We were shopping in town one day, when my daughter was about seven.
We were walking through the lovely little public garden on the edge of the town centre when she asked if we could have a picnic there.
When I pointed out that we didn’t have any food with us, she solemnly opened her little plastic handbag and produced two biscuits in a little case that she had squirreled away just before we left the house.
We shared them sitting on a bench, looking at the flowers and chatting. She was content with our picnic and so was I.
I don’t think I’ve ever been on a traditional picnic, the sort that involves a basket, a tartan rug, and portable plates and cutlery (by its nature so very middle-class).
Ours are always much more downmarket affairs, with sandwich bags, juice in little cartons, and a bit of mismatched ‘tupperware’ if the food includes smushables.
We still love having picnics though, which is just as well, because they were invented for families like ours.
On a tight budget? (We are). Pack a picnic It’s much cheaper than eating out in restaurants and cafes. And, since you only pack what you like, in quantities you will eat, there’s little, if any, waste.
Got food allergies, or very fussy children? (We have). Pack a picnic. You know exactly what is in the food, and you can be sure that, whatever your destination, there will be a suitable meal or snacks readily available.
Got sensory issues? (We have). Pack a picnic. Busy, noisy, crowded eateries can be a nightmare. But with a picnic, you can choose your eating place to suit your needs.
Use a wheelchair, an extra large buggy, or other mobility aids/special equipment? (We have had) Pack a picnic. OK – public places should make provision to accommodate us as easily as the next person, but the sad fact is that many either think they have, but are not really fully aware of the kind of provision that needs to be made, or simply don’t have the ability to make the necessary changes. Either way, it can be difficult to manoeuvre or deploy such equipment in a busy or cramped establishment. Once again, with a picnic you can choose your spot to suit your needs. Having said that, toilet and changing facilities remain a problem everywhere!
The vagaries of the British weather are a consideration, not to mention a considerable inconvenience at times, but I am becoming aware of an increasing tendency for visitor attractions such as museums to offer indoor spaces where patrons are welcome to consume their own food – the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is the one that springs first to my mind.
Sometimes, if the little one is fractious and uncooperative at mealtime, or on rainy days in the long summer break, we have an indoor picnic.
I spread a blanket out in the middle of the living room floor and lay the food on that. It usually works a treat.
This year I am thinking of adding a few pot plants to the mix, to enhance the ‘picnicky’ atmosphere.
If it’s raining the windows will be closed – just think ... all the fun of outdoor eating without any pesky wasps.