A-Z activities

A-Z countries

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.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Running all over the world, via London

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. Setting yourself sporting challenges demands international conversations. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Lola, my sporty 14-year-old has now run the Mini-Marathon - the last three miles from Blackfriars Bridge to the Mall - four times. Kids in London boroughs are really lucky to get this chance, especially as the other Mini Marathon race runners are already elite athletes (see pic caption)

Lola's learnt a lot about pacing herself, plus an A-Z reboot of her mental map of London during these races. And on her 2011 race she also raised a bit of cash for charity too - books and science equipment for students at Woodford School in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

In 2013 Lola's joined by our friend Lucas, who is 11, and  zipped around the 2013 course
in 21 mins 30 seconds. The winner of the under 17s managed to complete
the race in 12 minutes - that's three four minute miles!
Near the finish spot the race commentator explained that the Africans (Ethiopia and Kenya) would dominate the winners. He was right too - Kenya won the women's race; Ethiopia the men's. And though it wasn't easy to see, every Marathon competitor wore a small black ribbon in memory of the stupid attack on Boston, US competitors and spectators last week. As a result all three countries played a big role in conversation with my younger daughter, Nell, while we waited for the runners to pass near our watching spot opposite Buckingham Palace.

Paula, Nell and Pete framed by flags. We all agreed that one of the best parts of the Marathon
is being able to walk down a road that's normally a traffic jungle.
The Mall is often a sea of flags - it's the only place in the UK that seems to do this (unlike say the US where flag raising and saluting are big parts of formal life). I did my best to spot the Solomon Islands and Kenyan flag as we passed the Commonwealth building, and was suitably rewarded with a flutter through the cherry blossom.

Over to you
What sporting occasion makes you feel as if you are in another world?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Keeping it clean with tweed and soap

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. On a short Saturday city stroll we met anachronistic cyclists, a Korean soap sculpture and a Madagascan rafia hat collector. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

At the weekend Nell, 12, and I went for a wander around London - bits we didn't know to cheer up some rather dull chores. Living in London it's easy to find new places to discover but we lucked out when 500 tweedy looking folk, some on Penny Farthing bikes, came to a halt beside us before commencing a parade around London.

Turns out they were on the Tweed Run - a celebration of well-attired gentlemen and ladies who raise a lot for charity. It looked a lot of fun wearing what is conventionally traditional clothing (and very beautiful) on a bike - a sartorially startling contrast to the luminous lycra most London cyclists wear.

This sculpture is made from soap by a Korean artist.
In Cavendish Square behind department store John Lewis there is a statue of the Butcher of Cumberland. It looks like marble, but on close inspection we discovered it is made from 2.7 tonnes of Honey I Washed The Kids soap. The idea is that it crumbles away releasing a Lush-like smell. It's made by Korean sculptor Meekyoung Shin, see a short video here. Disappointingly we couldn't smell anything, maybe it needs more sun and less rain.

Later that day we went to tea with a woman who has collected hats from all over Madagascar. There were baby hats, dating hats, keeping the sun off hats and purse hats - all whipped up with dried materials. Her hats were the real McCoy, collected 30 years ago, but on the web I found the Madagascan Hat Company, a Fair Trade outfit that makes amazing raffia hats using traditional skills but with a twist that makes them more suitable for modern, tourist heads, see here.

Not bad for a short day's city stroll!