Country Elf

We’re off on a countryside adventure this weekend. The Broadlands Country Show. This is a proper country show, there are dog breed competitions, gun dog trials, demonstrations in the main arena. Food and local produce, rides and stalls.

The show is set in the attractive grounds of an Estate called Broadlands, which is well worth a visit another time. Lovely old house, beautiful gardens and lovely walks. Back to the show, if you buy your tickets online in advance you will get a cheaper ticket, it’s a little expensive at £15 but everyone under 16 is free which is nice. We toddle on through and stop at the gun dog trials. I have never seen this before it’s very cool. We stop toIMAG2677 watch the “long retrieve” there a red ball like thing is short into the air and down the end of the enclosure accompanied by a loud simulated gun shot. Now, all being well the dog sprints off down the field and returns with the red ball like thing…this is not always the case and lots of the dogs had a good romp around and sniff before returning (or not) with the ball.IMAG2685_BURST012_COVER

Next we head to the main arena, where we are blown away by the craziness that is “The Devils Horsemen”. Not for the faint of heart, that is sure. These guys are mad, they hang off the sides of the horses and do handstands on the back of galloping horses. Then to top it off they stand astride two horses for a race. It’s thrilling, and I will not lie…it leaves me desperate to go horse riding. Perhaps a new career path?

We munch our way round and enjoy pasties, hot coffee (to ward of the cold as it starts to rain), popcorn and candy floss. We pick up some apple strudel and cakes to take home and on the way out I can’t help it… I get some fudge as well. (Licorice flavour…oh my, so, so good)

I’m already busy looking up the next Country show I can get to.  If you fancy heading along to a show, I found this website with lots of information about upcoming shows.

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Natural History Museum – Elf out late!

London is lucky to have some of the best museums and art galleries in the world.  One of my particular favourites is the Natural History Museum.  A new series of Museum lates has started, these happen at lots of the London Museums and there are different themes and exhibitions to attend.  This series at the Natural History Museum is “Dino Snores”.  we book ourselves in and head off to the museum after dark.

As we arrive we are assigned houses (I end up in Dino House) and head into the museum.  There is music playing, food and drink available, activities…and no children.  Now I’m very much aware that I will sound a grumpy miser for saying this, but, it’s absolutely brilliant without the kids!  I mean there are no tantrums, no trying to look sensible, no lines of people, no school groups taking up whole galleries… Nothing to stop us adults from being kids!

We take full advantage of the big kid atmosphere and we throw ourselves 100% into the face painting and mask making. imag2462

We start by watching the “Rocks The House” show with the messy experiments and fun camera work.  Next up is a stroll through the dinosaur exhibitions.  imag2464We make dinosaur themed t-shirts.

Our group takes part in the egg and spoon race with a little too much competitive spirit we skate down the hall, egg and spoon in hand and big fluffy dino slippers on.  It’s a photo finish and our friends in Panda House win the house points.

Next, we head into the observatory which has been blown up in the corals exhibition room.  It is magical, we sit on the floor and watch the milky way move across the ceiling above us.  The presenter is fantastic.  This is a definite highlight.imag2473

We assemble at the exit and sing a roaring chorus of “Circle of Life”.  This is joy affirming!

We also have tickets to the silent disco and spend the rest of the night dancing away in the museum to three great DJs.

Get yourself tickets to the next one.  One of my favourite nights out in a long time and a great opportunity to be a big kid.

More information here Dino Snores

Elf’s tip – cheaper tickets are available on some of the voucher sites. 

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Christmas is coming!

We’ve come over all Christmassy!

So, we are at the Christmas Grand Sale at the Royal Horticultural society.  Close to St James’s Park it’s easy to get to, there are tickets available on the door or you can book in advance.  With over 60 stands with a huge variety amongst them.imag2217

There is everything from wreathes to Christmas lights.  Silk scarves to flashing woollen
hats for walking the dog in!

It’s a bit squished inside the hall but we make our way around and try olives and chutneys and pick up a few early Christmas gifts.  It’s a good place to pick up some designer shirts or jewellery at discounted prices.  We don’t actually spend all that much but just enjoy imag2220milling though the stands and only spend an hour or so.

A lovely morning to start the Christmas season we don’t feel like finishing there so we jump on the number 11 bus and ride down to Covent Garden.  The 11 bus is great if you want a nice trip past Westminster Abby, Houses of Parliament, Horse Guard’s Parade and Downing Street before passing Trafalgar Square and jump off at Southampton Street to make the short walk up to Covent Garden.  I very much recommend this route if you want to show of London to visitors or want a cheap way to see the highlights of London.

Covent Garden is very busy this time of year and the whole area is full of performers, but we wonder the stalls and enjoy the decorations before ducking down a side street for coffee and cake.

Romantic Elf

We used a section of this lovely children’s poem for our wedding invitations and I thought I would share this with you.  It is simply a lovely bit of writing but holds a very special meaning for us.

 

I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special,
you know it’s special.
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember?
When I think something is important
you think it’s important too.
We have good ideas.
When I say something funny,
you laugh. I think I’m funny
and you think I’m funny too. Hah-hah!
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish.
And you don’t tickle me there,
except just a little tiny bit sometimes.
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too.
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you.
Boy are you ever silly.
I never met anybody sillier than me
till I met you. I like you because
you know when it’s time to stop being silly.
Maybe day after tomorrow.
Maybe never.
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly.
Sometimes we don’t say a word.
We snurkle under fences.
We spy secret places.
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off,
You are one too.
If I pretend I am drowning,
you pretend you are saving me.
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump.
HOORAY!
That’s because you really like me.
You really like me, don’t you?
And I really like you back.
And you like me back and I like you back.
And that’s the way we keep on going every day.
If you go away, then I go away too;
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard.
You don’t just say,
Well see you around sometime, bye!
I like you a lot because of that.
If I go away, I send you a postcard too.
And I like you because
if we go away together,
And if we are in Grand Central Station,
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me.
And I like you because
when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away.
Sometimes it is better to be sad.
You can’t stand the others
being so googly and gaggly every single minute.
You want to think about things.
It takes time.
I like you because if I am mad at you,
Then you are mad at me too.
It’s awful when the other person isn’t.
They are so nice and hoo-hoo
you could just about punch them in the nose.
I like you because if I think I
am going to throw up,
then you are really sorry.
You don’t just pretend you are busy
looking at the birdies and all that.
You say, maybe it was something you ate.
You say, the same thing happened to me one time.
And the same thing did.
If you find two four-leaf clovers,you give me one.
If I find four, I give you two.
If we only find three, we keep on looking.
Sometimes we have good luck,
and sometimes we don’t. If I break my arm,
and if you break your arm too,
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm.
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours.
We are both sorry.
We write our names and draw pictures.
We show everybody
and they wish they had a broken arm too.
I like you because
I don’t know why
but Everything that happens is nicer with you.
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you.
It must have been lonesome then.
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you, but I do.
So many reasons.
On the 4th of July
I like you because it’s the 4th of July. On the fifth of July,
I like you too. If you and I had some drums
and some horns and some horses,
If we had some hats and some flags
and some fire engines,
We could be a HOLIDAY.
We could be a CELEBRATION.
We could be a WHOLE PARADE.
See what I mean?
Even if it was the 999th of July,
Even if it was August,
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November,
Even if it was no place particular in January,
I would go on choosing you.
And you would go on choosing me.
Over and over again.
That’s how it would happen every time.
I don’t know why.
I guess I don’t know why I really like you.
Why do I like you.
I guess I just like you.
I guess I just like you.
because I like you.

Becoming the Elf

Weddings!  the beginning of an adventure for two.

Exciting… it’s been a whole 12 months since I married Mr Elf.  Mr Elf and I decided to celebrate our 10-year anniversary by getting married.  But with family and friends spread all over the world, our first issue is where to undertake this hitching!  We briefly think about a UK based wedding but we opt for a “Destination Wedding”.

There are lots of reasons to choose a destination wedding, ours are probably the common ones, wanting to make it easier for everyone to be able to get to the big day.  Aside from this we also research the costs and the kind of experience that you are able to get overseas just takes your breath away.  Also…planning, I very much understand for some people the planning and the adventure that takes you on is very important, colour schemes, cake tasting…but us Elves…not so much.  In fact, the idea of the planning is possibly why it’s taken 10 years for us to do this!  For us it was more important to spend the money on maximising the amount of time that we got with friends and family rather than the planning process.  We look at a few different locations, Bali, Italy, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand.

We narrow it down to Cambodia and Thailand, but choose Thailand in the end mostly just because there seemed to be a lack of options for Cambodia, aside from a couple of top end hotels there really were not that many choices.

Once we settled on Thailand we had to arrow down the options again.  We spent a lot of time looking though blogs and websites filled with different locations.  We found http://www.thailand-wedding.com/ a very helpful website for looking at the different types of weddings that available.  Ultimately we decide on Koh Samui.

We created our wedding list so we had an idea of what sized venue we would need.  Considering that we did all the planning for the wedding remotely without visiting Koh Samui we also placed a lot of importance on the communication and connection with the wedding planner.

We narrowed it down to:

http://samui.anantara.com/wedding.aspx

http://www.chawengregent.com/thai-wedding-resort.php

http://www.rockyresort.com/en/weddings/koh-samui-weddings/

http://www.norabeachresort.com/beach-wedding-samui-thailand.php

http://www.thekalasamui.com/wedding.php

All of these hotels offered graduated packages, our biggest tip is to have a look on trip advisor at the hotels, but in particular look at the traveller photos.  These will give you a much more honest idea of what the hotel actually looks like.  In the end because of a combination of communication, price, location and look we chose The Kala. http://www.thekalasamui.com/wedding.php

Its small, breathtakingly beautiful, Fern the resident wedding planner is wonderful from the start, and everything is very reasonably priced.

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We give ourselves and guests 12 months planning time. The more time you can give people, the more likely people will be able to plan to be with you.  We try to make the experience the easiest we can for our guests, we ask them not to get us gifts because of the cost of coming all the way to be with us.  We get my sister to design the invitations and print them up ourselves.  Also, we opt out of the RSVPs and set up an email for people to reply to so all the RSPVs all go to the same place and are easy to collect with no extra mail costs for anyone!  Some people might find this tacky, but it really saved a lot of trouble and hassle for everyone, and you can have a lot of fun with the email name its self.

In the end 40 people join us, we arrive 8 days before the big day and lots of people join us for this as well.  Honestly, the best fun!  It’s ends up as a huge holiday filled with all our friends and family.  We organise days out, communal meals, activity days.  We trip about and hire bikes and enjoy the food and partying.  Then for the big day…

Some helpful websites:

UK Government site, lots of information on here about the rules, regulations and realities of getting married abroad.

https://www.gov.uk/marriage-abroad

Very helpful sites for the ins and outs of making your marriage in Thailand legal!

http://www.legallymarriedinthailand.com/

http://thailandtravelbag.com/destination-weddings-thailand-how-to-legalise-your-marriage-under-thai-law/

Thailand Embassy website

http://www.thaiembassy.com/marriage/marriage.php

Helpful websites for for USA citizens getting married abroad

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/events-and-records/marriage.html

http://apostille-legalization.com/marriage.html

 

 

 

 

The Elfventure – Step 1

Its exciting times, there’s a gigantor of a trip to plan (its okay we have 2 years to do it in) and we’re getting started!

Starting to plan the Elf way

  1. Get some books – many books on countries, on cities, on the world! So many books.

  2. Make a list of the “must not miss” places.

  3. Get a map – because my geography is far, far worse than my GCSE geography teacher ever let on!

  4. Decide on a colour scheme before marking the map, we’re not animals after all.  Let’s be organised and sensible.

  5. Argue about “must not miss” list.

  6. Start marking places on the map (hurray)

  7. Discover we are not using the same colour scheme…how did that happen and who marked Mongolia…I mean cool but it’s not on the list.

  8. Argue about colour scheme, then concede and add extra 2 destinations to the “must not miss” list in penance.

  9. Give up on colour scheme and “must not miss” list.

  10. Go a bit crazy with the destination marking and realise need 3 years to travel and only have 12 months.

  11. Repeat step 3.