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.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Fish and flowers at the seaside

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at Whitstable, taking in quick Ozzie seaside tours of food and flora.  Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

"Britain is really an island!" said my daughters, almost in unison as we sat on the shingle at Whitstable and looked across the estuary. Living in London it doesn't feel like an island at all. But once you hit the coast - and our's is pretty long - you start to feel it.

We hardly ever go to the sea so it was fun to watch my 14 and 12 year old creep up on a tiny olive green-carapace of a Shore Crab. Even when they worked out it was dead they were frightened of picking it up in case they were nipped... clearly city kids! The dog was just as bad, lapping up the sea water in puzzlement and then rubbing his furry face into the sand in an attempt to rid himself of the saltyness.

Shingle, blue skies and beach huts. Ahh.

Seaside houses painted ice cream shades
by an upturned blue boat.
Whitstable is a Kent gem. You can reach it by train (approx 90 mins from London's Cannon Street). The beaches are mostly shingle, but in June they are covered in wild flowers - ranging from sea cabbage to my favourite garden escapee, red valerian, gorgeous. And dogs are allowed on the beach all year around.  The vistas give you plenty to think about: we imagined being back in Freemantle , Perth, Australia as we wandered over to the Whitstable Brewery so Pete could have a pint of native and we could ogle the oysters on offer.

Oyster shells waiting to be re-used
 (so don't take them home)
In fact the food all around the seaside part of town was amazing - ranging from oyster shacks to little fish stalls. Certain views give a sense of the pretty Byron Bay coastline along Sydney Harbour. But sitting at the Forge with fish and chips was lovely too. Then finish off at the Old Neptune pub with live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, or park yourself on a bench outside and stare out to sea as the sun goes down.

If you've never explored our 11,000 mile (17,000 km) coastline, promise yourself a few days to have a good look (maybe check the weather first...).

Great spots for a seaside day out:

  • Eyemouth, Scotland (to feed the harbour seals)
  • Leigh-on-Sea, Esssex (for the food sheds)
  • Whitby, Yorks (to hunt for Dracula)
  • St Bees, Cumbria (to start the Coast to Coast walk)
  • Margate, Kent (for art, windfarms and a sandy beach)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Famous spits: Ukraine, NZ or Devon

Mother's day 2013 - me and Lola spit
visiting in the rain.

Lola with my friend Sally. Count those boats.
This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at the world's best spits - thanks to a trip to Dawlish Warren in DevonWords from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Dawlish Warren is famous for its spit. Well famous if you are doing a GCSE in geography.  The rest of us know it's got a world-reknowned SSSI bird reserve and lots of sandy beach space. Two long beaches actually back-to-back, thanks to being a spit...

It takes about an hour to walk the length of the spit - although this shouldn't be done in bird nesting season, or with a dog on a lead longer than 2m, or possibly when a severe gale is blowing in spear-sharp hail (see pix right).  But if you do have a go the reward is seeing a spit (land eroding on one side and forming on the other, see more here) and as many as 8,000 resting birds at high tide - depending on the season.

  • Spits can be huge - the longest in the world is Arabat Spit, in the Ukraine, around 110km. It's easily visible from space claims this group of spit-afficanados.
  • New Zealand's Farewell Spit is 32km. It's often described as the "fish hook pinned to the top of NZ's South Island". 
  • Other famous UK spits are Chesil Beach (which is 189 miles long) and Spurn Point on the Humber, Yorkshire which is 4.8miles long.

Read more posts about Devon, here

Over to you
Where else can I go in the UK that offers a taste of  the Ukraine or NZ?