"If you wanna find love then you know where the city is..."

A hive of activity, the buzz of excitement in the air, countless possibilities and stories to unfold... The city is a place of energy and opportunities, whether you embrace the hustle and bustle or want to retreat from the fast-paced life for a moment. happiful explores just a few of the activities and places you could go to find your inner-city haven

Urban Mindfulness

City-dwellers might love the buzz of urban living, but sometimes you need a moment of peace and clarity. You can rise above the noise by visiting The Roof Gardens in London, and the best bit – it’s completely free.

The Roof Gardens London

Flamingos? You’re talking our lingo!

Divided into four sections, you can travel the world without stepping foot outside of Kensington. The Spanish Garden is based on the Alhambra in Granada, with a relaxed Mediterranean vibe and striking Spanish colours. The Tudor Garden transports you back in time, with stunning stone arches and large umbrellas protecting crisp white tables – perfect for a nice cup of tea. The English Woodland section is alive with crocuses, snowdrops and bluebells, and has resident wildlife including ducks and four flamingos. No joke!

The gardens are a sought-after location for private events and weddings though so they do suggest phoning ahead to make sure you’re not left disappointed.

Get Some Park Life!

City parks are a great place for summer socialising and mindful pleasure. There’s family-friendly activities on offer at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham when an all-weather inflatable show dome pops up from 12–30 July for In the Night Garden Live. Immerse your little ones in the theatrical spectacular as their favourite TV characters magically come to life before their eyes.

ParkLives is a nationwide initiative that provides people with access to free, fun activities in their local parks. Their website lets you search by postcode for events near you, and can include Zumba classes, Tai Chi, archery and even donkey grooming.

Tai chi in the park

Tai Chi in the park

The huge popularity of park runs means there’s almost certainly a local run for you. It’s a great way to start the weekend with a burst of adrenaline and some feel-good endorphins. With a supportive atmosphere, and the chance to challenge yourself weekly, park runs are a fantastic way to get your blood pumping, and it’s all for free.

If you’re in London on 12 July, head to Hyde Park for a massive two-hour scavenger hunt. You can run around solving clues about the natural world, the history of the park, and discover ways to ‘“get creative”. It’s for over-18s only, so no kiddies allowed, but we’re sure your childish enthusiasm will come out to play. Wherever you are in the UK this summer, get yourself some park life (it’s got nothing to do with your Vorsprung durch Technik).

Customise the Streets

The tech world is customisable in many ways, but what if the city could be flexible too? Engineer and designer Ross Atkin wants to bring the fully-adaptable nature of technology to London’s streets, so he created Responsive Street Furniture. An elderly person can send a signal from her phone when crossing the road to make sure the traffic lights last longer. And someone with poor vision can increase the wattage of his streetlights as he walks home at night. Illuminating stuff!

Why I love jogging

Monica

happiful reader Monica explains the joys of mindful running “Earlier this year, as I drove into the office, I noticed people jogging and working up a sweat. I never thought it was possible to be in their shoes. I was always too busy and had too much going on in my life. I’m not alone. Nearly half of all working adults in the UK say they’re too busy to exercise. But when a marathon was held in my town, I was inspired to trade my occasional indoor workouts and use the summer months to actively jog outside. Then I signed up for my first 5K run.

I now jog three or four times a week and feel positively alive.

Even a short jog has a soothing effect, helping to clear my mind from the stresses of the day. A surprising benefit has been how much more mindful I am of the choices I make, especially with my health.

After jogging, I am less likely to go home and eat a huge meal or sit on the couch for hours. Jogging has created a healthy halo in my life, pushing me to go the extra mile (sometimes literally). It’s transformed me into the kind of person I never thought I could be.

My advice? Start by jogging short distances to places you know, and keep a training log. I write down the days, the distance, and how long it took. These small changes have made jogging an integral part of my life; not just for summer, but for every season to come.”

Mental Fight Clubs

Borough Market

The first rule of Mental Fight Club is you do talk about Mental Fight Club. For anyone needing a positive and supportive environment in the wake of London’s recent terrorist attacks, the Dragon Café by Borough tube station hosts Mental Fight Clubs every Monday, from 12noon-8.30pm. As well as healthy food, the café has a range of wellbeing activities sure to get you feeling good. It’s a perfect example of a community bouncing back from adversity.

How to Pet a Strange Dog

Not everyone feels comfortable when meeting a strange dog in the park. Indeed, a bounding Bernese can be pretty frightening. Don’t let that fear hold you back. If you see a strange dog, approach it from the side, letting it sniff your outstretched hand, and initially avoid eye contact. When the furry friend establishes you’re not a threat, it’ll be belly rubs galore. And the buzz it gives you will last all afternoon.

Cycling at Night: Try a Bike Light Sensor

With more than 1.95 million weekly cyclists in the UK, safety on our roads is of paramount importance. Philip and Irene McAleese have developed the world’s first bike light that reacts to surroundings. Called See.Sense ICON, it increases the brightness and frequency of your flashing light in more dangerous situations. A great, mindful invention.