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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.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

An eye-popping trip to Little Holland in E17

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. We do this in a bid to be less polluting and tackle climate change while at the same time keeping a global outlook. This post takes a quick peek at Walthamstow Village, E17 which over the past year has been transformed so much it's now known as Little Holland. Here's why...

Four cafes, a newsagent, Spanish deli, antiques shop and pub
make the heart of Walthamstow Village a nice place to linger.
Little Holland turns out to be just an enjoyable six mile cycle from my house, in what used to be traffic-blighted, rat-run ridden Walthamstow Village. 

For the past decade I haven’t been to Walthamstow much – it’s nice, but my two friends who used to live there decided to move to country towns a while back. Each time I visited them I remember thinking, this place is fab but there’s a huge amount of traffic on these cute little streets.

But that’s all changed.

The reservoirs and sewage works along Coppermill Lane, which leads
to Blackhorse Road, are a good place to spot giant birds.
Thanks to a £30 million grant the residential area around Walthamstow Village has been modal calmed – which means that cars no longer have priority. Cyclists are still allowed along the roads and pedestrians in many places have become king.  It seems so much nicer now – you can hear passers-by talking, kids are scooting around safely along what used to be pavements half-blocked by vehicles parked erratically. I remember my NCT mum friend having to wheel her buggy into the road frequently in order to get along the pavement! Now she’d love it – there’s room to walk hand-in-hand and the rat runners are just about gone.

Pollution-eating cycleway near Walthamstow tube (which also
boasts Brompton bike hire and commuter cycle storage). This pavement
allegedly locks nitrogen oxides - one of the pollutants
from car exhausts. They've had smog-eating pavements
in the Netherlands since 2013.
£30 million seems like a huge amount, but across the UK apparently only £1-2 per person is spent on cycling and walking -  even though a Parliamentary committee recommended it should be more like £10 per person.

In comparison in Holland it’s around £20 per person. No wonder more Dutch people cycle!

Islington cyclists on a tour of Walthamstow. The 12-mile round trip
can be made on a multitude of quiet routes including the edge of Walthamstow
Marshes near Coppermill Bridge.
Congratulations to Waltham Forest cyclists for achieving this. If you live in an area that could be made more like Holland, then have a look at theWaltham Forest cyclists’ website for top tips and FAQs about how to create quiet ways, village centres and improve road safety.

The first cowslip I've seen in 2016 - out in February at
the Islington Ecology Centre (the start and finish point
of Islington Cyclists ride to view Mini Holland).
The route from Islington to Walthamstow is blessedly flat (there is one hill near Springfield Park), just like Holland. And the day I did this ride the wind was blessedly behind us - may that be your experience on any long ride.

Islington Cyclists Action Group want quietways across the borough - and if they succeed, that will be another step towards making London a little more like Holland. I'm all for going Dutch if it means you can use roads more safely and hear what people are saying...



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