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An Invernessian in America: Chance encounter thanks to Les Français!


By Diane Knox

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An Invernessian in America.
An Invernessian in America.

The world has seemed pretty big over the past year. Travel has been, and still is, restricted and cabin fever has set in since March 2020, writes Diane Knox.

I see what my friends are doing in Scotland and feel further away than I ever have.

So, when crazy coincidental moments happen that make this big world seem slightly smaller, it’s truly a great feeling.

A new French café opened a few weeks ago in our local community of Atlantic Beach. I stalked their Instagram and saw cute wee tables, blue and yellow woven chairs, Parisian-themed decor, teacups and saucers and an array of croissants and pastries – as silly as this sounds, things that you don’t see very often over here. Starbucks…everywhere!

So as soon as I saw the café was opening, I was excited to go.

My (very American) boyfriend picked up the many not-subtle hints I was dropping and planned a Saturday afternoon date for coffee and lunch.

I planned my outfit and tried to incorporate some French vibes – and clearly was not the only one! We walked in and were met with a gaggle of females, a lot of stripes and a LOT of Champagne and croissants. Garrett might have been the only guy in the whole place.

We ordered, chatted, laughed and loved the food. And coffee.

It really is the small things when you move away, and it was the closest I’d come to an authentic European café in the US.

We snapped some photos (of course) and left.

A few hours later, I posted some pictures and soon after a message popped up: “Hi, I was there at the same time as you today… as a fellow Invernessian I should have said hi.”

WHAT?!!

So I immediately messaged “Maggie” back. And honestly, I’ve been excited about this for a week!

Maggie’s husband is in the RAF and has been based in Jacksonville for the past four years, working with the US Navy.

As a proud Invernessian, she follows the Inverness Courier to stay connected to her hometown, and reads my column every week.

She almost left a comment on my article a few weeks ago in an attempt to reach me.

She followed me on Instagram, and while sitting there having her coffee that Saturday, spotted me! What a teeny, tiny world.

So we messaged back and forth and last week we went back to the French café – and to bring our Invernessian tally up to three, I took my mum.

Life in Florida is night and day different to living in Inverness, and not always in a good way. I miss it, I
get homesick, I sometimes can feel a little out of place and disconnected to everything that was familiar growing up. And days like this bring so much happiness to me!

Diane Knox.
Diane Knox.

We talked about people we knew, places we missed, Girvans, where I worked for many years… my Mum and I left smiling from ear to ear!

I slag social media off a lot and call it a necessary evil probably five times a week, but this instance was wonderful. I just wish it had happened years ago, because Maggie and her family are moving back to Lossiemouth in a few weeks.

However, we plan to fit in a dinner before that happens, and when I do eventually get back to the north I hope to meet up.

And I’ll be sure to bring her little pieces of Jacksonville, maybe from our wee French café.

READ: An Invernessian In America: Some of the trolls’ comments will never leave me


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