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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, 5 June 2007

Damsel in distress

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.

Children are suffering from nature-defecit disorder reports the Guardian. Well if that's so it's a shame as Lola and Nell can be occupied for hours in our grubby back garden playing with stones, locating snails and catching newts. Though it's very small, they have to be brave to spend time out there because a number of foxes use our garden every day. We think the foxes call our garden the outdoor hen cafe and constantly wait for us to be lax with our hen coop. Sadly it is easy to be outwitted by foxes. Two of our three chicks ended up as fox snacks this year.

During half term we visited Enid Blyton's former home in Buckinghamshire. Old Thatch http://www.jackyhawthorne.com is the classic English country life dream - a listed, thatched cottage with a stunning garden off a foxglove-strewn lane near the River Thames. Fairies have to live there. Way back it was a pub where highwayman Dick Turpin stabled his horse Black Bess. Now it is an exquisite garden designed by the current owner, Jacky Hawthorne.

While I tried to imagine how Blyton (creator of Noddy, Amelia Jane, Famous Five, Secret Seven and catch phrases such as "lashings of ginger beer") wrote 6,000 words by tea time and looked after two young children my girls explored the garden. They were soon distracted by the pondside drama caused by a spider's web in the arum lillies. Two bright blue damsel flies were entwined in a huge web so the girls decided on a rescue mission. It took them ages to untwist the silken cords and then another half hour to find a suitably safe spot to let the damsel flies recover. I'm not sure they thought me very kind when I said they should leave the insects on top of a plant so a bird could scoop them up and feed them to their hungry broods...

Still as the four million of us tuning into Springwatch found out when we watched the big baby owl swallowing its tiddly sibling, whole(!), after its mum failed to go hunting because of the heavy rain, nature provides spectacular opportunities for rescuing, comforting, prodding and grossing out.

Wherever you live you can join in by looking at http://www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces (instead of using up all that time on Penguin Club); watch Springwatch on TV or just go outside. See how long it takes to find an ant, a bee and a cabbage white butterfly and then tell us! Good luck.

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