Tennis players are rolling into Wimbledon, the blue skies are ready to cloud over, Pimm's is being poured and strawberries are drowning in cream. And where am I over the next two weeks? Everywhere but the grass courts of south west London. I do have time off, however, and fully intend to enjoy this year's tennis in as much real-life glory as possible...
The Sports Cafe
Ok, so most pubs and bars have TV screens, but none dedicate themselves to sporting events quite like the Sports Cafe. Based in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow the bar/restaurant lays on a serious number of plasma screens in the hopes that (unless you close your eyes) you'll always have sight of the action. On the downside, don't expect more than standard burger-esque fare in standard chain surroundings.
Grand claims of being the 'next best thing to centre court' may well be founded at Bluebird. Alongside a giant screen, the Chelsea hangout is serving Wimbledon themed nosh and booze: think strawberry sundaes and a Mixed Doubles cocktail (Champagne, strawberries and Pimm's). This one is a touch pricey but they're going for the VIP box feel.
Centre Court may be rain-free this year (with a fancy new roof), but the grounds remain at the mercy of British weather. And, since the risk of getting washed away is part of the fun, there's nothing quite like an alfresco screening. All of the BBC's Big Screens (littered across the country) are relaying the action live with BBC1 coverage running from 12noon to 6pm before BBC2 takes over from 6pm to 8pm. Wimbledon is also all over London screens this year (including Cardinal Place, New Street Square and Bankside Mix) courtesy of Land Securities.