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


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Trainee cycling guest. (Alysham Garden Centre cafe, Alysham)

Alysham Garden Centre Cafe,
Alysham,
Opening times Mon-Sun from 09:00-16:00
If I'm going to be able to maintain my status as the self appointed number one cafe cycle reviewer (in the Norfolk area) then I need to be able to continue to expand my capabilities.

One area that I'm often short in is qualified cycling guest which I require to accompany me in order to be able to give a rating for the guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) category on a cafe visit. I was therefore excited when Andrew (old work colleague) contacted me after stumbling across my Cake Crusader blog whilst trying to find a good cafe to cycle to in North Norfolk whilst on Holiday here earlier this year.

We had not seen each other for many years but as we were now both keen cyclists Andrew agreed to undertake a three and a half hour drive from the peak district over to Crusader Towers in order to join me as my cycling guest on a ride.

I have not always had good experiences with new cycling guest reviewers so before coming I made Andrew undertake an extensive cafe reviewing correspondence course. He also had to send me full write ups and photos from any cafes he visited on his bike in his local area. I finally made him sit a number of on-line tests and review my full library of cycle cafe reviewing computer aided training (CBTs) modukes.

Today's ride would complete his training by first visiting the top rated cafe, Black Apollo in Holt (see stick to the brief), where he could try out his reviewing skills in a safe environment before going to a new cafe to properly assist on a review.

We started from our agreed meeting point, the car park of the luxury hotel he had stayed at overnight, before setting off on the first leg of our ride which was 30 miles up to Holt.
Excited trainee cafe cycle reviewer Andrew,  ready to set off from the car park of his luxury hotel
As we had not seen each other for absolutely ages time flew by as we went for a trip down both a literal and metaphorical memory lane.

On arrival at Holt we locked our bikes beside the Black Apollo outdoor seating area and went inside so I could see how my student would perform.
Outdoor seating area at the back of the black Apollo Coffee House
As always there was a warm welcome from the staff as we selected from the cake selection before taking our seats. 

I got out my cafe rating spreadsheet and asked Andrew how he rated the Atmosphere and Ambience. Like many a new recruit he started waffling on about what he liked, how the staff were, etc, etc, blah, blah, yawn, yawn. I quickly started to glaze over, 'out of 10' I said impatiently. When will people ever learn that my cafe rating spreadsheet only works with numbers? 

It was now time to order our drinks and cakes. As always I ordered a hot chocolate but this time with fruit crumble cake (fruit crumble cake fruit of the day was plum). Then to my horror Andrew too ordered a hot chocolate (with Orange and Almond cake). Had he learnt nothing, a cycling guest must order tea or coffee as the guest hot drink otherwise what's the point of bringing them along. So as not to make a scene I waited for the waiter to go before giving Andrew a severe ticking off and official written warning.
Fabulous cakes and drinks, sadly both hot chocolate
Our refreshments soon arrived and we were busy enjoying the fabulous hot chocolate and excellent cakes when the nice lady who served me on my last visit came over. She had remembered me and wanted to clarify a couple of points from my blog review. However before she started she did a double take as she noticed that Andrew had ordered a hot chocolate and not coffee as his guest drink which, unlike him, she immediately knew was wrong. I explained he was a new trainee cycling guest and had now learnt his lesson so she agreed to let it go.

She was curious to understand why, after several months since my visit, her cafe didn't appear when you clicked on cafes in Holt or show up in my current top 10 list, (where it should have been). I embarrassingly explained that I was a bit behind in keeping everything up to date but would sort it out as soon as I got home (which I have done plus cleared my diary to get everything else up to date next week).

I thanked her for her excellent feedback but wasn't sure if I was disappointed to have been caught out or excited to have met a coffee shop so knowledgeable in the ways of the Cake Crusader, I decided on the latter.

Andrew did well with the rest of his practice ratings and we were both happy that the Black Apollo Coffee shop was still a top cafe after a second visit. So now he understood what good looked like we were ready to set off to Alysham for a new cafe review at Alysham garden centre cafe.
On the way to our new cafe to be reviewed
On arrival we parked our bikes outside and went through to the cafe at the back of the centre but what would I find once through the door? 
What would I find behind the Alysham garden centre cafe door?
There was a normal inside seating area, a conservatory based one plus and an out door seating area to chose from, we went conservatory.

Sadly there was a disappointing looking cake selection with not a great choice plus the hot chocolate and more exotic coffee choices came from a push button machine which is never a good sign. Andrew sensibly opted for a straight forward filter coffee which any experienced cycling guest would always do in these circumstances.
Cake selection
After trying our cakes (carrot and coffee) and drinks it was fair to say we had covered the full spectrum of the cycle cafe continuum today which was excellent news for Andrew's future usefulness as a cycling guest.
Drinks and cakes
We had now covered 45 miles and were beginning to run out of steam as we rode the final 15 miles back to Crusader Towers. On our return I took Andrew to the debrief area where I gave him a full appraisal of his efforts but was pleased to let him know he had been promoted from trainee cafe cycle (TCC) reviewer to junior assistant cafe cycle (JACC) reviewer. He was very excited by the news which now means he is allowed to send me some peak district cycle cafe reviews which I promised that I might even possibly publish.

Scores for Alysham garden centre
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.0
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.5
4.80
Route

Click here to download 63 mile Norwich Holt Alysham GPX file to your gps

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