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

Thursday 1 October 2020

Double puncture day (Brickyard cafe, Hedenham)

Brickyard Café,


Tue- Sat 8-3.30, Sun 10-3.30

Highly Recommended

Not surprisingly visits to new cafes have been in short supply recently so it was good to have the opportunity to go somewhere new (ish) today. However I haven't been idle as I have revisited many of my favourite cafes to see how they are operating in these difficult times. So if you want to know which cafes are currently open check out my guide (see Latest post lockdown cafe info).

Today I was off to Hedenham near Bungay where the Every days a Picnic café (EDAP) has changed hands and is now The Brickyard Café. After the recent wet and windy weather I have had to refresh some of my wet weather gear so today I was modelling my new cycling boots. They looked great but had an unfathomable foot entry system which I couldn't work out so even though todays cycling guest, Big George, turned up 10 minutes late my feet were still not ready to go. When I did eventually get them on I must say they were worth the effort and kept my feet warm and dry all ride.

New winter boots with unfathomable feet entry system and gloves
We eventually set off and caught up on stuff before our next incident. About a year ago I changed to tubeless tyres which has pretty much offered me a puncture free cycling experience. Big George also tried to change over to the latest technology but didn't get on with them so had gone back to tyres with inner tubes.

A few miles before the café stop  Big George demanded we stop and I wasn't at all smug when he had a front wheel puncture. I always come prepared for such events and got out a short novel to read while he changed the tube. When this was eventually complete he went to reinflate only to discover his pump must have fallen off earlier on the ride. Fortunately I have a small emergency one which I was prepared to offer him, for free, on this occasion.
Big George starts the repair process while I settle down to read my book

As I reminded him of the benefits of inner tube free wheels we completed the short distance to the Brickyard cafe which we found on the Norwich Bungay Road.
Outside the Brickyard cafe in my smart new cycling boots

As is the way now it was masks on as we were accompanied to our seats for a full table service experience, the first part of which was to scan the track and trace QR code. I did manage to snap the cakes on the way past and was able to allocate a high effective cake selection score.
Todays good looking cake selection

I was glad to see a choice of hot chocolates on the menu and, as always, went dark. I also went for the chocolate Guinness cake. (Note. Back in 2015 EDAP won my cake of the year with their Chocolate Guinness cake and had kept their winners certificate on display until they moved on. Hopefully this one will be as good).

Big George had an Americano and Norfolk Rabbit (or cheese on toast to you) as he never has cake.

Our drinks soon arrived and were both excellent attracting high marks.

Todays good looking hot drinks
My cake arrived but everything was not quite perfect as part of the napkin was under the cake and it had icing sugar sprinkled on it. It was now useless for finger/lip crumb wiping duties. Although not the worst example of this by any means I feel I have to keep my #Keepcakeoffserviettes campaign standards up.

Remember keep cake (and icing sugar) off serviettes
With serviette removed I settled down to enjoy my cake but when Big George heard it had Guinness in it he wanted to try some. Eating cake was totally out of character but he claimed it was excellent. As he has no cake based tasting reference point to comment from then I had to ignore his input, although he was quiet right, it was excellent cake.
Very good cake indeed

It had been a very good cafe stop and although its currently difficult to get a full café experience anywhere the Brickyard Cafe had performed well and maintained the high standards EDAP had previously set. The food and drink were excellent and staff very friendly so I highly recommend a visit.

After a quick sanitisation we set off for the return ride and would you believe it Big George got another puncture. This time in his rear. I was secretly pleased on two fronts. Firstly I could read some more of my book and secondly I felt it was reasonable to charge Big George for use of my bike pump this time. I'm not totally unreasonable as I charge by the minute (£5) rather than per pump, which also encourages faster pumping. £10 later we were good to go as we completed the ride in stony silence.

Big Georges 2nd puncture of the day
It was great to be able to try somewhere new again and I'm already looking forward to my next ride by which time I hope to have worked out how to take my new cycle boots off. 

Scores based on 2 visits, most recent 16/11/2021

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating








Click on link to download 31 mile Norwich Hedenham loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Latest post lock down cafe info

 Latest post lock down cafe info

Last updated 2nd October 2020

I'm currently struggling to find new cafes to try out and post about. Partly because I can only manage about a 40 mile bike ride in my post covid recovery state and partly as this is obviously not a time when lots of new cafes are opening. (However if anyone has any suggestions then please let me know).

I am still visiting lots of my favourite cafes so thought it would be useful to provide a list of cafes that are operating and what my experience was, plus cafes that I believe are currently closed. I will regularly update this post with my findings so keep checking back for the most up to date news. Again if others have experience of cafes open or closed (or believe I've got something wrong) then let me know and i'll add them to the list.

1. Cafes I have visited since lockdown (In Alphabetical order)

Art cafe, Glanford. Seems to be open as normal with extra seating outside. Always worth a visit with great coffee and cakes. We just turned up on spec with no problem. We sat outside.

Black Apollo, Holt. Operating with a table and takeaway service. Still the best coffee in the area plus a great cakes. Number 1 choice for me when going to Holt

Blakeys Bus, Mulbarton. Been 3 times since lock down for the takeaway only service (although I heard a rumour there may now be some out door seating). The seating on the bus is obviously shut. Takeaway works well as you can simply pop across the road and sit on the common. 

Brickyard cafe, (formerly Everydays a picnic), Hendenham. Plenty of well spaced indoor seating ( and some outdoor in courtyard although it was quite busy when we turned up on spec on a Thursday lunchtime. Track and trace via NHS app and table service only as per current guidelines. Staff very friendly and drinks and cakes excellent.

Chestnut Cafe Fundenhall. Great new cafe which opened shortly after lock down. Loads of outdoor space but more limited inside. Great cakes and drinks so well worth a try. Been twice on spec with no problem.

Earsham Street Cafe, Bungay. Very efficient covid set up and you can still take your bikes through the cafe  to park safely by the kitchens. Outdoor seating limited so suggest you book for that but plenty of spaced out indoor seating. We just turned up on spec and got an indoor table. Cakes and drinks were fabulous as always. You need to do track and trace on their website when you are there.

Eaton Park Cafe, Norwich. Lots of outdoor tables and also they do takeaway to sit in the park and have. There was quite a long queue when we went as it was one group at a time inside. Track and trace was done by the queuing marshal who was managing numbers etc at the door. Not sure if booking is an option as you still need to queue up.

Gardeners Kitchen, Burgh Apton. Been 3 times since lock down, once we booked and twice we turned up with no problem. Lots of indoor seating plus extra outdoor seating spread throughout the garden centre. Best selection of cakes anywhere. Strict track and trace on arrival. I would suggest to book at busy times.

Hen House, Wymondham. Operating shorter opening hours (10-2). One person inside at a time, then take your refreshments to eat outside at the tables provided or on the grass. Not sure if sheds are being used yet. Same excellent range of cakes and drinks.

Heydon tearooms, Heydon. Seating outside at front and back. I think there were some tables inside. Takeaway was also available for eating on the common over the road. We booked and wouldn't have got a table if we hadn't. Everything done at the table. Cakes and drinks were still excellent.

Kin Cafe, Hethersett. No indoor seating with tables set up in the car park area in front of cafe. Limited range of cakes but always a pleasant visit. We have been twice on spec with no problem.

OB Cafe, Old Buckenham. Always popular with cyclists and lots of outdoor seating. Limit to number of people who can go in and order at a time. Not sure if indoor seating was in use. No need to book.

Orangery, Ketteringham. Very popular and had to queue (or actually got someone else to) for about 30 mins. Only outside tables in use but can also sit on the massive lawns all the way down to the lake (which is very nice). If you want a table I think you will need to book although we didn’t and take away by the lake was great. They have a flag based ordering fulfilment system in operation.

Painted Barn, Barnham Broom. Outdoor seating only and everything is done at your table (inc track and trace). We turned up on spec and got the last table so again I would probably recommend booking. The shop is open if you go in with facemask etc. Another cafe with great refreshments

Tabnabs, Matilshall. Outdoor seating only in the courtyard. Again best to book if you want to guarantee a table although we went on spec and shared a table with a couple of other cyclists. Cake was exceptional. Track and trace clipboard needs filling in in the doorway.

Teles Patiserie, Surlingham. Outdoor seating only, I think, in the courtyard. A very well organised system and again only one person allowed inside at a time. We had booked (via email only) but there was plenty of room when we turned up and no one else had. The cakes were amazing as always.

2. Cafes I know are open but not yet visited

Peppers, East Harling

Mad Hatters, Wymonham

Aldis cafe, Poringland

Rosie Lees, Loddon

Piece of Cake, Coltishall

Spoon cake, Loddon, Just for takeaway cake I think.

Natural Surroundings, Bayfield

3. Cafes closed at the moment or possibly permanently

Pennoyer Centre, Pulham St Mary

Smile cafe (Formely in a spin), Loddon

St Georges Distillery, Larling

Church Farm cafe (farm shop open), Hethersett

Marsh Larder, Harleston



Friday 14 August 2020

Back to Business (Chestnuts Coffee, Fundenhall)

Chestnuts Coffee,


Mon, Thur, Fri 9-3, Sat-Sun 9-4,

Highly Recommended

Warning: As if 3 posts on the subject weren't enough (see Trying to recover from 'long tail' Corona virus,  but its not easy! (Part 1)) then this post also contains yet more of my Covid-19 recovery news. 

However that's not the main purpose of this blog as after 5 long months then yesterday I was finally able to do a new cafe cycle blog to a most fabulous recently opened coffee shop.

A few days before lock down then today's cycling guest, Big George, had came on my last new cafe cycle ride which had been on a misty day through an already post apocalyptic Norfolk. However today was hot and sunny and apart from the occasional face mask sighting then things felt more normal with a more optimistic atmosphere in the air. Let’s hope it lasts.

Big George was convinced the weather would break during the trip and had tucked his waterproof in his jersey back pocket. I had opted for no such weatherproofing security so we both hoped the other would be wrong so we could mock their choice.

Despite it now being 150 days since I got the virus I’m still not 100% right although I'm much improved as I have had a number of 30 mile rides under my belt with out any serious relapses. But if I  go a little too fast or far I still start to feel light headed and this was the case after only a few miles today so we had to slow down a bit (and I wasn’t at my best for the rest of the day). Hopefully if I continue my slowly based exercise build up then I will eventually get back to full fitness ready for some longer, and faster, adventures.

Today's ride was a tour of Talcoleston TV mast which I attempted to go past in every direction. We would be heading to the newly opened Chestnuts Coffee shop in a field in Fundenhall. It had recently been recommended to me so I had high hopes. With a still clear blue sky we enjoyed a wide variety of views of the mast whilst me and Big George caught up on the latest news.

The iconic Talcoleston mast was never far from sight

We found the cafe stop next to chestnut campsite. For any campsite snobs (and you know who you are) this is not the campsite cafe but in a field next door with lovely views across the Tas Valley (I think). On the down side you couldn't see Talcoleston mast but on the upside you couldn’t see any tents or caravans either as they were on the other side of a big hedge.

Arriving at Chestnuts Coffee

The first positive sign that this would be a good find was the proper bike racks. This, plus lots well spaced outdoor seating, meant a high atmosphere and ambience score could be awarded.

Excellent Cycle rack facility in the spacious outdoor seating area

Despite having my antibodies certificate (as of June 29th) I still take my social distancing responsibilities very seriously so sanitised and donned my mask before heading inside, whilst keeping Big George 2 metres away of course.

Inside was a seating area, obviously unoccupied on such a hot day, and an excellent cake selection. There were also sausage rolls, (both animal and plant based) and cheese scones. It all added up to a good effective cake selection score.

A very good cake selection

Next bonus was the variety of hot chocolate on offer with a range of strengths. The strongest was 82% which is the one I opted for to accompany my coffee and walnut cake.

Big George then took his turn and went for a flat white and a cheese scone. Like most people in their 20's both mine and Big Georges sons are plant based in their food habits forcing us down the same route in our kitchens. So given the choice today, Big George immediately went for a rare breed pig sausage roll. I always worry about consuming rare pig breed products as I feel the pigs probably wouldn't be so rare if we stopped eating them.

We returned to the outdoor seating area to enjoy the views and our refreshments.

Today's refreshments

Our drinks were both very good. The cake and scones were both very nice if not exceptional with the sausage roll being the star of the show.

Chestnuts coffee has only been open since July and I was very impressed on how much they had got right, especially for the cyclist, and I highly recommend a visit. I will certainly be returning.

Still with a slightly dizzy head we return home, in the dry (so I mocked Big George), and chalked up a 34 mile ride (a new post covid pb). I just hope it won't be another 5 months until my next new cycle cafe post.

Scores based on 2 visits

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambience and Atmosphere

Café Rating








Click here to download 33 mile Norwich Wymondham loop gpx file to your gps

Monday 6 July 2020

Trying to recover from 'long tail' Corona virus, but its not easy! (Part 3)

My Corona Virus Story Part 3
As I have now celebrated 100 days since I got Corona virus I thought it was time for part three of my story. In this episode we will find out how recovery is going, where I think I got Covid 19 from and find out if I actually had the virus at all, plus there is a graph to enjoy.

When you left me at the end of part 2 it was day 61 and I was laid out on the sofa having just had my latest relapse. You may recall that on the 3 previous relapses I started to improve with in a day or so before then setting out on a new recovery plan. However this time was different as I didn't seem to be improving. Each day I would feel queasy and dizzy, sometimes I had to spend it lying down while on other days I was able to gently potter around. The feeling would best be described as how you feel after having a heavy drinking session the day before but without the headache or an enjoyable night. This was bad and the longer it went on the more anxious I became which was clearly making me feel worse. 

The doctor suggested it was time for blood tests, which all came back fine, but after over a week of feeling ill I could think of nothing else to do then have a massive melt down featuring, shouting, tears and throwing things (safely in the garden of course). After 20 minutes of this I felt a bit better and much to the relief of the family I calmed down. I spoke to the doctor again who prescribed me some anti nausea pills which fortunately quickly start to work.

The next day I started to feel better plus I spoke to a physio who had been dealing with other patients like me and advised on what my new plan (which I decide to call plan D) would look like.

Plan D was a cracker. I would start with just resting (not my specialist subject) until I felt ok everyday for at least two weeks. Once I had cracked that I would introduce gentle cycling and, if after another 2 weeks that was ok then I would try golf before eventually introducing running after 6 weeks or so. It was the start of my couch to Iron man plan (can't remember if I had mentioned in the previous posts that I've done 4 Iron man triathlons, well I have) although so far the focus has been more on the couch end of the continuum. 

Plan D started well with two weeks of no exercise meaning I felt good most days and got on with jobs round the garden and some particularly tricky jigsaw action which had rather too much black.
Jigsaw took for ever as all of space looks exactly the same

To make sure I felt I was achieving something I asked family and friends to let me have any bikes they wanted servicing as I could do that at a gentle pace. I'm pleased to say I have now serviced over 20 bikes in my secret underground bicycle workshop and several of them still work.
Bicycle repair action in the secret underground workshop buried deep below Crusader Towers

With plan D phase 1 complete it was on to phase 2. With confidence high I dusted down my bike and went on a gentle 8 miler. I then managed a couple of 15 milers with no after affects (except the odd post ride lie down of course). I was still getting dizzy head, ringing ears and sicky tum but there were now times when I actually felt normal again.
Back on the bike again at last

As the end of the phase 2 period approached I decided to up things to an 18 mile ride and I invited Big George to come along for old times sake.

On the ride the subject got round to where I thought I had caught the dread thing from. I explained my theory. To start with it had been a mystery as I had hardly been out of the house in the fortnight before it arrived and last visited China in 1993. You may recall that all members of the Crusader Towers bubble ended up getting it and three of them lost their sense of taste and smell. When this first happened son George (who had come back from Sheffield University the week before lock-down) realised his housemate had also lost his taste and smell a couple of weeks earlier when this wasn't a known Corona virus symptom. Sheffield had been an early C19 hot spot so it now seems most likely it came back with him, although we will never know for sure. He has obviously been on the naughty step ever since.  

As my ride was concluding I thought business as usual cycling was now back on the agenda but I should have known better as a couple miles from home I felt all funny again with the usual relapse symptoms so by the time I was home I felt proper ill. It was clear I was still not out of the clutches of the virus yet. That night was one of my worst with stomach cramps as a new bonus feature. 

Fortunately this relapse was short lived and I was feeling ok again a couple of days later so I decided to stick to the plan D. 

Big George had also told me that it was possible to have an anti body test at a private doctor for a reasonable price. I decide I needed to know if I had actually had the virus for certain so booked my appointment and had the requisite blood sample taken. I had two days to wait for the results and didn't know what I would do if I had gone through all this only to find I hadn't had it or built up any potential immunity.

So when the test results arrived I was very nervous as I opened the email attachment. And this is what it said

"Anti-SARS CoV 2 IgG Result POSITIVE 

Clinical Comment SARS-CoV-2 IgG Positive. Consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection at some time. Immunity to re-infection is unknown and must not be assumed. Methodology: ABBOTT CMIA

It was a relief that I had definitely had it especially as it would have been rather embarrassing to have written 3 posts on my recovery from the wrong virus. Even more exciting was that I was now part of an official government statistic along with the other 300,000 ish confirmed cases. Well done me.

That pretty much brings us up to date as 10 days since my last dip I've played a few holes of golf and completed two more 15 mile rides (which seems to be my baseline distance for now). I don't know how long it will take but hopefully, given time, I will eventually get fully fit again and be back on the cafe cycle ride trail soon (and get to do another Iron man triathlon too, although I don't like to talk about them).

I did promise you a graph. As I mentioned in part two I have been tracking how I felt each day out of 10 and here it is as in graphical format. Although very slow recovery does seem to be going the right way.
So finally what have we learnt (especially if your are a fitness fanatic (or bore))
1. Make sure people have isolated properly before allowing them into your bubble
2. Even if you don't get the virus badly, you can't exercise your way out of it so rest is best (I can't believe I just wrote that)
3. Build up exercise really slowly until you are confident you are over it.
4. Don't do jigsaws with too much black in them.
5. Try not to get anxious about your recovery as it only makes things worse
6. Avoid looking at Strava and seeing what activities your friends are doing as it just adds to the frustration
7. Come to terms that recovery might take a very long time and try and find other things to do other than sport (apparently there are such things).
8. Never ever, ever, ever tell people you are on the mend as by the next day you wont be
9. Keep a record of how you feel each day to help convince yourself that you are getting better.
10. Eat cake

Saturday 13 June 2020

Trying to recover from 'long tail' Corona virus, but its not easy! (Part 2)

My Corona Virus Story Part 2

If you have read part 1 and want to know what happened next (especially if you love Jigsaws) then read on. But be warned you will need to strap in for another Corona virus roller coaster ride and part 2 doesn't end well.

It was now 17 days since I was first ill and I once again found myself lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself with my traditional Covid symptoms of dizzy head, weak chest and nauseous stomach. It was clear I wasn't on a fast pass recovery so decided to heed the advice of the numerous people who had been telling me I needed just to rest.

My new 'rest' plan was two fold. Step 1 was to do jigsaws as I believe they are the go to activity for convalescing. I love a jigsaw but as they are utterly pointless I never normally allocate time to them. Everyone has a couple hidden away, normally from when they have received them as last minute Christmas gifts and haven't yet had a chance to re wrap and pass on the following year.

At the bottom of a cupboard I found two; one of the history of golf from 1993 and a deconstructed diagram of a 998cc mini engine. Who doesn't love a schematic so there was only one choice, at least I had entertainment sorted out.
My first Jigsaw coming to an end, and what a corker

Step 2 was to build up my exercise much more slowly starting from gentle walks, through gentle bike rides to running. The on-line advice for this approach was to take it very slowly over weeks or months. Which I obviously didn't follow but now understand the need, letting me learn my second Covid recovery lesson.

To prove my resting capabilities I spent the next day focused on edge piece action and lying down. But one day of this resting was enough for anyone so the following morning I decided it was time for my first walk of plan B. I was accompanied by Mrs Crusader as she had already gone down the slow walk route for her more successful recovery strategy. Over the next 5 days we walked over 20 miles and, although I still had a sore throat, tight chest and dizzy head the walks always seemed to make me feel better.

Five days walking plus a finished jigsaw implied to me that plan B was going well and it was time to step things up, so I then tried a short cycle ride which, although I still felt ill on, just felt great being back on the bike. 

After 10 days I was feeling fine with the only Covid sensation left being a sensation like I was about to get over a cold. Both jigsaws were now in the bag (and updated on my new 'completed jigsaw spreadsheet') so I upped my exercise regime with some jogging and longer bike rides.
5 weeks after I first got Corona virus I had a proper run, but this was a big mistake

It had been nearly three weeks since my crash so I went on a proper paced 30 mile bike ride. A friend contacted me on Strava to say he assumed my activity meant I was on the mend. I foolishly replied that I was indeed better and planned to start proper running training the next day. Well that never happened (and still no prospect of it some 7 weeks later!)

I woke up in the night and knew it was back. I felt hot (but had no temperature), had a weak feeling across my chest and sick feeling in my stomach. Although it was the middle of the night I was so frustrated I had to have a rant and started thumping my pillow. For the rest of the night I lay awake and convinced myself that I was never going to shake it off and will probably never run or cycle again (to be fair in the 7 weeks since this has almost been true) but I'm now convinced that these negative thoughts just made my condition worse. The next lesson I learnt was to avoid getting anxious over the length of the recovery but it wasn't for several more weeks, and with much support from family and friends, that I hopefully started to accept this.

Plan B was now in the bin and I needed to develop a new one which I imaginatively called plan C. Step 1 was again going to be jigsaw based so it was straight on to the Amazon website to get hold of some more. Shockingly it appeared I wasn't the only person to turn to the power of the jigsaw during lock down and they had pretty much sold out. However I discovered that museum gift shops still had plenty good ones. I got a schematic of Thunderbird 2 and a  fantastic planets jigsaw (more of that mistake later) from the 'history of flight' museum. 
Completed Thunderbird 2 jigsaw, another cracker

I promised myself I really would take things more slowly this time as I started the recovery climb again. I also started a Covid recovery spread sheet where I made notes on how I felt each day and rated how I was doing from 0 (Dead) to 10 (feeling perfectly normal). This has been very useful as it does demonstrate that things are gradually improving, another top recovery tip.

Like the first crash then after a couple of days feeling ill on the sofa I started to feel better. I also spoke to the Doctor for the first time but as there has been very little virus in these parts they could only offer standard post viral advice and had no data on how long recovery takes as no one knows yet.

So it was back to the Covid playground of swings and roundabouts. With some days of sore throat, nausea, chest pains and dizzy head and others when I felt fine. To add to the fun I developed tinnitus for periods of each day.

But after another 18 days of resting and walking I felt ready to up things again. It was also the week of my birthday although I won't tell you how old I was. (Whoopsie).
It wouldn't be a Cake Crusader post without at least one cake photo

Covid isn't completely heartless and on my birthday I felt the best I had since my 30 mile bike ride a month earlier. To celebrate Mrs Crusader challenged me to 9 holes of golf now that we were allowed to play again. Well Covid might not be heartless but what sort of person beats you with the last putt on the last hole when its your birthday and you are trying to recover from a long illness. Well I think we know the answer to that.
The first of a short lived return to golf

With no aftereffects then the next three days consisted of a short cycle, 18 holes of golf (when I got revenge) and my first 5k jog for many weeks.

After the run I felt fine, for about an hour, but as the day went on I started to feel worse and worse until that night. Bang, it was back but this time there was no next day bounce back like the previous occasions and I got very worried. 

I shall let you know what happened next and bring you up to date in the final post sometime next week.


Wednesday 10 June 2020

Trying to recover from 'long tail' Corona virus, but its not easy! (Part 1)

My Corona Virus Story Part 1

It is now day 79 since lock down started and also 79 days since I first got suspected Covid-19, of which I'm still not recovered. I thought it was therefore high time I told my Corona virus story in a series of posts over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping it maybe useful to other people who are unfortunate enough to contract the virus and find themselves in my position. It is also a chance to explain to my regular readers why there has been no cycle or cake action for quite awhile and probably for a time to come.

To start with let me make it clear I have what is being called 'long tail' corona virus and I was never hospitalised. This version is when you get a mild to moderate case but then you can't shake it off for weeks or months, there has been a few articles in the press with estimates from 1 in 20 to 50% people suffering like me after they appeared to have recovered. The Doctors don't seem sure if its the virus hanging around or post viral fatigue. I suspect the former, especially as all of us that got it at Crusader Towers seem to have suffered, to a greater or lesser degree, in the same way.

So, in the words of Julie Andrews, lets start at the very beginning. You may recall that in the build up to lock down the government had been talking down the virus as being like mild flu for most and that if enough of us got it we would build up herd immunity. I believe we were encouraged to go to horse racing festivals and football matches to speed up the process. But after a couple of weeks the scientists, government or both had a change of mind and so we needed to lock down instead. 

As we gathered round the telly, so Boris could tell us about this with his address to the nation, I noticed I had the slightest little irritation in my throat and had to have an occasional cough to clear it. My how we laughed as everyone pointed at me and shouted "Corona Virus". If only we had known.

As I had barely left the house for a fortnight (apart from the odd bike ride you can read about on the previous posts) then I felt there was no chance of having the virus. But that night I suddenly woke up feeling hot and generally rubbish, like I was getting a cold or flu. I woke Mrs Crusader and told her I thought I had the virus and she might like to go and isolate in another room. At the time this seemed like an over reaction and she rolled over and went back to sleep. However by morning I felt pretty bad with a high temperature, tight chest and feeling of nausea. I certainly didn't fancy breakfast.

However I am a pretty fit chap (even if I say so myself, which I do, a lot) having run 21 marathons, done 4 iron-man triathlons and was in training for next London Marathon (there I go again), so I was confident I would be over it in a couple of days. I was now one of Boris's Herd. Well done me. 

For the next couple of days I stayed in bed but then, as expected, I felt a bit better. The rest of the residents at Crusader Towers all started showing symptoms as well so I was allowed to potter around the house as we all joined the herd and self isolated as instructed. Well done us.

But the next day things took an unexpected turn for the worst and I found myself laid out in bed too tired to move with the feeling that someone was sitting on my chest. Regular readers will know I'm not a stranger to a near death experiences having had sepsis twice before, including a couple of days in ITU on a ventilator (see early 2014 posts or full details can be found in the Cake Crusader book). So I knew what being proper ill felt like and it felt pretty much like this. 

In fact I had felt like this just before my last trip into ITU and so I panicked. Normally I'm a stickler for the rules but despite government guidelines, discouraging people going to A and E, I decided that hospital was where I needed to be so I got Mrs Crusader to drive me there and drop me off at the door.

Government advice had certainly worked as on arrival the hospital was empty and before I knew it I had been wheeled to a booth, had had my blood taken and had chest x-rays done. On my last visit to A and E, with a broken collar bone, I had to faint in the waiting area just to make it into the x-ray queue which shows what a difference the virus had made to peoples behaviour. 

As I lay in my curtained off area I felt very ill (although still not breathless) and felt it was only a matter of time before I would be on oxygen. Then after about 2 hours I suddenly had another sensation. I opened my eyes like a startled rabbit and realised I was starting to feel better. This was rather embarrassing and I now regretted coming to hospital and putting others at risk. As it turned out it was also the first of many occasions when Covid would make me feel dreadful before, with almost a click of the fingers, I would start to feel fine again.

A few minutes later the  A and E doctor came back and told me my x-rays had shown no sign of infection, my vital signs were normal and the blood test had come back with nothing unusual so they threw me out, told me to take some paracetamol and only to come back if I couldn't breath, which I could so I didn't.

Over the next few days three of the five of us isolating together (although not me) lost their sense of smell and taste so we were now ticking a lot of the symptom boxes and it seemed pretty unlikely that we hadn't got the virus, although no tests were available to confirm.

At first we couldn't work out how we had contracted it but then the pieces feel into place and although we will never be sure we worked out the most likely infection route which I will reveal in a latter post but isn't important now.

A week later I felt much better. I still had a tight chest, sore throat and was a bit light headed but my go to strategy after any illness is to do as much exercise as possible until I'm better. I can't emphasise enough that this is the wrong strategy and you can't exercise your way out of Covid-19.

Celebrating my 'Recovery' with cake, but it was the first of many false dawns

Despite not feeling 100%, and often needing a lie down in the day, then over the next 6 days I did a few short runs (up to 5k) and a couple of short bike rides. Although still not feeling great I felt I was on the mend and would soon be able to get back to my running and cycling training plans. 

Then on recovery day 16 I woke up in the night with a weird feeling, like the one I had had two weeks earlier when the virus first arrived. However on this occasion there was no temperature or breathing difficulties. By morning I felt completely rubbish again, mainly nauseous and weak, so spent most of the day on the sofa unable to do anything. As before this feeling passed later in the day although I still felt poorly. It was clearly time for recovery plan B. Which I will tell you about in the next post. It included, 'rest' and Jigsaws but didn't work either..

Thursday 19 March 2020

Difficult decesion (Ploughshare, Beeston)

Ploughshare Community pub and cafe,
Tuesday-Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-4

I know the current Coronavirus situation is no laughing matter and that we have been given guidelines to follow by the government re social distancing etc. After careful consideration I have decided to continue with my cafe cycle riding for the time being. I know we are still being encouraged to exercise in order to stay fit (especially cycling and running) and believe cycling is fairly safe as you are rarely within a couple of meters of any cycling guest when out on the road. 

I'm a little more nervous about visiting cafes so my rule of thumb will be to opt for takeaway when possible but in the more deserted locations, when there are only a couple of us, I might still go in (following all handwashing advice first of course).

I have always been keen to support the local cafe community so putting a few quid in their coffers at this time is important to me. I understand that not everyone will agree with me but it was within this context that yesterday, myself and Big George headed off on a 50 mile ride to Beeston, West of Dereham to one of the most remote locations I have been to.

A few months ago I had been invited to visit the community cafe and pub (the Ploughshare) in the village and this was my third attempt to do just that. The first one had ended in failure in early January, as they were still on their Christmas hols, and the second ride had been abandoned due to heavy rain so yesterday was third time lucky.

The way out was into the wind and it may just be coincidence but the roads seemed more desereted  than normal with the majority of vehicles we came across being delivery vans. It was a bit of a slog but we made it to the cafe/pub and went inside (and after a handwash) found the cafe area. 
Outside the empty ploughshare pub/cafe
Not surprisingly we were the only customers in either section. In the circumstances I felt it only fair to give a default 7 for ambiance and atmosphere rating. 
Big George enjoying his cafe in the cafe area
There was a nice range of cakes in the cake selection although only single slices of each was on display.
Cake selection limited to a slice of each
We ordered our standard hot chocolate and coffee and as I felt that there may not be many other opportunities for a while I also went for egg on toast in my search for egg on toast of the year.

Not surprisingly with no other customers the food and drinks soon arrived. The drinks were a little disappointing as it was Cadburys hot chocolate and fairly standard coffee. 
The hot drinks
The egg on toast was a good effort with the eggs nicely poached on some standard sliced brown bread.
Possibly my last EoT for a while
On the cake front I opted to take some brownie back to crusader towers and when I got to try them later they turned out to be some of the best brownie I have had with a great chocolate taste and a great brownie texture. So top marks on the cake front.
Takeaway brownie for sharing with Mrs Crusader back at Crusader Towers
It was a bit hard to rate the Ploughshare without knowing what things would have been like in more normal conditions but I certainly liked the set up and with such good cake I would recommend a visit.

As we left we were had genuine thanks from the staff for making the effort to visit and I felt rather sad about the struggle such places would be having over the coming months as we all find ourselves in this impossible situation.

As my diary is now rather empty I have arranged another 3 rides for next week but obviously any cafe visits will depend on further instructions and guidance from the government.

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

Click here to download 51 mile Norwich Beeston loop GPX file to your gps