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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Wednesday 4 January 2017

Back to business. (Natural Surroundings, Glandford)

Natural Surroundings,
Opening times Tues-Sun 10:00-16:00,
It had been a long time since I had been able to get back to business and review a new venue on a cafe cycle ride. I had been thwarted by a lack of cycling guests, poor weather and the limitations of cafe Christmas opening times. Fortunately, all these things were in alignment today so I just needed to decide where to go.

A friend Jeremy (Eco Warrior) had suggested I go to Natural Surroundings in Glandford near Holt which had a cafe at the entrance to the wildlife gardens based there. I believe this is the sort of place Eco Warriors like to hang out at so was interested to see what it was like. 

To make the ride more doable on a winters day, I had arranged to meet up at Hard to Please House in Aylsham with today's Cycling guest, Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) as it was a lot nearer to Glandford than my house.

As we set off on the route it was clear that Andrew was in one of his most hard to please moods as he claimed he had been to Natural Surroundings 20 years ago and didn't remember the cafe serving good coffee.

It was only a 16 mile ride out to the cafe but it took sometime as we were cycling into a strong wind. This made any conversations hard to hear which had Andrew in an even crosser mood as he had to repeat many of his rants to make sure I had heard them properly.

When we arrived at Natural Surroundings Andrew took one look at the cafe and had to admit the reason he didn't remember the cafe serving good coffee on his last visit was because, in hindsight, he didn't remember there being a cafe there so had never actually had a drink in it.
Outside the Natural Surroundings Cafe which wasn't here
 last time Andrew thought he had a coffee there
The cafe is surrounded by woodland and its wooden construction slots nicely into the natural surroundings (see what I did there). There is a one bench outdoor seating area but we opted to go inside where sadly we didn't spot any Eco Warriors unless they were disguised as members of the public.
Outdoor seating areas with birdfeeders fully stocked
I went to check out the cakes at the counter, there seemed to be a bias towards scones, flapjack and slices but there was still a couple of good looking sponge cakes so I awarded a reasonable effective cake selection (ECS) score.
Cake selection with sausage rolls at the front
Normally the presence of a sausage roll would pass me by but since announcing that this year I would be searching for sausage roll of the year 2017 I was excited to be testing the first contestant.

I have to admit that I have opened up a schism in the cafe cycle ride with the controversial choice of sausage roll as thing of the year. Admittedly sausage roll is clearly not cake and will continue to play no part in cycle cafe rating but be a completely stand alone contest. More details on the rules and scoring system will be published shortly.

Along with my sausage roll I had Victoria sponge cake to go with my Hot Chocolate while Andrew had a cappuccino and millionaire shortbread. 

We opted to sit in the wood burner area and as we looked out the window to watch the local birds nibbling on a series of bird feeders we both agreed it was both cosy and relaxing so deserved a high atmosphere and ambiance score.
Cosy seating area 
Despite this when the drinks and cakes arrived Andrew was still in a full scale notoriously hard to please mood. First he was unhappy that the cappuccino had come in a mug claiming that if the Italians had intended it to be served in a mug it would be called a Muguccino and he didn't like his millionaire shortbread either. I felt the mugs were appropriate especially as I have never seen an Eco Warrior use a cup. I thought my hot chocolate and Victoria sponge were both good although today it was really the sausage roll I was most interested in.
Drinks and cakes
As the first sausage roll in the competition I thought it set a good standard with the sausage filling being a particularly good one so I updated my newly prepared sausage roll spreadsheet with the ratings and the search for Sausage roll of the year 2017 was underway
First entry in Sausage Roll of the year 2017 
Natural Surroundings cafe has a fabulous setting and worth a visit especially if you like wildlife gardens, sausage rolls or are in Eco Warrior.

The way back was a lot quicker as the wind had now become our friend but sadly I could now hear Andrews ranting more clearly so got a sore neck with all the feigned nodding in agreement I had to do.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 37 mile Alysham Wiveton loop gpx file for your GPS

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