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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.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Freezeframe today

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

It’s the last day of our travels – that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped traveling. We still have to get from Wakefield to Hertfordshire (via three train journeys) and then stay at Granny Fiona’s for the bank holiday weekend. But it’s different now, the four of us are parting company at Peterborough – with Pete detouring to London for a West Ham game and then up to King’s Lynn, Norfolk to see his dad (granddad).

Even so I’d like to freezeframe today because it is the end of our adventure travels where we go somewhere we’ve not been to before. Today it was the 196 to a collapsing set of farm buildings at Wintersett by a charming pub. We walked on by and down the lane to the Winterton Countryside Discovery Centre. Here we learnt more about that first naturalist, Charles Winterton, by donning solar tope style helmets which were wired up to the ghost of Winterton who talked a lot about “balance” making him an ideal password. We also learnt that he’d died, aged 83, with the sound of the corncrake in the distance – a bird that no longer over-summers in Yorkshire because the habitats are gone.

The display was an ambitious idea that sadly didn’t work well and was further depleted by a lot of plastic walls and trees inside the centre. However other things in the centre were marvelous: the girls both made animal masks and created their own badge while I juggled around a nature jigsaw of footprint/home/poo and diet for a rabbit, otter, badger, fox and deer. It took me several guesses to get it right.

And then on to the park which we tramped across – Lola spotting a damsel fly, vole in the long grass, toad and froglet. “There is a lot of nature here,” was her verdict – though much less than when Winterton built his big wall around the estate and the mining and golf course hadn’t been built or his horrible son inherited and played big game hunter with his mates to deplete the wildlife further.

After about two miles we came to his old house (massive Georgian pile) surrounded by so much lake that it is on an island. It’s now a hotel and we were able to toast ourselves and the future of slow travel and free bus passes with wine, beer and lemonade at Charlie’s Bar to the bemusement of the honeymooners and trout fishing enthusiasts. Yet again it was a lovely evening with mackerel clouds skudding on a blue sky – the girls think this has been our luck, invariably we’ve had not just good weather but fabulous weather.

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