At the mention of station cafe, I thought to check if anyone had include the one at Manningtree station on the thread. They serve real ale (Mr. V approves), as well as typical cafe foods, and a substantial English breakfast. I don't think they are exactly a tea shop, but they are an interesting blend of pub and station cafe that works pretty well.
There is reasonable cycle parking, nice routes in the area, and it's between NCN 51 and NCN 1 on the River Stour. It's also on the Essex Way, and offers lovely walks in 'Constable Country'.
I have to admit that I have been there only once in recent years (due to living abroad), and it didn't seem quite as nice the last time I visited (I don't know if that is nostalgia or deterioration!), but I used to be a regular visitor & thought it deserved mention here.
p.s. whether I prefer to stand, sit on a rock or a wall eating a packed lunch, or sit in a nice cafe & have someone bring me a fancy coffee drink varies depending upon my mood & what sort of ride I am doing.
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