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.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Biomechanics - easy exercise?

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at an ever so simple way to make muscles work betterWords from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

A slightly strange post showing a series of pix of me (and others) resisting movement in the style that I think is approved of by biomechanic advocates. It's all about resistance... recommended if you have a leg that is longer than the other, or you want to ride horses better (why do these two possibilities seem so strange?).

I suppose people in Herculaneum and Pompeii were doing something like this before their terrible ordeal with Mount Vesuvius.
push thigh up as you force the leg down.


slump (yes I am wearing an outfit that was passed on by one of Lola's friends for my  12 year old).

slump and point toes

loosen the shoulder - keeping the hips still

my hands are holding an imaginary iron pole, so there.

now swing the hips

michael jackson pose

trainer claire resists a coat (this picture is screaming for a better caption!)

put a glove under your arm and bend ze elbows

I think this is the penguin pose  - it felt good, why doesn't it look cool?

Can all planes turn right here

using a filing cabinet/wall/door frame to resist movement

another penguin

Friday, 17 May 2013

Where can I be happy?

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at what it means to be happy - on holiday or at homeWords from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Horse chestnuts in flower (look for the white candles).
"Does Japan have cherry blossom trees?" asks Nell, 12. This seems left-field but she explains that she's been playing Subway Surfer with a new background of blossom to make it seem more like Tokyo...

These days it's easy to travel without leaving your mobile.

Springtime - ideally outside away from screens - is wonderful in a country like the UK with four seasons. At least that's what the dog and I think as we walk around London (see photos). The dog enjoys sniffing and running - he's a lesson in how to be in-the-moment and happy.

But is happiness a choice? Can you feel happiness on demand, say by taking a holiday or being generous? I don't think so - although it's lovely to break routines, the pressure of keeping a family all happy (let alone a large family) for 24 hours a day for a week or more sounds terrifying. Creating a calm environment - with the opportunity to have many happy moments - is another option.

Wanting to be happy (and solvent) are two closely linked aspirations. As I meet more teenagers - my daughters' friends and the university students I teach - I do wonder about their resilience levels. It feels as if inner-toughness is being eroded at quite a speed. 

So what's happened in four years that's changed? Possibly far greater reliance on mini-screens for entertainment? Here's where I have to reel in an interview in the Guardian with 15-year-old Alice Carruthers talking about her perfect (or possibly typical) weekend, see here. In brief her main external experience appears to be from watching old episodes of Friends on YouTube. I am sure Alice has zillions of strengths but I was shocked to read her summary of typical weekend. She doesn't seem to move around, do anything for anyone else, of have many domestic tasks - other than homework. She's never asked to solve problems.
Circus ponies graze near tower blocks in spring sunshine.
"I want to get off"
Teaching riding I often find kids reach a point they can do most things (eg, steer and rise to the trot), but are quite unable to cope with a horse or pony resisting their requests. It can be frightening riding a horse but if a child - or an adult - can find the inner resilience to cope with the unpredictable, stop the tears and maybe to learn to love an animal that is as likely to stand on their foot as nicker at them over the stable door - I think they are lucky indeed. Not only will they be able to ride (a rare skill), they'll also have mined a strength of character that I am sure helps people to cope with problems.

Oh yes, and climate change...
In St James' Park on a spring evening with deck chair, book & picnic rug.

Cow parsley and hawthorn blossom-lined walk along a former railway.
For rather more cerebral insights about happiness have a look at Mattieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, who links science and meditation with a certain amount of joy, see here. With thanks to my friend ML for passing this on (via Melbourne/Honiara and Facebook).

Over to you?
Any ideas for developing our resilience levels? Is there something that can be done at school or uni with students or is it something families need to work on?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

400ppm - sad statistic

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a sad look at another record breaking statisticWords from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

It's happened: the world's atmospheric carbon dioxide has hit  a historic high, 400ppm . This level was last calculated long before humans flew and drove the Earth. It's a totem figure of course, one many of us dreaded. 

I add this cliche message on my office poster as I guess that's exactly what's going to happen.

I notice I've used electric lights less today, but it feels rather pointless. Most of us use too much carbon and far too much of the world's resources.  I do anyway: according to WWF's info my carbon footprint is 6.74 tonnes per annum. Turns out I use 1.88 planet's worth of resources. These statistics do not make comfortable reading either.

I wonder how other countries are marking this?