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.


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.