As someone who is invariably early for their train I’ve spent an awful lot of time in cafes by or in train stations. Whether that is the polite Puccinos at Gerrard’s Cross where you can also discretely read the morning papers whilst pretending not to see the sign telling you not to read the morning papers or the vast array of places that Manchester Piccadilly offers – all of which seem dedicated to destroying your soul and your wallet whilst not quite giving you a nice cup of coffee.
This particular specimen is across the way from the magnificently named St Leonards Warrior Square and will serve you either an instant coffee or a filter coffee plus a gut-busting range of breakfast treats – all for the price of a regular seasonally spiced latte from the little Costa booth we have to suffer at Hastings’ main station. The latter has lovely people by the way but they too must put up with corporate nonsense. I once had to wait an age whilst trying to pay for an Eccles cake. It could not be scanned and nor could it be found on the till. It transpired that it was not under ‘E’ for eccles or ‘C’ for cake … it was under ‘L’ for luxurious, or some equivalent bollocks. The staff looked sheepish and cursed a little in foreign. Whether at me, the till or the vast indifference of heaven, I couldn’t say.
The photo is from a chilly December morning when winter had definitely arrived. After a walk across to the station the lights of the Alpha Cafe never looked more appealing. I was far from alone in using the little time before the London train arrived to get in out of the cold and select a beverage to keep one warm and sane. And, thankfully, nobody had to guess which extra letters had been added to ‘coffee’ before it could be rung up on the till.