Dispatch from London: hello grass, strawberries, “pop-up” sculpture and a world premiere

The season for the grass has arrived even if there may still be pretty pink blossoms in some places.

The grass feels greener in this year when we feel extra joy about roaming the outdoors.

What this means, if you are in London, is that the Wimbledon tennis season is upon us.  But wait, rumours are that strawberries are running out!  (Wimbledon on its part has taken upon itself to say that it is ordering the same amount of strawberries even if the number of expected visitors will be lower due to government restrictions.  Fear not …)

If you don’t like tennis (or strawberries), there’s art in the open air.  The annual Serpentine summer pavilion is back and has just opened (and will be there until 17 October).  This year’s Serpentine Pavilion artist is architect Sumayya Vally and consists of a main pavilion made from cork and cement-treated timber supported by a recycled steel frame and intriguingly includes four satellite pavilions at locations around London (New Beacon Books in Finsbury Park, The Tabernacle in Notting Hill, the Albany Arts Centre in Deptford and Valence Library in Barking and Dagenham).  (It’s rather exciting that sculptural art is bringing attention to neighbourhood bookshops and libraries in London!)

We always recommend walking along the river!

You can even go to a concert by the Thames; outdoor concerts of the annual Hampton Court Palace Festival take place in the Tudor Courtyard of the 16th century palace that is Hampton Court Palace. Enjoy a picnic in the beautiful East Front Gardens before the performance.

Or, summer opera is back, and you can go Russian (Grange Park’s Ivan the Terrible) or German Romantic (Glyndebourne’s Tristan & Isolde) if you don’t like the usual Italian fare, and picnic in the open-air on the grass is included in the experience.  If you are looking for something even more different, there’s Pauline Viardot’s version of Cinderella, Cendrillon; and if you are into contemporary political operas, there is a world premiere (also at Grange Park) of a dark offering: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko, in which fund manager turned composer Anthony Bolton explores the 2006 London murder by Polonium-210 poisoning of the former KGB officer who was one of Vladimir Putin’s more annoying critics.  If the idea of a musical in an Edwardian opera house close to the Peak District National Park appeal, or, perhaps as an excuse to go for a wonderful drive, there’s Sondheim’s A Little Night Music on offer at the Buxton International Festival.

If you are into other kinds of music, the Independent Label Market is returning!  68 labels will be there on 11th July at Coal Drop Yards – just across from King Cross – and DJ sets from artists and labels will also happen throughout the day.  A summer “get-together” is our word du jour.

Finally, a dispatch from our fashionista friends in Milan about a most colourful summer going-on caught our (slightly green though not Wimbledon-green) eyes: in a post-Covid flourish, a top-tier designer has just hosted a fashion show at a disused railway line.  Italian brand Etro’s “Travelling in a Joyful State of Grace” had the models literally “hitting the road” with a boho-meets-glam wardrobe with metallic trousers paired with silk shirts and colourful suits with wide-legged trousers of various lengths.

Joyful. It. Is. 

Ode. to. Open. Air.