Birmingham – (Bournville and Cadbury)

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Taking advantage of the ability to work from anywhere, we booked a trip down south to stay with some friends who live in the depths of deepest darkest England. They were willing to put up with us kicking about their place for a bit, and we got to hang out for longer than we would usually, in between me working.

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We travelled via Birmingham, and decided to spend a day or two there, rather than just passing on through. This was partly because of the times that our trains arrived and departed, but also because there’s some cool things in the city, and why waste the opportunity to go and see them? You never know when you might be back in a place, and the prevailing motto that has come from travelling about lately is: “well, we may as well whilst we’re here.”

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For the unfamiliar, Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK, behind London (obviously), and in front of Glasgow (blast).

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One of the things we opted to do was head over to the village of Bourneville.

Yep, Bourneville – like the chocolate.

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This is where the chocolate giant Cadbury is based. Infact, this isn’t just where they stick their head offices; this is a village that they built up from scratch, naming it themselves, and funding the local houses, schools, and everything else.

Even the roads still belong to Cadbury.

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The chocolate maker really does seem to seep into everything all around here, and people held a warm affection for them – they apparently provided rights for workers way before it was standard, and made sure that they had decent housing, etc. There’s an interesting piece in the Guardian that touches on this, and the related fears over the Kraft takeover here.

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There was geese living next to the factory. It made me wonder whether they were there as guard-geese, like the Ballantine whisky distillery make use of.

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Walking along this particular bit of path around the building, you could literally smell the chocolate. The air was filled with the thick aroma of what can only be described as a melted Wispa. Grace wondered if people who worked in the factory got sick of chocolate, and craved savoury things all the time.

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My pal Hannah used to live near here, so she sent us over some free tickets for the tour. Inside, it was very much an attraction rather than a factory tour (which, to be fair, they do point out), but it was still cool. We were unfortunately lumped in with massive school groups, and so we had to bat children out of the way anytime we wanted to move… and we realised that we’re probably not the target age range of this type of thing anymore.

However, they did give us free bars of chocolate at every corner we turned, and there was a really bizarre, LSD-inspired mini train ride thing with mini chocolate eggs singing weird songs in chipmunk voices and popping out of the walls. You couldn’t have made it up.

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The train station – where three modes of transport come together at once.

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