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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 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.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

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.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Egyptian princess

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell are finding novel ways to travel the world without leaving Britain. Just been to Egypt without even leaving the kitchen table...

Nell adores leraning about ancient Egypt and her dad would dearly like to see the pyramids. Luckily for us there's the British Museum to snoop around. After a school visit Nell made her own ancient Egyptian jewellery (crown, arm amulet and gaudy necklace) from paper and string, see photo.

Then a few days ago my friend Nicky - who is driving across Africa with her sons - sent a birthday gift wrapped up in Arabic tape postmarked from a hotel near the pyramids. Nell was thrilled. She sepnt nearly 15 minutes studying the brown paper wrapped parcel, fiddled with the tape and traced the hieroglyphs until finally she could not resist opening it up.

Inside was a beautiful wooden box -not quite made from cedar or suitable for the world-famous Alexandria library - but nearly, and in that was a dashing blue beaded hat that turns Nell into an Egyptian princess. Though I think she prefers the idea of being a bellydancing babe.

Riverside finds

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel the world but like to find original ways to keep their carbon footprint down for the journey. This time we went back to medieval London

There's no such thing as away. When it comes to plastic bags in landfill this is a disaster. When it comes to the excitement of finding a 500 year old sole by the River Thames it's exciting.

Lola, Nell and I were showing a 9-year-old friend from Yorkshire, Izzy, around the South Bank recently and found an old shoe sole with little nails sticking out on the beach below the Tate Modern after getting our eye in spotting lots of bits of broken clay smoking pipes.

We gave the sole to our visitor to take home and her mum Julia showed it to an archaeologist. Can you believe it was more than 500 years old? Here's what the archaeologist said:

"I have looked at the shoe in the Museum of London Finds Catalogue and it is Medieval. It is a standard man's shoe (small size) that would probably have been worn by an artisan or merchant.Unfortunately its design remained the same for a very long period indeed and so it could date from anywhere from 1175 to about 1450. Aristocratic footware,the platform built pattens and pointy poulaines changed design frequently and so are more easily datable."

Monday, 2 March 2009

Another brick in the wall

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell love to travel - without racking up our carbon footprint. This weekend trip took in two institutions - the Queen's most visited castle home at Windsor and the poshest of the boys' boarding schools, Eton. Post by Nicola

It's where they train boys to become young men. It costs an arm and a leg and relies on a mixture of great teachers, tradition, snobbery and parents willingness to pay up, pay on. Eton is only for boys, a great shame as Lola thought she'd like to go there... and now she has, but just for a day trip to see my godson.

Here Nell, Lola and George look left towards Eton's famous wall - a bit bellying but still used for the inexplicable (aka unique) wall game. The tree with the white band that hasn't been hit for 200 years is on the far right.

And then around Windsor Castle where we saw some of the most wonderful portraits of Charles 1, Henry VIII and the 13 year old Elizabeth 1. As with all the royal palaces (or historic palaces) it's expensive to do a tour but you can reuse your ticket for the next year.

Lola and Nell were impressed by the world's biggest carpet beneath the world's biggest mahogany table. I liked the banks of spring flowers by the waterfall beneath the towers. And the magnificent dolls' house which we even bought a guide book for, and has proved a pleasure to flick through.

Windsor is a crowded town, and not just filled with tourists, but it was a lovely day trip even if we felt in such an English environment there was no way we could pretend we were anywhere else. Now that's something that's never happened before.

Big spin

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell are trying to visit as many countries as possible without increasing their carbon footprint. This entry is from Nicola

The mild spring days of February inspired us to get on our bikes to pedal around Broxbourne woods in Hertfordshire (reached via the train that seems to run from our doorstep straight to a hornbeam/oak ancient woodland). The stop is Bayford, and as an added bonus just a short cycle ride up the hill there's even a gastro pub specialising in home cooked food and real ale at the Baker Arms .
With the sun above, these lovely woods smelt of warming earth, and magic visitors to play. Nell set up a shop in one forked ash tree while I took loads of photos of buds and deer baskets (woven fences to stop the muntjac and other nibbly beasties from coppicing coppiced timber to death).
Pete wanted to time travel, so stared at the info panels hoping it would reveal how he could join the Celtic camp that's run annually deep in the woods near Brickendon. Sadly the panels didn't, but there's info here about how to join the history makers at the Celtic Harmony camp.