Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bournville and Birmingham - Cadbury Factory!

Attempting to make the most of our few remaining weekends in London, today I headed to Bournville and Cadbury World.
Perhaps it was because I was on my own that I took a pessimistic view of the place. Each of the exhibits has been added piecemeal as the demands of the audiences over time changed. As a result, the whole experience is repetitive and non-cohesive. The exhibits:
  • Trace the history of chocolate and Cadbury (mix of models and hologram video) 
  • Takes you through the process of how chocolate is made at Cadbury (animation);
  • Takes you through the process of how particular chocolates are made (creme egg, buttons, orange cream, nut chocolate bar; video);
  • Get your picture taken with Cadbury images (against a green screen);
  • How chocolate is made at Cadbury (video);
  • View of the wrapping and packing machines (real life);
  • A history of Cadbury's television ads (while queuing for);
  • A small world mini train ride through mechanised cocoa bean characters (who helped with the discovery of dairy milk chocolate);
  • Demonstrations of the techniques of hand-made chocolate (real people) and a shot of liquid chocolate;
  • Advertisement avenue (a fact-learning exercise with the history of advertisements followed by some fun, interactive, movement games. Eg squash the chocolate by jumping on it);
  • Out through the shop and outside past the playground to Essence where you learnt about the 'magic' discovery of Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate and are then treated to a cup of liquid chocolate from the tubes with your choice of additives (I had wine gums).
It is recommended to set aside 3h for a visit. My visit was close to that and I was left with the impression that it was one long queue while they kept you occupied by feeding you information in lead up to the good bit.. Which never really came.

Please take this review with a grain of salt:
  1. I was on my own
  2. Lee wasn't there
  3. It is a working factory that just happens to make chocolate
After over-purchasing at the factory shop I explored some of the well-kept village that the Cadbury family had created for their factory workers - a factory in a garden. My favourite was the Ladies
Garden (the Gents were using theirs for football).

After that, I caught the train back into Birmingham for a look around.  All the things I had heard about it were true: industrial and grimy, that they are trying to clean up. The entire centre of the city
appeared to be shops, and plenty of them.  While this in itself provides an interesting photographic subject, I struggled to see it after the factory in a garden and a week of travelling the French countryside with Mum and Dad.  I'm sure if I had more time to adjust and explore (when it wasn't getting dark), I could have found the gems in Birmingham that I was looking for.

Sent while mobile

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Blood Brothers

As an ongoing aim to see as much while we're in London as we can, I have bought tickets to multiple theatre shows, the first of which was tonight - Blood Brothers.  (Spoiler alert.)

As the musicians played the first few notes I heard the conversation of the young couple behind me,
"..well, it's a musical"
"Why did we come to a musical? 
"Did you know it was a musical? 
"I wouldn't have come if I'd known it was a musical."

It is a story of twin brothers split at birth and brought up by two very different families in and around Liverpool.  It was a funny show for the first half, particularly when one of the main characters farted at a particularly opportune moment, and the others on stage couldn't recover.   

The end however was teary for me and I could only imagine what it would be like for a mother to be in those shoes.

A cast of 13 did a great job, in particular the Mother, Mrs Johnstone (Amy Robbins) and the son Mickey (Stephen Palfreman), although Edward (?) did well too.  The Narrator (Philip Stewart) had an excellent voice, but unfortunately was drowned out a bit by the instrumentals that were a little too loud.

I would recommend the show to most people.