Touring with tourists

We have guests, which is wonderful for so many reasons.  We get to hang out with our
fun friends, we get to eat awesome food and most of all we get to do touristy things!  Hurrah!

IMAG2641We catch the bus into Kensington, there is no traffic because everyone has headed out of London for the bank holiday so we wiz through town.

Its Easter so first of all its time for a treat. We head down to the Hummingbird bakery to tick of a “must do” for Phill.  We each choose something different and wonder over to Kensington Gardens with our treats.  Sitting in the sunshine near the Prince Albert memorial with views of the Royal Albert Hall we dig into our cakes…yum!  Definitely worth it.  Next we walk though the gardens and head over to the ponds and up towards the Palace before heading into Hyde Park and make our way to the Serpentine Gallery.IMAG2642

The Serpentine Gallery houses modern art exhibitions.  These change on a regular basis and on this occasion we went in to see “A World View: John Latham”.  I’m not going to say that I 100% understood what was happening, but this was interesting and worth having a look at, its free to get in.

Next we walk to a very beautiful pub called the Victoria, its old and stunning.  The food looks good, but the real gem is its old world feel.

A bit of something for everyone.

 

 

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Mersea Island

Mersea Island is a large estuary island in Essex, close to Colchester.  You can grab a train to Colchester or the easiest option is to head out in a car.  It’s about an hour and half in the car and the scenery is lovely especially with the sun shining away.

I love London but sometimes you have to get out of the city and into the green or onto the sand.

Driving through the countryside laughing the time passes easily and we arrive via Colchester, which is quiet a pretty old Roman town.  Colchester is one of the UKs oldest towns and is steeped in history, and was once the capital of Roman Britain before being destroyed during Boadicea’s time.  There is a castle, museum and Roman walls, but we’re on a mission to the seaside!

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A little bit longer in the car and we head into Mersea and follow the signs to the seaside.

There are lots of families and everyone has their dog!  It’s great, we walk along the beach and follow the coast around and then along the coastal path.  There are swans in the water and one side and sail boats the other, we wonder and enjoy the sun and the fresh air.  You will need to keep your shoes on and don’t expect sand between the toes or palm trees.  Its brisk and the sand is full of oyster shells and muscle shells.  Its rugged and stark but wonderful.

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We’re hungry and we’ve a hankering for fish and chips.  My favourite.  We jump back into the car and head back towards West Mersea’s famous oyster bar.  It looks little more than a harbour shed with a pungent fish smell, but inside its full to bursting we are lucky and manage to get a seat.  The girls order oysters…the devil’s snot, not for me.  But, we also have haddock and chips with mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce…and it is amazing, seriously the best fish and chips I think I have ever had (and I eat a lot of fish and chips…it’s my favourite, my go to in pubs across the world).

Such a good day out.  Really everyone should go. Get out in the sun and enjoy.

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Elf in a rowboat

Inspired by the rowers from Cambridge and Oxford that we had the pleasure to see on the weekend, here is a little bit of that dedication and reward echoed here.

“And so in time the rowboat and I became one and the same-like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. What I learned wasn’t mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about.”

– Richard Bode, First you have to row a little boat: reflections on like & living

 

…and this one is just for fun!

“Gough was a serious student but found time to gain a blue in rowing; he was later to say that the sport was an apt one for men in public life because you could face one way while going in the other.”

– Mungo MacCallum, The Good the Bad & the Unlikely, Australia’s Prime Ministers

Elf at the Boat Race

After what seems like a very long winter it finally looks like spring is here and just in time for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

The Boat Race can only mean one race, the rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge universities.  The story goes that two old friends called Charles Wordsworth and Charles Merrivale went rowing on the Cam, Charles Wordsworth had attended Christ Church College Oxford and Charles Merrivale was an alumni of St. John’s Cambridge.  Not long after this lovely winter holiday row on the Cam the two friends decided to set up a race!  On February 10th 1829 a letter was sent from St John’s College to Christ Church College:IMAG2597.jpg

‘the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.’

….I’ve read up on the history and there are…various dates and slightly different versions of the story, but that is the gist.

Back to present day, we pack a picnic and head over to Putney which is the current day starting line for the race.  There are many different spots where you can gather to watch along the river.  There are also big screens set up on both sides of the river at different points, its worth checking these out, the exact spots change a little each year to have a look in advance.  We get off at Putney Bridge and head down to Bishops Park.  Having the beautiful weather makes such a difference, we sit in the sun and friends join us in the park.  Ten minutes before the women’s race we head to the riverbank to reserve a spot, some ingenious people have climbed trees to get a better view.  The boats are past in moments and we head back into the sunshine.  We repeat for the mens’ race.

IMAG2590.jpgFor a more intense experience head across the bridge and join in the bigger crowds, where there are more drink and food stands.  Bishops Park has a family friendly and lovely friendly atmosphere, it feels like a mass family day out. Definitely enhanced by the wafting smells of the near by BBQ stand.

 

Munich Surfers!

Just a little bit of film of those cool surfers we saw in Munich.

Thanks to Mr Elf for his cameraman skills.

Hope you enjoy.

Elf goes aerial

And now for something completely different.imag2415

A new adventure in yoga. Aerial yoga in fact. Aerial yoga also known as anti-gravity yoga is based on a silk swing which has various handles attached and hangs from the ceiling.

I have enlisted a friend for company and we head of on Sunday afternoon to Whitechapel. The studio is small and friendly, I feel instantly at ease. The class numbers are small and today there are only three of us, I am very grateful as I am convinced that I am going to fall on my head.

The swings start very low and we get used to the feel of the swing by lying across and within the swing. Its fun and I can’t help but giggle like a little girl.

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The class is friendly and relaxed we chat and the instructor takes photos for us (as proof!) during the class. We gradually move the swing higher and get used to turning ourselves upside down! I do really enjoy the sensation and don’t feel at all like I am going to drop onto my head, in fact it’s quite comfortable. We turn right side up and move on to some deeper yoga poses using the handles attached to the swing.

The class is an hour and twenty minutes long but it flies by. By the end of the class I feel peaceful and stress-free. I essentially feel as though I have had a good massage. I am booking myself back in and so is my accomplice. Give it a try, it’s fun and relaxing and not at all scary. The world is pretty cool upside down.

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More Munich

Munich has lots to offer for all sorts of travellers, you can make a trip whatever you want.  There are also plenty of options for accommodation, hostels, luxury hotels, mid-range hotels and pensions.  What we weren’t able to find were any Airbnb options that we liked although they might be fine depending on the number of your group.  Below we have chosen some of the things we enjoyed the most during our time in Munich.

For the outdoor person

Munich has a lot to offer and if you are an active and outdoor sort of person I recommend joining a free walking tour.  Most of the hostels are affiliated with a tour which will pick you up from the front door.  We walked with Sandeman’s free walking tour which started at Marienplatz, we walked for a good 2 hours though the different areas of central Munich, history, tales, culture and language all featured on the tour.  We do love a free walking tour (the concept, in case you aren’t familiar is that you tip what you think its worth at the end of the tour, this is how the guide is paid) and this was no exception.  Our guide was brilliant and pointed out lots of good places to eat as well as a few sites to see as well.

Sandeman’s tour information:

http://www.neweuropetours.eu/Munich/en/home?date=14/01/2017&tour=552

For the history person

Munich has looaaaaddddsss of museums.  There is a museum of hunting and fishing! We recommend the Municipal Museum of Munich (Muenchner Stadtmuseum).  The museum has changing guest exhibitions we chose to just see the permanent exhibitions the ticket cost 4 euros (2 euros if you have a student card – well worth taking around with you!) the ticket entities you entrance to ‘Typically Munich’ and an exhibition about the history of Munich as the capital of the Nazi movement.

The ‘Typically Munich’ exhibition stretches over several floors and explains how Munich was settled and grew as well as the culture of Bavaria.  It’s a wonderful exhibition and lots of information about the city and its people.

The exhibition about Munich’s darker past is also worth seeing.  Its illuminating and informative with lots of information available.  It is, in our current political climate in the western world especially worth viewing.

Elf’s tip – hold on to your ticket it gives you 50% of entrance to some of the other museums.

More information on Munich’s museums here:

http://museen-in-muenchen.de/en/home/visitorservices/info-neu-2014/combination-tickets/

For the arty person

There are three main art galleries in Munich all situated close to each other, the Neue Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne and Alte Pinakothek.  You can get a combination ticket to all three which is the cheapest way to see them all.

We head in to the New Pinakothek, the gallery is beautifully laid out, we pass though rooms of wonderful paintings.  I linger in the rooms filled with Van Gogh, Monet and Manet.  There is even a beautiful and unusual Degas that does not feature a ballet dancer.  We spend several hours lingering in front bits of history and I thoroughly enjoy the relaxed and mostly empty gallery.

On this same link is information about the combination tickets:

http://museen-in-muenchen.de/en/home/visitorservices/info-neu-2014/combination-tickets/


Elf’s tip:  the audio guides in all the museums and galleries that we visited are free.

Something completely different

If you want to see something crazy, head over to the English Garden and follow the Eisbach which is a small river channel hat runs though the gardens.  Although you are not allowed to swim in the Eisbach you can…. surf!  A manmade wave has been created and we are told that whatever the weather you will find surfers here.  We head in that direction and to be honest given the -2 temperature and snow everywhere, we did not have much hope.  But, fear not the surfers are there is full wetsuits and boots, bright red faces, and amazing skills.  definitely very cool!

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