A picnic was once an informal grand feast for wealthy hunters and country people eating on their estates. English aristocracy converted the rustic feast into a luxurious outdoor occasion where servants loaded up fine china, crystal goblets, delicate linens, sumptuous gourmet titbits and travelled to a forest or meadow.
The Victorian era made the picnic popular and the Oxford English Dictionary describes it as "a pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors".
It is such a lovely way to spend a day of British summertime whether with a group of friends or a romantic twosome. Head to the park, countryside or beach, grab your London Bag, rollout that blanket and follow our fun tips for Great British picnic perfection!
You’ll need a few basic but essential picnic tools – plastic boxes, cutlery (go for proper rather than plastic as it makes for a great sense of occasion), cups, a small knife, serving spoons, napkins, a big comfortable blanket to sit on, rubbish bags for your litter... a good sense of humour…. and maybe an umbrella or two… oh and a corkscrew so you can open a bottle! (Wrap glasses in your favourite funky tea towel during transportation). Enamel plates are light, unbreakable and much more practical than soggy paper or heavy ceramic ones.
For a romantic picnic for two, strawberries, champagne and chocolate are the ultimate base to build from. Smuggling your sweethearts favourite snack or dessert into the picnic basket should go down a treat and if you’re going ‘all out’ for romance, maybe a couple of candles, (don’t forget the matches) and a small vase and flowers to adorn your picnic blanket!
Start your menu with the great British picnic classics which are compulsory to have - Scotch eggs (my absolute favourite, ask anyone who knows me!), Cornish pasties, pork pies, sausage rolls and a quiche.
Coronation chicken is a great British classic and much loved. Simply shred poached chicken and mix it with mayonnaise, curry powder, cinnamon, black pepper, mango chutney and sultanas. It’s all about personal taste so add these in bit by bit to taste. It’s a perfect sandwich filler :-)
A big bowl of hand-prepped mixed salad. Use robust leaves such as baby gem, cos, or radicchio. Use a jam jar to make a simple shaken dressing of balsamic, olive oil, sea salt and pepper for dressing in situ so your salad doesn’t go limp! Extra ingredients (olives, croutons, tuna, tomatoes, feta) can go in a separate Tupperware to add when you’re ready to eat.
The great classic strawberries and cream can be taken a step further to make a scrumptious Eton Mess, pop your meringues in a container and crumble, add extra thick double cream and a big squish of strawberries.
Don’t forget to pack your favourite soft drinks, take individual bottles so you don’t have any need for glasses and freezing them beforehand means they make great ice packs and will be lovely and cold and thawed (hopefully) for when you’re ready to drink. Fruit-infused waters are easy to make, nutritious, and very refreshing, simply use firm, sweet, fresh fruit and herbs to create a perfect picnic drink! Here are some great combinations:
Zesty Lime with fresh Cucumber and Mint (my absolute favourite),
Sweet Strawberry and Lemon with Basil
Pineapple, Orange with warming Ginger.
You can come up with your own interesting flavour combinations, simply place your fruit and herbs in the bottom of a jar or jug and mush up a little with a wooden spoon to release the flavours then fill with water and stir gently, you can use sparkling water for fizzy treat. Refrigerate overnight for maximum flavour and pour into individual bottles for your picnic.
Great London Picnic Spots:
Spectacular views over London, acres of beautiful space and plenty to explore outside from the Food Garden to the Sound Garden. It’s also great for kids, I regularly take my nephew here.
This beautiful 18th-century neoclassical palace is a perfect place to relax and picnic in style. 55 fountains can be seen in the courtyard in summer.
A north London picnic spot which has beautifully landscaped tree-lined hills offering shade, seclusion, serenity and incredible London views.
Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park
This formal Japanese water garden will soothe away your stresses as you soak up the sun and savour your sumptuous picnic feast. The perfect Zen picnic spot.
It’s quite possible you will be enjoying your outdoor feast near where the earliest picnickers of hunting parties enjoyed theirs in times past. 70 acres of woodlands, parks and fantastic walking trails abundant in wildlife.