I'm a country lad at heart, and I find summer in the city somewhat depressing. I'd like to be more outdoorsy and fit, but I'm not really one for organised sport. Do you have any suggestions for nearby summer weekend activities?
Don't despair! London is the greenest of all the world's large cities and there are ample opportunities for outdoor fun. Look no further than Hyde Park, which has served as an urban respite for centuries. (Londoners even camped here in 1665 in an effort to escape the Plague.) Nowadays, the famous Rotten Row maintains its tradition of horse riding, though the local stables are pricey at about £50 an hour. For cheaper thrills, take a swim in the Serpentine Lido (£3.50) or rent a rowboat or pedalo (£5 an hour). Other well-loved activities in Hyde Park include inline skating and golf putting, with equipment available from the Sports Centre at the western end of the Park near the Royal Albert Hall. And on Sundays, turn up for the famous Speakers Corner if you enjoy the sport of debate.
Of course, Hyde Park's popularity is evident on the weekends when it is flooded with recreation-seekers. For a more rural escape, head to Richmond Park, which is well known for the red deer that roam its woods. Richmond Park is ideal for a rugged bike ride or a hike along one of its overgrown paths. Cycles are available for rent year-round. It is also possible to fish here, but you do need to obtain a permit from the Park beforehand.
These are only a few of the possibilities available in London's hundreds of parks and gardens. For more ideas and booking information, check the The Royal Parks website, or the Parks website of your local borough. There's plenty of space in London for a country lad!