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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.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Real food hunt

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 looking for lobsters down at the harbour)

The directions say turn right at The Ploughman pub, I do this but am completely distracted by the secondary sign that says "a real pub" on a very tackly looking 1970s built, horrible pub in Peterculter. To be fair we haven't been into this pub yet but the incident reminds me of the row Friends of the Earth got into running a 'Real Food Campaign' simultaneously with another organisation promoting 'real food'. Real means different things you see...

What we have found is that if you want to suss out a new area quickly then all you need are the local newspaper and a chance to browse at a local "real" food supplier.

1) Here in Aberdeen the organic, free range egg supplier I've been recommended to visit only opens on Wednesday and Saturdays at a side road you could easily miss on the way to Bridge of Muchalls. Supplies are in the shed but we buy loads of goodies - fabulous lettuce, tomatoes and a dozen of those eggs. They also have Suma supplies, but not the artichoke hearts Lola so loves. We don't need much really as there is a veg garden where we are staying. And we also wanted to try eating at Lairhillock Inn which has a reputation for stunning food, despite its reluctance to let children dine there (you won't find chips or baked beans or plates sized to suit a child's appetite).

2) And if we ever run out of veg then we'll be spoilt for deli choice in the nearby seaside town of Stonehaven. Not only does it have an independent butcher, fishmonger etc, there's also a chippy boasting Britain's 'best young fryer' and Aunty Betty's which sells ice-cream to die for (strawberry, tablet [fudge], banoffee) which is whipped up in nearby Buckie.

3) A few weeks ago we didn't need much at Rheged either - the just out-of-town 'local' shopping experience at Penrith in the Lake District. But the reasons were different: we just couldn't carry it. Rheged is a foodie heaven with an amazing selection of jams, cheeses, meat, biscuits, juices and even English wine. I bought Wild & Fruitful jam because I know it's Cumbrian (and the only other place you can get it is Marylebone High Street) and is an ideal present, even for people who make their own jams.

4) But my favourite foodie discovery was the farm shop by the roundabout on the road from Carlisle-Newcastle, Brocksbushes in Stockfield, Northumberland which was what all motorway pitstops should be: delicious food (cheese scones and coffee with free top ups), fresh fruit and veg (including a strawberry fest) and extremely nice staff. If you are ever in a vehicle this shop is worth a detour - not least because the main entrance has a tree in store, another soothing site for motorway-tired eyes.

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