Monday, 23 June 2014

Saving the best until last

Greystoke Cycle Cafe garden
OK, so I'm a day or so late with this, but that was because I was far too busy yesterday having fun back at the Greystoke Cycle Cafe,  While Steve was doing manly things and making his longbow, I was having a wonderful time on my Pen and Wash course and having a good old poke around inbetween times.

The cafe is owned and run by the wonderful Annie - a woman whose boundless energy and optimism is surpassed only by her thoughtfulness and ingenuity.  The cafe is specifically for cyclists and it has everything those travelling on 2 wheels could possibly ever need - as well as a warm welcome and fabulous, plentiful food you will find cycle pumps, clamps for essential repairs alongside cans of oil, plus jugs of juice and water to refill your bottles as you head off on your way.  And if you happen to turn up and find them closed, worry not, for there is a room of dry towels, hot water bottles, flapjack, tea and coffee which is all covered by your trusted payment into the honesty box.  There really is no other place like this and the many lovely comments in their visitors book show just how valued the cafe is by everyone who visits.

Everything the cyclist needs

Warmth, shelter and flapjack!
But it never rains in Cumbria!
Don't just take my word for it!
But there is way more to this cafe than just being a cafe!  Throughout the year they run an amazing selection of quirky and unusual courses allowing you to learn everything from cheesemaking to stone carving and of course longbow making.  The full list is here - they make perfect birthday or Christmas presents with Annie being sure to send you a lovely message to put inside your card and welcoming everyone personally when they arrive.

Steve will tell you all about his Longbow making course on his own blog, but suffice to say that the course ended with 9 happy men firing their longbows in the field opposite the cafe.

9 happy men and their longbows!
Tony Saunders who runs the Longbow Course and his
fab cheeky Tshirt

The pace of the Pen and Wash course was somewhat more sedate, but the tutor Margaret Jarvis was engaging and talented and soon had us all confidently splashing colour around and creating masterpieces.  The talent within the group was impressive and embarrassing at the same time - I love trying to paint but lack any real talent, though I more than make up for that with my use of colour, lots and lots of colour.  I can always see the picture in my minds eye, it just never makes it out of the end of my hand and on to the paper...

The beginning...
After a few expert tips!
Please don't judge the quality of the tuition by the
standard of my dodgy masterpiece!
Greystoke Cycle Cafe has been there for around 8 years and on a hot sunny Sunday there really is no reason why it shouldn't be packed to the rafters.  During the course we got to sample the many delights of the menu - home made soups (including a foraged and utterly delightful weed soup), home made cordials, fresh scones, puddings to die for and all served with a smile and a friendly word.  It was great watching the expressions of the people stopping by for the first time as they tried to take it all in.

So many people say they're looking for a proper traditional cafe, well here it is.  You can keep your anonymous over priced coffee chains, if there were only more wonderful little gems like this around the world would be a lot nicer place.