When it comes to summer in London we’ve all done the most popular tourist attractions – Big Ben, the Tower of London, Madame Tussaud’s and the London Eye. However, to enjoy the uncharted ‘real’ London you have to know where to look and who to ask. (Us, ask us!)
We can’t guarantee there will actually be a summer this year but, if those rays do make it through the clouds for long enough, here are some of London’s best secret open spaces to enjoy.
The aspiring gardener
This weekend (18-19 June) plays host to Open Garden Squares weekend – over 200 gardens in 27 boroughs open their previously closed doors to the public. Check out the full list here. £12 for adults and free for under 12’s – 10 Downing Street is shut this year. One of the best locations is King Henry’s Walk Garden in Islington. A previously derelict site turned sustainable garden and sure to inspire those green fingers. There’s even a fair and locally brewed beer…for the not-so-keen gardener!
If you’re making a day of it and looking for a light weatherproof camera bag, we have to thank Clive Marshall from Blog A Sensored view, a seasoned photo-tripper who’s done the hard research work for us, recommending the Lowepro Tahoe Camera Backpack.
“after scouring the internet and trying to figure out from litre capacities and dimensions of many makes of camera bags which ones would enable my Fuji cameras and lenses to fit, I decided to get the Lowepro Taheo BP 150 in black”. Check out his full review here.
It holds your camera, lens, tablet plus has hidden pockets for your valuables – even sunglasses – so gets our thumbs up.
If you haven’t been to an open air cinema you’ve really missed out but the Rooftop Film Club have gone a step further – complete with comfy chairs, wireless headphones, a bar and snuggle down blanket. They even give you free popcorn if you’re prepared to do the truffle shuffle (think back to the Goonies if you want to re-live that memory)
With some superb venues across London including the Kensington Roof Gardens this has got to be the perfect way to spend a summer’s evening.
Broke in London, a brilliant site to help anyone survive London on a budget, shares these insider tips to help you make the most out of your visit:
“Half an hour before the film started screening we were invited to take our seats.. there’s a giant popcorn box where the projector is housed and row upon row of directors chairs for the cinema goers to sit in. As you enter you are given cozy blankets to wrap up in if it starts getting cold …take two so you can really wrap up. The seats aren’t allocated so if you’re fussy about where you sit or if you’re going as a group, then go in and save your seats before coming back to stock up on popcorn and sweets.’
Check here to take your pick of blankets, we like the chocolate fleecy throw.
The sound of music
If you’re missing out on your dose of Music Festivals this year then the Somerset House Summer Series is a must. We saw the awesome James Bay there last year and there’s nothing like being surrounded by the floodlit elegance and style of the iconic building. The perfect atmosphere for soaking in top musical talents. Whether you are into the soothing tones of Laura Mvula or fancy trying something new, such as Caravan Palace with their house and jazz fusion, then combine a trip to the Capital with an open air concert.
You probably won’t be taking your top of the range camera here so if you’re relying on your trusty smartphone take a read of the iPhone Photography School guide for taking photos at night (and in the rain). They recommend:
“check out apps such as Cortex Cam and Average Cam Pro which can produce great results at night. These apps take several shots at different exposures and then combine the images into a single well-exposed photo with little or no grain” The apps are available on iPhone and Android.
You’ll be there at sunset so be inspired by this photo in the grounds of a castle from Paul Moore. Not quite Somerset House – this is at a photography festival in Castlepalooza, his home town.
If you want to go pro then check out our earlier blog for Amateurs. Photography experts Amateur Photography recommend the Canon EOS M10 saying that it’s perfect for novices and beginners, especially for quick snaps:
‘Tilting the screen by 180 degrees automatically initiates a self-portrait mode to undertake high-quality selfies. Elsewhere, the EOS M10 can shoot continuously at up to 4.6fps, Full HD video (1920×1080) is recorded at 30,25 and 24fps, and the ergonomically situated front dial provides instant access to advanced settings such as aperture and shutter speed.’
And now for something completely different
Lunch in a skip, anyone? Well not exactly inside a skip but surrounded by them. The Skip Garden and Cafe has been ingeniously designed as a sustainable urban garden, the entire site is made with 90% reclaimed material. so if you ever fancy trying a pumpkin produced from a skip or tomatoes torn from a polytunnel, then this is the place for you.
Here’s the inside scoop from general intern at the skip garden, graduate Sara, who works with Global Generation – a charity that encourages urban communities to connect with the natural world.
‘One minute I will be planting fresh herbs for The Greek Larder, supporting a photography workshop with young people, or making Kombucha with our chef’s. Interning at the Skip Garden engages my brain, body and spirit”
So no matter where you are in the UK we hope you get the chance to check out London’s best secret open spaces. Proving there’s always something interesting and outside of the box to do, you just have to know where to look! Hopefully our ideas have given you some inspiration for this summer.