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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.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A taste of the Lebanon

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. Lebanon is where people go for bars and beaches - a Western style experience in the Middle East. And it's also where more than 400,000 Syrian refugees have ended up trying to escape the bloody Syrian conflict. Clearly Lebanon is a generous country, but what's it like and how can you get a sense of Lebanon when you live in London? Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Taboulleh, yoghurt, humus, fava beans,
feta cheese with tomato, flat bread,
followed by mousakka - all Lebanese delights.
On 27 March 2013 at Mosaic Rooms, 26 Cromwell Road, London, SW5, Hana el Hibri is giving a talk about the new 30-day, 440km Lebanese mountain trail, a journey she's written about in her book A Million Steps. The aim is: "To raise more awareness about how special this Middle East country is - many of the paths are Roman, or Venetian, it's a history lesson," says Hana.

Hana hopes the newly opened path will promote eco tourism, and protect the range from dumping and quarrying. The idea of Lebanon being the perfect spot for a long distance walk (like Hadrian's Wall or the Coast to Coast) is such a surprise to me - all I've heard about Lebanon in the past year or so is how it has opened its borders to thousands of Syrian refugees.

Million Steps video trailer here.

Delve into my mind and I can tell you about Lebanese cuisine too. For instance taboulleh is a parsely salad with lemon and chopped tomato, not bulgar wheat with a sprinkling of parsely. Now take a look at the photo above and see how to serve it with lashings of yoghurt at the wonderful Tarboush restaurant on Edgware Road. We also enjoyed vine leaves, and our one meat eater lucked out with chicken kafta although she could have tried lamb or goat.

Tip if you are making your own yoghurt you can get a better set if you start it in a thermos, especially if you don't have anywhere very warm to leave it.
Here's a website which has all you need to know about Lebanese culture - from the fact that skiing is very popular to it being an extremely modern, rather Westernised place where Arabic, English and French pepper conversations.  It's also where Yanni, on his 2012-13 world without borders tour, opens the 2013 Byblos International Music Festival (which runs from 30 June - 1 July). Yanni's Live at the Acropolis TV show is the world's 2nd best known music video - after Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's been seen by half a billion people in more than 65 countries... See here.

Tarboush, 143 Edgware Road, London W2, tel: 020 7706 9793

See all my posts on Lebanon here.

Over to you
When you hear the word Lebanon what do you think of? Or what do you recommend to do in the UK to give you a sense of Lebanon's unique Middle East mix?

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