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The year was 1984- our second trip to the UK, and three years before Nancy"s strokes. Driving south and west through England, we arrived in Cardiff, proclaimed capital of Wales in 1955, making it Europe's youngest capital city, though its roots go back to the time of the Romans.
It's fun to learn history first hand, but what I remember most is not Cardiff Castle (above), nor the University nor any of the hundreds of charming places to meander around the city. It is this:
Planning to head north up the coast towards Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia, we had packed up our bags and were ready to leave the B & B where we had spent the night. Our car was in a car park a block or two from our lodging, and as I walked toward it, it started to rain. Hard. (Anyone in Wales will tell you the weather can go from sunny to cloudy to rainy to snowy and back to sunny within minutes).
I happened to be passing in front of a few shops at that moment, and took advantage to duck into one of them to get out of the rain.
Turns out the shop sold Thornton’s chocolates. I had never heard of them- and would never come to know of their inescapable temptingness, had the rain stopped quickly. However, as it did not stop, there was nothing to do but sample one of two of those awesomely delicious morsels. Or perhaps a few more- my memory is not so precise. Unfortunately, as Nancy was not with me, I was forced to eat all the fresh candies myself- lest they get stale (or something). I did, however, buy some to take home, specially wrapped to ward off staleness.
Come to think of it, I never told Nancy anything about the entire affair.
Anyway, I savored those chocolate truffles, permitting myself no more than one or two a week just to make them last longer.
Alas, there came a time when I went to my office one day, full of doom and gloom because I had eaten my very last Thornton the evening before. As luck would have it, I saw a patient later that morning who was going to England in two days time. She said she would be delighted to help me out- and I took her up on the offer!
Turns out, she had relatives in the UK, and told me she went several times a year to visit. And so, for the next few years, she became my “dealer”, and I was spared the fate worse than death of running out of chocolates.
Sadly, she passed away.
Those were the days before Internet and the rapid spread of e-commerce to serve a world-wide clientele. As it was, there weren’t a lot of Thornton’s in the UK, and none at all in the US.
Just as I was about to give up in despair of ever having my treats again, Thornton’s opened a shop in Chicago. I was saved!!
Today, you can get this superb confection anywhere in the world, and although they are certified fresh, nothing I buy now is near as good, as I remember, as those I nibbled on in Cardiff in the rain.