Ahh, summer. I have such a love/hate relationship with summer. My wardrobe is 90% black and my thighs touch, so it’s often uncomfortable and sweaty. On the other hand, being in the sun is an instant mood-lifter; I just feel happier when the sun is out. Now a British summer tends to be disappointing, but here is a list of things to do over the next few months if the sun does come out and spoil us.
Marnie images © 2014 GNDHDDTK
Go and see When Marnie Was There
Ok so you may be thinking sitting in the cinema is a waste of summer, but you are wrong, because cinemas are air conditioned therefore are great places to spend your summer. Joking aside, When Marnie Was There will probably be the last film Studio Ghibli release for a good long while, if not ever, so go and see it if you can. It came out on June 10th so be quick with this one.
(Note: if you’re not aware of Studio Ghibli’s work, check them out, in particular Hayao Miyazaki’s work. They won an Oscar for Spirited Away, but have created many wonderful animated films that are just a joy to watch!)
Visit hidden gardens in London
Open Garden Squares Weekend is coming up this weekend (18-19 June) which makes entrance to lots of private and hidden gem green spaces in the capital open to the public. A ticket gives you entrance so as many gardens as you can fit in.
Amorino – Stratford
Go on an ice cream tour
Ice cream and gelato become one of my main food groups in summer. Find the best places for ice cream near you, or in a city near you and make the pilgrimage. Places I really like are Amorino in London, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium in Manchester, Gelato Gusto in Brighton and let’s not forget the classic Mr Whippy from ice cream trucks all over the UK. I’m planning on finally getting to Chin Chin Labs in Camden soon!
There are two ways to go to Wimbledon if you don’t get tickets through the ballet: join the queue and spend a day getting pissed on Murray Mound/Henman Hill or attempt for the tickets they sell on Ticketmaster the night before. I managed to get semi-final tickets through the latter in 2010 and it was such a fun day so would recommend it if you have any interest in tennis. They do take the absolute piss with the prices for pimms and strawberries though! Alternatively, put it on the tv, get pissed on pimms at home and make strawberries and cream for the fraction of the price. It’s still good.
Watch a film outdoors
Summer is a time where we can do things we’d normally enjoy indoors, outdoors instead. Make the most of warmer evenings and watch films outdoors! Check out Rooftop Film Club and Film4’s Summer Screen in London and Luna Cinema who have events all over the country.
Go on the world’s longest, tallest slide
The eyesore that is the crumpled rollercoaster, aka the ArcelorMittal Orbit at Stratford will finally become what it looks like it should have been anyway: a helter-skelter. At £15 this is genuinely a rip off, even if it does give you access to the ‘viewing platform’ (who cares) but one to tick off the list if you like slides, novelty or going on world record type things. Open from June 24th.
Go to a festival
The peak festival hype in the UK seems to have passed and with the exception of Glastonbury, it’s no longer a ridiculous challenge to get tickets for a festival to find they’ve sold out within 10 minutes. There are so many to choose from these days at various price points and sizes, catering to all different tastes. eFestivals is a great resource for finding festivals near you.
Eat lunch outside
Whether you work in an office or work from home, grab your lunch and find a sunny spot outside. When I worked in an office, summer lunches were just the best. Sitting in a park and getting some sun I found really just calmed me down and reset me for the afternoon. I’m not as stressed working at home, but it’s nice to get away from your desk and just recharge. Even with my raging hay fever.
National Trust Site Formby
Go on a National Trust day out
The National Trust keeps lots of places in the UK that would otherwise fall into ruin alive and great places to visit. They have all kinds of sites, from country homes to parks that all make for a good way to spend a summer’s day. Check out their website to find places near you.
Alternatively, volunteer at a National Trust site
The National Trust survives on donations and volunteers. Obviously a lot of their sites get a lot busier over the summer and sometimes require extra hands. Lots of the places they own are outdoors so if you fancy volunteering outside, maybe see what is available near you and help keep these places open to the public.
Go to a balloon fiesta
If you like hot air balloons, you should go to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta because it looks incredible.
Eat street food
I love street food events because I am very indecisive when it comes to what I want for dinner, so being able to have it all and have it served to me quickly is great. Street Feast are obviously the street food kings in London, with four locations that serve up food on Friday/Saturday weekly during the summer. Leeds have their Indie Food Fest and Bristol has Bristol Eats and Grillstock festival. As street food has gained popularity there are lots of events and festivals popping up all over the UK so follow foodies in the know in your location and keep an eye on local news.
Barbecue for your life
Anyone who lives in the UK knows barbecue season is very short, so make the most of it because everything on a barbecue tastes delicious. It doesn’t even need to be an occasion, just do your dinner on it! It also doesn’t need to be all about burgers – fish, veg and fruit are all delicious barbecued. Serious BBQers should definitely check out the Pitt Cue Cookbook.
Go camping (or – glamping)
All the outdoorsy shit I hated as a child I’ve started to quite enjoy as an adult. Honestly camping doesn’t have to be shit. Plenty of campsites have toilets and showers. Grab your partner, your friends and find a nice campsite somewhere. It’s fun, cheap and is a nice escape from the daily grind. Alternatively there are lots of glamping options all over the UK now so you can enjoy the outdoors without having to stay in a tent, but also without having to splurge on a cottage somewhere. A google for ‘camping UK’ or ‘glamping UK’ brings up plenty of options in various locations.
Explore the forest
Woodlands are a) magical and b) shady which make them a great place to escape on hot days. Visit the Woodland Trust website to find a forest near you. I’m lucky to have Epping Forest almost on my doorstep, but would love to make a visit to the New Forest some time!
Make cheater’s frozen yoghurt
This isn’t a proper fro-yo recipe, but it’s so easy and quick, who cares? All you need is some frozen fruit (preferably berries) and some natural or greek yoghurt, throw both into a blender and done. If you have a weak blender you might need to throw in a bit of milk to loosen it up. You end up with a nice, cold, frozen-yoghurt-esque mix that you can drink or eat straight away to cool down with.
No social media for a day
Enjoy the outdoors without social media for a day. Whether you just enjoy the smells of a market more, go and sit in a park with a book or take a long walk, you’ll feel more refreshed doing it without thinking about emails/twitter/instagram/etc. Get your vitamin D and clear your mind at the same time.
Relive your childhood
Grab your friends, grab some water pistols or water balloons and unleash your inner child. Learn to rollerskate. Teach yourself how to do cartwheels, or handstands. Play summer fête games like sack, wheelbarrow or egg and spoon races.
Buy market produce
Hell yeah for berry season! Get to your local market and buy yourself some seasonal produce and some nice flowers and live your best life. Check this website to find out all of the fruit and veg in season at this time of year.
Go to a kite festival
Combine a day on the beach with seeing THE LARGEST TEDDY BEAR KITE IN THE WORLD. Sounds like a day out to me. St Anne’s International Kite Festival in Lancashire is on from the 30 – 31 July.
Go to the beach…without going to the beach
Camden Beach is on again this year, where the rooftop of the Roundhouse is covered with sand and transformed into a city beach. Elsewhere in London is Beach East in Stratford which is more family-orientated, Brixton Beach and Southbank’s Festival of Love Beach. I tried to find similar things outside of London for you all but all my searches just kept directing me to actual beaches, so sorry this is very London-centric.
Dinosaur hunt on the Isle of Wight
Good weather is never guaranteed but visiting the Isle of Wight in the summer gives you the best chance of some sunny rays. Plenty of dinosaur fossils have been found on the Isle of Wight so it’s a great place to take kids or yourself, if you (like me) love dinosaurs.