Us ex-pats have complained and shivered our way through what feels like England’s longest winter, (we should all get medals) but the sun appears to be here to stay.
It is easy to be thrown when the rays finally do hit London: forced to emerge from our hovels, our bleary eyes adjusting to the unfamiliar sunlight, our pale skin, stark in the brightness. Dazed and confused, almost high on the sudden injection of vitamin D to our neglected blood streams, we are suddenly forced to reconsider all of those friends that we made purely because they had central heating and let you borrow their Snuggie. The time has come comrades to whip out the thongs, to make cut-off clothing, to relish in our pommy friends lobster-coloured complexions whilst our Australian skin bronzes effortlessly and to enjoy a very different side of London.
1. Beer gardens and rooftop bars
The sun means that you can finally pretend you’re back in Melbourne, or somewhere equally ‘exotic’. London can sometimes give the impression that its rooftop bars are exclusively targeted at city slickers willing to pay 35 pounds for a cocktail and a view of the Gherkin, but try Dalton Roof Park, Coppa, or Queen of Hoxton for more accessible views of the sky. Beer gardens like Faltering Fullback (located appropriately on Perth Road) also offer shade and awesome decor.
2. Parks and Recreation
Probably one of the best things about London at any time of year is its beautiful parks. Whether it’s Hyde, Hampstead, Greenwich or Epping Forrest in the East End, walk five minutes inside the gates of one of these grassy refuges and you will hardly believe that you are still in London. Most of them boast cool cafes and many — like Green Park – have deck chairs available for hire if you are willing to pay the price. It is particularly important that when you lie down on the grass to read your book or eat your picnic, you appreciate that in the UK you can do so safe from bull-ants and snakes. For something a bit different, why not check out Kew’s Summer Festival: IncrEdibles at the Royal Botanic Gardens and view (and consume) some edible plants.
3. Lidos and outside swimming pools
You may greet this suggestion with a scoff. Outside pools? Are you crazy? Maybe you don’t believe me, but London totally has them, and based on these weather predictions it might even be hot enough to go for a dip. Check out Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds, Tooting Bec Lido, Charlton Lido (a proper 50-metre pool), Serpentine Lido or somewhere else near you. Many offer summer classes in water aerobics and other fun events.
Though most envisage the Thames to be a medieval sewage pipe that you should avoid at all costs, the river has been cleaned up in recent years, and even has salmon swimming in it. Many places provide an opportunity to keep cool by our adopted cities river, including Barnes and the South Bank. The Tate Modern, The Globe and many other riverside venues are also transformed in summer time, so why not revisit some of the touristy sites you hit up when you first arrived (especially outdoor markets). It’ll be just like the first time you went only this time without the frostbite and more Pimms. Camden is also a divine place to watch boats, grab some Falafel and people watch. Grab a beer or a book, and remind yourself why you fell in love with this city.
If you couldn’t make it to Glastonbury this year, why not check out the many incredible festivals that London has to offer: cheaper, closer to home but still fantastic. Festival of Neighborhood, Notting Hill Carnival and Lovebox are just some of what London has to offer in the way of festivals over the summer. Whether you are after film or music, art or dance, make sure you scout around to find the event that suits your interest for the easier way to festival.