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Prepare the perfect British picnic

Updated February 21, 2017

Relaxing outside in the sun is an irresistible draw for many people, who shake off their winter woollies and excitedly brush the dust off their summer sandals before loading up with picnic food and squashing into the car for a trip to a beauty spot for a picnic. Catering to all tastes for the picnic allows for a harmonious and relaxing day out, and the food need not cost the earth either. Fundamental to an ideal picnic, though, are the people who are lazing around the blanket together and chatting.

Essential equipment

With the UK weather, a dry carpet of green grass is not a guarantee, so to cover any dewy patches and discourage creepy-crawlies, a picnic blanket is a must. A set of plastic cutlery, plates and cups are also useful, but for wine or other alcoholic drinks, many people prefer proper glasses. Bottle openers and tin openers should also be on the list. Flasks filled with tea and plastic bags to tidy away rubbish are also handy. Depending on the group, a football to play with or books to read can make the perfect end to the day.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches have almost endless possibilities for fillings, and by cutting them into triangles, everyone can share. For spontaneous picnics without any prior preparation, picnickers can simply pick up some fresh crusty bread and butter from a shop and fill it with delicatessen foods, salads or Spam straight from a tin. Pitas or tortilla wraps are also suitable for making fresh sandwiches.

Pies

Quintessentially British, pies are the ultimate portable food, from fat pork pies to elegantly semicircular Cornish pasties. As well as the traditional fillings, more exotic flavours like curried chicken and goat's cheese are also available for picnickers to choose their favourite. Scotch eggs are tasty alternatives to pies, and travel well.

Tarts and Pastries

Puff and shortcrust pastries make a portable and tasty casing for vegetable and meat fillings such as quiche and sausage meats, which makes them ideal as a cold picnic food, which also look pretty on a plate with a handful of salad leaves and vinaigrette.

Dessert

When all the savouries are eaten and the group is licking their fingers and sipping their tea, it's time to bring out the dessert. A traditional cake like the Victoria sponge makes an attractive centerpiece, especially if it is placed on a cake stand to keep the ants away. Alternatively, a covered bowl filled with Eton mess or trifle can be easily spooned out and shared between the group with a spritz of squeezy cream to top it off.

Pimm's

Topping off the perfect British picnic is the refreshing, and uniquely British, Pimm's. This alcoholic liqueur doesn't fit neatly into normal drink categories, as it does not have the strongly alcoholic taste of most other spirits. Mixed with white lemonade and profusely added slices of cucumber, strawberries and orange, Pimm's is the colourful cocktail that also gives picnickers their daily dose of healthy summer fruit.

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About the Author

Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.