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 18 April 2018

What heatwave. (Babaco Cafe, Watton)

Babaco Cafe,
Opening times Tue-Sat 9:30-4:00 
Yesterday the TV weather lady told me that today would be the start of a heatwave. This was excellent news as I was due to go on a cafe cycle ride with cycling guest Big George. He had heard the news too so it was no surprise that when he turned up at Crusader Towers he, like me, had shorts on for the first time this year. However this turned out not to be such a great idea for one of us.
First outside outing for my legs this year
The plan for today was built around some cycle cafe reconnaissance. I needed a cafe in the Watton area for the forthcoming overnight spring sportive that I have organised. I will have 10 cycling guests with me for that ride and they will be expecting a decent cafe stop.

As well as getting out my summer cycling kit I had also put summer wheels plus new tyres on to my bike. Big George had to put on summer tyres but in his case some very worn ones from last year. Incidentally you may remember Big George is Scottish, I mean nothing by this from a 'get every last fibre of your tyre used before replacing them' point of view, just saying for your information. Inevitably a puncture soon occurred. 
Big George mending the puncture on his threadbare tyres
Big George claimed it was not his worn out tyre that was the problem but the fact I made him cycle through an unusual pond feature we had found in the middle of the road a few minutes earlier.
Pond in road
As always I checked my records which show that my last cafe cycle puncture on a ride was a year ago (30th April 2017) whereas my cycling guests have now had seven in this time. I think we all know what will happen on my next ride.

With puncture repaired we continued to our Target destination Babaco Cafe on Watton High street. There was as yet no sign of a heatwave and we had been kept cool by a very strong wind so we decided not to make the most of the continental style outdoor seating area that had been provided.
Outside Babaco in the continental style seating area
Inside we sat at the window breakfast bar so we could keep an eye on the bikes. While Big George did this I checked out the cakes which had a varied selection but not many slices of each on display. However I did spot some brownie which I opted for in order to test it out for Brownie of the Year (#BOTY).
Cake selection
Big George had a cappuccino and a cheese, onion and tomato toastie. As a cheese, onion and tomato toastie is not cake then Big George played no further part in any cake reviewing activities at the Babaco Cafe.

When our refreshments arrived Big George thought his coffee was a good one and scored well. My Hot Chocolate was about average and scored appropriately and the brownie was pretty good. Check out my thing of the year page on the cake crusader website to see if it has made the current potential finalist list.
Today's refreshments
Babaco had passed its audition and I will be happy to pop in with my Spring sportive cycling guests in a couple of weeks where I'm sure cafe rating mayhem will occur.

It was now I discovered I had made a mistake wearing shorts as not only was the promised heatwave a myth leaving me with cold legs but as I unlocked my bike I knocked it over and the big cog ripped big chunks out of my unprotected limbs. Thanks a lot TV weather lady.
My shredded leg
As today's ride was over 50 miles and the wind had been a tough one then Big George started to flag over the last few miles. All that kept him going was the thought of a nice hot bubble bath for when he got home and as a special reward for cycling so hard he was not only going to have his normal scented candles but sprinkle on a few rose petals as well. Although I promised not to tell anyone and destroy his tough scotsman image.

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

Click here to download 55 mile Norwich Watton loop GPX file for your GPS

Saturday 14 April 2018

Switch it on and off. (Kiah Homebakes, Hemsby)

Kiah Homebakes,
Opening times Mon-Wed 10-2:30,
Thur-Sat 9:30-3:00
Listening to the news this morning it seemed like things were getting serious between Mr Trump and Mr Putin and that it could soon turn nasty with the end of humankind possibly just around the corner. But I can't let a little thing like that distract me from my own mission as I had planned a cycle ride with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) out to the coast. However it soon became clear that I too may be seen as a threat to the super powers.

Just after we set off from Hard to Please House it appeared that I had been the subject of a cyber attack when completely unexpectedly my Di2 electronic gears went dead and I was stuck in a single gear. I was flamoxied as they had never stopped working before (except on the two occasions were I accidently cut the cable). I confirmed that the battery was charged and that all the cables and connectors were in place but still no joy. Fortunately I used to work in IT so knew what the best approach was so I disconnected and reconnected the battery to turn the gears on and off again and the cyber terrorists had been thwarted (for now).

Despite starting from Hard to Please House I had planned today's route rather than leave it to Andrews old school paper map approach. I knew this would not go down well so was prepared when  Andrew constantly complained about the direction I was going in claiming he won't have gone that way at every junction. It wasn't for many miles when we were far enough away from his house so that he knew no better and we could get back to discussing matters of the day.

We eventually hit the coast road and I was pleased to see they had finally got round to putting the sails back on Horsey Mill.
Horsey Mill with sails on top rather than in pieces by the side
From here it wasn't far to todays cafe which was Kiah Homebakes on Hemsby high street.
Outside Kiah Homebakes which is bigger inside than it looks
We had done nearly 30 miles so were in need of a break. I was therefore pleased to see a good cake selection with 4 big sponges and plenty of traybakes. I awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) score.
A wide cake selection to chose from
I went for a chocolate sponge and Andrew a chocolate oat slice plus a cappuccino.. 

Our refreshments soon arrived although we both found the drinks a bit disappointing. However the cake and oat slice were both very good and just what was needed to get our energy levels back up (you can always rely on cake) making this a very pleasant stop.
Todays cake and drink offering
Re-energised we were off again but I soon had my second cyber attack of the day as this time the cycle Sat Nav stopped showing the route and we with no paper map we were now stranded out in the wilds off Norfolk. I feared it might not be World War 3 that did for us but hyperthermia and starvation. Fortunately before either of them kicked in I was able to use my IT expertise again and by skillfully switching my Garmin 1000 on and off I miraculous resolved the problem and we were on our way.

Despite it once again being cold and damp it had been another excellent ride. Next week I have 3 more rides planned when hopefully the weather would have warmed up and maybe a few layers can be discarded. I have also invited Mr Putin and Mr Trump to come along to sort their problems out as I know anything can be resolved out on a bike ride, especially if cake is involved.

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

Click her to download 52 mile Aylsham Hemsby loop gpx file to your GPS

Saturday 7 April 2018

What no art. (Thornham Deli, Thornham)

Thornham Deli,
Opening times Everyday 8:30-17:00,
Highly Recommended 
Today I was going to attempt to combine culture with cycling by popping into Damien Hirst's (who is an artist) exhibition during today's cafe cycle ride. Big George was my cycling guest and informed me that he is not only a rugby loving Scotsman but a bit of a culture vulture as well, apparently.

To make todays adventure possible we would be starting from Fakenham then doing a 50 mile loop to take in Damien's stuff at Houghton Hall followed by a stop at Thornham Deli (which incidentally was recommended to me by a cyclist wearing wellies, but that's another story.)

We arrived at Fakenham town centre car park to discover that 6 hours of pay and display would cost us £3.80. Unlike the typical rugby loving scottish stereotype Big George immediately offered to chip in. He dug into his pocket and offered me a Euro and a 5p piece. I accepted the generous 5p contribution, purchased our pay and display and we were off.
One of the many views available to us in North West Norfolk (hope you like sky)
Houghton Hall was well sign posted and only a few miles into our ride. On the way we discussed the latest news of our student sons (2 each) who were back from university. We agreed how when we were at Uni we went to more lectures, did more work and got up before lunchtime (probably) unlike the youth of today blah, blah, blah, rant, rant, rant, aren't old people great etc etc. 

When we arrived at Houghton Hall we discovered that it was not only students but Artists how can't be bothered to get up in the morning as Damien didn't open up until 11.00am and it was currently only 10. I did spot some cows in the grounds so took a photo of them in case they were concrete, stuffed or pickled ones and an exhibit (they weren't).
A possible exhibit of concrete cows at Houghton Hall
With Art now off today's agenda we had to refocus on the cafe part of the mission and sped on to Thornham with the wind behind. Unfortunately for the last section we had to turn into a strong gale. It is always difficult to chat when cycling into the wind with anyone and as I normally can't understand anything Big George says, as he speaks in Scotch, then conversation became impossible until we arrived at Thornham Deli.
At Thornham Deli 
Even though it was only 11:30 the deli was packed and we were lucky to get a table. While Big George kept guad of our seats I went to check out the cake selection, which was an excellent one with everything a good effective cake selection (ECS) should have, including brownie to check out for Brownie of the year #BOTY.
Today's cake selection
I was informed that everything in the ECS was made on site. I naturally selecting the brownie. Big George ordered a cappuccino and ham sandwich. As a ham sandwich is not cake he took no further part in any cake reviewing activities during our visit.

Our drinks arrived and were both top drawer scoring well in their relative hot drink categories
Cakes and drinks and Big Georges phone (which is neither a cake or a drink)
The brownie was excellent too and easily made it into my current top 8 contenders for the brownie off in December. I even took another piece home for Mrs Crusader and the parasites to taste and confirm it's high quality. (for a full list of the current top 8 brownies, with photos, go to the new cake crusader website)
Excellent brownie
Thornham Deli had proved to be a high quality stop, making up for the lack of modern art on today's ride. I highly recommended a visit but it appears to be busy venue at peak times although they do do take away coffee and cake as well.

The way back was into the wind and fairly hilly so, probably due to lack of cake, Big George fell behind. As I waited longer and longer at each junction I could easily have read a book or even written one. Which reminds me I have recently written a book which is available at Amazon or on Kindle (click here for details) and from next week will be stocked at Jarrolds in Norwich.

Cover of the sort of book I would have had time to write while waiting for Big George
We eventually made it back to the car park where I decide that it was probably a good job that the art exhibition had been closed as due to the speed we returned at our pay and display would have certainly run out although I'm sure Big George would have chipped in another 5p towards any fine..

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

Click here to downlaod 54 mile Fakenham Hunstanton Loop gpx file for your GPS