The kids are on winter holidays just now but we haven’t done an awful lot. We tried to go to Scienceworks – we got all organised, drove towards the city (the furthest I had driven) and pulled into the car park. It was HEAVING! We drove around for 20 minutes to no avail. When we saw the queue of at least fifty people OUTSIDE the building standing in the drizzle, we decided to turn around and go home. As Ruby rightly pointed out, if there were that many people there then they wouldn’t get near any of the exhibits and while most are interactive, if they were lucky they would only get a very quick turn before they had to let someone else on. I have decided that we will have a ‘home education’ day shortly after the schools go back and we’ll try again!
I decided today that we would go in the opposite direction. I looked up on the internet to see what might interest the kids (and me!) round about Daylesford. I stumbled on The Chocolate Mill. So Ruby walked the dog while I got organised and then we set off. Michael had the Sat Nav at work but I thought I knew roughly where it was from my previous visit to Daylesford. Hmm, mistake!
We got to Daylesford ok but then I went too far down the road and we ended up in Hepburn Springs – a very sweet wee town but not where we were going today. I would like to go back there on a drier day though because there are some nice woodland walks.
We got some directions in HS and retraced out route making sure to take the right turning this time. Then we drove, and we drove, and we drove looking for the brown tourist attraction sign. I would have turned round but there was no-where to turn so we just had to keep driving! Eventually I spotted a driveway and so I pulled in there, did a three point turn and drove back towards Daylesford again!! It would have helped if we knew a, where we were or b, where we were going but there were no signs on the roads at all so we just had to keep driving in spikes until we realised that we should have found it by now!!
We drove back to the last place I knew we were on the right track and took another road, a few kilometres down the road we saw the elusive brown tourist attraction sign! We burst out in a verse of the Hallelujah Chorus!!
As I pulled up the drive we saw a sign which read ‘Closed February’ and for a second my heart sank – I just can’t get used to the ‘it’s winter but also July’ thing and I thought it meant that it was currently closed! Honestly, I should not be let out without adult supervision!!
The building itself it pretty cool. The owners made it themselves with staw bales and render. 70% of the materials used in building the house and factory are recycled – doors and windows were sourced from old buildings and wreckers yards.
We went in (free entry – hurrah!) and listened to the lady give a spiel about how the chocolates are made. They are proper handmade, artisan chocs. Pretty pricey but when you see the quality of the products and the care and attention put into their creation – it is well worth it!
We went to the cafe where there were all sorts of chocolatey treats (and other non-chocolatey things but really, why bother when you are at a chocolate factory!?!) We all ordered a chocolate ice cream with melted chocolate over the top.
We also had a chance to speak to one of the chocolatiers and asked her some questions we were wondering about. We wondered what happened when it was really hot in summer because they say that putting chocolate in the fridge ruins it – the straw building stays at a fairly constant temperature of 24c summer and winter, however they close for all of February (as the sign in the driveway warned us) which is often the hottest time of the year. We also wondered how they break up that huge block of chocolate in order to melt it – very high tech, they drop it on the ground!
When we had seen all we came to see (and eaten all we could before throwing up!) we went outside to the little playpark. It had been a bit drizzly all day but Alexander and Ruby were still up for a quick play.
Ah well, he’ll dry! I love how Ruby is laughing in this pic!
After a few more shots down the now-drier slide we piled back into the car and drove home, in about half the time that it took us to get there!
We will definitely put this on our list of ‘places to go with visitors’!