Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I saw an old Lady that swallowed a Bee/Wasp. (Henry's Tea and Coffee Store, Cromer)

Henry’s Tea and Coffee Store,
Cromer,
Opening times Every day 8am-8pm,
Recommended 
Much of my recent cycling activity has been targeted at going faster as part of my current triathlon obsession but this has reduced the number of cafe cycle based rides I have done, although cake still forms the basis of my nutrition plan.

However yesterday it was all about the cafe as I took Mrs Crusader up to Hard to Please House to join Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) on a ride up to the coast.

It was going to be a straight forward 30 mile round trip up to Henry's Coffee and Tea Store in Cromer. The ride started smoothly enough as me and Andrew discussed matters of the day with Mrs Crusader following behind. Then suddenly I became aware of some yelping and shouting coming from my rear. It transpired that Mrs Crusader had tried to reenact the old song about the woman that swallowed the fly. She had in fact failed at the first hurdle as it was a bee/wasp she tried to swallow before realising her mistake and swotting it out of her mouth. This had upset the bee/wasp which had punished her by stinging the inside of her lip leading to the commotion.
A bee and wasp like one of which stung Mrs Crusaders lip

There was little we could do about it in the middle of the countryside so with her face starting to swell up we continued to Cromer.

We soon found Henry's Tea and Coffee Store (or cafe). There was a couple of outdoor seating options available but in case we were attacked by more insects we opted to sit in the comfy chair indoor seating area. I took charge of ordering as Mrs Crusader's swollen lip made understanding her quite difficult.
Outside Henry's.
The cake selection was very good although had majored on traybakes rather than sponge cakes. I went for Apple and Blackberry cake, Mrs Crusader Carrot cake and Andrew millionaires shortbread.
Good and effective cake selection
I was also able to check out their sausage rolls as part of my #SROTY research.
Todays sausage roll offering
Cakes and drinks soon arrived with hot chocolate, mocha and cappuccino all being rated as good if not spectacular. The Carrot cake was the best cake offering which we all thought was excellent giving a high Cake Taste Quality (CTQ) score.
Today's cakes and drinks
Overall Henry's Coffee and Tea store (or cafe) had got good marks across the board and was a very nice stop. I would recommend a visit.

Meanwhile Mrs Crusaders face had now started to swell and go red so we decided it was time to set off home in search of some antihistamine. Fortunately on the way back things started to return to normal, swelling wise, but I was concerned that she may now want to act out the rest of the song so made sure we avoided all spiders, cats, dogs and horses on the way back.

Scores

Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.8
6
7.8
7.8
7.3
7.14
route to be published shortly

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Missing money. (Red Lion Cafe, Coltishall)

Red Lion Café,
Coltishall,
Opening times Tue-Sun 9-4
Today I took the opportunity of trying out another pub/cafe hybrid. Currently cafe cycle rules only allow a pub to be considered for a review if it has a completely separate cafe area and not just if it sells coffee and cake at the bar. The last qualifying cafe of this type I had visited was the Acorn tearooms at the Oak pub in Poringland but sadly the venture didn't last and closed earlier this year. I knew the Red Lion at Coltishall also claimed to have a separate cafe to the pub so with cycling guests Mrs Crusader, Barry and Helen and their Tandem we set off to find out if it was suitable for review.

Things didn't start well when Helen suddenly demanded we stop to buy eggs available at the end of someones drive. Whilst photographing the event, as it was the most exciting incident on the ride, I realised that I had lost the £10 that Mrs Crusader had asked me to look after. Despite tweeting a picture of a similar looking £10 no one came forward to return it so I hoped it won't be an expensive stop.
Helen buying eggs while I sure for the missing tenner
We arrived at the Red Lion Cafe in Coltishall where I was relieved to see that the cafe area was completely separate and even had it's own entrance, thus clearly qualifying it.
Outside the Red Lion Cafe special non pub entrance
It was too late in the year to make use of any outdoor seating so it was straight inside to check the cake selection which wasn't bad. It was also good to see that sausage rolls were available for #SROTY testing.
Cake selection
The drinks, cakes and sausage rolls soon arrived with sausage roll tasting causing much debate. As they were of the short crust variety, favoured by Mrs Crusader, then she was keen it made the sausage roll off finalists list which is currently heavily weighted towards flakey. As I was already in her bad books I agreed that it had just crept in. 

As the discussions got more heated I completely forgot to take the cake and drinks picture so you will just have to imagine what cakes and mugs of drink look like. I can report my hot chocolate was a fairly standard example and the Mocha and cappuccino guest hot drinks were all a bit to weak for their likings. However the Banana loaf and Victoria sponge were both very good cakes and scored well.

I thought the Red Lion cafe was a good example of a pub cafe and hope it is a successful addition to the cafe scene.

In a desperate attempt to get Mrs Crusaders money back I'm now offering a £10 reward to anyone who finds it.

Scores

Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.8
5
6.3
7.8
7.5
6.48

Route to be published shortly

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Management speak. (Courtyard cafe, Fakenham)

The Courtyard Cafe,
Fakenham,
Opening times Every day 9:00-17:00 
The weather has been so inconsistent recently that I have had several planned cafe cycle rides called off by my cycling guests. However there was no danger of this happening yesterday as it was a clear blue sky that greeted us for the ride. I also had two cycling guests booked in from the previously cancelled efforts. One was Cake Crusader veteran Andrew (who is Notoriously hard to place) and the other was Matt, an old work colleague of ours who was new to cycling and currently between roles in the world of big business.

As we left Hard to Please House (HTPH) on our trip to Fakenham it was difficult to understand much of what Matt was saying as he spoke in Management speak, a language I had become rusty in. The only thing I understood was about blue sky thinking and agreed with Matt that I thought today's sky was blue.

Moving forward we successfully overcame all the opportunities that challenged us on our journey and hit the key objective of getting to the courtyard cafe at Pensthorpe nature park with an excellent performance rating, apparently.
Outside the Courtyard cafe at Pensthorpe 
The Courtyard cafe is indeed courtyard based and sitting there on such a lovely day it not surprisingly attracted a high AAA mark.
The courtyard the cafe was named after
The cake selection was prettying good too and between us we covered the coffee, victoria and muffin cake bases. 
Lots of cake options
When our food and drinks arrived the hot chocolate and cakes performed well but the coffee had some developmental opportunities. 
Cakes and drinks about to undertake their performance review
The courtyard cafe was a nice stop and of similar standard to a number of attraction based establishments I have been too. Whilst there I also checked out their sausage roll for sausage roll of the year #SROTY. It was pretty good but the standard of my current finalists is so high it didn't make the cut.
Penthorpe courtyard cafe sausage roll offering
Our next objective was to take Matt to a top ten rated cafe as he wanted to see what world class looked like. We had chosen Heydon Tearoom as it was on route back to HTPH and would give me the opportunity to check out their sausage roll as well.
Preparing to go across the tea room in Heydon
As we sat outside on a warm Autumn day and enjoyed some of Norfolks best cakes Matt could see the attraction of a more chilled life outside the hectic world of big business of which he likes to operate in. We then spent a few minutes updating the ratings for Heydon Cafe and Shop before completing our trip. 
Self proclaimed star cakes at Heydon Tea room
Back at HTPH Matt told us how much he had enjoyed the ride although he insisted on a post ride feedback and review session so we could agree what went well, what went badly and how to improve for next time. 

Scores

Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.9
5
7.1
7.2
7.4
6.72

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Celtic Trail Day 4 (Tenby to Swansea)

The Celtic Trail Day 4
Annies Cafe, St Clears,
Open Not sure,
Flanagans Coastline cafe, Llanelli, 
Open Mon-Sun 10-5

It was going to be a weather lottery today as it looked like it could get rather wet but we were not sure just how lucky or unlucky we would be as we hopped on our bikes and said goodbye to the Ironman action at Tenby. 


We set off in a light drizzle and soon were enjoying are best seaviews of the week although Mrs Crusader informed me that she had to get off and push 4 times in the first 5 miles despite me promising a flatter day.

As the rain stopped we came to the big long climb I had been dreading as I knew some of the sections would be too step for Mrs Crusader but she battled through them before we eventually made it to the top and on to an early cafe stop.


There was no outdoor seating area at Annie's cafe but inside was nicely appointed. 


Once again the cake selection was small with only chocolate, carrot or Welsh fruit bread to chose from. We decided to have half each of the two cake choices. Mrs Crusader thought her Mocha was the best this week but my hot chocolate didn't compete with some of the other excellent ones I have enjoyed so far. Overall still a good showing but not the winner.


After the coffee stop we had two more large hills to get over and these took sometime to complete. To add to the jeopardy the weather app was now predicting thunderstorms in the next two hours.


After we summitted the last of the hills it was obvious that Mrs Crusader was pooped and her energy supplies were drained. Fortunately the remaining 30 miles left today were flat but as I was out of dilithium crystals to repower her engines I suggested we abandon day 5 tomorrow and catch the train back to Newport instead.


This suggestion got immediate approval and seemed to give her renewed vigour knowing that this would be her final effort of the trip. The good news continued as we reached some stunning views along by the estuary but the biggest surprise was the sun had come out and all talk of heavy rain on the weather app had gone.


We then hit the millennium coast path which was several miles of good quality track with great views to accompany us until we got to our second cafe stop Flanagans Coast line cafe. I had been here before on my cycle across Great Britain but had arrived 5 minutes before closing on that occasion so it didn't get a fair crack of the whip.


Mrs Crusader was still clearly very tired as she tried to climb the stairs before slumpimg into her chair with head in hands. While she was busy suffering I ordered drinks and an excellent looking piece of yogurt and berry flapjack. 


The cake selection was good and the fabulous views of the coast line resulted in high marks for those categories. 

My hot chocolate was another fine example and the flapjack was some of the best ever. We both agreed that this was the best cafe we had found on the Celtic trail and as we won't be going to anymore I declared it the winner of my search. 


We now had just 20 miles to go to get back the hotel and fortunately it was nearly all on good off-road track. It  took a while but eventually we hit the Swansea seafront and then cycled along it back to the Premier Inn we had left a 3 days ago.


We had covered over 250 miles (most of it up) of the Celtic trail in 4 days which I had very much enjoyed but I had learned 3 things
1. Sometimes it best to quit while your ahead
2. There are a lot more hills in Wales than I had thought
3. Mrs Crusader does not like cycling up hills, which is why we live in Norfolk

Map route

Profile 

Cafe ratings for cafes reviewed on (or near) the Celtic trail
Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Café Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Total
Bradleys Coffee Shop
7.6
7.2577.677.29
Cafe Espresso
Na
NaNaNaNaNa
Time Coffee Bar
7
766.956.256.64
Caffi Becca
3
5.2547.256.255.15
Sands Cafe
87.655.257.58.27.32
Cwtch Cafe
8.5748.57.57.10
Annies Cafe
6857.757.56.85
Flanagans Cafe
777887.4





Stats 

Miles
Average Speed
Hours on bike
Meters climbed
Newport to Swansea
57.7
10.35:35:50679
Swansea to Fishguard
69.5
10.46:43:152075
Fishguard to Tenby
61.7
10.06:11:021411
Tenby to Swansea
70.1
10.56:39:091313
Swansea to Newport
Na
NaNaNa

Overall

  

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Celtic Trail Day 3 (Fishguard to Tenby)

The Celtic Trail Day 3
Sands Cafe, Newgate
Open Mon-Sun 9-4:30,
Cwtch Cafe, Pembroke dock,
Open Mon-Sat 9-5,
After yesterdays bumpy ride and the words of Mrs Crusader "what part of that route could you possibly have thought I would have enjoyed" still ringing in my ears then I hoped that the worst of the hills were behind us as we now focus on National cycle route 4 for the rest of the trip which follows the coast line back to Newport. The only problem now was that it is due to rain for the next 3 days.

Mrs Crusader was clearly very tired, at least I assumed that's why she wasn't talking to me and things didn't improve as we hit the longest and steepest climb of the day within half a mile of leaving Fishguard. By the time she was at the top she already looked wasted and we still had over 60 miles to go. To make matters worse we were into a strong headwind. However the views were good and it wasn't raining too hard.
As we approached St Davids things got a bit flatter. After feeding Mrs Crusader an energy bar as we relaxed by St Davids cathedral I hoped the ride would get easier as we would now be going with the wind.


The scenery also improved and you could often see the coast through the mist. There were still a few steep bits to contend with but not as many. 


After nearly 30 miles we made a steep decent down to Newgate for our first stop of the day at Sands cafe.


Although it was too wet to sit in the outside seating area there were still good views of the beach from our table, leading to a high AAA score.


Sadly the cake selection was limited so we both went for coffee and Walnut with our usual drinks of hot chocolate and Mocha. The cake and Mocha were good and the hot chocolate excellent so overall a high score. We thought it was the best cafe on the route to date but as my scoring system had it in second place some retrospective adjustment was needed to our current leader which I quickly did before anyone noticed. 


Although half asleep by now Mrs Crusader insisted on studying the remaining route and profile and she didn't like what see saw as there were several more steep climbs needed to get away from the coast before things flattened off.


As we left it started to rain again and the promised steep bits soon materialised, however the views were fantastic and one of us thought worth the effort.
As we approached the final steep sections we were presented with another road closed dilemma. Yesterday we had risked it only to find an impassable hole but today it paid off as the hole diggers let us pass saving a potentially big detour. It had also stopped raining so maybe things were looking up.


As it turned out they were as we reached a long stretch of off road good quality cycle track which was mainly sloping down. 


Then to make things even better we had to go over a toll bridge which happens to be one of Mrs Crusaders favourite things so she was now in a much better mood when we arrived at the Cwtch cafe.


It was an artisan cafe so only had two cakes on offer which was a clementine cake or a lemon and sweet potatoe one. We had both with our coffee and hot chocolate.


The coffee was ok whereas my hot choclate was top drawer and the best I had had all week. The cakes were excellent too but not quite good enough to knock Sands cafe off first place.


From here the route predominantly followed the ironman cycle route to Tenby ready for the event on Sunday. I very much enjoyed riding on it as it brought back memories of the 4 ironman I have done, and don't like to talk about.


It had been a another very long day of cycling covering 60 miles in nearly 10 hrs. However after tea I suggested a quick walk round town past all the ironman preparations. I didn't have one of my ironman tee shirts with me so I wore my cycle helmet on the walk as it still has its ironman sticker on just to subtly let people know that I'm an ironman too, even though I don't like to talk about it


Tomorrow we plan to cycle back to Swansea but the forecast looks dreadful with thunderstorms so a plan b maybe required.

Map route

Profile 

Weather forecast day 4


Cafe ratings for cafes reviewed on (or near) the Celtic trail
Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Café Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Total
Bradleys Coffee Shop
7.6
7.257.07.67.07.29
Cafe Espresso
Na
NaNaNaNaNa
Time Coffee Bar
7
766.956.256.64
Caffi Becca (on 2 visits)
3
5.2547.256.255.15
Sands Cafe
87.655.257.58.27.32
Cwtch Cafe
8.5748.57.57.10







Stats 

Miles
Average Speed
Hours on bike
Meters climbed
Newport to Swansea
57.7
10.35:35:50679
Swansea to Fishguard
69.5
10.46:43:152075
Fishguard to Tenby
61.7
10.06:11:021411
Tenby to Swansea

Swansea to Newport


Overall