Humble summer picnics are chief amongst the most classic of summer thrills, or not so humble as the case may be – I know some master picnickers who have extremely elaborate tastes, honed at the likes of Henley and Glyndebourne.
Nonetheless, from cheese and tomato sandwiches and a bag of crisps, to lashings of lemonade and countryside adventures reminiscent of The Famous Five, having summer picnics are joyous occasions evocative of childhood memories, classic literature and grass-stained shorts.
I think everyone has his or her perfect childhood picnic memory (or at least I hope they do). For me it was always those on the beach, which invariably resulted in my egg mayonnaise having a sand accompaniment, and melting ice creams dribbling halfway down sticky fingers and chubby arms.
I also have a distinct memory of sharing half my lunch with a duck on one occasion, and in more recent years have thoroughly enjoyed overeating strawberries that have gone sugary in the heat, not to mention falling asleep with my book on my face.
Happily, alfresco dining is supported by health experts who make wonderful claims about the benefits of eating outside. Apparently it stimulates the appetite and helps your digestive system and metabolism to function more effectively. All of that’s good to know but let’s be honest, the real reason this quintessentially English pastime has remained so popular is because the British countryside (and city parks) are simply beautiful.
From coast to country we are blessed with a rich abundance of verdant landscapes, so it would be churlish not to eat lunch on a rug on the floor, play the games we haven’t played since we were children, and wonder if we can find the very same rabbit hole through which Alice travelled to Wonderland or spot the cast from The Wind in the Willows pottering along between the reeds on grassy riverbanks like those at the Columba Hotel.
Incidentally, that particular bespoke secret was recently voted one of the UK’s top 10 riverside breaks, in the Daily Mail, and is perched on the banks of the River Ness. In short, it is the type of place that summer picnics were made for and it’s hard to imagine anything finer.
Ultimately, summer picnics are the stuff that really good memories (and stories) are made of. The question is; are you going to take Enid Blyton or Lewis Carroll with you?