Saturday, 24 May 2014

Chocolate, whiskey and Walls

Firstly a note about UK elections for my political mates. There were elections in the UK yesterday for several things and we chatted with a booth worker as we passed. The booths are open 7am to 10pm and at 8pm only 25% of voters had turned out as it isn't compulsory here and the booth worker said they would prefer our compulsory system. What was good was that no party is allowed to hand out at polling booths so we liked that idea.  So there you go.

Today dawned grey and after yet another hearty breakfast we headed out for a walk before our 10am tour booking here
York is, in many ways, the home of the English speaking chocolate industry with Rowntree, Cadbury, Fry and Terry all starting in York and this tour took us through the history as well as the process of making chocolate including samples.  You can't take photos until you reach the mock factory floor but there is still some history there including how chocolates were sent to soldiers during the wars and letters written back from the trenches.  
Mr Rowntree was well ahead of his time in the way he looked after his workers. I don't think he would approve of some of what is currently happening.  Oh and confirmation that eating chocolate is good for you.
Then we were able to make our own chocolate bars.decorations first.
And the finished result. Garrie's the winner with many more smarties!
We also watched the expert making filled chocolates.  Basically add chocolate to the mould, tip most if it out again, put it upside down to make a constant shell thickness, then fill it, cover the end with chocolate, set it and bob's your uncle.  I did find myself wanting to dip my head into the bowl of chocolate Dawn French style. 
And voila
They make some amazing things
These Easter eggs are about 4 foot tall!
And yes this is also all made of chocolate
So after a very pleasant time we came out licking our lips to explore a little more of York. We had seen a photo of a cat on a roof in out BnB and what a great photo it is. I took one myself today
No it isn't real. Remember the mouse from yesterday? It's the same thing. A calling card from a craftsman. We found two more cats today.
And loads more mice
Yes that does also say Betty's. Well you didn't think we'd miss a day did you? This time we went to the other Betty's - same owner but just a little way up our favourite street
Much smaller and incredibly quaint, but with the same incredible food and service. We shared ham sandwiches and chips.
And a Fat Rascal, of course.
My tea of choice today - Pi Lo Chun green tea. Wonderful.
We thought we should buy some very special biscuits to share with our cycling friends who probably already know that this year's Tour de France starts in York. Well Betty's is ready!
There is also a big chocolate bear with a yellow jersey on - too difficult to carry (and £30!)
The afternoon was spent walking the city and its walls
Garrie, tired of having his photo taken, threatened to jump from the walls. (Just kidding)
We crossed the river Foss today too
And continued to enjoy the wildlife
We managed to miss the rain showers and even came across a bridal party with a groom who looked spookily like Oscar Pistorious (or at least we thought so)
And found another owl of the day for Noeline
Then we came across this lovely shop
You can try before you buy and Garrie went straight for the single malt whiskeys!
Not to be left behind I started on the liqueurs
Did we leave empty handed? As the locals would say "did we heck as like"!
Stumbling down the road I tried to exchange Garrie for a Teddy Bear
But came home with a hedgehog instead
There's another reason why Stonegate is our favourite street in York, yes the House of the Trembling Madness is here too.  We finished our day with the Hunters Platter which included wild boar, duck, chicken, ham, venison and even quail eggs.
Though I was a bit disconcerted to find this fellow just over my head.
Just after we walked in to eat the heavens opened but when we left the sun was shining. The streets were dry as we entered.
Sun all the way.
May we be as lucky in Scotland where we head tomorrow!