The French may lay claim to the origins of the picnic, or at least the word: the first record of pique nique is found in the 1692 edition of Origines de la Langue Française de Ménage. But we Brits clutched it to our rain-sodden bosom, slathered it in the spirit of the Famous Five and made it our own.
The basket As you pack your optimism-laden hamper this summer, take note: picnics no longer consists of soggy sandwiches, squashed quiche and a bottle of pop but is transformed into charming miniature deli in a pretty basket such as the Joules floral-lined four-person hamper, £90.
The gourmet option Tap a few keys and your personalised hamper can be sourced, packed and delivered to you by Gourmet Picnics (with a hefty price tag, of course).
The food That’s perhaps not as much fun as picking and choosing delectable morsels from your local deli: stuff your hamper full of artisan breads, hand-made cheeses, hams, patés and salads, so you can rip, tear and share the food and hold your head high at the Proms in the Park.
The blanket Tables (unless you are 80-plus) and tartan rugs are out; uber-cool picnic blankets are definitely in. I like this Kissing Stags picnic rug from Anorak.
The plates Don’t even think about any old paper plate: the only option is the 100 per cent plant-based, biodegradable, sustainably sourced plates (and cups, cutlery and napkins) from Life’s a Picnic.
The drinks As for wines, they should be light, pink and preferably sparkling. However, if you want a truly British drink, you can always take “lashings of ginger beer” from Crabbie’s (but keep this one away from the kids).
Five tips for a perfect picnic
- Do: put small bottles of water or juice in the freezer for a few hours before the picnic. They can double up as chiller-blocks to keep food cool, unless of course you have a cool cool box.
- Do: avoid ice cream, sticky puddings and cakes. They’re too fragile to transport, and wasps and other insects love them.
- Do: choose foods to serve all at the same time. The fun of a picnic is to spread all the food on the blanket and let everyone laze around, helping themselves.
- Do: take sunglasses and sunblock (you never know, the sun may shine); napkins or hand wipes; a good, reliable bug spray; bags to take all your rubbish home.
- Don’t: take a radio or music system of any kind, please; an unruly dog or kids; candles, portable barbecues or any other fire risk (unless allowed).