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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.

Friday, 19 October 2007

By the canal

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 9, and Nell, 6, spent three happy months during the summer of 2007 traveling around Britain. Now we’re home but the travel bug is still there. Join us for occasional sightseeing plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint… This post is from Nicola.

I helped escort Lola and her classmates on another school trip, this time to the Canal Museum which is tucked behind King's Cross station. Regent's Canal was built in 1820 but despite the short, mostly eco-friendly life of canal haulage this man-made water route is still busy with boats, anglers and wildlife, and along the towpath cyclists vye with dog walkers to stay away from the edge.

The canal isn't just a fabulous green lung through the inner city it is also a place to showcase new architecture and conversions - as seen during our trip through the lock on the 70 foot long Pirate Viscount barge. The curator also organised a nature walk which allowed the Year 5 and 6s to debate which way a dragon fly and a damsel fly's wings rest (- and l); the number of legs a butterfly has (six not two) and compare today's vista of the tunnel under Upper Street with a 19th century engraving.

And then we had a workshop turning us all into engineers as we built our own arch with mini bricks. It would be an odd child whose brain didn't expand after such a hands on experience of London's waterways. I had to work hard too - forced to do the maths of how old the canal is (1820-1900 = 80; 1900-2000= 100; 2000-2007 = 7 so the total is 187 years) and deal with strange problems like how to remove dog poo from one trainer and a fish hook from another simultaneously.

Best of all we got the kids walking to and from the museum, more than a mile each way. This is far less stressful than taking big groups on public transport, more efficient than a car cavalcade and may even give them the confidence to walk around London a bit more with their families.

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