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.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Picnic time in the Dales


Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference. 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 Nicola (pic is of Nell, Anna and Lola looking for fossils)

We're staying in Kettlewell, a tourist honeypot in the Dales well-known thanks to the film Calendar Girls, and are lucky enough to be guided by a friend, Anna, around Wharfedale and over to Gordale Scar and Malham Cove. I've wanted to see these two dramatic cliffs - the first made famous by James Ward's painting of the same name (see it in the Tate) and the second by Pete's tales from his geography field trip 30 years ago.

There's a field studies centre above Malham Tarn which boasts the highest manned weather station in the UK. Readings are taken from the Campbell-Stokes sun recorder, the Stevenson screen (looks like a long-legged bee hive) and a rain guage at 9am GMT every day of the year. It's also a good place to get field guides to the hay meadows which at this time of the year are crammed with wild flowers. We tick off buttercup, sorrel, bistort and pignut amongst the gently waving grasses. The air feels tingly clean, the curlews are calling and birds start up from the meadows - larks, wheatear and finches. It's all very beautiful and old-fashioned. Predictably Lola and Nell put in a request for ice-cream, soon.

Malham Cove was carved into the Craven Fault by an enormous waterfall. It's long gone but irresistably reminds the adults in our party of the water that pours over Victoria Falls. Anna has recently been on the Zambia side of this (its on the border with Zimbabwe) and flew around the falls in a microlight. She shows us photos of her doing a loop above "the smoke that thunders" in a vehicle that looks like a bicycle with a lawnmower engine.

Later we picnic above Malham Cove - not far from the site where a pair of peregrines have again successfully bred two chicks - surrounded by the happy yellows of eggs & bacon (meadow vetchling), delicate wild panises and hawkbit. After lunch we pad over wild thyme to look for fossils in the limestone walls. Nell finds it hard to believe this area used to be under the sea (millions of years ago), but once you pick through the heavy pale and grey stones looking for traces of fins and leaves, shells and coral stems it's hard not to view the National Park's classic stone walls as old lumps of dead coral that you sometimes see "decorating" aquariums.

To round off the day we get locally-made ice cream and then I take the girls fishing on the shallow beach under the bridge - a spot on the River Wharfe recommended by the lovely shopkeeper in Kettlewell. We don't think about climate change at all until the rain starts. Twenty-four hours on it's still beating down and the weather reports another three days of low pressure wets. You'd think the girls had done a secret raindance on their fishing trip... but they promise me they were only gone to practise bubblegum blowing...

1 comment:

Rita said...

Hmm....slightly more interesting than my Monday!!!

Sounds like you guys are having a fantastic time, and proving that you don't have to leave Britain to have a great holiday.