My recent visit to Cumbria has taken me to different parts of the county and usually when I arrive anywhere the first thing I do is search out a cafe for my daily input of cappuccino.
On these visits I tend to avoid the big chain coffee houses, as for one thing they are very expensive, and try to put my custom the way of small local coffee houses as a means off supporting the local economy.
I had never visited Cockermouth before so did not know what to expect. What I found was a lovely little market town, some fascinating buildings and a sweeping river running through the centre of the town. You may remember that this was one of the towns devastated by floods a few years ago.
On Thursday 19th November 2009, the rivers Cocker and Derwent, which join in Cockermouth, rose to a level that flooded much of central Cockermouth, leaving huge amounts of destruction, and most of the shops, restaurants and pubs in the town completely wrecked. For 3 days immediately after the flooding Cockermouth was under the control of the British Army.
It took a year before most of the businesses were back up and open, and the town now has some substantial flood defences. The silver lining to the floods is that the affected area has now been repaired to be even prettier than before with many of the flooded businesses having their Georgian shop fronts restored.
After a good look around I came across the Merienda Coffee House on Station Street and decided to give it a try. I was greeted by a very smiling young lady who took the order and was very quick in delivering the drinks and cake. There was something very welcoming about this young lady and I subsequently learned that she was from Estonia, spoke perfect English and had bought a flat in Cockermouth with her Hungarian boyfriend. I also learned that she had a literature degree from a university in Estonia and had learned English from the age of 10.
So, if you are visiting Cockermouth, give the Merienda cafe a try, the coffee is excellent, as are the cakes and the customer service is second to none. You can also work out what the large tree hanging from the ceiling is doing there!