Three visits to Glyndebourne and one to Henley Regatta (but clearing up after 5!) have reminded me how I swore my picnic days were over when the oldest son stopped rowing. Nothing doing. Glyndebourne and Henley happen every year and because I have no desire to eat caterers food at either inevitably there’s work to be done, although now it’s down to a pretty fine art.
The easiest way to picnic, unless you’re going to take a butler along with you - as some do at Glyndebourne - is to have the right gear. I’ve never been a fan of sitting on the grass, awkwardly trying to eat off a paper plate and balance a glass at the same time. I may well make it to the stage of picking up food at Waitrose or M&S just to make life easy but I haven’t yet got there either.
If you invest sensibly your picnic kit will last for years and years as mine has and does, to be added to occasionally. It works for days out and weeks away, picnics and (no never again thanks) camping and sports activities anywhere and at any time of year.
1 The Wheelie Picnic Cool Bag. Yes those wicker picnic baskets look lovely and are fine if you’re picnicing right by your car. But if you have to walk any distance and don’t have strong arms to carry them they can turn into a nightmare.
The cool bag on wheels makes light work of anything you put in it, from food to drinks on ice and mine have done duty for five years plus.
2 Melamine Dinnerware. Lots of places sell this and it lasts for years and years provided you buy quality. I’m still using the set – or what’s left of it – that I bought about 20 years ago. I add to this a few plates and bowls each year, as it always mysteriously disappears.
The trick is to keep to a colour scheme as much as possible to create a bohemian chic effect how ever many different plates you have.
3 Unbreakable Glasses. I haven’t ever found any better than these wave acrylic glasses and the range seems to be self perpetuating so I’ve been able to add to it year after year.
If you put them in the dishwasher they will become a bit cloudy after a while, so best to wash by hand if you can bear it (and I frequently can’t).
4. Picnic Cutlery Set. As with plates and when sharing picnics with friends picnic cutlery has a habit of disappearing so you can either add to it by sticking to one colourway or mix it up. Picnic cutlery is also exceptionally useful for parties and outdoor dining so it’s helpful to buy something that doesn’t look so plastic that you wouldn’t want to use it for other things.
If you want something a little more elegant you can’t go wrong with this navy handled cutlery set from Procook.
5 Salad and Serving Bowls with Lids. You’d think these would be easy to find but they’re not, particularly when you’re talking about picnic ready food you can just pack in your cool bag and serve. These are especially good if you’re feeding a throng and make life so much easier.
I’ve also purchased these lidded bowls from Amazon but they never seem to be in plentiful supply.
6. Folding Adjustable Picnic Table This is the best picnic table I’ve found for years. It’s quite light, and the adjustable height makes it good whatever the height of your chairs. Throw on a tablecloth and you have the perfect dining table away from home (or in the garden).
7 Perfect Picnic Chairs We’ve bought so many of the really inexpensive version of these which tend to work for a year – maybe – and then start to fray or even break, so it’s worth investing in something a little more robust. These folding picnic chairs are not expensive, and you can add to them each year if you need to.
They’re also excellent for relaxing in after a long and happy picnic lunch……….