There are very few things more fitting than a really good picnic as spring turns towards summer. Warmth, good food, the great outdoors, good friends, let alone the rules that say we can't meet up inside just yet.
Choosing the perfect spot ...
With sunlight as well as shade. I'm a sun worshipper but no one likes a warm soggy salad!
Great views - easy in this wonderful part of north yorkshire
No neighbours - this can be slightly harder on the beach but if your in the rolling countryside find an ancient tree on the brow of a hill and make sure your not in the wind and your in for a great day. Having to listen to someone else's music/children/politics could ruin your day.
Hamper or Bag?
A couple of years ago I bought what I thought was the perfect hamper basket, with plates and glasses etc all neatly compartmentalised in the top. The only trouble was once I'd put all the food inside I could barely lift it! So now it spends more time as a decorative piece in the shop window; and I've been online and bought a thermal insulated rucksack, most of my picnics happen mid walk or at the far end of a beach so its horses for courses really, choose wisely or you could end up with achy arms.
A plastic backed beautiful rug will look the part and will stop nice clothes getting ruined by damp ground. Little picnic chairs that can live in the boot of your car all summer are perfect for grumpy grandpas or anyone that doesn't like to sit on the floor. I tend to favour an old towel that can later be used to dry off either myself, the dog or both of us.
Nothing beats a family picnic, and feeding a crowd of adults and kids is super easy with a few family favourites up your sleeve. Think about recipes that are fun and colourful to keep kids interested and are big enough on flavour that the adults will love them too. Try homemade houmous with crunchy veg for dipping or gorgeous grilled chicken fillets. My biggest hate of a picnic is sorting out the chaos once back at home so I tend to favour food that doesn't leave dirty containers in its wake. Scotch Eggs, Samosas, Sausage Rolls, Hard boiled Eggs, Fruit Cake and Flapjack are my usual go to's. Nothing that's going to melt (one of the few occasions where chocolate is not a good idea).
This can be a tricky one, lots of water, both still and fizzy is a good idea. Plastic bottles filled and frozen work well as ice blocks in the morning and as cold drinks in the afternoon. There's been many an occasion when I've left my landing net in a stream with a bottle of wine in it whilst fishing, and I don't think I've ever been known to turn down a chilled glass of fizz whatever time of day. Keeping it simple is the key, if you fancy a cocktail there are some great cans available these days rather than taking the drinks cabinet with you.
Nothing fills me with dread more than plastic picnic plates etc. Utterly useless at their designed jobs and rubbish in the dishwasher so imagine my surprise that we now stock some brilliant acrylic wine, champagne and water glasses in the deli for just such occasions. And they clean well in the dishwasher, we've tried. Large empty wine glasses are brilliant as a speaker for your phone if you need music alfresco too! We also stock some really useful square paper plates that don't collapse at the sight of a chicken drumstick and of course there's our bountiful range of napkins, this summers stock has just gone out on display, I think you'll agree there's some lovely designs available.
So here's to May, outdoor entertaining and picnics. I hope it doesn't rain all day on the bank holiday Monday and that we all get to catch up with friends soon. Fingers crossed by June we might even be allowed back into each others houses.