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.

 

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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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A bit more Pilates

Delving into the philosophy of Pilates and its creator, I have come across some beautiful quotes from Joseph Pilates.   I thought I would share these here with you.

 

“A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.”

Joseph Pilates

 

“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Joseph Pilates

 

“To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limits of our ability.”

Joseph Pilates

 

I hope you enjoy these, I particularly like the second one and certainly believe patience and persistence are necessary for achieving what ever goals you are aiming for.

Pilates Elf

Pilates is one of the newest exercise theories going around.  It was created by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century and is about control and stability.  Pilates improves strength, endurance, muscle control, balance and flexibility.  Pilates is one of the few exercise regimes that is prescribed by physiotherapists, doctors and many other heath practitioners.  Pilates has many modifications which makes it perfect for everyone! No matter the age or fitness level.  It is reported to improve balance in the older population, help with rehabilitation after surgery and aid recovery from sporting injuries.

So it is time that I give it a try.  Off I pop to a nearby studio to try it out.  I have opted for a mixed ability mat class.  There are lots of classes around and there are lots new forms of Pilates available such as reformer which uses a sort of machine that you sit and kneel on (maybe next time) or MOTR which is a large tube looking thing with detachable parts that you use during the different exercises (not sure…maybe another time).

The class its self is made up of a highly varied group of people of all ages and genders.  We start on our backs with a warm up and move on though different moves, stretches, abdominal exercises all of which are accompanied by controlled breathing with each movement.  Everything is about alignment and correct posture.  It takes a lot of concentration, control and attention to detail which makes the time pass very quickly.  The added benefit of the concentration is that you cannot think about anything else!  Your brain is quiet and present, engaged in the activity…this is bliss.

After the class, I am not too sweaty or breathless, but do feel as though I have worked out.  I walk home feeling relaxed and ready to face the day.

A few hours later I can notice my abdominals are definitely tired!  All that stabilising and breathing has absolutely worked my tummy out.

I will be booking in again and would absolutely recommend Pilates if you have any sort of injury or just want to try something different.  I really did find the experience meditational.

Remember Pilates is not the younger sibling of yoga, it is its own person and should be treated as such!

Elf in Sintra

Sintra is a place from a fairy tale reached from Lisbon by a short train ride.  It is magical but it is also very busy and seems to be designed for tourism and not all that much else.

The cheapest and most leg friendly way to get to the castle and to the Palace of Pena is to catch the hop on hop off bus.  The bus starts just outside the main entrance to the train station and costs 5 euros.  The bus goes in one direction around the sites of Sintra, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you like but can only do one round trip.

We got off at the Palace of Sintra which is impressive and gives a nice view of the valley and surrounding area, we did not pay to go in, but jumped back on the bus and headed up to the castle.

The castle of the Moors sits up on top of the one of the peaks of Sintra.  It’s a meandering walk once of the bus to reach the entrance but lovely cool gardens and stunning views.  There is not much inside the castle but the walls, but we spent a good hour clambering over all of the walks and following them up to the highest peaks.  A lot of time, energy and money has been put into the restoration of the castle and taming the forest.

IMAG1964Next we head up to the Palace of Pena which perches like a set of colourful building blocks on the second peak in Sintra.  The Palace has been renovated throughout so don’t expect an old world feel.  The outside walls are bright colours and against the beautiful blue sky it is something wonderful.  The rooms inside are set out as the Royal family had them in the beginning of the 1900.  It really is lovely and not to be missed.

Elf’s tip: Save some money by buying a tickets to the monuments that you want to enter at the same time. 

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.