Saturday (5.27.17) was another day that we had been anxiously anticipating for a long time: our dear Spanish friends Teresa, Diego, Catalina, and Guillermo came to visit us in the UK. We met them at the Oxford bus station on Saturday, and enjoyed strolling around Oxford, including a lunchtime stop at the Turf Tavern, a charming Thirteenth Century pub nearly hidden at the end of a tiny alley in the heart of the university. After spending some time in Oxford, we headed back to Woodstock for meat pies and pints at one of our favorite Woodstock pubs, the Woodstock Arms.
The next morning we set off towards Birmingham, where we planned to visit the World of Cadbury, a museum/factory for the giant chocolate company. Diego has a soft spot for Cadbury. It was a treat for him when he was a boy. We planned our route to pass through Stratford-up-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, for lunch.
We got to Stratford and discovered … tourists. Tourists, tourists, and still more tourists. Coming not as single spies but in battalions. We couldn’t find parking and quickly became snarled in traffic, full of sound and fury signifying frustration. After failing to find any parking spaces in a very large garage, we realized that if we kept trying to fight our way through, we’d be stuck in Stratford until the last syllable of recorded time. So, out, out of Stratford we went.
We got to the World of Cadbury with no trouble and were excited to see what we could find.
Our tour through the World of Cadbury was equal parts history lesson, entertainment, and advertising. On the history side, Cadbury is extremely proud of Cadbury, and not without good reason. Cadbury is an English success story, but it turns out that Cadbury was also way ahead if its time in the treatment of workers, which apparently stemmed from the Quaker roots of its founders. Indeed, those same Quaker roots were part of the reason that the Cadbury family got into the chocolate business. The Quakers eschewed many traditional vices like alcohol, but had no problem with chocolate. Who doesn’t want to learn about the historical interplay between religion, labor markets, and chocolate in the Nineteenth Century?!
Who doesn’t? Kids. Fortunately, Cadbury knows what it is doing, and the history lesson didn’t last too long. Soon, we reached the part of the tour where we could eat fresh chocolate while watching demonstrations of how various chocolate products are made.
Fired up on sugar, the tour led to an area filled with Cadbury-related games, including this one that looked like something out of an 80s music video:
And this one, where the kids had to stomp on virtual candy on the floor. I’m not so sure that this is the instinct that I wanted to encourage in my children, but I’m sure Cadbury knows what they are doing.
We left via the gift shop, and bought waaaaay too much chocolate. By the time it was all over, the sugar and cocoa left us all a little giddy.
That’s me with Guillermo and a giant chocolate blob. (We didn’t know the little girl, but I think she had plenty of chocolate.)
It was a fun trip. We’ve spent most of our time visiting British places that range from old (middle ages) to very old (Roman era) to extremely old (Neolithic). It was great to see a modern part of Britain. Perhaps most importantly, Diego had such a ball that he sent a gloating text to his sisters, who immediately responded with envy.
Anthropomorphic chocolate and sibling rivalry? #winning
We left Cadbury and headed back toward Woodstock, but we detoured slightly north to have dinner at the White Horse Inn in the tiny village of Stonesfield. (I had discovered the pub a month or so ago on a bike ride.) We ate outside in the pub’s small, walled garden, enjoying a pleasant spring evening.
It was a magnificent day, and by the end of dinner, the lingering effects of the chocolate had disappeared. Well, starting to disappear at least.