Cool Off This Summer
Feeling hot, hot, hot? We Brits love to moan about the weather, but when it comes to the heat sometimes it really can get a bit too much. As great as the warmth of the sun on your skin is, finding somewhere to go or something to do that will cool us off for a little while is equally blissful. We’ve rounded up a fine selection of cool (in all senses of the word) activities to take part in that will ensure your hot August doesn’t make you boil over.
Kent’s beaches are by far and away one of the county’s most famous features. With over 350 miles of beautiful coast, Kent is the place to be if you want a good old-fashioned day at the beach to beat the heat. If it’s too hot to do much else than eat ice creams, paddle, or even swim in the sea, and stretch out on the golden sands of Kent’s fabulous beaches, then why fight it? No matter where you are in the UK, you are never far from a beach, relatively speaking. It may be a drive or train ride away, but, whether you properly plan it or grab your bucket and spade on a whim, a day at the seaside is a treat that can’t be rivalled.
There are over 50 great beaches in Kent, including Ramsgate Main Sands, Dover Harbour Beach, Botany Bay, Sandwich Bay, St Mary’s Bay, Margate Main Sands, Greatstone, Joss Bay and Minnis Bay.
What a treat! It isn’t just children who love the taste of ice cream – adults are pretty fond of it too. And when it comes to a hot summer afternoon when the air is heavy with heat, the sound of that ice-cream van jingling around the streets is a heavenly one. Ice-cream vans are incredible creations, but they aren’t the only places to get some amazing tasting ice cream. We’re lucky enough in Kent to have some incredible ice cream producers ourselves.
Solley’s is a family run business that has been producing creamy, tasty ice cream for over 30 years. Only the best ingredients are used in their products, and the award-winning ice cream makers source their milk and cream from a herd of cows who live only a mile away. Now that’s local. The success that Solley’s have had with their ice cream means that they have been able to open an ice cream parlour in Deal where you’ll find sumptuous banana splits, sundaes, and 18 different flavours of ice cream.
Simply Ice Cream is another superb ice cream producer from Kent. Handmade in small batches using all natural and local ingredients, Simply Ice Cream is something special. There are no artificial colours or preservatives here, no additives, just the real thing – fresh, seasonal fruit and ingredients.
Kent Life, that gorgeous farm that offers tractor rides, lovely teas, and a glimpse into Kent’s past, even has an ice cream festival. It starts on 28th August, and is a chance for you and your family to sample a variety of different ice creams, chocolates and other goodies.
The lido…is it a peculiarly British thing? An outside swimming pool with facilities, or part of a beach that’s specially roped off, the lido is the place to go for a refreshing dip. It’s also the place to go to relax, laze about in the sunshine, and generally do nothing much at all except have one of those incredible days that seem to fill up with lovely, luscious memories that stick around long after the summer’s gone and your sun tan has faded.
In Kent we have a number of excellent lidos, which is good news if you want to cool down somewhere a bit more regulated than the sea, but still outdoors. Gillingham Strand Leisure Pool is problem the best known of them all – it’s certainly the one that draws the biggest crowds. Back in 1994, the old pool (which was over 100 years old) was refurbished and new life was given to this superb place. Tonbridge pool could also be called a lido, and there is Faversham pool as well. Just up the road in London, we have Charlton Lido, and in Sussex you’ll find Pells Pool. We’re surrounded, so keeping cool is easy.
If you want something a little more grown up when it comes to great ways to cool down in the hot weather, why not indulge in a cocktail or two? Cocktails are classy, and in Kent there are loads of bars and pubs that will make you the perfect margarita or cosmopolitan – or pretty much anything else you can imagine. A fabulous cocktail sipped in the sun is an elegant and luxurious way to keep cool.
The Beckenham (in Beckenham, unsurprisingly) is where award-winning bartender Tony Adams plies his trade. Once named world champion in cocktail making, if you want the good stuff, this is the place to come to. The Kent in Gravesend is a cocktail bar and nothing else – it’s cocktails all the way here, which means they definitely know what they are doing. And they do it very well indeed. The Mu Mu Cocktail Bar in Maidstone is a quirky place to enjoy a unique tipple – with throne sofas, works of art, and opulence at every turn, you can treat yourself to a refreshing drink here and really feel special. Other great bars include Olivers in Rochester, Teatros in Canterbury and Zingara in Bexleyheath.
Chilling alcohol brings out its flavour, so the colder the drink is, the better it will taste. And as for what the coldest cocktail is, you might want to opt for a good old martini – this can be chilled down nicely…whether it’s shaken or stirred.
If there is anything guaranteed to make you feel chilly in the height of summer it’s ice skating. Silver Blades in Gillingham is open all year round, and whether you’re a novice or an expert, you can enjoy a day out here. All equipment can be hired, all information will be given, and you can also hire an instructor for a little while to really get you going. Practice makes perfect when it comes to ice skating and at Silver Blades you can book an intensive course to teach you how to glide along the ice in no time this summer.
If ice skating isn’t your thing, have you considered curling? At Fenton’s Rink in Tunbridge Wells you can learn the art of the sport and watch matches take place. You can even book a curling party – let your friends and family come in from the heat and cool off for a while too!
More ice! But in the absence of winter, ice really does the trick when it comes to lowering the temperature. At the Ice Bar in London, you can book yourself onto an ice-sculpting course wherein you are able to carve cold creations out of huge blocks of ice. Experts will be on hand to guide you, and you might come away with a brand new skill. If not, at least you’ve kept cool.
The Ice Bar itself is a great place to hide away from the heat. It is kept at a steady, bracing -5oC all year round. You can only stay there for 40 minutes and you’re kitted out in a thermal cloak and hood, but those 40 minutes will be the most refreshing of your entire day (and the drinks are pretty good too).
Although you might not feel like it, eating a hot curry will make you feel much cooler. It works by increasing your body temperature in line with the atmosphere, so you don’t feel the warmth quite so much. Of course, your tongue might be feeling it, but at least you will be more comfortable everywhere else.
Kent is home to some exceptional curry restaurants, many of them award winning. Spice Club in Sevenoaks is one of these top restaurants, as is Cinnamon Square in Hildenborough, Kathmandu Valley in Tonbridge, Turmeric Gold in Tudeley, and The Spice in Tunbridge Wells. What do these great restaurants have in common? Fresh produce, locally sourced wherever possible, and dedicated, experienced chefs to cook it all. What a delicious way to keep cool.
No, we’re not talking about the London Underground here – that’s the last place you want to be when it’s boiling hot. We are actually talking about going underground in a literal sense at a variety of attractions all across Kent. Being beneath the earth’s surface is a good way to keep cool – assuming the walls around you are made of stone, so where in Kent can you go underground safely and have a good time while you’re doing it?
Dover Castle is one of the answers. English Heritage’s fascinating castle is home to both the World War II underground tunnels, and the underground hospital. Both are truly interesting places to visit, and both are chilly compared to being up in the open air. In the summer heat, it’s an ideal activity and if you’re learning some of Kent’s amazing history at the same time, you’ve got a bonus into the deal.
Margate’s intriguing Shell Grotto is another option. Discovered by accident in 1835, the marvellous Shell Grotto is a natural work of art that you are welcome to wander around. Chislehurst Caves may also provide some respite from the heat – join in a guided tour and discover more about what lies beneath your feet.