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Great ideas for a bank holiday in London

The UK has so few national holidays that we treasure those 8 bank-holiday Mondays sprinkled throughout the year; and, with May having a greedy 2, you have to make sure you make the most of your long weekends – even if it typically rains, as we all know it will!

As the Spring bank holiday is only few days away here’s what we did on the last May Day bank holiday to give you a few ideas for what you can do with yours:

Friday evening after work I met up with some friends at the Bunch of Grapes pub in London Bridge. It’s a typical British pub with a good sized beer garden out back and lots of comfy chairs upstairs, and it also serves food. It’s really handy for London Bridge station (make sure you take the Borough High Street exit) and there are plenty of other pubs nearby if you fancy turning it into a pub crawl; The Globe Tavern is just across the street, the one Bridget Jones lived above in the infamous film. And the river is only two minutes away with plenty of restaurants or for a pleasant a stroll and some fresh air after a few too many pints of ale.

Saturday we took the train to Stonebridge Park to visit the biggest Hindu temple outside India. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, or the ‘Neasden temple’ for short, is a beautiful and exotic masterpiece of intricate Indian stonework crafted from Italian marble and Bulgarian limestone. There is a great value souvenir shop on site, an ‘understanding Hinduism’ museum and opposite is the Shayona Indian restaurant and general store (great for things like coconut and almond oil or herbs and spices for cooking your own authentic curry). And if you visit late on Saturday afternoon you can witness the communal arti or prayer to the deities and will no doubt be invited to join the communal dinner afterwards – wholesome and tasty vegetarian food for free while nourishing your soul in spiritually inspiring surroundings!

About 7pm we sped back to south London, quickly got dolled up in our going out gear and headed to Brixton to meet friends for a night of dancing at the famous music venue the Academy. When that finished at 2am we went to Plan B for after-hours partying until 6am. Yeehaa, living it to the max baby!

Sunday was, of course, a day of rest; relaxing in Brockwell Park, Herne Hill and feeding at The Florence pub.

Monday we headed back into town and spent a few hours at the National Portrait Gallery. All museums in London are free (except for special exhibitions) so you can wander around for hours or expand your mind in just 5 minutes if you wish, without any pressure. We stayed for a few hours, then walked up Charing Cross Road and mooched around the 10 or so books stores there. Afterwards, we called by Chinatown for some noodles and then took our seats in the historically and architecturally significant St Martin in the Fields (the first recorded reference to a church in the location was in 1222) on Trafalgar Square for a rendition of Vivaldi Four Seasons.

What could you ask for: a little something for everyone in one culturally fun-packed bank holiday weekend!

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