All Things Picnic!

TastyReuben

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This was a picnic at our favourite spot reserved for our wedding anniversary. This was last year... too windy to sit beside the car, so the car was used as a wind shield.

View attachment 89546

View attachment 89545

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The Eski to the back of the table (in the boot) contains 2 full meals and dessert for both of us, plus plenty of cold drinks.

View attachment 89544
We do have fold away chairs. There are 2 boxes that live in the garage that have everything needed for a picnic except the Eski which gets packed on the day...

Mostly we use plastic plates and glasses though our mugs are decades old insulated mugs of Japanese origins bought back in 1992. Even without a lid they keep stuff so warm it can be hours before you can drink it without adding cold water. And our metal sporks, purchased in Helsinki after the continual failure of the plastic design ones whilst we were cycling around the world. A great investment.

The view we choose to watch this time around. Normally we face south, but on this occasion the wind dictated north! View attachment 89547
That’s how it’s done!
 

CraigC

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Portending greatness ahead, here’s the first piece of picnic kit I ever bought:

View attachment 89465

That’s an Opinel knife I bought from LL Bean when I was 14yo. I’d never heard of them, wasn’t particularly into anything French, or knives, but I was intrigued by the design and the little locking ring, so I bought it.

Carried it around for a week or so, which reminded me that I didn’t particularly like carrying stuff in my pockets, then into a drawer for the next five years or so.

I nearly threw it out or gave it away multiple times, but something always made me hang on to it, and then, probably 25 years later, we got our first picnic hamper, and when I was looking for a knife to cut up apples, I suddenly remembered “that LL Bean knife,” since relegated to the kitchen junk drawer.

Found it, pulled it out, washed it off a little, and used it on the next picnic. It worked a treat. Great, finally found something to do with it.

Just a couple of years ago, on another (non-cooking) forum, people were talking about knives, and since the forum had a good number of Europeans on it, I posted a pic of the knife.

“Every schoolboy’s first pocket knife,” one man from Germany mentioned, and another person, maybe Belgian, added that it was considered the perfect picnic knife, good for apples, cheese, and sausages.

“That’s good, because that’s where it is, in my picnic basket!”

It was only after that conversation that I went out and read about all the history and awards behind that little knife.
When I was 14 it was the Buck Knife carried on the belt with in the case. Even in school at that time.
 

TastyReuben

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These are the fold-up tables and chairs we use for concert-in-the-park events:

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89550
 
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Bear with me as I make The Longest Post on the Forum in an attempt to explain my infatuation with picnics:

On the Road to Nottingham (or Why I Love Picnics So Much)

First, some background: In the US, we don't really have a picnic culture; we have a cookout culture. Sure, people occasionally grab a cooler, throw in some convenience foods, head to a park and play a little frisbee, but we're much more inclined, when eating outdoors, to fire up the outdoor grill/barbecue, cook some burgers and dogs, have some potato salad, and sit around and visit with family and friends. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it's just a different way of doing things.

A picnic for two? On a blanket spread on the ground? With a proper basket/hamper? With actual dishes and foods that are more than just a simple sandwich and a packet of chips/crisps, and a can of Coke? That's just not that common here. I'm not sure when it fell out of fashion, but I'll say it was "the 1960's," because that decade gets the blame for destroying everything that was good and right with the world. So that's on you, Counterculture! :laugh:

1993, late Spring, MrsT and I were living in the UK at the request of Uncle Sam (US Air Force), and we'd both taken the day off work, so on a particular morning, we set out on a day trip for Nottingham. It was early days in our time there, about six months in, and we were systematically working our way through all the touristy places familiar to Americans (Stonehenge, Nottingham, any pub with "Ye Olde" in the name). It was going to be a great day!

Knowing that it would take us a couple of hours to get there, MrsT had the good sense to suggest we pack a light picnic lunch to eat on the way. We did the typical American thing and packed a little cooler with a couple of petrol-station sandwiches, crisps, and a some "fizzy drinks". We felt so pleased with our choices..."Look at us, picnicking like we're British!"

Oh, how wrong we were...

At the appointed time, travelling along some dual-carriageway toward Sherwood, stomachs grumbling, we spotted a layby and pulled in to eat.

Laybys are not, as our Culture Class instructor misinformed us, "the same thing as a rest stop in the US." They serve the same purpose, a quick respite from a long drive, a chance to stretch the legs a bit, but unlike an American rest stop, there aren't usually any restrooms, no building with a map of the area showing "YOU ARE HERE" and no vending machines. It's really just a widened bit of shoulder, enough for five or six cars to pull over and almost get out of traffic, and if it's a particularly popular stretch of road, there might be a somewhat faded catering truck there, selling watery teas and greasy bacon sandwiches.

This layby had nothing like that; just us, a panel van, and a lot of exhaust fumes.

Out of the car, leaned up against the front end, happily munching our egg-mayonnaise and cheese-and-pickle sandwiches, our salt & vinegar crisps, our Fanta drinks...we felt so pleased with our choices, pitying our sad American friends back at the air base, having their bologna sandwiches and Fritos and drinking their pedestrian diet Cokes..."Look at us, with our food bought in a British shop, with British money, driving a European car, and eating in a layby, like real British people!" - I fully expected Queen Elizabeth to arrive at any moment, tap us on the shoulders, dub us knights and dames of the realm, and present us with a manor house and royal pension.

About that time, midway through musing about what name I wanted for my butler, the panel van drove off and an ancient little Ford Fiesta puttered in, parked several feet in front of us, and very gingerly, out stepped the two oldest people I'd ever seen.

I nudged my wife, "Get a load of Liz and Phil there, I think they've come to offer us citizenship."

What transpired was pure magic. Ever so slowly, the old man (we'll just stick with Phil and Liz for ease) made his way around the tiny car and opened the hatch. In the two of them went, head-first, and in not-so-short order, managed to extract...a folding table! Two folding chairs, not unexpected, soon followed, and with much deliberation, were eventually set up in the space between us.

"What are they doing," asked MrsT, "Getting ready to play cards?" :scratchhead:

That was soon answered by Liz dipping back into the rear of the car and producing...a tablecloth and some plates. But not just any plates...these were proper plates. No paper, no plastic, but actual ceramic clinky-clinky plates...and glasses...and teacups with saucers...and cloth napkins...and stainless steel eating utensils!

"Look at that," I whispered to my wife, "They've even got salt and pepper shakers! And butter! In a butter dish!"

By now, we were both fully invested. We, as unobtrusively as nosy neighbors, watched as Liz and Phil returned, time and again, to their TARDIS-like hatchback, to pull out...a loaf of bread (and a bread board, and a bread knife!), a little plate of cheese, a thermos of tea (and a little glass jar of milk!), a salad of some sort (with dressing in another jar!), and like a magician hoisting a rabbit from a hat...wait for it...an entire roast chicken! A whole <bleeping> chicken! On a folding table! In a layby!

For the next 30 minutes or so, we were treated to the right way to picnic. We watched Liz lovingly pour Phil a cup of tea, and we saw how Phil just as tenderly carved pieces of chicken off for the two of them, while the entire time, their quiet voices made inaudible by the noise of the passing traffic, and their silky hair buffeted by the wash of the same, they enchanted us both.

The French may have their pan bagnats, the Italians may have their wines, cheeses, and fruits, and that's all well and good, but nobody, and I mean nobody, picnics like the British. Americans? We're not even on the same picnicking planet with them.

There was no other word for it. It was simply beautiful, and in that moment, I felt like the old man who came down from the mountain - "These are my people, and I am home!" - and all it took was Liz and Phil, sat barely 15 feet away, demonstrating how a proper picnic is equal parts Olympic event and art.

After one last bit of magic, where Liz dived into the back and conjured a fully-intact layer cake (with frosting), we were then treated to the two of them repeating the entire spectacle in reverse; cake carefully back in its holder, chicken in a container, all the bits and bobs packed up and in their rightful places, and returned back to vehicle, and they, just like their items, slowly and with much care, inserted themselves in the front, sputtered the car to life, and with a gentle burp of the tailpipe, off they went.

In my mind, I like to think that, nearly 30 years later, they're still toodling around England, 117 years or so old, still staging wonderful picnics in whatever laybys take their fancy, and no one can convince me otherwise. As we put ourselves in our car, all I could manage to say to MrsT was, "I want to be them. We're doing that, and I want to be them!" - and no surprise, she felt exactly the same. :love:

I've forgotten a lot of things over the years; things from my childhood, things from the early years of our marriage, and even things since moving back to Ohio several years ago, and I blame it all on getting older and the eventual inefficiencies of an aging brain, but the one area where my memory is near perfect is of the few years we lived in England, in the 1990's. I can tell you what the air smelled like on the first day I breathed it, every bit of single-track road between our house and the air base, and what my first Theakston's Best Bitter tasted like.

However, being privileged to watch that couple going through their picnic set-up...it was like a play or a ballet, put on just for us, and it's easily one of my top-three memories of England. Seeing the crown jewels was jaw-dropping, visiting Stonehenge was awe-inspiring, but it was that picnic performance that put a lump in my throat and made me think, "God, I love this country!"
Lovely story....having grown up just outside Nottingham I must admit my first reaction was "why on Earth were they going to Nottingham" :scratchhead: ...but then you mentioned Sherwood so I guess you were heading up towards Sherwood Forest/the Major Oak - which makes a lot more sense :D

But I do have to disagree with your assessment of the French though....they really do know how to picnic. On most of their major roads every few miles there's an "Aire de repos". Some of them are the usual service station with shops, petrol etc. but most of them are just a parking area, sometimes with loos, but always, always, with picnic benches. And if you want to stop between midday and 2pm then you're going to need to be really lucky to find a space because they'll be full of groups of people with feasts laid out on tables.

I love a good picnic and we have a wicker picnic set too - hasn't been used for a few years though as it mostly got its outings for concerts etc. We do picnic on travel days whilst we're on holiday.....we try to find somewhere nice where we can stop for a break and have some lunch. Our picnics tend to be quite rudimentary...some bread, cheese, meats, pate, maybe a bit of pasta or cous cous salad.

Here's one from a couple of years ago:
oOEjZUM.jpg
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

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I love picnics, and I love this thread. I however have nothing to contribute, because due to my several disabilities the act of picknicking has been too uncomfortable for me for years. So instead I do high tea's at home or restaurants which involve many of the same kinds of foods.
When we were looking at the table and chairs for our picnics, they were all upstairs in a place that didn't have a lift. The staff would not hear of me walking up the stairs and carted everything downstairs for us to try out. They appreciated that I wanted to be able to get the wheelchair under the table, not just close to it and lean forward. They helped no end and went out of their way to find one wide enough that I could get the wheelchair under. Then it came to finding a chair that had adjustable back support as well as neck support. They sorted all of that. I think it took over 1½hrs in total, and all of It had to be carried downstairs and then back up. They were equally helpful finding hubby a comfortable chair as well, never once asking him to go upstairs as look at the display! I couldn't thank them enough by them end but we had exactly what we needed. A wide table where the legs didn't obscure the wheelchair access, high enough to get it under easily and with no risk of me taking out the table if I moved the wheelchair. And a comfortable lounging chair that also fits the table (with mandatory beer holder in the arm! Lol).
 

Windigo

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One way I can kind of commiserate just a little bit…our days of spreading a blanket down and eating on the ground are far, far behind us.
I understand, I see most people here with foldable chairs and I think that will be possible for me in the future.
But right now with an active rheumatic flare on top of my hernia, sitting anywhere ( in a chair) causes me to stiffen up completely so sitting in a foldable chair would be too painful. Even my sofa hurts right now!
The pain meds help, but as long as the cause is not treated the pain is clearly not gone all the time. Hopefully, soon it will be.
When the time comes, I will be back in here for sure!
 

CraigC

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Lovely story....having grown up just outside Nottingham I must admit my first reaction was "why on Earth were they going to Nottingham" :scratchhead: ...but then you mentioned Sherwood so I guess you were heading up towards Sherwood Forest/the Major Oak - which makes a lot more sense :D

But I do have to disagree with your assessment of the French though....they really do know how to picnic. On most of their major roads every few miles there's an "Aire de repos". Some of them are the usual service station with shops, petrol etc. but most of them are just a parking area, sometimes with loos, but always, always, with picnic benches. And if you want to stop between midday and 2pm then you're going to need to be really lucky to find a space because they'll be full of groups of people with feasts laid out on tables.

I love a good picnic and we have a wicker picnic set too - hasn't been used for a few years though as it mostly got its outings for concerts etc. We do picnic on travel days whilst we're on holiday.....we try to find somewhere nice where we can stop for a break and have some lunch. Our picnics tend to be quite rudimentary...some bread, cheese, meats, pate, maybe a bit of pasta or cous cous salad.

Here's one from a couple of years ago:
View attachment 89582
On a couple of major 2 lane Highways, US 27 and US 41(Tamiami Trail), back in the '60's and '70's there were Way-Side-Tables where people would stop to take a break. Some of them had pavilions with BBQ pits. In the southern part of US 27 and the eastern part of US 41 these were located right next to the Everglades, within a few yards (meters) of the swamp or canals. It was sometimes an adventure to stop at these tables as you never knew what residents might be using them! On US 27 there were homemade signs on the north bound side every so often, indicating the remaining miles left to "Tom Gaskin's Cypress Knee Museum". A tourist trap as you may have guessed. However, there was a mural painted by local artist, Russ Smiley. Personally I think he is as good as Guy Harvey.
 
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JAS_OH1

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On a couple of major 2 lane Highways, US 27 and US 41(Tamiami Trail), back in the '60's and '70's there were Way-Side-Tables where people would stop to take a break. Some of them had pavilions with BBQ pits. In the southern part of US 27 and the eastern par of US 41 these were located right next to the Everglades, within a few yards (meters) of the swamp or canals. It was sometimes an adventure to stop at these tables as you never knew what residents might be using them! On US 27 there were homemade signs on the north bound side every so often, indicating the remaining miles left to "Tom Gaskin's Cypress Knee Museum". A tourist trap as you may have guessed. However, there was a mural painted by local artist, Russ Smiley. Personally I think he is as good as Guy Harvey.
I always loved seeing the "Alligator Crossing" signs, lol.
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caseydog

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Lovely story....having grown up just outside Nottingham I must admit my first reaction was "why on Earth were they going to Nottingham" :scratchhead: ...but then you mentioned Sherwood so I guess you were heading up towards Sherwood Forest/the Major Oak - which makes a lot more sense :D

But I do have to disagree with your assessment of the French though....they really do know how to picnic. On most of their major roads every few miles there's an "Aire de repos". Some of them are the usual service station with shops, petrol etc. but most of them are just a parking area, sometimes with loos, but always, always, with picnic benches. And if you want to stop between midday and 2pm then you're going to need to be really lucky to find a space because they'll be full of groups of people with feasts laid out on tables.

I love a good picnic and we have a wicker picnic set too - hasn't been used for a few years though as it mostly got its outings for concerts etc. We do picnic on travel days whilst we're on holiday.....we try to find somewhere nice where we can stop for a break and have some lunch. Our picnics tend to be quite rudimentary...some bread, cheese, meats, pate, maybe a bit of pasta or cous cous salad.

Here's one from a couple of years ago:
View attachment 89582

I love the motorhome... picnic basket? Cooler? What is that?

CD
 
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I love the motorhome... picnic basket? Cooler? What is that?

CD
Its an insulated folding picnic basket...basically like a cool bag with a frame and metal handles. Its a pretty good size for carrying everything from the MH over to the table....you can get a enough food and crockery for 2 people in it and it squishes flat for storage. We got it free for referring a friend to one of the camping clubs :D
 
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