Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

Friday, 16 February 2018

Fashion. (Jimmy's cafe, Old Buckenham)

Jimmy’s Cafe,
Old Buckenham,
Opening times Thur-Sun 9-4:00,
After a heavy overnight frost a pitch inspection was required this morning before we could decide if to go ahead with today's cafe cycle ride. I was slightly surprised how keen Big George, today's cafe cycle guest, was for the ride to happen in these conditions but it soon became apparent as to his reason.

When he turned up he was in a shining new bright white cycle coat and insisted on giving me a twirl before we set off. He then explained that he had splashed out on a whole new winter cycle wardrobe that he would be modeling today.

Our route would be heading to Jimmy's cafe at Old Buckenham airfield. It has been recommended to me on several occasions but on my previous two attempts to visit it was shut so I was hoping for better luck today. 

We hadn't gone far when Big George asked if we could stop as he was now "a bit hot" and wanted to remove his new jacket. I thought it was still freezing but he stylishly slipped off his coat to unveil his new cycle top which had zipped sleeves so could also be converted into a gilet. After some more twirls, with and without sleeves, we eventually got going again and made it down to Jimmy's.
Big George modeling his new cycle top with sleeves in zipped on mode
Jimmy's is now reliably open Thur-Sun so we parked up in the outdoor seating area, that overlooks the runway, and went inside. 
Outside Jimmy's at Old Buckenham airfield
There was a good cake selection and I went for the interesting looking toblerone cake while Big George opted for a Bacon roll. As we all know a bacon roll is not cake so once again he forfeited the opportunity to take part in cake reviewing.
Cake Selection
We took our cake and drinks to a suitable table in the indoor seating space which is decorated with airfield and airforce type memorabilia. Jimmys is named after American actor Jimmy Stewart who was station here in WWII when the airfield was an American base. There are some military relics dotted about outside too adding to the experience. You can also watch the odd plane take off and land as you enjoy your refreshments.
WWII type relic
My cake was very good but our drinks came from a push button machine so although my hot chocolate was nice Big George was rather disappointed with his coffee (but he thought his Bacon butty was excellent).
Today's drinks and cake
All in all Jimmy's was a very pleasant and slightly different cycle cafe stop so worth a visit if you like planes and WWII history included on your ride.

On the way back we suddenly came across a very icy patch which we remembered as the place where Big George had skidded off and crashed on a ride a couple of years ago. I have scrolled through my cafe cycle ride photo library and have found the picture of the incident for us to enjoy again.
The site of the icy road crash in 2015
Fortunately there was no such accident today as it might have damaged Big Georges new, slightly too big, winter cycle tights and we made it back in one piece.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 38 mile Norwich Old Buckenham loop GPX file to your GPS

Friday, 2 February 2018

Wager. (Daisy Tearoom ,Gressenhall)

Daisy Tearooms,
Opening times Tue-Sun 10-3:30
For the second of my back to back new cycle cafe rides I returned to a previously visited cafe (Peacocks) that was now under new management (Daisy Tearoom) out at Gressenhall. Last time I went with cycling guest Big George, who has still not recovered from his fried egg sandwich coming with a salad garnish rather than brown sauce. He had only agreed to come again today on the condition that if his egg sandwich had lettuce with it then I would be paying. I was confident that this would not be the case so agreed to his wager.

From the end of yesterdays ride until we set off this morning it had not stoped raining so the roads were now soaking and spray was flying everywhere. I was pleased that we were starting off in the dry but within 2 minutes it started to rain. 

There was blue sky in the direction we were heading but it taunted us as it never stopped raining while we aquaplained all the way to Gressenhall where we found Daisy Tearooms at Corners garden centre.
At Daisy Tea Rooms just as it eventually stopped raining
We unnecessarily locked our bikes and went inside to dry off. To our delight there was a log burner, in full blast mode, so we followed last weeks cycling guest cycling top tip as we used the top of the burner to dry off (or melt) our gloves. I now know why the tip said only to user a radiator.
Big George starting to melt our gloves
While Big George made sure the gloves melted on both sides I checked out the cakes, which had a reasonable selection and I opted for the lemon one.
Today's cake selection
It was now time for our wager to be settled as Big George ordered his egg sandwich. 

Before it arrived we had time to test our drinks and cake. Both my hot chocolate and Big George's coffee were both reasonable and the cake was nice too. So nothing outstanding but all good solid offerings.
Then Big George's egg sandwich arrived and as you can see it was garnish free so as Big George was now paying I immediately ordered a cheese sandwich, with a nice garnish, for my lunch. Although it plays no part in my cafe rating scoring system I can report that both the sandwiches were very good.
Garnish free egg sandwich
Fortunately by the time we left the blue sky had arrived so we put on what remained of our gloves and just had the puddles and mud on the road to avoid on the way home.

It had been a cold, wet yet very enjoyable ride but when I got home I realised  I had not followed Cycling Guest Cycling top tip number 10 from January 2015.

 Cycling Guest Cycling Top Tip No. 10. To avoid spraying mud up your back or over your cycling guest make sure your temporary back mudguard is correctly aligned over the wheel. 
Mudguard correctly aligned over wheel

Mudguard incorrectly aligned, too far left

Mudguard incorrectly aligned, too far right
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to down load 45 mile Norwich Gressenhall loop gpx file to your gps

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Rant news. (Reading Rooms, Kelling)

Reading Rooms,
Opening times Every day 9-4:30,

Today was the first of a back to back, new cycle cafes, double header. This trip was with cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please). We would be going from HTPH in Aylsham up to Kelling on the North Coast. On our last ride Andrew had said he had stopped ranting and would now be more positive. I had been surprised how he had kept it up so was interested to see if he would still be positive today.

We set off into a very strong headwind. It was one of those winds that meant you had to frantically pedal even when going down hill, progress was therefore hard and slow. I started to worry about Andrew as he was still trying to look on the upside of everything. Even with the wind he cheerfully pointed out we would have it with us on the way back. I knew this positive thing was getting serious when he told me he had seen this weeks Winterwatch and actually enjoyed it!

I was missing the rants but as the wind had numbed our mouths and stopped us from hearing anything they would have been wasted anyway.
If you look carefully you can just see the wind generators
whirring away in the sea showing just how windy it was
We eventually made it out to Kelling and found the Reading Rooms on the junction with the coast road.
Outside the Reading Rooms in one of several outdoor seating options
Inside we found an eclectic mix of tea room, gallery and second hand book shop. We received a very warm welcome as I started to check out the cakes. It had a lot of good sponge offerings as well as both types of scones so I awarded a decent effective cake selection (ECS) mark.
The non scone part of the cake selection
Meanwhile Andrew had wandered off and was studying the book shelfs. He claimed he was looking for the fabulous new Cake Crusader book but I explained it wasn't likely to be available second hand yet although you could get it from Amazon (for details click here).

Our refreshments turned up, mine was banana cake and Andrew had ginger cake and a cup of tea as the only coffee available was filter although you did get top ups.

Arghhhhhhhhhhh, when the cake arrived they were both on their serviettes. As part of my name and shame strategy I immediately tweeted the evidence (only thwarted by lack of phone signal). Remember #keepcakeoffserviettes
It was a game of two halves re the cakes and drinks. My hot chocolate was a Cadbury type so not my favourite and as Andrew had tea, I applied the controversial Cake Crusader tea capping rule (a cup of tea has a maximum rating of 7 as it's just a cup of tea). The cakes were very good and we both enjoyed our ginger and banana offerings, once we had separate them from the napkins.
Cakes and drinks
I really liked the Reading Rooms for it's unusual vibe (in a good way) and excellent set of cakes and I recommend a visit.

The way back was going to be with the wind but as we set off the skies darkened and it started to rain, which was not the advertised forecast we had been promised. This seemed to be the tipping point as Andrew couldn't contain himself any longer as he complained about weather forecasters before setting off on a series of topical rants form recent news stories. It was very comforting and despite the sleety rain time flew by as his pent up rants came rushing out. Sadly (for exciting reasons soon to be revealed) we won't be riding again for another 6 weeks when I dread to think what the accumulated rants will be. (I am tracking Andrew's positivity coefficient on every ride and still felt he deserved a 6.83 today.) 

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 40 mile Alysham Cley loop GPX file to your GPS

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Mr Positive. (Groveland Cafe, Roughton)

Groveland Cafe,
Opening times Mon-Sat 9-5, Sun10-4
After a couple of weeks off the bike it was good to get out again. Unfortunately I had picked the coldest day the week for the ride so had put on several layers as I set off to Hard to Please House to meet up with yesterday's cycling guest, Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please).

It was the first time I had seen Andrew this year and I was greeted with the news that his New Year's resolution was to be more positive and look for the upside, apparently his notoriously hard to please days were behind him. 

I had asked him to prepare a 30 mile loop taking in the the Groveland farm shop and cafe at Roughton which he had willing done. Full off positive vibes we set off and caught up on recent news but only the upbeat stuff. However the further we went the colder it got and we lost connection with our extremities. Andrew tried to stay positive as he complained that he couldn't feel his fingers before remembering to add how nice it was to be out on the bikes again in these lovely crisp conditions.

We arrived at Roughton and easily found the cafe and Farm Shop as there were a number of giant signs directing us there. 
Outside Groveland Cafe in the outdoor seating area
Inside it was a bit dark and we were the only customers so it wasn't a surprise to see a rather small cake selection with the only cake on offer being a Victoria sponge. This led to a rather low effective cake selection (ECS) score. Andrew opted for the millionaire shortbread with his capuchino claiming there is nothing he liked more than a chocolate caramel based biscuit with his coffee.
The cake selection which included Andrew's 'favourite' type of biscuit
We chose to sit  in the conservatory indoor seating area as it was near a radiator and Andrew could demonstrate today's Cycling guest cycling top tip.

Cycling guest cycling top tip No 66. To regain feeling in your fingers when on a cold ride try placing your gloves on the cafe radiator to create an electric blanket effect for your hands when you put the gloves back on.
Cycling guest cycling top tip No 66
Now we were warm it was time to try our refreshments. Sadly my hot chocolate tasted like a Cadburys one which never scores well and by now Andrew's new found positivity had started to wear off as he returned to his notoriously hard to please ways when telling me about his coffee before remembering his resolution and added it was well presented. The Victoria sponge was a nice piece of cake and attracted a decent cake taste quality (CTQ) mark.
Todays cakes and drinks
With warm gloves we returned to the bikes to complete the loop which was 31 miles and well with in the 10% route distance tolerance so surprisingly Andrew had delivered on that part of the brief for once. Although Andrew had avoided any full blown rants I could begin to see the cracks in his new positive attitude and am now looking forward to seeing how this progresses. I have therefore started to log his positivity coefficient (pc) for each ride so I can plot a graph. Today his pc was a high 8.84.

Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Click here to download 31 mile Aylsham Roughton loop GPX file to your GPS

Friday, 12 January 2018

A hard days graft (Whelk Copper Tearoom)

Whelk Copper Tearoom,
Opening times Everyday10-4,
Yesterday was going to be a hard days cafe cycling as I had 3 missions to complete. This was because the first consignment of the The Cake Crusader book had turned up and I needed to start to flog them if I was ever going to get to the top of the best sellers list.They have been flying off the virtual Kindle shelves with 9 copies already sold in only 3 weeks, I was hoping to crack the magic double figures in the next few days, but for now I have real books to sell.
The first consignment of the Cake Crusader book
To kick off the marketing campaign I have organised a ride for this weekend with family and friends before a book signing in the kitchen. I have been told by my literary friends that for such an event you need to provide nibbles. I'm going for cheese scones, flapjacks and sausage rolls as these were my previous things of the year. I would only have time to collect one of the actual winning examples and opted to go for flapjack from The Funky Mackerel in Sheringham. I can always make or buy the sausage rolls and scones.

Therefore my first mission of the day was to get to Sheringham to pick up the flapjack. The second mission was to review a new cafe while I was there. I had invited Big George as today's cycling guest and as one of the key characters in my book I decided to give him a copy. Knowing what I had written about him then the third mission was to keep him on side in order to avoid a potential libel case. I thought the best way of achieving this was to take him to his favourite stop which is the village shop and cafe at Itteringham. If we were really lucky we might come across some brownies for brownie of the year #BOTY but we weren't and we didn't.

It was a foggy morning but not too cold as we set off on our busy day. Big George had sensibly come in his bright orange jacket to make sure he was really visible and he was.
A grey day only brightened by Big Georges jacket
After an hour or so we got to our first stop at Itteringham.
Outside the fabulous Itteringham shop and cafe
I was excited to see there was now a new extended seating area rather than just the one table squeezed in the corner. However Big George is very fond of the table in the corner and insisted on sitting there while I ordered his coffee and sausage roll. I went for a nice cup of tea and some of the excellent tiffin I have enjoyed here before. I was saving my hot chocolate for the new cafe we would be going to in Sheringham.
Tea and tiffin
As always everything was excellent and the tiffin so nice that I nearly forgave the fact it had been delivered on it's serviette! But I couldn't quite and had to tweet a photo. Remember #Keepcakeoffserviettes.
You know what I think of this!
Refreshed we set off on the final leg up to Sheringham and today's new cafe The Whelk Coppers tearooms which we found right on the seafront.
Outside the Whelk Copper tea rooms
The sea views plus the lovely open fire gave it a high AAA. 
Big George was asked to move away from the edge
as his jacket was mistaken for Cromer lighthouse
The cake selection was smallish but still effective and I was informed it was much bigger in high season rather than in the middle of January. I opted for ginger cake and Big George went for a second sausage roll instead of cake so as to avoid having to get involved in any cake rating, which he hates.

Cycling guest cycling top tip No 65. If you want to avoid tummy ache then never ever ever have two sausage rolls on the same cafe cycle ride.
Part of the cake selection

Our drinks were fairly ordinary but my ginger cake was very nice and scored well. The staff were very friendly and the setting alone makes it worth a visit.
Half eaten but very nice ginger cafe
With two tasks complete we popped over to the Funky Mackerel where I purchase 8 pieces of giant flapjack for Saturdays big event.
Flapjack in the bag, literally
As it was still very foggy and getting cold we decided to take the train back to Norwich to end a very successful day. It was then back to Crusader Towers to start tidying up the kitchen for the big event.

Scores for Whelk Copper Tearooms
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 38 mile Norwich to Sheringham GPX file for your Gps

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Plan D. (The Green Grocers Cafe, Norwich)

The Green Grocers Cafe,
Opening times Mon-Sat 8-5, Sun 9-4,
Highly Recommended 
It has been nearly a month since I last reviewed a new cycle cafe stop. This is a new record but not one I wanted to break. I have been thraughted be the weather, illness, injury and cafes shutting over Christmas. Fortunately it is now only the weather that I'm battling against (or so I thought).

However I have not been idle during this time as I have:
  • held the final of #SROTY
  • announced news of brownie of the year #BOTY in 2018
  • published the Cake Crusader book on Kindle (printed version available in next couple of weeks)
  • worked on my new Cake Crusader website that should be 'going live' in the next few weeks.
It has certainly been a busy time for me working away in my secret bicycle workshop hidden deep under Crusader Towers.

I was therefore relieved to get back to basics and go on a real ride today. However in the end it took some effort to achieve this. 

Plan A. Was to take regular cycling guest Andrew (who continues to be notoriously hard to please) on a route from Hard to Please House out to North Norfolk and return via the Farm shop and cafe at Roughton. However yesterday Andrew told me he had some good news and bad news as one of his daughters was coming on a surprise visit so he would have to call off. This all looked like bad news to me.

Plan B. Fortunately Big George was available at short notice so we arranged a 50 mile trip to a cafe just outside Beccles. However yesterday evening the weather forecaster informed me that strong and gusting winds were on the way making the trip look a little too dangerous to undertake.

Plan C. After a late night replanning session a new shorter and wind friendly 30 mile route was in place finishing at a cafe at Hellesdon Barns near Norwich.

Despite it raining quite hard Big George arrived on time as we set off on our mission. Big George was quick to tell me that he had read the first two chapters of my book as they are available as a taster on the kindle site. He was not happy. He didn't mind that I had mocked his strong scottish accent or highlighted his love of hoovering but he had taken exception when I pointed out that, despite his nickname, he isn't actually that big. I promised that in the next book (there won't be one) I would make it clear that for someone from mid west Scotland he was actually very big. Good job he hasn't read the rest of the book, I thought, as it could turn nasty.

As we got wetter and colder we were both pleased we had shorterend the ride and were looking forward to our hot drinks at today's venue near the end of the ride. But then disaster as when we arrived we were met by a locked gate and the discovery that Hellesdon Barns were having an extra long Christmas break and the cafe doesn't reopen until January 10th.

Plan D. We had an emergency replanning session and decided to go to the Green Grocers Cafe in Norwich which is only a couple of miles from Crusader Towers. When we arrived we were still not in the clear as it was very busy and we didn't fancy an outside seat as we already had hypothermia.
Outside the green grocer cafe in the continental outdoor style seating area
Fortunately there were a couple of seats at the breakfast bar indoor seating area so we squeezed in there. 

There was a very warm and buzzing atmosphere inside the hipster style surroundings. The cake selection on display was small but very interesting. I was pleased when the waiter confirmed they did have brownies for me to test as part of #BOTY and keeping with the cafes image I could either have a vegan or non vegan one. I'm sure you can guess which I went for as I disappointed the waiter.
Cake selection on display
Big George went for a bacon sandwich which is neither a cake or vegan so disappointed both me and the waiter.
Today's Brownie for #BOTY testing
Our Hot Chocolate and Cappuccino were both very good and we felt that Plan D had ended up as a very good one as the Green Grocers cafe performed really well and I highly recommend a visit.
Excellent hot drinks and a highly recommended cafe
It was now just a short ride home to complete today's trip and new cafe visit 323 was in the bag. I just hope it isn't another month before number 324.


Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 31 mile Norwich Weston Longville loop gpx file for your gps