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Monthly Archives: July 2015
  • Posted on July 31, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    With the glorious Great British Bake Off’s return to our screens imminent, we’ve definitely got baking on the brain. Naked cakes have been served up at weddings all season, so we’re predicting they’ll be a strong presence in the Bake Off tent this year. You can just imagine Mary and Paul being presented with showstoppers the likes of these, can’t you?

    But if, like us, you find these beauties a little daunting, why not start small? Hannah Miles’ latest book Naked Cakes is full of bakes of all sizes, styles and flavours so there really is something for everyone here. So we thought we'd share a recipe with you, by way of an introduction to naked baking! And if you’re taking part in your own bake off, we reckon you’d be onto a winner with these mini Victorias. So pretty. 

    Mini Victoria layer cakes

    One of my favourite cakes is a classic sandwich cake. In fact, I don’t know anyone who will refuse a slice of Victoria sponge! These cakes are my mini version, and are elegantly topped with rose buds and sandwiched together with cream and jam. You can replace the cream with classic buttercream if you prefer, although I find fresh cream gives a lighter, less-sweet finish to these little cakes. The rose buds are for decoration only and should not be eaten. If you want to serve an edible decoration, top with crystallized rose petals instead.

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    115 g butter, softened

    115 g caster sugar

    2 eggs

    115 g self-raising flour, sifted

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 tablespoon buttermilk or sour cream

    300 ml double cream

    4 tablespoons raspberry jam

    icing sugar, for dusting

    8 food-safe, pesticide-free mini rose buds

    8 x 6.5-cm/2½-inch cake rings, greased and placed on a greased baking sheet

    2 piping bags fitted with large round nozzles

    Makes 8

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    Use an electric whisk to mix the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the eggs and whisk again. Fold in the flour, baking powder and buttermilk or sour cream using a spatula, until incorporated. Use as directed in your recipe.

    Fold the vanilla into the cake batter and divide the mixture equally between the prepared cake rings. You can do this either by spooning the batter in, or by putting the batter in a piping bag and piping it in neatly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown and spring back to the touch. Leave the cakes to cool in the rings for a few minutes, then remove by sliding a sharp knife around the inside of each ring. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

    When you are ready to serve, whip the cream to stiff peaks using a whisk. Spoon the cream into the piping bag with a round nozzle/tip. Cut each cake into thirds horizontally using a large serrated knife. Spoon a little jam onto the bottom third of each cake and then pipe a swirl of cream on top. Top each with the middle slice of cake and a little more jam and cream. Finish each cake with the cake top and dust with icing sugar. Pipe a little cream on the top of each cake in the middle and fix a rose in place. The flowers are for decorative purposes only and should be removed as you cut the cake. Never eat floral decorations unless you are certain it is safe to do so.

    Serve straight away or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. As these cakes contain fresh cream, they are best eaten on the day they are made, although they will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

    Naked Cakes by Hannah Miles is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, Hannah Miles, recipe for the weekend, sweet, cake, Great British Bake Off, 2015, naked cakes

  • Posted on July 30, 2015

    Hey, let's get coffee!

    We’re feeling very grateful for our pals today… work friends, school friends, old friends, new friends, friends we bump into in the local shop and friends we travel miles to see. So, to mark the International Day of Friendship, we’ve got a lovely extract from The Joy of Friendship by Louis Blyth – we picked this because it really reminds us how special our close friends are and is making us all look forward to the next meeting. If you’ve got nothing in the diary, then what better day to pick up the phone or drop an email and say; “Hey, let’s get coffee”?

    Two coffee mugs illustration

    Meeting up with friends is uplifting and something to look forward to. When we meet with friends our cares slip away. We know that we are in safe company, can be our true selves, and can let go of our responsibilities for a while. Friends will listen to what we have to say (usually) without judgment, and care about us regardless of our mistakes (almost always), giving us time just to be ourselves.

    Some people are very good at mixing their friends while others prefer to keep the different areas of their lives quite separate, but often at the core there will be a small group of people. These are the friends whom we can count on to make us laugh, and to listen to us. They will help us to think positively and look forward when the going gets tough. Even when we phase out for a while, it is easy to tune back in again the next time we’re in contact.

    Telephone Illustration

    When friends are happy, we share their joy; when they are suffering, we feel their pain and want to help. We share their emotions because in many ways it feels as if our friends are an extension of ourselves. Our lives are the richer for sharing time with them.


    The Joy of Friendship

    The Joy of Friendship by Louis Blyth is available here. Have a lovely evening everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK and was tagged with coffee, mind body spirit, friends

  • Posted on July 28, 2015

    Jazz up your Phone!

    The problem with phones these days is they all look the same – 30 kids in a class probably means 30 near-identical smartphones. But Dress Your Tech by Lucy Hopping is on hand to help you customize and individualize. So whether your own phone needs a bit of jazzing up, or you need your child’s phone to stand out in a crowd, why not get the kids to put their phones down for a moment and have a go at this super easy washi tape phone case project?

    Washi Tape Phone Case Cover


    Clear plastic cellphone case cover for your model

    Thin white cardstock


    Assorted washi tapes



    Black fineliner pen

    Craft knife

    1. Draw around your phone case onto the cardstock, including any holes for the camera lens. Cut out the shape 1/16 in. (2 mm) inside the outer line so that it will fit inside the case. Cut out the camera lens hole exactly on the line.

    2. Turn the cardstock over and use a pencil to sketch out the hanging lines for the bunting flags, using the photograph as a guide for positioning.

    3. Mark triangular flags onto the washi tape that are approximately ½ in. (12 mm) wide. Allow four per color so you can mix and match them. Cut the flags out.

    4. Stick the flags along the bunting lines, arranging the different colors randomly. Outline each with a black fineliner pen so they stand out from the background. Draw the bunting lines in with the black pen.

    5. Insert the cardstock piece into the phone case, then pop in your cellphone.

    Et voila! One unique phone case! This project and loads more can be found in Dress Your Tech by Lucy Hopping, which is available to pre-order here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, summer holidays, crafts for kids, Lucy Hopping, kids, quick, keep kids busy, 2015, mixed media, washi tape

  • Posted on July 24, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Well, what a dreary end to a lovely week! If the grey skies have put you in a bit of a grump today then this hot and sour fish soup from new book, Oodles of Noodles by Louise Pickford, will certainly perk you back up. Topped with a cooked salsa and filled with delicious Laotian flavours, this noodle soup is just perfect to liven up your Friday evening and kick start the weekend. We think it would work well for a sunny day lunch too, just when you fancy something light and full of flavour. Now, where’s my pestle and mortar?

    Hot and Sour Fish Soup

    Hot and sour fish soup

    Unlike those of its neighbours, Lao cuisine tends to be sour and salty rather than sweet, sour and salty like this one. The addition of the roasted tomato salsa adds a fiery heat to the soup and a light smokey flavour. This would traditionally be made with river fish such as catfish or carp but you can use whatever fish you like.

    200 g/9 oz. cellophane noodles

    6 kaffir lime leaves, torn

    1 large red chilli/chile, roughly chopped

    2.5 cm/1 in. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

    1 lemon grass stalk, trimmed and roughly chopped

    2 garlic cloves

    1.5 litres/2½ pints Chicken stock

    2 shallots, finely chopped

    500 g/1 lb. fish steaks or fillets, such as striped bass or bream

    50g/1 cup spinach, torn

    4 tablespoons Jeow marg leng (see recipe below), plus extra to serve

    freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

    2 tablespoons fish sauce

    a bunch of fresh coriander/ cilantro

    Serves 4 


    Soak the noodles in a bowlful of hot water for 10 minutes until softened. Drain well, shake dry and set aside.

    Put the lime leaves, chilli/chile, ginger, lemon grass and garlic in a pestle and mortar and pound together until fragrant – it should still be quite bitty. Transfer this paste to a saucepan set over a medium heat and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 20 minutes until really fragrant.

    Add the shallots and simmer for 5 minutes, then carefully add the fish fillets and cook gently for 4–5 minutes until cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spinach, jeow marg leng, lime juice, fish sauce and coriander/cilantro. Cover with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.

    Divide the noodles between bowls and carefully spoon the fish on top, pour over the soup and serve at once with extra jeow marg leng.

    Cooked Chillies

    Jeow marg leng 

    A cooked tomato salsa that is wonderfully spicy and smokey. It works well stirred into soups or alongside noodle salads.

    6 large cherry tomatoes

    6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

    1 large shallot, unpeeled

    1–2 small red bird’s eye chillies/chiles

    ½ teaspoon caster/granulated sugar

    1 spring onion/scallion, trimmed and finely chopped

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander/cilantro

    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

    1teaspoon fish sauce

    Serves 4 


    Heat a stovetop ridged grill pan over a medium heat until smoking and then grill the tomatoes for 15–20 minutes until completely charred and softened.

    Set aside to cool, then peel and discard the blackened skin.

    Repeat with the garlic cloves, whole shallot and chillies/chiles, cooking them until the skins are charred and the flesh softened. Allow them to cool, then peel and discard the skin. Chop the vegetables and put in a pestle and mortar. Pound to a rough paste.

    Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar, spring onion/scallion, coriander/cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce. Store in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks and use as required.

    Oodles of Noodles by Louise Pickford

    Oodles of Noodles by Louise Pickford is full of wonderful recipes for classic, Asian-inspired dishes. Find out more here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, savoury, soup, recipe for the weekend, noodles, 2015, healthy

  • Posted on July 20, 2015

    Be the best player in the park this summer!

    It’s the first non-school day of the summer holidays and as we sat in our London office this morning, we couldn’t help but feel a teeny bit jealous of all the kids and teachers enjoying a day off! But don’t worry; ever cheery in this office, we quickly turned the green monster into a brainstorming session for kids’ activities, so this is the first of many exciting ideas we’ve got for you to enjoy over the next six weeks! Taken from the new book, My First Football Book, we’ve got a few tips to make sure you’ve got the skills to be the most awesome player in the park. So, if the sun’s shining tomorrow, then get your boots on and try your hand (or your foot!) at some of these ball controlling techniques...

    Girl playing soccer in field

    There’s no point learning how to kick the ball if you don't also know how to control it when it comes to you. Sometimes the ball will come right to your feet, other times it will bounce high or land a distance away. You must learn how to control it and trap it using your feet, your legs or your chest. Only then will you be able to pass it on safely to one of your team-mates.

    Controlling a football illustration

    Trap the ball on the ground

    One way to stop the ball is to trap it dead. You can do this either when it’s rolling along the ground towards you (quite easy) or when it bounces at your feet (much trickier). In both cases, bring your foot down firmly on top of the ball, just in front of you, wedging it between your sole and the ground. Don't lift your foot too high or the ball will pass straight under it.

    The only problem with trapping the ball like this is that you have to move your foot down and off the ball before you can pass it to a team-mate. This takes valuable time, especially if an opponent is coming in to tackle you.

    Controlling a football illustration

    Control with your feet

    As the ball comes towards you (either along the ground or in the air), use the side of your foot to take the pace (or speed) off of the ball. You do this by bringing your leg back slightly to cushion it to a stop (instead of stopping it dead). Use your arms to keep yourself balanced.

    If the ball is in the air and you control it properly, it will then drop to the ground where you can use your foot to stop it moving.

    Controlling a football illustration 

    Control with your thigh

    Often the ball will come to you at tummy height. Lift up your thigh and use it to take the pace (speed) off of the ball, bringing your thigh down and back slightly to cushion the ball (instead of stopping it dead). Keep your body and head above the ball, and use your arms to keep yourself balanced. The ball will then drop gently to your feet.

    Controlling a football illustration

    Control with your chest

    Sometimes the ball will come to you after bouncing really high. Often, the best way to control it is with your chest. Keep your elbows close to your sides and your forearms facing forwards so that you don’t accidentally touch the ball with your hands. Arch your back and lean back slightly. Use your chest to cushion the ball (instead of stopping it dead). If you then move your shoulders forwards the ball will drop gently to your feet. Be careful the ball doesn't bounce up into your face.

    Teenage boys playing soccer

    These tips are taken from the new book, My First Soccer/Football Book. Find out more or buy the book here.

    My First Soccer Book  My First Football Book


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with summer holidays, cico kidz, kids, my first series, football, activities for kids, 2015

  • Posted on July 17, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Schools out! So as the summer holidays are inching closer and the sun’s getting brighter we thought a kid-friendly bake would be just the ticket for a summertime treat with a glass of ice-cold lemonade. From the brilliant new book, The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin, these Malteser Cookies are just too tempting, even for the baking master!

    “I always promise myself that I won’t pick at them before they even get into the mixture, but I have yet to keep that particular promise!”

    We don’t blame you Liz, they look delicious!

    Maltesers Cookie from The Cookie Jar

    Malteser cookies

    80 g tablespoons butter, softened

    130 g soft brown sugar

    1 egg, beaten

    150 g plus

    2 tablespoons plain flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    130 g Maltesers

    2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment

    MAKES 18-20


    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

    Beat in the egg. Add the flour and baking powder, and bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.

    Eat two of the Maltesers and then add the rest to the cookie dough. Take another two Maltesers from the packet to make up for the two you have just eaten and eat those as well to keep the weight as it is. Try to be good and push any strays that fall out of the mixture back in.

    Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space for spreading between each one.

    Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are golden and firm.

    Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes or so, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or cookie jar and eat within 3 days.


    The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin

    For more tasty treats to bake with the kids (or without!) then check out The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, chocolate, summer holidays, kids, recipe for the weekend, sweet, 2015

  • Posted on July 16, 2015

    The New Rules of Golf

    As the Open Championships begin, young Jordan Spieth, at the tender age of 21, stands on the brink of golfing history. Putting to one side how old/unaccomplished this makes me feel, golf seems to be shaking the old-man image. Happy Gilmore approach to putting? Fine! Tipple after the first hole? Absolutely! In The New Rules of Golf, Dominic Bliss has helpfully collected all of these New Rules together, and if Spieth really does want to shake the Woods comparisons, maybe he should pick up a copy! Here are some of our favourites!

    New Rule Number 6


    Golf balls do not have ears. Shouting ‘Sit down! Sit down!’ while your shot flies sky-high over the green is utterly pointless. It’s about as useful as giving your ball a little kiss before you tee off. As a spectator, addressing the ball while it’s in the air is equally forbidden. Do not become one of those idiots who yells, “In the hole!” at the top of his voice every time Tiger Woods bashes it down the fairway. Shouting “Mash potato!” is even worse.

    New Rule Number 9


    Even the most liberal of golf-club managers will raise an eyebrow should you crack the booze before you’ve teed off the first hole. Not that there’s anything wrong with drinking and driving. Part of golf’s brilliance is that it’s one of the very few sports where you can imbibe with impunity during competition. In fact, a few swift ones may even help settle your nerves.

    New Rule Number 21


    Our wonderful sport has given rise to some highly inventive slang terms. The New Rules of Golf require you to use these terms liberally and always in a suitably derisive tone. For example:

    Army golf: your first shot goes left, your second shot right, your third shot left; left, right, left, right…

    A Pharaoh: buried in the sand

    A Ryanair: it flew okay, but landed miles from the destination you wanted

    New Rule Number 24


    Yes, we all know Tiger Woods has a fluffy tiger on his driver. But he’s Tiger Woods. You are not. And for that reason you are not permitted a novelty head cover. It is invariably uncool.

    And one that’s very important for playing golf in Scotland…

    New Rule Number 41


    Pretty self-explanatory…

    The New Rules of Golf by Dominic Bliss is available here.

    Enjoy the Open, and happy putting!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with gift, humour, Dominic Bliss, 2015, sport

  • Posted on July 13, 2015

    Bastille Day Wine

    In celebration of Bastille Day, we’re looking to our favourite French lady for some top tips. Whatever you’re after, bubbly, a lovely red or something a little bit unusual, Isabelle Legeron MW and her Natural Wine cellar have got you covered with the pick of French wines! Santé!

    La Ferme des Sept Lunes, Glou-Bulles

    Rhône, France, 2011

    Gamay (Pink)

    Light-bodied Bubbles

    I can literally drink gallons of this stuff. The ultimate picnic companion, and great for summer drinking, it is soft and juicy. Like many great growers, La Ferme des

    Sept Lunes is all about polyculture: the grapes rub shoulders with apricot trees, animals, and grains.

    *No added sulfites

    Raspberry | Nutmeg | Cotton candy (candy floss)


    Domaine Julien Meyer, Nature

    Alsace, 2012

    Sylvaner, pinot blanc

    Light-bodied White

    Although it has many organic and biodynamic farms, Alsace is still reliant on a heavy-handed use of sulfites, which means that growers like Patrick Meyer are few and far between. On taking over the estate, Patrick started eliminating enzymes, yeasts, et al, because, as he explained, it just didn’t make sense. Today, he is an inspirational grower, with soils so alive they are said to remain warm even in winter. Nature is one of the most accessibly priced natural whites: light and fragrant, its texture is almost honeyed, though bone-dry.

    *No added sulfites. Filtered

    Jasmine | Kiwi | Anis

    Le Soula, La Macération Blanc L10

    Roussillon, France, 2010

    Vermentino, macabeu

    Medium-bodied Orange

    Gérald Stanley is a young, talented, and extremely dedicated producer who, after joining the project in 2008, turned Le Soula around completely. Today, thanks to Gérald’s influence, the wines have blossomed into stunners that each year express more and more of the emotion of their home. This blend of varieties, which are grown on poor, extremely low-yielding, decomposed granite soils at some 1,600ft (500m) altitude, was Gérald’s first stab at making a skin-macerated white. Delicious and compelling.

    *Total SO2: 25mg/L

    White peach | Dry sage | Almonds


    Domaine de L’Anglore, Tavel Vintage

    Rhône, France, 2011

    Grenache, cinsault, carignan, clairette

    Full-bodied Pink

    Beekeeper-turned-winemaker Eric Pfifferling is perhaps the reference when it comes to pinks. He makes some of the most exciting rosés around and they are famed for their ability to age. His Tavel Vintage is pleasurably drinkable, but with a power and weight that put it in a league of its own. Intense, long-lived, and a little zesty, this is rosé at its most profound.

    *Total SO2: 10mg/L

    Tangerine | Cinnamon | Gingerbread

    Henri Milan, Cuvée Sans Soufre

    Provence, 2010

    Grenache, syrah, cinsault

    Medium-bodied Red

    Located near the popular holiday destination of St Rémy de Provence (made famous by Van Gogh, who spent a year in an asylum there), the family domaine was taken over by Henri Milan in 1986, having wanted to be vigneron since the age of eight when he planted his first vine. After a disastrous first attempt at no-added-SO2 winemaking, which wreaked financial chaos for him, Henri’s butterfly range is today a hugely popular, very-easy-drinking, no-sulfite red; a bestseller in the United Kingdom. Pure and fragrant.

    *No added sulfites

    Spicy cherry | Violets | Damson

    To help you with the information here, for each wine, you’re given the Domaine name and the name of the wine, followed by the wine region and year of production. Isabelle then gives the grape varieties and the colour, and finishes up with sulphite levels and the all important aroma profiles. So, whatever you’re drinking to celebrate Bastille Day, we hope you have a great one!

    Natural Wine by Isabelle Legeron MW is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, UK and was tagged with drinks, wine, 2014, Isabelle Legeron, natural wine, France

  • Posted on July 10, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’re all thinking about holidays at the moment – some of us having just been away and some of us heading off soon – and it’s put us in the mood for seafood!  So today’s recipe is a delicious crab and chilli risotto that we think will make a lovely dinner over the weekend, served with a glass of something cold and white. Cooking with crab might just invoke memories of holidays as a kid, crab fishing on a busy harbor… or failing that, the wine and good grub will no doubt send your thoughts off to holiday land too. Have a great weekend folks!

    Crab and Chilli Risotto

    crab and chilli risotto

    risotto al granchio e pepperoncino


    about 1.5 litres/6 cups hot Seafood Stock, Fish Stock, or Vegetable Stock

    100 g/7 tablespoons unsalted butter

    3 shallots, finely chopped

    2 celery stalks/ribs, finely chopped

    400 g/2 cups risotto rice

    1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

    1 bay leaf

    150 ml/2⁄3 cup dry white wine

    250 g/8 oz. fresh white crabmeat (or frozen and thawed)

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    to serve

    4–8 crab claws, cooked and cracked

    4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


    SERVES 4


    Crab makes a delicious risotto, especially when speckled with red chilli. Although fresh crab is preferable, it’s a bit fiddly to prepare and fishmongers sell frozen white and dark crabmeat which is very acceptable for this recipe. I like to stir in the creamy dark meat at the end, but this may not be to all tastes. Serve topped with crab claws for a dramatic and tasty garnish.

    Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt half the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the shallots and celery. Cook gently for 5–7 minutes until soft and golden but not browned. Add the rice, chilli and bay leaf, stir until well coated with the butter, translucent and heated through. Pour in the wine and boil hard until it has reduced and almost disappeared. This will remove the taste of raw alcohol.

    Begin adding the stock, a large ladleful at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don’t let the rice dry out – add more stock as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm. This should take 15–20 minutes depending on the type of rice used.

    About 5 minutes before the rice is ready, stir in half the crabmeat. When the rice is cooked, taste, season well and stir in the remaining butter. Remove the bay leaf. Fold in the remaining crabmeat, being careful not to break up any lumps. Cover and let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax, then serve immediately, topped with the crab claws and lots of chopped flat-leaf parsley.


    Risotto by Maxine Clark

    For more delicious risotto recipes, check out the new book Risotto by Maxine Clark, available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, risotto, 2015, crab, summer

  • Posted on July 7, 2015

    Cycle Sporting London

    We don’t know about you, but for us, July seems to be packed with loads of really excellent sporting events! We’re loving Wimbledon (and not only because of this delicious Pimms Float – our new favourite drink). Over the weekend the Tour de France kicked off AND the US Women’s football team won the World Cup, beating Japan 5-2. Tomorrow England take on Australia in the first Ashes test! Phew! Just listing all these massive events makes us tired, but if you’re made of hardier stuff, why not take on Cycle London’s epic 40 mile tour of Sporting London!

    Sports Ride

    With so much open space needed, sports stadia tend to be built out in the suburbs, so expect to clock up the miles on this tour of London’s greatest sports venues. And, when you start to tire toward the end of your 65-km (40-mile) epic, spare a thought for the sportsmen who sweat it out every day of the week at the places you’re visiting. They do 64 kilometers in their sleep.

    DISTANCE: 64.4km (40 miles)

    START: Stratford

    FINISH: Wembley

    Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

    LONDON E20 2ST

    It makes sense to start your London sports tour at the vast venue that hosted the 2012 Olympic Games. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in Stratford, includes the Copper Box Arena, the Aquatics Centre, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, and, most importantly for you, Lee Valley VeloPark with its 8km (5 miles) of mountain bike trails and 1.6km (1 mile) of road track. Here, you can follow in the tire tracks of some of the world’s greatest cyclists. (Unfortunately, the main Olympic Stadium isn’t open until 2016.)

    Now head up to Victoria Park, follow the cycle route west across the park, and join the Regent’s Canal as far as Hoxton. Take New North Road, which eventually reaches the home of Arsenal Football Club.

    Arsenal Football Club


    Step into the Emirates Stadium, as part of your Arsenal Museum and Stadium Tour, and it’s difficult not to be awestruck by the huge sweep of shiny red seating and the beautifully curved sides of the bowl structure. Tours include the home changing room (you won’t believe the size of the team bath), the players’ tunnel, the directors’ box, the press lounge, and dugout beside the pitch. On the Legends Tour, you’ll be guided by former Arsenal greats such as Charlie George, Kenny Sansom, or Lee Dixon.

    Now head southwest along Camden Road, through Camden Town, and skirt along the top of Regent’s Park, before briefly joining the Regent’s Canal.

    Lord’s Cricket Ground


    It was all the way back in 1788 that the Marylebone Cricket Club (now based at Lord’s Cricket Ground) first devised the endlessly unfathomable rules of cricket, that quirkiest of English sports. Now a major international cricket venue, Lord’s is also home to the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum. An official Lord’s Tour will include the tiny Ashes urn (surely sport’s most bizarre trophy), the Long Room (with lots of cricket-themed art), and even the sparrow that was done for with a particularly vicious ball from Indian bowler Jahangir Khan in 1936. Said sparrow is now stuffed and preserved all eternity.

    Drop down the Edgware Road, cross Hyde Park, exiting at Queen’s Gate, and head south as far as the Fulham Road. Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club, is down this street, a mile on the right.

    Chelsea Football Club


    Much like Arsenal, Chelsea’s stadium tour includes dressing rooms, players’ tunnel, pitchside dugouts, and the press room. Marvel as you imagine the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry soaking in a post-match bath. Where the tour really scores is with the museum’s interactive exhibits and audiovisual gadgetry.

    Cross the Thames via Wandsworth Bridge and wiggle through Wandsworth Town until you reach the top of King George’s Park. Follow the cycle route to the southern tip of this park and cut across to Wimbledon Park, exiting on Wimbledon Park Road, close to the gates to the All England Lawn Tennis Club.



    Officially known as the All England Lawn Tennis Club, this is the venue for Wimbledon, tennis’s most famous tournament. Highlights of the museum and tour include clothing and shoes worn by former champions, the chance to view the famous Centre Court close-up, and a holographic ghost of tennis bad boy John McEnroe “in the very changing room he once used.”

    Now head west, crossing Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, and the Thames (at Teddington Lock), before turning north to Twickenham.

    Twickenham Stadium


    Home to English rugby union (for the uninitiated, that’s the more famous 15-a-side version with scrums), Twickers, as it’s commonly known, has both a museum and a stadium tour. Nose around the England dressing room, the medical room (where those gruesome rugby injuries are treated), the players’ tunnel, the 10,000 objects on display in the museum, and a great view of the stadium from the top of the stand. You’ll be flabbergasted by the size of the place—with a capacity of 82,000, it’s the biggest rugby venue in the world.

    Now cross back over the Thames at Twickenham Bridge and follow the Thames Path as far as Kew Bridge, before heading due north as far as Wembley Stadium.

    Wembley Stadium


    Thanks to its mammoth arch (over 427ft/130m high), you’ll spot this sporting landmark—the home of English football—from miles away. The stadium tour allows you all the usual changing room, dugout, and player tunnel stuff, but an extra highlight is the chance to climb the 107 trophy winners’ steps and brandish the FA Cup, like some of England’s finest footballers before you. (Sorry, it’s only a replica.)

    Phew! Think you've earned a pint! Enjoy the sport this summer, and happy cycling!

    Cycle London by Dominic Bliss is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK and was tagged with bike, summer holidays, 2014, bicycle, biking, football, Wimbledon, cycling, cycle, Dominic Bliss, healthy, sport, London

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