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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, 15 July 2008

Tortoises and hares

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 10, and Nell, 7, like travelling around Britain on public transport (don’t laugh). We spent three happy months exploring during summer of 2007 but now we’re home, you can still join us for the occasional sightseeing - plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint. This post is from Nicola (pic of Darwin's house)

Suddenly we keep going to Kent. One week it’s for Lapland, the next Dickens’ world and now to tour Charles Darwin’s house. But what a trip – train just 18 minutes from London Bridge to Orpington (or start at Charing Cross), then jump on the R8 bus (which meets the train and is even platform signposted from the station) to be dropped directly at Darwin’s former home, Down House, near Downe Village.

Darwin is probably the world’s best known scientist. But he also loved his children (very unusual apparently for a Victorian pater) and his Mrs, Emma (also his cousin). And then there’s the Origin of Species, still incredibly readable and the debt we owe him for demystifying how all of us got here.

The English Nature exhibit shows his first passion was barnacles, explains that he once tipped worms on to the grand piano in the drawing room to try and work out if they could hear and he also seemed to be over-fond of carnivorous plants.


The girls wanted to live in his lovely house. Pete and I just had a storming fit of jealousy about how you could follow your desire to write, or think, or dream with zero interruptions (except from crowds of children) while the staff prepared meals, dusted, washed clothes and polished rooms. The visit was a great success – go now before the rush to mark the 150th centenary of the writing of the Origin of Species.


Other pluses include seeing Darwin’s writing desk, pacing the sand walk where he worked up his ideas, the shop, the tea rooms and all that stuff about finches and giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands.

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