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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.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Bunking off


Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell set off for their travels with a difference on 8 June. We hope to get a taste of many 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 Pete.

“Are we in Scotland yet?” asks Nell at around 3am on the night train from Euston to Glasgow. Stumbling into the corridor, I look out of the window. “No idea Nell, it’s all black. But maybe we are… now let’s sleep a little longer.” If I wasn't so knackered I'd be telling her about Venice (Orient Express) or the lions and Cape Buffalo tracking the Blue Train (South Africa) or derring do and revolution as we sped through the night from Moscow to St Petersburg (Russia).

Nothing excites kids more than riding on the night train. The illicit thrill of arriving in Euston in your pyjamas, then boarding the train at ten o’clock, a whole hour before departure. Nicola and Lola (who isn't well) are in one cabin; Nell and I are next door.

Nell thought there might be a double bed in the compartment, some kind of grand four poster affair. But she’s even happier to discover we are in a cosy two-berth cabin with bunks, crisp sheets and blankets. We explore the table that opens out into a sink, discover mini toothbrushes and toothpaste, and climb up the ladder to my top bunk and enjoy an illicit midnight feast of Marks and Spencer salt and vinegar crisps. “We’ve got tables!” declares Nell, discovering that a table pulls out of the wall for bunk eating.

The other great thing about night trains is that they have a bar; the only one where you can get a seat on a Friday night in London. While Nicola minds the kids I retreat to the bar and return with a single malt whisky and chardonnay for mum and dad. Having read Nell a story I settle into my bunk and pour a wee dram while below Nell turns the various cabin lights on and off.

Sleep is rhythmic, punctuated by the movement of the train and slow stops in sidings. But then at six am we are awoken by the guard with a croissant, cake and dessert-thing each, coffee for dad and orange juice for Nell. We unwrap each carefully in a picnic breakfast, before dragging our bags on to the platform. “Are we in Scotland now, daddy?” “Yes we are, Nell, hooray!”

Go to sleep in London, wake up in Glasgow and breakfast in a bunk – there’s no other way to travel.

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