In the series of what a great city London is and what a great part of this city we are lucky enough to reside in, Hampstead Heath has to feature strongly. Before moving here, I'd only been to the Heath a couple of times when visiting friends. In those days the children were small and I was more concerned about keeping the toddlers in sight to appreciate the beauty of this vast green space in the middle of the city.
Also, the press the Heath gets outside of London is not always positive. I'm sure my mother-in-law would be horrified if she thought we spent any time on Hampstead Heath as she knows it only for its reputation with certain kinds of nocturnal activities.
But in the past few weeks I've been truly surprised how excellent the Heath is for everything from dog walking, playing with kids, kite flying to swimming.
|A beautiful red kite|
There are several swimming ponds, including a separate one for just ladies (although not the Little Britain kind of ladies...). The great Liberty London Girl wrote about the Ladies' Swimming Pond on her blog a few months ago but I couldn't really get the sense of it until I saw it with my own eyes.
If you don't feel that energetic - or brave now the air is getting cooler - you can just sit on a bench on the Heath and read a paper, or go and have a coffee in several of the outdoor and indoor cafes, do a bit of bird-watching or even go foraging.
Which is what my good friend and I did quite early last Sunday morning, when we took part in something called 'Fungus Foray' organised by the Heath & Hampstead Society. It was hosted by Andy Overall from the London Fungus Group, who knew everything there is to know about mushrooms.
|Andy showing us some very poisonous fungi|
|Me with a cep. Please note this was early on a Sunday morning...|