Our guide to everything worth leaving London for
Venture into the great unknown
Looking to get away (but not too far away) for a weekend outside the city? Head an hour south and you can wander through Brighton's famous Lanes, or head east to soak up the sun in revitalised Margate. If it's something a little quieter you're after then the village-paced way of life in Kingham in the Cotswolds might be just what you need. When there, make sure to stay in one of Daylesford Farm's charming renovated cottages, and get back in touch with nature with one of their seasonally-inspired floristry workshops. Alternatively, trade grey concrete for rolling chalk hills just north west of London in the Chiltern Hills. This area of outstanding natural beauty is the perfect antidote to busy city life.
Take a stroll in one of England's famous country gardens this summer and be back to London in time for tea. You won't have to stray far outside the city to reach a whole host of amazing green spaces. Head to Buckingham for a wander around Stowe Park's snaking paths, temples, and tranquil, lily pad-strewn lakes. Or tread in the footsteps of England's most famous king, Henry VIII, at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire – the stunning country residence where Elizabeth I spent her childhood. Alternatively, head south to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, an historic location in the heart of the Weald of Kent. The beautifully kept garden was designed in 1930 by Vita Sackville-West, poet, horticulturalist, and the romantic inspiration for Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel, Orlando.
London may be one of the art capitals of the world, but that's not to say there isn't a load on offer outside the capital. Combine a surfing trip to Cornwall with a visit to the Tate St Ives, where the summer programme includes figurative painter Patrick Heron's first major show in twenty years. Meanwhile, at the other end of the British Isles you can lose yourself in a world of colours at the National Galleries of Scotland's Emil Nolde exhibition, Colour is Life. Or, travel halfway and wonder at the human form in the Tate Liverpool's comparative exhibition of the works of Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman.
Whilst it's pretty safe to say none of us will ever be able to actually live in houses like these, thanks to the amazing work of the National Trust, as well as of independent houses, we do get to have a little nosey around them for a small fee. Chatworth House in the Peak District would make an excellent activity as part of a weekend trip to the area. The imposing house is an architectural marvel, and the small gallery and farm attached provide even more to browse around. For something a little closer to home, head to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, home of the Rothschilds. The manor is truly spectacular, combining High Victorian eccentricity with some of the trademark features of a French chateau.
It's summertime, so pack a bag, grab that dusty tent out of the shed, and head off for a weekend of music, good times and maybe even good weather (positive mental attitude), at one of Britain's amazing festivals. With Glastonbury taking a fallow year in 2018, it's time to look elsewhere. But with such an abundance of alternatives on offer, you won't have to look far. Having relocated to the Jurassic coastline of Dorset, Bestival will this year play host to R&B queen, Chaka Khan, alongside reggae legend David Rodigan and many more. If you're looking for something a little quieter, you might want to check out WOMAD Festival, a family-friendly summer get-together with the emphasis on an intimate, easygoing experience. Its modest size and lack of big headlining acts make it a more suitable choice for those who want the festival vibes without the stress of constantly running inordinately large distances from stage to stage to make sure you don't miss your favourite acts.