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So, dear friends,  last weekend I spent the day at Gracelands Cafe ( ) in London.

The aim of this work experience was to see if the dream was actually a really bad idea. I have to say, I went in hoping to love it but expecting to hate it. There was a strong possibility that I would hate it and hating it would mean I would have to have a huge re-think – what the hell would I do next?

So with trepidation I set off and met Cecile and Nick who, despite long hours and lots of hard work continue to show a lot of passion for what they chose to do. I cleaned, ran, served, chatted and smiled. Nick kindly encouraged me to do some of the dirtier work (he let me off cleaning the toilets) and Cecile kept me topped up with delicious coffee all day. They even fed me their delicious food. It was freezing that day and therefore not so busy (did not stop for about 5 hours!).  I left tired but happy. At the end of the day I was elated and relieved – I know I’m on the right path.

Cecile and Nick spent a generous amount of time with me sharing their experiences and giving me lots of advice. Lovely people and clearly their community agree – they keep coming back. If you are ever in London, make the effort and go there.

They gave me a lot of inspiration and helped me to further clarify my vision. I know it will still take me some time but spending a day with them has made me even more determined and eager to finally open my little place. See you soon folks!




Small is beautiful!

Hello friends – bright sunny and freezing cold day here on the South Coast. Half way through January and getting a bit overwhelmed with the complexities of following that dream. So much to do and no guarantees. The risks involved are pretty scary and frankly I’m starting to wonder if it is ever going to happen or even if it is feasible.

Part of the process is research. Today I had lunch at a tiny cafe recommended to me, hidden away in a courtyard, 5 tables and packed – 5 breakfast options on the menu plus cakes. And it suddenly stuck me, I have been over thinking this – too big too quickly, small is very much beautiful. It opens up all sorts of possibilities – inspired all over again!!!! Have some planning to do.

Ana xx















And here we go!

Dear friends

This is it – nothing like taking some time off for clearing the mind of all sorts of other stuff and starting to plan. Have read the book, now starting to address the reality – the vision, the brand, the name and the menu are all starting to take shape and there are lots of ideas that I have started to drill down on.

 Money  – well that’s another matter all together but will get there. Have 2 places to do work experience hopefully in January and February, meeting with a finance bod to draw up a business plan (free – how great are my friends!) meeting 4 bank managers, and now looking for a graphic designer for a cheap (read free) design of my brand. Anyone interested?

My aim – Christmas 2012, The Bay Tree Cafe Co. will open. Book out a weekend to attend the Grand Opening folks!

Merry Christmas to all and a wonderful 2012 – thanks for all your constant support and belief in me – hope to get there soon.

Ana xxx

Happy moments

Dear friends,  a little bit of rambling on a cold winter December eve…

Today I wonder if it is ever going to happen – the climb seems so insurmountable.  Every day I re-affirm that I really want to do this but sometimes, especially today, I do wonder – what happens then? So far I have achieved what I have set out to achieve and yet, despite still being determined to get the cafe dream, I do wonder if I am chasing the right dream. Am I trying to find an alternative happy ending? If my cafe dream comes to fruition, will I be happy?

Over a year ago, on a hot August afternoon, I stood outside a theatre in London, waiting for friends. I saw a couple out the corner of my eye. They were surrounded by hordes milling out of Sadler’s Wells after the end of the Tango matinée.   Then, it was just the 2 of them – everyone else had faded away. They were in an embrace so deep and so passionate that it hurt to look at them. It was a movie kiss. A ‘From here to eternity kiss’. There was fog or mist surrounding them and a steam train chuffed softly down Roseberry Avenue (ok I made that last bit up but you get the picture). 

 It would be easy to think that they would be young teenagers snogging each other’s face off but no, older, in their late 40s early 50s.  He turned, picked up a suitcase (aah, he hadn’t seen her in a while) and still holding her tightly they turned and walked away.  I never saw their faces but I have not forgotten that moment –  and it made me sad to I know that I would never experience that intensity.

I accepted a long time ago that I would be on my own and mostly made my peace with that but every now and again, something happens, I have a little hope, despite past evidence and experience. Should I keep trying or  just give up?

I read somewhere that there are no happy endings only happy moments. A year ago I asked myself would I have the courage to change my life and try to have more happy moments, but can I be brave and try to make all my dreams come true. Will I have the energy to pick myself up and try again. Will having a coffee shop bring me happiness – maybe I should just go travelling…. 


PS – I am trying to be positive … and I still want to make cakes.

Making bread!

I am so excited – this weekend I’m off to do a class on baking bread – the 2nd of many ( I hope ) skill building classes. I have found a perfect little bakery to supply my little cafe but I want to do a special bread on the menu in addition. This would be to go with the yummy soup of the day. Baking bread is one of those things that I have always found a little nerve-wracking – so am facing it head on . Baking bread is chemistry and I am no chemist so it should be exciting! I am also hoping to a patisserie course to perfect lovely pastry, sweet and savoury so I’m looking forward to seeing what the cookery school is like.  watch out for the yummy bread photos!

Next, time to do my project plan, the only way I know how to tackle this .

Have a great weekend everyone


Not losing sight of the dream

Dear Friends – It’s amazing how easy it is to get sucked into all sorts of things, work, negativity, anxieties, winter, dark and cold British afternoons and lose sight of why I set out to do this…

Nearly a year since I left London and a lot has happened. My ‘project plan’ is well and truly on track, despite perhaps some people perhaps hoping to see a fail (ooh I am sounding very negative but actually more like fighting talk!).  I really like the Paulo Coelho quote about what other people think of you is their business. Too often though, what others think of us drive what we do and where we go. It is so difficult to not let this affect us because we can’t help being influenced by what people around us think of our plans, of us and our dreams. Sometimes no matter how much we try, nothing will change what they think and we just have to let it go.

So far, without sounding smug and certainly with quite a lot of hard work and soul-searching, everything I planned and set out to do has happened. It would be so easy to just stay in my comfort zone and a steady job, and not take that leap. and even though I may not yet be ready practically I am so ready to take that very big next step. is this the right step for me? I’m not sure. a friend said, what happens afterward when the cafe opens (and it will!) – will there be something else or will I just be content. I do wonder about that sometimes – my hope is that I will be following my dream and my dream will make me happy – I really don’t know. But unless I try I will always wonder.

A bit of a morose post but I guess it’s natural to feel doubt. At the weekend, I spotted ‘my’ cafe ( I have been dreaming about what this empty shop, in the centre of the village would look like as a coffee shop) is no longer vacant and is now host to furniture shop! It is a double bay shop with large picture windows and a central door. Can be seen from the top of the road and would be an amazing cafe, a real local place to go for great coffee, cake, wonderful food and fabulous breakfasts. There will be other places I know but that just fit my image of what I want. Somewhere I would like to go on a Sunday morning with the paper. Cesar Evora in the background and wonderful hot chocolate served with hot buttered toast to dip – believe me it tastes fantastic. You see I feel better already! I think it’s time to start getting that menu plan put together – question? what would you like for breakfast – you never know, it may make the menu and named after you! see you soon – keep an eye out!
Ana xxx

You never do a journey alone

Someone, I won’t mention who as he did not seem that keen to be referenced suggested that I start this blog to document my journey. It struck me that though the journey is mine, nothing is ever done in isolation – there is always someone or something along the way that influences you in some way. I have always written but never shared so, even though no-one may read this it’s a way of helping me order my thoughts, put things in perspective and help with my direction.

So, some of you may know that after 16 years in London in the same organisation, I took the leap. After being unhappy for so long I took a long hard look at what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. It was not where I was in June 2010. After 4 sleepless nights in midsummer Scotland, I came to the realisation that I needed to do something drastic and make my life happen – it was certainly not going to be started by anyone else. And so, it started – 1 year ago almost to the day, I left a comfortably paid job and took that leap, and the journey began – so many people, events have continued to inspire me and drive me on – hope you can join me in that journey.

More to come – if you’re interested keep reading and comments welcome.

Ana x