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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Friday, 27 July 2018

Scorchio! (The Barn, Stanfield)

The Barn Cafe,
Stanfield,
Opening times 10-4 everyday 
Recommended 

As today was forecast to be the hottest of the year I couldn’t miss the opportunity for a cafe cycle ride. But where to go? Now we were in the school holidays the seaside was out of the question, towns would be too hot and I have virtually run out of new cafes to visit in the countryside. Fortunately I remembered that the Barn cafe at Stanfield had changed hands last Autumn so decided to go there.

It was closer to get to from Aylsham than Norwich so met up at Hard to Please House with today’s cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please).

I had asked Andrew to prepare a route so knew we would do more than the 40 mile round trip that google maps predicted and would probably get lost servers times. I can report I was right on both counts.

On one of our many map checking breaks I waited at the aptly named Nowhere Lane. I was impressed by the shiny new signs and remembered that last time we were lost here the old sign had been nicked. I wonder how long the new batch will last.

Lovely new signage
It was very hot and for once we were pleased to be cycling into the wind in order to get a bit of cooling breeze. After a few more wrong turns we found ourselves at the Barn cafe Stanfield. This is my third visit here (although first under new management so old scores have been wiped from the records) and so far I have never found the actual village.


Outside The Barn Cafe
It was good to see that everyone, except us, had taken heed of the warnings in the media to stay indoors on such a hot day as we were the only customers. With so many tables to choose from it took some time to decide on which one but we obviously opted to stay indoors. While checking out the reasonably good cake selection I thought I spotted the dreaded catering tin of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate. You may recall my new policy is not to bother if it’s Cadbury’s and give a 5 out of 10 hot chocolate rating before opting for tea. I was just implementing this approach when I spotted a sign for speciality hot chocolate so swapped to that leaving Andrew to have my pot of tea and the staff bemused why anyone would want a hot chocolate on the hottest day of the year.



Cake selection in the shade
Andrew had the unusual avocado and pecan cake which he was informed tasted like carrot cake while I had a more traditional coffee and walnut.



Todays refreshments
I was glad I had changed to the hot chocolate as it was very good and Andrew thought his tea was excellent (for a cup of tea). Our cakes were good and Andrew’s did indeed taste just like carrot cake. I thought it would be easier just to make a carrot based version in future but didn’t pass on my feedback.

The ‘new’ Barn was still a good cafe but now without the home and garden section of the previous version and I recommend a visit.

Did I mention it was hot as it was and it got a lot hotter on way back especially as Andrew had made our 40 mile ride into a 47 mile one with none of the extra 7 miles being in the shade.

View showing just how hot it was today
 Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.9
7.0
6.1
7.3
7.1
7.08
Route

Click here to download 48 Mile Aylsham Stanfield loop gpx file to your gps

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Rations (Poppylands Cafe, Horsey)

Poppylands Cafe,
Horsey,
Wed-Mon 10-4,
Highly Recommended
After my recent trips to the Pyrenees and South coast the time had come to return to bread and butter cycle cafe reviewing with a trip nearer to home. To demonstrate my outdoor activity flexibility then next weekend I will be walking part of the Norfolk coast path with 8 rambling guests. I had recently put Mrs Crusader in charge of catering for this expedition but, despite not doing any research, claimed she was struggling to find an option for Saturday lunchtime. As Norfolk’s number one self appointed cafe expert I suggested that Poppylands at Horsey could be a good choice. The only problem was I had never actually been there to test out it’s suitability.

I therefore teamed up with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) on a 50 mile round trip from Hard to Please House to check it out.

I can’t remember if I have mentioned that I had recently been on a 450 mile, 11 climb (4 of which on the current TdF) ride across the Pyrenees with Andrew. But I have and as such we were both feeling pretty fit so enjoyed our fastest ever ride until we found Poppylands cafe just pass Horsey Mill on the coast road.
Poppylands is 1940's themed
I hadn’t realised that Poppylands was 1940s themed and hoped that tea and cake won’t be rationed. I became less worried as there was a good cake selection which would have used up several ration books. I had lemon sponge and Andrew chocolate cake.
Sponge cake selection
Andrew was clearly worried about rationing to, so demanded that his tea was strong. We returned to the 1940s themed courtyard and waited for our refreshments. 
Refreshments
They soon turned up but as Andrew poured his tea I could see a rant brewing (pardon the pun) as it looked a bit on the weak side. Before he could get started another lady came haring out with extra tea bags, hot water and mug apologising that the tea had not been delivered to the necessary strength and he was welcome to make it up to his desired strength. Andrew was most impressed and we agreed Poppylands was an excellent stop. The cakes were also fabulous and we were both impressed that the chocolate one had retained its moistness. I would highly recommend a visit.

Now fuelled with cake and with the wind behind our return ride was even faster and we started to believe that we were actually good cyclists (we are not) as we started to plan next years over ambitious trip to ride all the big climbs in the Alps. To round off an excellent day then on my return to Crusader Towers I was able to submit a report to 'head of catering on long walks' that Poppylands would make an excellent stop for our forthcoming bike free adventure.
Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.5
7
6.8
8.71
7.8
7.36
Route

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

By the Seaside on National Cycle route 2 Day 6 (Hastings to Dover)

By the seaside on NCR2 day 6
Deblyns Tea Shop,
New Romney
Comemos Deli,
Folkestone
It was the final day of our cafe cycle ride across the South Coast and it came with a deadline, as we had to catch the 4:20 from Dover to London if we were to make it home to Norwich tonight. For this reason Mrs Crusader insisted on an early alarm and we were breakfasted and packed with pedals down by 7:45am.
Pedals down from Hastings at 7:45am
After yesterday’s long haul up through Hastings we took a more direct route back to cycle route 2 which was waiting for us near the coast. It was good to see the sea again even if we did have to climb up to the top of the sea defences to take a peak.
First view of the sea today
There then followed the best sections of county lanes and off-road paths that we have had all week so despite being into a strong wind progress was good.
Some nice tracks and lanes to enjoy
It was a long stretch before our first cafe break but we had another visit to the coast and this time were allowed to ride on the sea defences and enjoy the seaside ambiance.
Riding on the sea defences
Next things got very bleak and we saw virtually no one as the landscape looked like something post apocalyptic. I expected to come face to face with a zombie at any moment although I didn’t as I think they only come out in a full moon (or is that werewolves).
All a bit bleak as we cycled across Romney Marshes
We then took a short detour to our refreshment destination in New Romney. This was a very twee tea shop and not the sort you would expect to find Zombies in, and we fortunately didn't.
Outside our first tea shop of the day
It only had a 2 cake or scone selection but the cakes looked good. I went for the cherry and cream chocolate sponge and Mrs Crusader the coffee cake.
Cakes and drinks
The cakes and drinks scored well and the pleasant outdoor seating area made Deblyns another excellent find.
A very pleasant outdoor seating area
The next section was a game of two halves. The first was across Romney Marshes and into a strong wind. It went along some pleasant little lanes and tracks with the one running alongside a canal being particularly good.
Further progress across Kent
The second half went along the prom at Hythe, which was deserted. Mrs Crusader awarded it first place in the best prom of the week to cycle on category.
Fabulous long section of prom by the sea
At Hythe we had our final cafe stop at The Comemos Deli. Sadly a large building and badly parked car obscured any possible views of the sea.
Final cafe stop but a restricted sea view
The cake selection was very interesting as Mrs Crusader opted for chocolate orange cake (with real chocolate orange) while I went for crunchy cake (with real crunchy).
Chocolate bar based cakes
Again the cafe performed well on all fronts but not quite good enough to make the podium. As an aside the lunch we had here was the best all week however my number one seaside cafe on NCR2 is the Hideaway at Seaton which was the very first cafe we went to making the next five and a half days a bit of a waste of time really.
The Hideaway at Seaton was the number one south coast seaside cafe
There were just 10 more miles to go but once through Folkestone the route went sharply up on to the cliff tops slowing progress but offering stunning views of the town below.
Final climb offered great views
Then round the next corner the famous white cliffs appeared and we knew our journey was nearly at an end.
The white cliffs at Dover
With a final few ups and downs we had made it to Dover station and thanks to Mrs Crusader, making us set off extra early this morning, we still had enough time for a quick day trip to France before our train was due to depart.
Arriving at our final destination with much time to spare
Our Six day, 300 mile, 12 cafe cycle ride across the South Coast was over. But what had I learnt.
1. Cafes by the sea always rate higher than the equivalent inland
2. Mrs Crusader still doesn’t like hills or being jiggered on her bike
3. Based on a survey of 3 then pensioners in Sussex don’t like cyclists.
4. Mrs Crusader can now name, in order from West to East, all the counties across the south coast except the one beginning with H which she always forgets.
5. The perfect cycle ride is about 50 miles, on flat tarmac, in sight of the sea and on a crisp winters day. I’m still working on delivering it.
6. Not only does cycle route 2 end at Dover but cycle route 1 starts there, which has given me an idea.........
National cycle route 2 Cafes
Cafe
Hot Chocolate
Quality
Guest Hot Drink
Quality
Cake Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Total
The Hideaway
6.9
7
7.8
8.1
9.3
7.82
Symondsbury Kitchen
5
7.8
6.3
7.9
8.2
7.04
Moreton Tearooms
6.8
7
5.7
7.4
8.1
7.10
Knoll Beach Cafe
5
7.5
5
7.5
6
6.10
Rosie Leas Tea room
6.4
7.5
7
7.2
7
7.02
The Beach Hut Cafe
6.1
7.5
6
8.3
8.1
7.2
Spade and Fork
5
7.5
7.1
7.75
6.1
6.69
Sea Lane Café
5.5
7.5
9
7.2
6.8
7.2
Arlingtons Tea Garden
7.1
7.5
8.3
8.4
8
7.76
Hughie’s Beach Cafe
5.2
7
5.5
6.9
8.3
6.58
Deblyns
7
7.5
5.1
8.1
7.9
7.12
Comemos Deli
6.1
7.5
7.4
8
6.7
7.14

Route
Click here to download 56 mile Hastings to Dover GPX file to your gps
Profile


Stats
Route
Miles
Average Mph
Time on Bike
Metres climbed
Exmouth to Puncknowle
54.8
10
5:28
1551
Punckowle to Christchurch
52.1
10.42
5:00
650
Christchurch to Portsmouth
47
10.74
4:22
340
Portsmouth to Brighton
57.8
10.95
5:16
166
Brighton to Hastings
50.2
9.9
5:04
707
Hastings to Dover
54.7
10.24
5:20
527
Totals
316.6
10.38
30:30
3941

Monday, 9 July 2018

By the Seaside on National Cycle route 2 Day 5 (Brighton to Hastings)

By the seaside on NCR2 day 5
Arlingtons Tea Garden
Arlington,
Hughie’s Beach Cafe,
Bexhill
Today was planned to be the easiest day as it was the shortest ride and apart from a sting in the tail it looked pretty flat. I was also hoping that all the weekend beach goers, cluttering up the proms, would be back at work making our progress easier. Despite this it appeared that Mrs Crusader was getting into the swing insisting that we still had an early breakfast and pedals down by 8:30.
Pedals down at 8:30 by Brighton Pier
We started off by leaving Brighton on a nice cycle track adjacent to the beach before reaching the main road. This soon diverted into housing estates criss crossing roads as the the cycle path regularly and unexpectedly switched pavement. For the second time in two days Mrs Crusader was subjected to cycle rage from the local pensioners when she accidentally missed the correct piece of cycle path. As she carefully scooted her bike along, while trying to locate the proper bit, she was rudely advised where to go and to get off the pavement. Sussex has definitely won the prize for the least friendly county to cycle in.
Leaving Brighton on the cycle paths
The next big town we came to was Newhaven. I was particularly excited as it would mean we would be following the Avenue Verte for the next few miles. You may remember that myself and Big George cycled all the Avenue Verte (London to Paris) in 2014 on my very first long distance cafe based adventure. You can relive it here (London to Paris on Avenue Verte day 1) whereas l kindly made Mrs Crusader relive it first hand thus saving her the bother.
Cycling on the Avenue Verte for the second time in 4 years
From here the route really picked up as we cycled along side some pretty stony beaches.
A pretty stony beach
Then we headed inland through some delightful country lanes with no grumpy pensioners in site.
Grumpy free pensioner villages
In fact we even got the odd cheery wave from the passing cars we pulled over for plus a nice chat with another couple of cyclists riding from Brighton to Hastings for charity. They couldn’t understand why we were doing the same thing for fun (for 6 days!). We were therefore in good spirits when we arrived at today’s first cafe the Arlington tea gardens in Arlington.
Arlington tea gardens
It was a perfect day to sit in a tea garden so a high atmosphere and ambiance score was awarded. As was the score for the large cake selection. I went for the gluten free chocolate and avocado cake while Mrs Crusader had a strawberry and white chocolate muffin.
The tea garden seating area
My cake was ok but I have decided that I prefer them with the gluten but Mrs Crusader claimed her muffin was the best cake she had had, not just this week but ever.
Cake selection featuring Mrs Crusaders best cake ever
Not surprisingly this put the Arlington tea rooms high up my seaside cafe league table and straight into second place (and top of the non sea view cafes). Over cakes I warned Mrs Crusader the next section had bumpy off road. Fortunately it wasn’t that bad and the main obstacle were the hoards of young people doing their Duke of Edinburgh award swarming in the area.
A bit of off road action
Once back on the road we headed down to the coast again for some more pleasant riding along the seafront with far fewer people about on the proms than over the weekend.
Cycling on the pedestrian free proms
This took us to our second cafe stop of the day but for the first time this week my target venue was shut. As we were in the seaside resort of Bexhill on sea it was easy to find another one so we stopped at the next cafe with a sea view which was Hughie’s.
Hughies Beach hut
As it had not been properly researched it was no surprise that the cake selection was small and the drinks average. My ginger cake and Mrs Crusaders fruit scone (with glacier cherries, argh!) we’re both nice without being special. 
Average selection of cakes and drinks
The main thing Hughie’s had going for it was the sea view which we enjoyed for sometime as they had managed to lose our food order despite it being the only one they currently had.
Waiting for lunch to turn up
With food chased down it was back along the coast for some of the best seaside views we had had.
Lovely sea views
In no time we had made it to Hastings. It may have been the eerie feel to Hastings partially burnt down pair or the fact it was the only one on this stage of the route but either way it was clear winner of today’s pier of the day.
Hastings pier was pier of the day
It had been an excellent ride so far and with only 4 miles to our hotel we were looking at a nice early finish. But those 4 miles headed in land across Hastings and featured some very steep hills. I have made a note to research hotel altitude locations better on any future trips. On the positive side at least we start tomorrow at the top of a hill.
Walking up Hastings
Tomorrow is our final day when we are due to reach the end point of national cycle route 2 in Dover. However it looks like being fought with danger as we have tickets for the 4:20 train. It is the second longest stage, has several unknown off road sections and there is a strong wind against us so it’s still all to play for.

Tomorrows weather forecast


National cycle route 2 Cafes
Cafe
Hot Chocolate
Quality
Guest Hot Drink
Quality
Cake Selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Total
The Hideaway
6.9
7
7.8
8.1
9.3
7.82
Symondsbury Kitchen
5
7.8
6.3
7.9
8.2
7.04
Moreton Tearooms
6.8
7
5.7
7.4
8.1
7.10
Knoll Beach Cafe
5
7.5
5
7.5
6
6.10
Rosie Leas Tea room
6.4
7.5
7
7.2
7
7.02
The Beach Hut Cafe
6.1
7.5
6
8.3
8.1
7.2
Spade and Fork
5
7.5
7.1
7.75
6.1
6.69
Sea Lane Café
5.5
7.5
9
7.2
6.8
7.2
Arlingtons Tea Garden
7.1
7.5
8.3
8.4
8
7.76
Hughie’s Beach Cafe
5.2
7
5.5
6.9
8.3
6.58
Deblyns






Comemos Deli






Route

Click here to download 50 mile Brighton to Hastings GPX file to your gps

Profile


Stats
Route
Miles
Average Mph
Time on Bike
Metres climbed
Exmouth to Puncknowle
54.8
10
5:28
1551
Punckowle to Christchurch
52.1
10.42
5:00
650
Christchurch to Portsmouth
47
10.74
4:22
340
Portsmouth to Brighton
57.8
10.95
5:16
166
Brighton to Hastings
50.2
9.9
5:04
707
Hastings to Dover




Totals
261.9
10.0
25:10
3414