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

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Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Coffee duel. (Cannells by the River, Reedham)

Cannells by the River

Reedham,

Mon-Sat 08:00-5:00, Sun 9:00-4.00

Recommended

Now the sun is out again I thought it was time to head off on a cycle cafe review and with the wind from the East for a change it was a chance to go out that way. I decided I should visit Reedham as I hadn't been since the cup cakes cafe shut many years ago. Its now reopened as Cannells by the River.

I gathered some cycling guests to join me but there was only MickMike(the man with two names, Old School cyclist Dom and fellow cycleparkruncyclist Mark available who are all blokes. This obviously meant that instead of the normal leisurely chatting we got into an imaginary race with added commentry about peletons, breakaways, bridging etc. 

The race to Reedham in full swing

After a hetic dash down the Loddon road, with many breakaway attempts, then the peleton was all back together as we entered town. But what was this, lining the side of the road was a real cycling crowd who had obviously heard about our imaginary race and had come to cheer us through Loddon. We were all very excited, until Old School cyclist Dom realised it was actually the queue for the bus.

Undeterred we sped further east until we arrived at the ferry terminal at Reedham ready for our crossing.

As always I booked an outside cabin and we settled in for the cruise.

Enjoying the river crossing 

Once in Reedham we had a dilemma. I won't name names (but Gary you know who you are) said the coffee was better at the post office tearoom but better cake selection at Cannells. I deided to opt for the cake selection but will be returning soon to test the post office tearoom out as well.

Outside Cannells

The cake selection didn't dissapoint as we sat by the river enjoying the lovely day. 

Cake selection 

The cakes and drinks soon arrived. They were nice cakes and the drinks were fine but both the hot chocolate and coffess were abit on the weak side so it will be intersting to find out how the post office does next time. However I would still recommend a visit.


The way back was equally delightful as myself and Mark chalked up another few miles training for our attempt to cycle and run the 10 new parkruns in Norfolk that have started since we first did the challenge back in 2018. Sadly Mark re agitated his achilles injury on the ride meaning we have once again had to postpone the 1st ride on the challenge until the end of July. So Mark won't be invited on any more training rides until then.

Scores

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

5.5

6.3e

7.8

7

8

6.93

Route


Click link to download 41 mile Norwich Reedham ferry loop gpx file for your GPS

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Tour de Gateaux stage 2 to Hunstanton (Apple Cafe, West Acre)

Apple Cafe,

West Acre,

Tue-Sun 9.30-4.30

Highly Recommended

After the excitement of the first part of the Tour de Gateaux at the start of May (see Tour de Gateaux stages 1 and 2) it was time for part 2 of the race.

This time we went from Norwich to near Hunstanton and back. It was a chance to visit some old favourites plus try out a new cafe. 

The day started with worried faces on the driveway of Crusader Towers as the weather forecast predicted heavy showers all day. Despite making me look like a dork (can I say dork or does that get me cancelled, to be honest I don’t even know what one is) I decided to start with my waterproof over trousers on to save time for when the inevitable drenching started. Everyone else donned their waterproof jackets.

Worried faces preparing for a soaking

However shortly into the ride it was clear it was actually quite warm so jackets were removed again although I kept my trousers on. I knew that the rain gods won’t waste their effort trying to penetrate my smart trousers.

Still dry we pushed on to our first stop at the excellent Guist Post Office.

Outside Guist Cafe still in my waterproof trousers and still no rain

Sadly there is no longer any outdoor seating area but there was a nice indoor table that could accommodate all 6 riders on todays stage. As you may recall you not only get points for winning a stage but for cake eating too. Four of us caked today each getting a point but I now moved into a 2 point lead over everyone else.

Some excellent cake at Guist

With the Sun now shining, but still in my waterproof trousers, we headed off to our next planned stop at Walsingham. On the way we passed a big gatehouse in the middle of nowhere. It is the sort of place you wouldn’t want to knock on the door of if your car (or bike) had broken down at night in a heavy rain storm. But ours hadn't, so we didn't.

Once at Little Walsingham we went to Nortons cafe at the shrine of our lady who is famous for downing miracles and stuff. We ordered tea for 3 but they just filled the teapots up with hot water. However when we poured them into the cups the hot water had turned to tea. 

Excellent tea stop at Nortons in Little Walsingham

Now refreshed and still dry it was the final push over some lumpy ground to our final destination.

It was starting to cloud over as we approached our Hotel

When we got to the hotel, still dry I had a dilemma as if to remove my magic water proof trousers or not. One of our party, Mike, had got the date of the trip wrong and once he had realised then there was no room at our inn. He had managed to secure lodgings in a stable at Hunstanton 5 miles away. However if I was to remove my trousers before he got there then the no rain spell would be broken and he would obviously get a proper soaking. On the other hand I wanted to shower and relax so it was trousers off and once removed we were treated to a huge thunderstorm. I think Mike will be checking the tour dates more carefully in future.
The heavens opened once I had removed my water proof trousers at our Hotel

In terms of the stage I obviously won as I forgot to mention the finish line was just past the hotel. The other competitors couldn't understand why I had cycled past our accommodation when they had stopped. My how they didn't care when I explained their error as they looked at me like I was some mad bloke having his own fantasy cycle race.

Day two would take in a new cafe, the Apple at West Acre which was the main purpose of the trip. I was hoping it won’t disappoint 

With forecast promising a dry day I decided to keep waterproof trousers off, but would this obviously caused us to get wet later in the day.

Pedals down was at an ambitious 9:15 but as always breakfast was over leisurely followed by pre ride faffing meaning we were lucky to get away by 9:30. Today was a longer day and would be my first 100km Grand Fondo since my knee op (which I may have mentioned in previous posts, a lot). 

About to set off after much faffing

The ride started with a trip past Sandringham to see the Queen. Apparently she was too busy for a chat as she was preparing for her Jubilee thing the next day. So we set off again over a few bumpy bits as we sailed through North West Norfolk on the way to the Apple Cafe at West Acre.

The Queen was a bit busy for a chat

When we arrived fellow Tour de Gateaux competitors Barry and Helen and their tandem were already here drinking coffee and eating cake. You may remember they had been disqualified for mechanical doping in the first stages of the race. They would be disqualified again today for taking a 10 mile shortcut, I'm not sure if they are taking my event seriously.

Outside the Apple Cafe

The Apple Cafe is in the garden centre but has a very nice setting with a pleasant outdoor seating area.

Outdoor seating area
The cake selection was also good and the drinks scored well (except for Andrews tea which apparently didn't have enough tanning being a too posh a brand, although he is notoriously hard to please).
A good cake selection at the Apple Cafe

On the other hand he thought his chocolate and raspberry brownie was fantastic and defiantly the star cake although the others were good too. This was the stop most people caked on so no changes in the tour cake points competition.

Excellent cakes encouraging much caking by the group

The Apple cafe didn't disappoint and I highly recommend a visit.

From here we had wind behind for the final push back to the finish line. There was still time for a quick stop at Tabnabs cafe in Mattishall for a bit more cake and then heads down for the finishing line. Obviously without my water proof trousers on it did rain on us during this section, but that was only to be expected.

Final push back to Norwich

The finish came at the top of Col de Cellar House slip road which was a tricky ramp at the end of a long day but no one was going to beat me today, especially as they weren't bothered, as I made a final effort to the top and another stage win under my belt.

The next stage will be at the end of June as we head to Newmarket where the route is sure to favour the sprint teams.

Scores 

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

7.3

7.5

7.7

7.8

7.0

7.46

Route

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Tour de Gateaux stage 1 to Aldeburgh (Coffee Den at Pura Vida, Wortwell)

Coffee Den at Pura Vida Garden centre,

Wortwell,

Tue-Sun 9.30-3.00

Highly Recommended

To celebrate getting back on the bike properly then this year I have decide to organise a few 2 day rides that will be part of the first ever Tour de Gateaux. Unlike other stage races on the international bike scene, the Tour de Gateaux always has a cafe stop half way through where points are awarded for eating cake for the cake eating points prize. There are also prizes for stages wins and the overall general classification.

Entry is by invite only where the only criteria is that I think I can ride faster than you. I therefore hand picked seven of my regular cycling guests to join me on the Grande de Part. The first two stages were Norwich to Aldeburgh and  Aldeburgh to Norwich. I inadvertently forgot to mention to the other seven that it was a race to further increase my chances of winning.

Unfortunately it was a wet and windy start as the peleton left Norwich and headed for the first compulsory cafe stop at Beccles. 

part of the peleton dealing with the unseasonable conditions

I had kindly offered to carry Mrs.Crusader’s overnight kit on my bike. The 1st law of packing states that the amount of stuff taken will always fill the the luggage space available however long the trip. Knowing this law I made sure I gave her the smallest pannier I could find. Which as predicted came back full to the brim.

Lunch was at Twyfords in Beccles which appears to be a very popular and rather expensive cafe (£5.95 for a slice of cake!). 

It claims to have a secret garden although not much of a secret as it advertises the fact. I had been here once before so was keen to check the ratings. See previous review for up to date cafe scores etc Wet, wet, wet.

Outside Twyfords where there is sadly little bike parking

The staff were very friendly and the drinks all scored well. As cake was so expensive I was the only one that had any so this put me straight to the top of the cake eating leader board. It was a salted caramel sponge which was nice but not spectacular. Note to self I must remember to tell the others about the cake eating competition.

Very expensive cake

We also had lunch which everyone seemed to enjoy. By the time we left there was a big queue waiting for tables so it seems to be a very popular joint.

Unfortunately the rain had got heavier and wind stronger as we set off again towards Aldeburgh but Mrs Frazer was very excited when she got to cycle across a golf course.

Cycling across the 11th hole at Thorpeness

As we approached the final couple of kms the road turned along the sea front and straight into a head wind. There was only me and old school cyclist Dom left as the rest of the riders had been blown away. Dom attempted the old trick of sitting on my wheel to shield from the wind before trying to sprint past but he went about a mile too soon so I was able to repeat his trick and had a big lead as we went under the flan rouge. The stage and tour leaders Maglia Rosa Jersey was mine.

After a relaxed evening then stage 2 was due to start at 9:45 but as usual the group had an over long breakfast and faffing to fit in so were far from ready on time.

Pre ride faffing

I waited patiently in my bright pink tour leaders Jersey for the rest of the peleton to finally arrive.

Proudly wearing my the tour leaders Jersey

Before setting off we decided to ask a passing dog walker to take a group photo which didn't quite come out as hoped but I'm sure you get the idea.

Team photo plus passing dogwalkers finger

Fuelled by an overlong breakfast the group set off at a good speed until the first controversary of the day when Barry and Helen and their tandem were spotted mechanically doping as it was discover Barry's so called water bottle was in fact a battery for an E-tandem! And they were thrown out of todays stage.

Disgraceful display of blatant mechanical doping

Todays lunch stop was at the coffee den at Pura Vida garden centre where the cafe seems the bigger attraction.

Wondering where the rest of group had got to as I arrive at 

There was plenty of indoor and outdoor seating plus and indoor/outdoor fusion seating area, which looked very comfy but sadly full.

There was a solid cake selection to select from which the nice waitress lady could recite by heart.

Today’s cake selection 

The drinks went down well and scored highly but despite me explaining the cake points competition to everyone yesterday only me and Helen had any cake, and she had already been DQed.

The only cakes eaten today
Everyone else had more traditional lunchtime fare and it was agreed this was a very good cycle cafe stop and I highly recommend a visit.

As the ride neared it’s end the peleton started to spread out, but as cycling host I decide to wait up from time to time to make sure everyone was still on route and alive.

Part of strung out peleton 

But as we neared the end Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) didn't wait nicely and set of on an outrageous break to claim the stage (but not the jersey). He may have won the day but has turnned the cycling public against him for such unsportsmanlike behaviour. 

Andrew starts his dash for the line

The tour now heads to North Norfolk at the end of May for the next two stages.

Scores for Coffee Den at Pura Vida based on 2 visits. Most recent 12th May 2022

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

6..5

7

7.25

7.5

7.3

7.11

Route

Monday, 2 May 2022

Vegantastic (Salthouse Stores, Salthouse)

Salthouse Stores,

Salthouse,

Mon-Sat 08:30-4:00, Sun 8:30-1.00

Highly Recommended

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in previous posts but I got a knee injury last Autumn which needed an operation and I was on crutches for 7 weeks (oh apparently I have mentioned it).

But this week I was back on the bike for the first cafe review since last October! And as it turned out it was a cracker.

After all the warm weather of a few weeks ago then, as soon as I was ready to join in again it got distinctly colder and windier, but I wasn't to be put off and met up with Andrew (who is still notoriously hard to please) at Hard to Please House in Aylsham. Andrew was in charge of the route and I had chosen Salthouse Stores as our destination.

It was a tough 20 odd mile ride up to the North Norfolk coast into the wind. Fortunately I had been able to keep up some semblance of fitness by using my indoor bike and plenty of crutch based walking. As usual we attempted to solve the worlds problems as we cycled along but they seem to have got a deal trickier since our last ride.

Despite the strong headwind it was so nice being on a cafe cycle review ride that for once I didn't whinge about how windy Norfolk was, so before I knew it we had pulled up outside the Salthouse stores.

Outside the lovely Salthouse Stores

Andrew had been rather hard to please in persuading him that this was a good destination as he thought it was mainly a shop and had very low expectations of the quality of the refreshments.

However once inside we found a very good selection of cakes and a good range of coffee. They even had his favourite, a cortado. I was also super pleased to be offered a milk or dark hot chocolate and went for dark, obvs.

As I'm in touch with environmental issues I know Veganism is a good thing so I have decided to highlight if the cafe has any vegan offerings or not and from now on will indicate if a cafe is Vegantastic.

Well as a first one then the Salthouse stores is defiantly vegantastic, with knobs on, as all its cakes range was vegan. 

All the cakes were Vegan and there was a Vegan sausage roll too
I went for a black cherry slice and Andrew banana and cherry loaf.

We decide to sit inside in the smallest indoor seating area I've so far come across. It had a couple of stools at a window style breakfast bar and not even room for any cat swinging (I'm note sure if cat swinging is a thing anymore or even if I'm allowed to mention it). It was a great space with views over the marshes only spoilt with a big red van in the way.
The smallest indoor seating area to date

Our refreshments soon arrived and both the cakes and drinks were excellent . Andrew even said his banana and cherry loaf was the best (if only) one he had ever had.
Excellent Cakes and drinks

Andrew had to admit he was wrong about the Salthouse Stores as it was a real find and he is already planning a return trip so I highly recommend a visit.

Andrews route now headed up the big hill from Salthouse which he recons has the steepest section of road in all of Norfolk (based on his own unscientific research). Possibly not the start to the return ride required straight after cake and hot chocolate.
Top of big hill up from Salthouse

As always in Norfolk the tail wind we were expecting on the way home never materialised but I didn't care as it had been a very successful trip and cafe cycle reviewing was back underway 

I have a very long list of cafes needing checkout but as Desmond Tutu replied, when asked how do you eat a giant cream Victoria sponge, one bite at a time (or was that elephants?)

Scores

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

7.4

8

7.4

8

8.2

7.80

Route 


Click here to download 40 mile Alysham Cley loop GPX file to your GPS