There are very few places that are as suited to slumping down with a coffee and a book than your own sofa. The welcoming envelope that your own cushions provide, the quiet of solitude, the perfectly brewed cup of warmth and the incomparable sense that you’ve somehow stepped into a bubble that’s shut you off from the rest of the world. With this in mind I tend to avoid big chain coffee shops and am constantly on the look out for a little corner to creep into with my latest read when I need a break from the bustle of being in town and I want to share one of my favourites with you.
I was first introduced to The Foxlowe when my boyfriend was commissioned to produce a piece for one of the walls and since then if I ever want a quiet half hour when I’m in Leek it’s my number one choice. What makes this space even more special than your average coffee shop is that it’s also a gallery and a community arts centre and all the services are completely volunteer run. It stays open 7 days a week from 10-4, completely down to the power of local volunteers giving their time to provide such a fantastic community space.
The cafe serves an amazing range of teas and coffees and everything is conscience clearing as it’s Fairtrade. They also have a food menu with some really nice home comfort food, my favourite part is the range of cakes to compliment my decaf hazelnut coffee; the Bakewell Tart comes with my highest recommendation. Stood in a corner is a bookcase stacked high for patrons to take novels away for a small donation or add to if they have an excess of literature. It’s touches like this that create the unique atmosphere that permeates The Foxlowe.
They also host a cinema with a licensed bar where all adult tickets are priced competitively at £5 and they are home to a youth theatre group where children can get access to a six week programme for only £36. There’s more, the in house gallery has a constant stream of exhibitions to suit all tastes and for a little arts centre in Leek it really does get some good ones on top of showcasing some really special local talent. If you’re the arty kind as well as the gallery offerings the walls around the building are covered with commissions with some for sale and if you’re more inclined towards music they hold frequent music events of all genres.
Basically The Foxlowe provides a real sense of community with something for everyone who comes through the door but it also has some real quirks and innovations that give it huge appeal with the contemporary Leek crowd. If you can’t give over any time to volunteer then just drop in for a brew or see what’s on because once you find your new favourite squishy armchair you’ll find it hard to get out again.