Month: January 2014

Because Coffee is important…

In my last post, I mentioned that my favourite coffee shop in Cathedral is closing down at the end of this month. That coffee shop is of course, Roca Jacks. This makes me very sad indeed.

The coffee is the best in town in my humble opinion, but more than that, the place was my first Regina landmark – we hung around in there constantly in that painful two weeks back in 2011 where Emigration Plan 1 (Kave Haz) fell apart in front of me, and where Plan 2 (13th Ave Coffee House) eventually became an option.  It was where I met Tamara, my first real friend in Canada, and through her, and the coffee shop itself, I’ve met so many others. I slept on her futon for 6 months, that used to live in Roca Jacks’ basement and it now adorns our spare room. When getting to grips with Regina’s layout, I looked the place up on Google street map, only to discover that the group of regulars who sit outside it, actually feature on the map!!  I persuaded Bill at Roca Jacks to roast a special blend of coffee for 13th Ave Coffee that was unique to their business, and they are still using it now, even though I left a year ago. Bill was also one of the first people to employ my coffee consultancy services. I’ve chained both Yoshi the bike and Twyla the trike up outside it, and sat in there for hours with a laptop, a friend or three, or a sleeping Miranda. Miri has danced, shouted into a fan, climbed into the coffee roaster, petted Lorena’s Daschund (another “Mr Pickles”), drunk copious amounts of hot chocolate and even mastered the toilet in there.

The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View
The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View

And that is just me.

When they first announced their closure, I immediately dreamed up wild over-ambitious plans of buying the place via crowdfunding and keeping it going as a straight-forward coffee shop (and Bill would keep the roasting side of it). I was gonna do out the basement and make more seating and even sell books in there since the book shop is also closing. I rallied the troops – my friends, the loyal Twitterers of YQR, and friend’s girlfriend’s random acquaintances on Farcebook.

The response was unbelievable – I was not the only one wanting to save it, in fact there were a group already meeting and looking into setting up a cooperative. So many people wanting to keep an unhelpfully small, fairly scruffy coffee shop open, right on the edge of this neighbourhood with all its chipped mugs, sarcastic humour on the tip jar, its chain-smoking-tattooed-bearded-occasionally-unicycling clientele, the unfinished renovations and its secret hidden toilet that made up its “charms”. The place did have a few real difficulties – namely lack of parking (I never really saw that as an issue personally, because everyone I met in there was on foot or on a bike anyway), lack of seating space, no wifi and to my mind, lack of Big Windows through which to people watch. But it was loved by a great many people. It always made me smile to see people sitting outside it in the minus-ridiculous temperatures, while the posh new $tarbucks inside Safeway remains completely empty. My driving instructor actually summed it up rather nicely: “I’m usually in Roca Jacks. I know it’s the scuzziest place but it’s my local and the coffee is great!”

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Sadly, my plans never materialised; although the business could have been available, the lease on the building was not, and a coffee shop without an actual shop isn’t much use. I am truly and utterly gutted by this, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.

But, having set my heart on coffee-ing again, I’m going to set a little something up that is not quite so financially insane. Fittingly for Cathedral, it’s going to be a rather hipster-ish coffee cart towed by my tricycle, called Wheelie Good Coffee – that link will take you to more details over on my coffee blog. I’m hoping to get it ready in time to bring coffee to the street fair at the Cathedral Arts Festival.

I’ll be serving beans from Roca Jacks, of course. Because Coffee is important. In this case though, it is not just about the coffee; it’s about community. But it’s coffee that brings my bizarre little community together, and I will always love that.

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The Best Neighbourhood

I may have said this before: I love Regina, and Cathedral Village is definitely the best bit of it!
I have definitely said this before: It is frigging FREEZING. Eyelash-freezingly, thigh-numbingly, frost-bite-inducingly, Thermos-coffee-mug-thwartingly painfully, dangerously cold!! Sunday had a high -31 celcius.(-24 fahrenheit for American imperialists) and that was without the windchill. With the wind, it was -48, which is -54F. Yep, you guessed it, colder than the surface of Mars. Again.

I am not going to do another post about coldness though, I promise.

My parents came out here for Christmas again, and they now expect a white one – well, they certainly aren’t going to get it at home, are they? We had a lovely holiday, (as always) but it definitely wasn’t long enough. We did have some excursions, including a fantastic trip to Moose Jaw to Temple Gardens Spa, where it’s possible to bathe in hot, natural spring waters, (on the third floor, I might add), but then swim outside and steam in the sudden rush of the minus-ridiculous temperatures of the snowy roof patio. Amazing experience!! Dad’s hair froze, so we spiked it up for him….

Water: 43C Air - 25C
Water: 43C
Air – 25C

We also spent a while SKATING. I LOVE skating!!! Miranda loves it too! I was a bit wobbly at first -I didn’t actually get very good at it last year, but at least i can remain upright and propel myself along. Miri is getting very proficient on her little bobskates. We found there’s a rink at the park on McTavish st in Cathedral so we went there until we were joined by a junior hockey crowd and were humiliatingly overtaken by 6 year olds…. never mind, the Victoria Park rink, ten minutes walk in the other direction, is now open and is relatively hockey-free. Best of all, they hire out skates (for free) and even Mum was (almost) brave enough to have a go!

Not sure if we're holding Miri up or whether she's pulling us along...
Not sure if we’re holding Miri up or whether she’s pulling us along…

The rest of the time, we went for Cold Walks around the neighbourhood, being Beer Elves and making deliveries to Amy, or bringing the Christmas Octonauts magazine to Jeff and Bryony all the way from the UK. Miranda got a SLEIGH from Granny and Grandad for Christmas, which is absolutely brilliant – so much easier than negotiating the pushchair through the snow. Of course, we had to test it, so we bundled her up and went out to admire everyone else’s Christmas lights , most of which were considerably more impressive than our own!

Not our house
Not our house
Madam's carriage
Madam’s carriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, on our last weekend together, we went to the 13th Ave Records Rendevous at the Artesian. Loads of local bands, several with interchangeable band members, and seemingly trying to play “how many musicians can we fit on stage at once?” It was an excellent night (possibly not as good as the previous year’s – too much of one band, not enough tubas involved?!), and so good to see so much live music all from one small area. There was an after party at the German Club afterwards, which is a long way from Cathedral. The solution? Get the host, a hipster-with-a-megaphone to usher people on to a (free) bus, along with half a brassband and a country singer who stole the aforementioned megaphone, and get the Music Bus all the way across town. Wonderful!!

DSCF8055

13th Ave Records operates out of a shop called Buy the Book, two blocks from here. Very sadly, the owner of both, Chris, announced at new year that Buy the Book is closing down soon. Next came the news that my very favourite coffee shop is also closing. What is happening to 13th avenue?? This is Cathedral! If small businesses and community-minded,sightly hippy folk can thrive anywhere, it is HERE. I have a feeling I will be writing more about Cathedral coffee shops soon though, and I refuse to get sad about this. I am staying positive. Cathedral is a beautiful, fantastic neighbourhood and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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