With summer finally hitting London good and proper I thought I’d share one of my favorite activities in the capital: Barbecuing in a park.
For most of us the thought of going to a park and having a BBQ would seem a little weird (especially using the small, cheap, disposable ones). But here in London, it’s a great way to spend a sunny day and once you’ve perfected the art of the Park BBQ, you won’t look back.
For the people that move into flats with a garden this obviously isn’t a problem; but for most of us our first flats are small, dark hovels with no outside space to speak of.
Now there are a few parks dotted around London that allow Public Barbecuing, but not many. The most famous of the bunch and arguably the most fun is in London Fields. If you descend on London Fields over a summer weekend you might think you have stepped back in time to the Vietnam war; bodies are strewn everywhere and smoke and shouts fill the air.
It fills up quickly as there is only one area allowed for BBQs, but this ads to the fun — with large groups of friends cooking various meats on cheap disposable BBQs all in close proximity to each other. It’s common for someone to turn up with a sound system and start blasting reggae and you’ll always find a local entrepreneur walking the crowds selling NOS with Balloons to willing punters. Luckily, the BBQ area is right near Broadway market so beer runs are not a problem.
My personal favorite time to BBQ at London fields is on a Sunday evening, when everyone is trying to eek out those few extra hours of the weekend before resigning themselves to the fact they will be going back to work the next day. It adds a touch of madness and urgency to the proceedings and you will commonly see people passed out, being helped to the toilets, or screaming incoherently to their friends. All in all, it’s a great way to wind down after a hectic London weekend.
There are two options for getting supplies. Get yourself one of the disposable BBQs and use some empty beer cans as a stand, or spend about a tenner and get yourself a portable metal BBQ — which is far superior and (after recently upgrading) I would never go back to the disposable sort. If you really want to fit in, you will also need a bike, preferably a fixie, quite a large beard and some kind of checked shirt and rolled up jeans. If you don’t own any of the above, you should probably just stay in Clapham. And if you decide it just sounds like a lot of effort to BBQ in the park you can always just pop to the newly opened Franco Manca’s and get yourself a delicious pizza for a little Italian picnic.
There is also a LIDO which you can cool off in after you have eaten your fill of meat. This gets extremely busy on sunny days, but if you are after a bit of outdoor swimming I would recommend checking it out one day. You may need to queue for a bit, but it’s worth the wait. I grew up swimming in rivers and lakes back home so the novelty of being able to swim outside in London is always welcome.
Lastly, if you really can’t be bothered to BBQ, get a pizza, or swim, you can always pop along to Broadway or Netil market, which are both next to London Fields and you’ll get your fill of delicious treats. For you guys craving New Zealand style pies, there is a pie stand selling proper Kiwi pies with potato top, steak and cheese and all the other pies you are severely missing. All in all, London Fields is a London-based kiwi’s dream.