The Picnic Spot
Living in the Midlands means that we have access to lots of lovely picnic spots, both close to home and further afield. Wythall itself has a brilliant community park, and just a stone’s throw away from us we have Earlswood Lakes, the Lickey Hills or the Clent Hills. You could pack up the picnic bag and head towards the west coast, or even over into Wales to take in some beautiful scenery. Or venture to one of Birmingham’s 571 parks!
The most important factor to remember when deciding the perfect spot for your picnic, is that we live in Britain. The grandest picnic plans can sometimes be crushed by the changeable weather. So when planning a picnic location, it’s always good to have a plan B. An indoor picnic on the lounge floor, or a sarnie in the car after narrowly dodging the downpour which was forecast as ‘just a shower’, is perfectly wonderful in its own way.
When it comes to the food, you have two options. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen creating delicious dishes to package up and enjoy al fresco. But if I am a bit short on time, I also love hitting the shops for picnic inspiration, browsing for the ultimate feast.
Fresh bread is an absolute must when it comes to picnic sandwiches. Leave the white sliced behind for office lunchtimes and school pack ups, and treat yourself to some proper bread! I opt for a crusty baguette or doughy white rolls (depending on the filling). Bread is rarely something that I make, but if you fancy perfecting the perfect loaf for sharing at picnics you could check out the Bread Making class at the Orange Kitchen. You’d definitely be King/Queen of the picnic if you mastered that and you’d have lots of fun learning a new skill too! Alternatively, for an easier life visiting your local bakery for some speciality bread rolls is perfectly acceptable.
Rather than making individual sandwiches for everyone, why not pick up some various meats, cheeses, salads and sauces and let everyone help themselves to a chunky slice of bread, generously spread with butter, and let them top with their own personal favourites. A deconstructed approach to sandwiches is a sure crowd pleaser! For families and fussy eaters the same deconstructed approach works well.
Sandwiches needn’t take centre stage. Think outside the box and pack cold quiches, pasta salads, sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pork pies! Homemade salads and roasted vegetables can also make a lovely addition to your picnic too.
Check out this recipe for homemade smoked salmon and pea frittata, or these mini pork pies and homemade piccalilli. Or you can check out the National Picnic Week website for some great recipes to involve the little ones too.
Of course you’ll need more than sandwiches and savouries. British berries are a firm favourite on picnics and they’re just coming into season right now. As well as berries, soft fruits like nectarines, peaches and apricots will also be coming through as we move further into the summer months. It’s the time of year when eating fruit begins to feel like a real TREAT, and not just part of the 5-a-day chore.
With the essence of a picnic being around sharing, there’s nothing better than a big tray bake, sliced for everyone to enjoy a piece. Tray bakes work best on picnics as they’re easy to transport. Check out this recipe for beetroot brownies.
When it comes to the drinks, something sparkly says summer to me! Whether that’s alcoholic or not is up to you. English sparkling wine is hugely underrated and the one with strawberry from Lyme Bay Wines is simply delicious. Why not pair with strawberry ‘Pop a Ball’ bursting bubbles for the ultimate strawberry fizz. Alternatively, a refreshing beer might go down a storm with your fellow picnic-ers. After visiting the brewery and having a tour at Purity, I can definitely recommend the beers and ales they produce. I think a picnic in itself is a special occasion, so even if you’re not drinking alcohol, make sure you treat yourself to some posh pop. These London Essence Sodas are so tasty, light and refreshing. They’re also low calorie too, which definitely means you can have an extra slice of the tray bake!
Once all of the hard work above is done, don’t forget to grab the essentials before you leave. These include:
- Reusable plastic plates, cutlery, cups and napkins
- Freezer blocks to help your food last longer and save waste
- Picnic rug or blanket to sit on
- Garden games, football or bat and ball for cricket or rounders
Enjoy this #NationalPicnicWeek and don’t forget to stop by Becketts Farm Shop for a treat or two!