Interested in liberating your inner pagan? My advice? Ignore the dawn traffic jams in Wiltshire, and head to one of these fabulous prehistoric spots below instead, which are perfect for witnessing the start of the longest day of the year.
Firstly, I like to head to the Scottish island of Orkney, home of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising ceremonial enclosures, a stone circle, and at least 13 prehistoric burial mounds. But if you want to go wilder than Orkney, make a trip to the Outer Hebrides, where you'll find the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis. This impressive stone circle might be recognisable to younger family members, or parent's like me as it has been featured in the Pixar movie, Brave, which is constantly on replay in my household.
Castlerigg in Cumbria is another one of the country's most picturesque stone circles, sitting on top of a low hill and surrounded by higher peaks. Finally, if you must go to Wiltshire, head 40km north of Stonehenge to the town of Avebury, location of the largest stone circle in Europe, and Solstice venue of choice for druids wishing to escape the popularity of its better known neighbour.
Another quintessential hallmark of the English summer is, of course Wimbledon. So what do we know about the famous tennis tournament, apart from its location? Below are my 5 unfamiliar facts that will get you Wimbledon ready.
While these days the royals tend to keep to the side of the court, in 1926 the future King of England, King George VI partook in the Men's Doubles. Despite his heritage, he and his partner were knocked out in the first round.
Also, the woman's singles are well named for more than a description of the game; it's been almost 35 years since a married woman, Chris Evert-Llyod won the trophy.
Another famous hallmark of London are pigeons, they are kept at bay during the championships by a Harris Hawk called Rufus.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is so called because croquet was its original draw. While now a croquet lawn is kept as a nod to tradition, it was the first game to be played at the club, and the most popular until tennis was introduced in 1875.
Finally, the first Wimbledon singles champion, Spencer Gore in 1877, proclaimed then that "lawn tennis will never rank among our great games." - Little did he know hey!
Carrying on with the great British theme, nothing says English Summer like berries and cream. Here's my take on that most delicious of summer foods. Creamy, tangy, sweet, and refreshingly healthy! I love using raspberries and blackberries but strawberries make a great seasonal alternative. I also like to add some lime zest for a fresh twist.
These frozen yoghurt popsicles are a fantastic alternative to ready-made ice-cream bars; they're low in fat and high in calcium. While they take a couple of hours to set, the actual preparation is no more than a few minutes. This recipe is taken from my book The Balanced Diet.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Freezing time: at least 2 hours
Wheat free, Gluten free, Vegetarian
You will need 4 ice-lolly moulds
You will need:
- 150g raspberries or blackberries (or a combination)
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 350ml low-fat natural yoghurt
- Set a small handful of berries to one side. In a food processor, blitz the remaining berries with the syrup, until you have a fairly smooth puree.
- Add the yoghurt to the mashed berries, stirring gently to create a swirly effect.
- Stir in the reserved berries, being careful to keep them whole.
- Spoon the mixture into the ice-lolly moulds, ensuring you divide the whole berries as equally as you can.
- Place in the freezer. Leave for at least 2 hours, or until frozen solid.
For more delicious recipes like this one, both Jennifer Irvine's recipe books can be found on Amazon here.