Distance: 3.80 miles
Bicycle: 1987 BSA three-speed ‘light’ roadster a.k.a. “Crichton”
Venue: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Emporium, Stafford
Purchase: Hot chocolate, bacon and cheese oatcakes – £7.20
Marks out of 5 for the cafe: 4
Bike friendliness: As it’s in the centre of Stafford it’s pretty easy to get to. The return journey is slightly more fraught, but fine for any reasonably confident cyclist. There are plenty of places to lock a bike up, but very few of them are covered (and it was raining) and none of them were within sight of the cafe.
Other stops: Browsed in a few shops, bought some cigarettes.
So you’re probably wondering why it’s taken me this long to go from my 6th to my 7th trip. Well, I got a cold. A filthy, lingering, snotty, disorientating cold that just will not sodding quit. I’ve had it since the weather turned cold a couple of weeks ago, and boy did it turn. It just seemed to lose 10 degrees overnight, and we’ve started having some properly cold mornings. I thought October was bad, so far in November I’ve barely managed 15 miles.
Anyway, on to the cafe. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Emporium (great name by the way) was set up by a mum who was frustrated that there wasn’t more available for people with allergies like her kids. As such you can get all manner of gluten-free stuff, and it has a slightly improvised feel to it all. The interior is cosy but not very organised, it’s not as if an interior designer has gone over it to give it the full Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland look. The children’s colouring in of Alice, the Hatter and the White Rabbit pinned up behind the counter are a nice touch.
I looked through the menu, which had “EAT ME” in large type on the front and seemed very extensive. Lots of dairy-free this and gluten free-that. There was lots of variety in the types of tea available, but not so for coffee. I’d already been to Nero’s with my fiancée in the morning, so didn’t need any more caffeine. Instead I just got a hot chocolate, which was arrived fairly quickly, along with a saucer to catch the drips from my spoon.
I had a bit longer to wait for my bacon and cheese filled oatcake. Oatcakes are a traditional Staffordshire snack, a lot like a large savoury pancake, which comes with a filling. When I play cricket I always like playing at Porthill Park in Stoke as they lay on oatcakes at the tea interval. This oatcake was definitely worth the wait, though I forgot to tell them that I happen to be allergic to side salad…
It was a nice little stop, and the oatcake certainly filled a hole. I’d definitely recommend the cafe, especially to anyone with allergies or a love of tea, but it’s not the best I’ve been to on this coffeeneuring adventure.
When I got home my latest purchase had arrived: a 1975 Suntour Cyclone rear derailleur. I can’t believe how slight it is, compared to the Vx there’s barely anything to it. At just 175g it’s about a 10% weight saving, but looks like more. The cable route passes straight down the middle of the parallelogram, which makes a lot of sense, but there’s no adjustable barrel to fine tune the cable tension which makes fitting the cable with the right tension a bit tricky for a non-expert. All in all it’s a really beautiful design, easily the equal of a Campagnolo.
Very sadly, my example’s been in the wars a bit – I imagine it’s been in a crash, as both adjusting screws are worn down a bit, and the protrusion the high stop screws into is a little broken. This means the screw isn’t securely held, so it’s a bit of a problem. I fitted it to the bike (with the high screw retained with a bit of wire) and gave it a brief try out, and it shifted nicely enough but not spectacularly different to the Vx. Probably needs a little fine tuning. I won’t be on Major Tom too much over the winter so I’ll leave it on until I give the bike a spring clean after Christmas. It cost me £15, but when compared to the cost of a cinema ticket, playing with a derailleur certainly gives me a few hours of valuable entertainment.
Not sure the WD40 fumes from cleaning it up have helped my cold any, however…