Vive le picque-nique (apparently the French invented them in the 17th century, but bof…) – one of our most fabulous British traditions!
It was, after all, the scene of many of our greatest literary moments – Jane Austen had Emma excitedly gossiping on Box Hill in the days when your servants would walk behind you lugging baskets, umbrellas and half a marquee (I found this brilliant Jane Austen blog which describes the elegance and guargantuan effort of picnics in those days). It was after a picnic that Lucy Honeychurch snogged the gorgeous George Emerson in A Room with a View. And Enid Blyton’s books are full of picnics with lashings and lashings of ginger ale.
More than that, we all have childhood memories of picnics. Our parents did them really well – proper wicker baskets, scratchy tartan rugs, cups and cutlery, sandwiches and strawberries and often involving multi-coloured wind-cheaters. But I’m not sure if our generation of Londoners (Henley aside) have continued this tradition as much – especially after our expat friends showed us the benefits of le BBQ. And if we do it, it tends to be a sit-on-your-coat-and-bring-whatever-is-3-for-2-at-tesco kind of thing.
But this week I have mostly been inspired by:
- the perfect weather and looking at photos of the elegance of the 1930s;
- the photos of Fernandez & Leluu’s picnic at Henley; and
- St Mungo’s “Picnics for Pounds” project which encourages people to have picnics and ask their friends to bring a bit of money for the homeless – the perfect HPL idea of doing something small and fun that will make a big difference.
Soooooo lets all organise a fabulously elegant and old-fashioned picnic before the weather gets crap again! Here’s some ideas:
1. Pick a sunny day and a local park and invite all your friends and people you haven’t seen in far too long.
2. Make it posh – buy a cute hamper (I like this one from Next and this super posh but expensivo one from Oliver Bonas or there’s loads here), get a comfy rug, make sure you have cutlery and glasses, bring a frizbee or croquet set (I don’t actually know anyone who owns a croquet set but you know what I mean).
3. Bring interesting food – not just the obligatory sarnies and scotch eggs. I couldn’t believe how wonderful Fernandez & Leluu’s picnic at Henley looked (gutted I missed it) and they’ve kindly allowed me to show some of their photos here, which I’m sure will inspire you:
Not a bottle of Rola Cola in sight
Nice bread and obligatory strawberries nom nom nom
Yummy tiger prawns
Well this is just showing off, really – tuna sashimi
A plate of samphire – very sexy veggie and my new-found gastro obsession
I love the fact that F&L did an original take on the traditional picnic, but you could do it any way you like – it doesn’t have to be all cucumber sandwiches and pork pies. Although extra points for moustaches, boaters, pastel stripes, loafers and punting…!