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

Available on Amazon


Thursday, 20 August 2015

St Davids to Lowestoft cycle ride Day 4 (Alveston to Bicester 84 miles)

In search of the best cafe across Great Britain, literally
Day 4 Alveston to Bicester

It had been a tough first couple of days in the search for the best cafe anywhere across Great Britain, literally but at least we were all still together, just. Today was to be our 'rest day' as we only had a short 80ish miles to do and to help encourage my cycling guests I had promised them some pampering in the Premier Inn spa facilities if we arrived on time. Apart from this my other main mission was to find some charge for my electric bike gears as my bike was in danger of becoming a single speed one.

Overnight I had attempted to dry my wet things using my bikes secondary function of clothes horse but with mixed success, especially in the sock department as my 3 available pairs were still all soaking. So I had to get back into wet things before joining the others in the Premier Inn breakfast area.
Bike clothes horse
Over another far too leisurely breakfast Cycling guest Dom announced he had a sore knee and said that he had learnt a lot about himself when at his limit on an endurance ride like this. So far he has learnt; not to cycle too far, not to cycle in the rain and always have a lie in and leisurely breakfast after a long day in the saddle. Well he was certainly putting his breakfast learn to good use today.

After missing our 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00 o'clock agreed setting off times we eventually got on the road to Bicester. Today's first challenge was the failure of my Garmin Edge 810 bike GPS device that refused to load it's maps. I assume because it was still trying to dry out from yesterday. Therefore all I had to follow was a wiggly route line which you had to interpret as to when a turn was needed. Despite a few false trails I just about managed to keep us on track.

We also soon discovered the Cotswolds were full of hills, not as steep as Wales but they went on for longer. This made for another tough morning.
Top of longest hill on our Cotswold section
As we passed through Nailsworth Dom spotted cafe 28. This was too good an opportunity to miss as not only was it a chance to review my first English cafe but it would also count towards one of my other projects of visiting all cafes named 1 to 100 and I hadn't got a 28.
Outside No. 28 a new numbered cafe on my list
No. 28 was a small cafe over two floors with the addition of a couple of outside pavement tables which we choose to sit at so we could keep an eye on the bikes.

On first viewing the cake selection looked rather small but on closer examination it was because there was only a couple of slices of each cake and in fact the cake selection was pretty effective. For the second day running I had lemon and blueberry cake while Dom again had some peanut slice (an expensive snickers bar). Big George wanted something savoury so had a croissant?
Small but effective cake selection
As we waited for our food and drinks a small boy started to look at our bikes with his grandpa. He was getting very excited with one feature in particular, not my state of the art uncharged electronic gears, not Dom's lovely carbon frame but the fact Big George's bike had two water bottle holders rather than one. He has much to learn.

When our stuff arrived I felt my hot chocolate was a bit too cadbury's but still nice but Dom enjoyed his coffee and Big George his cup of tea. Our cakes were also good if not exceptional so no. 28 scored well and moved into second place in my search.
Lemon and Blueberry cake and peanut slice chosen two days running
No. 28 had set a good standard for the English cafes to beat.

With Big George still glowing from the 2 water bottle compliment we set off onwards to Cirencester. To pass the time we decided to play who can name the most famous Welsh people. Big George won easily as he could name every Welsh rugby player of last 40 years. I managed 3, Richard Burton who invented suites, J P R Williams who wrote Lord of the rings and Lloyd George, lead singer in culture club. Dom, our so called Welsh expert confirmed my knowledge was correct but surprisingly only knew one famous Welsh person which was Sir Cerys Mathews the Stoke City winger who played in the famous Sir Cerys Mathews cup final in 1954 ish and then went on to found Welsh pop group Catatonia.

We arrived in Cirencester and discovered it was the world capital of cafes and tea shops with one every few yards. If you were the sort of sad person who had nothing better to do with their time than write a blog about cafes then I would think that Cirencester would keep you busy for many years. 

We choose Jacks cafe for our lunch break. Despite having two indoor seating areas it was packed so we had to start off on an outside table in the dizzle until a table inside became free. 

Outside Jacks cafe
There was a very good cake selection but once again Big George passed on cake while I had a huge slice of coffee and walnut and Dom a brownie.

Cake and Brownie
My hot chocolate was the best of the week so far and the coffee was nice and strong so good drinks marks all round. The cakes were good too, if not the best this week but with high scores all round Jacks went into the lead as the best cafe anywhere across Great Britain.

Before we left Cirencester we found a bike shop were I persuaded a bemused owner to charge my bike for 30 mins to give it a boost. Meanwhile Dom took the opportunity to buy and fit replacement brake blocks as his had worn thin during all our descents. When Big George found out how long we were spending at the bike shop he was furious as it was eating into his potential spa pamper time. I explained It was Dom's fault for fixing his brake blocks and I was only taking the opportunity to charge my bike while we waited. As it is their turn to room together they can sort out their differences tonight I told him.
Bike on charge
With the Cotswolds behind us the terrain got much flatter and we were able to pick up the pace and even practice our team time trial skills again. It was only now we noticed we had forgotten to refill water bottles at lunch so were in need of a shop. We discovered that in Oxfordshire each village has only posh stone houses and no shops. It wasn't like that in Wales were there was a post office on every street corner so it wasn't just the countryside that was changing as we travelled east.

Very thirsty we eventually got to Wittney and looked for a cafe but here the town seemed full of only pubs. I could tell Big George and Dom would have much preferred to go in one of them but I couldn't let that happen as it would not be fulfilling the cafe brief. I therefore cycled round Wittney town centre until I eventually found an actual coffee shop.
Outside the old studio coffee shop
It was 4:45 and the old studio coffee shop shut at 5:00. I asked the lady if they were still open as she obviously couldn't have been more disappointed to see a customer at this time of day if you had paid her. She clearly wanted to say no but it was marginally too early so she reluctantly got me a hot chocolate and some tiffin whilst Dom had tea and flapjack. Big George wanted a sandwich but the lady said they stopped making them at 4:30 so he went to the co-op instead and excused himself from cycle cafe rating, thank goodness I had packed a back up cycling guest I thought.

Neither of our drinks or cakes were very good and as you could feel the chill of the frosty atmosphere as the lady waited to lock up this was certainly not the best cafe anywhere across Great Britain.
Drinks and cakes which needed to be eaten quickly so the lady could go home
We left Wittney for final 20 mile push but despite good progress we got there too late for my cycling guests to be pampered in the Premier Inn spa. Big Geogre was clearly still fuming about the bike shop incident so I made my excuses and left them to it.

As there had been no rain today then everything had now dried out so it is on to the longest stage tomorrow. I believe my tough cycling love has paid off as as well as our new found team time trial skills Big George put in some excellent surges which blew the peloton apart today. Dom also went for an outrageous break away (while me and Big George were distracted taking off waterproofs) and once caught he claimed he had turned himself inside out and gone to some very dark places. This is the type of cycling talk I wanted to hear and a much improved turn around from earlier in the week.

There is no more talk of bail out options and even suggestions that we set off early and forgo the very leisurely breakfast in order to put some miles under our belts first thing tomorrow. We could still complete this mission yet

Route


Café Name
Hot Choc Qual
Guest Hot Drink Qual
Effective cake selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Café Score
Jacks, Cirencester
7.5
7.5
7.5
7
8
7.5

Grazing Ground, Caerphilly
7
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.4
No. 28, Nailsworth
6.5
7
7
7
8
7.1
Flanagan’s coastline café, Llanelli
5
7
6.5
7.5
7.5
6.7
Park Slip Visitors centre café, Bridgend
7
6.5
5
8
6
6.5
Gingers Café, Haverford west
7.5
6
3
8
7
6.3
Café Crumbs, Carmarthen
6
6.5
5.5
6.5
6.5
6.2
Old Studio Coffee shop, Wittney
5
7
7.5
6.5
4
6.0
Caffi Becca
3
5
4
7.5
5
4.9

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