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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, 21 May 2012

Travel tips from travel writers

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post has a look at the way travel has changed - from adventure to grim necessity. Seems like a shame to all of us who still feel that travelling is a joy, and it is often better to travel than to arrive. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).   


The photo above is of a gorgeous certificate my Great Aunt Aline was given for gamely taking a flight on 1 August 1949 across the Atlantic Ocean from London to Boston. It's an "overseas flight certificate" from the "captain of the flagship, Scotland" which states, "may all your journeys be pleasant ones". Ahh. Nowadays getting on a plane is so often the worst part of the journey - not just for you, but for the planet. So how did well-known travellers face up to the burden of getting there?


What the Dickens
I'd have loved to talk to Charles Dickens about his travel snaps.
If he wasn't listening intently, ready to nick your lifestory then he was getting slightly over excited about how to get around, say taking the train to France (and remember he had no Channel Tunnel so had to use a boat too). Later, in 1865, he survived a train crash coming back from France close to Stapleton, Kent - it'd be interesting to find out what mental revisions he made to train travel then, although he comes close in this letter.
"There is a dreamy pleasure in this flying. I wonder where it was, and when it was, that we exploded, blew into space somehow a parliamentary train, with a crowd of heads and faces looking at us out of cages, and some hats waving... What do I care? 
Bang! We have let another station off, and fly away regardless. Everything is flying. The hop gardens turn gracefully towards me, presenting regular avenues of hops in rapid flight, then whirl away. So do the pools and rushes, haystacks, sheep, clover in full bloom delicious to the sight and smell, corn sheaves, cherry orchards, apple orchards, reapers, gleaners, hedges, gates, fields that taper off into little angular corners, cottages, gardens, now and then a church. Bang. Bang! A double-barrelled station! Now a wood, now a bridge, now a landscape, now a cutting, now a - Bang! a single-barrelled station - there was a cricket match somewhere with two white tents and then four flying cows, then turnips - now the wires of the electric telegraph are all alive, and spin, and blur their eges and go up and down, and make the intervals between each other most irregular, contracting and expanding in the strangest manner."
Charles Dickens on Travel (Hesperus Press, edited essays, 2009 from The Flight, 1851, p55)
Orwellian
What a contrast to George Orwell.

"So long as a machine is there, one is always obliged to use it. No one draws water from the well when he can turn on the tap. One sees a good illustration of this in the matter of travel. Everyone who has travelled by primitive methods in an undeveloped country knows that the difference between that kind of travel and modern travel in trains, cars, etc, is the difference between life and death. The nomad who walks or rides, with his luggage stowed on a came or an ox-cart, may suffer every kind of discomfort, but at least he is living while his is travelling; whereas for the passenger in an express train or a luxury liner his journey is an interregnum, a kind of temporary death. And yet so long as the railways exist, one has got to travel by train - or by cr or areoplane. When i want to go up to London why do I not pack my luggage on to a mule and set out on foot, making a two days of it? Becasue, with teh Green Line buses whizzing past me every ten minutes, such a journey would be intolerably irksome. In order that one may enjoy primitive methods of travel, it is necessary that no other method should be available."
The Road to Wigan Pier (Penguin, original edition 1937) p175

Backseat driving
See how jaded poor Bill Bryson, writing in the early 1990s, had got.

"If you mention in the pub that you intend to drive from, say, Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco, your companions will puff their cheeks, look knowingly at each other, and blow out air as if to say, "Well now that's a bit of a tall order," and then they'll launch into a lively and protracted discussion of whether it's better to take the A30 to Stockbridge and then the A303 to Ilchester or the A361 to Glastonbury via Shepton Mallet. Within minutes the conversation will plunge off into a level of detail that leaves you, as a foreginer, swivelling your head in quiet wonderment."
Notes from Small Island (Black Swan, 1999 this edition specially for World Book Night p31)

Over to you
In contrast I tend to love where I go - else why leave? Let me know where you hope to go this year without using a plane.

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