Staycation: Tuscan Picnic
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It's fairly clear that nobody has a clue what will happen when we leave the EU but one thing's for certain: we'll never be able to holiday in Europe again. With that in mind, we're doing a staycation series with a very European feel to it.
You could call it tenuous, but you could also decide to embark upon a wild continental adventure without leaving town - the mind is capable of so, so much. First up, Italy via Hampstead.
1. Load up on the good stuff
First things first, you need to fill your hamper/ruck sack/ plastic bag with all the good Italian stuff you can carry - don't even think about scrimping on those salad pots at M&S (though they are delicious). Giacobazzi's Deli has been about for 30 years and is a real treasure trove of Italian treats, where you can get some garlic and rosemary focaccia, pecorino nero cheese, kalmata olive pate and whatever else you fancy.
2. Work up that appetite
Sure, Tuscany isn't known for its lakes but that's a minor detail in the beautiful picture we're painting together. Stroll through the heath and make your way to the mixed or single sex ponds, depending on how you feel. You'll either be wearing supremely tight speedos or a designer one-piece that really complements your mahogany tan. Take a dip and splash about a bit, but with class. Remember where you are (Tuscany).
3. Make for the pergola for picnic
You could stay on the cramped, busy hill with the riff-raff but you're better than them. Let's take you somewhere a little classier: the Pergola Hill Garden, where many a stilted wedding picture has been taken. Wander through the overgrown, faded grandeur of the pergola and then find a spot all for yourself on that soft grass. This is when you liberate all the delicious foods you've packed and plunge headfirst into a decadent, billy big balls picnic.
4. Sip on some wine al fresco
We know what you're thinking, but stop thinking it. Spain isn't too far from Italy and this inn, around since 1565, has a fair bit of history. You know where else has history? Tuscany.
By this point, you're deserving of a couple of glasses of the white stuff. No, not white lightning, white wine. The beer garden here, surrounded by greenery and with ample seating, is one of our favourites in London. Sit back and enjoy. Stroke a dog or two. Speak with an Italian accent.
5. Buona notte with some gelati
It's definitely been a day of indulgence so far and we see no good reason to stop there. You're on holiday after all - going all in is part of the package. As you roam the narrow winding paths of beautiful Hampstead in twilight, seek out Oddono's - a popular spot home to fresh and natural Italian gelato. Depending on the temperature, either go for the pistachio gelato, the mango sorbet or have yourself a warming hot chocolate. What a day eh?