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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Discovery in King's Lynn




Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference We hope to get a taste of loads of countries without adding to climate change (with needless emissions from aeroplanes) or having to waste hours of holiday time in airport terminals. We hope our adventures inspire you to take a Grand Tour of your neighbourhood. This post is from Nicola.

In real life I am always running late – so when a letter drops on to the mat from my mum addressed to Lola I grab it and speed the girls towards the train station. It’s not until we’re nearly half way to King’s Lynn to celebrate Grandad’s 80th birthday that Lola opens the letter. Inside is a newspaper cutting from our Canadian relations who had their picture taken as a result of their campervan burning up on the way to Cousin Stacy’s wedding to a Japanese man, Miyoko.

“Pulled in for gas, smelt burning, truck exploded,” is the terse quote from Stacy’s younger sister, Heather in the paper, though there is a very beautiful picture of her and her nine-year-old daughter, Hailey. Despite this drama the van travellers made it safely to the celebrations. In all 40 people met up at Mayne Island, an island just off Vancouver Island. Love miles – the distance family connections oblige us to travel by planes – were high as my mum had come from the UK and 15 people, including bride and groom, from Japan. We saw the photos instead.

At 12.20 the train pulls into King’s Lynn and there’s just enough time to walk through the town’s rather uninspired shopping centre, stopping only to stand on the top of the world – a giant brass globe sculpture, marking the centre of the Vancouver Shopping Centre. During lunch we eventually find out what it’s doing there: King’s Lynn is the birthplace of Captain Vancouver who found the north west passage up America charting the waters up to the Island of Nootka. After seizing this from the Spanish Vancouver renamed it after himself.

The octogenarians at lunch think of Vancouver as a rather short green statue holding binoculars and clad in a tri-cornered hat that gulls favour as a rest point. But we need to walk off our lunch so after cheesecake and coffee we explore the quay by the famously muddy Ouse.

In Georgian times King’s Lynn used to be a busy port with tall ships tied up by the customs house or preparing to set sail. There was a huge fishing community and more pubs than ought to be good for you.

This summer Lynn (as the locals call it) is celebrating Captain Vancouver’s 250th anniversary with a long midsummer weekend of events at 18 sites round town, http://www.vancouver250.com. There’s going to be traditional dancing, classes in rope and clay pipe making and sea shanties to join in. The permanent show will stay at the Custom House – which Vancouver’s father ran, http://www.visitnorfolk.com and go to something with a bit more fizz and spark. A guided walk around the town looks interesting and the Town House Museum of Lynn Life is perfect for young history explorers with its reconstructed rooms. Best of all from 2008 there should be a Seahenge at the Lynn Museum – a replica of the 4,000 year old archaeological find uncovered at Holme, complete with a huge upturned oak stump as a centrepiece. I wonder if we’ll be allowed to stand on that for a digi snap?

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