Summer 2014 is turning out to be a corker! If you don't have a holiday abroad booked over August, think of it as a good thing - there are fewer crowds and you can save up for a proper getaway in September/October (try Turkey, Crete or Greece for some great deals).
For Londoners it can be hard to relax, especially when stepping inside the tube makes you feel like you've entered The Worlds Most Unhygienic Sauna, complete with proper human drips. Yuck!
Here are five places to hang out, have a beer and think of very little for a few hours in the Capital this summer!
The squirty geyser-like fountains have replaced the winter ice rink. Super fun for kids and grown-ups alike: you can chase the water springs as they pop up! Enjoy an alfresco lunch from Fernandez & Wells (amazing cured meats and continental toasties) or something sweet from the posh ice cream hut. Pop in to see the Tattoo Art Today exhibition in the Embankment Galleries showcasing the eye-opening work of Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth and Mister Cartoon. I would also recommend a snoop around the bookshop which is crammed full of wonderful publications and handmade cards. It's so peaceful here right now - a sharp contrast to when the fashion parade descends upon the place in September, come London Fashion Week.
Just like the fountains at Somerset House but infinitely more 'urban'. Set outside Saint Martin's College, this where the cool kids hang out during term time. Expect lots of children splashing about, but don't let that put you off: there are plenty of adults and groups of friends too. Bag yourself a table outside the Grain Store bar (try the addictive pumpkin hummus, delicious). Alternatively, you can sun yourself on the Astroturf overlooking the canal. Make sure you visit the House of Illustration to the right of the fountains which is currently showcasing the unmistakable scrawly characters of children's illustrator, Quentin Blake. Magic.
The Curve Garden is truly a community-run gem - every London Borough should use it as a benchmark for green space initiatives. This was a wasteland a few years ago, but local volunteer gardeners have helped turn it into a special place for all ages, complete with cafe (it sells alcohol!) and a beautiful wooden greenhouse which doubles up as a children's art workshop. There are loads of nooks and crannies to explore and a real mix of visitors. I spotted trendy twenty-somethings working on their laptops, young mums on playdates and retired locals enjoy some homemade cakes. The clay oven is fired up every Saturday and Sunday over summer between 2-9pm for pizza making. Check the website for more events as there are loads of unexpected ones, including summer knitting groups.
The V&A is always cool, thanks to all that marble! Art aside, I think the fountains merit their own entry as a London attraction: they are so beautiful and you can be tricked into thinking you're sat in an Italianate square since the garden always catches the milder afternoon sun. Paddle about with the kids or while away the hours on the grass with friends. Good food and coffee too thanks to the Benugo's stand. Don't feel guilty about skipping the exhibitions - it's summer!
This is basically as close to Bondi Beach as London can get - it's not a bad effort! The roof has been covered with 150 tonnes of sand, there's a pop-up fish restaurant, ping pong, live music, a rum shack, tiki hut and even end-of-the-pier amusements. Pull up a deckchair and make like an Aussie. The only drawback is that there's no pool, but you can always water yourself down with some mineral water I suppose. Free entry, check the website for opening times