Cadbury World

Playing a little catch up here but thought I would post about a day trip I did with the kids before we left the UK.

As a true Brit, I am a chocoholic.  It’s a problem.  My whole family is addicted and the British definitely have a weakness for it.  Cadburys is our chocolate of choice.  Having lived in the US, we’ve struggled with brands such as Hersheys…a chocolate made from sour milk.  The Americans I would say, are less of chocolate people but more candy and sweet treats such as donuts to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Anyway, I had promised a trip to Cadbury World for the kids.  A day surrounded by our favorite chocolate…!  What could go wrong?

What a disappointment!   While I was fully aware this was NOT a tour of the factory, the entire experience was dull and tired.

First off, its most definitely geared to kids ages 2-7.  The ‘Tour’ was old and felt tired.  Antiquated in parts and then just a very long walk around the outskirts of the packaging plant.   The make your own chocolate was a small paper cup of melted chocolate with a couple of toppings thrown in….and so on.  Just disappointment at each turn.

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making your own chocolate

There was a ‘ride’ that looked like it was from the 1970’s and a new 4D cinema experience.  This was fun but it felt it was just 3 minutes long.

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On the tour

Costumed characters looked bored and it all seemed a bit awkward.

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Characters at Cadbury World

In my research before we went, I was excited to learn more about the town of Bourneville.  The town created by Cadbury to house the factory and workers.  Some great history.  Cadbury created a town, housing, recreational facilities and more to care for the well being of all those that worked for him.  As he was a Quaker, no pubs were established and to this day, there are still no pubs in the town.  There is a small museum detailing this history as part of the tour.  This was the most interesting aspect of the day (well for me anyway).  In past years, they would include a map of the Bourneville campus allowing you to walk around to view and appreciate this history here.  This year, they have removed the map from their tour pamphlet (I asked a member of staff to dig a map out for me).  With this and how poor the day was, I couldn’t help think that perhaps this tour is winding down, soon to close?.   As we know, Cadbury was bought out by Kraft.  The sense of family pride is no longer there and sadly the experience screamed of corporate, waiting for another necessary budget cut.

Were the kids disappointed?  Yes. Would we go again?  No.  Can you get a much better deal on Cadburys at the Co-op?  Yep!

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York

A brief post about a flying visit to York a few days ago.  I wont really do it justice as the trip was quick and I know there is so much more to see and do here.

My Sister in law and I took a train from Manchester into York.  A quick trip, just 1.5 hours and the views (cross Penines) can be lovely at times.  Its so nice to take a train.   With so much driving in the car this year, taking a break and being a passenger was welcome.

I have a good childhood friend that lives in York so the intention was to catch up and send time with her.  Sadly, we haven’t been able to get to York as a family as we’ve been so busy and its been just a bit too far for the weekend.   So being in Manchester for a week, allowed a day trip to make this happen.

Naturally, no trip to York is complete without a trip to York Minster.  My friend was fortunate enough to be married in the Minster and I was bridesmaid.   It was a great day and memorable being such an impressive venue.

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York Minster

This trip we were disappointed with the Minster.  Now they charge £10/ adult to enter (kids are free).   The charge seems high and is the only Minster/ Cathedral we have visited int he UK so far that makes a charge.  Additionally, on entering, the Minster was filled with workmen and scaffolding setting up for some theater productions.  I am sure now, these are no longer happening but then the charge still applied despite the disruptions.   Having been to the Minster many ties before, the level of scaffolding and high charge, we opted not to go further.   Interestingly enough, a large group ahead of us was also put off by the charge and opted not to pay.   I wonder if the entrance fee sometimes works against the minster vs relying on donations?

We opted for a couple of quick snaps outside and moved on!

Lunch was looming so we checked out Tripadvisor for some good eats.  Going for Fish and Chips, we went to Drakes in the center of town.  Not bad food but perhaps there are better choices in town?  It was fine though and caters for tourists wanting the classic British dish.

We spent a lot of time walking around the streets of York.  Architecture and history is fascinating.  The shambles I think is the most photographed street in England and we also stopped into York’s most haunted pub.

While we didn’t do it, there is a cat trail of York.  Its is a self guided trail and info can be found online and certain shops.  We did a few and enjoyed seeing the cats as we walked through the day.


The day was cooler than we had had all week so we opted to stop for hot drinks to warm up.  A must do is the York Cocoa House.  Hot chocolates are amazing and for the grown ups, they can make them much less sweet so a little more sophisticated.   Each drink comes with a complimentary chocolate of the month (ours was Ginger) and the cake selection was fabulous too.  If you lived locally or had a longer stay, they offer chocolate making classes and more.

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York Cocoa House

Shopping in York is really good.  Huge range of stores from high end, to novelty and then also great antique stores.   We enjoyed browsing through some more of the unusual shops..

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Soap Store

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Fun novelty gift store

We wrapped up our day with a walk around the city walls.  The walls afford some pretty views and again, steeped in history for the city which dates back to 71 AD when the Romans arrived.

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Walking city walls and view of the Minster

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Clifford Tower

If you are visiting the North of England, York is a must do and if we had time, we would be back!

Supermarkets…

One of the big highlights of being back in the UK is the competitive nature of the supermarkets and the vast choice and quality of food!

Our first visit to a supermarket was Tescos.  A giant of a supermarket chain and reportedly the 3rd largest retailer in the world (profits at 2.2BNpds), approximately 27% of the UK market share for supermarkets.  Not only a giant in corporate size but by location too.  You can only imagine how children’s eyes lit up as we entered through the sliding doors.

While we cant really complain with the choice and availability of good food in the US, there is just something different about the supermarket experience in the UK.  Perhaps its the efforts in the retail environment, or the breadth of choice across all the departments or quality of the food?

 

Who knows but we went wild….

 

By the end of the trip – which was only for school uniforms (yes supermarkets in the UK sell clothes too!), the trolley was brimming with sweet treats and nostalgic items from my childhood – Ribena, fruit malt loaf and Cadbury fudge bars to name a few!

A down side to the supermarket extravaganzas on offer is the over sell of sweet items.   Since being in the UK, Jamie Oliver  has launched his sugar/ obesity campaign.  The US has always had a bad rap of being a nation of donut lovers and obesity with the UK even jumping on the bandwagon.  Whereas, in reality, and as an outsider looking back into the UK, I would argue the UK has a greater problem.

Supermarket experience highlights this greatly.  US supermarkets (that I am used to), are clearly laid out with a place for everything.  Bakery, deli, cookies, dairy etc.

UK supermarkets, while there is a place for everything, in EVERY place, you can also buy something sweet!  EVERY aisle has some sort of sweet offer…just in case you missed it in the aisle you were last in.

Our first visit to the shops, this was fun.  5 months in, this seems wrong.  Massive discipline is needed to get through a store to not load the trolley with sweets and junk…..and they are all so good!

Another disturbing sight in the supermarkets is the labeling of the aisles….Children’s drinks and Children’s cereals are the worst.  Targeted foods and drinks specifically for children.  Sugar laden and not a sign of goodness in sight.  Talk about making it difficult for a parent to make the healthier choice when the kids only want to shop from their sections! While Jamie Oliver may have a sugar fight on his hands, I am not convinced, taxing soft drinks is  the only way to go…start at the ground level and change supermarkets/culture in selling!

While the UK has a very sweet tooth, the prevalence of chocolate everywhere could be curbed.  As a child, chocolate was a treat.  My kids came home from school and made the statement that every child has some form of chocolate in the their lunchbox every day!  How times have changed.  The raisins just weren’t going to cut it here.

As noted, we are 5 months in.  I have become more savvy in my weekly shopping.  Knowing not to fall into the sweet trap at every turn and preferably not taking the kids with me.

While i wont miss the sugar when we leave, I will certainly miss the outstanding quality and choices of all else.

If we were excited after our first trip to Tesco’s, you can only imagine how we were when we first ventured into Waitrose…..