A-Z activities

A-Z countries

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.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Spanish gourmet

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell spent three months in 2007 travelling around the UK exploring the world. They are back now but still finding there's plenty to see, and lots of low carbon ways to see the world

Spain: there's so much I'd like to know about this country. And thanks to Nell's school organising a week of Spanish activities she at least is learning something. So far there's been flamenco dancing, paella making and a lot of foodie exploration. The eight and nine year old children were even given a jar of Mediterranean veg (aspargus!) to take home from a generous Spanish online gourmet shop, at http://www.ibericalondon.co.uk/.

The students were also asked to abandon their uniform so they could wear red and yellow clothes - which is a lovely way of remembering Spain's complicated flag. Although I'm sure that Spain's World Cup win (2010) means that every football fan knows exactly what it looks like anyway.

Extra tasty teaching
After classes on Wednesday the teachers laid out a table groaning with freshly-made fiesta food so every child could try something - even if it was just a grape or a bit of crusty bread.

Sadly Nell, 9, wasn't so keen on slithers of octopus, the dark, salty anchovies or the tasty gazpatcho. She's not allowed to eat nuts so that ruled out the almond-stuffed olives (I waffled these up) but she loved the tortilla. Phew.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Darwin trails

Pete, Nicola, and daughters Lola and Nell love to travel without wrecking the planet. This blog looks at ways they travel the world without leaving Britain. This post is by Nicola.

4 o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon sees Lola and I, just minutes from home, sharing Charles Darwin's favourite teatime snack - cucumber sandwiches with the crusts off, strawberries, ginger and treacle cake and homemade lemonade. We're in Caledonian Park, Islington along with children from nearby schools, the Mayor and an impressive number of Charles Darwin's relatives to enjoy the opening of the new Darwin Trail.

In Islington the Darwin Trail is a 10-slated loop around Caledonia Park with quotes by the great writer of The Origin of Species that link the borough, the plants in the park and naturalist knowledge. The trail cleverly bridges science and literature with some meditative finger posts set by park highlights: a hedge, a bird feeder, a holly tree, an oak and a walnut tree.

Snakes and tortoises
The oldest and boldest of the relatives, Randal Keynes, a great, great grandson (author of Annie's Box) told the crowd that he'd opened Darwin Trails throughout the world. Each has a distinctive character - but in Brazil the first users had been obliged to detour past a boa constrictor, and in the Galapagos Islands there were tortoises to avoid. In Islington we spotted a cute dog, a fluffy dog and two scary dogs as well as the famous pigeons who are descendants of Rock Doves.

Look closely and even in this uber-urban setting all is "beautiful adapatation". It's a lesson for life, by the great mapper of life. A wonderful adventure for our armchair travel diary.