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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.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Spanish madness

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 (look to the far left of the pic to enjoy the crazy window designs on the Scottish Parliament. Pete is looking longingly towards Arthur's Seat)

Scotland's new parliament building opposite Holyrood Palace may not have many signs up, but it doesn't need them thanks to the crazy, hot, eccentric design provided by a Spanish architect.
Pacing around its fluid roofs, or even driving past in a tour bus or taxi, you know you are in the presence of a building with immense character. It's architecture, but not as most of us know it. An unmissable experience.
The building - housing the 129 SMPs (Scottish members of parliament) was hugely controversial, not least because it cost #414 million pounds, approx 400 million over budget.
Perhaps worse was its late opening (2004 instead of 2001) and the architect, Spaniard Enric Miralles dying early on in the job (July 2001) taking many secrets to the grave despite the project being taken over by his widow Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT/RMJM Ltd).
It won the Stirling Prize for Architecture - nothing else stood a chance really. This is what the judges said about the building: "[it] manifests itself as an attempt at an organic transition between the city and the drama of the Scottish countryside surrounding it" - an effect helped by its landscaping. The ability of both the design and construction teams to realise a building of this complexity is truly remarkable."
We've only seen it from the outside as I wasn't sure that Nell could cope with another shush and listen hour (ie, a tour), but it must be even more stunning inside. She loved slithering down the railed steps at the back of the SMPs' private offices though, and later on clambering up and down the wild flower garden/park linking back to front. And after we'd climbed nearby Arthur's Seat all of us enjoyed reading Scottish truisms and mottos carved into granite on the Royal Mile side as if the building was a book, to be judged by it's cover.
So I did, and this was my favourite (from Gerard Manley Hopkins):
"What would the world be once bereft of wet and wildness?
Let them be left.
Oh let them be left.
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

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