My last post was on June 11th 2010 . I look back on the period since then as though it was covered in ice… it’s felt like we have been stuck in a frozen time.

We’re now back in Nice after nearly nine months of to-ing and fro-ing between London, Hamburg and Nice….uncertainty….anticipation…… Only now does it seem possible to bring about a thaw.

A lot has changed during that time.

My father in law died in September… My close friend who I wrote about in my last post underwent a second operation to remove another tumour from his brain and he subsequently died in October.

I guess he was somebody I believed I could depend upon, he would always make time , he’d be there.. but now he’s not… so my vision of the world has needed to change……

I have been reading a great book by Kathryn Schultz  – Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error – http://www.beingwrongbook.com/                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I I think I have experienced something Kathryn describes as “being between belief systems”… a  very uncomfortable place to be…..neither here nor there…… A belief that things, well people, will stay the same .. be there… and then they aren’t……it’s now a world without them….and in time I’m adjusting to this new model of the world.

However it’s also a world which now has Ted! During that time my (first) grandchild Ted was born on 29th August and as for change here’s a photo soon after he was born….

and now six months later……wow!

So with the passage of time slowly thawing I feel my optimism & curiosity returning,  Oh and incidentally I have a new coffee roaster…… 

a Gene Café…..but more of that later…..

It’s definitely time to wake up and smell the coffee………..

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Over a small midmorning coffee I’ve been sitting here quietly pondering a surprising turn of events.

I had telephoned an old dear friend, I guess I was in a buoyant mood and full of high spirits; the conversation flowed but somehow when I put the telephone down I felt flat.

I have been wondering about this since then. I was baffled by what exactly had caused my spirits to plummet, seemingly for no reason.

It’s astonishing how fragile our spirits can be, fluttering in the breeze…..how volatile our feelings…one second strong and vibrant the next moment gone…empty … unconsciously changing without us noticing ….the vigour sapped by a moment of vulnerability exposed to some outside influence………

My friend is not well and he’s going through a very, very tough time. Although none of this came up in the conversation. It was nothing he said but more how I experienced him…..I realised it was no longer him….as I used to experience him. I know there is a strong chance he may never fully regain the former “him”.

It was very sad to acknowledge this loss.

The change had become clear, even though at first I had not recognised it. It had snuck up on me.

Reluctantly I now need to change too.

Well we’ve not been that well over the past few weeks and it’s been a while since I last posted. Happily we were well enough last week to attend the first communion of my nephew’s son. So we drove through Italy from here in Nice to way down south past Naples.

I usually I would not dream of drinking coffee at a service station… but when in Rome, or rather the land of Rome I made an exception……At every service station on the autostrada, and there quite a few on the 971 km trip, I had a coffee.  

What a very different story to motorway coffee at service stations in France. Every service station, no matter how big, slick and commercialised there was an espresso machine and a bar to stand at to drink a reasonable cup of coffee…..usually in real cups.. no paper nonsense.

As a result after a ten hour drive I arrived rather wired….

The following morning we were chatting to a couple at breakfast, about coffee and it emerged that much to the apparent consternation of his partner…the driver had also insisted on drinking a coffee at every service station.

We then compared our experiences of driving in Italy, especially after Naples. We agreed it was wild.

Now the question is…….

“What came first, the coffee or the driving?”

The coffee enables one to cope (or not care) whilst driving in Italy

The mad driving in Italy resulted in the need for good coffee in order to cope!

By the way we noted that as the driving gets more unpredictable and wild the further south one goes so does the coffee gets better.

I think this video clip sums up the effects of coffee rather well……

 

Ciao ciao

Clearly a lot!

The Anthora cup, created by Leslie Buck.

Leslie Buck, Designer of Iconic Coffee Cup dies at 87!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/nyregion/30buck.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fobituaries%2Findex.jsonp 

Long may it be Happy to Serve!

While I was roasting beans for tomorrows’ breakfast …..(Yemen Mocha Mattari from my last Hasbean order) I was taking my time, relaxing and surfing through some coffee links.

I love this photo and got to thinking about Life’s too short…..and was musing about taking time… and so got to thinking about ….What about coffee and the slow food movement?

and lo and behold came across this……..

 Slow coffee  http://www.slowcoffee.com/

Fantastic!  

I also came across this article  – Christoph Niemann’s coffee doodles 

http://niemann.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/coffee/?em#

 

What a delight! Sheer brilliance! I love them!

I’m glad I “allowed” myself to take the time to look, I’m now going to take my time to savour ….. Life’s too short to rush good coffee.

What helps lessen the risks and fears associated with change?

I had arranged a telephone co-coaching session the other week. We are friends, ex colleagues and had benefited from a co-coaching relationship when we trained together. We haven’t been in touch much since I moved and the conversation became a bit loose and we soon slipped from coaching and into more a friendly conversation between friends.

Inevitably it was only partially beneficial and my friend remarked afterwards that my line of conversation which was blatantly offering advice set up resistance. She described herself as probably not a very good coachee in that sense as she felt quite averse to direct challenge. However she helpfully identified parts of the conversation where I had raised a question or challenge in a more subtle way that led her into a challenge that seemed ok. An example was when I said….”when you say that, it makes me wonder if………”

It was a very helpful pointer for me to not only clarify the style and what the person would like before starting coaching but also the blatantly poorer outcomes if the language of change is not in tune with the recipient.

It was also a powerful reminder for me as to the intrinsic qualities of the methodology Appreciative Inquiry to assist change. It’s all about the crafting of the questions we ask and how they are articulated……”We create our destiny by the questions we ask…..”

“The types of questions we ask determine the types of answers we receive; and “the seeds of change are implicit in the very first questions we ask.”

We manifest what we focus on, and we “grow toward what we persistently ask questions about.” (both quotes from Cooperrider & Whitney, 1999)”

 So!  I ask myself…….. “as well as what to I ask, how best to ask it?”

I’m savouring a cup of Finca El Carmen Occidente from El Salvador in my favourite cup.

We’ve now returned from spending a few days in Paris last week celebrating my 60th birthday with friends and family. A great time!

Contributing to my excitement was following my post – Le Cafe en France est étrange!  Grant Rattray at Mercanta recommended I visit Café Soluna or The Caféohèque whilst in Paris.  http://www.cafeotheque.com/index.php?langsite=en  It’s located just opposite where we were staying on the left bank. We managed to visit on three of the four mornings we were there.

A couple of coincidences, we arrived the first time on Saturday 10th and met Gloria Montenegro, the owner. She was excited to show us an article by Oliver Strand which had just been published on Thursday 8th in the New York Times….. http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/ristretto-why-is-coffee-in-paris-so-bad/

The Caféohèque is definitely a find, David Lebovitz considers it “the best coffee spot in Paris” (“Living the sweet life in Paris”, “I find most of the coffee served in Paris cafés undrinkable, so I’m grateful for the existence of Soluna Café (52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 4th), otherwise known as the Caféothèque.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/03/paris_favorites_eating_drinking.html 

I also was interested to read Julie’s post about Coffee in Paris on her excellent blog  According to Julie  http://www.espen.com/julie/archives/2008/02/coffee_in_paris.html

Most French cafés use Robusta coffee, which is cheaper, can be stored for longer, and is generally considered to be of lower quality than Arabica coffee. About half of the coffee beans imported by the French are Robusta beans, according to the International Trade Forum. US coffee imports on the other hand, are composed of 76% Arabica and 24% Robusta. Canadian and German imports are similar to the US, and the Nordic countries barely import Robusta at all.”

A great blog to read by the way…

I returned the following day to order some green beans as Gloria said she would not be there on the Monday and Tuesday. I mentioned to Gloria that it was my birthday, I was 60 that day, she congratulated me and said it was her birthday on the 19th !   Coffee Arians together!

I met Bernard, Gloria’s partner, as well when I collected my beans on Monday. Happily we made good use of our friends’ buggy as it would have been literally a drag to carry around 7 kilos of beans for the rest of the day.

Gloria and Bernard exude passion about their coffee, they have created a delightful, easy going atmosphere in which to relax, and drink and enjoy good coffee.

What better way to celebrate turning sixty!

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine!  -“Coffee Cantata”, J.S. Bach