On Saturday, we leaders took leave of our senses and went to Cadbury World with 45 young people from our Cubs, Scouts, and Exploder groups (oh, and one Beaver).
To a chocolate factory.
I have been to Cadbury World before, but not for about 20 years so I was interested to see how much it had changed since then.
Somehow the answer to that was both ‘lots’ and ‘not much’ – the things I remembered were still there, they just weren’t the shiny new things anymore!!
The first thing we did when we arrived was to go on the 4D experience which involved a ‘lift’ trip controlled by the erratic mini eggs parrot, and a 4D cinema film visit to cartoon Cadbury World (think Teletubby Land but chocolatey) which was actually really funny. You got to ride the Crunchie rollercoaster from the advert! Wheee!
After that, we headed into the factory proper for our tour and the Bournville Experience.
This involves walking through the history of chocolate – from the Mayans onwards! You journey through the Aztec Jungle, cross the sea in a ship full of cocoa beans (complete with raiding pirates), and see the Western nobility discover chocolate for the first time.
Then onto Bourneville, which is the bit I remembered the most from when I visited previously. Here you learn about the history of the Cadbury family and how they built and developed the company into the powerhouse of chocolate we know today. There’s a recreation of the street the company began on, and then Mr Cadbury and his sons tell you about how they used their different skills and interests to expand the movement. Going over to Holland to find out about new technology, and Switzerland to learn about incorporating milk into chocolate, and building Bourneville village itself for the workers of the factory and their families.
Then you go into a room where they take you through the process of how they take the beans and make them into chocolate. This involves you being shaken around, steamed, roasted, and ground. Yes, you. You become a bean. (Okay, so the bench shakes and they use a smoke machine and heat lamps, but still, you are the bean.)
Next up you go through a hall of Cadbury adverts and products through the ages – finding out how they make Buttons (21,000 Buttons a minute when the machine is at full capacity!) and having a good wander down memory lane for us old people. ‘Oooh I remember when that advert was new!’, ‘Do they even make Astros anymore?!’ (no), ‘Why doesn’t the Milk Tray man come visit anymore?’.
The kids did a lot of looking blank at some of these whilst we leaders all got excited about our favourites. Confirming that I am now, most definitely, old.
Then we got to go and play with some chocolate – no really, you get to have a go writing and drawing with melted chocolate, and have a try at manually tempering some yourself.
Turns out I can write much more neatly in chocolate than I can in pen.
Then there’s a cute little sit on car ride through another version of Cadbury World full of cheerful little cocoa beans (I am still slightly perplexed by how these happy little beans all work at making chocolate in the factory… out of cocoa beans. Isn’t that cannibalism? Why are they all so happy about it? Why did nobody in the design team ever think that maybe this was weird?!) It is clearly aimed more at younger kids, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun pretending to be on a high-speed roller coaster in our photo, and admiring how our neckers and badges all glowed in the UV cave.
Then we queued through a display of Things Made Of Chocolate (Full-size post box, with letters and a bulldog, and a 40 kg Easter egg being our favourites.)
That is not a chocolate Scout. But the egg behind it is entirely chocolate and weighs 40kg. (I know I already told you that… but FORTY KILOGRAMMES OF CHOCOLATE)
Then we were suddenly in a room where we got given a pot of melted chocolate to which we could add two toppings of our choice (I went for white chocolate buttons and fudge pieces) to eat whilst we could peer into the factory and watch them making chocolate teapots and demonstrations of how they make the different shapes for the bars.
Then it was time for lunch and a play in the adventure playground before we had our picture taken with the Caramel Bunny and then went to watch Freddo’s Circus.
Which was… loud. And bright. And overenthusiastic.
The Cubs loved it. I was impressed by the plate-spinning skills, but could have done without the mandatory ‘Freddo Circus Dance’ and other audience participation requirements. (Which we leaders dutifully did with sarcastic enthusiasm but the Scouts and Exploders flatly refused to do because Tween/Teenagers.)
Then we endured the shop with 45 over-excited kids (‘I have six pence left, so can I buy this cuddly toy?’ Er, no…) before going back out to the Adventure Playground until it was time to get the bus home.
Oh, and yes, I did manage to find badges for our Camp Blankets in the shop to remind us of our adventure!
Needless to say, I was very ready for a sit down when we got home.
And it’s archery, circus skills, and air-rifle shooting at Cubs tonight, so we get to see who was paying attention to Freddo in the circus!