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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.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Meeting stilt man

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

Crossing the causeway to Holy Island on foot we were all worrying about tides. Although the tide table assured us the next wasn't due until 5.10pm, it takes ages to walk the three mile route, especially if you get distracted by little terns, crabs, cinnabar moth caterpillars (crowded on to ragwort) or the forests of glasswort on the sea side. Realising that at our pace we'd have no time on Lindisfarne I doubled back, picked up the parked hire car (a strange beast with flat sliding electric doors which make getting in and out of tight spaces easier but seem likely to remove someone's arm at some point), and drove on to the poor crowded island - it gets half a million visitors a year.

And then we saw how it should be done, Pete Thornett towering above us on his bouncy stilts which could surely get him across the causeway whatever the tide height. He was looking forward to the tides coming in so he could engineer a walking-on-water type photo to help raise awareness about epilepsy during his mammoth stilt walk from John O'Groats to Land's End.

Obviously conversation was a bit stilted at first but when his offsider (ie, driver of the van) Laura turned up the girls chatted away finding out which bits of Britain we'd all been to. Nell was delighted to find out that there are other people travelling around Britain and recommended Penrith...

Nell: It was lovely seeing some people travelling around Britain too, especially their van with two beds in. And the van had their blog site on it.

Lola: Cool. His stilts are really bouncy. He could jump so high. They're definitely better than heely's! note from a shocked mother - as he uses pro-jump stilts which cost around #135 there's not a hope... unless Lola commits to washing up every day and foregoing all pocket money for years to come...

When people are ignoring Pete - nearly impossible - he goes back to his van and dresses up in some of his many outfits so he can power back into the lime light. We had a bizarre chat in the Lindisfarne mead shop (specialising in a sweet wine brewed up on site just the way the monks used to) http://www.lindisfarne-mead.co.uk/ about whether a full flashing number or a were-wolf would be best for this island...

You can find out more about him at http://www.dangerous-stiltwalkerws.co.uk/charity or give a donation to Epilepsy Action or another charity working for people with epilepsy, FABLE, via http://www.justgiving.com/peterthornett

Stilt man's outfit, and incredible efforts to fundraise, reminded me of Lola's friend Florence's dad, Simon who took four years to walk around the coast. He painted a picture each day but despite setting himself this amazing task in every pub he walked into the locals weren't at all impressed.

"That's nothing," they'd say shifting on the bar stool. "There was a man in yesterday who's walking backwards around the British coastline..." For Peter the inevitable comparison is to the South African disabled runner who is now taking on and beating non disabled runners. I hope he makes it all the way - either to his target of #10,000 or the 1,200 miles stretch between the tips of Scotland and England,and that this keeps him in many stories for the rest of his life, because as artist Simon found, and Nell's found and stilt man Pete says he is finding travelling around Britain isn't just about exploring it's also a chance to talk to the most interesting, passionate and unusual people. And that journey need never come to an end.

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