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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.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Water garden

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

Alnwick Gardens - the amazing 12-acre creation of the Duchess of Northumberland funded by European money and NGOs such as Northern Rock Foundation - is deliberately focused around water, http://www.alnwickgarden.com/about_the_garden/index.asp. While the rest of England seems deluged - Worcester, Battersea are apparently flooded - up in Northumberland they are coping fine with rain, indeed they are used to cold, wet summers.

On the hour, and half hour, the fountains on the cascade are set off by computer and either bubble their way down the waterfall in the manner of a great French palace, like Versailles, or they shoot spurts on to the pavement soaking the innocent who screech in shock. At the base of the fountain is a huge pool with water draining off the walls which children are encouraged to play in.

About 20 solid-looking plastic diggers are parked there and the kids pedal from one side to the other with cargoes of water they have collected, usually getting wet but invariably grinning from ear-to-ear. You'd have to be a strange child not to enjoy doing this water shuttle all day, every day. Even in their raincoats the kids look as happy as children in India celebrating the first rains of the monsoon.

In contrast all those families who have either had to move out of their homes or got stuck on roads thanks to flooding must be loathing the recent deluges. As ever for anyone with insurance it's always alright in the end - albeit inconvenient for days or months - but with so many floods this year I think we can all expect higher premiums, and less coverage from the insurance companies at our next policy renewal date.

In Northumberland the farmers are very worried about the weather spoiling their crops. This is the time for the silage (grass) to be cut and for grains like wheat and barley to be harvested - something that is not easy to do if your crop has been flattened by yet more rain. Potato blight is also a risk too as the endless rain is washing off the chemical treatments conventional farmers rely on to keep this in check. People's immediate misery from heavy rain is of course the most newsworthy, and provides better pix, but bad harvests are in the long term much more worrying for us all.

I want to find out if this year's wet weather results in more people flying off to drier parts of the world for their holidays... I'm hoping it won't. But I know lots of people feel rain is the big bully that ruins their borders, picnic plans and holidays and thus they deserve a bit of sun, regardless of what it takes to reach that location, or how that adds up to making climate change (the very thing they are trying to escape) worse.

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