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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, 29 June 2007

To the lighthouse

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

At St Mary's lighthouse, Whitley Bay, we all go into different worlds. I'm thinking Virgina Woolf; Nell is recalling The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch, Lola is excited to find that in 1995 Enid Blyton's Famous Five were filmed for an ITV version of Five go to Demon Rocks. In the lighthouse itself, an 150-step spiral staircase clings to the tower sending Pete into a Hitchcock style panic and has to close his eyes to get back down. It is quite scary, but at the top the views are amazing - to the North there's six or more wind turbines at Blyth and to the south the handsome white dome of the now disused Spanish City funfair at Whitley Bay.

The lighthouse was opened in 1898 and had a distinctive light (which flashed twice every 20 seconds) that could be seen for 17 miles. Now it's automatically organised but in the days when a lighthouse keeper was needed the c/v requirements included basic literacy, numeracy and a full set of working teeth.

The tide cuts off the lighthouse twice a day and so when it goes out you nip across the causeway. If you get the timing right you can search for beasties in the rocky pools. We found lots of kelp (oarweed with a holdfast rooty bit at the bottom), some limpets and the claw of an edible crab. The lighthouse is now run by North Tyneside council and has some fascinating displays of ship building, stuffed birds of the seashore and games for any age. Both girls did a brass rubbing and arranged some limpets into the shape of a starfish and a dolphin. They were so destracted they didn't even want stuff in the shop. That's what I call a result. Best of all they really believe that home is an island.

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