Stuff for free

If you are looking for free activities to do out and about in South East London, there’s plenty to do for little more than the cost of the bus fare…

…..A good place to start is Greenwich. It’s in walking distance in you feel energetic and just a 10 minute bus ride away if you’re not.

Greenwich has the river and a great Royal Park, and at the top of the park is Blackheath. All are free, beautiful green spaces where you can enjoy the scenery and people watch all day if you wish. There’s plenty of space for children to run around, climb and play, and the views are inspiring. There’s also the museum and the grounds of the Royal Naval College to wander through. Its like being on a film set. With a packed lunch, a bottle of water and a book to read you can have a virtually cost free day out.

London Bridge and the surrounding area, as well as being one of the most historic places in London, is just oozing with life and stuff to see. You can head one way towards Borough, and take in history and sites dating back to Dicken’s time and beyond, or you can enjoy the most up to date modern architecture in the form of the Shard. You don’t need to spend £25 going up the Shard. Just by standing back and craning your neck you can get a good idea of the building. With its’ 87 floors, 44 lifts and 11,0000 windows, its the tallest building in the European Union.

The new Borough Market is worth a look even if you don’t give a tinkers about the posh and expensive food they sell there. The market itself is an interesting new building attached to the old Victorian market.

Exit the other side of London Bridge and you’re on Tooley Street and the river is just ahead. Go over to the GLA building and sit in the Scoop, the open air ampitheatre. Here there’s loads of free entertainment throughout the summer. Visit www.morelondon.com to get up to date information of what’s happening at the Scoop.

Next you could wander down to Tower Bridge. There is so much to see off the main streets. Soak it all up, its free!

The Horniman museum and Park at Forest Hill both are free. One contains an array of dead stuffed animals, including its now famous over stuffed walrus, and the other contains some delightfully live animals including goats chickens, alpacas, guinea pigs, sheep and rabbits. The gardens are beautiful and its all for free. There are a couple of really good charity shops nearby, so grab yourself a bargain.

What about Battersea Park? And when was the last time ou made the effort to go to Regents Park or Richmond Park? Both are a trek, but totally worth it. You’ll feel like you’ve had a holiday without even leaving London. I dare you to do something you might not normally do! What about some open air free opera? You don’t have to know anything about opera to give it a go. Many operas were not written for the rich, they were written to entertain ordinary folk. So pull yourself together and give it a try. Check out www.roh.org.uk/about/bp-big-screens for the full programme. Take a picnic, sit back and enjoy.

Check out your local libraries. New Cross Learning and Deptford Lounge. Both have the free, fun, summer reading challenge activities on offer. Great fun for kids.

Street Performers at the Southbank and Covent Garden are always good for a laugh, or just to admire. These wonderful performers busk with their weird and wonderful acts, entertaining us for free (or for a few pence if you’re feeling enthused). From fire eaters to comedians, from silver statues to string quartets, all along the Southbank and Covent Garden there are entertainers galore and what a sight they make!

Museum of Childhood in Bethnal green. Get the overground from New Cross Gate to Whitechapel. Exit the station and turn left, wind your way though the Whitechapel street market and turn left when you get to the Cambridge Health Road. Walk up and its on the opposite side of the road. If you’ve got kids with you you’ll all have fun. Over the summer holidays that have loads of extra activities on for children, arts and crafts and story telling.

Hackney City farm – with a bit of planning you can get over to Hackney to see the donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and guinea pigs, chickens, duck s and geese. It’s well worth a visit. During the summer holidays they have lots of other entertainment and fun. To find out how to get there visit their website www.hackneycityfarm.co.uk.

Closer to home, visit Peckham Rye and Nunhead cemetery – both walking distance. Peckham Rye is a wide open green space, with beautiful gardens, and a playpark for children. Nunhead cemetery is an overgrown and shady place with old winding paths where only the birdsong and the crunch of dry twigs underfoot can be heard.

A rucksack, some sandwiches, a couple of apples, and a bottle of water, and you’re off!