Elf in Seville

Seville is full of interesting sites, museums, churches and cathedrals so we have narrowed it down to our three must sees for your trip.


1.       Real Alcazar

Don’t leave Seville without visiting the Alcazar.  It is a beautiful complex of palaces and buildings set in absolutely lovely gardens.  The Alcazar is still home to Spain’s royal family and you can pay an extra 4 euros for a tour of the chambers still in use today.  Elf’s top tip for the Alcazar is to try to get there by 9.30am because the tour groups start pouring in at 10.30am and an early start will mean that you are half a pace ahead.  Don’t rush, take your time and enjoy!

2.       Plaza Espana

A relatively new monument built in 1928 but startlingly beautiful none the less.  The Plaza Espana is free (yippy) to walk around and enjoy and the gardens are interesting and seemly endless, with lots of birds. It’s a lovely building with lots of tiles and beautiful vistas to enjoy, it is well worth a visit.

3.       Museum des Bell Arts

This unprepossessing art gallery is well worth a visit, it is free if you are from the EU and 1.50 euros if you are not.  The gallery hosts some wonderfully well preserved religious art but the real gem for me was the building its self.  It is an old convent and church complex.  The courtyards are beautifully tiled and it is lovely and shady.  Gallery room 5 is the old church of the convent and it is…just breath taking.  I can’t truly describe it well enough.  The walls and ceilings and vaulted and covered in beautiful painting and plastering.  Just wow!



“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Jawaharlal Nehru


Elf goes arty

The Urban Art festival is back in Brixton.  The weather is sunny and so we head off to the buzz of Brixton.

The walk is lovely and we arrive on the corner of Josephine street where the festival opens up in front of us.  There are many more exhibitions that we had anticipated.  The paintings are hung along the fences of the streets in the area.  The colours are lovely.  All sorts of art is available here, some are priced in the thousands and some are no more that £20.

I enjoy the photography in motion stall and the dynamic movements that the photographer has managed to capture.  There are modern paintings and beautiful bold prints as well as abstract landscapes.



Bare Essentials

Bare Essentials one of London’s longest running new writing theatre nights.  Bare Essentials is different to other short play nights, each short play is polished and accomplished.  Not a script in site.

This season of Bare Essentials is different, with the recent move to the west end and a new location, the team have brought back the “Best Of”.  There is comedy, drama, monologues, duologues and team efforts.

The night is wonderfully put together and presented.  The audience are engaged and responsive, we sing along help with the sound effects. It is for good reason this is London’s best reviewed new writing night.

There are two more nights left and I thoroughly recommend heading along.  Have a look at the site for more information.


Guest Blog – Mother Elf At Kew

Mother Elf headed off on an adventure to Kew – here is what she thought.

I made an excursion to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew the day before yesterday. The visit was one of the activities I had on my ‘must do’ list when I was planning my holiday in London. I had vague memories of a wondrous misty, humid, iridescent green environment from a previous visit I had made over 30 years ago.

In my opinion the benefits to the public of a monarchy and an aristocratic ruling class are minimal. The gardens at Kew however, are the result of the extravagance the British monarchy who unburdened by the trials of daily life and a struggle for survival had the time and resources to spend on their ‘beautiful follies’ . We can in this case, be grateful for this extravagance.

On the day I visited with my son the gardens were resplendent with life and colour under the whimsical English summer sun. The beds of ‘cultivars’ lining the avenues are full of varieties of flowering plants that have been organised and layered to display their hues in contrast for artistic effect. In the park there are noble trees that were saplings when the first sod in the gardens was turned and the estate was at its inception some 300 years ago.
The gardens are a treat ,a retreat , a sanctuary , a living shrine cultivated for and providing us with an opportunity for hours of guiltless pleasure.

Elf’s a baking

It’s a quiet afternoon so we are trying out a new recipe. IMAG1827 This one is for lemon cupcakes…but I have decided last minute to make two cakes instead.  To achieve this I have doubled the recipe and split between two small tins.  I have also picked up these nifty big cupcake patty pans.  They fit straight into the big tins and saves all the faffing with baking paper, very neat!

So, I mess up almost straight away and add the flour straight into the warmed butter!  Then decide just to chuck all the ingredients in and go for it any way.  I do add the eggs slowly at the end and try to whip these up a bit to get some air into the batter.

The cakes turn out quite airy and fluffy but not very lemony, I would definitely recommend about double the recipe.

I decorate with an extra lemony icing to compensate.


ingredients (remember I doubled this to make the two cakes)

  • 100 grams unsalted butter soften for 10 seconds in the microwave
  • 100 grams self-raising flour sift for maximum smoothness
  • 100 grams golden caster sugar superfine is best
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice OR (see above)
  • 2 medium eggs

For the icing

  • 75 grams unsalted butter soften in the microwave
  • 175 grams icing sugar siftedIMAG1828
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Proper instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add the lemon juice
  • Gradually add the eggs, one by one.
  • Carefully fold in the flour
  • Bake in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes.

Elf instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºCIMAG1826
  • In a clean mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together then add lemon juice
  • Gradually add the eggs, try to whip the mixture up a bit to get some air into the batter
  • Bake in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes.


Elf’s Wimbledon Queue

Its Wimbledon time and if you were not lucky enough to get tickets in the ballot but still want to head down and enjoy the tennis here is the Elf’s tips for having a memorable day.

Weekday fun

If you can go on a weekday rather than the weekend this is the best idea! The queue will be less and the competition for tickets not quite so high.

Get there early

Aim to arrive at 5.30am at the latest!  Its sounds like the worst start to the day, but it is not so bad.  Take some sandwiches and take away coffee and don’t forget the picnic blanket.  It really isn’t so bad, promise.

Once you’re in

Enjoy!  Remember that if you do go into a court and get a seat, once you vacate this seat (even to pop to the loo) that the seat is no longer yours!  Behave, it is Wimbledon after all.  Don’t forget to head to the Hill with the afore mentioned picnic blanket, enjoy the atmosphere and fingers cross the sunshine.

Other things

More information on the website, have a look at the bag restrictions!  I got caught out with this but there is the left luggage option.

Remember your sunscreen and your umbrella!