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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.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Somali party via Finsbury Park

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK in order to reduce our impact on climate change. Near where I live there is a large Somali community - so what a treat to be invited to a Somali women only party. Words by Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).

I bought this red patterned scarf at the African Development Trust
fundraiser for orphans and this lovely lady (left of photo)
showed me how to wear it as a hijab. Selfie opportunity!
Somalia is a complicated place. I speak for myself here but I'm talking about its history and current geo-political situation. After being colonised by the Italians and then 20+ years of civil war, small wonder that the Somali diaspora has been large and surely, for many, painful. But my limited contact with Somali people in London has been joyful.

New writing
Recently I helped the lovely staff (and volunteers) at Nomad - Nations of Migration Awakening the Diaspora - create a booklet of stories, poems and lyrics inspired by the journeys and experiences of migrants. The writing was by young people, working in English, ie, their 2nd, sometime 3rd, language. But it was so powerful, in particular the love the authors felt for the 'pearl of the Indian Ocean', history's poetic name for Mogadishu.

The Unwritten Tales of the Tongue (Nomad, 2017)
available from www.nomad-uk.org

Another contributor, Asha Mohamed, wrote a challenging think-piece asking why the question "What tribe are you?" has to be so loaded? She was particularly speaking about the Somali heritage people living far away from Somalia, some of whom were not even born in Somalia and whose parents did not experience a traditional nomadic lifestyle.

"Here we sleep warm and privileged and safe enough to chant tribal talks as the main understanding of what makes us Somali! 'What tribe are you?', are the words I hear from the youth who barely understand it, but fight for it! They have no use for it in our technology-driven Western lifestyle, but we seem to always ask, 'What is your tribe?' Does it make me more Somali if I told you?" ASHA MOHAMED from The Unwritten Tales of the Tongue (Nomad, 2017)

Asha's thinking is clear - "What tribe are you?" is a divisive question and one to drop.

Getting a rare chance to cuddle a baby at the women only
fundraiser for African Development Trust.
(c) Kimi Gill
Somali party
It was the Somali ladies who were asking me questions at the next event - a fundraiser for orphans run by the African Development Trust. "What do you want to eat?" they kept asking pointing out delicious dishes. I'm a vegetarian but there was lovely rice, couscous, lentils and - because it's Finsbury Park - a culture mashup including pakoras and samosa.

I haven't been to a women-only event for a while, and what is lovely about this one was the amount of kids who were there too. Loads of games had been organised and creative activities including decorating picture frames, henna painting, pass the parcel. The ticket also promised Somali dance and nasheeds (inspirational Islamic music).

There were a few fundraising stalls and so I bought a red paisley-patterned scarf - as you can see  from the photo it works as a hijab. The highlight was getting to chat to mums who were willing to let me cuddle their lovely babies. What a shame it is that I see so few babies these days!

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