So, I intended in my previous entry to mention our trip to the Cadbury chocolate factory, on the 13th. David and I were trying to find something nice to do for V-Day, and he came up with the idea of a chocolate factory tour. I'd not been on a factory tour since going to the Tillamook cheese factory when I was eight, so I was game for the idea. And, as I've seen Charlie and Chocolate Factory, I was pretty sure what I was in for.
So, we shlepped on Virgin Trains up to Birmingham and spent the morning wandering around the centre of town.
Robin is from Birmingham, but doesn't like to talk about it much. Could it be something about the number of pinched, in-bred looking faces, Jesus-freaks, and general flotsam and jetsom that seemed to be wandering about? Birmingham was, officially, the first city in the UK to be designed around the car, which means that the city centre (I have to do British spelling, btw, or the website grumps at me), at street level, is laid out in the general spaghetti fashion that is so popular outside of North America (ie., no pattern whatsoever), with the addition of huge viaducts everywhere, packed with traffic. This, combined with the rather high level of empty stores, makes for a very strange place. There is a huge market right in the middle of everything (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Birmingham_Wholesale_Markets.jpg) selling just about everything you could possibly imagine. All was happy and fine until we got to the rack of skinned sheep's heads, sitting among brains, tripe, hooves, entire legs, and things I'm not entirely sure what they were - I wasn't very hungry at that point. ;-) We also went up in one of those huge Ferris wheels they plop into state fairs and whatnot. David, Mr. Totally-Afraid-of-Heights was less than entirely pleased that the glassed-in car was, well, very glass. Oh well. Like big dummies, we spent £10 on pictures of us looking like dorks.
So, we took the local train down to Bournville, a leafy suburb of Birmingham (purpose-built by Cadbury, apparently). As we got off the train the first thing I noticed was that the air smelled like chocolate. So far so good! The Cadbury factory itself very much resembled a huge, old fashioned, Midwestern school building - all red brick with playing fields around it. Cadbury World, here we come!
The reality is, well, a bit more of a very small version of a chocolate-themed Disneyland done with some chewing gum, a shoe lace, and a little bit of tape. OMG, what an amazing bunch of schlock that was! £11 each to wander around inside a corner of the factory, surrounded by horrid children, listening to various Cadbury propaganda films (my personal fave was the one showing how cocoa is produced - the bits shown in Africa are all in black and white, and look like they are about 75 years old - the bits in the UK are all in glorious colour. PC police on line 1!). There was a little ride that we went on - very much Small World but with little dancing brown turdlike things that I think were supposed to be cocoa beans. We got to peak into a corner of the wrapping plant (we weren't actually allowed inside the factory itself, for 'Health and Safety Reasons'). But yeah - well done them for getting us to pay that much to wander around a cheaply done set and learn all about how fabulous they are! Still though, we did get some free chocolate, and I will admit (secretly) that I had a great time. I neglected to mention the takeover by Kraft while I was there... ;-) Next stop, on our schlock tour of England, is Legoland!
Anyway, not much else. It remains grey and miserable (though it is a lot warmer), and my bike really needs to be washed - the brakes are screaming like banshees at the moment. It doesn't make one look very cool when one pulls up to a light and the pigeons all take off b/c of the noise. Sigh.
Suppose I should do a little work now.