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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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New Holland in Essex (without lions)

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a tour of Essex taking in Holland and Australia.  Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).   

Essex: it's got spray tans, hair extensions, wicked heels, new gleaming teeth and can boast at being the county with the (arguably) longest coast line in the UK. Pete writes endlessly about Essex (expect a new book in October) so sometimes the family is caught up in his Joy of Essex research. Turns out this stop off is roughly where the non-lion of 2012 August bank holiday was hanging out... see here

If you go to that mostly North Sea coast line you can be in all sorts of worlds and enjoy:

  • Wildlife - from seals to wading birds - see here
  • End of the pier attractions at Southend, Walton on the Naze and Clacton
  • 1950s beach fun on the greensward at Frinton
  • The best fish grazing (winkles! cockles! fish and chips!) at Leigh on Sea's pubs and fish stalls
  • Oil refineries at Canvey Island
  • Tasty English wine at Mersea Island

Pete, Nell, the dog and I took a little trip to flat Dutch landscapes at New Holland - midway between Clacton and Frinton (reach via a train to the seaside towns and then take bus 7, 7x or 8 on to alight at the Roaring Donkey pub). Once in New Holland it's really not got a cliche Dutch feel at all. Instead the bungalows, neat gardens, low walls and big vehicles parked in most drives give a strong sense of being in olde worlde Australia, a Perth suburb like Scarborough.

If you're in Australia then you'll expect really good food. So get back on the bus and head to Frinton where the Mouse and Hat Restaurant (pic of menu sourcing board above) offers stunning deli treats. Stunning for the UK that is. It's midway down Connaught Avenue (once known as Essex's Bond Street, but now rather more like a Country Living magazine fantasy of bookshops, galleries, material stores, ice cream parlour and a friendly green grocer).

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