Make no mistake, I’m missing Melbourne’s cafes. Every Melbournite has his or her favourite, and the one I’m missing the most is the Lawson’s Grove milk bar in South Yarra. (In fact, if anyone’s down that way, would you mind popping in and saying hello from me?) Lawson’s Grove is a beautiful, fussless café shrouded in leafy greenery and built into the ground floor of the creamiest block of art deco flats in a whole cul-de-sac of creamy art decosity. The atmosphere there is one of pure, quiet, early-twentieth-century leisure, which is rare on that side of the Yarra. You can rely on your coffee to arrive a full fifteen minutes after you order it, giving you plenty of time to become absorbed in the Saturday paper, or a magazine or a book. Your breakfast will arrive not long after, and there is plenty of space on the table to spread out your reading material around your plate.
The café we’ve been sniffing around the door of most in Townsville is a brand new one called Squires, and it is as different from Lawson’s Grove as it is possible for two cafés to be. Nonetheless, we have been going there quite a bit because the coffee is the best in town – and I don’t mean that in a snobby way, it’s just that coffee isn’t really taken as seriously around here as, well, as it ought to be – plus the chairs there are quite comfy and the music is low and unobtrusive. In short, it’s a great place to sit for a while with a coffee and some cake if we deserve it, and have a good read. And on Friday evening we did just that.
Whereas the proprietress at Lawson’s Grove will greet you with a beautifully understated casual glance, proprietress of Squires was openly happy to see us and, she said, our books. We sat. We drank mochas in enormous cups with saucers, and we ate some delicious carrot cake. It was lovely. Later on in the weekend I was thinking about the partnership of books and cafes which is well known everywhere in the world but, it seems, Townsville. The only people I’ve seen here sitting reading in a café are me and Hayden. I suppose that, to the locals, we must seem a little odd. Huh. Who’d have thought?