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

Saturday 22 September 2018

Norfolk cycle parkrun challenge stage 9. (Tall Orders, Thetford)

Tall Orders,
Mon-Sat 8:30-4:30, Sun 9-4,
Hopefully you have been following my attempt (as suggested by my co conspirator Mark) to cycle from our local parkrun in Norwich to all 13 parkruns in Norfolk. Wherever possible I have also taken the opportunity to combine it with an appropriate cycle cafe review. The plan had been to do the majority of the rides over the summer months but due to holidays and other commitments we only managed to do two in that period meaning that as of today we still had five left. 

It was therefore dark when the alarm went off and still dark when I arrived at Eaton Park bandstand for le Grande Depart at 6.15. As always there were no big crowds, or in fact anyone, to see us off. Worse still there wasn't even Mark. When he did turn up he explained that his bike was stuck on the big front cog and he couldn't shift it. Using my limited bike maintenance skills (which usually consist of hitting the broken bit) I was unable to help having left all my hammers at home.

We decided he would just have to ride in the big cog and to show solidarity I said I would as well (and I did).
About to set off from our normal start point
The ride down was into a strong headwind and with the delay at the start we were soon behind the clock. Mark suggested we got into our now well tuned cycle train formation and offered to take first go at the front to shield me from the wind. After half a mile I felt it was my turn to take the next pull. I did, for about 4 miles, until Mark kindly did a second half mile stint leaving me to be the wind break for the rest of the 32 mile trip to Thetford.

Thanks to Mark's two half mile efforts we were able to arrive at Thetford in plenty of time. When we got there I was greeted by a chap asking if I was the Cake Crusader (which I am) and was somewhat taken aback by his knowledge. He explained the race director had seen my tweet saying I was coming and had let everyone know that a Z rated local celebrity (which I'm not) was coming today. It was a very warm welcome and we also got a special cheer when introduced on the start line as the two people from Norwich who had cycled there.
Start of Thetford parkrun where we got a special mention
The course is the most complex and varied todate with two laps of three different coloured zones (red, green and blue) although they are only coloured on the map and not, as I had hoped, in real life. It was a very enjoyable run and thanks to the inspiring start line applause I managed to finish in 3rd place, although as we know parkrun is a run not a race so that's not important (and if you believe that....). 

When Mark finally turned up the race director kindly took our end of race run photo and we set off for the target cafe impressed by what a nice and friendly parkrun Thetford was.
End of race photo. Mark has clearly not tried hard enough as he is able to smile
Today's target cafe was Tall Orders in the Thetford continental style pedestrianised area. This is the second cafe in the Norfolk area with this name (they are not connected) which is a strange coincidence.
Outside Tall orders
We decided to make use of the outdoor seating area so as not to have to lock our bikes. Inside the cake selection had the widest range of diary, gluten free and vegan cakes I had ever seen so got a reasonable effective cake selection (ECS) score. However I am a fan of gluten and diary so opted for the 'normal' lemon meringue cake while Mark went for a cheese scone with his americano.
Today's cake selection
I also bought two vegan brownies to take away as part of my search for Brownie of the year #BOTY (note: they were very impressive but slightly cakier than you standard brownie so just out of the running).
First ever Vegan brownie
Mark has now become an experienced cycle cafe reviewer so knew that his cheese scone should be warmed. He also knew that you must not request it to be, so there was some tension as we waited for our well earned refreshments to arrive.
Waiting for refreshments in the continental style outdoor seating area
Sadly it turned up cold (remember cheese scone hot, fruit scone not) although it was still a good one with plenty of cheese. My cake was fine but not spectacular as was my hot chocolate although Mark thought his coffee was excellent being nice and strong.
Refreshment selection
Tall Orders was a very pleasant cafe stop and I recommend a visit especially if you have any sort of food intolerance as they seemed to have it all covered.

With the wind behind Mark offered to take the lead at the front on the way home which was pointless in the conditions and he didn't even last very long before normal service was resumed. Hopefully he will have his bike fixed in time for our trip to Swaffham in 3 weeks.

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

Click here to download 63 mile Norwich Thetford Loop gpx file for your gps

Thursday 20 September 2018

Spreading the word. (The Hideout Cafe, Halesworth)

The Hideout Cafe,
Mon-Sat 9:00-4,
Highly Recommended
Things have been quiet on the new cafe front as it is nearly 6 weeks since I was able to review a new establishment. Unfortunately the holiday season has meant a lack of cycling guests and Cake Crusader rules clearly state that at least one cycling guest is required for an official cafe review to be undertaken. 

As follows on Facebook and Twitter will know I haven't been idle as their news feeds have been inundated with pictures of brownies as part of my search for Brownie of the year (#BOTY). (See here for latest news)
One of my current top brownies
Today Big George was available to pick up cycling guest duties having recently returned from a few days cycling in Yorkshire. He also turned up with a new bike, as he wanted one with disc brakes, so he was excited to be getting back on the cafe and cake trail (as long as he didn't have to eat any cake). It reminded me that I too have recently identified a gap in my bicycle collection which needs to be addressed and would make an ideal Christmas gift.

Today's trip would require a short car ride over the border to Suffolk. I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned it before but I published my first (and probably only) book earlier this year (still available on Amazon or at the Jarrold book department in Norwich) and I had heard a rumour that a second hand copy had been spotted in the information section of the Hideout cafe in Halesworth. I therefore planned a 45 mile route in the area to take in the cafe and see if it was true.

After loading our bikes into the car we headed off to Mendham where there was a community car park we could start our ride from. It was very windy and despite Big Georges recent hill training in Yorkshire it was still a battle to get any speed up into a very strong head wind.
A very dramatic and windy Suffolk 
Big George told me about how he had started to listen to mindfulness for cyclists broadcasts on his phone. He explained how it teaches you not to think about cycling into the wind as hard work but to be as one with the environment, blah, blah yawn, yawn.  Apparently this will help you relax and de-stress on your rides making it a more enjoyable experience. He then entered a zen like state while I continued to battle away being keen to get to the cafe as soon as I could.

As we got nearer to Halesworth we changed direction and the wind was now behind us and became both of our friends. We were pushed rapidly along and arrived in the town centre via a very nice stretch of off road tarmac cycle track.
Excellent off road section into Halesworth
We found the Hideout cafe at the start of the Halesworth pedestrianised area.
Outside the Hideout cafe in their outside seating area
After quickly locking our bikes it was straight to check the cake selection (which was a bit limited today but is often much bigger at busier times). Note: on a second visit in 2019 there was indeed a much bigger selection. I then over to the unit that was full of leaflets and tourist information. There under a pile of discount vouchers for the nearby zoo I found my book.
The Cake Crusader book now on full display in the Hideout cafe
I quickly took it out and stood it up in pride of place where I hoped it would get more attention. Although during the half hour that we were there it didn't.

The cakes are homemade on the premises. I ordered some date cake with my hot chocolate while Big George had an Americano and scrambled egg on toast. I pointed out that scrambled egg on toast is not cake but he said he might have some later although we both knew he wouldn't and he didn't.
My date cake
Our drinks were both good and strong and scored well with the cake being OK. Note on my second visit the cakes were excellent with Mrs Crusader rating her banana and chocolate cake as one of the best ever! I would Highly recommend a visit to the Hideout cafe especially due to the excellent selection of book in the local information area. If you do go please can you make sure the book remains in full view, thanks 😀.
Excellent drinks
From the cafe it was only a few more miles back to the car and while Big George got back into the zone I started planning how I was going to be able to track down more second hand copies of my book at local charity shops and jumble sales, I felt a spreadsheet coming on. I also wanted to visit the nearby Zoo as I now had lots of half price vouchers but unfortunately there wasn't time for that.

With a now full complement of cycling guests available again I have a number of rides coming up, starting this Saturday when I return to the Norfolk Cycle parkrun challenge with a visit to Thetford.

Scores based on two visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 45 mile Mendham Halesworth loop gpx file to your gps