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

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Birthday Boy. (Seedhouse Cafe and Deli, Norwich)

Seedhouse café and deli,
Everyday 08:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended
As the days get colder and the nights draw in then opportunities to get outside are becoming more limited. Therefore I have been using this extra time wisely to get my Cake Crusader admin up to date. In the process I have noticed I'm approaching two exciting landmarks. The first is that my blog has nearly been visited a quarter of a million times (probably mainly by bots from Russia and my mother) with only about 3000 to go. Secondly, after updating my locations map with recently visited cafes and removing all the closed ones I'm just 12 short of 250 active venues. I therefore think that with a bit of effort I might be able to hit these two milestones by Christmas.

If I do you will hear all about it, if not I probably won't mention it again. However as well as lots of cafe visits I will be going for a bit of a social media blitz on my facebook page and twitter feed too.

To start with then yesterday I was joined by Mrs Crusader and birthday boy Mick for a short loop into South Norfolk before searching for a cafe in Norwich.

Things started well as we set off on a crisp autumn sunny day but before long the skies darkened, the winds picked up and it started to pour with rain. As this was the first time since summer we had hit these conditions we were ill prepared and had a distinct lack of waterproof footwear and gloves. Unsurprisingly it wasn't look before we had all lost contact with our extremities and what had started as a lovely birthday gift for Mick had turned into an ordeal which was now just an unpleasant slog.

Conversation had come to a halt as we were pedaling as fast as we could towards today's target cafe area whilst being too numb to speak.

After what seemed like an eternity we made it back into Norwich's Golden triangle and headed for the nearest cafe on my potential list which was the Seedhouse cafe and deli (although it seemed to be being renamed to something cobbler related as it used to be a shoe repair outlet).
Freezing outside todays cafe venue
I sent Mrs Crusader and Mick inside to buy anything hot while I struggled to lock the bikes with my super feeling free fingers.

The Seedhouse cafe (which might be now called something cobbler related) had a hipster/vegan (in a goodway) feel and we awarded it a high atmosphere and ambiance score although we may have been biased just because it was warm and dry.

There were several seating options including outside, which was instantly dismissed, but we opted for the indoor breakfast bar style window seating area. The cake selection was a bit small but had a GF brownie (which I went for) and a sort of bakewell vegan cake that Mrs Crusader went for. 
Cake selection
As it was his birthday then as well as taking him on a lovely pneumonia inducing and character building bike ride Mrs Crusader gave Mick a small piece of her cake and bought him a flat white coffee. I think he was touched by our generous gifts.
My GF brownie, the vegan bakewell cake looked similar but lighter in colour
The hot chocolate did a good job of warming me up while Mick and Chris though their coffees were great. 
Todays drinks, we had to drink some of them to get warm enough to operate the camera
The cakes were excellent too and we all agreed that the seedhouse (or cobbler based named cafe) was an excellent find and I highly recommend a visit.

Fortunately it was only a couple of miles back to Crusader towers where I spent the afternoon in the airing cupboard.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Route to be published shortly

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Mileage target. (Shambles Cafe Bar, North Walsham)

Shambles Café Bar,
North Walsham,
Open Tue-Sat 09:00-21:00, Sun 12-4.
It was a day of high risk in the world of cycle cafe riding today. Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) had been told about a good cafe in North Walsham and as a well trained cycling guest thought we should check it out. On reviewing my recently updated Cake Crusader cafe location map (which now has 238 visited cafes on it) there was an obvious gap in the North Walsham area, so I agreed to the trip.

To add to the risk Andrew also said he would take charge of the route. I checked my "optimum ride length" table which showed that an Autumn ride should be between 30 and 40 miles so I requested the route to be in that range.

As soon as we left Hard to Please House in Aylsham it was clear that Andrew had not planned the route properly. He was allowing it to evolve dynamically as he didn't decide which way to go until we arrived at each junction. Clearly I did not approve of such a casual approach so to help him calibrate the ride distance I took to reporting into him on the completion of every 5 mile section.

As it was a lovely crisp Autumn day I didn't actually mind the prospect of additional miles if Andrew got a bit too gung ho with the route but obviously kept this to myself so as not to encourage him.
Lovely Autumn scene with a tractor and everything
Surprisingly as I announced the completion of our 20th mile we rolled into North Walsham where we found the Shambles Cafe Bar near a big church.
Standing in the outdoor continental style outdoor seating area outside the cafe
There was plenty of seating options including a continental style outdoor seating area, an outdoor courtyard area plus indoor seating which we opted for.

The virtual cake selection on the menu board was larger than the real thing but both the carrot cake and lemon drizzle looked excellent so we went for them to accompany my hot chocolate and Andrews Capuchino.
The actual cake selection available
Both our drinks were fairly standard examples and attracted fairly standard drink quality ratings. The cakes however were excellent and Andrew felt some of the finest he had had this year. 
Todays refreshments
My only concern was with the size of the cake fork as they had clearly been obtained for much bigger people or much bigger cake. As a clever way round this then Shambles had served the cake on saucers to make it look bigger although it wasn't fooling me.
Interesting plate and fork sizing approach in operation
Despite the mismatched sizing approach in operation it was a very pleasant stop and I would recommend a visit if you are in the area.

When it was time to head back I was looking forward to seeing where Andrew's route would end up in the agreed 30-40 mile criteria. It soon became clear that Andrew had bottled it and was taking a fairly direct route back to Aylsham. When it was apparent that we were going to undershoot the mileage requirement Andrew had to introduce a pointless loop and we just scraped in on 30.5 miles.

Although I admired Andrews free flowing routing approach the stress of not knowing if we be doing the right number of miles was too much and I required an extra long afternoon kip. I will be going back to pre planning all routes in future

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Route to be published shortly

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Wrong way round. (Marsh Larder, Harleston)

Marsh Larder,
Open Thur-Sun 09:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended
The last time I was out on a cafe cycle ride with Big George when Mrs Crusader phoned it was because the BBC were trying to get in touch as they wanted to do a feature on me for Look East (you can read all about what happened in my Cake Crusader book) so we were both pretty excited when I spotted a missed call from her a few miles into today's cycle.

As Big George got on to his agent I called Mrs Crusader back but disappointingly it was domestic admin and we wouldn't be on the telly tonight. (Note: If you work for the BBC or any major TV network then just to confirm me and Big George are always available as I have nothing better to do with my time, please contact Mrs Crusader for bookings).

With no pressing media engagement then we continued on our way down to Harleston and today's target destination, The Marsh Larder. Which we found it in a field by a farm. 
The Marsh Larder cafe
As it was half term it was heaving inside so we made use of the excellent outdoor seating area.
Part of the Marsh Larders outdoor seating area
The Cake selection was a very fine one, especially when I spotted one of my favourites, chocolate topped tiffin. I also took away some fruit scones for testing in my continuing search for fruit scone of the year #FSOFTY.
Excellent effective cake selection
Despite it being busy our refreshments soon arrived and I wasn't disappointed as my hot chocolate was a proper thick one and the tiffin was as good as it looked. As always Big George refused to have any cake and went for a bacon sandwich instead, he also thought his coffee only to be average but he is still in a mood as apparently Scotland lost to Japan in the Rugby world cup which he explained was a bad thing.
Today's excellent refreshments unless you are a scottish Rugby fan.
I thought the Marsh Larder was one of the best new (to me) cafes I have visited this year so highly recommend a visit. As Big George did not add much to my cafe rating input experience I plan to take some proper cake eating coffee drinking cyclists on a visit next Spring to get a proper second opinion. No hardship as far as i'm concerned.

Cycling guest cycling top tip no. 70. To add variety to your cycle rides try riding a familiar circular route the opposite way around as they often look quite different from the other direction.

I normal cycle this route in a clockwise direction but as a man who likes to live life on the edge then I decided to follow cycling guest cycling top tip 70 and go anti clockwise. As you can see from the photo the top tip was right as the route did indeed looked quite different and I will certainly follow this tip again.
Todays cycle route looked quite different in an anti clockwise direction
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
route to be published shortly

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Moved. (Rainbow Deli, Fakenham)

Rainbow Deli,
Open Mon-Sat 09:00-16:00,
There are a number of entries on my 'cafes to visit' list that have been there sometime and I need to get to. One such was the Rainbow stores and deli in East Rudham. With Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) available again as a cycling guest then today seemed the ideal opportunity to check it out. It is a 56 mile round trip from Hard to Please House in Aylsham but with the promise of an increasing wind from the west then we would be at least blown back like all cyclist want to. 

All looked good until I did a quick check of opening times. This revealed that the Rainbow stores had recently moved from East Rudham to Fakenham.I was not to be defeated before I had even set out and showing just how flexible and dynamic I am a full replanning was undertaken and Fakenham was now our new destination with a reduced distance of just 44 miles.

It was obviously hard work on the way out into the wind and things were not helped by the number of flooded roads left over from the weekends downpours. Sadly, despite several such sections Andrew failed to fall in any super sized puddles.
Sadly Andrew stayed on his bike again
We found the Rainbow Deli in a quiet side street in Fakenham town centre. As it was mainly a deli there was limited seating with only a couple of tables inside plus a couple more in a continental style outdoor seating area.
Outside the Rainbow deli
The cake selection was excellent with some fancy cakes, a vegan coffee and walnut plus brownies, scones etc.
The fancy part of the cake selection
I went for a posh italian cherry and mascarpone cake while Andrew had a more traditional bakewell slice to accompany his capuchino.

Our drinks and cakes soon arrived but what was this! It was clear that my work had not yet reached Fakenham as, for the first time in ages, both cakes came on their napkins rendering them useless. Remember #Keepcakeoffserviettes.
Bakewell slice clearly served on its serviette!
On the drinks front I thought my hot chocolate was good as it was nice and strong but Andrew felt his coffee was too weak for his liking. Despite the serviette incident the cakes were rather good and I would recommend a visit.
Todays refreshment selection
It was a nice fast ride back but we did notice there seemed to be more traffic on the road than normal maybe they were all looking for recently moved tea rooms or cafes as well.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Todays route to be published shortly

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Rabbit News (The Orangery Tea room, Ketteringham)

The Orangery Tearoom,
Open Wed-Fri 10:00-16:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00,
Highly Recommended
After returning from my latest, and rather unsuccessful, trip to the Alps in search of the best mountain top cafes, it was time to continue my winter project of getting my cafe data upto date through a full cafe cycle audit. Today's task was to go to Ketteringham Hall to check out the Orangery tea room which has replaced the Piano tearoom that used to be there.

For this particular trip I took Big George as my cycling guest. He had also been on a cycling trip last week but had stuck to the short and steep terrain of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. As a result we were both in tip top condition (at least for old blokes) and spent most of the ride testing each other out so it was a tiring affair.

For our route I had chosen a 40 mile loop out towards Dereham before returning via Wymondham and finishing at the cafe. After we had both shared, and not listened too, each others cycling trip highlights then Big George had some sad news as one of his rabbits had  recently died. He had read that single rabbits can get lonely so had decided to get another one.

Apparently this isn't as straightforward as you think as you have to bond rabbits before they can live together. To do this the rabbits need to go to a rabbit bonder which seems to be a rabbit based residential team building course. I assume they have to undertake tasks like getting a bag of carrots across a river using only barrels, ropes and logs. 
Flopsy preparing to practice raft building
Anyway if his current rabbit (Flopsy) and new one pass the course then as a reward they get to live with Big George.

There is a long waiting list for rabbit bonders so Big George is busy teaching flopsy all he knows about making friends and influencing rabbits. Hopefully he will have two happy rabbits again soon.

With rabbit chat complete we found ourselves at Ketteringham Hall where we found the Orangery tearoom. Apart from the sign it looked very like the old Piano tearoom, which isn't a bad thing, as the outside seating area was still in action offering lovely views across the lake. The theme is still aimed at the afternoon tea brigade meaning the flowery wallpaper wasn't to Big Georges liking, maybe a more bunny theme would have been more to his liking.
Outside the Orangery Tea Room
The cake selection wasn't huge but covered all my favourites so I still gave a good effective cake selection score as I selected Bananoff cake plus fruit scones to test later in my search for fruit scone of the year (note it was a very good one and has made it into my current finalist list).
Very effective cake selection
My Hot chocolate was very hot and got better the more it cooled down. Big George thought it was a very good coffee so with the cake being a particularly good one it was high marks for the refreshments.
Todays cake and drinks
The Orangery has picked up from where the Piano tea rooms left off and therefore remains a Cake Crusader favourite and I highly recommend a visit.

From here it was just a short ride back to Crusader Towers where an afternoon kip was beckoning while Big George went home to pack Flopsy's suitcase ready for the forthcoming bonding trip.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Route to be published shortly

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Cycling in the Alps Day 5. (Quite Cols)

Cycling in the Alps day 5
It was the last day of the trip and with no sign yet of an ultimate croissant or a good mountain top cafe I felt a new approach was needed. Therefore we left the cycling Mecca of Alpe d’Huez and headed the other way to quieter Cols. As a treat I promised Andrew it would an easy day for our final ride although after I told him that it was over 60 miles and nearly 2000m of climbing he felt we had different definitions for easy.

There was no time to check the dictionary as if the ultimate croissant was to be found today we had to get over the first climb and to the target bakery by midday before it shut. Therefore I still had the challenge of once again crowbarring Andrew away from his petit dejeuner and morning tea drinking routine.

After Andrews 3rd cup of tea I eventually got us on the road with pedals down at an outrageous 9:35!

It was a similar start to yesterday with a short ride to the start of the Col meaning anyone who had had a long and leisurely breakfast might struggle on the digestive front once climbing started.

As we set off, and were soon separated, I was passed by a very speedy bloke who told me in English that he was going to do some efforts? No idea why. But then I was caught up by a young chap in Wales cycling shorts. He explained they were part of a group of 17 riding from here to Ventoux on a trip. His mate was a very good cyclist who had gone up Alpe d’huez in 47 mins yesterday which is only 10 mins short of the all time record. He was using the trip for training. Not that I’m competitive but I decided that no one else in their group was coming passed and rode up with my new Welsh friend. Apparently he is part of the Welsh u23 cycle squad and about to go to university so we went quite fast.

I was obviously pleased with my achievement although his gears were set up for flatter road racing and I couldn’t have got up on his bike. I suspect with the right gears he would have been off into the sunset.

As I had got to the top quicker than planned (the 6294th fastest ever in fact, according to Strava) then I didn’t fancy a long wait so texted Andrew to say I would meet him at the bakery while I took a leisurely ride down with the views still restricted by the low clouds and mist.

Much to my surprise the Boulangerie du Entraigues was actually open and had croissants available. 

As Andrew hadn’t arrived yet there was no one to do the French speaking but using the gift of pigeon French I established that they only sold coffee and no tea or hot chocolate, so as a non coffee drinker I was stuffed on the hot drink front. The croissant, however, was the best of the week as it looked the most French, however it still didn’t score as well as the best In the Pyrenees. When Andrew arrived he was able to report that the coffee was pretty average too so not the great cafe find I was after either.

The sun was now out and we had the most gentle section of riding we had had for several days as we were either on a slight up or down so kept together for some time for once. The scenery was still tip top although not as dramatic as the high climbs of yesterday.

We then hit our final step section of the week giving you the last change to play where’s Andrew?

Once at the top it was a sad moment as I got my final summit top photo of the week.

Morte was another deserted ski resort so it was no surprise that the target mountain cafe was shut. As by now we had learned this was likely we ate the emergency cheese baguette we made from left over breakfast which felt much more French.

The final descent was another good one on wide roads with some good hairpins. It felt the most like the ones you see on the telly although none of the riders ever seem to stop to take photos.

Once down there was a disappointing section along the main road before a final treat of off-road cycle path along the river with more fabulous views.

Having survived all day on a croissant and half a cheese baguette I needed some refuelling so it was straight to the Boulangerie where I discovered it was the other branch of the one we found open at the top of Alpe d’Huez yesterday.

Although bizarrely the croissant scored much better than the one up the mountain, not that that was difficult.

Back at the apartment tea was drank, pastries eaten and bikes packed in boxes.

But after a weeks cycling what have we learnt?

1. Croissants are better in the Pyrenees than Alps

2. Mountain top cafes are shut at the end of September so organise any trips in search of them during the summer season.

3. You can ride up 3 category 1 Cols in a day on just 3 gels and 2 energy bars as long as you eat the contents of the local bakery staright afterwards.

4. Rides to ski resorts are not as satisfying as rides to the top of cols

5. The best cols, for an enjoyable and scenic climb, are probably not the famous TdF ones

6. The best cycling guests don’t like a leisurely breakfast

Sadly my search for the ultimate croissant still goes on and I have not added to my list of good mountain top cafes but we both agreed it had been an excellent trip for actual cycling and next year my search will continue.

Todays Route


Cafe ratings
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Col Du Vars
Chez Barulo
Café de Lac
Le Fournil Savinois
Auberge Roche Grande
Salazard, Alpe d’Huez 
Boulangerie Du Entraigues

Luton Pret
La Marandiere, Barcelonnette
Café du Vars
Le Fournil Savinois 
Chalet la Cachette
Salazard, Alpe d’Huez 

Boulangerie Du Entraigues
Salazard, Bourg-d’Oisans 

Trip statistics
Average Mph
Time on Bike
Metres climbed
Col Vars
Tour du Lac Serre Poncon
Three Cols from Barcelonnette
Alpe D’Huez
Quiet Cols recovery