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

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ruined abbey off .(Creake Abbey Cafe ,North Creake)

Creake Abbey Café,
North Creake,
Open Every day 08:30-17:00,
 Highly Recommended

It had been a while since I had been on a ride with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please). This maybe because it had been his turn to organise the next ride from his base in Alysham and organising things is not his specialist subject. To help the process along I had sent him details of 3 potential cafe destinations that had been recommended to me. This approach would also mean that we didn't end up going to Holt again. To add to the tension I asked him not to tell me which one he had picked so it would be a surprise which he could unveil to me on my arrival. 

As you can imagine I was very excited as I drove up to his house from race HQ, it was a bit like Christmas when you are not sure what present you are getting but expecting it will be good. As I got out the car Andrew informed me had had chosen to take us to Creake Abbey Cafe at North Creake. With the first bit of excitement over I hoped it would not be like the next bit of Christmas when you eventually get to open your presents and find they are not good but socks. It would be a 60 mile ride but I was sure it would be worth it and Creak Abbey cafe at Notrth Creake would not be the Christmas socks of cafes.

As usual Andrew was going to navigate us in the old school way using a map rather than a cycle GPS. He had carefully marked the route using a purple highlighter pen on a tatty photocopied map. Unfortunately Andrew appears to have a very short memory issue because once we were out of familiar territory he had to refer to the map at each junction as he could only remember one turn at a time, I think it is an age thing, so the ride took longer than planned.
Old school route leading
On way to Creake Abbey we went past another ruined Abbey at Binham. I had been forced to visit Binham Abbey on a previous ride when Andrew when he had insisted we stop and have a look round. I couldn't see the point as clearly most of it had fallen down and there was no cafe. However today I was more interested because Creake Abbey is also a ruin which meant we could have a ruined Abbey off plus I could start a new spreadsheet putting my favourite ruined Abbey's in order of best to worst. 
Binham Abbey which has mostly fallen down apart from the big bit in the middle which hasn't
When we arrived at Creake Abbey we first went to the Cafe and retail area deciding to leave the excitement of my first ruined abbey off until after lunch.
Outside Creake Abbey cafe and food hall
Creake Abbey cafe is next to Creake Abbey food hall which is like a very posh Waitrose. It has a nice outside seating area but as it was rather windy we decided to sit in the spacious and light indoor seating area. I was pleased to see we had also helped to bring the average age of the punters down by a considerable margin (and we are no spring chickens).
Large light inside seating area with added art on the walls
First it was over to check out the cakes and award the effective cake selection (ECS) rating. It was both a large and interesting selection so I awarded a high ECS score.
Very good cake selection
We sat down and prepared to order. I went for hot chocolate, ginger cake and a cheese scone (as part of my cheese scone serving temperature research). Andrew went for a cappuccino and fruit cake.

As it was lunch time we both ordered a cheese sandwich. I had been attracted to it as it came with chilli jam, which I'm particularly fond of. Andrew is not only notoriously hard to please but exceptionally bad at make decisions. Therefore he just copied me and asked for the cheese sandwich as well, however he than asked the waitress if he could be tempted by an alternative to chilli jam as he doesn't like it. She thought for a moment and then suggested they could add a nice chutney. A good offer I thought but Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) declined the offer and said he would have it plain.

After the waitress had gone I asked him what he was hoping to be offered instead of chilli jam and he said salad. "If you knew what you wanted, why didn't you just ask for some salad rather than try and make the poor waitress guess", I asked.  Apparently he could have but felt that part of the waitress role is to understand and anticipate the customer's needs and he would rather forgo the salad than let her off the hook. When the cheese sandwiches turned up they came with salad and coleslaw garnish anyway. Maybe his customer needs had been fully anticipated and understood after all or maybe they just came with salad.
Cakes, drinks and scone.
It was time to review the cakes and drinks. Both our drinks were nice but not quite strong enough for really top marks. The cheese scone was properly warmed but again need to be a little cheesier for my tastes. However Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) thought his fruit cake was excellent and my ginger cake was an absolute triumph so good scores all round.

All in all Creake Abbey cafe was an excellent stop and gets my top 'highly recommended' rating just missing out on a place in my coveted top 10 list. It was more a useful new cycling gadget type of christmas present rather than socks.

The excitement wasn't over yet as it was now off to see Creake Abbey ruins to see who would win the ruined Abbey off. 
Creake Abbey ruins. Small but symmetrical
I thought they were excellent ruins as they were nicely symmetrical and had a good amount of wall left. This compared to Binham which was a lot of low wall but a big bit still in tact.

I felt neither ruin was worth a special visit but Creake had the advantage of a cafe and was more pleasing visually so is now top of my best ruined Abbey's in Norfolk spreadsheet. I'm planning a trip to Castle Acre soon as I remember the ruined Abbey there being quite good and could be a contender.

We set off back to Alysham and, due to lack knowledge, had absolutely no further ruined Abbey chat, instead Andrew ranted about the difference between a salad garnish and salad accompaniment.

Scores based on two visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.5
6.75
8.25
8.0
8.25
7.55

Route from Alysham to North Creake and back  was a very good one.

click here to download 57 mile Alysham North Creake gpx file for your gps

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