A tour of hot chocolate

Lorna and Zoe Downing indulge in Cadbury World
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The Independent Travel
The saying goes that when there's rain in the air you can smell the chocolate wafting through the factory air vents on your approach to Cadbury World. So if you're heading for this chocolate emporium at Bournville, outside Birmingham, try to time your visit to coincide with a couple of black clouds.

Resist the temptation of hitting the Cadbury Trail first, with its free samples and potted history. Instead, take a tour along the Factory Trail which winds through imposing Victorian factory buildings. By the time you pass go for the Cadbury Trail you will have worked up an appetite for your first free sample.

The give-away goodies are generous - and there's no point in taking your diet with you, or your hang-ups about acne. You are expected to have too much of a good thing here.

The chocolate experience is not all edible. It's educational, too. The Cadbury Trail unwraps the story behind the history of chocolate and the start of Cadbury's. Meanwhile, the factory packaging plant gives you a taste of what is involved in the production of Cadbury's chocolate and the demonstration area allows you to watch handmade chocolate being decorated.

Frankly, it is disappointing not to see rows and rows of factory workers supervising the 66,000 creme eggs which Cadbury produces every hour, but the days when you could take all your relatives, head-lice and all, around the factory floor ended in l970 when new health-and-safety legislation was introduced. You just have to make do with imagining the eggs flying out of the machine at 50mph.

The visitors

Lorna Downing, an office manager from Berkshire, took her 10-year-old daughter, Zoe, and young friend Tom to Cadbury World.

Zoe: I'm not a great chocolate fan so I didn't have any trouble stopping myself from eating it all the time. My friend Tom, who came with us, ate loads of it, though. By the time we were three quarters of the way around he looked quite green around the gills. It was nice, though, to be given such a hoard of free chocolate. It means I can either eat it gradually or share it with my friends.

I don't think this is the sort of place to come to if you're worried about your figure. But there's lots to see, and loads of information about chocolate. You get to try some of the original chocolate drink which they made in the rainforests. It had chilli in it and was pretty disgusting. Nothing like the chocolate we eat today.

I enjoyed watching the handmade chocolate being decorated. It looked really good fun. The Cadbury Fantasy Factory was good, too, especially for small children, and there's an amazing hall of mirrors where you are completely surrounded by changing images of chocolate.

I think it's a good place to take schoolchildren as it's so well laid out and interesting, and the history of chocolate is very well explained.

Lorna: I've always been a bit of a chocaholic - but I'd never realised how fascinating a history it had. The Cadbury Trail takes you right from the beginnings of chocolate in the Central American rainforests, where the Maya Indians first harvested the cocoa beans, through to the mass production of chocolate bars and the creation of commercials such as the Cadbury Milk Tray advert.

It gives a really good succinct history of the Cadbury brothers, who were a Quaker family with a philanthropic approach to the commercial world.

It goes without saying that the actual chocolate experience of Cadbury World was great. The temptation of freshly tapped chocolate that is only 20 minutes old was too much. I ate it straight away.

The deal

Location: Cadbury World is at Bournville Birmingham, junction 2 off the M42, junctions 2 and 4 off the M5,and junction 6 off the M6 (0121-451 4159).

Price: adults, pounds 5; children, pounds 3.45; under 5s, free; senior citizens, pounds 4.35 (Mon-Fri only); family ticket, pounds 14.50 (two adults and two children) or pounds 17.50 (two adults and three children).

Opening times: 10am-5.30pm. Open daily throughout October, and at weekends and selected weekdays throughout November and December.

Facilities: free parking; picnic and play area; disabled access except in packaging plant; push-chair access except in production areas. Toilets positioned in reception area and half way around the Cadbury Trail. Restaurant, "Quite pricey and limited selection," said Lorna. "We paid pounds 6.60 for fish and chips, a meat pie and one child's drink."

Shop: Plenty of souvenirs plus a bargain corner.

Note: The packaging plant cannot be guaranteed to be working at all times.

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