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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.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Journey to the end of the Nile

In Highgate Cemetery, a homage to lost explorers?
I quite like feeling slightly lost. Not lost, late, out of supplies, with malaria and without a map like the explorers desperate to track the Nile or the Congo to its source. I mean lost on a bike knowing I'm only a couple of streets off my target, but probably discovering new routes there's always the hope I'll find a quicker or more interesting journey. And now I like looking for rivers.

Not long ago I posted on my homemadekids blog the National Trust's list of 50 things you should have done before you are 12. See it here. On the list was dam a stream. Now I've done this before, and so have my kids (and we unblocked it when the game stopped, don't worry), but I've never spent that long messing around in a stream. Until today. 

Atmospheric ivy.
Knowing the long summer holidays are ahead I've been trying to do a day volunteering (rather than writing) most weeks this term - generally something that builds up my skills, like my turn on the Sunday rota at the local canoe club; or conservation tasks at an overgrown cemetery (see pix). These are about the only child-free things I do. Generally I find it means that I bring home tidbits about the big world outside, and often inspire my kids to have a go at what I'm doing too.

Here it is, the source of the Fleet cleaned up.
But today I'm back from a happy day in the woods, covered in mud, after tracking and digging out the source of the River Fleet. This is a very famous river in London - Fleet Street is where the newspapers used to all be produced.

Looking at Wikipedia I'm slightly doubtful about whether I really was looking at the Fleet or not - it definitely ends up subterranean, but the info isn't consistent. One to think about. But a good river source isn't always obvious. Take the Thames.

I asked Nell, 11,  if she remembered our efforts to find the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire in 2009. Amazingly she did. It seems to have had the same sort of memory impact as the Moon landings did for her dad. "Yes, I've found a river. I found the Thames. It didn't have water in it. It just looked like a stream, and then a small ditch but there were cows grazing by it. There was a small stone saying this is the mouth of the Thames. if I'd been there first I'd have put a really big stone and in really clear writing I'd have written 'this is where the famous river Thames starts' and then I'd put the date."

The trickle that turns into the Fleet River starts here.

In contrast I just crossed my fingers that unblocking the Fleet, so it now has a clear route between the graves, wouldn't lead to flooding downstream. Or Mr Child's grave on the right sinking into a deep Fleet pool.  

All quiet so far (nearly a week on).

I wonder if Livingstone enjoyed finding the Nile? Not quite sure at what point you celebrate these things - locating it, getting back to camp or when the general public know what's happened. I just know that I grinned the whole cycle journey home (despite being slightly lost)...

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