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This morning I was down at my local coffee house. Saturday morning is my time away from the kids, time for myself – as long as Hubby isn’t away with Rugby.
I often run into the same faces, which I absolutely love. It has taken me 3 years to build my lovely little welsh life and while it saddens me that in 6 weeks we will be packing up and moving to France where I will need to start all over again, I am thankful for the generous hearts of the friends I have made.
Anyway, this coffee shop has provided me with the most unlikely of coffee group companions over these years and it proves that as women seeking meaningful relationships, we really need to remain open to everyone. Stay at home Mums aren’t the only group looking for an adult connection during a typical day.
Initially when I arrived in Swansea I would get a coffee every morning just to get out of the house. On Tuesday mornings at about 10am a group of older ‘mature’ gentleman would congregate against the back wall. They were usually laughing and joking and it was obvious that they just enjoyed each others company. On one particular morning one of them asked me a question and realising I was a foreigner the conversation went from there. At about 11am they started to move on but not before asking me if I wanted to join them again next Tuesday. Without hesitating, I said yes (as per my ‘Yes’ policy). I joined these men’s coffee group most Tuesdays until I got a job (so for about a year).
How incredibly refreshing to be part of a coffee group that had more than kids in common. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely see the value in having a group of Mums for support, but as a Mum I don’t want to constantly talk about my kids who I am with 24/7.
These blokes are brilliant. They have all known each other for a very long time and some born and bred in Swansea. They tell great jokes (most of the time), stories from a different perspective, place and experience that I can’t even imagine.
Their kids are grown and grandchildren have arrived. They’ve had careers. They have life experience and are so very generous with sharing these along with their time. I have never paid for a coffee while with these Gents and it is so refreshing to be treated like lady from a bygone era (no offence Gents, this is a compliment I promise!!)
But there is another coffee date that I also have on a regular basis.
David was born in London in 1938 right before the start of World War 2. In a time of food rationing, war and when party phone lines were a technological coup. He spent his 20’s, 30’s & 40’s touring with all the big Jazz bands around the USA and UK – he tells a story about being backstage at a concert and meeting a young Madonna, but he didn’t know who she was!
We often talk about his childhood. He tells me about when he was a toddler playing outside, he remembers hearing the German V1 bombers coming and would watch them fly overhead. Even at that age he knew that if you could hear the engine the bomb hadn’t dropped. But once the engine cut the bomb would drop and everyone would run for the nearest bomb shelter. Which for many houses was a dug out pit in the garden as opposed to an underground concrete bunker.
War didn’t really reach New Zealand like it did in Europe, so I cannot comprehend how this must’ve been for him, that I am speaking with a man who remembers the sound of the bombs dropping and lived through it.
The Germans soon upgraded to the V2 bombers which had silent engines so you couldn’t hear them coming. When they started flying over London his parents sent 3 year old David away to Swansea.
Unfortunately, not long after he arrived here, the Germans spent 3 days blitzing Swansea in February, 1941! He is convinced they made a mistake bombing the docks – he talks of a Tin Plate factory in Gorseinon that had the Germans bombed, would’ve had a bigger impact on the Allies war effort.
David talked about how after the war food rationing remained in place and that oranges and bananas were impossible to find. It reminded me that my Mum used to always put an orange in our Christmas stockings as kids. When I asked why (not until I was an adult), she said that her parents had always done that for her. Because during war time, oranges were a luxury treat.
In memory of my Mum who passed away a year ago, my grandparents who fought in wars and David who lived through one – I will carry on the tradition and add an orange to my kids Christmas stockings.
Love, Jaimee Sarah oxo
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