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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Monday 22 August 2016

Puncture repairs. (Gardeners Kitchen, Burgh Apton)

Gardeners Kitchen,
Bergh Apton,
Opening times Mon- Sat 9:30-4:30, Sun 10:00-4:00
Highly Recommended 
I have cycled to the Gardeners Kitchen at Bergh Apton twice. Once in October 2015 and again in August 2016. As seems to often happen the one criticism I had on my first visit (no where to safely leave bikes) proved to be totally wrong on the second visit. I have therefore updated the original post below with combined findings from both trips.

October 2015: I'm not having much luck with my cycling guests at the moment. First I was meant to ride to Sheringham with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) but he had fallen off his bike the day before and so was too stiff for a ride (bless). I have rearranged for next week when he will have loosened up and fitted stabilisers on to his bike.

Then yesterday I was meant to be going on a long 65 miler with Big George but just before he was due to turn up I got a text saying Mrs Big George had hurt her back and was taking the day off work expecting Big George to look after her. He had explained to her that he was meant to be on an all day ride with me. She did say that if he went she would be fine, but he wasn't going to fall for that as like all experienced husbands he knows that 'fine' doesn't mean 'off you go, and have a lovely time' but that it is actually a test and it isn't fine at all.

So as a compromise Big George asked me if we could go on a short morning ride so he could do the nursing bit for most of the day whilst not letting me down, in a display of good husband solidarity I obviously agreed.

I was aware of a newish cafe at the Green Pastures garden centre Burgh Apton which we could take in on a 30 mile loop down to Loddon. To make sure he wasn't away too long we went at our fastest pace and were well ahead of schedule as we approached our stop.

At this point disaster struck as we both heard a loud pop and hiss to find Big George had a rare front wheel puncture.

As Big George started his repairs I though I would take the opportunity to publish a Big George puncture repair master class (BGPRMC). 

BGPRMC Step 1. Take the wheel off. For some reason Big George spent sometime stroking his tyre before he actually took it off saying he was looking for the cause of the puncture. This is a waste of time at this point in the puncture repair process but seemed to get him in the right frame of mind for the task ahead.

BGPRMC Step 2.  Once wheel is removed take just one side of the tyre off the wheel using tyre leavers and remove the inner tube. For some reason Big George decided to stroke his tyre again before eventually getting on with tyre removal. Fortunately I had brought a short novel with me and settled down to read it.

BGPRMC Step 3. Check inside tyre for flints and thorns that are still in tyre and then put in a new inner tube. Despite much searching and more tyre stroking Big George never did find the guilty object. I had finished my book by now but luckily had brought an easel and water colours so decided to paint the landscape.

BGPRMC Step 4.  Push tyre back into rim. Getting the last bit of tube in can be quite tricky but as a rule the more expensive the tyre the easier it pops back in. These were clearly very cheap tyres. My art work was complete but fortunately I had brought with me a note pad and pen so while Big George struggled with his tyre I started writing my memoirs.

BGPRMC Step 5. Put the wheel back on and pump up the tyre. Unfortunately Big George has an overly complicated pump and it took a few minutes to get it out of crossbar mode to pump mode, but once set up he quickly filled the tyre with air. I spent the time starting to write this years Christmas cards.

Hopefully Big George's puncture repair master class was useful to you but I hadn't realised just how useful it would be for me later in the ride.

With repairs complete it wasn't long before we arrived at the Gardeners Kitchen at the Green Pastures garden centre and farm shop.

On arrival we couldn't find anything to lock our bikes to so locked them together at the front entrance and went inside. However on the August 2016 ride I had warned my cycling guests of the potential security issue only to find that on arrival the nice people at the front entrance said to bring our bikes through the shop and escorted us to the outdoor seating area where we could safely leave them. So thumbs up to the gardeners kitchen and thumbs down for my previous remarks.
Outside entrance to Gardeners Kitchen
With or without bikes you have to go through the garden shop to find the large Gardeners kitchen restaurant. Here we found an exceptional cake selection which covered all the basic cakes and scones plus some unusual things like snickers cheese cake. I awarded a very high effective cake selection (ECS) rating. (The range was equally as good on my second visit).
Just some of the excellent cake selection
I went for a chocolate cake (on both occasions) and cheese scone (as part of my cheese scone serving temperature research, served cold) but the choice was too much for Big George who couldn't cope with the large selection so ordered a fried egg sandwich instead.
Big George's posh fried egg sandwich which clearly isn't cake
The outside seating area looked a bit too cold in October and too windy in August so we opted to sit inside in the large indoor area. It was nice but lacked a bit of tearoom character and charm. My 2016 cycling guest thought this comment was harsh, especially after the excellent customer service with the bikes, and made me up the atmosphere and ambiance mark.
Indoor seating area
My hot chocolate was a good one being nice and strong and not too sweet, Big George found his filter coffee a little too weak for his tastes. (In August 2016 we cycling guest all rated their coffees more highly upping the guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) score). The portion size of the scone and chocolate cake were certainly on the large side which got my approval although size is not always a good indicator of cake taste quality. However on this occasion I thought the chocolate cake was very nice retaining enough moistness and having a good chocolate flavour plus the added benefit of a lump of cadburys flake on top.
Cakes and drinks
Cakes and drinks from August 2016 looking remarkably like the October 2015 ones
As I had 3 cycling guests in 2016, including coffee and walnut cake expert Mick, I was able to have a wider range of cakes tried and they all scored well. Chris (Mrs Crusader) and Ali both went for coffee and Walnut Cake, Mick was obviously a little put out and had Almond slice instead. However he insisted in trying their cakes and passing on his expert opinion, which was that the cake was good, so I then didn't need to know what the others thought rendering their input useless.

Overall the Gardeners Kitchen was a good stop that scored well especially on the cake front. Now I know that I know you can safely leave your bikes their I would certainly highly recommend a visit.

Back in 2915 we set off on the short ride back and despite the earlier puncture drama Big George was confident he would not be in too much trouble for being out for too long instead of on nursing duty. This was until I too got a puncture, my first for ages*. Fortunately I had been paying attention to Big Georges puncture repair master class and got it mended in no time at all enabling him to get back for brow mopping on time. 
Mend puncture after seeing BGPRMC
Hopefully next week I will have more luck with my cycling guests and get a full ride in. (Which I did).

*Records show this was the first time both me and a cycling guest had had a puncture on the same ride since 26th February2015

Scores based on three visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Click here to download Loddon - Norwich loop GPX file to load on to your GPS


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