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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.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Indian tastes change

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel. With this blog find out how to travel the world in a very low carbon way. This post is by Nicola

Dear friends arrive from Wales for a cuppa and then some spaghetti pomodore - and being generous they bring along a treat. It's a box of delicious Indian sweets from Drummond Street behind Euston where you go to get the tastiest, and best value Indian buffet in London. Conversations later we're talking about the iniquity and misery of boarding schools. The children know them from Harry Potter (or even friends) and aren't taking the sides that George, Pete and I are. Turns out George's dad was sent to England from India when he was just three and then neglected in schools here. Pete's dad didn't board but he certainly got bullied. Mine boarded and remembered secondary school as a bullyfest, with him as the whipping boy. It probably didn't help that he was 4ft 6in aged 14 - though subsequently grew to 6ft!

Our dads were at school when England still had an empire. I find this quite astonishing, and of course the links to India are still there. Our friend Anthony, just turned 70, was born and grew up in India where his father worked. George's grandfather was military in India. Taking it further back one of my famous relatives (possibly famous for bad temper rather than actually famous) was Sir David Baird - on of the winning generals at Seringapatam (sp?) in 1799. If you don't know the battle, you might know the pic of the Fall of Tippoo Sultan, see here.

"Still it's all different now," muttered someone at the table. Did they then say modernity started with George Orwell and the Road to Wigan Pier? I can't remember, might have dreamt it, but checking up on these facts suddenly saw that George Orwell was born in India too. When it comes to my generation, or my kids' generation for that matter, the people I know who were born in India are no longer repressed Englishmen/women sticking to Victorian values, way past their sell-by date. They are sassy, bright young men and women who are making up the rules for the new media age. We do have something in common, all of us  still like those luminous coloured, teeth-rotting, exotically enormous Indian sweets...

Saturday, 5 February 2011


Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel, in as low-carbon a way as they can. This post is from Nicola

Here in London - maybe the UK - the Egyptian drama unfolding in Cairo and Alexandria is an ever changing story, but for us so much safer. We just get to see the photos, watch the TV, and in the Evening Standard read the tales of all the British families who are taking flight back here. I'm not entirely sure why the coverage is so good... I'm sure there are many oil-driven, scared of the Muslim Brotherhood reasons, although military history lessons must factor too. My dad's National Service, back in the 1950s, was in Egypt - though he is sadly long dead which means I can't quiz him much about the whys of that post.

Anyway the result ensures Egypt takes a higher news position than say, Colombia.

It's the Facebook messages from Egyptian friends that worry me so much. Yes the internet is a big place but Murabak seems very capable of paying people to track down those who aren't on his side. Never has watching history unfold been so nerve-wracking.

One thing that has puzzled me is the allure of Egypt for tourists before all this. Until these pictures of the million on a march started flooding BBC, the Guardian, Skynews etc most of the noise about Egypt was what a lovely spot it is to visit - swimming in the Nile, touring the pyramids, taking a dive tour, avoiding that rogue maneater shark at the main tourist hotspot, Sharm El-Sheik on the Red Sea. Quizzing them now it seems none of these visitors had the slightest idea about Egypt's politics, let alone that the president has kept his seat tightly for 30 years. It makes me feel that before you are allowed into a country you should be given a mini quiz about it's most basic history and politics. Just like a British nationality test, only a lot easier!

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