After setting up camp in the park, a bottle of wine to your left, your favourite picnic provisions to your right, there’s nothing more frustrating than realising you’ve left that novel you’re halfway through (read: started several months ago and still on page 14) back on your bedside table.
Besides discarded copies of The Metro and reading the graffiti carved into tree trunks, there’s little literary sustenance to be had in the middle of a London Park. Luckily enough, The Royal Parks have commissioned a series of eight short stories, each based in a particular London park, each written by contemporary writers of renown to solve just this problem. Ali Smith covers Regent’s Park with her protagonist avoiding work and wandering about Primrose Hill, Will Self pens a monologue from the perspective of a park keeper and William Boyd writes about a novelist seeking inspiration from the public in Green Park.
The other writers involved are Nicola Barker (Greenwich Park), Shena Mackay (Richmond Park), Hanan al-Shaykh (Kensington Gardens), Adam Thorpe (Hyde Park) and Clare Wigfall (St James’s Park) - all writing 3000 word pieces on the very locations you could be sunning yourself in.
You can buy the set from kiosks in the parks themselves for £16, or individually for £2 a piece. If you’re not going to be about the capital’s green spaces this summer, they'll be available on the Royal Park website and at selected London bookshops from May.