Well, we finally got there!
I am more exhausted than I have ever been – well, than I have been since the last 48-hour-without-sleep trip to South America. It is mental exhaustion not just physical, although I had blissfully forgotten what standing on a market stall for nearly 9 hours in the cold does to your legs!
The last week in the run up to Launch Day could not really have been more hectic, and I honestly begun to believe things were conspiring against me. First I failed my bike test, meaning that Carl is in charge of driving the Ape still – I still have no license. Extra ‘practice’ on a borrowed bike resulted in further confidence-shattering disaster – bruised ankles and bent handlebars. Then I found out that the Ape STILL wasn’t finished – the generator was still overheating, and the fans intended to cool it all down had still not been put in. Friday was a very saddening memorial service for a much missed friend and a trip to Sheffield, and then we were into The Last Weekend.
Still no generator coolers.
Tom and Annie got married (YAY!) and I nearly ‘swooned’ dramatically during the speeches in what I can only imagine was an attack of nervous exhaustion. Sunday was spent with me feeling utterly terrible and unable to put my weight on my mysteriously swollen ankle (for once, nothing to do with drunken activities – swooning incident put paid to my drinking!) – BUT Jamie worked overtime and finally got our generator going at a temperature that didn’t make the fuel tank go pop. So we finally got the Ape home (Carl still describes the white-knuckle driving experience as a ‘learning curve’), practiced a few coffees for appreciative neighbours, discovered I’d completely lost the knack of foaming milk, Ape got stored in its own warm little nest of a garage, and we spent til 11.20pm frantically making sandwiches and baking cakes.
With an inhumanely early start, Launch Day finally dawned. The lovely Carl stayed around all day to look after me as well as drive the 200 yards from the garage to the market square, (memo to self: I can probably push it, if all else fails!). One very reassuring thing was how easy the Ape is to set up. I do love my Ape. Genny gets fired up, cools the fridge, heats the espresso machine and while it is doing all that, I can grind some coffee and get the filter machine a-dripping. Everything else sits in nice little jars on shiny new shelves, and even the cash register can be folded neatly away in its own drawer. The genny is also very clever in that if we don’t need it running at full power, it doesn’t run at full power, so it gets quieter if it’s not being used. The only slight caveat is that the espresso machine is on a thermostat, and it took me most of the day to get used to the generator powering up seemingly at random as the coffee machine warmed itself up again. But overall, a happy little Ape.
And we had a great day. My milk foaming skills returned, magically. It could have been better – it was Monday, and it was raining, and we would have done much much better if everyone who gave me/the ape strange looks actually bought coffee. But, as one Ape-admirer and coffee enthusiast pointed out that people need to get used to us being there. The Ape is distinctive, but if we keep going back week after week, hopefully we’ll get a following. Only one way to find out!
We did get lots and lots of positive comments; I sold an uber-coffee to a total stranger who didn’t really know what he was buying, and even he was impressed! A guy from Drury coffee appeared as if from nowhere and gave me lots of free samples and offered his espresso machine repair service, if ever required. He also complemented me on my neat dry little coffee pucks, which did much for my ego. As ever, the cake disappeared pretty quickly. And big thank yous to all the wonderful supportive people (cake eaters) who came to visit me,or who sent me lovely good-luck messages. Jo and Graeme even brought me a little ape to go on top my grinder!
So, having almost recovered from my tiredness, I am feeling good about Doctor Coffee’s. We finally got there! It feels like this has been such a long time coming, and it’s so exciting that its all finally happening! Worth all the stress, I think. 🙂 Now excuse me while I sleep until next Monday!