Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Rant. (Wells Deli, Wells-Next-the-Sea)

Wells Deli,
Wells-Next-the-Sea,
Opening times every day 09:00-17:00,
Recommended 
It was time for my second cafe cycle ride in two days. After yesterdays ride with my newest cycling guest reviewer (see Trainee cycling guest) then today it was out with the new and in with the old as I was accompanied by my original cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please), and very old.

We met up for the ride at hard to please house in Alysham for a planned trip out to Wells-Next-the-Sea which is a seaside town that by a lucky coincidence is situated next to the sea. When we go from his house I normally tell Andrew what the target cafe needs to be and allocate him a miles range within which he must try (and normally fails) to deliver the route. However today, unusually, Andrew had picked both the cafe and the route.

There was much catching up to be done as since we last rode together I had cycled with Mrs Crusader all the way to St Andrews (the one in Scotland) whilst he had found lots of things to rant about. So on the way out we took it in turns of me to telling him one of my many amusing cycle trip anecdotes and for him to have a rant on a topic of his choice (and there where many to get through).

We arrived in Wells-Next-the-Sea only to find it was packed with families as apparently it was something called half term. A bit of a miscalculation seeing that as we are a couple of retired old blokes we can go to the seaside at anytime of the year (as I often do) without the need to clash with hoards of holidaymakers. It was therefore a fight through the crowds to get to the Wells Deli situated on the seafront.
Outside Wells Deli after the battle with holiday makers
Sadly there was no outdoor seating area but inside there was a choice of breakfast bar style seating or a whole room full of an eclectic mix of sofas, tables and chairs. From both rooms you could see the harbour out the window.

As always the first thing was to check out the cake selection in order to award the effective cake selection (ECS) score and it was a good one with a nice tempting selection so a high ECS mark.I went for Apple and Sultana and Andrew Coffee and Walnut.
Good cake selection
After much discussion we eventually opted to sit in the eclectic indoor seating area and waited for our cakes, hot chocolate and cappuccino to arrive.
Drinks and cakes to try
They soon turned up and we tried our drinks first, although I didn't see the tin I was pretty sure it was Cadburys hot chocolate and we all know what I think of that, while Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) felt his cappuccino was also a little disappointing and needed to be a lot more coffee tasting.

However we had no problems with the cakes which we felt were both very good indeed. I was pleased to see they had not been over iced and as a result didn't over power the cake with sweetness allowing the other flavors to come through (you can tell who has watched too much bakeoff this week).

We also had some very nice posh sandwiches for lunch so overall the Wells Deli was excellent on the food and cake front but could up its game a bit when it came to hot drinks which would then make it a really good to destination although its still worth a visit.

Despite the ride being 50 miles we were unable to complete the full lists of Andrews ranting topics (note to self, don't ever get him started on not being allowed to take food and drink into the London velodrome again) so arranged for a follow up ride next week so that he can crack on with ranting topics part two.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.0
6.0
7.5
8.1
7.0
6.72
route

Click here to download 49 mile Alysham Wells loop gpx file for your gps

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Trainee cycling guest. (Alysham Garden Centre cafe, Alysham)

Alysham Garden Centre Cafe,
Alysham,
Opening times Mon-Sun from 09:00-16:00
If I'm going to be able to maintain my status as the self appointed number one cafe cycle reviewer (in the Norfolk area) then I need to be able to continue to expand my capabilities.

One area that I'm often short in is qualified cycling guest which I require to accompany me in order to be able to give a rating for the guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) category on a cafe visit. I was therefore excited when Andrew (old work colleague) contacted me after stumbling across my Cake Crusader blog whilst trying to find a good cafe to cycle to in North Norfolk whilst on Holiday here earlier this year.

We had not seen each other for many years but as we were now both keen cyclists Andrew agreed to undertake a three and a half hour drive from the peak district over to Crusader Towers in order to join me as my cycling guest on a ride.

I have not always had good experiences with new cycling guest reviewers so before coming I made Andrew undertake an extensive cafe reviewing correspondence course. He also had to send me full write ups and photos from any cafes he visited on his bike in his local area. I finally made him sit a number of on-line tests and review my full library of cycle cafe reviewing computer aided training (CBTs) modukes.

Today's ride would complete his training by first visiting the top rated cafe, Black Apollo in Holt (see stick to the brief), where he could try out his reviewing skills in a safe environment before going to a new cafe to properly assist on a review.

We started from our agreed meeting point, the car park of the luxury hotel he had stayed at overnight, before setting off on the first leg of our ride which was 30 miles up to Holt.
Excited trainee cafe cycle reviewer Andrew,  ready to set off from the car park of his luxury hotel
As we had not seen each other for absolutely ages time flew by as we went for a trip down both a literal and metaphorical memory lane.

On arrival at Holt we locked our bikes beside the Black Apollo outdoor seating area and went inside so I could see how my student would perform.
Outdoor seating area at the back of the black Apollo Coffee House
As always there was a warm welcome from the staff as we selected from the cake selection before taking our seats. 

I got out my cafe rating spreadsheet and asked Andrew how he rated the Atmosphere and Ambience. Like many a new recruit he started waffling on about what he liked, how the staff were, etc, etc, blah, blah, yawn, yawn. I quickly started to glaze over, 'out of 10' I said impatiently. When will people ever learn that my cafe rating spreadsheet only works with numbers? 

It was now time to order our drinks and cakes. As always I ordered a hot chocolate but this time with fruit crumble cake (fruit crumble cake fruit of the day was plum). Then to my horror Andrew too ordered a hot chocolate (with Orange and Almond cake). Had he learnt nothing, a cycling guest must order tea or coffee as the guest hot drink otherwise what's the point of bringing them along. So as not to make a scene I waited for the waiter to go before giving Andrew a severe ticking off and official written warning.
Fabulous cakes and drinks, sadly both hot chocolate
Our refreshments soon arrived and we were busy enjoying the fabulous hot chocolate and excellent cakes when the nice lady who served me on my last visit came over. She had remembered me and wanted to clarify a couple of points from my blog review. However before she started she did a double take as she noticed that Andrew had ordered a hot chocolate and not coffee as his guest drink which, unlike him, she immediately knew was wrong. I explained he was a new trainee cycling guest and had now learnt his lesson so she agreed to let it go.

She was curious to understand why, after several months since my visit, her cafe didn't appear when you clicked on cafes in Holt or show up in my current top 10 list, (where it should have been). I embarrassingly explained that I was a bit behind in keeping everything up to date but would sort it out as soon as I got home (which I have done plus cleared my diary to get everything else up to date next week).

I thanked her for her excellent feedback but wasn't sure if I was disappointed to have been caught out or excited to have met a coffee shop so knowledgeable in the ways of the Cake Crusader, I decided on the latter.

Andrew did well with the rest of his practice ratings and we were both happy that the Black Apollo Coffee shop was still a top cafe after a second visit. So now he understood what good looked like we were ready to set off to Alysham for a new cafe review at Alysham garden centre cafe.
On the way to our new cafe to be reviewed
On arrival we parked our bikes outside and went through to the cafe at the back of the centre but what would I find once through the door? 
What would I find behind the Alysham garden centre cafe door?
There was a normal inside seating area, a conservatory based one plus and an out door seating area to chose from, we went conservatory.

Sadly there was a disappointing looking cake selection with not a great choice plus the hot chocolate and more exotic coffee choices came from a push button machine which is never a good sign. Andrew sensibly opted for a straight forward filter coffee which any experienced cycling guest would always do in these circumstances.
Cake selection
After trying our cakes (carrot and coffee) and drinks it was fair to say we had covered the full spectrum of the cycle cafe continuum today which was excellent news for Andrew's future usefulness as a cycling guest.
Drinks and cakes
We had now covered 45 miles and were beginning to run out of steam as we rode the final 15 miles back to Crusader Towers. On our return I took Andrew to the debrief area where I gave him a full appraisal of his efforts but was pleased to let him know he had been promoted from trainee cafe cycle (TCC) reviewer to junior assistant cafe cycle (JACC) reviewer. He was very excited by the news which now means he is allowed to send me some peak district cycle cafe reviews which I promised that I might even possibly publish.

Scores for Alysham garden centre
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.0
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.5
4.80
Route

Click here to download 63 mile Norwich Holt Alysham GPX file to your gps

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Great Ride North in aid of World Bicycle Relief. Day 8. Musselburgh to St Andrews

The Great Ride North
Day 8
Picnic Coffee shop Queensferry
Open Mon-Sat 9-4:30, Sun 12-4
Robertsons, Kirkcaldy 
Open Mon-Sat 9-4, Sun 11-4

It was an unwelcome early alarm that went off this morning which was needed as we were planning to leave nothing to chance on our final assault to St Andrews. We had a final 70 miles to do and I knew the last 30 had a lot of up so we needed plenty of time in which to do it. After yesterday's ride, affectionately know as "the Brutal one", Chris (Mrs Crusader) could hardly function but claimed she was still in almost working order as we set off this morning.
Chris ready to set off but needed the help of her bike to be able to stand up
It was again a slow start as we had to work our way across Edinburgh on a series of cycle paths. Unfortunately the Edinburgh cycle network appeared to stop in the centre and we were left to our own devices as we battled across rush hour traffic and unnecessarily cobbled streets.
Cycling on the unnecessary cobbled streets of Edinburgh
Once this challenge had been completed we came across some pretty off-road sections along the banks of the Forth where we kept getting glimpses of the Forth bridges in the distance which was our next land mark.
Forth Bridges were our next challenge
However before then there was still the matter of crowning the winner of best cafe anywhere on National cycle route 1(NCR1). So far I hadn't found the complete package, mainly due to too many of the cafes delivering a poor hot chocolate experience, so I was hoping I could do better today.

Our first cafe stop was the picnic coffee shop in Queensferry. 
Outside the Picnic Shop in Queensferry
I was pleased to have once again delivered the sea view Mrs Crusader demands although it was only available from certain chairs at certain tables if you peered through the gap past the Queensferry spinal injury clinic.
Seaview from the cafe
The cake selection wasn't bad and included the now Scottish traditional melted chocolate bar traybake. So a reasonable effective cake selection (ECS) score. I had Victoria sponge and Chris lemon cake, which were both nice if not exceptional.
Cake selection
They also did a decent tasting, if slightly weak hot chocolate, which coincidentally Chris thought much the same about her Mocha. So a decent showing from the Picnic coffee shop but they won't be my winner.
Drinks and cakes at Queensferry
It was now time for the potential highlight of the day, crossing the Forth road bridge. However the whole experience was remarkable similar to crossing the Humber bridge earlier this week and I now feel that when you have crossed one suspension road bridge on a bike you have crossed them all. Note to self: remove cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge from my bucket list when I get home.
About to cycle over the Forth road bridge
We now had some more pretty off-road sections along the banks of the Forth, only in the opposite direction. Again nice views but you couldn't get any momentum up so progress remained slow and it was very tiring work.
Cycling on the opposite banks of the Forth
Mainly thanks to our early start we arrived at our second cafe, Robertsons, in Kirkcaldy in time for lunch.
Our final cafe stop
Mrs Crusader was too tired to make it all the way to the counter to check out the cakes so she to picked from my cake selection photograph which looked like a reasonable selection. She choose lemon cake and me Ginger loaf. 
Cake selection photo Mrs Crusader used to chose her cake from
As we waited for lunch I went to see if it was possible to get a sea view from any seating area but I discovered you had to leave the coffee shop and walk a few yards back to the main road for anything worthwhile.
Only seaview available required a short walk to enjoy
On my return I was pleased to see our lunch had turned up but dismayed to notice that Mrs Crusader had fallen asleep in her jacket potato with cheese. I therefore insisted she had strong black coffee as her guest hot drink whilst I enjoyed the best hot chocolate I had had for several days.
Excellent hot chocolate for a change
Robertsons had been another good coffee stop and I was pleased that everyone of the 16 cafe candidates I had selected had been good with no real duffers. Sadly I had not found any that ticked all my boxes but Burton Agnes Hall had been the best all round performer so I will be sending them a winners certificate just as soon as I have made it.

For the last part of our ride we would be leaving the sea as we headed inland for a long uphill section before we would once again see the coast at St Andrews. Chris was still very tired but in determined mode as we headed up into the Scottish countryside.
Time for the final push
By now she was too exhausted for conversation so we restricted ourselves to a 4 word vocabulary of: left, right, wait and steep, which seemed to cover every necessary communication required to keep going.

The last few miles were fortunately a downward glide into St Andrews and our final destination, the Swilcan bridge on the 18th fairway of the Old Course.
First fairway at St Andrews golf course
It was important that we got a photo as evidence of our achievement so had planned a SAS style operation to get our bikes onto the course and up on the Swilken bridge with us proudly in our World Bicycle Relief cycle tops. 

We waited by the 17th green for the next group of Americans with caddies to turn up. I knew that after they teed off on the 18th they would all want their photos taken on the bridge as well. This is exactly what happened so while the group were busy posing we stealthy wheeled our bikes across the fairway to join them while Chris explained that we had ridden here from Norwich for charity and needed a photo. 

They were happy to oblige although none of the Scottish caddies knew where Norwich was, the best they could do was to narrow it down to somewhere in England which was clearly a long way a way. As for the American golfers I just told them it was in Norfolkshire and with much nodding they went away happy and we had our photo.
Final photo at journeys end on the Swilken Bridge
Much to both of our amazements we had made it and suddenly the tiredness we had been suffering from lifted and was replaced with a huge amount of satisfaction and relief. I did point out that NCR1 continues all the way to the Shetland Islands but Mrs Crusader didn't seem interested, maybe next year.

So a huge thanks to all who have sponsored Chris as seeing the money coming in has helped keep her going and she is now very close to her target.

If you would like to sponsor Chris you can still make a donation at her World Bicycle Relief page where you can also find out more about the charities great work in Africa.

Mrs Crusader's cycling progress dashboard after day 8

Tiredness
Mood
Saddle Soreness
Confidence of finishing
Falling asleep into a jacket potato with cheese about covers this one
Relieved and happy
Better than expected 
WE DID IT!!

Tomorrows Weather forecast is
WHO CARES
Today's route

Cafe ratings for cafes reviewed on National Cycle route 1
Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Café Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Total
Post office Guist
9.5
7.75
3.75
7.5
6.5
7.00
Thaxtons Coffee Shop
7
6
7.5
7.5
7
7.00
Caffe Aurora 
5
3
8.5
7.5
6.5
6.20
Haven cafe
5.5
7
3
6.5
7
5.80
Jossals cafe
7.0
7.5
4
8.0
6
6.50
Honey Pot cafe
6.5
6
5.5
7.5
7
6.50
Burton Agnes Hall
7.5
9
7
7.5
8.0
7.80
Francis tearoom

7
6
7.5
7.5
7.00
Cacau Brazilian Patisserie 
6.5
8.5
8
8.0
6.5
7.50
Lookout cafe 
5
7
5.5
7.25
9.5
6.85
Cafe Berterolli
5
8
8
7
7
7.00
Shoreline cafe
6.5
7
7
8.5
8.75
7.55
Ebbcarrs cafe
5
7.5
8.25
8
9.25
7.60
Grazed chocolate and coffee house
6
6
8.75
8
7.5
7.25
Picnic coffee shop
6.5
7
6.5
7
7
6.80
Robertsons
8
7.5
6
7
6.75
7.05

Stats (Mrs Crusader)

Miles
Average Speed
Hours on bike
Meters climbed
Bawburgh- Kings Lynn
61.1
12.0
5:04
854
Kings Lynn - Woodall Spa
63.1
13.5
4:39
89
Woodall Spa- Beverley
75.9
12.4
6:06
740
Beverley - Whitby
75.3
11.2
6:41
889
Whitby- South Shields 
80.3
9.8
8:08
1206
South Shields to Lindisfarne 
82.1
11.1
7:20
770
Lindisfarne to Musselburgh 
76.7
10.2
7:27
1179
Musselburgh to St Andrews
70.5
10.0
6:58
1120
Overall
585
11.2
52:23
6077