{19/03/2012}   Picnics

     Yesterday, five of us had a picnic and BBQ on the beach.  Food rarely tastes better (or so I perceive) than when it’s eaten outdoors, and especially when it’s also been cooked outdoors.  I love picnics and I love sitting outside on days when you probably wouldn’t otherwise, ie yesterday was warm at times but ominous clouds were overhead, and it is only March.  We had a feast of salady things I’d made the day before and BBQed the halloumi (how good is slightly charred halloumi?!).  We were supposed to have beef kebabs but we had a few teething problems with the old disposable BBQ and by the time we’d got enough heat from it, the carnivores were no longer hungry enough to eat them (sorted dinner though!).

It is a bit time-consuming preparing food, packing it, remembering matches, etc, and there is quite a lot to carry.  But we sat outside for maybe an hour and a half, eating, chatting, laughing, trying to get the BBQ going, drinking prosecco … a memorable lunch.  If not a picnic, we’d have sat inside somewhere and even the same food wouldn’t have tasted as good.  It was even ok that the plastic plates had the odd bit of grass on them from picnics past!

I have discovered over years of picnics that having “the right stuff” adds to my overall picnic enjoyment.  There is satisfaction to be had from finding a tupperware tub the right size, having a sharp knife with its own cover, plastic wine glasses (though I could only find one.  The joy then was finding another four cups: a metal measuring cup, metal cup, plastic mug, tin mug), a picnic blanket and even a table-cloth (maybe a step too far but it’s a chequered picnic cloth and it looks fantastic!).  One fellow picnicker has a 1940s travel gramophone.  I haven’t ruled out convincing him to let us use that one day, though it’s alarming how loud it is!

Maybe part of the reason I enjoy a picnic so much is because the best ones are like mini buffets, it’s all about tucking in and helping yourself and not waiting politely to be asked if you want seconds or thirds.  The informality and help-yourself nature of a picnic makes it more sociable; it’s what makes eating fun.  I’ve been on great picnics where we’ve each brought food (though a little coordination is needed as I remember one where there was an abundance of Pringles); that’s always interesting because you normally pick things you really like so the odds are good for it being an interesting and varied lunch.

I think this summer – in fact any nice days – is going to be full of picnics.  I have a 1960s orange and white striped picnic stack that I am desperate to use.  There are four segments.  Each segment is a tray, of the old-fashioned compartmentalised airline food kind, with lids to seal each section.  The next time I have three friends round and it’s halfway decent weather, it’s going to be used.  That could be the ultimate in perfect picnic paraphernalia!  I’m off out to the beach now with yesterday’s leftovers, a picnic blanket, a letter to write and a good book.  Ahhh, the joy of picnics!


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