What a Picnic!

We all have childhood memories of picnics. I expect we’ve all got an ideal image of the perfect picnic in our heads too, inspired by everything from Manet’s paintings of un déjeuner sur l’herbe to the Famous Five’s misappropriated lashings of ginger beer*!

I remember childhood summer holidays when the spontaneous ‘let’s go for a picnic’ idea would happen. More often than not, rain would stop play or the ‘perfect’ spot would prove just too elusive. It usually involved my Mum (in the passenger seat) saying to my Dad (driving), ‘There, there’s a good place,’ and my Dad replying with, ‘We’ve gone past it now,’ or ‘There was nowhere to stop’, or ‘There’s a car right behind me’ or ‘I can’t find anywhere to turn round’! In desperation, we once ended up in a lay-by and I (in all my teenage glory) refused to take my cardigan off despite the baking sun and ended up sulkily eating wilted salad in the back of the car (all windows firmly closed) after a near hysterical encounter with a wasp. A world away from my dream picnic, and like Emma Woodhouse’s event on Box Hill, (the heroine of the Jane Austen novel I was studying for ‘A’ Level), somewhat of a flop.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term picnic originally meant “A fashionable social entertainment in which each person present contributed a share of the provisions; A pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors: the participants may bring with them individually the viands and means of entertainment, or the whole may be provided by some one who ‘gives the picnic’.”

So what are the ‘ingredients’ for a ‘perfect’ picnic? If you google this question, there is no shortage of advice or recipes or ‘must have’ equipment. But my list would include friends, fire, blankets, robustly flavoured food that you can eat with your fingers, bottles of chilled wine, conversation, and laughter late into the evening as the sun sets over the hill.

Living at The Lint Mill, we are totally spoiled for ‘perfect picnic spots’ a stroll from our door. We’re always delighted when our B&B guests make use of the picnic rug, the cool bag and picnicware we provide for them. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing many families having fun feasting in our meadows. We’ve also hosted some lovely outdoor feasts ourselves, replete with an outdoor firepit, bunting flapping merrily and tables groaning with delicious food.

For all the ‘must have’, ‘must do’, ‘essential ingredients’, eating outdoors at it’s simplest is one of life’s deep pleasure and I really don’t think it’s a myth that everything tastes better outdoors.

*The author of the Famous Five Enid Blyton didn’t actually write that line – it appeared in the Comic Strip 1982 film Five Go Mad in Dorset.

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