As spring time approaches, and the incessant cold seems to be easing, I thought it might be time to suggest some of my favourite outdoor spots and activities in London.
I am embarrassed to admit I have lived in Putney for almost two years and last weekend was the first time I visited Richmond Park. It should have happened sooner.
The cycle along Upper Richmond Road to get to the park wasn’t exactly pleasant with the traffic, but at least there was a dedicated cycle lane for most of it.
Once we got through the park gates though, it was like we had stepped into another world. The sun came out for the first time all day, and almost immediately we spotted deer very close by.
There was actually a bit of a FEEEEEEENTON moment when all the deer started running around. If you don’t know what I’m on about then youtube “Fenton Richmond Park”.
Richmond Park is the biggest Royal Park in London, and its ample size makes it perfect for a cycle ride or a run. You can tackle the 7.5 mile loop of the park, or copy us and cycle up to Richmond Hill and then down into Richmond. If you haven’t been before, Richmond is a lovely and very classy suburb with plenty of nice little cafés for a cake pit stop. Once in Richmond it is then possible to return along the riverside path, meaning most of the route is off road.
The Magic Garden Pub
This is probably my favourite pub in London. Conveniently located just down the road from both Battersea rail stations, it hosts exceptionally good live music nights several times a week AND it has one of the best beer gardens I’ve ever been to in the city. The outdoor area is covered with a big canopy and has lots of comfortable sofas to lounge around on. There are heaters everywhere, and apparently if you ask they will provide blankets and hot water bottles, so it’s even possible to sit outside in winter. I love the laid back vibe. The food is pretty good too.
Southbank Roof Gardens
Above the (also great) outside bar area at the Royal Festival Hall is a slightly hidden gem, the Southbank Roof Gardens. Look out for the big yellow spiral staircase which leads up to them. I once went on a first date here and there were loads of mice everywhere which was a bit awkward – don’t bring anyone squeamish with you!
Here I am in summer 2013 enjoying a nice cold pint with my good friend Jackie. You can hop on the train to Waterloo from Putney to get here and it only takes 20 minutes.
This fab little park on the banks of the Thames is a testament to my growing conviction that it’s not always about the size. Very popular with Aussies in the summer, it’s a great place for a BBQ. In fact, there are tree stumps dotted around the western side of the park which make a good cooking surface. There are also tennis courts (you could probably use these for free I suspect if you just turn up), and even a mini golf course. I like coming here after work and relaxing in the sun for an hour or two. There are some good views down towards Battersea, and you can walk to “The Ship” pub along the river from here which has one of the best beer gardens in the south-west, if not in London altogether.
The Globe Theatre
Oh my giddy aunt I do love the Globe. Could it be London’s best attraction? I’m not sure, but it truly is a fantastic slice of history sitting right there smack bang in the middle of Southbank, one of the most attractive areas in London (a walk along Southbank is also a great outdoor activity on that note).
The Globe, for those unfamiliar, is a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original playhouse built back in 1599. It’s a circular building with an open roof, so best enjoyed in good weather, but they usually have some kind of cover they bring out if it does rain. The most amazing thing about the Globe, apart from the authentic and unique experience, incredible acting, and first-rate production, is the fact that you can buy tickets for £5. You’ll have to stand in the ‘pit’ with all the other plebs, but then that’s how Shakespeare was meant to be enjoyed, and it may just give you a whole new perspective on his work. I went to see Titus Andronicus last year which was fantastically gory.
I’ve yet to go to this rooftop bar myself, but with an interesting selection of live events, and a stunning panorama over London, it’s definitely high on my list of to dos. It’s in Peckham, which is maybe why I haven’t managed to make it there, the east is still a bit of a mystery to me… of course in true hipster style it’s located on the top of a multistorey car park.
Boating on the Serpentine, Hype Park
My friend did this as a date with her boyfriend, I honestly can’t think of anything more adorable. Just add a picnic with a blanket and some champagne, oh and some sun. Suffice to say things are going swimmingly between my friend and her man ever since (er, no, they didn’t fall in).
The boats aren’t available for hire until April, but that is only a couple of weeks away now. Blow up boat in the meantime?
The Leather Bottle, Earlsfield
What a lovely pub, complete with a sunny and spacious beer garden. With a strong Saffa presence in Earlsfield (an up-and-coming area on the fringes of Wimbledon), it’s unsurprising that The Leather Bottle puts on a rather good barbie in the warmer months. Just be warned, it is very family-friendly to the point that it can practically become a playground at the weekends. Thankfully there is a beach area and some little hut things which children can amuse themselves with. Also the roasts are disgustingly expensive – £20 including a drink! Other than this it is nearing perfection and definitely worth a visit. http://www.leatherbottlepub.co.uk/
The Queen of Hoxton Rooftop Bar
Great views over London and lots of attractive people. Oh and good music if you go on the right night. We once started a silent disco conga line here, I think that says it all really. http://www.queenofhoxton.com/
They are a bit of a trek if you live in the south-west, but well worth visiting. Tucked away a few streets from the tube station, behind a load of wooden fencing, you wouldn’t particularly notice them if you were walking past. However, once inside you are greeted with a nice but busy bar selling craft ales, a proper clay oven pizza stall, and lots of grassy areas and fairy lights. Great for a balmy summer evening. http://dalstongarden.org/
The Crabtree Pub
Take a stroll over Putney Bridge and along the Thames Path, past Fulham Palace and the football club, and you will come across this very popular pub. It’s right on the banks of the Thames, with plenty of outside seating overlooking the river. It gets lots of sunshine in the evening, and I imagine it would be a good place to watch the boat race from.
The riverside path between Putney and Barns
Such a great stretch to go for a jog or a cycle. The best thing is you are rewarded with a lovely 17th century pub overlooking the river when you arrive in Barns. There is also ‘The Depot’ above, an excellent brasserie which serves fresh fish.
This is the starting point in Putney, just down from the rowing clubs.