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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, 22 March 2010

Following Harry Potter

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell took three months off in 2007 to travel around Britain visiting the places here that should be abroad. Now we're home, but still enjoying carbon lite travelling. Here's how...

Fiction is always nother country: but JK Rowling's Harry Potter world seems to be an inevitable part of our family's adventures. Here's four places I can recommend for Harry Potter fans, whatever their age:

1 Christ Church Hall, Oxford is Hogwarts' dining hall
We've just been to the Sunday Times Literary Festival in Oxford to listen to three great modern children's writers - Blue Peter's 2009 book winner Ali Sparkes with Frozen in Time, Frank Cottrel Boyce whose written Cosmic, Framed and Millions (and plenty of others) and new on the scene Harriet Goodwin with the excellent Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43.

2 Elephant House (cafe), Edinburgh is Harry Potters's birthplace
Lap up the atmosphere - and the craggy castle views - even though JK Rowling may not visit much now. This also does great breakfasts if you've just got off the night train... See opening times here.

3 Kings Cross Station is home of Platform 9 and three/quarters
Arguably London's best station, currently near the end of its underground revamp, and also the way to Norfolk, Yorkshire, the Lake District and other favourite places...

4 Alnwick Castle, Northumberland is Hogwarts
This castle is a fantastic place to visit and if you get tired of the gardens, the rampards, the Harry Potter memorabilia (especially HP and the Philosopher's Stone), the infamous poison garden, the treehouse cafe - is it possible to get tired of such delights? - then you can head to the famous secondhand bookshopnearby. Barter Books is known as the biggest 2h bookshop in Britain and the source of the recent craze for mugs, key fobs, posters etc telling us to "Keep Calm and Carry On". See Guardian feature here.

5 Isle of Man has Gringots Bank
Might need to check this... but a trip to Isle of Man (take the ferry from Liverpool) exits you not just from England but Europe too - an utterly exotic destination only a couple of sea hours away.

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