Have a spot of afternoon tea
A tradition since the 17th century, in recent years the ritual of afternoon tea has become less of a social norm and more of a luxurious treat. The crème de la crème flock to The Ritz to feast on smoke salmon sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and delicate little pastries. Teashops across the country dish up their own delicious versions, or you could make your own at home and nosh on cake and cucumber sarnies in the garden.
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Put on your tennis whites
Strawberries, cream and sunburn are all British institutions at Wimbledon, where the big names of tennis battle their way to game, set and match. The UK is also full of academies and clubs offering lessons and court hire, and there are lots of well-maintained courts in parks where you can play for free. As the summer approaches and evenings get longer the sport is a fantastic way to get fit outdoors.
Head to the park for a summer picnic
The National Trust have announced their top 20 special places to picnic in the UK, and the list is bursting with gorgeous national parks, stately homes and elegant gardens where you can lay out your blanket and feast on strawberries. A long-time British summer pastime loved by Jane Austen’s heroines, you can add a wicker basket and a bottle of champagne to make lunch extra special, or just wrap up some sandwiches and head to the park.
Go boating on the river
Go gongoozling or skipper a skiff this spring. Boating is one of the oldest British traditions and enjoyed by millions over the summer months every year. From rowing on Lake Windermere to canoeing in Pembrokeshire, punting on the Cam or meandering down a Somerset canal on a houseboat, there’s a myriad choices available for exploring the UK’s stunning coasts and rivers.
Get lost at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Kew Gardens are one of London’s best-known treasures, and a green haven for country-loving city workers in need of some chlorophyll. The bluebells are out in force in the garden’s fields at the moment, although you might get sidetracked on the way to see them by the 131 acres housing more than 30,000 kinds of plants that Kew curates, as the flowers and blossom make for an explosion of colour in the spring.
Create a masterpiece with watercolours
Painting a British landscape is surely one of the most peaceful pastimes the countryside can offer, and is an idyllic way to spend a summer’s day. Sit in a secret spot or head to a park to capture the public at play.
Tour the Royal Residences
It doesn’t get much more regal than a tour round a royal palace. Get an insight into how the monarchy lives with a trip to one of their castles, palaces or stately homes. Our favourite is Windsor Castle, which has been a royal residence for 900 years and contains priceless works of art as well as Queen Mary’s incredibly over-the-top dolls house, complete with working plumbing.
Nosh on proper fish and chips
Named as number one in a recent poll of the best-loved things about Britain, beating even the Queen to the top spot, a portion of proper fish and chips is a culinary triumph. The trick is to get hold of really freshly caught fish and just-made hot crunchy chips, all wrapped up in newspaper, and then eat it by the sea. Three of the best in the land are Taylor’s in Tonypandy, the Townhead Café in Biggar and Broughton’s in Buckinghamshire.
Go horseriding in the great outdoors
A fabulous way to get around the countryside is on the back of an obliging horse, and there’s no need to be a privileged pony owner to get in the saddle. Thousands of public horse riding stables dotted around the country offering lessons and guided treks that are suitable for any level. Some of the loveliest hacks you can take are in the New Forest, where you can ride among the park’s semi-wild ponies.
Take a dog for a walk
Man’s best friend is a perfect excuse for getting out and about in the countryside. The British are famous world-wide for getting mushy about our four-legged friends, and between us we own more than eight million pooches. Now that winter’s over and the evenings are warmer there’s no excuse for you both getting some exercise. You could even finish up in a dog-friendly pub.