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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 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.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

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, 13 July 2007

Bilberrys for face paint

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

On the vertical walk up to Scolty Hill (299m) - with its fantastic views over Royal Deeside - we took a breather by the purple heather above the Forestry Commission's dull plantings of Nordic type pines. Ignoring the views Nell soon found bilberrys (they grow on acid soils all over northern Europe and also parts of the US)and by dabbing a berry skillfully into her mouth she was able to pretend she'd got a bleeding tongue, a trick that successfully fooled Lola. Soon we were covering ourselves in the purple juice.

I think it might be a bilberry mast year.

Bilberries are OK to eat raw but a much sweeter treat, if cooked with lashings of sugar, in pies, tarts, jam etc. Unfortunately we couldn't collect any as all my available spare plastic bags had been used up to collect Fleur's dog poo. Yuck.

In Aberdeen you can get a ferry direct to Norway. It's strange to think that a city like Bergen (which I've only dimly heard of) is nearer to us at the moment than Birmingham. To help the children understand this we went bilberry crazy... If you can't stockpile bilberrys for cooking then the answer is to use them as face paints, something that I'm sure that every Norwegian child must try out each summer. In Norway the kids have to collect buckets of the tiny dark purple berries as a rite of passage - if you don't you don't grow up, or at least that's the impression I've got from the creator of Moomintroll, Tove Jansson (though admittedly she was Finnish-Swedish).

Once back in the elegant town of Banchory everyone was starved so Lola persuaded us we needed to find a chippy. Of course this was all too easy so everyone bought a packet of chips (except purist me who only eats them three times a year, for what reason I'm not sure and I've only got one munching left for 2007). The hungry three were immune to the stares, but I couldn't help noticing that we did look very odd queuing and snacking with our berry red bilberry stained faces. Standard practice for kids on a long daylight night not so far away in Norway I'm sure.

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