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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.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Shoes in the mud


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 whatever the weather. This post is from Nicola

Good progress along the wall despite our depleted party. Lola, Nell and I have now spent three days in a row pounding westwards from Chesters and have today done a fabulous, albeit short stretch, from Housesteads to Vindolanda. This bit goes up and down so the mileage doubles, crosses a lough we feel sure inspired the King Arthur legend, and goes through wonderful Sycamore Gap (a spot every fan of the movie of Robin Hood the Prince of Thieves will know). I really enjoyed the turf-topped sections of the wall covered in waving grasses, mats of purple thyme and lady's bed straw and beyond that views to die for.

It was also the best bit though I grouchily found that there were rather too many walkers sharing the route with us (ie, about 50 in total walking in both directions, which I suppose is less than the number I see or push past on the way to school when we are back in London...)

And then we veered off the wall to Vindolanda, not sure of what we'd find, and found absolute treasure. Here an archaeological dig is ongoing and while we were there the team pulled out a leather sandal (about size six and therefore a man's). Pete saw it come out; we saw it popped into a plastic bag for recording.

This is also the place where the anaerobic soil conditions (ie, starved of oxygen) have led to the most amazing discoveries: the letters and notes of daily life. It was here that they dug up a birthday party invitation from a lady (not just an obvious sign that Roman women were at the forts - don't tell Hadrian - but also that this Roman woman could write very elegantly.

Vindolanda is a brilliant place, and if you don't want to be a tourist here you can always come as an archaeological volunteer. From our brief visit it is clear that both Pete and Lola are very tempted, with Lola actually begging to learn Latin (they have fabulous primers there including Minimous (aka Minny Mouse) and Harry Potter in Latin. Nell was content with just being an ice cream taster

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