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 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..