recommendations. So locally we’ve been to would criticise. The (now closed) Bakery on Orpington High Street for its glacially slow service. The café at Carlton Parade in Orpington whose toast used to be limp, thin and terrible. Not now, from what we saw through a window the other day. The Croft Tea Room does, however, provide good meals and really good home made cakes you can see going in and out of the oven. It is also a much-needed community hub in an area that needs one, and is run as a Community Interest Company with quite a few volunteers, young and old. It’s limited by its small size, it isn’t on a road with massive footfall, but it is a good place, friendly, and, well, good. If you’re within reach, give it a try. Facebook:

Their Trip Advisor reviews make good reading, at time of writing:

Cool Bromley and social media on the street

Ebony & Ivory Interiors, who recently opened in Locksbottom

We talk about and share uplifting stories from across the UK, to cheer people up. We’re now also focussing on one location in particular, Bromley in Kent, to identify the active social media users ‘on the street’ – schools and other public bodies, charities, shops, businesses, and others. The idea is that if more people in Bromley are aware of who to connect to locally, they’ll connect more and be aware of what is going on, what to do, and what to see. That will benefit the people who have the social media we’re sharing. Here are some examples of active local social media users we’re sharing, or who we soon will:

  • Businesses – Teepol Products, based in Orpington, manufacturers of cleaning products since 1938
  • Charities – Bromley Borough Foodbank
  • Entertainment – Bromley Youth Music Trust presentations
  • Food and drink – the new rather good (we’ve been there a few times) place to eat in Orpington – A.MANO coffee bar and kitchen
  • Places of worship – Bromley Reform Synagogue
  • Schools – Bishop Justus Church of England School
  • Services – Anderson Veterinary, Orpington and other locations
  • Shops – Pet Perfection in Green Street Green and Petts Wood
  • Social media hubs – Bromley Gossip on Facebook

Where can you read about this?

Our more permanent introduction to what we’re doing in Bromley is here.

Our local ‘on the street’ Bromley page is here.

Our introduction to some of the Bromley social media hubs locally like Orpington Gossip (Facebook, over 37,000 followers) is here.

A number of Bromley events are also appearing on our Calendar, here.



Why Cool Local?

Cool Local is ‘Here to cheer people up’ by sharing uplifting stories of individuals and independent and smaller organisations. We encourage people to be positive, to strive for better things and to help each other. We have cheered up the wonderful rugby and charity fundraising organisation the Welsh Charitables RFC, who are delighted to have been shared by Cool Local, and we’re proud that the Netherton Foundry sold product when we talked about them. Check out our Blog here; our Twitter here; our Facebook here; and our You Tube here.

What is the latest thing that cheers us up? The response to Covid-19, in many ways. There are so many positives amid the gloom, created by people doing exceptional things, or ordinary things in an exceptional way. This blog post captures some positives and compares the task before us to the near-disaster of the Apollo13 space flight in 1970.

The Cool Local website is dedicated to the memory of the late author David Nobbs and the also late Dr Joy Philippou, both of whom helped make many peoples lives more worth living. More on this in our About page.