Byline: ANDREW NEATHER, Connie Allfrey, Fiona Hughes, Nick Curtis, Richard Godwin
At times like this, I envy my children. My summer holidays as a child were largely spent frittering away weeks in the countryside, and indeed West Country kids summers are probably still pretty boring. My kids, by contrast, shuttle between summer drama, music and art courses, to tennis lessons, to French camp, to rock climbing to say nothing of visits to museums, parks, the swimming pool and that hidden south London gem, Vauxhall City Farm. For if London by night is an endlessly varied adults playground, by day in summer it offers children an almost limitless round of diversions.
Naturally, it takes some organisation to get kids to such activities. Some are more fun for adults than others: Id go to the Horniman Museums brilliant aquarium over the Hampstead Heath teddy bears picnic any day. You might perhaps feel the need to camouflage any overtly educational content climate change and the Science of Survival at the Science Museum, anyone? Or then again, you may be pleasantly suprised by your childrens willingness to learn when freed from the grind of Sats. And everybody wins if theyre occupied and, hopefully, worn out by bedtime.
The great outdoors Feed the animals at a city farm
Urban farmyards, one of Londons great hidden resources, are magical places for small children where they can have cows, pigs, goats, sheep and ducks eating from their hands.
At the largest of the lot, Mudchute (9am-4pm daily, Pier Street, Isle of Dogs, E14, 020 7515 0749, www.mudchute.org), you have to pay for the horse-riding at its unique equestrian centre (one hour group lessons for seven to16-year-olds start at ?15).
Surrey Docks Farm (10am-5pm Tues-Sun, South Wharf, Rotherhithe Street, SE16, 020 7231 1010, www.surreydocksfarm.org.uk) is beautifully situated next to the river.
East London has Hackney City Farm (10am-4.30pm Tues-Sun, 1a Goldsmiths Row, E2, 020 7729 6381, www.hackneycityfarm.co.uk) and theres one at Kentish Town (9am-5pm Tues-Sun, 1 Cressfield Close, NW5, 020 7916 5421, www.ktcityfarm.org.uk).
Learn Wildlife Gardening at Chelsea Physic Garden 10.30am-2.30pm, Thursday 14 August, 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 (020 7352 5646, www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk) ?5 Chelsea Physic Garden is a delightful oasis of botanical curiosities. Over the summer, it puts on family days comprising talks, activities and games. Next Thursday, Wildlife Gardening day will teach you how to make your own garden more attractive to passing wildlife. Bring a packed lunch. For seven-year-olds and up.
For action boys and girls
Have a summer of Sport at the O2 11am-10pm daily, until 5 September, O2, SE10 (0844 856 0202, www.theo2.co.uk). Free The London Piazza inside the O2 has been transformed into a vast sports arena this summer. Its the perfect place to take any nipper whos been inspired by Euro 2008, Wimbledon, the Olympics even the cricket, unlikely as that may seem. Each week sees a different sport take over the vast space tomorrow, the David Beckham Academy is sending coaches to run youngsters through drills, while next week its Olympics week, with Team GBs exploits in Beijing projected onto the big screen.
Play Laser Tag 11.15am-8.45pm, until 30 September, O2, SE10 (0844 856 0202, www.theo2.co.uk) ?5 While youre down in Greenwich, theres Laser Tag on offer, played in 15-minute bouts with high-tech lasers or lightsabers as any budding Jedi will doubtless call them.
Climb the Treetop Walkway at Kew 9.30am-6.30pm daily (7.30pm weekends), Kew Gardens, Richmond (020 8332 5655, www.apps.kew.org/trees) ?13 adults, ?12 concs, under-17s free (must be accompanied) Kew Gardens always has a soothing effect on parents but now it offers something for the adventurous kids in the new Xsatra Treetop Walkway. You begin your walk among the roots of the trees and ascend 18 metres to their branches. …