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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.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sugar & slavery at Penrhyn Castle

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK in order to reduce our impact on climate change. No one likes being told they're hurting the planet through their holidays, school run or woodturner but a trip to a National Trust castle, just outside Bangor in Wales, made us talk about the 19th century elephant in the room - slavery. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

Wish you were here: Lily, Nell, Nicola, Pete at Penrhyn Castle
The driveway is about a mile but it’s worth the long walk, especially when you reach what seems like a Medieval castle. In the right light the turrets glow like burnt caramel and from the windows the views are across the lawns to the estuary. Magical, except this is a mock castle completed in 1838 for an English lord who made his money from sugar, slavery and slate mining.  Actually the story is worse than that. In 1833 slavery was abolished and British slave owners – like Pennant– were compensated. He received more than a million pounds for freeing 764 people from the sugar plantations in Jamaica that he’d never even visited. The ex-slaves got nothing. Nothing!

Touring the castle it’s obvious what Pennant spent his ill-gotten gains on – fixtures, fittings and a knockout art collection.

In 1949 Penrhyn Castle was passed to the National Trust in lieu of death duties. It opened to tourists a few years later.  These days the slavery isn’t a dirty secret – it’s made clear from the moment you go into the entrance hall. But even now the Welsh locals aren’t big fans. I'm told they don’t like to volunteer, and on the bus ride back to Bangor we were shown a neat terrace of mining cottages still called Traitors’ Row, because that’s where the sell-outs who worked for Lord Pennant lived. 

Who knew a day out at a National Trust home, just for the cream tea and a garden stroll, would turn out to be a lesson in keeping uncomfortable situations under wraps?

  • If you want to visit the castle - and it's certainly a good place to visit with spectacular views - then look at the National Trust website here.

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