Not that I’m a coffee hound or expert but I enjoy a brew most days. Usually when I’m out for my morning constitutional. When I first moved to Greenwood/Danforth – there was no fast/take-out closer than Carrot Common. Now it’s a five minute walk between Tom Ho’s, ten between various Starbucks.
Nearest me now is Red Rocket. I hit the Rocket at least once a week, even when it was down on Queen – but a five minute walk suits lazy me. Friendly staff, great coffee & in-house baked goods. Their peanut butter cookie is the best in the city, try it. I also like the peanut butter square & the macaroons are excellent. I’m waiting for a combo: peanut butter macaroons. A great place to sit & work too – I used it last November for a weekly NaNoWriMo meet-up & edit & hope to get back there weekly again now that I don’t have to deal with winter wear.
My Sunday walks take me to Cake Town – sort of at Danforth/ Woodbine. Another great spot with an in-house bakery with a great selection of savory scones and cookies. Friendly staff & smooth coffees – now that winter has passed I can walk in & not have my glasses fog over so badly that I cant’ see what else they offer. I’d recommend their pecan butter tarts if you need a sugar rush. Good peanut butter cookie too, but not as good the Rocket’s.
If I don’t hit Cake Town on Sunday I drop into Bandit – at Gerrard/Woodbine – a great local coffee spot. Recently opened but has built up a strong following for the area. I’ve only been in their maybe three of four times now & different staff each time. Good coffee but ‘imported’ cookies, muffins. Imported from local bakery, not in house. Passable peanut butter cookie, muffins okay but clearly fresh on Friday but not so fresh by Sunday.
I also drop by Starbucks & Tim Ho’s frequently. Tim’s has my favorite bagel – the jalapeño that has a nice heat to it. The two Starbucks on the Danforth are always too busy for sit down but the one at Gerrard/Jones has a nice upper level that is ideal for a quiet chat. I hit the Timothy’s at carrot Common when I want a super strong coffee – their sticky vanilla square always goes well with that.
Don’t get the idea that Wentworth Perk is the only cafe in town. There are others. By far the most popular is The Bean Bank on Charlotte Street. I stopped by for coffee – strong & smooth – the place was packed, busy – people on laptops enjoying the wireless. several different spaces for sitting, though all were taken when I was there – a front patio, an inner patio, and at least two others room as well. I was there around 11:30 & no muffins left – opted for an oat cake. Tasty but, to be honest, I like Tim Ho’s oat cakes better 🙂
Visited the Sydney Historical Society to enjoy an exhibit about the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church and had a long talk with Megan, one of the guides, about my book. She’s creating a theatre project which, at the moment, has the working title “Steel and Coal: Work and Protest.” We are researching similar territory.
There was also some talk about the number of churches closing in the area – at least three in the past year and more to shut their doors over the next year. I thought why don’t they invest in wireless – congregations could meet to commune in a more spiritual atmosphere. Even the Tim Ho’s in Sydney has WiFi – time for the parishes to get with the program.
Was into the Bonnie Prince for the first time. It started out in the Isle Royal Hotel. Before I came out it had a reputation for having a ‘gay’ area – two stools at the back, I suppose – but then I was too fearful to go near it. The Isle Royal has since been torn torn. Now the Prince is a standard tavern/diner. Breakfast wraps were not in steelworkers lunch boxes.
For my birthday my sister found a spot for sea food chowder – Dock Y’ur Dory – about an hour’s drive along the coast. Tourist quaint that works – glass top tables with different displays under each table – toys in one, boats in another, dinner ware in another – the chowder was outstanding, the view was great, even picked up a few books in the gift shop. Worth the drive.
That was my last day there so didn’t get to do all I had planned – leaving something for my next visit. I won’t wait so long before my next visit. (2019 note – I did wait 7 years before visiting again.) I would have stayed longer but I had to get back to TO for my Pride gig & needed at least two days of rest to face that crowd. Population of Sydney maybe 32,000, number of people at Toronto Pride over 320,000 at any given hour.
Sydney has lived up to my damp, cold memories with rain & clouds the past few days. But I have gotten out and about – took walks down the streets I used to walk to school – past houses that friends I remember lived in at that time. Changes have been minimal on those streets. The downtown main street – Charlotte Street – has suffered from various attempts to revive it – one plan resulted in, what I call, cartoon quaint – in which stores fronts were given this ‘down east’ treatment that reflects nothing of the city’s heritage – fake St. John’s.
Some have had a sad modernity forced on them – that looks clean but has even less character than the ‘cartoon quaint.’ Banalization.
A few buildings have managed to maintain their historic dignity.
The one shopping centre I enjoyed as been transformed into a strip mall. For years one could enter one end, walk the inside promenade and go into the shops, or sit in a food court or the Tim’s – these community spaces were always active with locals. Now the promenade is gone, you have to enter each store from the parking lot – no shared indoor space & frankly very uninviting. Not even worth taking a picture of. Clearly no market research went in to this pointless renovation.
One good addition, at least one that I like, is Wentworth Perk. The cafe has been renovated a great old house, added a large patio and serves great coffee. I see it has a line up of local musicians – no spoken word night though – if I was here long enough there would be one – maybe I’ll line one up for my next visit though – I’m sure Sydney is ready for a splash of my mildly erotic queerness. (2019 note: Wentworth Perk no longer in business).
here’s a very rough draft from my miner novel – which I’m thinking of calling The Priest’s Niece (2-19 note: it is called Coal Dusters)
Birk could hear singing. It wasn’t far from him on the coal face. He hesitated a moment before pushing the loose rock, duff, behind him, for Swede, his duff-raker, to shift away. It was Swede singing.
“This is the dark. This is the work”
There wasn’t room for Birk to turn around. He wanted to ask Swede how he could keep singing when breathing was difficult enough. Birk snorted some of the coal dust out his nose as he took a shallow breath though the rag over his mouth and shoved more of the debris back towards Swede.
“This is the dark. This is the work. The dark we live in. The work we do.”
As he chipped into the coal face Birk drifted in and out of listening. All there was to think about was his arms flex strike flex chip slag crumble push behind. Flex strike flex chip slag crumble push behind. He no longer felt his sweat, felt his hands as rock broke, fell to his feet. His back and calves numbed from the constant crouch.
Flex strike flex chip slag crumble push behind.
When he stopped he could hear. “This is the dark. This is the work”
Swede tugged at Birk’s elbow. “C’mon lad. Time for a slurp a’tea.”
Birk listened for Swede to scuttle away so there room for him to inch out.
He barely backed out when he heard a dry crack over the sound of the other picks, over the sound of coal falling, over his own breathing. He heard it because it wasn’t a sound that fit into the sounds he usually heard.
Instinctively he nudged Swede. He nodded that he had heard it too. After working together in the mine for several months as a team they didn’t need words. Miners’ eyes talk when words couldn’t be heard anyway.
They crawled backwards on their stomach out of the edge in the coal face they had been working. They were at the point where they could half stand under the ceiling when there was louder crack. Then silence.
All the other miners had stopped.
“Struts,” Birk muttered.
“Yeap.” Swede replied.
They scuttled up the low, narrow passage. Other miners shimmying out from the ledges they had been working. All shuffled hunched and silent to hear.
A brief thump was followed by a low shudder under foot.
“Ceiling in level five.”
They were three level below that on level eight.
“Keep your arses movin’!” A harsh shout from behind and the line of miners moved slowly forward. hunching up and down to avoid the ceiling supports. The tunnel going from five foot to four foot high every six feet.
Birk felt a drip on his face.
“Leak.” he shouted. “Fookin’ leak.”
Another shudder and dust flakes began to fall on them. He grabbed Swede by the arm to pull him along as fast as he was moving.
The air already thick with coal dust became thicker with their fear. They almost fell out of the vein into the shaft where the carts were. They kept moving so the other miners could get out too.
There was already water in the shaft. How long would the stavings hold?