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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.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Saturday cross-country

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, Lola and Nell.

In London when the tube's down you sometimes can head in the wrong direction in order to make a nifty line change and then get back on route. It's a useful way of thinking yourself out of the rush hour flow, but when I decided to visit my mum in Hertfordshire using this technique the result was a Saturday of cross-country travelling. The plan started well - a 30min whiz on the overland train to Hertford North station and then on to the 351 bus which shuttles between the county town and Bishop's Stortford.

Hertford is inordinately proud of its past. Lots of kings have liked the area, the castle is flash, there are many very grand houses (and the spin-off that brings - antique shops) lining the streets. We had an hour and a bit before the bus went so visited the museum which is fabulously child friendly and has a relaxing Jacobean style garden out the back. The Saturday market was good too, with lots of food stalls and an excellent selection of herbs, stripey socks and dog beds. Lola and Nell lingered around the wooden toy stall and chatted to anyone leading a dog. We were also impressed by a foodie haven, Farrow & Farrow run by brothers who sell all sorts including their mum's tasty bread pudding.

The bus filled up quickly for this cross-country run which follows the route of the New River for some way, a route I'm hoping to follow one day back into town. I enjoyed revisiting childhood haunts: at Hunsdon there's the field where frisky bullocks killed a walker (in the 70s?), not long after at the big bend there's a new pine tree - this one bristling with phone masts. As we come into Much Hadham I turn into tour guide for the kids and point out the house where I think John Fowles based bits of The Magus, but after the Old Forge Museum they spot The Bull pub where they once had sandwiches with their friends Freya and Clara. It seems the area's begining to have as many memories for them as it holds for me... See some pictures and more Hadham info here.

At the next village we left the bus and walked up the hill to Granny Fiona's house. It is such a joy to arrive at a place you love on foot because it gives you time to witness changes to the season. Leaving a car we always seem to hurry indoors but as we were already outside we didn't think to go inside for another two hours distracted by the swing and den building (the girls) and the autumn need to pick apples, pears, damsons, greengages and blackberries.

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