Hyde Park Highlights for Families

Hyde Park is a lovely and welcoming London neighbourhood that is very popular with families, thanks to the quiet atmosphere, the abundance of green spaces and the great schools. Living in this part of London with little ones means weekends spent feeding the ducks, playing tennis in the park, taking a paddleboat for a spin around a lake and relaxing under the shade of a leafy tree.

There is a lot to see and do in Hyde Park for families, so here are some of the main highlights:

Go for a Swim in the Serpentine

The Serpentine in Hyde Park is one of the most scenic expanses of water on London and during the months of May to September it offers a dedicated swimming section. The water is not heated, so wait for a very warm day to take the plunge! There is a gated family area with a paddling pool, swings and sandpit so that you can sit back and watch the kids play. There are also sun loungers for hire and a kiosk where you can get snacks.

Watch the Wildlife

There are quite a few animals to spot in Hyde Park, so be on the lookout for ducks, squirrels and other wildlife. You and your kids might see butterflies feeding off the native wildflowers in the meadow, song birds including tits and dunnocks and much more. Bring the camera with you and see if you can get some wildlife shots.

Check out the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground

This commemorative playground is one of the best outdoor play areas in the Hyde Park neighbourhood and it offers plenty of imaginative structures for your little ones to play on – including a giant swing, a sea monster sculpture, a storyteller’s chair and a turtle drum. It also features toilets, a café and nappy changing facilities – so you can spend all afternoon here if you like. The biggest and most exciting play equipment is an enormous pirate ship that your little ones can climb on while pretending that they are sailing the seven seas. The ship is inspired by Peter Pan and it makes a fitting tribute to Princess Diana, who loved children.

Watch a Concert at the Bandstand

This is the oldest bandstand in Britain, built in 1869 in Kensington Gardens and moved to Hyde Park in 1886. Several open air concerts take place here throughout the year including brass bands, jazz bands and much more, so check the event listings to see if anything will be happening during your visit.

Enjoy Winter Wonderland

If you visit Hyde Park during the months of November and December you can experience Winter Wonderland – a magical attraction that will get you in the holiday spirit. A large section of the park will be transformed with a circus, a giant Ferris Wheel, fairground rides, Santa’s grotto, a cosy Christmas market and a charming ice rink. It’s free to enter and the atmosphere is magical – especially after dark when everything is lit up with sparkling lights.

Hyde Park Tennis and Sports Centre

This sports centre is located at the western side of the Sports Field at the junction between South Carriage Drive and West Carriage Drive. It features a number of top notch sporting facilities including a 6 rink lawn bowling green, 6 high quality tennis courts and a 9 hole golf putting green. There are also changing facilities as well as a café. You can simply turn up and play, or there are membership options available for regular players. There are even tennis lessons available for both children and adults.

Have a Snack at the Lido Bar and Café

The Lido Bar and Café offers a large alfresco dining area with gorgeous views along the Serpentine, a lovely spot to have lunch while watching the world go by. The café is kid-friendly and offers high chairs and baby changing facilities, so it’s a great place to bring the kids if they have worked up an appetite from playing in the park all day long.

These are just a few of the many fun things that you can do while exploring Hyde Park with your little ones.


Things to Do in Hampstead in the Summer

Hampstead is a lovely, green and welcoming district in north central London and it offers a wealth of open spaces, historical attractions as well as some of the best pubs in the area, a great café scene and a superb selection of restaurants. It is a very desirable place to live and residents enjoy the art scene, the excellent shopping and the vast green spaces of Hampstead Heath. Some of the famous former residents of this neighbourhood include John Keats, William Blake, Ian Fleming and Alfred Tennyson and these days many modern musicians, actors, writers and other celebrities make their home here within this highly desirable neighbourhood.

On a beautiful summer day, exploring Hampstead is an absolute delight. Here are a few of the fun things that you can discover:

Swimming in Hampstead Heath Ponds

Since 1860 the three wooded ponds in Hampstead Heath have been a popular place to take a refreshing dip on a hot summer’s day. There are three ponds, the Highgate Men’s Pond, the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond and the Hampstead Mixed Pond. Only swimmers over eight years of age are allowed and those under the age of 15 must be supervised by an adult. The Ladies’ and Men’s Ponds are the only open water life-guarded swimming facilities that are open to the public every day of the year – but plunging into the chilly waters is much more pleasant in the summer months!

Walking in Hampstead Heath

With a total of 320 hectares, this is the largest green space in London and it offers plenty of space for walkers and hikers to explore. Hampstead Heath is unlike the highly manicured parks of central London, it is a little more rugged as it is a remnant of the great Middlesex Wood. Author C.S. Lewis lived near the wild woodland of Hampstead Heath and it is said that local the ponds and glades inspired the scenery of Narnia. Hike up to the top of Parliament Hill and admire the view over the city of London.

Visiting Kenwood House

This beautiful Regency house is a delightful place to explore, with woodlands and gardens that are a wonderful example of 18th century landscaping. The house itself is a fine example of the work of Robert Adam, who designed much of the interior between 1764 and 1773. At the house there are works on display of art by masters such as Turner, Reynolds, Rembrandt and Vermeer as well as a famous sculpture in the gardens by Henry Moore. In the summer months there is a regular program of outdoor opera that takes place here.

Enjoying One of Hampstead’s Pubs

Another great activity to enjoy on a sunny summer day in Hampstead is to have a drink on an outdoor terrace of one of Hampstead’s excellent pubs. There are several pubs in the neighbourhood that open up their patios and offer drinks and food out in the sunshine. The Engineer is a cosy and welcoming pub with a lovely outdoor beer garden that gets very busy in the summer. The Pembroke Castle also has a very popular beer garden where you can sip a pint in the sunshine on a beautiful day.

Discovering the Home of Keats

The Romantic Poet Keats lived in a home here in Hampstead from 1818 to 1820 before leaving for Rome in the hopes of curing his tuberculosis (although he died of the disease the next year). The interior of this beautiful historic home has been restored to its original decoration, making it a fascinating historic attraction in Hampstead for literature and archecture buffs. The garden is a lovely spot to relax in and it is where the poet composed “Ode to a Nightingale.”

These are just a few of the fun things that you can do in Hampstead, London in the summertime. In the warm months this neighbourhood of London comes to life with plenty of fun things to see and do. If you live in this area or know it well, please feel free to let us know in the comments below about other activities that you enjoy in Hampstead.

Things to See in Barnes

Barnes is a lovely, small and welcoming village in London along the banks of the Thames, offering excellent local boutiques and restaurants as well as relaxing green spaces. It is a highly desirable area of London to live in and it is home to a number of high profile celebrities including actors, politicians and broadcasters. It is known for its welcoming community spirit, open spaces and lovely architecture. It only takes 30 minutes to get there from central London, but when you are there you will feel like you are in a peaceful country village.

When you start to explore the village of Barnes you will see that there is a lot to discover here. To get you started on your explorations, here are some ideas of the best things to see and do in Barnes:

Barnes Common

This beautiful expanse of open grassland is a lovely place to relax on a warm summer’s day. In the summer months, the burnet rose bursts into bloom with its rare white flowers. Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot green woodpeckers. This area is also popular with dog walkers and joggers and has football and cricket pitches. You will also find a monument built for the memory of rock star Mark Bolan, who was killed in a car crash. It was built by his brother and has been decorated over the years by many passionate fans.

The London Wetland Centre

Escape to this little bit of wilderness, where you will find lakes, meadows, marshland and gardens where birds sing, frogs croak and dragonflies glide through the air. Visit the interpretive centre to learn more about nature or take a walk to experience it first-hand. This is one of the best locations in London for birdwatching and you will have a chance to see many birds including the common sandpiper, the yellow wagtail, the kingfisher and the oystercatcher.

Barnes Green

The main focal point of Barnes Village is the green and the pond. It connects to Barnes Common across Beverly Brook and it attracts a wide range of water birds and other waterside wildlife. It is a very popular attraction with families, as little children love to feed the ducks. It is an ideal place to bring a picnic and enjoy the sunshine. Also, after you have taken a stroll in the Green you can visit the laid back and welcoming Sun Inn Pub just nearby for a refreshing pint.

Shopping in Barnes

Barnes is a lovely and quaint place to shop and you will find a great range of boutiques, home accessory shops, furniture shops and gift stores where you will be able to find shabby chic accessories and vintage furniture. For example, check out Will’s Art Warehouse that offers a great selection of contemporary art for sale. Take an afternoon to slowly stroll through the shops and see what treasures you can find. When you need a break from shopping, you can stop at one of the excellent restaurants and pubs.

Barnes Railway Bridge

This bridge is a landmark in the area and it is one of only three bridges in the city of London that combine pedestrian and rail use. It is an important point in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, as it is suggested that whichever crew is ahead at the point where they pass under the bridge will be the winner. Take a visit to this bridge to admire the design and to walk across this important part of Barnes history, built in 1849 by the well-known engineer Joseph Locke.

These are just a few of the many fun things that you can do in the neighbourhood of Barnes, London. Take your time when exploring this part of the city, when you give yourself the chance to simply wander you will stumble across plenty of cute cafes, lovely shops, fine restaurants and hidden corners of beauty.

Do you live in Barnes? What do you think are the best things to see in this London village? Please feel free to share your tips for exploring Barnes with us in the comments below.

Why Richmond, London is a Great Place to Live

Richmond Upon Thames is an exciting borough of London where there is always something going on. It is one of the most pleasant places to live in London and residents here report an approval rating of 92.4 percent – making them some of the happiest residents in the UK. If you are looking for a place to live in a great location, with a warm and welcoming community, and a laid-back village atmosphere, Richmond, London is an excellent choice.

Richmond was original a retreat for the royals and many famous people have lived here over the years, including Jerry Hall, David Attenborough, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Richard E. Grant. It has regularly been used as a filming location for a number of television series and films, including “Anne of the Thousand Days”, “Billy Elliot”, “Bugsy Malone” and “Downton Abbey.”

Although a small borough, it offers several superb schools, two theatres, a number of excellent restaurants and three cinemas. It is located in Surrey, but has great connections to central London via the District Line and Waterloo is just 21 minutes away via the fast service. Great news for commuters who work in central London yet want to live somewhere quiet, peaceful and family orientated.

So what are some of the advantages to living in Richmond? Here are a few reasons, why you should choose this London neighbourhood:

Richmond Park Offers a Breath of Fresh Air

The second largest park in London, Richmond Park boasts over 2,500 acres of peaceful green space. As you stroll through this woodland it’s easy to forget how close you are to central London. It is a wonderful asset to the area, offering quiet walking trails for residents to enjoy. It also has several cycle routes and a gorgeous view of the city from King Henry’s Mound. Keep your eyes peeled while exploring this park; you may well see some wild deer!

Orange Tree Theatre Features Top Notch Drama

If you are a theatre fan, you’ll love living within close proximity to the respected Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. This theatre offers a great range of new plays as well as classic favourites throughout the year. There is also a popular pantomime performed here every Christmas – famous resident Jerry Hall performed in the 2014 show! The Richmond Theatre offers a weekly schedule of musicals and plays performed by professional touring companies.

The Views from Richmond Hill Are Fantastic

Take a hike to the top of Richmond Hill – the views from the summit westward to Windsor have inspired many artists and poets including Sir Joshua Reynolds and J.M.W. Turner. When you need to take a break from the world and get some perspective, climbing to the top of this hill and admiring the view will help you to feel peaceful and centred again.

Richmond Has Many Museums and Galleries

If you are passionate about the arts, Richmond is a great place to live. The Museum of Richmond is a top-notch arts institution offering a superb collection and a program of educational activities. Why not check out the Riverside Gallery, which features paintings, photographs and prints from local artists? These galleries regularly host events for the public, so keep a close eye on their programs and immerse yourself in the cultural scene of Richmond.

It’s Easy to Lead an Active Lifestyle

Since a third of the borough is green space, Richmond offers many opportunities for outdoor activities – from cricket pitches to swimming pools, from fitness centres to tennis courts. Richmond is also part of the London Cycle Network; it offers extensive cycle paths throughout the area. With so many ways to get outside and exercise, it’s easy to stay in shape and lead a healthy lifestyle while living in Richmond.

There are just a few of the main benefits to living in Richmond. Do you live in Richmond? What aspects of this part of London do you love? What do you think are the reasons why this is a great place to live? Share some of your favourite things about Richmond with us in the comments below.

Famous Hyde Park Residents throughout History

The leafy retreat of Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London, created in 1536 by Henry VIII for hunting, after he acquired the land from the canons of Westminster Abbey. Property in this area of London is highly sought after and there have been many famous and influential people who have lived here over the years. Who are some of the well-known Hyde Park residents that have made this neighbourhood their home?

Sir Winston Churchill

Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill resided and died in Number 28 on the street called Hyde Park Gate (on the southern boundary of Kensington Gardens). Churchill was Prime Minister of the UK from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He was also an officer in the British Army, as well as being a writer, a historian and an artist. He was the first person in history to be made an honorary citizen of the USA and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He is thought to be one of the greatest wartime leaders within the 20th Century and is known for his radio speeches that helped to inspire the British people during World War II. This home is where he spent his retirement years, when he wasn’t visiting the French Riviera. He died at the home on the morning of January 24th, 1965 when he was 90 years old.

The Prime Minister of Qatar

One Hyde Park is one of the most expensive and rich and powerful celebrities from all over the world own prestigious addresses in the city of London and the apartments here. The best apartment on the block is an enormous three storey penthouse that is owned by the Prime Minister of Qatar, whose name is Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani.

The properties at One Hyde Park are 10 times the price of average residential real estate in London, but residents get to enjoy an entertainment suite, a stainless steel pool, a golf simulator and a spa managed by Mandarin Oriental. Other famous residents of One Hyde Park include Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian oligarch and Australian pop star Kylie Minogue.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was an English writer and one of the most famous literary figures of the 20th century. Her well-known works include “To the Lighthouse”, “Mrs. Dalloway” and “A Room of One’s Own.” She was born at 22 Hyde Park Gate in 1882 and was educated by her well-connected and literate parents at home. She lived there until her father died in 1904, which caused her to have a nervous breakdown. She suffered from depressive periods for most of her life, which affected her socially but did not hamper her literary productivity.

Sir Jacob Epstein

This American-born British artist was a pioneer of modern sculpture. Born in 1880, he became a British citizen in 1911 and produced a number of controversial and thought provoking works that challenged the taboos of the time. He lived at Number 18 Hyde Park Gate. In Hyde Park you can see one of Epstein’s most famous sculptures in a serene enclosure. It is a depiction of Rima, a bird-girl character created by author, ornithologist and naturalist W.H. Hudson. This memorial to Hudson caused a lot of controversy when it was first unveiled – the public was shocked by the nude female figure surrounded by grotesque and distorted birds.

Margaret Kennedy

Born in 1896, Margaret Kennedy was an English playwright and novelist who lived in Hyde Park Gate. She attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College and then Somerville College in Oxford. A history book entitled “A Century of Revolution” was her first publication in 1922 and she is most well known today for her second novel, “The Constant Nymph.” The story was adapted into a successful West End Play in the 1920s and was filmed in 1928.

These are just a few of the famous and influential people that have lived within the Hyde Park area of London over the years – from novelists to politicians to artists. Have you heard of any other famous Hyde Park residents who have made this neighbourhood their home? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Hampstead is a Great Place to Live

A stylish and affluent area of London, Hampstead is known for its art, fashion and beautiful architecture. Its located in the borough of Camden, north of London city centre and is close to many tube stations including Belsize Park, Hampstead, Finchely Road and Swiss Cottage. It was once part of the great forest of Middlesex and it was granted to Westminster Abbey in 1986. It remained under the possession of the church until 1550 and started to develop as a village during the first half of the 18th century.

It was popular in the 18th century due to its spa waters and has been a desirable address in London ever since. It is home to a lot of small independent retailers, including bookshops, butchers, cheese shops and grocers that have been passed down through generations. Its also home to an exceptional selection of schools.

So what are some of the reasons why Hampstead is such a great place to live?

The History

When you live in Hampstead you will have shared an address with several celebrities and famous names, including Agatha Christie, Florence Nightingale, Sigmund Freud, Kingsley Amis, poet John Betjeman and Keats. The neighbourhood has also been mentioned in many classic works of fiction – Sherlock Holmes and Dorian Gray both frequented the opium dens and there is a description of Hampstead Heath in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

The Tasty Gourmet Food

Hampstead has a wide selection of high quality local restaurants, cafes and markets that offer all of the delicious treats a foodie could ever wish for. Why not check out the light and fluffy cakes at French bistro Aubaine or the fresh fruits and vegetables at Hampstead Community Market? Mimmo La Bufala is an Italian restaurant featuring authentic wood fired pizzas whilst Jin Kichi offers some of the best Japanese food in the area.

The Park Land of Hampstead Heath

With 790 acres of woods, gardens and meadows to explore, Hampstead Heath is known as the “green lungs” of London. Living in Hampstead allows you to enjoy these lovely natural areas whenever you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a dip in the Hampstead Health ponds, visit the zoo or look for birds and wildlife. It’s a lovely place to go for a jog or walk, making it easy to stay fit and active.

The Excellent Museums

Hampstead offers a wealth of art, history and culture and there are plenty of excellent museums to enjoy in the area. You could visit the home where Romantic poet Keats lived from 1818 to 1820. The interiors have been restored and they reflect the original decoration of the property – a superb example of Regency style. There is also the Freud Museum, located within the house that Freud lived when he fled from the Nazis in 1938. It offers many artefacts from his life, offering a glimpse into the story of one of the world’s most famous psychologists.

The Transport Links

Living in Hampstead is extremely convenient; it is linked to the rest of London with many great transport options. The over ground will take you anywhere in the city quickly and is located just a ten minute walk away from the centre of Hampstead Village. The Northern Line will take you to Bank in just 25 minutes whilst the number 46 bus can conveniently get you to Farringdon. Camden and Chalk Farm are a 25 minute walk away. Also Hampstead is conveniently located for air travel; it is 20 miles from Heathrow airport and 20 miles from Luton airport.

These are just a few of the reasons why Hampstead is a great place to live. This picturesque residential area located on a hill overlooking London is one of the most sought after residential addresses in the city. As you get to know the shady tree-lined avenues, lanes and cul-de-sacs you are sure to discover many more reasons for loving this great neighbourhood.

Five Great Things to Do in Barnes

Barnes is one of the most desirable residential areas of London and is known for its strong community spirit, historic architecture and beautiful open spaces.

There are several stunning 18th and 19th century buildings , which are well preserved, whilst the neighbourhood is within a village conservation area. Despite Barnes feeling like a quiet country village, it is only 30 minutes away from central London due to the excellent variety of transport links available. As you stroll alongside the pretty riverside houses and Georgian mansions, which lay along the banks of the Thames, you will understand why it’s such a desirable location to live.

As well as elegant architecture and a refined atmosphere, Barnes also offers plenty of fun activities. There is plenty to see and do in this neighbourhood, whether you are a resident or a visitor. Here are some of the attractions, which you can enjoy in this area of London:

1.    Take a Hike on the Barnes Trail

The Barnes Trail is a scenic walk that will take you on a short circular loop along the riverside and through woodland, conservation areas and commercial streets. It’s easy to follow the trail, just look for the silver discs that are set within the ground. The route is circular so it doesn’t matter where you start and if you walk at a moderate to brisk pace, you can complete the entire trail in just under an hour. Why not leave yourself more time so that you can stop and admire the surroundings and stop at the cafes and pubs along the way?

2.    Visit the WWT London Wetland Centre

Run by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, this protected wetland consists of 100 acres of natural marshland habitat along the river. It is home to over 180 species of birds, making it a great place for an early morning bird-watching hike with your binoculars and your camera. It’s also a popular family attraction, as there are children’s activities at the centre that will get your little ones excited about nature.

3.    Check out the Olympic Sound Studios

This famous London recording studio was once host to a wide array of musical legends, including Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Led Zeppelin, and many more. This is where the Beatles recorded the original track “All You Need is Love” and is also where the Rolling Stones made five of their albums in the 1960s. The Who, The Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Eric Clapton also produced some of their best music at this famous studio. It is now open to the public and presents itself as a dining room, cinema and private members club. Why not grab a bite to eat at the Olympic Café and Dining Room, which offers a menu that features superb seasonal British produce?

4.    Admire the Art at Riverside Gallery

The Riverside Gallery offers a thought-provoking collection of original contemporary art, including ceramics, glass, print, sculpture and paintings. There is a great display of local scenes by some of the best artists of the area as well as the brightly coloured works of Bruce McLean and the richly textured landscapes of Dionne Sievewright.

5.    Soak Up the Jazz Vibe at the Bull’s Head

Overlooking the River Thames, the Bull’s Head has a long history as one of the best-loved jazz venues in London. It dates back to 1684 and it became a jazz hot spot in the 1950s when it hosted several of the best jazz greats including Shorty Rogers, Digby Fairweather, Dick Morrissey, Ben Webster Maynard Ferguson and Conti Condoli. This comfortable and welcoming venue still hosts live music and serves real ale and wine by the glass. Check out the calendar of events so that you can enjoy some great tunes.

These are just five great activities and attractions to enjoy in the neighbourhood of Barnes, London – but there are plenty more to be discovered. Why not take a visit to this area of London so that you can see for yourself what it has to offer?