Ramallah Baby greets the London Baby Blog readers!
It is an honour to be invited to blog about London, and having checked the great weather in London at the moment I really hope that you plan to make the most of it. It is very hot in Ramallah right now, and while I cool down in the Dead Sea and in the poolside bars here in Ramallah, Palestine, I am reminiscing about the great things to do in London when the weather is nice. Here is the beginning of my list…
1. Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
Pack your towels and sunscreen… as my number one thing to do on a hot day is to go to the bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath.
I’ve only checked out the female ones, but I’m sure the mixed ones and male ones are as refreshing and relaxing as the female ones are. Given that Hampstead Heath is relatively central,the ponds still feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of London. It is really a must do in London, and who knows how long the ponds will be there for. Here my tips for getting the most out of a visit to the ponds:
- Make sure you bring your smartphone as several people I know have got lost or confused for the female pond, which is the furthest away of the three.
- There is no entry fee, however, there is a suggested donation box and it would be great if people honoured this to keep the ponds looking nice.
- There is also a lifeguard on duty every day of the year, in case you feel like going on a rainy day or even in winter, as London Baby and Ramallah Baby tried a couple of years ago. It was invigorating to say the least.
- You must wear a swimsuit.
- Bring water and snacks as there are no shops around, though on occasion there may be a mobile ice-cream van around.
Another alternative is the Hampstead Lido, which is close to the Gospel Oak overground station. It is a big pool but it can get very busy and the lifeguards are strict on physical contact in the water, even with children… which also means a lot of whistle blowing and screaming.
You could also combine a visit to the ponds with a walking tour of Hampstead Heath, which is really a fantastic walk that will give you a new appreciation of Hampstead and its surroundings, including where Mary Poppins was filmed, where the Spice Girls lived, and why Hampstead is so damn expensive!
2. A roof-top lunch, vintage shopping, followed by a walk along the Regents Canal
A great place for a coffee or light lunch on a beautiful day is the roof-top cafe at Afie’s Vintage Market. And if you feel so inclined you can do some vintage shopping as well. The market is huge and full of lots of things nobody needs… but it is quite nice to browse for a little bit and then head towards the cafe. On the same road you will also find a weekend market (a proper one with cheap clothes and food, not like the up-market ones around London), where you can stock up on cheap fruit and vegetables as well.
Following lunch, a great way to spend the rest of the afternoon would be in Regents Park or in Camden. The walk from Alfies to Regents Park or Camden is best enjoyed by walking along the Canal. I just love doing this and admiring the beautiful houses, checking some animals in the London Zoo that you can see along the canal, and then having a pear cider or Pimms by the canal in Camden.
From Alfies to Camden at a leisurely stroll will take around 60 minutes – please email me if it takes longer as I will have to adjust my walking pace! It is really a romantic walk and although it gets busy on the weekends, it is definitely worth it.
If you have enough foresight you could also book a session at the Gorilla Circus Trapeze School, which is located by the canal in Regents Park.
3. Hanging out with the cool kids in Granary Square
Granary Square in Kings Cross is home to the University of the Arts, London, so if you are keen to pick up on the latest trends then it is definitely worth spending some time there! Luckily there is also a mesmerising fountain and a large outdoor space, to there are lots of other things to do while you find inspiration. The square is located along the Regents Canal as well, another 30-45 minutes from Camden if you’re walking, so it could be combined with point 2 above. My favourite restaurant is also located there (The Grain Store), and for a smaller budget I believe that several food vans park around the area most days. Oh and I almost forgot the table-tennis tables that are dotted around the area.
So to summarise Granary Square: water feature, street food, art, cool factor, trendy restaurants, table-tennis, canal-side living…. what is there not to love about Granary Square!
That’s it from Ramallah Baby for now. I hope you like the suggestions. While you are walking along the Canal, I am enjoying a morning walk in Ramallah – From Arafat to the Backstreet Boys.
I have more to add next time, including some things to do when the weather is not so good.