I’m sad to say that I finally made it to London’s Hyde Park this past Sunday, for what is likely to be the first and last time this year. UK has been punished with the worst summer in my 11.5 years on this side of the world. However, last week London got lucky, as the weather report promised the golden ticket, Sun and Warmth! Yippee!
There is one thing us London lot love to do on such a day: find a park, stake out some space, strip down to bikini’s (this comes as a shock at first to those that have never seen so many sunbather’s, when there’s no sand or sea for miles), lay out picnic rugs and spend a day basking in the glorious heat, people watching, playing frisbee, eating, and exclaiming ‘ohhh this is sooo lovely’ every ten minutes or so.
Sitting in Hyde Park last Sunday, surrounded by friends and food, I realised that when I lived in NZ, I never made the most of the public outdoor space. You lucky ladies are moving closer and closer to summer, and so now is the time to start forward planning, getting your girlfriends together and sitting on a public patch of grass enjoying a day together.
So being known as a bit of a party planner amongst my friends, I’ve created what I think makes a perfect picnic on a sunny day:
- Invitations, if you want to be really fancy! I really love the website www.paperlesspost.com and use this for all sorts of party invites. Failing that, facebook is your friend!
- Picnic rugs are a must
- If you’re like me, and not blessed with a beautiful picnic set, then plastic cutlery, paper cups, plates and napkins will be needed. Buy matching ones, I swear food tastes better off pretty throw-away plates ;o)
- Music and portable speakers are always a good idea
- A ball, frisbee, or other sporty piece of equipment to keep the lads in your group happy!
- Don’t forget bin bags, it makes life so much easier at the end of the day when clearing up
Food is the make or break of your picnic! Yes you can throw together a few sandwiches, and take along pieces of fruit, with some store bought cake, and after all that’s better than nothing, but if you do have time, making your picnic food a little extra special also makes the whole day feel that little extra special too. Here’s my picnic food plan:
- Frozen fruit salad: the evening before make a tropical fruit salad, cutting kiwi, pineapple, peaches, and apple into large chunks, and squeezing some fresh passionfruit over the top. Freeze until you’re about to leave on your picnic the following day. The fruit will defrost in the sun, but stays cold and refreshing all day, the perfect snack in the heat.
- Savoury muffins or cornbread: bake some savoury muffins, or try cornbread (if you can get your hands on the Jiffy brand of cornbread mix from USA, that will make life a whole lot easier!). I added pureed pumpkin and finely chopped fresh chilli to my cornbread mix this past weekend and it was heavenly. Don’t forget to throw some spreadable butter into your picnic bag.
- Hummus and crudite’s: hummus is always a safe bet, and also light and healthy accompanied by vegetable crudites, such as chopped cucumber, peppers and carrot.
- Homemade pizza: let’s face it, cold pizza is so good! You could make some from scratch, or try the cheat’s version of a store bought pizza adding your own toppings such as spinach, egg and ricotta, or grilled aubergine, tomato and prosciutto.
- Home baking: this is always the most popular treat at a picnic, from cake to cookies there are so many options. Home made chocolate chip cookies are simple yet delicious, or I suggest going the whole hog and baking a three layer cake, maybe a banana, carrot or hummingbird cake, complete with cream cheese frosting. Bring some dessert spoons, forget cutting up wedges, just hand out the spoons and dig in. Indulgent and naughty, and there are no parents to tell you off as they did when you likely tried to lick your ice cream bowl as a child.
- Water! Be it still or my current addiction, sparkling. You’re gonna need some.
Being a responsible kiwi, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that above all, the most important thing you will have packed in your picnic bag, is SUNSCREEN!
Once you’re organised, make sure your phone’s are charged, and you’ve downloaded the app Popbooth to take hilarious photos of you and your friends, so they can be named and shamed on facebook later that evening )
Have fun xx