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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.

Monday, 10 February 2014

I wish someone would bring me chocolate

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. Here I have a look at chocolate.... Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs). I also publish an interview every week with people who live or work in Islington at islingtonfacesblog.com - there's a prize for the 100th follower.

This is Austrian chocolate - marzipan swirls covered in
chocolate, and utterly delicious. This was a gift
from friends.
I eat chocolate every day. And I intend to continue to do so.

My morning cup of coffee is perfected by a chunk of chocolate.

At university my chocolate life was even better - whenever I studied at our otherwise rather horrible student house, the scent of cooking chocolate from the factories inYork helped (maybe hindered) the synapses.

How to get it
More than 3 million tonnes of cocoa beans are harvested each year - growing in countries not far from the Equator (top producer is the Ivory Coast, then Indonesia, coming in at number 10 is Peru claims wikipedia). No surprise then that between December and Easter I can usually rely on having a stash of chocolate – thanks to Christmas gifts,  and then Valentine’s Day, my birthday and mother’s day. (Seeing as Valentine's Day is coming up I thought I better make an appeal...)

And from April to December I'd face a hungry gap if I didn’t supplement my supplies by chocolate buying missions at the local corner shop.

Loving chocolate is a habit I’ve passed on to my daughters. Indeed for my eldest’s 13th birthday we booked a free tour around the unique chocolate factory in Adelaide. Haigh’s Chocolates is really well known in Australia, but not available overseas, unless you have an Ozzie pal visiting.

Chocolate lovers don't have to leave the country (indeed the point of this blog is that we rarely do leave) because in the UK there are plenty of chocolatier opportunities: Cadbury World’s claim to fame is that it is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions. And then there’s the Roald Dahl museum which sells dreamy hot chocolate at Cafe Twit, and reminds the family about the classic story Charlie & theChocolate Factory. This book has now been reborn as a musical in London’s West End.

And there are also tours - and kids parties - at the Land of the Yorkie bar, York here.

Raw ingredients
Finding a ripe yellow podded cocoa bean is definitely tricky in London, but you can have fun doing a different sort of chocolate hunt by looking at chocolate bars to try and work out where the company sourced their cocoa beans. See if you can find the Fair Trade logo too, that way if you do make a purchase you’ll know that the person who grew those beans got a fair price for their hard work.

  • Places to visit for your own DIY chocolate tour: 1)York and Birmingham. 2) Any shop shelf displaying chocolate. 3) And in my house my secret chocolate stash (the one that if anyone hears me rifling through allows me to deny everything, because "I eat like a bird")...

Over to you
What's your favourite chocolate - other than the one in your hand?

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