Elf in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang or Lung Phabang is a city in the north central Laos it is actually made up of lots of surrounding towns and is a UNESCO city due to its beautiful and well preserved architecture as well as its religious and cultural heritage.

When you fly into this beautiful place the world seems to open up as you appear fly between the hills, mountains and soar over the Mekong.  Breath taking from the start.

We stay slightly outside of the main part of the town in a beautiful series of cabins around a series of ponds.  It is lovely. Most of the hotels and hostels have bikes for rental or that you can use for free, ours is no different and I would recommend this as the best and easiest way to get around Luang Phabang.  The main centre of town is set around four main roads and there are lots of little roads that lead off these. But it is very easy to find your way around even I manage with my terrible sense of direction.

The centre of Luang Phabang is dominated by mount Phou Si follow the stairs all the way up to the Wat Chom Si which is a lovely shrine.  Its small and delicate. The view is beautiful, the air is full of butterflies and there are green trees stretching out in front of us.

Theimag1278 markets are a great place to eat and you wind yourself into the lanes to a buffet style eating experience.  Most of this food is vegetarian and served cold.  The colours and smells of these food markets is …wow!  Defiantly and experience, not the best food of the trip I have to say, but the experience is much more than just the food.  It is wonderful we sit and chat with locals and tourists of all walks of life and it reminds me so acutely why I love to travel.

Luang Phabang is full of life and just brimming with wonder.  As I write this I realise there are so many things we need to share.

Another wonderful day was spent cycling around the Wats (temples) which I really recommend.  Luang Phabang has over 30 Wats so don’t try to see them all.  We set out with a map and a planned route but in the end, we ditched this and had a meandering cycle around the streets of Luang Phabang and stopped in and Wats that we saw when we felt like it.  The highlights were Wat Xieng Thong, which is the Golden wat and probably the most famous of the Wats, Wat Visoun Narath with its lovely and unusual roof and Wat That Luang which is home to a very large bronze Buddha.  Remember there is a strict etiquette policy, make sure you are dressed appropriately, shoulders and knees covered, take your shoes off before entering.

The people of Laos are lovely, Luang Phabang is a magical place with much to offer and to do.

Look out for our next post on our top things to do in Luang Phabang.

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Poetry Elf

Having been in Cambridge recently we felt inspired by the amazing writers and creatives that had attended the many colleges, including Christopher Marlowe and wanted to share his wonderfully passionate poem “The passionate shepherd to his love”.   This is a lovely lyrical poem and very idealistic and beautiful.  It certainly creates a wonderful image of countryside and very apt for the time of year. Enjoy.

The passionate shepherd to his love

By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the Rocks,
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow Rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and Ivy buds,
With Coral clasps and Amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The Shepherds’ Swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

Punting Elf

Cambridge, just the name conjures up images of punting, university and students.  Cambridge its self is on the River Cam about 80km from London and is indeed one of the most famous university cities in the world.

Cambridge has had a town in the area since before the Roman era.  The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209, the University is a collegiate university and the beautiful buildings are dotted around this picturesque city.

The fast train from Kings Cross takes 50-55 minutes to Cambridge train station.  The station its self is a bit of a walk into the centre of the town, it is nice to do but there are buses that go frequently into the town.  If you are walking, head down station road and join Hills Road follow in across the crossings and you will reach the shopping centre.  As you walk down Hills Road it becomes Regent Street, from here it is well sign posted and the areas and buildings of interest at marked on sign posts. imag2172-1

We head to Kings College and enjoy the view.  It is a wonderful and beautiful place.  Walk along Kings Parade and you will reach Great Mary’s Church, if you can head inside.  It’s a lovely Church with lovely wooden balconies and lovely stained glass.  When you are done head along King’s Parade until it becomes Trinity Street.  Follow this road and you will come across Trinity Great Gate…. possibly my favourite place in Cambridge.  Lovely red brick and stained glass.  If you want to keep going follow this road past Trinity college the street turns into St John’ Street, in front of you will be the Round Church.  The real name is The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It’s a sort of squat strange building built in 1130.  I am not sure if its…attractive but it is different and a special buildingimag2187.

Cambridge is a perfect day trip from London, use the Network Rail card or 16-25 card I have talked about before to get cheaper fares for your trip. Take a picnic and sit somewhere lovely to keep your trip cheaper.  Or stop in one of the coffee shops and enjoy the view.  There are lots of lovely B&Bs but they tend to be further out so not great if you are not driving, but there are hotels and slightly more expensive places to stay that are more central. We stay a bit further out in the Rectory Farm, it’s a lovely old house with big gardens, its family friendly and very very cute.

ps. If you like Harry Potter….its great!  I’m a kid at heart.

Winchester Cathedral

We’ve been a little bit quiet of late, sorry! We are very busy, organising, planning and adventuring.

We visited Winchester recently, which is a very easy day or weekend trip from London.  There are frequent trains from Waterloo every day.  Winchester is a market city with a wealth of history and many things to see and to do for all the family.  However, I am focusing on the crowning jewel (my opinion only) the Cathedral.

Sitting proudly in the centre of the town not far from the high street and surrounded on three sides by beautiful lawns and old trees.  On the final side is the prestigious Winchester Boys school which provides the choir boys to the famous choirs of the cathedral. imag2161-1

The costs for entry are:

Adult – £7.95
Concession – £5.95
Student – £4.45
Children under 16 (with family) – Free

The ticket gets you in for 12 months so you can head back as often as you like.

Inside there are volunteers who provide beautiful tours, and are well worth it.

There has been a building on this site since 1093.  There are many notable figures interred in the current cathedral including Jane Austen and Henry Beaufort.

The crypt is often flooded and there is a beautiful art instillation that you can see by descending the stairs.  A wonderful meditative piece of art, it leaves me breathless.

It’s a lovely cathedral and all the volunteers are obviously enamoured with the building which is lovely, the whole experience is wonderful.

Click here for more information

TNT Travel show – Again

Earlier in the year we headed off to the TNT travel show.  Good news is that the TNT have the second show for the year is coming up on the 22nd of October in Islington.

Have a look at our earlier blog for more information  Click here

Maybe we will see you there!

London’s best Burgers!!

Burgers. The king of fast food, and now the king of the gourmet fast food. There are so many choices when a hunger for a burger kicks in, where do you start? I love a burger and have narrowed it down to my favourite three in London and I am sharing these with you.

3. Honky Tonk
This American style dinner does burgers, hot dogs and cocktails. I go for the chicken burger here, its well-proportioned, the bun is a brioche bun which is soft and adds a sweetness. There is lots of filling and everything is well flavoured and compliments each other. Mr Elf has a beef burger and there is a little bit of slip and slide going on but he is very happy with the taste.

2. Blues Kitchen
These guys have a few restaurants now, and are spreading across London. They are always beautiful inside and really do feel lovely to be in. The menu is compact but there is a burger special that changes every month. I opt of the cheese burger. It is well formed, delicious, not too much cheese and everything tastes fresh. Blues Kitchen have a range of their own sauces as well I used the BBQ ketchup and it was perfect. There is a good bun to burger ratio and it is not over cheesed.

Coming in at number one…the one… the only…

1. Honest Burger 
Ah…what can I say to sum up an Honest Burger. It is a wonderful thing of beauty. Be warned after trying one of these…no burger will live up to them. The patty is perfectly seasoned and cooked to order, it’s juicy and tender. The signature burger, The Honest, is wonderful. I know we are talking burgers, but the chips at Honest are also just divine! Crispy, hot, covered in Rosemary and some how tasting like summer.  Everything perfectly balanced, fresh and just amazing.

A special mention that is not in London but in Windsor is Flaming Cow.  Beautiful and unusual burgers a definite contender for the crown!  The Red Neck is a thing of wonder.