Summertime In London

London is arguably one of the finest cities in the world and certainly one of the largest with a population of over eight million. There is so much to see and do that one could spend a six month holiday in London and still not have seen everything.

The Tower of London down by the river Thames and Tower Bridge is one of the most famous castles in the world. Here you can see the Crown Jewels containing over 23,000 gemstones including some of the world’s best known diamonds. On Tower Green you can see the memorial to some of the people who have been executed there, probably the best known being Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, his fifth wife Catherine Howard who was barely in her twenties and Lady Jane Grey who was only sixteen.

Nearby is Tower Bridge where, if you are lucky, you may see the centre bascules raised in order to let a ship pass underneath.

A favourite place to visit is Madame Tusauds wax museum where you can get up close and personal with Barack Obama, David Beckham, Marilyn Monroe, Kiera Knightley, Nicole Kidman and Frank Sinatra amongst hundreds of others.

A little way up the road is London Zoo in Regents Park. Here you can easily get lost for a whole day with the family. Wild animals abound – zebras, giraffes, leopards, tigers, a 14′ long python, lions and the zoo’s latest addition a baby Malayan tapir bounding about in the sun with mom Gertie.

If shopping takes your fancy then you can visit the most famous store in the world, Harrods of Knightsbridge. This is the store where the rich and famous shop and you could find yourself buying a watch alongside Daniel Craig or trying on a pair of jeans next to Kate Moss.

In the summer you can spend a relaxing day watching that peculiarly English game, cricket, at Lords or The Oval. In June there is Wimbledon where spectators consume over 27 tons of strawberries every year.

Of course there is plenty more shopping to be had in Oxford Street with Selfridges taking a starring role. Just around the corner is Regent Street where you will find the world’s most famous toy shop, Hamleys.

And then there is that other famous – and again peculiarly British institution – the pub. London is awash with fine pubs, many of which have beautiful gardens attached so that you can enjoy your drink and a meal in the open air.

The Garden Gate in Hampstead is one such, boasting a range of at least twenty speciality beers and ciders together with English potato vodka. You can eat cider and tarragon battered cod with crushed peas, chips and tartar sauce, gnocchi with wild mushrooms or handmade West Country beef burgers. Out in the garden – described by one journal as the finest pub garden in London – there is a covered dining area to keep you dry in the fickle English weather and an outdoor bar, so you don’t need to go inside to refill your glass.

Another pub with a fine garden is the Gipsy Moth in Greenwich right next door to the old sailing ship the Cutty Sark. Popular with locals, visitors and students alike the garden is always packed out in the summertime especially when the barbecue is functioning.

Over in Clapham is The Avalon with a huge beer garden at the rear. It’s open during the summer months and has a wonderful terrace with plenty of seating. On Thursday and Friday nights and all day on Saturday and Sunday there is a mouth-watering Mediterranean grill.

In Brixton is the Grand Union. It has one of the largest gardens in the capital and has Thai style tree houses. Here you can sip a cocktail among the palm trees and enjoy a gourmet burger or pizza.

If you’ve been to London Zoo, just a short distance away is the Edinboro Castle with a large garden. Another pub with a barbecue and outdoor bar it is incredibly pretty in the evening when they switch on the fairy lights.

Over in Richmond is The Marlborough with by far the largest garden in the area. It welcomes cyclists, dog walkers and kids and has a relaxed atmosphere. It has a conservatory, barbecues at the weekends and rabbits and guinea pigs for the kids.

Finally, in Hammersmith is The Queens Head. On the outside it looks tiny, but at the rear is a huge, leafy garden surrounded by a brick wall with seating for 170. Even so, on a hot day it fills up fairly quickly.

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