London has an endless amount of things to see and do. Here are some of my favourite.
22 July – 1 October
The State Apartments are open in the summer when the Queen is away. Each year there is a different theme. For 2017, Royal Gifts are on display. The gift shop is fantastic for presents. How could anyone not be impressed with something that had Buckingham Palace embellished on it. While there and just around the corner and which can also be visited are the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.
1 Aug – 31 Aug
Also part of the Royal Collection, this is the official residence of TRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The guided tour includes the Cornwall Room where the Prince of Wales watercolours are hung.
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the King and Queen’s State apartments and gardens are open to the public. An exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story is on until 2018. Advisable to book in advance.
Medieval Eltham Palace was bought by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930s and transformed into a glamourous showpiece of Art Deco, ultra-smart ocean liner style, and cutting-edge Swedish design. The Great Hall is the only remaining part of the original 15th century building.
Also part of English Heritage, Kenwood was remodelled by Robert Adam in the eighteen century, and has recently undergone extensive renovation. Set in 112 acres with a lake the grounds flow into the wilderness of Hampstead Heath. The grounds and cafe/restaurant are a meeting point for the locals, particularly as an outside area welcomes dog-owners.
While in the area it’s worth walking into Hampstead High Street, which retains its local village charm particularly when venturing into the allies. The area excels in gastro-pubs. The Wells in Well Walk is situated in a Georgian House while the recently refurbished Freemasons Arms in Downshire Hill is around the corner from Keats House, home of the poet, in Keats Grove.
Close to Holland Park is the former home of the Victorian painter Frederic, Lord Leighton. Apart from the numerous paintings, it is worth visiting for the architecture which includes the Arab Hall with its golden dome, mosaics, and Islamic tiles. An exhibition of Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity runs to 29 Oct.
Courtauld Institute of Art
Based in Somerset House in the Aldwych, the collection includes works from the early Renaissance to the 20th century but is particularly well known for its amazing Impressionist Art.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
The former residence of neo-classical architect Sir John Soane. the architect for the Bank of England. The museum, made up of three houses, has been restored to its original state and contains more than 20,000 architectural drawings and antiquities. Entrance free. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Hidden away between the King’s Road and the River Thames the garden otherwise called London’s Secret Garden was established in 1673. The city’s oldest botanical garden, it contains around 5,000 edible, useful, medicinal and historic plants. A variety of walks, talks and workshops run throughout the summer.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
The atmosphere of the theatre is a must-visit experience, and the productions are always of a top-notch quality.
A new play, A Tale of Two Cities, adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens runs until 8 Aug. Following this from 11 Aug to 16 Sep is the award winning musical Jesus Christ Superstar.
Performances start at 7.45pm but gates open at 6.15pm. Part of the experience is enjoying a meal or barbeque on the lawn within the complex. Thu and Sat matinee at 14.15 Gates open at 13.15 where there are reduced price tickets for senior citizens.
Oak and thatch replica of the original Elizabethan theatre performing Shakespeare’s plays in the open air. Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear are being performed in August and run to October.
Dating from 1587, the playhouse is the first theatre to be built on Bankside, not far from the Globe. Its existence was only discovered in 1989, and the building is still an archaeological site. A Midsummer’s Nights Dream is being performed on a raised platform during August. Open, to explore, on Saturdays noon to 4pm.
An area of the Regent’s canal that flows under the Edgware Road, a narrow walkway goes along the canal. For a more leisurely experience take an authentic canal boat, on a 45-minute trip through Regent’s Park to Camden Lock with its craft stalls and quirky clothing shops. Live commentary provides information on the canal’s history from 1800 to the present day.
Abbey Road Zebra Crossing
Ever since the Beatles made their L.P. at the EMI Studios in Abbey Road, people have flocked to the area to have their photograph taken on the zebra crossing. Be warned, there are two Abbey Roads. This one is in St. John’s Wood.
A foodie’s haven, the market is brimming with stalls selling everything you could want in the way of fresh food, vegetables, cheese, cakes, and oils. There are also stalls selling readymade food. The area is a mass of coffee bars and restaurants. Closed on Sunday, with fewer stalls on Monday and Tuesday.
Originally a Sunday market, there are now stalls on Saturday too with events happening during the week. Go for the atmosphere, original and not-so original clothing, bags, and accessories, a hub for new independent designers. The market has grown and now includes several restaurants. However, it is only a short walk to Brick Lane, a mecca for Indian food.
Notting Hill Carnival
The largest street party and Caribbean festival in Europe takes place over the August Bank Holiday with great music, outrageous floats and fabulous costumes. Hear everything from traditional steel bands, soca and calypso, to the latest drum ‘n’ bass.
Walks, talks, theatre, film and special events are taking place from 28 July to 29 October within the City of London’s square mile to commemorate its Roman heritage.