Gallery: Your coffee shop tales

In the second feature looking at the lives of people in our community JAMES MARSTON spends a morning at the Kesgrave Kitchen caf�.

James Marston

Everyone has a story to tell. In the second feature looking at the lives of people in our community JAMES MARSTON spends a morning at the Kesgrave Kitchen caf�.

KESGRAVE Kitchen is one of the area's best known landmarks.

The caf�, in the town's Main Road, has been serving customers traditional British food since 1937.

Owner Paul Driver said: “We have been here for 31 years. We serve English breakfasts and lunches. From first thing in the morning to about midday the customers are mostly tradesmen but we have a cross section of people in here.

“I like the social side of running the caf�. It is like a large family, people come and go and you get involved in the lives of people, especially the older customers. I like meeting people.”

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The 52-seat venue is open from about 7.30am to 4pm on Monday to Saturday.

Paul said: “We have no full-time staff but we have five part-time staff on different shifts. It is a community meeting place and we have a lot of passing trade. We are well supported by people from Ipswich.”

Best sellers include dishes such as the Full Monty breakfast - bacon, sausages, mushroom, beans, tomatoes, egg, fried bread, toast washed down with tea or coffee for �6.80 and roast lunches which are served twice a week.

Paul said: “The food is all homemade and locally supplied.”

It is a maxim that every journalist learns - everyone has a story to tell and Kesgrave Kitchen is no exception.

John Cracknell, enjoying a mid-morning breakfast of eggs and bacon, toast and beans and a cup of tea, describes himself as an ordinary taxi driver.

He said: “I come in here most days. I meet up with friends who come in here in the morning. I have just come back from Heathrow airport. I left at 4.30am this morning. My fare was going to Greece.

“I am 58 and I have lived in Ipswich all my life.”

Motorcycles, classic motorcycles to be exact, are Paul's passion.

He said: “I have got a Greeves and a New Imperial. My friends are into Sunbeam Alpine cars and one has a Triumph.

“I like the freedom of motorcycles and meeting like-minded people.”

John said he has driven some famous names during his work.

He said: “I took Status Quo to their hotel and I have driven Griff Rhys Jones and Roy Hattersley. I took him to Shrublands Hall. It is surprising how many people round here you pick up and you then realise who they are later.”

Married to Phillipa for the last 20 years, John said his wife is very quiet and easy going.

He added: “I've got two children from a previous marriage, 26 and 31, and they live in America.”

Leaving John to his breakfast it is time to chat to Claire and Clive Saul who have brought their son Ryan, 11, and a young girl they are looking after - Ellie - in for lunch.

Clive said: “We have been shopping in town this morning and we thought we'd give the kids a treat. We come here a few times a year, it is good food and company and you can park outside. You get what you order.”

Claire, 34, of Serpentine Road, Ipswich, has ordered bacon, eggs, sausage, chips and beans.

She added: “I come from Luton and I moved up to Ipswich when I was 13. I have got two brothers and two sisters.

“Ryan is an only child. He's not naughty, he is well behaved. We are very proud of him. I love being a mum.

“I have a health condition called Elhers-Danlos Syndrome. It affects my muscles and tendons, they are longer than they should be. It makes it difficult to move around. It is very rare, when I was diagnosed there were only five people with it in Suffolk. Ryan has it as well. It makes life difficult. I have to rely on my husband and Ryan to help, even things like holding a saucepan are difficult and I can't walk too far.

“There is nothing I can do about it, I just live with it.”

Claire and Clive met while dog walking in Landseer Park.

Clive, 65, said: “We met 11 years ago. I have been in nursing most of my life. I am a caring person, I enjoy looking after people. I found nursing suited me. I am retired now, I am enjoying it. I thought I might go back to work but I haven't yet. I don't really want to but I might have to do a few shifts.

“I like photography and we like to visit stately homes. We have been to Ickworth and Sandringham this year. I am not into football.

“It is good fun having a young family. It keeps me young.

“I had a son who died four years ago called David Halley-Frame. He died of an asthma attack. He would have been 29 now.”

Leiston High School PE teacher Danny Laws, 36, is in another part of the Kesgrave Kitchen with his young children - Charlie, 18 months, and Harry, three.

Danny said: “I live on Grange Farm and I have popped next door to collect some photos that have been framed. I have been a teacher for 12 years.”

With his girlfriend Kerrie, Danny said the family moved to Grange Farm about a year ago.

He said: “We are from Ipswich. This is the first time we've been to the Kesgrave Kitchen since we moved here. You can't beat a traditional caf� and lovely mug of tea. All three of us have been fed for �8.50, you can't moan at that.”

Danny is also the manager at Needham Market FC.

He said: “We had a game last night and won two nil. I like competing and challenging myself against opponents.”

Danny said being a father has changed his outlook.

He added: “It makes you appreciate time more and also makes you realise that before I didn't have a clue about being responsible.

“I wonder if I had done it earlier I might have grown up sooner.

“Everything me and Kerrie do centres around our children.

“We have enjoyed gong out with them this summer. We have spent a lot of time in Felixstowe and we have been to places on our doorstep, they are fun days out for the children. We went to Norfolk on Sunday.”

Danny said Kerrie works for Axa Insurance.

He added: “We have moved around a lot in the last few years and what we really want is to stay in Grange Farm. We have really settled there.

“We have done some work on the house and we are enjoying life waiting for the kids to go to school. We are getting married next year.

“Life is for living.”

Do you have a favourite cafe? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to