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


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Revisited. (The Nest Egg Cafe, Wymondham)

The Nest Egg Cafe,
Wymondham,
Mon-Sat 9:00-3:30 (closed Wed),
Sun 10:00-3:00
Recommended
After last weeks gales the weather seems to have settled down in time for some cafe cycling opportunities this week. I therefore persuaded Mrs Crusader to join me on a trip to the newly opened Nest Egg cafe in Wymondham.

I have now been doing this blog for over 5 years and in this time this is the 3rd change of ownership (and name) of this cafe. Just after it had opened in its previous incantation (as the Garden tearooms) I took Mrs Crusader there as a treat for forgetting our 25th wedding anniversary the day before (I even bought her a fruit scone and let her try my chocolate cake) see Marital Bliss.This time I needed no such excuse (although I did recently forget our 29th anniversary) as we repeated the route from that trip via Attleborough 

On arrival at the Nest Egg we were pleased to find that they still let you take your bicycle round the back to a secure garden area.
Outside the Nest Egg Cafe
Inside not too much had changed and the library style indoor seating area was still there and was empty so we decided to treat ourselves and sit on  comfy sofas. 
Opted for the comfy sofa library style indoor seating area
Learning from my mistake when I last bought Mrs Crusader here I let her have a fruit scone AND chocolate cake. I went for the coffee cake and also a fruit scone to try out in my fruit scone of the year search #FSOTY.
Todays cakes and drinks
The cakes were proper homemade ones and very good. My hot chocolate was of Cadburys type so didn't score too well but Mrs Crusaders black americano coffee was a good solid effort. The scones were the largest and tastiest to date this year, if a bit on the crumbly side.
Excellent fruit scone
After totting up the scores then the Nest Egg Cafe had scored 0.1 higher than its predecessor so if you liked the Garden Tea rooms you should like here as well, by 0.1 more in fact.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5
7
6.1
7.87
7.2
6.63

Map of route

Click here to download 31 mile Norwich Attleborough loop gpx file for your GPS


Friday, 8 February 2019

Reckless. (Tickety Boo Garden cafe, Thurston)

Tickety Boo Garden Cafe,
Thurston,
Tue-Fri 9:30-4:00, Sat 10:00-4:00
Highly Recommended
Despite it being a mild winter it has been a bad one in the world of cafe cycle riding. I have had a number of rides postponed this year as rain, wind, ice and snow have corresponded with my plans. It has meant that I have only managed to visit two new cafes in the first 6 weeks of the year. So when I woke up this morning to the sound of howling winds I thought that another trip had bitten the dust.

However today's cycling guest, Big George, was also frustrated by the lack of recent pedalling action so despite a forecast promising 50 mph gusting winds we decided to be reckless and go on our ride.

With well over 250 cafes and tearooms visited in the region I had pretty much run out of new venues to visit that could be cycled to from home. This has meant now driving away from Norwich to start my rides. Today we drove to Knettishall country park car park to cycle in the Breckland area.

On arrival I realised that this was an opportunity for a new feature (and spreadsheet) as I would start my search for the top ten free car parks to cycle from. Knettishall country park car park scored 7.3 and goes straight to number one.
Knettishall Country park car park.
My current number 1 rated free car park to start a cycle ride from
The first few miles were with the wind so we flew along but then we turned south and were hit by strong cross winds. The real danger came whenever there was a gap in the hedge as the wind would try and lift you off the road and pop you into the nearest hedge. We both rode at a 45 degree angle as we battle this section and safely made it to the next wind based challenge.

When we turned West we were now straight into the wind and progress almost ground to a halt. You know you are in trouble when you are pedalling really hard in your easiest gear when going down hill.

We had only done 18 miles but were completely shattered when we reached today's venue , Tickety Boo Garden Cafe in the village of Thurston.
Outside Tickety Boo's trying to stay upright in the wind
Much to our surprise we were not the only cyclists stupid enough to go riding today as we had been beaten there by a group of riders from Diss CC.

Big George had not been happy when I had told him the name of today's cafe as he felt it would be far too twee for his hard man Scottish image. However he was quite impressed with the venue as there were fried things on the menu and sausage rolls on the counter. For me they had an excellent cake selection plus fruit scones which I immediately entered into my fruit scone of the year competition #FSOTY.
A very fine effective cake selection
I went for ginger cake and dark hot chocolate (always good sign when you are given a choice between milk and dark) and Big George an americano and sausage roll (which is still not cake).
Today's drinks and cakes
Our drinks were both excellent and scored highly although Big George would have liked his coffee a bit hotter. My cake was very nice although I could have taken a bit more ginger. Although not part of my rating system Big George said it was the best sausage roll he had had since we had made rare breed pigs even rarer with our rare pig sausage rolls at Itteringham post office several years ago (see Black Friday).

We both thought Tickety Boo was an excellent, and cycle friendly, stop and I would highly recommend a visit.

It was still windy on the way back but at least we had it behind for the last few miles (just after I had been blown into a ditch, which was nice).

Just before we got back to the car park I saw a sign saying we were leaving the Brecks, I thought a catchy name for this would be a Brexit but I had a feeling I had heard that term somewhere before although I couldn't remember when.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.8
7
8.65
7.5
7.8
7.75
Route

Click here to download 37.5 mile Thetford Bury St Edmunds loop gpx file on your gps

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Dogs! (Blackberry Tea Rooms, Wymondham)

Blackberry Tearooms,
Wymondham,
Mon-Fri 9:00-6:00, Sat 9:00-4:00
Highly Recommended
My hunt for fruit scone of the year, #FSOTY, has got off to a poor start with bad weather curtailing some rides and no fruit scones available at my selected stops on the others. I was therefore hoping for better luck on today's ride with Mrs Crusader.

I had recently heard about a new tearoom near Wymondham that was within Mrs Crusaders 30 mile winter ride limit. The only problem was it was at a dog training and grooming centre. For doggy people this probably sounds like a good thing however despite giving the appearance of being a big strong chap (who has done 4 ironman triathlons, although I don't like to talk about them) I'm actually a little bit afraid of our canine friends as I'm convinced they are out to get me.

If I was going to continue to be the self proclaimed number one cycle cafe reviewer (in the South Norfolk region) I felt it was my duty to man up and check it out. Mrs Crusader promised I could hold her hand if necessary.

On the ride out we passed some sheep who I have more empathy with as they are not big doggy fans either.
Empathetic sheep
After 20 miles of winter riding we found the Blackberry Tea rooms just outside Wymondham. There was a nice outdoor seating area, a play area (for dogs) plus a dog obstacle course training area type thing.
Outside the Blackberry Tearooms
Inside there were lots of people and they all had dogs, whereas we just had bicycles. I bravely went inside and checked out the cake selection which was a very good one and included doggy cupcakes. 
Good looking cake selection
As bonus on a Tuesday you get a 10% discount so my hot chocolate and coffee cake and Mrs Crusaders Americano and white chocolate cake came to less than a tenner. The only issue was once again no fruit scones although they did say they had plain and cheese ones (not that helped). 

Without making any dog based eye contact I managed to make it safely to the comfy sofa in the corner. Here there were cushions I could hide behind in an emergency. Our drinks and cakes arrived and we were both impressed with them. The coffee cake being the star attraction.
Cakes and drinks
Mrs Crusader then spotted an old work colleague with her two dogs and went over to pat them as she was lept upon (by the dogs not the work colleague). I hid behind my emergency cushion.

Despite the presence of our four legged friends the Blackberry Tea rooms proved to be an excellent stop with good refreshments. I would highly recommend a visit, especially if you own a dog, like dogs or are a dog. 

Even with my cynophobia tendencies it had been a very enjoyable ride but I was no further forward on the #FSOTY front. Therefore on my next ride I shall be going to Holt to visit a number of cafes and tea rooms and won't leave until at least 3 fruit scones have been tested.
Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.9
7
7.3
8.1
7.2
7.30

Map of Route


Click here to download 28 mile Norwich Wymondham loop GPX file for your GPS

Friday, 4 January 2019

Debt. (Ber Street Kitchen, Norwich)

The Ber Street Kitchen,
Norwich,
Mon-Sat 8:00-6:00, Sun 9:00-3:00
Highly Recommended
Since the exciting end to 2018, of the Brownie of the Year (#BOTY) ride, I have had a break from the world of cafe cycle riding. However as we now enter a new year it is time to dust off the bike and get back on my mission; to finding the best cafes and tea rooms to visit on your cycle ride.

Being the first ride of the year it was time to announce what my thing of the year would be. So this morning I took to my twitter feed to announce that I would be searching for the best fruit scone (#FSOTY pronounced fsoty) on this years rides. As most outlets offer a fruit scone option I hope to be able to check out a lot more than the 50 brownies I managed last year. 

I was pleased that Big George would be today's cycling guest. For anyone who read the exciting BOTY post they would know that Big George fell off and broke his bike. I had helped repair it but needed to use my spare chain as his had bent and was now useless. He therefore owed me nearly £30 for a new one and promised to pay up on our next trip (ie today).

The plan for our ride was to do a 30 mile loop, involving Loddon, before returning to Norwich to test out the Ber Street Kitchen of which I had heard good things. When Big George arrived I casually mentioned the £30 debt and he assured me he had come ready with reimbursement. I assured him that there was no hurry to repay me (which was a lie) as I did again on the other 10 occasions I mentioned it during the ride.

It was very very very cold today but Santa had done us both proud on the cycle clothing front so we were as warm as current technology could make us although by the time we got back to Norwich we were no longer in contact with our extremities.

As we were cafeing in a big town I had brought along my super strong gold rated belt lock which I had worn throughout the ride. There was a cycle rack thing outside the Ber Street Kitchen which meant we could keep an eye on the bikes anyway meaning I needn't have bother lugging an extra 3kg round with me.
In the continental style outdoor pavement seating area at the Ber Street Kitchen
Even in these Siberian conditions the Ber Street cafe had set up their continental style outdoor pavement seating area although surprisingly it was free from any patrons today and we were certainly not going to use it.

Inside I checked out the cake selection which had some excellent looking sponge cakes so I awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) rating despite there being an absence of fruit scones.
A good looking cake selection
There was hipster feel to interior which was right up Big Georges atmosphere and ambiance (AAA) street so got high marks in this category too.

With my hot chocolate I had chocolate cake while Big George went for a fancy named cheese sandwich thing (which is not cake) with his americano.

Big George thought his coffee was excellent and awarded a high guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) mark. My hot chocolate was one of the best I can remember and got a massive 9 out of 10. The chocolate cake was nice but not exceptional enough for top cake marks.
Today's cakes and drinks
The Ber Street Kitchen had scored really well just missing out on a place in my coveted top 10 by 0.06 of a mark. I will be surprised if I visit many better cafes or tea rooms this year so I highly recommend a visit.

It was now time for the main business of the day when Big George would release himself from his debt. As I waited Big George started to check his pockets with increasing urgency before announcing that he couldn't find where he had put the money and now suspected that he he had forgotten to pick it up when he left home. I told him it didn't matter (it did) and urgently arranged another ride with him so he could cough up.

Not long after returning to Crusader Towers I got a text saying that he had found his money in his jacket sleeve when he took his coat off (sure he did) but it will be a full body search if he tries to pull this trick off next time.

Scores

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
9
8.5
7.7
7
8
8.04

Route
Click here to download Loddon - Norwich loop GPX file to load on to your GPS