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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 November 2009

Stories round the woodburner

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell spent the summer of 2007 travelling around Britain without racking up their carbon budget. We're home now but we still love travelling. Here's how we try and do it keeping to a low carbon footprint and getting a taste of everywhere in the world. This post is by Nicola.

One of the things I love about visiting people in the countryside is their tendency in the winter to have wood burning stoves. If the wood is sourced from the right place - and I'm working on this - then you can have carbon neutral space heating.

After long talks, debates and saving up we now have an Aga Little Wenlock woodburner fitted (suitable for smokeless zones) where our Victorian fireplace used to be. It's pretty warm today - 16C - but last weekend, when it was a bit colder, we set it alight both evenings with amazingly good results. In fact the woodburner's efficiency made our sitting room warm enough for me to stay up late (chatting), rather than retire with a hot water bottle to bed at 9pm. Its cosy glow reminds me of Hannah's in Wales and Exeter, and my childhood in Hertfordshire. Pete says - rather happily - that the atmosphere in our living room hints at warm ups by the pub after breath-freezing days in the Lakes and Yorkshire.

Of course you need kindling to light it, and so there's a new task for the children (see pic). Here's Nell and her three year old cousin Jago helping me collect up a big bag of twigs off an ash tree, which all fell down after a night of gales.
Searching for kindling, copying great ideas (I think the Swedes invented the woodburner, just checking) and being able to story around the fire make autumn and winter such a pleasure. next project may be to plant some more trees...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Dog daze

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell spent three months during summer 2007 travelling 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.

I'm guilty of introducing an 4x4 jeep sized-footprint into the house. At least that's what a recent Guardian piece claims here thanks to the arrival of our pup. Much of Leo Hickman's piece is taken from a hackle-raising book, Time To Eat the Dog and is probably spot on. I've already noticed that even at eight weeks Vulcan's lack of house training meant we had to wash our hands more; and we're flushing his poos away so our water use is well up. He eats a chicken-based biscuit (so we're fuelling Amazonian rainforest decline as soya feed gets used to fatten the poultry base). We also often leave a light on for him - and at night to keep him warm we provide a hotwater bottle (better than gas central heating, but still a need forextra electricity as we heat up a saucepan on the hob).

In an ideal world we'd have got an unwanted/rescue dog who would still have a resource-heavy footprint (mostly shit) but convincing the rescue centres to let me take one home was heavy weather. One in Wales didn't seem to think I could collect a dog (Jester) without a car (wherever I lived) because it would be "too traumatic". I was so furiously amused that I couldn't actually reply to this ridiculous comment.

The whole family was also expected to do the fetching, and we had to do it straightaway. When I pointed out this would mean taking the girls out of school - technically illegal - the dog ladies (because they always were) gave a telephone shrug as if that was quite inconsequential.

The dog books are the same, containing scant regard for resource pawprints. Here is where you learn that dog poo should be picked up in cheap nappy bags (which don't biodegrade); and dogs need to learn to love cars so they can be driven for walks. Call me old fashioned but I think it's better to start walking from where you are, not by driving to where you want to be.

This is not a campaign I will be putting a jot of time into - turn on dogs and you lose a huge swathe of people who just might have made an effort to cut their carbon emissions until they realise they love the enemy. Besides, I am looking forward to walking our puppy more as he gets big enough to do so and together we will muse on this strange, strange world.