Mmm. Imagine uniting your passion for travel with your love of chocolate; we did in the run-up to this year’s World Chocolate Day, which falls on 7 July, and found seven scrumptious ways to indulge a sweet tooth while exploring the globe. Whether you yearn to see how cacao is grown, harvested and processed, to learn about its surprising healing qualities or simply want to gorge on the best chocolate bars that money can buy, these are the places to go. Explore a chocolate factory at Cadbury World, Bournville, UK Pop into any corner shop or newsagent in the UK and you’ll be able to grab a bar of Dairy Milk. But at Cadbury’s factory on the outskirts ofBirmingham, you’ll get more than just a sugar rush for your money. Part of the Bournville model village, created by Cadbury’s in the late 19th century to provide high quality housing and education for its workers, the factory itself offers the chance to see the sweet stuff being made up close. There’s also a look at the company’s world-renowned advertising campaigns and, yes, the chance to snap up chocolate bars and other treats that you won’t find elsewhere. Once you’ve finished gorging … Continue reading Globetrotting for chocoholics

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2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, English literature’s greatest name. It’s not just his writing that has endured for centuries. You can explore a string of fascinating exhibitions, artefacts and performances celebrating his life and art in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and beyond. Acrobatics and fireworks with the Royal Shakespeare Company Set on the riverbank in the pretty Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the three theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are worthy of a visit at any time. Shakespeare was born and died here, and for the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s passing, the company is going all out with a string of events at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST), theSwan and the Other Place. On 23 April, the date of his death, a new acrobatic piece calledWondrous Stage starring his best-known characters will be performed in front of the RST. There are workshops to teach budding actors everything from stage fighting to voice projection, and a fireworks display at 10pm. If you can’t make it on the day, the Well Said!exhibition at the RST (until 18 September 2016) includes the company’s most famous actors picking their favourite Shakespeare lines. Fresh discoveries at New Place The site of Shakespeare’s … Continue reading Four hundred years on: celebrating Shakespeare in 2016

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Often billed as ‘the heart of England’ thanks to its central position, Warwickshire has long been a fulcrum of English culture. The county is best known for Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, but Warwickshire has much more to entice history fans and anyone with an interest in England’s deep and sometimes quirky culture. Warwick: jewel in the crown Dating from 1068 and enlarged many times since, Warwick Castle is one of the most impressive medieval structures in England, complete with towers, battlements, gateways and a gigantic portcullis. Today it’s home to a constant supply of attractions, including a maze, birds of prey displays, historical re-enactments, and the chance to try activities such as archery or pulling a sword from an anvil, King Arthur-style. If you’re travelling with kids, plan on spending a full day here, and remember not to leave them in the dungeon. Surrounding the castle on three sides (on the fourth side is the River Avon) is the sturdy town of Warwick, initially established as a strategic fortified town in the ancient kingdom of Mercia and now the county town – effectively the capital – of Warwickshire. Despite a serious fire in 1694, many of Warwick’s medieval buildings remain, including … Continue reading Warwickshire: the heart of English history

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It’s straightforward enough being seduced by Warwickshire‘s bucolic hills, sublime castles, historic market towns and unhurried Heart-of-England rhythms, but the county’s undisputed claim to fame – Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare – is acquiring further sheen in 2016 as it commemorates the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. Once you’ve had your fill of Shakespearean merriment, the atmospheric ruins of Kenilworth Castle (including Queen Elizabeth I’s rooms, inaccessible for three and a half centuries until 2014) deserve your attention. They look even better at sunset – followed, we suggest, by dinner at Michelin-starred The Cross, one of the UK’s most acclaimed gastropubs. This year, Warwick Castle restored and relaunched its 22-tonne trebuchet, the world’s largest siege machine; earmark a day to relive medieval warfare before dropping down a gear to peruse the Regency architecture, parks and Royal Pump Rooms of nearby Leamington Spa.

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