London Summer

The season is finally upon us. The one everyone’s been talking about, which comes with an unexpected swoop and a gleeful “woop”, of delight. Cottoned on yet?

You haven’t, have you?

In fact, you’re not even reading this article. Yes, I see you now. You are sprawled on the grass somewhere, rapturous face upturned to the sun.

I’m not jealous, because it’s summer in the City. Oh London in June. Now, I’m no Shakespeare, but shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

I love the way the days turn from winter blue to blushing August rose.  Higher Fahrenheit readings accompany the first and eagerly anticipated 99′ Flake of the season, frothing gloriously over its corrugated cone. For every absent raindrop there is now a smile in the crowd. And how can we forget the obligatory arc-shaped detour past crowds of revellers spilling out of pubs onto muggy July pavements.

Whilst Alpine walks or Moet drenched weekends on the Riviera, may be notable in their conspicuous absence from your calendars, now is not the time for lamenting. It is the time of year when the city’s at its most beautiful. Days are longer and the excuses for returning to the warm embrace of our beds, fewer. Below are some comforting weekend diversions to tempt you away from daydreams of cocoa limbs and phosphorescent bikinis.

The Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery is housed in a classic 1930s tea pavilion and nestled amongst the verdant expanse of Kensington Gardens. The gallery showcases modern and contemporary art. In the summer months the gallery commissions an adjacent pavilion in homage to cutting edge architectural talent. This year’s offering is by the award winning Japanese architect, Sou Fujimoto. Visitors can expect an ethereal latticed construction floating semi-transparent against the landscape. Take a tour of the gallery followed by a visit to the café situated within the Pavilion, hopefully sometime around twilight on a warm summer’s evening.

Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA

Duck and Waffle

Duck and Waffle is last year’s widely lauded opening on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. It is the highest restaurant in the UK and serves up a thrilling selection of unexpected dishes to surprise and tantalise your taste buds. The restaurant is open 24/7, giving it an energetic buzz and accordingly is best experienced in a group. Go in the evening, order a wide selection of dishes and marvel at the blinding panorama of a sequined London nightscape.

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

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Chelsea Farmers’ Market

Sometimes old is gold and although this is rare in the realm of cocktails and nibbles, Chelsea Farmer’s Market is a study in success. Every weekend you’ll find an orderly queue of the great and the good outside. These patrons, uniformly Rolexed and chinoed, have been seduced by the frosty promise of Pimms and Sangria, by the jugload. As for the food, it’s incidental to the social occasion, which really is the main event. There are several eateries to choose from- whether you’re into pizza, Brazillian or good ol’ hearty burgers.

125 Sydney Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 6NR

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Cellar 164

Cellar 164 is the new kid on the block in Chelsea’s bar scene. Nestled in the basement of Baku restaurant, it is both glamorous and reassuringly cosy. Its walls are adorned with the work of leading contemporary artists, most recently Rich Simmons, and the opulent marshmallow sofas make it near impossible to leave. Unusually for a bar, the food won’t let you down either, with a varied and fantastic selection of both European and traditional Azeri plates. On my last visit, I arrived hungry. This was not the peckish sort of ‘order-a-salad’ hunger, oh no- I had lamb lyula on the brain. My companion looked at me in disbelief. “And since when do you confine yourself to one type of Kebab?!” he guffawed. “Oh alright then, we’ll have the mixed kebab platter, some dushbara – and throw in some of those Blue Fountain Blazers” I muttered to the waitress.

Once you’ve cast your eye over the cocktail list, expect to find yourself ensconced in the venue’s heady embrace. This is what happened to us. The food arrived and the meat was mouth-wateringly tender. Our Blue Blazers of Hennessey Fine de Cognac and strawberry vermouth were reassuringly mellow with a tangy kick. My companion wolfed down more than his share of the dishes and in an act of appeasement ordered me a plateful of pakhlava. It was sweet, lightly spiced and tasted of childhood. We kept saying that we should really get the bill and go home, but the live DJ set kept us rooted to our seats before propelling us (with a little help from the Hennessey) into a bona fide boogie. This is a place where you could easily, like us, spend all night. Be sure to bring your friends along, because at this Azeri bar, you will definitely be getting brownie points for adventurousness and an unadulterated good time.

165 Sloane Street,  London, SW1X 9QB

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– by Hanushka Ibrahimova