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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.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Enjoy our Christmas markets

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 9, and Nell, 6, spent three happy months during summer of 2007 traveling around Britain. Now we’re home, but the travel bug is still there. Join us for the occasional sightseeing plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint. This post is from Nicola (pic of Pete by the Bath xmas markets - it looked better at twilight with fairy lights & glorious when the rain stopped)

I’m not sure if I like shopping, or love it. As an avid buyer of local produce, craft etc I seem to buy items all the time rather than all at once in a supermarket.

The challenge is not finding things to buy – but finding locally sourced, fair trade items, or better still feasting my eyes and making something similar back at home.

Lola and Nell enjoy more practical feasting so they loved going to Oxford recently to see Broad Street turned into a French market where they could taste cheese, olives, jams and best of all get me to agree to buying them each a toffee apple. That’s why reading about the people who promise to buy nothing all year truly impresses me. And now there's Mark Boyle who plans to be a community pilgrim and walk from Bristol to India (a mere 12,000km) without a single penny. He's off on 30 January 2008, see more about his plans and the Freeconomy Community at http://www.justfortheloveofit.org/.

As more and more banks succumb to the American sub-prime mortgage debacle you can see capitalism’s foundations wobble. Maybe people like me who love finding stuff on the roadside, at carboot sales, via freecycle, even growing our own veges etc deserve some blame too?

Pete and I have also just visited the Georgian city of Bath – a real treat to spend time together. The weekend we picked also drew vast, umbrella-weilding crowds for their gift shopping at the Christmas markets. In between our trips to the warm waters of the Bath Spa we weaved through the market of little wooden sheds under the abbey. Here stall holders were selling everything from chocolate and Christmas tree decorations to mulled wine and hot water bottle fleeces. It was extremely atmospheric, despite the three-day downpour and I loved overhearing snippets from other visitors claiming it was “So very Dickensian” or just like “Being in a German Christmas market” said by the couple downing Eierpunsch (egg nog) and Gluhwein (mulled wine).

Meanwhile Lola and Nell were taken around the Christmas market at Freightliners Farm, in London N7, and managed to extract all sorts of foodie treats out of their aunt and uncle, and the first visit to Santa of the 2007 season.

Reading the travel section of the Sunday papers I see you can fly to Hamburg's Christmas market for a shockingly low #38 (plus another #20 in transfers to and from the airport) which is a bit more than it cost me to get a weekend return to Bath on the train (tip two single tickets were cheaper). Now remind me, which one did the Romans prefer? Which one is World Heritage Listed and which one is daytrippable? That'll be one nil to us then...

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