Blakeman’s cafe is cosy and rustic but airy due to the high ceiling and window letting in lots of light. But if you prefer a darker, more intimate corner, you’ll find a comfy sofa and an open fireplace at the back of the cafe. Fantastic art for sale from local artists fills the walls, and the soft background music adds to the tone and texture of the place.
A little girl sat with her family, sharing breakfast, counted every piece of art on display – sixty-one. Her mum assured me she was an excellent counter, and the number would be accurate. We got chatting, and she told me they were holidaying in Church Stretton from Brighton. Dad was browsing the menu. He looked up at me and said, “£2.50 for scrambled eggs, is that right?”. He was so excited I thought he was going to order the whole cafe scrambled eggs on toast. I decided to order it as well, and it was worth every penny of that £2.50. They were soft and fluffy, rich and indulgent, and no doubt whipped together with cream. So much for my diet again! Eggs are the reason I won’t or can’t become vegan. I’m rubbish at scrambling eggs, so it always feels like such a treat when someone else cooks them. However, I don’t want to learn how to do a better job; it will just take away the excitement of going out for breakfast and tasting a little bit of sunshine on a plate.
You can order all the usual coffee-based options, and if you take it away, you can also pick up an EcoSip mug made from bamboo composite material, great coffee with less waste.
A woman sitting close to me asked, “how are the eggs?” “Superb”, I answered. She told me she frequented the cafe every day but usually just for coffee but seeing as everyone else was talking eggs, she thought she would have a taste too. She carried on chatting. She had voluminous, thick blond shoulder-length hair, was around 60 and was very friendly. I love chatting to strangers in cafes (or anywhere for that matter) and finding out as much as possible about them. Julie had lived in Switzerland, the States, Hampshire and a couple of other places that have slipped my mind. She was well travelled and now settled in little old Church Stretton. She moved to the town for a relative who needed help but sadly passed away, leaving her alone. But her kind, caring and bubbly nature tells me she’s not alone often. Before she left, she pointed at the brownies and pulled a face that said, “try them; they’re delicious”.
So many mouth watering cakes to choose from – cream teas, sponges, biscuits, cupcakes, brownies and more, which sit alongside an extensive brunch-related menu and a tasty range of gluten-free and vegan products and three types of milk, with no extra charge! All the cakes are made fresh on the day by Jo and her husband. They also make the sizzling sausage rolls too.
I’m always excited but wary when I see a chocolate brownie on the counter. Is it going to taste as good as it looks? But with Julie’s recommendation, I went for it. Brownies look simple to make. But, like eggs, it is not something I have ever perfected. Jo, however, has perfected the art of the Brownie. It was just the right amount of dense and moist goo, full of chocolate flavour. I wanted another, but I thought that was just too greedy. So I’ll be back, and next time instead of coffee, I will choose one of the many Teapig Teas on offer – Honeybush & Rooibus, Earl Grey, Everyday brew, Peppermint leaves, superfruit, to mention a few, to go with my Brownie.
Jo, had lovely warm hazel eyes and a smile I could only imagine (hidden behind her mask). She told me that she loved being behind the counter meeting people from all walks of life.
The cafe is nestled just at the bottom of the High Street – no 54. Church Stretton is a bustling market town in Shropshire. The town is nicknamed Little Switzerland because of the view of hills that sweep around the town – an area of outstanding natural beauty. Blakeman’s is always busy with locals, tourists, cyclists and walkers. There’s a farmers market on Thursdays, and it is a great base to stay if you are off on a hike or two. Oh yes, and if you happen to forget to pack a picnic for your walk, Blakeman’s hire a picnic pack for £25 (plus a $25 refundable deposit). You can customise food and drink for an additional cost.
The cafe welcomes all including the four legged hairy variety and the very friendly Jo and her staff will help you with any information about the area as much as they can and of course, serve up a great cup of coffee.