If you read my post from Fountain’s Abbey you will remember that the Saturday of the August bank holiday was a soggy one. When you’re in your warm and cozy home it’s not a big deal but in a tent with two active children you need to find a dry option. There was nothing for it but to shelter in the safety of the local pub in Boroughbridge in the evening just to escape the downpour-what a hard life! With the added bonus of chips and connect 4 provided by the bar to keep the kids entertained and the Newcastle match for the majority of the lads (bar Alan)
Rain, rain go away!
As we surfaced on the Sunday morning the weather was looking much the same-grey clouds and rain. A few places were suggested like Brimham Rocks and Eden Camp, but we thought as we were only half an hour from York we would head there. We figured that being a touristy city there was plenty to do in all weathers… and there’s always the pub option again.
After parking up near York train station we thought about the National Railway Museum, which we have visited a few times over he years, but Imogen wasn’t keen and gave me that ‘are you serious?’ look whereas Abigail wasn’t too fussed. A quick look on Trip Advisor suggested the Chocolate Museum as a top touristy attraction so we decided to head there as a rough plan. Chocolate? Indoors in the dry? I’m there!! And the kids were keen on this idea too.
En route to the town centre Alan got his phone out-this means one thing in my world-geocaching! And we found a few in some cool spots as we headed towards the town centre on the opposite side of Revolution bar-the location of many of a staff work day out. As we approached the bridge across the Ouse we heard loud music and a tannoy coming from Micklegate. At first I thought it was an open air concert but then we saw massive crowds and the big bales of hay lining the street we thought maybe not? Unless it was a country and western band? As we approached the mystery was solved.
It was the annual Micklegate Soap Box rally! With kids hoisted on shoulders we tried to get a good glimpse of them but it was so busy and those things can go fast!! It seemed that it was a real community effort with a lot of local business having sponsored each soap box and it was at the heart of it a way of raising money for local charities! Maybe Newcastle could organise one down Grey Street? Need to make sure there’s lots of hay bales in case they end up in the Tyne though.
We made our way to York’s Chocolate Story and stood in line to get some tickets. A family of four ticket was £34.95. We were told that the next available tour was at 3.30pm so we had around 45 minutes to wait which seemed reasonable. The rain had actually stopped and the York Fire-eater was just about to start his show outside in the square so we were happy to hang about outside. Our friends, the Coulson’s, had opted for the train museum so we met up with them to watch the street performer and at this point Louise and William decided to join us on the chocolate tour. The York Fire-eater was brilliant and managed to fire eat, juggle while riding a unicycle blindfolded. Definitely worth a few quid in the hat! Check him out on Facebook.
As requested we started to line up for the tour 10 minutes beforehand. Bang on time the lift door opened and we piled up and headed up to begin the tour. Our tour guide was a friendly young girl who’s name I missed. When we were assembled she asked us our favourite chocolate bar!! as she went round a lot of the favourites Rolos, Kitkats, chocolate oranges were made in the city of York. The smell of chocolate was already wafting up through the exhibition getting you in the mood to get down to some serious chocolate education.
I won’t spoil the tour too much and as we were embargoed from taking photographs in this section you will need to use your imagination. Basically the rooms provided interactive storytelling of where cocoa beans grow and the bloody Aztec wars over control of them and then moving onto York the local Quaker families the such as the Rowntree’s, Fry’s and Terry’s. These Victorian business owners spotted a gap in the market for mass produced confectionery goods and were masters in branding and marketing. The families were well regarded in the city as they strove to provide excellent working conditions and modern homes for the multi-generational families who worked hard in the factories. They were really cleverly done and kept all of us interested. During the tour there was lots of taste testing-the cocoa drink which originally was the only way to consume chocolate was particularly removed from what we have today. Not good!!
As we made our way out the next part was interactive and the children got to help make chocolate in a ‘factory’ using a nifty computer animated table. We sampled the raw cocoa too-very saw dust like and a bar made with just the raw cocoa butter which was very bitter. In this part of the exhibit there were lots of facts well displayed, lots of old advertising billboards and more photographs from around the factories.
Next up was chocolate lolly making where on the table was lots of pots of sprinkles, and chocolate flakes that we could go crazy with. These were set and ready to eat in around 10 minutes just after we watched the confectioner whip up some delicious fruit filled chocolates (which we could sample)
Emerging from the tour feeling a bit sick, we had a quick browse in the shop but didn’t buy anything. The tour had taken exactly 1.5 hours which is stated on the entrance details. As an aside the shop is open to the public and has a lovely busy cafe which was serving up delicious looking chocolate fondues. Next time!
Visit the official website for more information www.yorkschocolatestory.com/