Dos and don’ts for summer in the city

Please, for the love of God, don't swim in Hackney Marshes. 

Sun is in the sky, why oh why would I want to be anywhere else? Lily Allen was right — when it gets that little bit hotter, the big smoke becomes a rather intoxicating place. The spritzes are flowing, you can’t scroll through Instagram without seeing a glimpse of the pool at a certain members club, and you can’t walk down the street without seeing the belly of a pale-skinned man. Depending on your inclination towards baking hot trains and nos-canister-lined streets, we’ve either painted a picture of the perfect summer, or conjured up an image of somewhere you’d be willing to go to Malaga to escape from. With securing the time off from your “freelance creative role” becoming increasingly difficult, HUNGER has compiled a list of dos and don’ts for surviving a summer in London. 

Do go for a (midweek) swim at Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds

The emphasis here is on “midweek”. Go at the weekend and you’ll be queuing for at least ninety minutes, and during that time it will dawn on you that this isn’t a sparkling blue lagoon, but a muddy pond that, at several points in time, bodies, trolleys, and bikes have made their way into. Also, avoid the edges unless you want to feel the mud (and duck shit) that gives the pond that charming brown colour squelch between your toes. 

Don’t go to The People’s Park Tavern 

Yes, it’s got an absolutely huge outside area, but because of that very fact, it’s become Victoria Park’s answer to Leicester Square. We also don’t trust anywhere that serves Espresso Martini via a tap. 

Photo by Amadeusz Misiak on Unsplash

Don’t sit your nearly bare arse on a tube seat 

Whether you’re in a pair of short-shorts, or are still damp from a dip in the ladies pond, it’s common courtesy to pop something on the seat before plonking yourself down. Someone else will sit there later, and you don’t know who’s nearly-naked bum has been there before you. 

Don’t swim in Hackney Marshes 

We get it: it’s unfair that, unlike North Londoners, those in East aren’t blessed with having something like the Hampstead ladies pond on their doorstep. Still, never swim in Hackney Marshes. Yes, it’s “aesthetic”, but a recent report found that raw sewage was discharged in the area in 2019. A summer tan is hot, but dysentery is not. 

Do go to a lido 

Provided you go during the less busy periods, lidos like the ones in London Fields and Parliament Hill are clean, not too crowded, and perfect for practising your breaststroke. 

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

Don’t go to a lido 

Floating plasters, stray hairs, increasing your chances of getting a verruca by about 300%, and oftentimes so busy it feels like you’ve gone for a swim as some kind of medieval punishment. 

Don’t take your top off 

Dear men: even if you’ve got abs (which, let’s face it, is fairly unlikely) people don’t necessarily want a first class ticket to that. Please don’t free the nip. 

Don’t blast obnoxiously loud music in your local park 

Self-explanatory. While we’d like to say there are genres that are exempt from this rule, really anything other than your own music is going to be annoying. In this iconic sketch from Limmy’s Show, he makes a convincing argument for reggae being one of the worst contenders. Hear echoes of that while you’re trying to feed the goats at Clissold Park, and you’re going to get quite angry. 

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Don’t whip out the juggling bats and/or a diablo 

Call us crazy, but we reckon you should be able to have a sunbathe in Victoria Park without fear of getting hit in the face by a rogue juggling bat, or whatever the little thing in a diablo is called. We’re not at Green Man Festival, this is not The Big Chill, and unless there’s an ordained gathering of white people with dreadlocks, I don’t want to watch you piss around with useless objects while I’m trying to read my book. 

Do take off your festival wristbands 

Your festival wristband is there for a reason: to ensure you access to said festival. It has no use in London, and it’s probably covered in shit, piss, and the remnants of that £20 burrito you got at Glasto. Take it off. 

Don’t expect Ramsgate to be the new Broadstairs (which was the new Margate)

“I’ve heard that [insert Kent seaside town] is quite up-and-coming”. Is it now? And what is it about it that makes it this abstract quality? Let’s just cut to the chase: don’t spend forty quid on a day trip to whatever seaside town is making the rounds on Instagram that week because you’ll leave about four hours later after getting sensory overload from all the arcade machines and ripped off at a small plates restaurant. 

Photo by Ferran Feixas on Unsplash

Don’t expect the London’s “secret beach” to be anything like a beach

It’s a big lake in Ruislip.

Do day-drinking

There really is nothing better than feeling the back of your neck get sunburnt and your eyes become heavy as one Aperol spritz turns into three. Start at 2pm and you’ll be home by midnight having either already experienced your hangover, or trying to quell the nausea that’s resulted from making the foolish decision to switch pints for margaritas. 

Don’t end up doing NOS on the streets of Shoreditch

Every now and then, a night out in east has to end in Shoreditch — you can forgive yourself for that. What will keep you up for days, however, is forking out fifteen pounds for a singular NOS balloon. And no matter how drunk you are, you shouldn’t be contributing to the kind of litter that would make you do a “tsk tsk” if you saw it while strolling through a park. 

Photo by Cristiano Pinto on Unsplash

Don’t post a wanky picture of the Soho House pool

Obviously, a Soho House membership (or being friends with someone with a Soho House membership) isn’t really worth it if you can’t extensively brag about it. Still, you should resist posting a picture of the pool. It’s horribly cliche, and it’s arguably even worse if you do so in such a way that makes it seem like the pool isn’t the focal point of the picture. Like it’s just there, innocuous in the background. It’s not, is it? You want everyone to know you’re at the wankiest place in London, and that’s really sad. 

Don’t wear a backpack 

What good is there to come from wearing a backpack? Sure, you’re lessening your chances of developing scoliosis from shoving everything into your APC tote bag, but you look like a neek. More than that, by wearing one during the warmer months, you’re greatly increasing the risk of developing the kind of bacne that will make you feel rather self-conscious when you strip off at the Hackney Wick Community Sauna.

Don’t wait in line for Jolene

For the low, low price of £15, you can get a coffee and pastry begrudgingly handed to you by a sour-faced employee who’d rather be in the back working on their kombucha. You’ll also get a cool picture of the orange wall, but overall we’d say it’s not worth it. 

Don’t buy a 99 for £9.99

Nibbling on a flake while you stroll through Victoria Park is a lovely idea, but some aerated cream shouldn’t set you back more than three pounds. Have some self-respect. 

Don’t get a tuk tuk 

No matter how pissed you are after the launch of that clothing brand or that (soon to fail) app, a tuk tuk is never worth it. After ten minutes crashing through Soho to the Black Eyed Peas, you start to wonder if you’ll ever be able to shake the sounds of “Meet Me Halfway”. Worst still, the whole thing will cost you no less than £40. 

Don’t wear a dryrobe 

Unless you’re a mum who lives in Cornwall, there’s just no reason to. Take a towel, and accept that not all clothing has to be functional. Be wet. 

Do wear deodorant 

With living in a metropolitan city, there comes a certain level of responsibility. Namely, if you’re going to travel around said city via modes of transport where (typically) you’re all standing and sitting in close proximity, don’t smell disgusting. This is even more pressing when thirty degree heat is added into the mix. 

Don’t go to Boxpark for the Euros

Overpriced beer? Check. Overpriced food? Check. Annoying people who’ve travelled into London from the home counties for a “big” night out? Check. Boxpark possesses all three of the holy trifecta of what makes a shit venue in London, and for that reason you should avoid it at all costs. 

Let’s be frank. None of us Brits are used to this astonishingly hot weather, so you should be wearing factor 50, and remembering that heat stroke is no joke. Sit in the shade.

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image CreditBlazquez Dominguez