Regular readers of this page will know that I love Coventry. Celia and I visited on Friday. She hasn’t been there since her teens, so her memories were hazy. My enthusiasm for the place had, I hope, inspired her, but it was mainly because we had seen and enjoyed Where Light Falls, in London, and knew there was a sister event in Coventry, that we got our acts together and bought train tickets.
I am evangelical about Coventry since it entered my consciousness a a few short years ago, thanks to Sarah Moss’ wonderful novel, The Tidal Zone. Why the city isn’t more widely celebrated I don’t know. I somehow doubt it is in the top ten places visitors to the UK have on their Must See lists. That may of course change in 2021 when it becomes the City of Culture.
The light show was not due to start until five in the evening, but we arrived shortly after eleven in the morning. Somehow, I imagined we’d have loads of the to explore.
Our first goal was the Pod Café which I had read about in a magazine called Be Kind I picked up at VegFest in September. We strode through the town, knowing that on Fridays the Pod closed early. I fully expected that we would be back, meandering and wandering the area near the station before we went home. But the day flew by.
The Pod was great. There was only one choice for lunch so we had that; a vegan pancake stuffed with a variety of vegetables and spices. delicious. I had a hot chocolate made with almond milk and Celia had a latte made with another milk alternative. We browsed the bookshelves; admired the pottery; agreed with the board that talked about the importance of mothers.
A young woman approached us and said we could visit her and her handmade books in Fargo Village. So after lunch that’s what we did. It turned out she’s the artist in residence at the Pod, and her name is Alex Villanueva. She has a website.
We had a splendid time, and moved on from Fargo Village inspired, and in Celia’s case, with two cactus plants in willow pattern containers, while I had several more photographs and had resisted the RNLI teapot, but only because I don’t drink tea.
Fargo Village has changed since I was last there.
I was delighted to find this wall of cars. I am guessing Older Nephew might like it too.
By now it was raining, but I got the feeling Celia was liking Coventry and her people as much as I do.
We headed to the museum, the Herbert, and I showed Celia the plaque saying how John Hewitt had been a director. I bought Celia a John Hewitt Society notebook the last time I was at the John Hewitt Festival in Armagh several summers ago, so she knew who he was.
We walked through a few galleries. Each had high quality exhibits.
Onto the ruins of the old cathedral.
Then the one disappointment of the day; a visit to the cathedral café. It’s outsourced and run by the only unwelcoming people in Coventry. It was also quite cold, and completely decked for Christmas with a collection of fairly naff decorations. Celia drank her tea and ate her teacake, I ate my vegan biscuit and got enough sugar to last me a week. We left.
Part of the attraction of the café had been to warm up. It hadn’t really worked. So next we went to Marks and Spencer and shared a portion of very hot fat chips. Heaven.
Except I contacted R who was looking after MasterB and learned the lock on my front door had broken and the door could not be closed. A few fraught messages, and R managed to remove the lock and close the door (there are two further locks; I am nothing if not security conscious). I understand MasterB was beside her giving her support.
We marched back to the cathedral.
It was wonderful. It was moving, it exceeded my expectations, which after the sister event at St Paul’s in London, were very high.
I’ve posted lots of pictures elsewhere. Here’s just one to give you a flavour.
And then there’s the official video.
Likely said this before but my reference for Coventry is The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce and our recent visit folded into the novel quite nicely. This update has cemented our intentions to return on a day that features sunlight. The Cathedral Cafe was a bit odd. Made me wonder if their major customers are on dedicated bus tours.
I don’t think you have mentioned that before. I have not heard of it. Thanks for the tip! Celia was taking about a spring visit even before we left, so we should be back again soon.
The cathedral café was about to close when we walked in, so we thought the lack of welcome might have been because the staff wanted to clear up and go home, but after the friendliness everyone else had shown, it was a bit of a shock.
At the station, waiting or our train to London, we met the one person we know in Coventry – a neighbour who teaches at the university and spends Monday to Friday in the city.