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/

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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Celebrity cyclist Chrissie Wellington recommends Church Gate Tea Room, Castle acre and 62 mile route.

Church gate Tearoom has now closed

Today is the start of an exciting new feature called 'Celebrity cyclist x recommends...'. I have written to some of my favourite cyclists and celebrities (known for their cycling enthusiasm) asking them to recommend their favourite cafe or tea room and associated bike route for me to ride and review.

As a triathlon champion myself (2013 Fritton lake Olympic distance over 50s winner, beating 4 other old blokes to the title) I was really excited when fellow triathlon champion (4 times world Ironman winner) Chrissie Wellington let me have her recommended favourite Tea Room and associated route. This therefore seemed like an ideal first 'Celebrity cyclist recommends...' partly because I'm a big fan, also as Chrissie's route is in Norfolk and finally because Boris Johnson hasn't got back to me yet.

So yesterday myself, with today's guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please), met at Norwich station to catch the train to Brandon for the start of Chrissie's 62 mile cycle loop via Castle Acre and her recommendation of the Church Gate Tea Room.

The train journey was uneventful allowing Andrew to list the topics he expected to be ranting about during the day. However to prove he was taking the ride seriously he had also been swotting up on our ride sponsor and would be sharing his top ten Chrissie Wellington facts throughout the day.

We alighted the train at Brandon and with the sky becoming more threatening we set off towards the start of the route at Feltwell (where Chrissie grew up, fact number 4).
Train departing Brandon Station after we got off

Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) was surprisingly positive as he announced how much he was enjoying the first proper winter ride of the year. He liked getting into his warm weather gear, getting out his steel winter bike and the crispness in the air. Five minutes later the heavens opened with some really heavy rain and we got soaked and very cold. Andrew asked if his previous comments about winter cycling could be withdrawn.

To cheer us up Andrew shared Chrissie Wellington fact 8 (she is the same height as Tom Cruise) and fact 3 (she got an MBE in 2010 and has met the Queen, probably) before ranting about UHT milk in hotel rooms. With all the quality ranting and fact sharing the time flew by and we were soon at the Church Gate Tea room, Castle Acre. As an added bonus the rain had stopped.
Outside Church Gate Tea Room in the rather wet outdoor seating area
The Church Gate Tea Room is coincidently next to the gate of Castle Acre church (what are the chances) and provides an outside seating area facility. Unfortunately as it was still a bit damp we choose to sit indoors were there was a lovely cosy fire.

As always, it was first straight to the cake display, this time in a cake display welsh dresser area, to check out the cake selection so I could award the effective cake selection (ECS) rating. There was a good selection and as I was having difficulty making a choice I awarded a good ECS score.
Cakes on welsh dresser display unit ready for selection
In the end I went for the chocolate cake to have with my Hot Chocolate and Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) went for English Breakfast tea but then went for cheese on toast (on brown). As Cheese on toast (on brown) is clearly not cake he was not allowed to take part in any further cake based reviewing today.
Drinks including proper tea, requiring straining, from the wide range of leaf tea available
 (although it is just tea)
My hot chocolate was very good as was Andrews tea, but as previously discussed there is a guest drink rating ceiling of 7 on a cup of tea as at the end of the day it is just a cup of tea. The chocolate cake was very nice with a good balance of cake and filling and it got a high cake quality (CTQ) score.
Excellent chocolate cake with quality cake fork
Overall Chrissie's recommendation of the Church Gate Tea Room proved to be a very good one as it went high up my cafe league table. Before we left Andrew shared Chrissie Wellington fact 5, (she has been to Hawaii at least 4 times) and ranted about pies.

We set off again in cold but dry conditions. The route was very good although a few roads round Watton were slightly busier roads than I normally aim to go on. However a lot of them were very long and straight so good for us triathletes who are time trial training but not so easy to ride two abreast when trying to listen to a good rant or Chrissie Wellington fact. 

Due to the fast straight roads and with wind behind we got back to Brandon station in plenty of time for the train and Andrew was able to have a good rant about the after life while we waited for it to arrive (the train not the after life).
One of the many very straight roads on the route,
the Romans would have loved this ride.
For those hoping for some West Norfolk Egg News from yesterday's ride then you may be disappointed as I have just gone on to Twitter and most Egg News will now be as Egg News Flash Tweets. So as not to miss out and for the latest Cafe cycle news then follow Cake Crusader@cafecycletour.

Myself and Andrew both agreed that the ride was a great success so a big thank you to Chrissie (who has a degree in Geography so can name all the capital cities of Europe, fact 7) for providing the route and excellent tea room recommendation. There will be more Celebrity Cyclists x recommends coming along in the future. If you are a cycling celebrity feel free to let me have your recommendations.

Scores from Church Gate Tea Room
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Click on link to download 62 mile Brandon Castle Acre loop gpx file for your GPS

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