The Pleasure of Picnics: all hail the soggy sandwich!

2012 marks the 250th anniversary of our al fresco eating essential – the sarnie!
 So what better way to celebrate than with a picnic?
There’s nothing like the addition of weather, grass and the odd creepy crawly to make even the most dull meal into an exciting treat. Get outdoors and get the party started (teddy bears optional).


Chose a location for your picnic and plan how to get there. City centre benches with an iconic view are good for a Big Day Out, parks provide plenty of opportunities for playing and lazing (don’t forget a football), but your own front doorstep is perfect for a bit of spontaneous nibbling (and very convenient should you forget anything).


Don’t get confused – you are not preparing a sophisticated garden party for adult guests so there is no need to spend huge sums on glamorous pre-prepared delicatessen titbits. Strawberries and hardboiled eggs are lovely for picnics, but this week it’s all about the sarnie. We like to keep it simple with jam or humous because they are quick to throw together and taste just as good squashed as when freshly made, but fancy-pant pre-planners amongst you can find gazillions of ideas at

Get a pack donkey?

The children will be convinced that they can carry it all themselves, but do not fall for their innocent optimism! Keep everything to a manageable minimum that you can lug in a rucksack – never ever rely the sustained labour of anyone who still needs help cleaning their teeth.

It is unacceptable to employ foldaway chairs or other furniture – inconvenience and minor discomfort are important components in the outdoor eating experience, for the under-16s at least. If you are an organised kind of a person then you may wish to pack a rug or somesuch for sitting on, but this is certainly not essential. (Our middle-sized Outdoor Girl rather likes the scenic delicacy of arranging people and food on a carefully laid rug, but the biggish Outdoor Boy and I long ago agreed that rugs simply attract bits of grass and leaf that are a pleasant surface on bare ground but become instantly irritating once on the rug.)


Bubbles, skipping ropes and magnifiying glasses are ideal for playing with at picnics, and are small enough that you can probably get the children to carry them for you. And don’t forget that the food itself can double-up as entertainment: hardboiled eggs are perfect for pre-shelling rolling races, and juice straws were almost certainly designed with ant-blowing experiments in mind.

You will get dirt on the sandwiches, someone will sit on a strawberry, a fly will fall in the juice, your fingers will be irritatingly sticky and bottoms will get wet – and that’s why the kids will love it! And what better parting tip than … Baby Wipes!


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