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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog 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. 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, 31 March 2014

Thinking about American crackers & climate change

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at the joys of tasting something I enjoyed aged 18... Big hugs to lost innocence about salty snacks and climate change. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

The news about how bad climate change is - and that it absolutely isn't a made-up phenomena - has upset what for me would have been a fundamentally happy, carefree weekend life...  Reading the summaries in the Guardian, and also the New York Times about how much scientists estimate climate change is going to effect our home is horrific. This was September 2013.  

Now it's worse - March 2014 - with the IPCC saying climate change is no longer distant. The panel makes it seem more real than seas rising and coral dying by suggesting that my daily cup of coffee is now at risk (as are the jobs created by coffee growing).

And yet we don't seem able to make politicians act with any sense of purpose. There are good reasons for this, see New Scientist here 

In 2009 action by the world's leaders at Copenhagen to do something ended up achieving yet more years of inaction. Apparently in 2014 the UN will have another go to do something...

However critical I am of politicians the truth is, that like most people, I am not doing enough to reduce my carbon emissions either. And yes, I did join in 2014 WWF's big switch off - much to the bemusement of my dinner guests who thought I was too chicken to reveal the veggie food I'd cooked under anything other than candle light...

The thing is we've all got to change. And yet we don't... When I first drafted this post over an autumn weekend I had one daughter visiting friends in Hertfordshire (via car), a husband in the Lake District climbing mountains before winter sets in (he travelled from London via train) plus me and my other daughter zooming around London via tube to enjoy what's on offer here.  Perhaps that's why my teen and I visited Harvey Nichols, a posh Knightsbridge shop I haven't been into since I was a teenager (and that visit was a one-off!). 

I've heard so much about Harvey Nicks over the years (probably read as much about this shop as I have about climate change, which is an extremely disturbing thought).I know it's for the super rich, but I was still knocked out by just how many people were hanging out on the 5th floor in the food hall at 3.30pm on a Sunday (what kind of time is that to eat anyway?).  Lola, who is 15, and I are well trained when it comes to window shopping, so we walked around  admiring macaroons, sushi and tasty looking paninis until I spotted a snack for sale which I've not eaten for decades - American-made fish shaped crackers.

Fins can only get better. Ha.
If you don't already know these crackers (see pic) I assume it's because you're not familiar with the US, or have i just missed these tasty treats in UK shops? Just for old taste's sake I decided to buy a bag. Fortunately they cost £2.40 which didn't seem too indulgent - but that's what comes of taking escalators up fice floors past hideously expensive fashion and a Jimmy Choo outlet. It stops you double-taking at anything under a tenner.


Four hours later Lola and I were home and decided to open the packet. Apart from being a zillion times saltier than I remember, and the fish now having little smiles (cute?!) everything tasted just the same. I was back in New York in the 1980s - a time when no one seemed to mention climate change (except scientist Maggie Thatcher).

 In contrast Lola, who is well aware that the planet is warming and sea levels are rising loathed her first bite....

Soul searching
This little incident proves nothing, but it did lead to a big conversation about what life will be like in 40 years time. And, perhaps more to the point, what skills regular people are going to need to cope with the upsets coming. What's on your list?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Quickie trip to Viking land

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. In this post the family take a quick visit to the land of the Vikings (modern Scandanvia). 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.


It's so simple to take a trip to the land of the Vikings - from early March 2014 you can pop to the British Museum and enjoy the Vikings exhibition. I feel everyone in my household is obsessed by Vikings - the long boats, the horned-helmets and the scary fighting equipment. 

So when I saw this collection of boats (see pic above) produced as part of the run-up to the Viking exhibition I felt a lot happier. That boat in the foreground is knitted! The ones on the right look like something out of a child's French-look clothes catalogue. This is the Vikings without the rape and pillage, but just as fascinating. Anyway it made me want to go and have a look.

Here's how to book tickets (6 March - 22 June, 2014)

Over to you
What's your favourite Viking story?