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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.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Out of Africa

Pete, Nicola, Lola, now 11, and Nell, a just-turned-nine, spent summer 2007 travelling around Britian. They're back home now (not so far from Tower Bridge) but still trying to find ways to see the world without racking up their carbon footprint. This post is by Nicola.

Thanks to my friend Nicky, who I met at university, I've been to many places in the world I would have thought weren't for me - starting with Chitral in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan. This was back in 1987 and my first trip to Asia. I really enjoyed it thanks mostly to Nicky who was living with her family there. Another summer we trained it around Europe (1984) - eurorailing was a belated right of passage for us both.

Nicky is a menace with the air miles (although I get to benefit and stay in touch as she comes by London Heathrow frequently as does 10-year-old Xander, see pic below with Lola and Nell). But last year, after nearly 10 years based in Zimbabwe, she and husband Robert (another uni friend) took their kids out of school and on to the dirt roads of Africa so that they could drive north-south from Cairo to the Cape and back again to Zim - a 25,000 mile road trip.

Robert is a fabulous photographer (that pic of Tower Bridge is his), films anything, and a good writer too so the blog entries on his trip, enlivened by the kids' entries, have been great. I loved popping to their blog between cups of tea and dull tasks, and now their route and adventures have also been poured over by Saturday Guardian readers - see here.

Six months cost their family £12,500, which sounds a hideous amount, but for an adventure fo a lifetime in which their children learnt so much - and not just how to use sand ladders to escape out of sand dunes and a combination of GPS and stars to navigate - it seems to me money well spent. Here at Baird Towers it would have gone on wine, bike services and energy efficiency which is nothing to write about... except that I do, see here.

If all of us could just take longer to get to places, perhaps we'd reduce the amount of mini trips made. Robert says there's a Swahili* word for this - mahali - the place that becomes a journey. That's exactly what this blog attempts to do as we wander around the world without ever needing to leave Britain.

*Swahili is spoken throughout east africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.