Image Credit: Alexandra K
The summer is my favourite time of the year. The days are brighter, evenings stretch long into the night and there is a feeling of optimism about the weeks of sunshine to come. And, for me, nothing sums up the start of summer better than the first picnic of the year. Hanging out with friends, soaking up the rays and kicking-off those summery vibes.
This year, picnics have taken on a whole new status as we are encouraged to socialise outside. Rather than feeling frustrated by the limitations, it’s a great opportunity to embrace alfresco dining in a whole new way.
So, from picking the best spot, to deciding what to use as a picnic blanket, here are 7 quick tips for hosting the perfect picnic this year.
Whether it’s an old family secret – a favourite picnic spot that no one else knows about – or somewhere totally new, finding a picture-perfect picnic spot is a sure way to create memories. Picnics can be chance to explore different places, especially remote locations that are far from the nearest coffee shop.
If you are looking for some new ideas for where to lay your picnic blanket, take a look at some of our favourite secret picnic spots. There are also plenty of National Trust gardens and parklands now open to picnic in, as long as you book in advance.
The word picnic actually originated from a French term in the 17th Century – “picque-nique”. It refers to any outdoor social gathering where individuals each bring their own food to contribute. But there the similarity ends, as picnics can span a whole spectrum.
At the classy end think a Downton Abbey-esque occasion. Wicker hampers, china plates, a bottle of chilled bubbly and a carefully selected spread with everything from pork pies to homemade cakes. This style is best used to mark the occasion for a birthday, engagement or other special event. At the other end of the scale is the entirely spontaneous picnic, grabbing a baguette and some cheese from the shop and taking advantage of a sunny day and some time on your hands.
Or you could go for more of an evening cook-out. Hot food, salads, perhaps a bonfire complete with marshmallows and a few beers. The style you go for will depend on the occasion, your preference, and on the amount of effort required.
When it comes to a picnic, comfort is key. No one enjoys a wet bum or pins and needles from sitting in an awkward position. Make sure you have a good picnic blanket with you, or a selection of cosy blankets, as well as some cushions to keep you comfy.
Your choice of what to use as a picnic blanket may reflect the setting or the occasion. If possible it is always worth getting a waterproof picnic blanket. One of our current favourites is our mustard waterproof picnic blanket. Like all our picnic blankets, the top layer is woollen, whilst underneath there is a waterproof polyester layer to keep you warm and dry. It also comes with leather straps to make transporting it easy.
Since picnics don’t come with all the usual amenities, it is important to be mindful of who you have in your picnicking crew. Public toilets nearby might be handy, whilst entertainment for the kids such as a ball or Frisbee may buy you five minutes peace. Bringing a camping chair could make all the difference for Granny. A long walk to the picnic spot may be challenging with young children or lots of equipment to carry.
Sometimes it is best to keep things simple. Especially if you have a particularly large or diverse group. Overambitious picnic plans are not worth the effort if they end in complaints and fallings out.
The British are renowned for their love of a sandwich. But whilst sandwiches are a great go to option, picnics don’t have to be about a bland ham sandwich. You can jazz up your picnic food by choosing different ingredients than your go-to packed lunch.
Crusty bread and deli options like cured meats, rich cheeses and olives all make the meal an occasion without requiring much preparation. Couscous, pasta or potato salads can also feel more special than limp lettuce leaves. And of course don’t forget a few sweet treats too.
If you are going for more of an evening campfire feel, opting for simple hot-dogs with some fancy relishes on the side is the perfect combo of ease and style. And if you feel the need to have something sandwiched, let it be a toasted marshmallow between two chocolate biscuits.
Image Credit: Kate Hliznitsova
For a fuss-free picnic, there are a few practical elements worth remembering. In Britain, no outing should ever be attempted without a quick glance at the forecast. Whether it is sunglasses and sun cream or an extra jumper just in case, knowing the weather in advance means you can be prepared.
The summer also brings more bugs than usual, so it’s worth considering airtight containers, or avoiding particularly sticky, sweet foods that may attract them. Napkins or hand wipes - though easy to forget – save on sticky fingers and can help wipe sand away for little ones.
Finally it’s worth stocking up on some picnic essentials like a thermos so you can enjoy a hot beverage, and a cool bag to keep things fresher for longer.
The thing about enjoying beauty spots is that they only stay beautiful if they are kept that way. Don’t forget to take plenty of rubbish bags to carry away your waste if there are no bins. If you are having a camp fire its worth bringing spare water to dampen the ashes after you are done. Have a quick read of the Countryside Code before you go to avoid any embarrassments.
We hope you make the most of dining alfresco this summer. With staycations on the up this year, it’s a perfect time to explore the beautiful British countryside in all its glory. Let us know about any new picnic spots you discover, we are always keen to discover somewhere new.