GUISBOROUGH, my hometown, is an ancient market town located on the northern most edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, roughly 10 miles south of Middlesbrough – I urge you, please don’t knock the area until you’ve experienced it for yourself!
Good old Guisborough is home to a disproportionately large number of independent coffee shops and tea rooms, all equally lovely and each with their own individual quirks.
Every once in a while a new kid arrives on the block, the endearingly named ‘Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House’ tucked away on Bow Street was the latest to catch my eye.
Thingy-Ma-Jigs is a family run business opened in December 2016 by Bruce Cameron, originally from Chichester, and his wife. The pair decided to move up north (his wife is originally from Middlesbrough) after previously living in West Sussex.
A friendly chap, he makes you feel welcome and well looked after. He knows the menu inside out and quite rightly as, apart from the bread, he makes everything himself from scratch! All the cakes are gluten free, but I’ll come onto that later in this post…
The first thing I noticed about this new cafe was the chalkboard sign in the window advertising that it is a dog friendly premises, “Dogs welcome with well behaved owners”. Max the lab in tow, this seemed like the ideal place to stop for a spot of lunch.
Though Guisborough has cafes aplenty, I think only a couple of them allow dogs so this was greatly convenient for us as we were already out and about with ours. Max was even treated to a few doggy biscuits to keep him out of trouble.
What’s on Offer
Bruce talked us through the menu which consisted of paninis and homemade soup of the day which was carrot and coriander on this occasion. A variety of scones and muffins, Victoria sponge cake, rocky road, caramel shortcake, brownies and flapjack were among the sweet offerings – again, all gluten free and made by Bruce himself!
There was a good selection of specialty teas, including matcha green tea which I haven’t seen anywhere else in the local area. Excitedly, I ordered some and it was served to me with the traditional Japanese bowl and bamboo brush.
If you fancy something a bit more cool and refreshing, there are a few of the old fashioned Fentiman’s drinks on offer including the rose lemonade and sparkling elderflower. I also noticed that there was flavoured popcorn available, we didn’t see this until the very end and so we will be trying some on our next visit.
Think lots of reclaimed wood, odd chairs, fresh potted herbs on the tables and a couple of comfy leather arm chairs. Thingy-Ma-Jigs walks the line between olde worlde charm and modern rustic. With a casual atmosphere and easy listening background music, it is a great place to meet for lunch or simply to sip good coffee and chill out.
There is an inbuilt bookcase, boarded with reclaimed wood, conveniently situated next to a comfy looking arm chair by the window – the perfect spot to while away an afternoon; engrossed in a good book, coffee and cake within easy reach.
The Food – What We Had
There were three of us out for lunch, not including Max. Between us we had two ham and cheese paninis, soup of the day, a brownie, a slice of Victoria sponge and lemon polenta cake (one of my favourites).
The paninis were made fresh and the fillings were generous with an abundance of oozing cheese. The soup was served in a deceptively large mug with a seeded bread roll on the side. It was hearty and you could tell that it had been made fresh as it tasted light and zingy.
We were also kindly given a small sample of the caramel shortcake, flapjack and the fruit, seed and nut bar. All were delicious and I will definitely have a hard time choosing what to have next time!
I have to be honest and admit that I hold mixed opinions on gluten free food. Unfortunately the definition of ‘gluten free’ has been muddled over the past few years with so many people claiming to be gluten intolerant. I’m really not sure why, but it seems to have been mistakenly tied in with a healthy diet and lifestyle which is more fiction than fact, in my opinion.
On the other hand, there are a number of people with a genuine gluten allergy/intolerance. According to the charity Coeliac UK, Coeliac disease – an autoimmune condition – affects 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom. I do have a couple of friends who are required to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Further to this, I also know a number of people who follow the paleo lifestyle in which there is no room for gluten.
Ultimately, having a cafe nearby that means you can go for tea and cake with friends and family, whether they require gluten free food or not, is a wonderful thing. It means that everybody can enjoy what’s on offer and not have to worry about dietary restrictions in this context.
Although the cakes were gluten free, I certainly couldn’t tell the difference, if anything I would say the shortbread was more crisp than ordinary shortbread and the sponge lighter. Thingy-Ma-Jigs really made an impression on me and I will certainly be visiting again very soon! If you’re in the Guisborough area, it’s worth popping in and seeing for yourself.