The Great Outdoors in London
Beer gardens can be found everywhere, but to enjoy the best ones, you need to be in the know. After a walk around Hampstead Heath, relax in The Spaniards Inn – writers Charles Dickens, John Keats, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron were regulars, while the highwayman Dick Turpin’s father was the landlord. The gastropub serves hearty pub lunches, as well as Scotch eggs and cheese boards. It also hosts barbecues in the garden, which is allegedly haunted – look out for a ghostly female figure in white! The yard has a fairy-lit tree and a pergola (www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk).
If you’d rather spend the day by the river, then check out The White Swan opposite Eel Pie Island in Twickenham – not far from Richmond. The 17th-century gastropub has regular live music and quizzes. If you have a sweet tooth, sip Prosecco or Pimm’s, or try some of the eight draught lagers and ciders. Grab a seat on its terrace balcony or perch at a table made from a cask in the pretty garden. The deck has boats tied to it, bobbing on the water, and rowers passing by (www.whiteswantwickenham.co.uk).
If you’d like to mingle with locals, head to the People’s Park Tavern beside Victoria Park in east London, which is popular with twentysomethings and the odd cocker spaniel. Occasional barbecues, table football, weekend DJs and bunting in all shades of the rainbow create an energetic vibe. The friendly pub is also a microbrewery, so don’t miss out on trying a few of of its home-brewed People’s Pints (www.peoplesparktavern.pub).
If the weather is hit-and-miss but you still fancy sitting outside, head to The Prince at West Brompton Crossing in Fulham. The self-service restaurant has hundreds of seats set around a deck with a clear, retractable roof, while its beautiful pergola drips with wisteria and pink flowers (www.theprincelondon.com).