Monday, 10 September 2012

Sunshine? Head to the Serpentine!

If we're lucky enough to get an Indian summer this year - God knows, we haven't had any other kind - then make the most of it and head to the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

Created by keen gardener Queen Caroline in 1730, the Serpentine was one of the first artificial lakes in England deliberately designed to look natural with its long, irregular shape. I really think that one of life's simpler and more carefree pleasures is to hire a boat and potter about on the water amongst the wildfowl. Rowboats feel more traditional but don't worry if you don't know your rudder from your rowlocks; simply opt for a pedalo instead and just figure it out as you go. An hour's boat hire costs £10 for an adult - check out times and prices here:

Alternatively let the sun do the work and glide across the lake on the UK's first solar-powered ferry, the Solarshuttle.

If you're in the mood for some posh nosh, the nearby Serpentine Bar and Kitchen serves locally-sourced British food with a modern twist - but isn't cheap. Alternatively, a short saunter around the lake is the slightly less expensive Lido Cafe Bar, just the spot for an equally scenic al fresco lunch and accompanying glass of something chilled (they also have nice loos!) - or most frugal of all, pack a picnic and hire a deck chair to watch the world go by.

Suitably refreshed, mosey on over to the Serpentine Gallery. This compact and buzzy gallery is free and has regular contemporary and modern art exhibitions but is worth checking out for the Pavilion alone. For the last twelve years the Gallery has commissioned a new Pavilion building each year; this year is one of my favourites, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei - the team responsible for the architectural star of the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing National Stadium. Chill out in the semi-subterranean depths and experience the strangely muted acoustics of the cork-covered interior; the story of the ideas behind the design can be found here:

Fingers crossed, fellow sun-seekers,

Girl About Town xx

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