Visit to Birmingham Museum and Cadburys World

On Wednesday 21st February we set out on another U3A outing, this time to The Birmingham Museum to see the Staffordshire Hoard and then on to Cadbury World.

As usual with our outings, despite being February the weather was dry and fine, although quite cold. Having left Carterton at the ungodly hour of 7.45 the rush-hour traffic was a lot less than expected. We had not realised that it was Half Term in the Birmingham area, which no doubt helped a lot.

The museum was due to open at 10 but having arrived early, some went for coffee whilst the remainder admired the buildings around the central square or just stood around chatting.

The Staffordshire Hoard needs to be seen to be believed. The hoard was discovered near the village of Hammerwitch, South Staffordshire in 2009, and consists of some 4,000 objects amounting to over 11lbs of Gold and 3.3lbs of Silver. The hoard is Anglo-Saxon and dates from around 650 to 670 i.e. after the Romans had left Britannia and before the invasion of the Vikings. This area at the time was the heartland of the Kingdom of Mercia. Not all of the objects are displayed but those that are, are nothing short of spectacular. There are pommels from Swords, Seax’s (large fighting knives), dress pins, decorative buttons and much much more including a Christian Cross. Many of the artifacts are decorated with Garnets and show influences of Celtic Art from central Europe where the Anglo-Saxons originally came from. Scientific analysis of the Garnets suggests that most originated from either India or what is now the Czech Republic; showing just how extensive trading was throughout Europe and the known world at this time. What came, as a great surprise to the conservationists was the amount and superb quality of the items of Filigree. All in all a visit to this museum to just view the Hoard is well worth the time.

The museum also includes many other treasures, Art, Ceramics, Roman and Greek artifacts and a whole area devoted to the people and history of Birmingham, once our greatest industrial city and the cradle of British Engineering that is admired throughout the world. The building itself is spectacular inside, beautifully kept and well laid out.

Just one downside. In the display of Roman & Greek cooking utensils and crockery, the bottle of Olive Oil still has its Morrisons label! Oops!!

The afternoon visit to Cadbury’s World was quite a contrast to the Museum visit.

We were warmly welcomed and soon ushered through the entrance, but not before receiving a selection of 3 bars of Cadbury’s chocolate.

We then entered the Aztec Jungle where we were transported back 1000 years in time to Mexico and through the tropical rainforest of the Mayan Indians. It showed the origins of the cocoa bean, amidst trees and waterfalls, deep in the ancient tropical rainforest; and how the cocoa tree was central to their culture.

A short film show told an inspiring story of John Cadbury’s struggle to establish the business and introduced us to his sons Richard and George. They told of their Quaker beliefs that led them to build a better kind of factory, in a green-field site away from the smoke and grime of the city. Next we walked through Advertising Alley displaying numerous advertising posters of their products through the ages. A special-effects cinema presentation, told us about the ingredients of milk chocolate and how they are combined to make a unique Cadbury taste. Here we were given a bar of Oreo chocolate.

The first Cadbury products could be seen in the principal shop opened by John Cadbury in 1824, in Bull Street. Many of the group enjoyed a Cadabra ride. We sat in small cars and enjoyed a gentle ride through a chocolate wonderland full of familiar characters.   Before exiting to the shop, we saw ladies decorating large chocolate Easter eggs. Then we were given a treat. A half-cup of warm chocolate with a choice of toppings to eat before visiting the huge shop. Before going back to the coach most visited the cafe.

There were numerous inter-active areas, circus skills, and an outdoor play area for the children.

A most enjoyable day out. Henry and Pam

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