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

Friday 27 October 2017

Crack. (Cliff top cafe, Overstrand)

Cliff Top Cafe,
Opening times Every day 8am-4pm
While auditing my cycle cafe records I noticed that I visited the Cliff top Cafe in Overstrand over 4 years ago and although it had got a rating I had never posted about it. I decided that this needed to be rectified. On the previous trip I had been a little disappointed so I was interested to see if things had improved in the intervening period.

I met up with Andrew at hard to please house in Alysham and put him in charge of  route selection. It looked like a straightforward trip so we set off while discussing matters of the day. 

After a few miles I went over a pothole and was disturbed by a loud crack. I immediately slowed down and looked at the usual suspects on the bike. The tyres were in one piece, no spokes had gone, the chain was still in place etc so I thought no more of it as we continued on our way.

When we arrived at the Cliff top cafe I got in traditional cafe pose for the cafe snap. As I stood there with my handle resting artistically on the saddle I noticed that it was wobbling and on closer inspection realised the loud crack from earlier had been the seat post partially snapping. 
Outside Cliff top cafe when I first realised problem with my seat post
I showed Andrew the damage before we went inside. It was a little disconcerting but I decided that as we had got this far it would probably be ok for the rest of the ride (although as it turned out I was wrong).
Examining the pole damage
I was impressed with the make over the Cliff Top cafe had had since my last visit as it was now light and airy. Although I would have preferred it, Andrew insisted that it was too cold to sit in the nice outdoor seating area where you could really enjoy the fantastic sea view. As I'm always careful not to upset him and trigger a 'hard to please' style rant we compromised with a seat by the window. All in all a very high AAA mark.
View of sea from outdoor seating area
The cake selection was also good with a nice selection of cakes. I went for fruit cake and Andrew a bakewell slice with a cup of tea.
Good cake selection
My hot chocolate was a pretty decent one and the cakes were good too but they had made a mistake with Andrew's tea. It came fully constructed with teabag removed and milk already added. Andrew rightly pointed out that as everyone likes their tea different it is better to leave the bag in and let the customer add his own milk. As this one was too weak for Andrew's tastes he only gave a poor guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) score.
Cakes and drinks
Overall the Clifftop cafe was a very pleasant surprise after my previous visit and I'm sure it won't be 4 more years before I return.

As Andrew had had a disappointing guest hot drink experience he suggested we make a short detour to Holt  so he could go to his favourite hot drink provider, The Black Apollo. It is also one of my favourites too so I didn't take much persuasion.

Once on the hill out of Overstrand it was clear that all was not well in the saddle post department as it started to bend backwards with my saddlebag scraping against the wheel. I had an image of it suddenly snapping in half causing me a potential serious cycling injury so we stopped to investigate further.

As I picked the bike up to lean it against the hedge the seat post snapped leaving half of the pole stuck down the tube and the saddle half in my hand.
Cycle post in more than one piece
Cycling guest cycling top tip no 63: Make sure you regularly grease your pole to avoid it getting stuck when it needs removing.

Fortunately I'm a regular follower of cycling guest cycling top tip no 63 and so with a bit of a wiggle managed to free the broken half from the frame as this could have been a real problem if it had got stuck. I then put back in the half with the saddle on which meant my saddle was now a few inches lower than normal but I could safely cycle it again.
Repaired bike with low saddle
Fortunately the loose in length wasn't too uncomfortable so we continued to Black Apollo as planned. 
The black Apollo in Holt
The only weakness Black Apollo had ever shown was in the size of it's cake selection so I was excited to see it had grown with a number of excellent new additions making it into an extremely effective one. I had some honey and ginger and Andrew a portuguese tart. As well as the excellent cakes Andrew(who is notoriously hard to please) wanted to give his coffee 10 out of 10. I obviously couldn't allow this as I feel you always need to leave room in your ratings incase you come across an even better example in the future.
Cakes plus empty cups as we had already enjoyed our excellent drinks
However I did update my ratings spreadsheet with today's marks (remember cafe ratings are based on average of last 3 scores) moving the Black Apollo even nearer the top of my all time cafe's list.

There was no more drama on the rest of the ride but I will urgently need to find a new seatpost before my next planned ride in a couple of days time to save my knees and back from any permanent 'low saddle' damage.

Scores for Cliff Top Cafe

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

Click here to download 41 mile Alysham Overstrand Holt loop GPX file to your gps

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,
Opening times Every day 8am-8pm,
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.

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

Click here to download 29 mile Alysham Cromer loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Missing money. (Red Lion Cafe, Coltishall)

Red Lion Café,
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, 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.

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

Click here to download 36 mile Norwich Coltishall loop gpx mile to your GPS