New Year on Point Hill
That's the hillabove Greenwich, west of Blackheath, with one of the finest views in London. A grassy plateau edged with trees drops steeply away to provide the perfect panorama across the inner city. From Docklands past the Shard to the Elephant, with Wembley Arch in the background, plus the enormous bonus that the London Eye appears face on. All you have to do is stand close enough to the railings to be able to see, because otherwise the lawn here's unhelpfully flat. It is therefore wise to arrive before ten to twelve if you want a decent spot, which I didn't, so I got to stand behind "the tall man in the woolly hat". Many drove and left their cars on the heath, others walked up from the houses below and stood good-naturedly, bottles in hand. A few premature fireworks exploded in the distance, fired by chronological incompetents, as the Eye pulsated on the horizon. Someone started a ten second countdown, and unbelievably it was precise, which has never happened anywhere else I've stood outside for New Year. The Embankment erupted with a silent flash, too far away to be entirely impressive, but clear enough that we still felt connected to the heart of the action. A handful of other displays burst forth, the largest somewhere over Rotherhithe, but most of London made a very lacklustre attempt to compete with the official show. Glasses clinked, couples hugged, and eventually a chorus of Auld Lang Syne went up. For ten minutes we watched, or attempted to as the wind blew the Mayor's smoke in our direction. Then finally the action faded, followed several seconds later by the rumble of gunpowder dissolving into silence. Some stayed to drain their glasses and enjoy the occasion with friends, others headed off across the grass and back to the comforts of home. It's certainly one of the most civilised places I've seen in a New Year, and one of the easiest to get to, but do arrive early if you want to see 2014 explode in style. See also: from theEmbankment, from Parliament Hill, from Primrose Hill, from Princes Street
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.