Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Wrong day (Hamptons at the Barn, Bawdswell)

Hamptons at the Barn,
Bawdeswell,
Opening times Mon-Sun 10:00-17:30,
Highly Recommended 
Now that I have visited over 140 cafes or tearooms in the Eastern region, plus another 40 odd world wide, it is difficult to keep track when cafes close or change hands. I'm therefore always grateful to people who notify me of such changes, as happened recently when I was informed that a Cake Crusader top ten rated Cafe, Hamptons in Reepham (see come back in 3 years) had moved to Bawdeswell and was now called Hamptons at the Barn. 

This was the first time I had come across the same cafe, new venue scenario so I had to check the big book of cycle cafe rules to see what to do in such circumstances. Apparently the original scores should be voided and a new set of ratings started. Therefore in order to keep Hamptons on my list I would need to go to their new home. I had originally reviewed Hamptons with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) and as he had agreed to be yesterday's cycling guest it seemed like a good opportunity to make the 47 mile round trip and see if Hamptons, now at the Barn, would remain in my top 10.

I normally go riding with Andrew on a Thursday but due to another engagement, and the gale we were experiencing, we would be going on a Windsday. As we set off from Crusader Towers it was hard going as we were being buffeted in the wind so it was disappointing that we were slowed further when Andrew had an early puncture, although it did give me another opportunity to publish a photo of a man mending a bike,
Man mending a bike
It also led to a useful Cycling guest cycling top tip

Cycling guest cycling top tip No 42. To make sure you can get your freshly mended wheel smoothly on to your bike then put it back on before pumping up or the newly inflated tyre won't get past the brakes.  

On this occasion re-inflating was well under way before Andrew remembered, just in the nick of time, to use cycling guest cycling top tip No. 39, thus saving both time and the need for a rant.

Once we were able to set off again the wind continued to try and limit our progress so we had to pedal extra hard until we arrived at Hamptons at the Barn in Bawdeswell.

Parking bikes by the edge of the outdoor seating area
We parked our bikes on the edge of a nice looking outdoor seating area before heading inside. Hamptons at the Barn is both a cafe and home furnishing shop. The cafe bit was packed but the home furnishing bit completely empty. 
Cafe packed whilst home furnishings area remained empty
We were asked if we had booked a table and sheepishly had to admit that we had not. Unfortunately they had no free tables. This was not good but I did notice there were some breakfast bar style seats tucked under the cake counter so I asked if we could perch there and just have a bit of cake. To my relief the Barista took pity on us and kindly said that would be fine before clearing some of the cakes away to make space.
Perching at the cake selection area
Now at close proximity I checked the cake selection and it was excellent having a large number of items including some very interesting ones. I was able to awarded a very high effective cake selection (ECS) rating consistent with it's rating from back in the Reepham days.
Part of the excellent cake selection
I asked if they were always this busy and the Barista said they were even on a cold January day like this one. I did think they should convert the customer free home furnishings part of the barn into an indoor seating area but then I'm more cake than cushions so probably a little biased on that front, even though I'm clearly right.

To go with my hot chocolate I ordered courgette and lime cake and to go with his cappuccino Andrew went for chocolate, berry and beetroot brownie. They didn't have any flapjack to be rated for flapjack of the year 2016 but they did have something called a chocolate Nancy that looked like flapjack. I took some away for further examination at home and can now report that although it was very tasty and oat based it wasn't sticky enough to qualify as flapjack.

Although not part of my rating system we did order some baps for lunch causing more cakes to be removed from the cake display area to make room for us. I'm not sure we could now be considered as 'just perched having cake' but were actually causing full blown kitchen chaos, fortunately all the staff seemed very good humoured about it.
Hot chocolate and cappuccino
Our drinks were both very good and scored highly. Next we tried our cakes. Andrew was clearly still confused and disorientated by us not cycling on our normal day as to my amazement, rather than going into a normal cake based rant, he claimed his brownie was the best he had ever had and wanted to give it an unprecedented 10 out of 10 for cake taste quality (CTQ). It was an excellent brownie but praise like this was most unlike him and he had to go for a little walk to calm down. I get even more worried when I found him in a daze browsing for scented candles in the hopefully soon to be converted shop area.

Although my cake was very nice it wasn't as good as the brownie but with scores combined it still added up to a very high CTQ score.
Cake and best brownie ever
I entered the marks for Hamptons, now at the Barn, into the cafe ratings spreadsheet on my phone to find that Hamptons had performed even better in Bawdswell than it had in Reepham enabling it to move up into my current top 5 rated destinations. I not only highly recommend a visit but, to avoid disappointment, highly recommend booking as well.

As we set of back to Norwich the wind seemed to get stronger and the clouds darker giving some dramatic looking Norfolk skys to enjoy.
Dramatic sky to enjoy
It was still obvious that not doing our ride on the normal day of the week was causing Andrew issues. Not only had he given unusually high marks, stopped ranting the whole time and shown an unhealthy interest in home furnishings but was now talking about putting the bins out when he got home, which I happen to know would be a day early. We will definitely be going back to a Thursday for our next ride so that normal service can be resumed.
Scores

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
8.00
8.00
9.00
8.50
7.00
8.10
Route

Click here to download 49 mile Norwich North Elmham loop gpx file for your GPS

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Start at the very beginning. (Number 1 Cafe and Deli. Clare)

Number 1 Café and Deli,
Clare,
Recommended
One of my most exciting cafe cycle based projects is to try and visit cafes named after their street numbers from 1 to 100. So far I've done Numbers 5, 7, 14, 24, 28 and 51 so with 94 cafes still to go I thought I needed to pull my finger out and get more numbers under my belt. 

Over Christmas I was once again able to enjoy watching the Sound of Music on the television. During the viewing I had been inspired by the wise words sung by Maria while out on a sportive with the von Trapp family. She sang "Start at the very beginning, its a very good place to start" before going on to describe what a series of random things (e.g a doe, ray, tea, me, far, sew etc) were. Why this particular set of things I have no idea but I did feel she was spot on about needing to start at the start. Therefore I decided to see if I could find a Number one cafe to visit next. Some extensive internet research found several such establishments but I was most excited to see the nearest was in Clare in Suffolk which (with the help of the train) would only require a 55 mile round trip.

The weather forecast did not look good when I met Big George, today's cycling guest, at Norwich station and he was already questioning if going for a 55 mile ride in the wind and rain was a good idea. Fortunately there is an old Chinese proverb for just such a dilemma: "don't worry about the rain until it actual starts, as it often does not" which I quoted to him. As it hadn't started to rain yet then this seemed to do the trick, and inspired by these wise words he agreed to come along. Before he could change his mind I quickly bought our tickets and we got on the train to bound to Stowmarket just as it started to rain.
Windy and raining conditions, although you can't tell in the picture,
at Stowmarket Station
On arrival at Stowmarket station I was begin to think it may have been better to call off the ride after all, as the wind had got up and the rain was quite hard but I can hardly be a Cake Crusader and then quit over a 'bit of rain' so cursing those wise old Chinese I manned up as we set off into a gale. 

Early conditions were harsh with strong winds and heavy rain. I was just thinking to myself that the last thing we needed was one of us to get a puncture. Big George then got a puncture. 
Another photo of Big George mending a puncture
We were now really cold and wet but determined to make it. Fortunately for the remaining 20 odd miles to Clare the rain changed to a more showery nature offering tempting respite before starting up again. Even so we were mighty relieved to find the Number 1 cafe and deli on the corner of Clare High street just as the latest downpour started.
Outside Number 1 cafe and Deli plus a close up of Big Georges cold finger
It was quite hard to spot as there was no big signage or any sort of outdoor seating area. We went inside to find a cosy old fashioned layout, in a converted post office, with wooden tables spread amongst neatly laid out display units of jams and chutneys. It all felt very warm after our experience getting here.
Inside Number 1 cafe and deli
I checked out the cake selection which only had two proper cakes but a good selection of slices and brownies. As 2016 is the year of the flapjack it was great to see three varieties on show helping to boost the effective cake selection (ECS) rating.
Cake selection majoring on slices
I went for some chocolate cake and sticky cherry flapjack. Big George was right on message and picked some date flapjack to go with his filter coffee. I taught him about how we would be rating flapjack this year in the build up to the flapjack off in December. Using the three flapjack T's of quality (taste, texture, and topology) these flapjacks scored very well. The date flapjack had particularly good topology being a double decker.
Cakes and Flapjack featuring the date double decker
Our drinks were both good and warmed us up nicely. My chocolate cake was excellent so combined with the top quality flapjack I gave a high taste cake quality (CTQ) score. I was pleased that Number one Cafe and Deli had set a good standard at the head of my street number cafe project.
The drinks line up
While we had been inside the rain had really picked up so we were now in for a proper soaking. To help morale I shared another old Chinese proverb with Big George. "When the sky's turn black, the rain comes down and you will get very wet". Which like most Chinese proverbs was spot on and we did. 

The roads were now turning to rivers but fortunately with the energy giving properties of flapjack inside us we powered through the rain back towards Stowmarket.
Very wet conditions
Once safely on the train I Googled 'Cafe Number 2' but the only Cafe Number 2 I could find was in Copenhagen. Work has therefore started on persuading Mrs Crusader that she has always wanted to visit Denmark, especially by bike.
Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.00
6.00
6.00
8.50
7.50
7.00
Route

Click here to download 56 mile Stowmarket Clare loop GPX file for your GPS

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Warm hands. (North Lodge Park Tea Rooms, Cromer)

North Lodge Park Tea Rooms,
Cromer,
Opening times Tues-Sun 10:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended 
Back in September Lizzie (barista and baker) wrote to me about the recently opened North Lodge Park community run tea room in Cromer. She promised great cakes and I promised to come on a cycle ride at the earliest possibility. Four months is about as good as my earliest possibility gets so today I drove to Hard to Please House in Alysham to met Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) who would be today's cycling guest.

I had noticed that recently my cycling guests had stopped coming up with any useful Cycling Guests Cycling Top Tips for me to share. I had planned to raise this with Andrew on the ride but before I left to meet him he had texted me an excellent top tip he had stumbled across when preparing for a ride at the weekend.

Cycling Guest Cycling Top Tip No 41. To keep your hands warm on a cold winters day leave your gloves on the Aga for a few minutes before you set off.
Gloves being warmed on Aga
Here is the science behind this tip. Normally it takes a little while for the heat from your hands to warm up your gloves making your fingers cold during the early stages of your ride. This method makes sure the gloves are already warmed inside and your hands heat just keeps them topped up and warm throughout.

WARNING: Cycling Guest Cycling Top Tip No 39 only works for country folk who own a posh Aga cooker. Do not try the tip on your gas hob as this will only set your gloves on fire, make them useless for the forthcoming ride and upset Mrs Crusader.

With his toastie warm hands and my freezing cold ones we soon made it to today's seaside destination. North Lodge Park is just behind the old lifeboat station on Cromer seafront. 
Cromer showing location of  today's tearoom
There is a small outdoor seating area in front of the tea room building which both over look the boating pond. Sadly no one was boating today.
Outside North Loadge Park Tea Rooms
Lizzie (barista and baker) had told me that "We have home baked cakes daily and lemon/sugar, chocolate or cheddar crepes plus a "proper" coffee machine. Plenty of room to park bikes in the park as well."

There was indeed plenty of room for your bikes in the park although I'm not sure why you would want to leave your bike at the far side of the park and then walk back to the tearoom so we locked ours up by the boating pond and went inside to the busy indoor seating area.

As Lizzie (barista and baker) had promised I spied a number of good looking cakes on the counter. I thought it looked a good selection but then spotted another table with some large and excellent looking sponge cakes on it moving the effective cake selection (ECS) rating up to the next level.

They also had flapjack which I would be separately rating as part of my search for Flapjack of the year 2016.
Small part of the excellent cake selection
I chose ginger cake and Andrew the virgin slice from the coffee and walnut sponge to go with his cappuccino.

Once our drinks and cakes arrived I first rated the flapjack against the three T's of flapjack quality (Taste, Texture and Topology) and it scored very highly making it an early contender to qualify for the Flapjack off at the end of the year.
Cakes, flapjack and drinks
Both my hot chocolate and his coffee were reasonably good and warmed us up nicely, however the cake was something else. It was without question the finest ginger cake I have had with the right amount of ginger and a great icing. I was worried that Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) would not like his coffee and walnut sponge but nothing could have been further from the truth as he too thought his cake was superb being nice and moist. It is rare when all cakes and slices perform well on a visit so it was a high 9 out of 10 for cake taste quality (CTQ).
I totted up the scores to find North Lodge Park tea room had made it into my current coveted cafe top 10 and I highly recommend a visit.

I also noticed that it was a community cafe run by volunteers with all profits going into maintaining and improving the park. At only £8.00 for our drinks, cakes and flapjack I'm not sure they are maximising their profit making potential.

Before we left, Andrew asked if he could warm his gloves on their Aga and was puzzled to find that they, like most people, didn't have one. Unfortunately Cycling Guest Cycling Top Tip No 39 therefore didn't help him on the return ride.

As we set off I noticed I had ripped my cycling trousers. This was good as it gave me another cycling shoportunity to go with the order to replace my fire damaged cycling gloves.
Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.50
6.50
8.50
9.00
8.00
7.70
Route

Click here to download 27 mile Alysham Cromer loop GPX file for your gps

Friday, 15 January 2016

Hypothermia. (Scooters Cafe, Acle)

Scooters Cafe,
Acle,
Opening times Tue-Fri 08:00-16:00,
 Sat 08:30-15:00,
Recommended 
I had recently been studying my cafe locations map and realised that there are two key gaps that needed addressing. The first is out towards Great Yarmouth and the second is pretty much anywhere in Great Britain outside Norfolk. After some deliberation I decided to tackle the East Norfolk issue first.

I came up with a reconnaissance plan to do a 50 mile twisty turny style route out to Great Yarmouth to identify some good looking future stops in the area. Obviously I would also be doing a full cafe cycle review at one of them, which I would decide en route. For this type of ride I selected experienced cafe cycle reviewer Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) to be my cycling guest.

Despite what appeared like an excellent plan on paper in reality it was a near total failure. The weather forecast was for rain and sleet all day and a much colder temperature than we had been used to recently. I don't like to back out of a cafe cycle ride once it is organised but I did have to have a pitch inspection before we set off. At this point it wasn't actually raining and fortunately Andrew hadn't seen the weather forecast so he was easily convinced to start.

Although I had double socked and gloved it didn't take long until I had lost all feeling in each of my extremities. Andrew confirmed he was in a similar position. It had also started to rain and as we approached the first cafe to check, Scooters in Acle, it had started to come down really hard. We therefore decided to stop there to do the full cafe cycle review before potentially checking out the rest of my cafe list or just catching the train home.
Scooters Cafe in the rain
Scooters had a small continental pavement style outdoor seating area which not surprisingly was unoccupied today but inside the cafe was still packed. Scooters has a traditional cafe interior but despite it nearly being lunchtime all the tables were occupied by people having a full English late breakfast.

With the lack of any other cake eating going on I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cake selection which had a nice range so I awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) score.
Good cake selection
As there were no tables left we were invited to join some full English late breakfaster eaters on the corner of their table. This was good as we were able to dry off and warm up while our new friends gave us today's helpful cycling top tip.

Full English late breakfast eaters cycling top tip No 40. Avoid getting so cold and wet by not cycling in the rain.

I had opted for a very large piece of ginger cake, which turned out to be nice but not gingery enough for my liking, and, as it is the year of the flapjack, some of that as well. Andrew also had some flapjack so was able to join in it's rating against the three T's of flapjack; taste, texture and topology, to see if it will qualify for the end of year flapjack off (see Thing of the year 2016). 
Very large ginger cake plus flapjack entry for flapjack year 2016
On the drinks front both my Hot chocolate and Andrew's Cappuccino were nice and hot with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) particularly complementary of his drink. 
Hot Chocolate and Cappuccino ready to warm us up 
Overall Scooters was just what we needed to recover from the cold and wet start to our ride and Andrew said he really liked the cafe, although this was probably as he had eventually warmed enough to say something, so I gave it a recommended status.

Andrew was keen to opt for the straight back to Norwich on the train option but as it had stopped raining I was again able to trick him in continuing our ride rather than heading straight to Acle station. After a few minutes even I realised this was a mistake as I once again had lost all feeling and the rain, with added sleet, had returned. We decided to abandon any detours to look at cafes and skip a large section of the ride to head straight to Great Yarmouth station, although this was still 15 miles away.

As we arrived at Great Yarmouth the rain had stopped so I was surprised by the lack of holiday makers on the beach or in the sea making the most of the break in the weather. We, on the other hand, headed straight for the station. 
Great Yarmouth beach deserted despite the lack of rain
Unfortunately we had just missed the train and the next one was nearly an hour away. I did get the chance to check out the station cafe but as it had no home-made cake then, as per cafe cycle reviewing regulations, it didn't qualify for reviewing although we still had a warming cup of tea.
Unfortunately Frankies cafe doesn't have homemade cake so can't be reviewed.
Sadly little progress had been made on knowing how to fill in my East Norfolk cafe gap so we agreed we would try the rid again in a few weeks time when the chance of frost bite and hypothermia had passed.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.00
7.00
6.50
6.00
7.00
6.50
Route would have taken if it hadn't been so cold
Click here to download 50 mile Norwich to Great Yarmouth GPX file for your gps 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Good start to the year. (Prima Rosa Tearoom, Salhouse)

Prima Rosa Tearoom,
Salhouse,
Opening times Mon-Sat 09:30-16:00,
 Sun 10:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended 
It is already the middle of January and I have not yet visited a new cafe or tearoom this year so it's about time I put that right.

You may remember that back at the start of December I went for a ride with cycling guests Chris (Mrs Crusader) and Barry and Helen and their Tandem to Salhouse (see getting back on it) where I was presented with a Cafe/tearoom dilemma. At number 82 Lower Street I found Prima Rosa Tearoom and at number 82b Lower Street was Radley's coffee shop. As there didn't appear to be any other commercial outlets in the village I was surprised that Salhouse (pop. 1462) could support two such establishments next to each other. But which to choose, on that ride we tried Radley's, so today, in the interest of fairness, it was time to return to Salhouse to check out Prima Rosa Tearoom.

Once again Barry was in charge of our route where, demonstrating great imagination and variety, we did exactly the same route as last time, only going the other way round. It was a fairly short ride so we soon arrived at the heart of the Salhouse commercial district and parked up outside Prima Rosa.

Prima Rosa doubles up as a gift shop but if you didn't know it was also a tearoom you might well miss it as there is only a tiny teapot sign letting you know. 
Outside Prima Rosa where there is little indication that its a tearoom
There is an outdoor seating benches area available although it was a bit too cold to put it in to use today leading us to go inside (note on a second visit in Sept 2016 the bench had been replaced with a table and 2 chairs, plus table round the corner)
View from September 2016 with extended outdoor seating facility
Apparently until recently the building used to be the Post Office and looking around inside you could see that a number of the old features had cleverly been retained to keep some post office character. On the gifts front there was an eclectic mix on display throughout and a series of tearoom tables to choose from. We got a very warm welcome from Mrs Goggins and her staff so with the whole package we awarded a good atmosphere and ambiance score.
Inside Prima Rosa
I checked out the cake selection and it was a good one with a number of items I liked the look of. As well as the cakes they had some good looking cheese scones but cheese scones are so 2015 as this is the year of the flapjack (see thing of the year 2016). Unfortunately news of this had clearly not made it to Salhouse as they didn't have any but despite this I still awarded a high effective cake selection (ECS) mark.
Good cake selection
For drinks it was good to be offered a choice of dark or white hot chocolate. I went dark, Chris went dark Mocha, Helen went white Mocha, Barry went cappuccino while their tandem went outside as he decided he didn't need a drink after such a short ride.
Well presented drinks
On the cake front Helen chose the apricot Bakewell cake, which I didn't even know was a thing until today, I went for rich chocolate cake slice and, despite regular cycling guest and coffee and walnut cake expert Mick not being with us, Chris went for coffee and walnut cake.
Today's cake choices
I thought my hot chocolate was very good being nice and thick. My cycling guests also liked their coffees, particularly the white Mocha, and all received high guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) scores.

Barry had chosen a panini, which is clearly not cake, so I had excluded him from any cake tasting while the rest of us tried each others cakes. They were all excellent with my personal favourite being the coffee and walnut. I would be keen to come back again with coffee and walnut cake expert Mick to get his qualified opinion.

All in all we were very impressed with Prima Rosa and it scored highly in every category (and slightly higher still on my next visit) so I highly recommend a visit. As an added bonus I got a a Prima Rosa loyalty card, which I have added to my loyalty card picture library, that requires just 5 stamps for a free drink, equalling the record for the lowest number needed.

The ride had turned out to be a very good start to 2016 as I continue the voyages of the Cake Crusader and my ongoing mission to explore new villages, to seek out new cafes and new tearooms, to boldly cycle to where no cafe cycling reviewer has gone before, as long as it's not too far away and I'm back in time for dinner.

Ratings (from 2 visits)
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
8.00
7.75
7.63
8.00
7.50
7.78

Route
Click here to down load 26 mile Norwich Tunstead loop GPX file for your GPS

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Cake Crusader sportive 19. (News of 2016 thing of the year competition)

Sportive 19,
The Café Brooke,
Opening times Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00,
Sat 09:00-15:00
Highly Recommended 
Today was the first cafe cycle ride of 2016 and as part of it I announced the 2016 Cake Crusader thing of the year competition. Last year you may remember the 2015 thing was the cheese scone and there was much excitement around cheese scone of the year (see cheese scone year winner announced). Well after the 46 cheese scones I tried during 2015 (with 19 served cold!) plus the 11 I had during the cheese scone off final I'm not sure I'm ready to eat another one for a while.

However before the big announcement it was time for the ride which happened to be the 19th Cake Crusader sportive. It was exactly two years ago that I held the first sportive so I thought it would be good to return to that first venue, The Cafe in Brooke, to see how it and my now army of cycling guests had changed during that time.

The sportive had attracted double the first one with 8 people (including the original 4) lining up for pre ride faffing about at race HQ. The main chatter was focused on clothing in the unseasonably mild weather we had been having. Regular readers of my Cycling Guests Top Cycling Tip will know many tips cover this topic with tip 9 that states 'When you set off on a ride you should start off feeling cold or you will get too hot later on' being particularly apt. This obviously led to me opt for an appropriate triple layering clothing solution. It was clear not everyone had been paying attention to these excellent tips as my guests ranged from chilly single layering (pure madness) to unnecessarily toastie 4 layering (quite wrong) approaches. 
Line up for 2nd anniversary Sportive ride
Despite some dubious clothing options in place we enjoyed an uneventful 20 mile ride, at differing body temperatures, round the villages South of Norwich to today's destination. It was my 4th visit to the Cafe in Brooke and according to cycle cafe reviewing rules only the 3 most recent ratings will be used in calculating a cafes overall score. This is to make sure ratings are current so the oldest set (which were The Cafe in Brooke's worst) would be discarded today.
Some very hot and cold people arriving at The Cafe, Brooke
On arrival we caused a right kerfuffle at the counter as we reviewed the cake selection and fought over the remaining sausage rolls. I was glad to see that everyone who had a sausage roll, correctly, also had a scone or cake as well in order that they would be allowed input into rating activity.
Cake selection in action
We had two first timers, James and Dan, on the ride today. Newbies always cause problems on their first ride awarding ridiculously high marks and making unwanted suggestions as to how I could "improve" we cafe ratings approach. I normally counter these issues by ignoring their markings and suggesting that if they would like to rate cafes in a different way they may like to consider setting up their own cafe cycle blog which I'm sure I would subscribe to and find it both informative and entertaining. I have decided that to avoid having to keep going through this rigmarole every time that I will produce a pamphlet to explain the basics and correct etiquette for new cycling guests to read before their initial ride, including a short test.

As this work is not yet complete I nipped any unhelpful newbie behaviour in the bud today by making it clear that I wasn't interested in any of their views but expected them to observe proceedings for next time, which judging by the stunned silence seemed to do the trick.
Some of the cakes and drinks ready for rating
I collected the ratings from my more experienced cycling guest, who were now well versed in proceedings, and updated my spreadsheet. This resulted in moving The Cafe in Brooke several places up my cafe league table with good scores across the board and into my highly recommended category..

It was now time for the big announcement as to what my thing of the year would be in 2016. With a hushed crowd I explained that I had decided to go for the cyclists energy giving friend of the flapjack. There were gasps from my cycling guest who had not seen that coming. I held an impromptu Question and Answer session to explain how the competition works

1. Whenever I go to a cafe or tearoom in 2016 then if it sells proper flapjack I will always try some in addition or instead of cake.
2. I will rate it on 

  • texture and composition (not too sticky or crumbly or hard)
  • appearance and size (bigger the better but a good geometrical shape)
  • taste
3. In December I will revisit the cafes (by bike of course) that provided the best 10 pieces throughout the year and purchase some more
4. I will then hold a flapjack off to decide the winner.
5. The winner will receive one of my coveted cake crusaders winner certificates that I will make with my colouring set.

Once the announcement was complete and the buzz had died down we set off again to complete our ride. Not surprisingly the only talk on the way home was flapjack based. I think I have really shaken things up in the world of cycle cafe reviewing so expect 2016 to be utterly flapjastic. 

If you know of where some particularly good flapjack can be found then let me know.


Scores for The Cafe based on last 3 visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.17
8.33
6.67
8.33
6.83
7.47
Today's route

Click link to down load 30 mile Norwich Poringland gpx file for your GPS