Summer is finally in full swing in the UK… hoorah! That means it’s time to ditch the jumpers, shut off your phones and get outdoors. After all, you never know how long this amazing weather is going to last…
If you’re heading to London during the summer, you will be completely spoilt for choice for wonderful things to see and do, for all ages, tastes and budgets. From foodie festivals to open air theatre performances, public art showings and outdoor music concerts, the city really does come alive at this time of year.
All of the above are great ways to spend your summer days, but there’s often nothing better than enjoying a simple, old fashioned pleasure. Picnics are really popular in the UK, and have been for centuries, thanks to their budget friendly nature, and the fact that they provide Brits with the chance to enjoy their favourite food and drink in their favourite green space. And London certainly has those in abundance.
Choosing a location for your picnic
If you’re staying at one of the city’s top hotels, such as the Park Grand London Kensington, you won’t be too far at all from some of the capital’s best parks. Hyde Park is one of the most famous and well-loved, thanks to its vast size, the many events it houses each year, and the variety of things to see and do there.
One of Britain’s Royal Parks, Hyde Park covers over 350 acres, and contains the Serpentine lake, which was built in 1730 and is prevalent for both boating and swimming. To the north of the Serpentine, you’ll find a bird sanctuary with Epstein’s figure of “Rima,” the heroine of W. H. Hudson’s novel, Green Mansions.
Aptly named the Grand Entrance, the core entrance to the park is a triple archway, built in 1828, which includes a replica of the Parthenon frieze.
Therefore right from the minute you enter, you’ll realise that this is the perfect choice for a true British picnic!
Finding the perfect picnic basket
Now we’ve convinced you as to just how great Hyde Park is, it’s time to get your goodies ready!
No picnic is complete without a basket, and you can purchase great quality ones online for a range of budgets, these days. However, it’s worth checking with your hotel before you invest, to see if they have one you could borrow for the day. After all, it can be quite tough to fit in your suitcase… Some of the best hotels in Paddington London will cater to these kinds of requests daily, so ask away.
Keep your cool
Don’t fall victim to warm sandwiches, salads and drinks. Cool packs will be the difference between a great picnic, and a super disappointing one. It’s a good idea that you take two separate bags for your picnic – one cooler bag for items you want to keep chilled, and another bag or basket for everything else you want to take with you. A drinks box or bag is another option if you want to take lots of drinks with you, if you’re picnicking as a large group.
Choosing the best food to pack for your picnic
Now onto the best bit! Choosing the ideal picnic food requires a little planning and know-how, to make sure you have the best experience. As a general rule, the best picnic food is those that don’t require much ‘assembly’, can be picked up or put down without much fuss, and can be lazily picked at throughout the afternoon.
Therefore things you’ll find at your local deli counter are a great place to start, as are stuff you’d likely find on a charcuterie board. With fabulous and fresh seasonal produce readily available at local markets, as well as a wide range of delicious ‘to-go’ options available at specialist foodie stores, you can choose how much work you put into the picnic (or don’t!) to create your perfect day out.
If you want a truly traditional British picnic, don’t forget the sandwiches! Also, sweet treats are a great addition too, from good old-fashioned jam tarts, to strawberries and cream.
Don’t forget your favourite tipple
First and foremost, ensure you’ve got plenty of water for everyone, especially if you’re planning on staying out in the summer sun all day, or intend to go on long walks during your picnic. Sugary drinks won’t hydrate you like water will, and alcohol and caffeine will only dehydrate you more (unfortunately!).
Though by all means, do absolutely include your favourite summery spritz. Go traditional with an English favourite of Pimms, or keep it even classier with prosecco, or maybe even champagne if you’re feeling extra fancy!
For those in the group who aren’t drinking, there are some great recipes out there for flavoursome and fun iced teas, or you could easily pick up a nice bottle at a nearby supermarket, too.
And a few added extra essentials you’re sure to forget, but will find useful!
As well as all of the fun stuff, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the basics covered, from eating essentials to entertainment.
Don’t forget cutlery, plates (go for crockery where possible, to avoid using single-use plastic, or paper plates) and a good, sharp knife complete with chopping board. Likewise, ensure you’ve got enough bottles or cups for everyone, so you don’t end up all drinking out of the same one! Wet wipes are a must too, for inevitable spills and stickiness.
To keep the group entertained on your picnic, it might be a nice idea to think about bringing things such as board games, or if you want to travel a bit lighter, a pack of cards. However, if you are feeling a little more active, and want to work off all those picnic calories, why not bring stuff like bats and balls, a football or a Frisbee? This can be a great way to keep the energy up as the sun goes down, too.
Or, if you want a more serene experience, a good book is the perfect picnic accessory.