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A taste of Portugal and Catalonia as coffee and beer is on the menu

The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, Friday, June 21

Coffee anyone? It seems that recently my mission has been to visit every coffee shop in town.

It is partly due to the luxury of the extra time now that I have retired, but given more urgency by the workmen around the house carrying out vital repairs.

It seems much more peaceful in the goldfish bowl, watching the workers construct our new H&M, than it does listening to them fix new tiles to our roof.

It is tempting to go back to the same place every time but, while I have my favourites, I have always been on the look-out for new destinations.

In the course of my ‘research’ it has become clear that the continental style of drinking that many claimed would never happen in this country is gaining a foothold.

Whilst over in Spain for the big game, we had lunch in many small cafes, where people would sit with a coffee and snack, or sip a glass of something a bit stronger. Not exactly a pub, but more than your typical British café.

While out and about in Lynn, you can do the same. There is a Portuguese café on Tower Street with exactly this type of continental feel.

A coffee and Bifana, Portugal’s answer to a kebab, makes an excellent lunch, but in their home country they are often paired with beer, and indeed you could do the same here.

Not your thing? Then Camillo’s near the bus station, once the Stanley Arms, is an attractive alternative. There is another example down Norfolk Street, and an Eastern European café/bar on London Road.

There are also home-grown versions. During the day, Archers on Purfleet will serve you a very nice lunch, but some evenings seems to transform into a cocktail bar.

The Bar Man column, by Jeff Hoyle
The Bar Man column, by Jeff Hoyle

Back on Tower Street, Liquor and Loaded may major as a stylish drinking venue, but they can rustle up a decent breakfast, along with some rocking music to make sure you are well awake.

Interestingly, back in Spain there seems to be a trend the other way. After watching the Catalans crush the Wigan Warriors, it was time to explore Barcelona, and in the age of the internet, a search for craft beer bars revealed all sorts of possibilities.

There were some, such as the BeirCaB which would not look out of place in the trendier parts of London, with their seemingly endless list of ever more inventive brews on tap, and a predominantly young and hip crowd in there enjoying them.

The offerings may have been local, Basque or from Madrid, but increasingly beer is an international product and step away from the gassy local lager, and there is lots of wonderful stuff to discover.

Back near where we stayed, just a few minutes’ walk from the Camp Nou, things quietened down as the Wiganers made their way home and, around the corner, we discovered the Nautilus bar.

This was much smaller and low key. With a couple of beers on tap and a fridge full of bottles it had more in common with the Nip and Growler than the BeirCaB or a local café.

So while we may not be sitting outside on the pavement tables sipping wine long into the drowsy summer night, things are changing and I think they are here to stay.

You cannot have many thousands of people crossing borders or even continents without them picking up something of other people’s culture.

Once it was lager and curry, but now even more interesting things are happening, and no amount of Brexit votes will ever put that genie back in the bottle.

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