Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Summer Break

We’re not going on holiday this summer. We’ve already had two holidays this year so I’m trying my best not to be greedy. It’s hard though when all around you are downing tools and jetting off to distant lands. It’s even worse when they come back tanned and relaxed from a week or two of sheer indulgence while I’m here juggling work, childcare and home and feeling decidedly stressed.

To make us all feel as though we weren’t so left out, the weekend before last I booked us on a mini break. To Bromsgrove.

‘Bromsgrove!’ I hear you exclaim, ‘Why Bromsgrove?’

Well, for a start is not too far to travel but far enough away from home to feel as though you’ve had a break. Secondly I got a really good deal at the Hilton Bromsgrove; £60 a night bed and breakfast for a family of four and kids eat free in the restaurant at any time. Evening meal for the adults was moderately priced at three courses for £20. To top it all there were no family rooms left so we had two interconnecting rooms which meant the boys had a room to themselves complete with TV and bathroom. They were really chuffed! The staff at the hotel were lovely too, they couldn’t do enough to make our stay pleasant and there was a fantastic swimming pool with splash time so that the boys to really muck around. I can’t recommend it enough and will definitely go back.

Another reason to stay was that close by were two places I had wanted to visit for a long time: Warwick Castle and Cadbury World.

Entry to both of these can be a bit pricey so I did a bit of sleuthing and found some online discounts and paid for the entry before we went. It does commit you to having to go on a particular day regardless of the weather, but it saves a fortune. Well worth the time and effort to find out in advance.

Here we were lucky again because the weather on Saturday while we were at the castle was fantastic and on Sunday we were mostly inside so it wasn’t that important that it had gone a bit grim.


This is the view as you go into the castle. I don’t know what it is about castles but I just love them. We often go to visit Beeston close by and even though it was a castle used for defence and was never actually lived in, you can almost feel the history seeping out of the bricks.


Fancy getting married? On our way out, we saw a wedding party coming out of the church and I bet the reception was being held here. How about that for a memorable setting?


Throughout the day there were lots of demonstrations to keep us entertained. Here’s the jousting:



And the rebels coming in by boat.


A view from inside the castle grounds:




And what better way to end the day than putting the kids in the stocks.


We were taken back in time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


The boys were really looking forward to going to Cadbury World. I found it fascinating to see how chocolate was brought to this country and how a small family developed its manufacture to become such a well known brand. Not only were they ahead of their time in the manufacturing process but also in the way they treated their staff. Unusually for the time they thought that if the staff were treated well the owners would benefit too. So they built the workers a village with affordable, good quality housing and a social structure which would inspire loyalty. The cricket ground is still there today and the houses are still owned by the association to benefit people in the local area.

That part might have been a bit factual for the boys but they bore it well. They enjoyed tasting the samples and walking round the packaging factory and the smell was just to die for.

We also had a trip around the area where chocolates are hand crafted. I saw a pair of stilettos there, made completely out of milk chocolate, being decorated in white chocolate (sorry I couldn't get a pic). I would say that is the ultimate female combination – shoes and chocolate.

Also entertaining was the archive of TV adverts – they certainly brought back some memories.

Finally before our journey home we visited the shop and stocked up on cut price goodies.

And now begins the exercise regime!

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