Tips for the perfect picnic

by - July 14, 2013

The Parcelforce delivery chap was barely at the end of the gate after delivering my picnic hamper before the heavens opened in some utter comic weather timing. I mean, it IS summer right? I thought I would have to concoct some bizarre indoor picnic scene for this post but luckily the following day greeted us with picnic perfect weather.

There is something positively old-school about picnicking (well, it did become popular from the 1800s) which is why I was drawn to the retro vibe of this clam shell basket with tartan fabric lining as well as the ceramic plates, cups and steel cutlery. Also, I've never been a fan of plastic glasses or paper plates and don't enjoy anything with plastic cutlery. I can't imagine what utter landfill loving heathen invented all of that. I've always been like it, the guys at work have always ribbed me about needing my tea in one particular cup and my coffee in another, it's my thang.

Anyway, as this set came with quite a lot, I just popped down lazy-style to Real Patisserie and got one of their a Chewy Brown loaves, a slice of their ohmygodmyhips potato and bacon pie and a couple of fruit tarts. I threw in some smoked salmon, salad, a bottle of Fentimans Curiousity Cola and that was pretty much it. I made a sour cream dip with the Beetroot & Thyme Dressing supplied so we had open sandwiches with the salmon.

My main problem with picnicking is I always pack too much. It's like I'm going on a freaking desert island for a month, not over the road to the park or beach. As well as the above, the Cairnsmhor Parmesan & Pepper Oatcakes were dipped in the Karyatis Red Pepper & Feta Meze and we munched on the Olives Et Al kiln roasted rosemary and chilli nuts. Pretty much everything that was in this hamper was really good quality and delicious which is unusual. The only thing I took out for our picnic was the packaged petrol station flapjacks, which I'm not a fan of, and the Sicilian lemon oil biscuits (biscuits serve no purpose in a picnic at all but these were divine with a cuppa later on). The only other thing I would change about this hamper is that they supplied two mugs but no tea bags or coffee. A little flask for hot water may have been handy too and kept it relevant. We ditched the cups and popped in two (real glass) glasses though as handily there were straps to protect them.

We packed everything up and headed over to Queens Park to bask in the sun and gloat at the well jel looks we were getting by others transporting their lunch in tuppawear or *gasp* plastic bags straight from the supermarket. The horror.

Anyway, here are some tips we always use for a successful picnic:

1- Make it interesting
As we have troughed through the supplies in this now, next time I'll have to come up with some recipe ideas. The Guardian did a great piece recently including pistachio, chorizo and tomato 'cake', stuffed picnic cob loaf and baked saffron falafel all washed down with honey lemonade with grapefruit and fresh mint. Now THAT is a picnic! 

2 - Don't forget 
Napkins and plastic bags for the rubbish and dirty plates and containers. I hate littering more than plastic forks. Wet wipes are a good idea too.

3 - Use thy deli
Here you can then get an interesting selection of quality items in small quantities and put together a grazing board of nice cheeses, hams, pies, pickles and breads that will form the bulk of the picnic. Perfect and thrifty for two people.

4 - Avoid messy food
Pitta pockets, sturdy pies, pasties, fruits, crudites and sandwiches are your friends. Trifle and crispbreads with rolling toppings are not. 

5 - Cook! 
We have a Pocket Rocket Stove and have knocked up soup and omelettes on the top of mountains with a mini frying pan. No reason why sensible hot food can't be part of your picnic.

6- Think outside the box
The weather in the UK is erratic at the best of times. Indoor, back garden and night picnics are all pretty cool as well.

7 - Pick a good spot
Location, location, location. If you are venturing out, research your picnic spot. The side of motorways officially became an unacceptable place for a picnic after the 80s. They just haven't told the mid-Europeans yet. There are sites that list popular picnic spots in your area.

I was sent this picnic hamper from Hampergifts to review.

With hampers starting from £20 odd and filled with food, wine, sweets, booze, new baby stuff (give 'em the booze - trust me) then most people would appreciate one of these as a gift. Beats the heck out of flowers.

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