Southbank Skatepark

Spend an afternoon at this iconic London skate spot.

The skatepark at Southbank has been viewed as the birthplace of British skateboarding since 1976 and is an attraction for graffiti artists, skateboarders, inline skaters and BMXers from all over the city. The concrete undercroft provides the perfect environment for skating as it is sheltered from the ubiquitous British rain, has conveniently flat smooth surfaces and a wealth of interesting architectural features (think banks, ledges and sets of stairs). And with graffiti on every inch of the park it's a mesmerising slice of colour by the Thames.

On any given day you’ll find a number of tourists and passers by watching skaters shred the park. The skaters tend to be pretty experienced making this a really good place to see some complex tricks.

The undercroft was threatened by redevelopment plans back in 2014 but after skaters and members of the community formed the Long Live Southbank campaign and a 30,000 strong petition was delivered to the Council, the park was saved.

Half a mile from Waterloo station, bring your camera or your board and enjoy this iconic London skate spot.  

www.llsb.com

Southbank Skatepark, Lambeth, London, SE1 8XZ
 

 

Daunt Books

You'll find thousands of travel books in this beautiful bookshop

Daunt Books is arguably one of London's most beautiful bookshops. Founded almost 30 years ago, Daunt Books can be found on Marylebone High Street in an old Edwardian building. Spread over three floors, this stunning oak bookshop is primarily known for travel books. Arranging all books by country, book lovers are given a unique browsing experience. As the store has expanded, they have encompassed fact, fiction, guides and cooking books.  

Everything about Daunt Books is aesthetically breath-taking. The shop front is organised neatly and opens up into a long galleried main room, reminiscent of an old university library. At the end of the room is a huge stain glass window and this, teamed with the oak balcony and William Morris prints, gives Daunt Books a real sense of grandeur.   

Daunt Books became so popular that over the last 15 years they have opened stores in Holland Park, Hampstead, Chelsea, Belsize Park and Cheapside. Keep an eye on their website for details of talks and discussions that are held in store and look out for their annual book festival. 

Spend a Sunday flicking through their travel photography books and enjoying the peace of this old book store. 

www.dauntbooks.co.uk

83-84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW

 

Greenwich Park

Views, wildlife and a little peace and quiet at London's Greenwich Park.

Being in one of the world’s busiest cities means peace, quiet and green space can seem hard to come by. Thankfully, among London’s tall buildings and jam packed roads, there are eight Royal parks to be enjoyed. Sitting below the curve of the river, Greenwich Park clocks in at 180 acres making it the largest green space in South East London.

On a hilltop, it’s definitely worth trekking to the top of the park and looking back only when you get there. The views stretch from the City of London over to the Isle of Dogs and on a clear day it’s easy to pick out smaller details across the skyline. As well as a great place to see the city, Greenwich Park is also home to the National Maritime Museum and the Greenwich meridian line, which sets the time across the world.

There’s more history to this park too, a former hunting ground for Henry VIII, the park is still home to a herd of deer. Then more recently, for the London 2012 Olympics, Greenwich Park became the venue for the equestrian events and riding and running for the modern pentathlon. There are boating lakes and tennis courts at the park, meaning there are several different ways to spend your time here.

If you’re fancying a quiet afternoon, wander through the park with an ice cream and enjoy the sweeping views of the city.

www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park

Greenwich Park, London, SE10 9NF

 

Notting Hill Carnival

Embrace the colour, sounds and cuisine of Europe's biggest street party

The biggest street festival in Europe, every August revellers take to West London for a celebration of tradition, culture and community. Notting Hill Carnival has now been running for over 50 years and sees around two million people dancing, drinking and coming together on the streets.

The first thing glimpse you'll get upon arrival is the parade. Starting early in the morning and running throughout the day until around 7pm, you can follow the floats and dancers and soak up the spirit that carnival runs on. As well as the parade, there are almost 40 soundsystems across the carnival, with a range of rich sounds to enjoy. From steel bands to the original soundsystems playing soca, dancehall, reggae, calypso and dub. You've also got a variety of stages spinning house, ska, funk, drum and bass and jungle. 

Something you have to do at Carnival is enjoy the food from one of the hundreds of stalls dotted about. There's no way you can turn down a tray of jerk chicken, but if you're feeling adventurous you can also sample a portion of goat curry. All of the stalls go through stringent checks, meaning you're pretty much guaranteed good grub. Most of the stalls serve up jerk chicken with fried plantain, coleslaw and rice and peas.  

It's worth doing some research before you go about where you want to end up, it's very easy just to get swept along with the crowds otherwise. You might also want to bear in mind that Sunday is labelled the family day and Monday is the main parade day. 

Our pointers? Bring cash with you, wear comfy shoes, pack some toilet roll and arrange to meet friends somewhere ahead of time. Phone signal doesn't happen for anyone and with the streets so busy you'll be really lucky to bump into your pals.  

www.thenottinghillcarnival.com

Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park London W10

 

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, a place where food lovers and thrift shoppers unite.

Broadway Market is a great little venture if you are ever wandering around East London and have a few extra hours to spare. Nestled in-between London Fields and Regents Canal, it is the perfect spot to grab some food and enjoy a beverage whilst listening to talented buskers and watching the quirky London world go by. Its farmers market boasts a wide range of food stalls including artisan cheese and bread, olives, fresh bakes, gelato and organic meat, fruit and veg.

The Heavenly Halloumi burger from The Veggie Table is a must - whether you're vegetarian or not. The combination of halloumi cheese with organic carrots, courgettes, mint and coriander will make you think twice about having a meat burger ever again. 

If you get thirsty, there is a vast array of pubs to choose from. However, we decided to opt for the frozen cocktails (strawberry daiquiri or mojito) that were being passed through a hole in the wall by The Souls Bar. £5 per cup, these drinks definitely have a kick to them as we found out after only one, and are made with truly fresh ingredients, aside from being delicious and refreshing  – much needed after escaping the throngs and the summer sun.

Broadway market also has a large selection of thrifty clothes stalls where you can find printed shirts galore and a denim jacket or fifty. The market has it all – you can even find the most obscure purchases such as origami necklaces.

www.broadwaymarket.co.uk

Broadway Market, Hackney, London E8 4PH

Borough Market

Borough Market is a utopia of all things foodie. 

Built in what was previously a railway station, Borough Market has apparently been around in various forms since 1014 - and is therefore a staggering millennium old. Whilst absolutely steeped in history, Borough Market delightfully makes the old new again - the abundance of chalkboard signs, rustic wooden stalls, huge cast-iron pans and exposed brick gel perfectly with the edible offerings, and amidst some seriously good food are anything but pretentious.

The stalls are awash with artisanal wares: from the millions of varieties of cheese (some newly invented like the parmesan-stilton hybrid we sampled the day of its creation, some 'drunken', and some infused with pretty much anything you can imagine) to goat's milk gelato, we'd say Borough has it's dairy covered. Grab yourself a cheese and olive stick from Bread Ahead, these polenta-filled bad boys are not to be missed. It is also a carnivore's paradise, with cured cold cuts galore - chorizos, salamis, saucissons lying alongside legs of parma ham and venison sausages. Don't miss out on the incredible Borough Olives either, with wooden barrels filled with every different shape and size - black, green, sicilian, kalamata, and stuffed with pimento, feta, herbs, garlic, chilli. Similarly, antipasti and oils (olive- and the amazing truffle-) are in anything but short supply.

After you have picked at as many samples as you can handle (both that your ever-increasing appetite, and the amused yet exasperated smiles of the vendors, will permit), grab yourself some proper grub.  At the far end of the market, through the fruit and veg section, a row of stalls awaits you. Literally whatever you find yourself in the mood for, you will find in this little eclectic ensemble of guerrilla grillers. Highlights are the Boston Sausage Co., where we had a delish blue cheese and sweet chilli jam dog, gooey scotch eggs from Scotchtails and the succulent hog roast with crispy crackling and homemade apple sauce that we would have quite happily eaten with a spoon. 

There is a veggie stall that always smells phenomenal, alongside Thai, Chinese, and Spanish paella. Once you're stuffed, make sure you stop by the many baked offerings and pick up a Borough brownie, some baklava, or butter fudge from Whirl'd. And if possible some passion fruit curd from the jam man - aka heaven in a jar.

www.boroughmarket.org.uk

8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL

 

Little Venice

Wander the canals of one of the prettiest pockets of London 

Tranquil and scenic, wandering around London's Little Venice doesn't feel much like being in zone two. This picturesque part of the city is where Regents Canal meets Grand Union Canal and depending on your day's direction, there are a couple of walks you can take. Take the North East branch of the canal and you'll go past London Zoo and onto Camden Lock. The alternative is to head further West and wind your way to Portobello Road and the other colourful streets of Notting Hill. 

You're not denied colour by simply hanging around the canals, though. The boats come in different shapes and sizes, a plethora of colours and with names stenciled on their sides. 

Either route, there are a handful of waterside cafes where you can refuel and watch the world go by. If you're happy to dodge the tourists and the odd cyclist, Little Venice shows you a totally different side to the city. If you're planning to visit, jump off the tube at Warwick Avenue and enjoy the calm of the water. 

Little Venice, Maida Vale, London W2 1TH

 

Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake is so beautiful, it's hard to believe it's man-made.

You may not believe this (because this lake is so god-damn beautiful) but Buntzen Lake is actually man-made. Created in 1903, the Buntzen Lake hydroelectric project was the first hydroelectric generator to provide electricity to Vancouver. Back in the day, the lake used to be Vancouver's main source of electricity. Nowadays, the lake produces less than 0.4% of the power created by all BC Hydro generating stations. In 1972, BC Hydro completed the development of the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area and to this day still maintains the trails within the area. 

One of the most popular trails in the area is the Buntzen Lake Loop. With a distance of approximately 8km, an elevation gain of 100m and a return time of 4 hours, it is the perfect cruisey day hike. We opted to go clockwise. Follow the 'Bunzten Lake Trail' signs and you will weave along a path parallel to the water. Shortly after beginning your hike, you will reach a floating bridge. Walk across this bridge and turn right onto a gravel road. Follow this gravel road until you arrive at a pump house. Turn right again and you will be back on the Buntzen Lake Loop trail, which encircles the lake in its entirety. And about halfway through the hike, you will reach North Beach - a quieter beach compared to the one near the parking lot.

The Buntzen Lake Loop trail allows you to walk between magnificent Douglas Fir trees and mighty Cedar trees, almost through small trickling creeks and over a number of wooden bridges that look like they could be pieced together to form an old school rickety rollercoaster. All the while (or most of it), the trail offers spectacular views of pristine water, dramatic mountains and the occasional kayaker. 

Being only a 45 minutes drive northeast of the city, Buntzen Lake makes for a great day trip.

NB: A more challenging and uphill hike in the area is Diez Vistas. Suitably named as its Spanish translation is 'ten views'. We will definitely be coming back to do this one.

www.bchydro.com/buntzen_lake

Buntzen Lake, Anmore, Greater Vancouver, British Columbia

The Farm Byron Bay

The freshest paddock to plate you'll ever get.

Only ten minutes from Byron Bay is a farm-come-restaurant stepping up the food game. By joining forces, The Farm and the Three Blue Ducks restaurant deliver paddock-to-plate dishes all in one charming location.

Around the farm, you'll find chooks (the Australian term for chickens) strutting and clucking, pigs splashing about in muddy puddles in an attempt to stay cool and cows who would beat anybody in a staring competition. There is a guided tour of the farm every Saturday at 10am, but not to worry if you can't get there for then as you are free to roams the grounds on your own.

The Three Blue Ducks is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you'll have a tough time deciding which one to dine at. For breakfast, the 'Farm Bowl' holds all of the good stuff including roasted pumpkin, house ferments, quinoa toast, a poached egg and a radish salad. Some of the lunch options include Byron Bay halloumi, chilli mussels and pork gado gado. And for dinner, try some Kangaroo tartare, Southern Tablelands Lamb or Borrowdale Pork Belly. 

The farm doesn't stop there, you can even take some of it home with you - well, the produce anyway. Pick up fresh soudough loaves and pastries at the Bread Social or check out the Produce Store for a variety of veggies, free range eggs and a selection of meats.

Explore, eat and take it home at The Farm.

www.thefarmbyronbay.com.au

11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale, New South Wales, Australia, 2481

 

Lighthouse Park

Easy hiking trails with beaches, coves and ocean views in West Vancouver.

Just a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver lies a Pacific Northwest Rainforest oasis - Lighthouse Park. The 185 acres of forested land boasts some of the city's last remaining first growth Douglas Firs as well as a variety of excellent hiking trails that are easily accessible for all to enjoy. 

Lighthouse Park's coastal temperate rainforest is home to some of the tallest trees in the world. First growth Douglas Firs, Hemlocks and Redcedars are around 500 years old and stand over 200ft tall. That's a lot of age and a lot of height. Stand anywhere in the forest and these trees will tower above you whilst you're surrounded on ground level by wet moss, fern trees and other vibrant greens. Amidst all of this rainforest lies the Point Atkinson Lighthouse. Originally built in 1874 and then renovated in 1912, the lighthouse highlights where Burrard Inlet (coastal fjord) meets Howe Sound (a network of fjords). It's these kinds of fjords that make the Vancouver landscape an incredible sight to see.

Within Lighthouse Park, there are a multitude of trails through the forest but for more coastal scenes of cliffs, coves and beaches, we suggest following Juniper Loop, Shore Pine Trail, Valley Trail and Arbutus Trail. Along these trails, you'll find various viewpoints including Juniper Point, Shore Pine Point, Eagle Point, Starboat Cove, West Beach and, of course, the Lighthouse Viewpoint. At Juniper Point, you'll often see rock climbers abseiling over the edge, scaling the walls and popping their heads up as they reach the top of their ascent.

Have a look at the trail map here and get exploring.

www.lighthousepark.ca

Beacon Lane, West Vancouver, British Columbia, V7W 1K5