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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.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

The last pit pony

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

His name is Robbie and he used to work at Pant y Gassey in South Wales. He’s now retired and living in luxury (well a very comfy stable deep with recycled paper bedding) with the added benefits of a well kept field, plus other horsy friends at the National Coal Museum www.ncm.org.uk. At one time (1913) there were 70,000 horses down the mines – often quite big cobs like Robbie – but tiddlers too.

It wasn’t until 1942 that any of the ponies down the mine were guaranteed some daylight – two weeks in August when the miners had their annual break. I still remember watching Blue Peter on TV and seeing pit ponies enjoying their summer grazing. Life for the horses must have been very hard as the men just wanted them to behave so they could get their job, shifting coal, done quicker. As a result there had to be a Parliamentary ruling that no pony could do more than three shifts in 72 hours. Bonnie, the centre’s horse keeper told us one very happy story about a former miner who told her how a pony saved his life, simply by uncharacteristically refusing to move. Moments later the roof caved in where they would have been.

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