Luckily enough, there wasn’t much traffic on the streets when I set out for a ride this morning in thick fog. Through a slightly dangerous combination of peering over my glasses and through the layer of condensation that built up immediately, I did manage to spot quite a large number of cyclists out there… I’m fairly sure I even saw a tandem at one point.
By the time I arrived in the city centre, I’d managed to clear my lenses enough to make out the shivering figure of my friend who’d decided that short finger gloves and a lightweight jacket would be sufficient to keep him warm on this chilly October morning.
Wardrobe choice was not the only mistake he made… but we’ll come back to that a little later.
If you’re a follower of the Northern Walker, you’ll know he’s recently finished building up a rather beautiful new road bike so we spent some time drooling over the details, discussing tube size and other such important matters before he had a quick spin to test out my cafe racer bars on the Ogre and eventually we set off in search of Coffeeneuring based adventure.
Pootling out of Manchester City Centre, we set off down Oxford Road in the general direction of Didsbury and The Art of Tea which Matt had recommended after reading good things about on t’ interweb. I was excited.
The ride down there was great, we continued chatting about nonsense and Matt got all nostalgic about how the place had changed since he’d lived there some years ago… something about “Ey, when I were a lad, it were all fields ’round ‘ere!” and “Ah, good to see Akbar’s is still there…” as we rolled through Kebab Alley.
- Where I went: The Art of Tea, 47 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6TW.
- Date I went there: Sunday 12th October 2014.
- What I drank: We both had white coffee which I ordered alongside a couple of simple toasted teacakes.
- A detail or two about my coffeeneuring ride: The coffee arrived after a short delay but there was no sign of teacakes. As time went by and we drank the coffee cups dry, still no teacakes. By which point we accepted the fact we’d been largely forgotten about, despite there being a sum total of 4 (count ’em, 4) other customers in the entire place.
When I went in to pay, I was told by one of the 2 waiting staff (that’s 3 customers or 1.5 tables per member of staff) that the chef was “having a crisis” and asked whether I still wanted my teacakes. I did not.
I spent a penny before leaving and cut my finger on the broken hot water tap… what a shambles. There are some simple basics I expect: if your so-called-chef is having a meltdown because he either can’t find the teackes, can’t get them out of the packet or can’t work the toaster, TELL ME. If something is damaged (and clearly has been for a long time) and is likely to cause injury to your customers, FIX IT. I’m sorry to say that you got the basics all kinds of wrong today, Art of Tea. And, because of that, I’ll NEVER be coming back again.
- Bike friendliness of the locale: Again, The Art of Tea scores extremely poorly here. Not a single bike rack in sight and outside tables crammed in so much that there’s nowhere there to leave your bike. Being a Sunday, the shop next door was closed so we leaned our bikes there and kept a close eye out.
- Mileage: Up to this point, around 12ish probably.
- Must visit?: For all the reasons above, and despite the clear potential of the place, I have no option but to recommend you don’t even bother going there in the first place, let alone going back time and again.
Well, with that unpleasantness out of the way, we set off in search of more adventure and somehow ended up heading back the way we came and then going on a bit of a tour around Eccles, Monton, Worsley, Swinton and a few other places.
At Worsley, we spotted a small shopfront and an intriguing alleyway running alongside it. We tentatively pushed the bikes down there and found ourselves in The Secret Garden – my official entry as Coffeeneuring ride #3:
- Where I went: The Secret Garden Tea Room, 11, Barton Road
Worsley, Manchester, M28 2PD.
- Date I went there: Sunday 12th October 2014.
- What I drank: This time we ordered tea for 2 which arrived in rather dainty little bone china cups and a bowl of asparagus soup each.
- A detail or two about my coffeeneuring ride: Asparagus soup is DELICIOUS! Service was quick, friendly and efficient. Surroundings were very pleasant and I could’ve quite easily sat there all day.
- Bike friendliness of the locale: We just piled into the place with our bikes and leant them against the gazebo in the corner – nobody batted an eyelid. Oh, and they didn’t seem to mind us nomming our soup like we hadn’t eaten in 2 days either.
- Mileage: By this point (we continued riding for a while after this), probably about 20.
- Must visit?: Oh hell yes. Get yourself down there RIGHT NOW.