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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.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Bike for a French feel

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. This post is by Nicola Baird (picture above about how freeing a bike can be, is by Lola, aged 9).

My friend Rachel went cycling in France during the summer. It was quite easy, she told me looking distinctly svelte, just 1,ooo km over eight days so we had time to sight-see. This is a staggering distance, how on earth did she have time to sight-see?  The answer is that she's cycle fit. She cycles most weekends with her partner, Andy Cornwell, who is an extraordinarily passionate long-distance cyclist and has a great blog with ideas about where to ride, and how to test your endurance. Should you wish to do something similar, have a look at the Lonely Planet guide, Cycling France.

Admittedly the world's most famous cycle race, the Tour de France is 3,600 km, and lasts 21 days, but those  competitors want the challenge - they are super-fit, lean, mean bike machines. 

I find cycling is a good way to cheer me and the family up.

It's lovely to cycle on autumn days when there isn't a headwind and the leaves are turning red and yellow as if you were mountain biking through a Canadian fall. I like the way you can stop exactly when you want to - no worries about parking when you see a bramble bush still laden with blackberries. When the first frosts come it will be time to stop at the blackthorn and pick sloes to  make sloe gin or flavour vodka ready for a Christmas treat.

Sustrans offers fabulous off-road cycling all round the UK. 

For anyone based in London there are also some great journeys to make - your personal Tour de France  - either direct from your home or via a train line that allows bikes. I particularly like the stations running north of Finsbury Park that take you out to Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridge and Norfolk. In a recent issue of London Cycling Campaign's magazine there's a great ride around Stevenage. It's 30 miles which sounds a long way - but do it at your own pace, on a lovely autumn day, and you'll be rewarded with the same feeling of triumphal achievement that those Tour de France cyclists get when they cross the finishing line. 

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