// Where: Swindon, Farringdon Road //
Having moved from London back to Swindon, I had undoubtedly become accustomed to the broad spectrum of cafe culture that the city had to offer.
Cafe’s have always been little dens for me – perfect for catching up on reading; attempting some actual work; or escaping from the errands I was meant to be running. With this in mind, I have always tried to stay away from the big conglomerates, you know, the ones where you walk in and all that’s missing is a carousel (which you’d have to queue for anyway).
If you ever want to get out of Swindon for a little while, without going too far, take a walk down Farringdon Road.
There’s a clear continuity of craftsmanship throughout Darkroom Espresso, from the wall art on display, and the wooden service counter, to the freshly made sandwiches and coffee. It exerts a rustic and modest approach to hospitality.
I am pleased to be greeted by a diverse range of clientele which, like the decor, is not cluttered together. It’s an open space that caters for writers and readers; catch-ups and drop-ins; and Darkroom’s cycling club.
Much like the atmosphere, the staff are cool and casual – there is no sign of forced marketing – as they amiably replenish the sandwiches on the counter, make delicious coffee, and orchestrate an in-house playlist.
To my delight there isn’t an overwhelming menu thrown at me upon arrival, nor am I in fear that at any given moment the staff could break down into a rendition of “Be Our Guest”. I just want a good cup of coffee.
If you find yourself looking for something refreshing and alternative in Swindon, I highly recommend you stop by.
// Bristol Summer Series //
Until Thursday I had not yet been to a gig at Bristol Harbourside, but it seemed rather fitting that Sigur Rós would be my reason to go. They’d always been on my to-do list, so to speak, so the moment I came across the tickets for sale I grabbed two.
In true British fashion the weather was ironically a hot topic on my mind – I had been greatly anticipating this event, so was pleasantly surprised to be escorted into the arena by a cool breeze down to the water. It was perfect. I was ready.
Unannounced and huddled at the back of the stage, a sublime and pure vibration coursed through the open-air venue, and there they were. For a moment, there was a shared silence of anticipation as to their fixed position, but this swiftly passed after their modest intro when the trio separated and advanced forward to the front of the stage. They were accompanied by an explosion of light which was beautifully exhibited on rectangular frames.
The array of lights and background installations did not reach full throttle until later in the evening – for this, I sincerely apologise to these Icelandic visionaries as this was some what distorted by our stubborn sunlight. Regardless, this did not effect the crowd’s overwhelming appreciation for something so magically executed.
The energy is transcending as they project a serene but intense atmosphere. The presence they hold is also wonderfully embodied by their unique and spellbinding sound – it is simply incredible to bare witness to something so raw and talented.
With one graceful bow, the light display shut down and it was over.
Sigur Rós leaves you with a kind of freak out of body experience. We made our way out of the arena amidst a wave of calmness and understated satisfaction. Greeted by sirens and yawning clubs getting ready for the evening, I’d almost forgotten we weren’t set against the backdrop of green fields and wide open space.
// An unforgettable and must-see act //