London comes alive in the summer; there is so much to see and do. However if you’re lacking the imagination to find something to keep you entertained, fret no longer. The CD Traveller team has come up with some suggestions to see you through the summer months…
We all love the feel of warm sunshine beating down on our backs…unfortunately glorious weather signals seriously skimpy clothing displaying acres of flesh. If you’re feeling the flab but doing little to fight it – the dreaded treadmill failing to inspire you– then ditch the gym and try skating instead. Not only is skating surprisingly cheap, but it is a healthy and social summer activity, burning approximately 350 calories per hour. Citiskate hold a weekly Friday Night Skate around London, departing from exit 2 in Hyde Park Corner. Find out more at www.citiskate.co.uk.
Dismiss the notion of golf as a pringle wearer’s game. Golf has shaken off its staid image thanks to hip swingers such as Catherine Zeta Jones, George Clooney, Samuel L Jackson and JT. The capital is home to several public courses which are not only relatively cheap but offer a way to have fun and get fit – all in the great outdoors. Try the following on for size:
Dukes Meadow Golf Club, W4
Dulwich and Sydenham Hill, SE21
Central London Golf Centre, SW17
Trent Park Public Golf Course, N14
At the races
Gambling is in our genes; few can resist parting with a pound in the hope that they’ll hit the jackpot. There are plenty of race courses within easy reach of the capital – although for people watching, the fashion circus of Royal Ascot is a must.
Tel: 01344 622211, rail: Ascot
Go to the dogs!
Greyhound racing – once associated with old men – has undergone something of a renaissance. Such is greyhound racing’s newfound popularity that it’s now Britain’s second most popular spectator sport; guaranteeing a great group night out. Fast and furious races regularly take place at Wimbledon Stadium. Check out: www.lovethdogs.co.uk/wimbledon
Country aficionados may moan about the lack of green space, yet 30 per cent of the capital is given over to green space. So wherever you find yourself in the city, a park is never far away. Hyde Park on a Sunday is a CD Traveller favourite; this is when the legendary Sunday soapbox orators spout forth at the famous speaker’s Corner. Other parks worth a visit include Regents Park with its secret nooks and crannies, Primrose Hill and Greenwich. London is also a nation of gardeners, meaning there is no shortage of stunning gardens to enjoy. The most famous is of course, the Royal Botanical Gardens located at Kew.
When the sun has got his hat on, nothing beats whiling away a summer’s day boating on the Thames. Salubrious Richmond is the ideal place for such an excursion. Day boats boasting a cabin, sunshade and out boat motor can be hired from Hampton Court. For the low-down visit www.hamptonferryboathouse.co.uk
Suspended in an enclosed space age glass pod over the Thames, a ride in the London Eye cannot be beaten. It’s no roller coaster, but the 30-minute wheel provides you with a stunning view of one of the world’s most famous panoramas – from the ill-fated Dome to the splendour of Buckingham Palace. Couples wanting privacy can ascend on a Cupid’s capsule for a more intimate ride. Book your tickets online at www.ba-londoneye.com
Take a tour
“But I have lived here all my life,” we hear you cry. That may be, but it can take a lifetime to get to grips with London. So grab yourself a seat on one of London’s original Bus Tour double deckers and explore every postcard sight imaginable to mankind. The super enthusiastic are free to hop off at each stop so as to become better acquainted with a particular landmark. Otherwise simply spend the afternoon basking in the sun and drinking in the sights from the top deck. www.theoriginaltour.com
Of course being Britain, summer does not necessarily equal sunshine. On a gloomy summer’s day nothing beats catching a quality flick on the big screen. However don’t just visit any old cinema; multiplexes are making way for quirky, independent film houses. Visit the Electric in the achingly fashionable Notting Hill, with its luxurious leather armchairs and sofas and well stocked bar serving champagne and cocktails (www.theelectric.co.uk.) Or make it an IMAX experience by heading to Waterloo; home to the UK’s biggest screen. Stock up the popcorn supply, kick back and enjoy.
Become a culture vulture
London is a cultural treasure trove – whatever your interests are, the capital caters for them. Take in the latest art collection at the Tate Modern or catch an outdoor opera performance in Holland Park. (www.operahollandpark.com) The ultimate highlight? To attend an outdoor concert in the beautiful grounds of Hampstead’s Kenwood House for proms on the heath. On the theatre front, feel good musicals – the perfect antidote to the credit crunch – to catch include new show Sister Act and the award winning The Jersey Boys.
Shop till you drop!
If you’ve money to burn (lucky you), head for Harvey Nichols or the shopping mecca that is Selfridges. Those conscious of the credit crunch can pick up some bargains at the world famous Harrods sale. Spoil yourself and round off a spot of shopping with cocktails at smart, hotel bars like the Library Bar at The Lanesborough or The Blue Bar at The Berkeley – both of which are within easy walking distance.
When searching for interesting accessories, fashionistas make for one of London’s many markets. Portobello showcases up and coming designers while the stalls at Spitalfield have gone from strength to strength stocking a wide range of quirky individual accessories. Other markets worth a look include Bermondsey, Berwick, Camden and Covent Garden.
So there you have it; the definitive list to see you through the summer. Rise up off the sofa: London’s delights are on your doorstep.