London in the summer is just brilliant. When the sun shines it becomes a whole new city and the inhabitants come out to play and enjoy life for a brief while.
I was reminded of this again last weekend when I attended a Diana Krall concert at Kenwood House at the invitation of friends. It was a really balmy evening and we – along with thousands of others – came dressed in shorts and t-shirts, loaded with picnic hampers and cooler bags.
We were met at the gates by smiling promotional girls handing out free ice creams as we made our way past the house itself and down to the concert area. Set in beautiful landscaped parkland in the midst of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House is one of the must-see visitor attractions in London.
This elegant villa, built in the early 17th century but remodelled in the 18th century, houses a superb collection of paintings, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough and is also the location for many a film shoot including Notting Hill and 101 Dalmations.
But we weren’t here for the art or the film sets, we were here to listen to Mrs Elvis Costello. Picnic blankets were spread out as far as the eye could see and the popping of champagne corks sounded like a constant 21-gun salute. The posh picnickers sat on Burberry blankets and handed around silver trays of salmon and cucumber sandwiches (no crusts) while others made do just sitting on the grass and eating Marks & Spencer ready meals. It didn’t matter, everyone was going to get equal treatment when the main attraction performed.
And just as the sun was starting to dip below the horizon, on she came, blonde and bright and breezy and … brilliant!
There’s something about sitting in a park, on a deckchair, on a warm summer’s evening, sipping chilled rose and listening to seriously good music. It reaffirms, it reassures and it makes you realise that summertime is indeed good and the living is indeed easy. Even if only for a few hours.