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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, 23 February 2009

Dragon stance

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world without racking up their carbon footprint. This post is from Nicola
Korea is one of the countries I don't expect to know about. It's far away, mysterious and I haven't yet had any students from there. China yes. Taiwan yes. But this half-term week after a fascinating detour to the V&A museum (the Natural History Museum was just too crowded) we all found out about Korea's early writing programme for the masses, the way Buddhist texts were written up and the importance of dragons. Most of the dragons were on decorative china pieces but bold, lithe and perfectly scary. As we'd just seen a lifesize sculpture of George slaughtering a dragon in the plaster court, dragons seemed to have become the dominant animal force in the East wing...


While there a text pinged in from the girls' tae kwondo instructor, Michael, suggesting that they used half term to prepare for some tests (belts). That's how I know that this amazing hand/foot discipline was born in Korea on 11 April 1955. Bizarrely for the past couple of years our family has even been using a few Korean words - all thanks to the stances the kids learn in tae kwondo - without realising just where they came from. Not long ago Pete even wrote about it in the Guardian, see here to find out if we ever found our 'indomitable spirit'.
I'm afraid to say that there wasn't really a dragon's chance for me.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Shark adventure


Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel around the world without hiking up their carbon footprint. Can you help us? This post is from Nicola and Nell.


"I'd never seen sharks before. I really was interested," says Nell.
We took her and six friends (plus Lola) so eight - because she was eight - to the London Aquarium (see line-up above). The Aquarium is a bit dismal at the moment because are building works until Easter. But the kids adored seeing a tank full of huge sharks swimming in a Pacific ocean (salted Thames water) and then listening to a talk about the different types of shark. Behind the acetate tank the sharks looked very menacing as they loomed up to the sides and then dodged around the replica Easter Island heads.
Horrifyingly 100s of 1000s of sharks are killed each year for their fins - to make the supposed delicacy shark fin soup. I used to like eating fish, and when I did found it hard to snorkel as my mouth kept watering... but really how could a fin look tasty? It's mystifying. Meanwhile the shark keepers did a great job explaining to the children why they really shouldn't pick shark's fin soup if they ever go to an Asian country serving it. Lesson learnt we all went and ate homemade cake (made by Nell!) on the grass near the London Eye.




2050

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell are finding ways to have fun travelling the world without hiking up their carbon footprints. Today's entry inspired by back to the future...

"Years ago New Labour said they’d slash CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Of course they didn’t - and thank goodness. If we’d followed that crazy line of “save the world” thinking then we wouldn’t have built all these lovely towering offices for the fossil fuel extractors up at the Arctic? And as you can see from this pic (taken just last week) the kids still know how to play with snow."

(Back to 2009) Actually I took this pic near the London Eye during Nell’s 8th birthday party. The kids really enjoyed running between the snow islands. But it's a very sad image: almost a foretaste of the world we really, really don’t want…
To cheer us all up, here’s another pic of our snowy garden (Jan 2009). It’s really warm and spring like today (Feb 2009) – 11C – a relief after five weeks of freezy weather with enough snow to close schools, make skiing to work a possibility, tobogganing the streets essential and the chance of the mercury hitting anything above 0C (at night) a rarity.

Bah humbug

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell are enjoying travelling the world without hiking up their carbon footprint. This post is from Nicola

We are all sweet on Yorkshire and have already managed to visit for a weekend this January. Our friends’ house was a bit parky (you could see your breath in all the upstairs rooms and it was pretty chilly downstairs too before the fires were lit). But it helped us realize how tough people had to be before central heating, and how much warmer our home has become thanks to tackling the draughts.

Over the weekend we soon realised that you need to keep busy - ideally outside - in order to stay warm. I cycled miles to keep my blood circulating, and the kids rode ponies too (well Wurzel, see below) for added adrenalin we had a close encounter with a hedge trimmer...







Maybe only visitors feel the cold up North? The 13 and 9 year old who live there didn't seem to think it was that chilly and rarely wore more than a T and a sweatshirt.

I should have bought them all thermals, instead for a treat I let the younger kids all choose a monster bag of sweets. In the pic at the top Nell, 7; Lola, 10 and Ned, 9 show off their swag.
You don’t have to go to Masham (also the home of the Black Sheep Brewery) in North Yorkshire to get your hands on their aniseed balls, fudge, flying saucers, traffic light lollies and other favourites. You can also log on here for old-fashioned sweetie choices.