Coronavirus has dominated headlines across the world over the past few months as many of us make adjustments to the ‘new normal’. At the time of going to press, England has begun to ease some of it’s lockdown restrictions, allowing gatherings of up to six people outside and some (socially distanced) sports.
We’re entering a British summer time like no other in living memory, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put a complete hold on your summer activities. It’s important to stay safe and abide by the rules, but there’s still plenty of fun things to do with family and friends. Many of us are discovering a newfound appreciation for the nature right on our doorstep, so why not use this summer to make the most of the outdoor spaces near you? From a luxury picnic in the park to discovering local wildlife, read on for some of the best outdoor activities to enjoy during the summer months.
England is home to an abundance of forests and woodland and spending time amongst the trees has proven benefits for both our physical and mental health. Check a website such as the National Trust for nearby woodlands or trails in your area. There may be more than you expect, even in urban city areas.
Woodland offers plenty to enjoy for all ages; see how many different types of wildlife you can spot, look for unusual plants or wildflowers, or simply enjoy a peaceful walk and soak up the atmosphere. Exercise in woodlands (such as walking, running or cycling) has also been shown to relieve symptoms of stress and depression, as well as reducing high blood pressure.
Fewer cars, planes and public transport has led to drops in air pollution across the globe, so what better time to look for the stars? Bright city lights can make it more difficult to see constellations clearly, but if you’re able to drive, head for the countryside to see stars in all their glory.
If you can’t get to the countryside then you should still be able to see some stars from your back garden. Lay down a blanket, bring a thermos of cocoa and some snacks, then lie back and enjoy. If you want to take things one step further then invest in a telescope; they vary hugely in price but you can pick up a beginner’s model relatively cheaply. The National Trust has some useful stargazing tips here, such as gazing before the moon is full.
Wild swimming is another way of saying swimming outdoors in a natural pool of water, such as a river, lake or the sea. You can choose between salt water (the sea) or freshwater (like a lake), the choice is up to you.
Regular wild swimmers are keen to share the many benefits of this activity, including reduced stress levels, increased physical fitness and a better connection with nature. It’s also a great deal of fun and the perfect way to cool off when the temperatures rise.
You don’t need much to get started, a regular swimming costume is fine, but bear in mind that the water will be colder than man made pools. If you’re thinking about wild swimming regularly then you might want to invest in a wetsuit to keep you comfortable all year round. Goggles and a swimming cap are also a good idea, as well as the usual things like a towel and a change of clothes. Check out a site such as the Outdoor Swimming Society for more tips, news and wild swimming events near you.
A picnic in the park is a staple of British summertime and with many restaurants currently still closed, a picnic might be the closest we get to a meal with friends. Don’t despair however, as a picnic can be just as special as a meal out and it’s the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful sunshine.
Banish images of soggy sandwiches and warm lemonade, as picnics can be a luxury affair if you’re prepared with the right equipment. Pack a linen tablecloth or wool blanket to sit on and this can also be used to protect china plates during transportation. Paper plates and plastic cups are easy and convenient, but they generate a lot of waste and don’t conjure up that luxury picnic feel.
Look for finger food such as olives, crudites, dips, bread, pâté and deli meats, alongside staples like scotch eggs and scones. If the picnic is with your household then you can share larger dishes like couscous or potato salad, otherwise stick to individual foods and your own plates. For drinks, prosecco or champagne adds an instant touch of luxury, or pack delicious homemade lemonade or elderflower cordial.
If you want to simplify things slightly, then you can’t beat an al fresco cheeseboard. Pack some good quality crusty bread, chutneys, grapes and a range of cheeses. The types of cheese will depend on your personal preference, but a good place to start is one hard cheese, one soft, one blue and one aged variety.
Lockdown has seen a boom for the cycling industry, with bicycle manufacturers and shops across the UK noting a surge in demand. With many people working from home and avoiding public transport, it’s not surprising that we’re rediscovering a love for two wheels. With fewer cars on the roads and cleaner air too, conditions are perfect for long bike rides this summer.
Look for scenic cycling paths near you, or simply pack some water and snacks and enjoy exploring your nearby area. Cycling is a great way to discover local spots and hidden gems that you may have missed and it’s a good way to boost our physical and mental health.
Camp at home
You might not be able to visit popular beauty spots, but why not bring the great outdoors to your own backyard? If you have the space then set up a tent in your garden and enjoy a camping adventure close to home (plus you’ll have easy access to all mod cons). This activity is particularly fun if you have children and it’s a great way to introduce them to camping if they haven’t been before.
Set up your tent with plenty of cosy blankets and pillows, plus a torch, snacks and anything else you might want such as books and games. Camping in the backyard is also a perfect way to enjoy stargazing (as mentioned above) and many children will love the thrill of trying something new.
If the neighbours don’t mind then you could also make a small fire to toast marshmallows and keep warm once the sun goes down.
Fun in the pool
At the time of writing, pools remained closed, but if you don’t fancy wild swimming you can bring the pool to you. Paddling pools aren’t just for children, and if you have the space, you can set up a pretty large pool right in your back garden. Many retailers sell inflatable pools or hot tubs that are on the larger side and there are many available that won’t break the bank.
Create a tropical, pool party atmosphere with lanterns, paper chains and string lights, or add fun kitsch props like inflatable pool floats or garden ornaments. Add some speakers, plenty of cocktails and some platters of summer snacks and it’s almost like you’re on holiday.
An al fresco picnic is one of summer’s great joys, but it all depends on the right products. If you’re looking for high quality milk, cheeses, cream or eggs, get in touch with the team at Freshways. We’re proud to be the largest independent processing dairy in the UK and all our milk comes from cows farmed in the United Kingdom.
Our wholesale products are stocked by a wide range of cafes, restaurants, bakeries and hotels across the country, giving you everything you need for your next outdoor adventure. As well as dairy products, we also stock juices and bread products from a range of leading brands. For more information about any of our products or services, give us a call today or visit our website.