As my first summer in London, following what has to be one of the longest ever winters, I wanted to make the most of what this great city has to offer when the sun is shining. And seeing as this weather is now turning out the be the longest and hottest summer in history, it’s not been hard to find great things to do. So here are a few of my top finds so far this summer:
- Kew Gardens
Great day out with the girls from work. Such a huge site and really packed full of every tree and plant imaginable. Really impressive was the huge and unique greenhouses scattered around the park, from old Victorian ones to modern glass pyramids, really an architectural feat. To top it off there was even a Komodo? And Japanese garden, as well as a badger set and bug hotel. The waters edge was beautiful and the weather couldn’t have been better. The only downside was the ever constant planes flying over that kept dragging you back to reality of where you actually were, not some peaceful green oasis. We enjoyed a great roast in the Orangery followed by a stroll along Barnes Bridge, where we daydreamed of having our own boats to sail up and down the Thames.
- Kensington Palace
I took my mum to Kensington palace for her birthday, and I happened to choose one of the hottest days of the summer, but luckily the palace was cool. We started inside with the Victoria Revealed exhibition, which was so interesting and lovely to hear how much she truly love her husband, however my mum already knew pretty much everything being an expert in the history of our Monarchy, hence why I brought here there. We walked around the pretty grounds for a while, admiring the stunning flower beds and ended up in the Orangery enjoying a luxury high tea in the prettiest china I’ve ever seen. It was a wonderful day out and nicely topped off with a little bird watching at the edge of the Serpentine.
- Putney Bridge
Living in South West London definitely has its benefits and the further from London you go, the more hidden gems I seem to be discovering. A 10 minute walk down the high street from Putney station, leads you to Putney Bridge, just past a cute little church and opens up onto a busy water front lined with fantastic boats that you just wish you owned. The whole area in the summer felt like I was abroad, it was a lovely evening with the housemates.
- Canary Wharf
During the Wimbledon final we decided to try and hunt down one of the huge outdoor screens to get a good show. I made the decision to head to Canary Wharf because nobody actually lives there right? Wrong. The place was heaving with people so instead we headed home to watch it, but not before enjoying a yummy tapas meal on the waterfront, it is such a nice area, would be great to live there one day.
- Somerset House photography exhibition
Tagging along with my housemate to see the Sony World Photography Award Exhibition at Somerset House was a great day out. The architecture was stunning and the exhibition its self was really wonderful. My favourite pieces had to be the perspective work of Jim Rickey as well as the really impressive architectural shots of inside various churches by Fabrice Fouillet. Photography isn’t something I’ve ever really given much time to, but I was really impressed and enjoyed seeing such a variety of subjects expressed in such imaginative and moving ways. Will definitely be checking out next year’s that’s for sure!
- Globe Theatre
After snapping up some cheap tickets courtesy of someone from work, a friend and I went to see a play called “the blue stockings” at the Globe Theatre. I have always wanted to go here, and always intended to see a Shakespearean play, but for only £5 per standing ticket we thought what the heck. Unfortunately, we chose the first night of rain for some time as the night to go and with the Globe being an open top theatre we were a little apprehensive, but it ended up being so enjoyable we put up with getting wet. The story was about female students at Cambridge attempting to earn the right to graduate. Based in the 1890’s it was crazy to think they didn’t actually get this right until about 50 years later,. With a storyline of passionate females longing to learn, at the expense of their social reputations and marriageability it was inspirational to see how driven they were, and of course intertwined with a Darcy/Wycombe like love triangle it didn’t fail to amuse. I loved every minute of it, and being in such a beautiful and mesmerising venue made it all the more wonderful – a really great evening out!
Being a bit of a sci-fi nerd it has always been a dream of mine to go to a COMICON. Now in the US this is huge and even pretty respected by normal people. It would even be possible to see big and current stars, however in the UK this is a bit different. The event is a bit more low key, less popular and the presence of any stars is far more flaky. This one was held at Earl’s Court 2, and having bought early bird tickets to avoid the queue we were in before 10am. The entrance was heaving with people and the overall size of the place was impressive. The first thing I saw walking in was the car from Ghostbusters, so naturally I was already excited, and then after heading to the display board to see the days programme of talks, we immediately queued up to get tickets to listen to a free talk by the stars of the Terminator films, as it was the anniversary of the 1st film. Although Sarah Connor failed to show up we actually really enjoyed the talk from Arnie’s stunt double … who had some great behind the scenes and on film stories from more than just the Terminator films, but pretty much all films Arnie has ever done. The rest of the morning was fun too, the place wasn’t exactly full up, but what was there was entertaining – loads of stalls selling merchandise and comic books (which I bought a few of) and then of course a vast array of signing booths lined with stars from some of my favourite shows, particularly Amanda Tapping, Jason Mamoa from Stargate and R2D2 from Star Wars, as well as many from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and Torchwood. On top of all that was the pure entertainment of people that had dressed up very convincingly from stromtroopers to borg. Great stuff! We even got to sample some top games coming out and previews of sci-fi flicks soon to come. Overall it was a great experience, although not more than just a morning activity.
- Chocolate walking and tasting tour in London
As an early birthday gift for my sister I took her on a chocolate tour that involved walking around 7 different chocolatiers in the Soho area. At each of these stops we learnt the history of chocolate as well as got to taste some seriously amazing samples, my favourite being salt water caramels. The tour guide was funny and even incorporated a Royal twist into the tour, taking us to the Queens favourite place as well as past some very intricate displays celebrating the birth of baby George. Being a boiling hot summer’s day, buying a slab of our favourite stuff wasn’t really an option, but it was brilliant nonetheless.
- Notting Hill Carnival
For my first summer in London I decided I really want to go to Notting Hill Carnival. My sister had gone many years in a row and luckily one of her best friend’s lives right next to the route so it was fantastic that they threw a house party for Carnival! The music was so loud and the floats were huge. Everyone was dancing behind them, in bright and fantastic costumes, having so much fun! The Caribbean food stalls were so yummy, although I think I have had enough jerk chicken for a life time! Early evening we went out to find the DJs and enjoyed dancing to some old school classics, but this wasn’t as fun – packed full of teens on drugs or on the floor. Not really my thing, but nonetheless I will just make sure next year I get there a lot earlier!
- Underground Treasure Hunt
This had to be the most hilarious, and difficult, London based activity I have ever done! We had 2 hours to follow the clues, get as much photo evidence on our phone as possible from across the whole of zone 1, and then make it back on time to be ranked by the Games Master. Starting in Leicester square, we immediately struggled to figure out any of the clues to even decide where to go first, but luckily some of the tasks were simple, like find as many men’s names in station names as possible, so I immediately tracked a route, while my teammate googled the clue questions to see what they could possibly mean: one we figured out as Kings Cross, but didn’t know what to do when we got there, then the other Tower Hill, but having already got the train as far as Earl’s court we were struggling for time, and literally sprinted as fast as we could (via tube) to get from tower hill to Leicester square before time ran out, as well as making sure we passed St Pauls’s on the way to get yet another man name. Other tasks were more like dares, which my sister bravely did by asking people sitting in line to smile for the camera, getting an old couple to hold hands for a photo and more strange and funny things like that. Once of which was to get a photo of twins, so my sister and I pretended we were twins (as we often get mistaken for that) and it worked! So although we only can 10th out of 20 teams, we did win little red bus key rings and now covered in sweat from the mission we immediately went for some beers. It’s not an easy task and you do need a lot of confidence to pull off the dares, but overall it was awesome!