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From "Insomnia" To My Perfect Dreamworld In One Building! (Or - The Day I Thought I Had Gone International In More Ways Than One!)
Have you ever wondered how one mug of black Americano can make you hallucinate enought to believe that (just by crossing a small space) you are in a completely different country???

I had just over an hour to waste in Market Harborough on Tuesday afternoon before I could catch a bus to Lutterworth (having just missed one by a few minutes) - so I decided to investigate an establishment I had heard about.

The building was actually familiar to me - but not in what you might call its current format.  They had apparently tidied the Library and Council Offices away upstairs and left the downstairs free for a slightly surreal experience - to me any way.

When you walk into the Symmington Building in Market Harborough, (Ex-library and Council Offices building) you will find that the former Library space is now filled with a Coffeeshop and Wine Bar with - what I think is - a very appropriate name.  (That was just based on the strength of the coffee I had from there.)  The former Reception bit for the Council Offices is now taken up with something I found even more intriguing than most people might.  (More about that later.)

The Coffeeshop and Wine Bar is called "Insomnia".  The best way for me to describe it is a cross between my two favourite cafes.  (I didn't stay until it turned into a Wine Bar.)

It had the comfortable feeling of St Martins Coffeeshop - but the armchairs were more like I would expect to find in someone's home.

The crockery reminded me of the "Douwe Egbert" Coffeeshop in Rotterdam.
  So much so that I was half-expecting any cakes to be served on a cakeplate with a slot for the fork.

I must admit I am not a big fan of "Branded" cups, etc, when I intend to consume what I have bought in their own establishment.  It just seems a bit of a waste to me.  But I liked the logo on these.


No - this is not what you are likely to get as a result of visiting this establishment.


The serving area looked a bit posher than I was expecting.



In fact, the last time I saw something look that inviting I was in the cafe at Rotterdam Central Station.

However, my favourite touch was found on one wall (and I think my Mum would have loved it as well).


Old fashioned sewing machines on the wall.


I also loved the fact that - when I had placed my order I was advised to sit down and it would be brought to me.  The person who brought it over was very polite too.

After I had finished consuming my coffee and snack I decided to investigate the shop on the other side of the entrance - and promptly thought I was in a Railway Station in Holland.  I also thought I was standing in a supermarket with a different name but the same nationality as the one I was actually in.

Allow me to explain.

The shop I was standing in was called "SPAR".  For those of you who think SPAR is English - I am afraid it is actually Dutch.  (Its name is actually an abbrieviated acronym - the original Dutch name was "DE SPAR" - but the SPAR bit still means something.  "Samenwerking Profiteren Allen Regelmatig" translates into "Working Together Profits Everybody Regularly".

I said that I thought I had walked into another supermarket from the same country, didn't I???  I also said I thought I was in a Dutch Railway station???

There is a simple explanation for both of the above.

There is a Dutch supermarket chain which I absolutely love.  It is called "Albert Heijn" or "AH" for short.  Stand me in this shop and I will be amused for hours.  Now - AH have got a chain of smaller supermarkets (usually found in Railway Stations) called "AH To Go".  Forget "Tesco Express" - these are compact and very well laid out (usually).

The layout of the SPAR shop in Market Harborough reminded me so much of an "AH To Go" that I was quite surprised not to find myself looking at Dutch train timetables as I exited the building.

It was a shame I couldn't stay longer in both places.

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