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The time has come again, when one of the time-honoured institutions of Great British pastimes makes its appearance. The first outdoor picnic of the year is, and always will be, a thoroughly British affair. Not for us a lushly arranged al fresco Tuscan spread, nor a smoking Southern barbecue in scorching 30 degree heat. The Great British Picnic should always involve the following: lukewarm Pimms... a slight nip in the air... a smattering of rain... errant frisbees or dogs or children, or all of the above... and wasps.
Every year when I embark on my first outdoor picnic, and inevitably come away with a slight ache in the joints and ants in every crevice of my bag, I think, "Why do we do it?" I guess ultimately for me, the Great British Picnic represents more than just the stubborn British spirit; it represents a promise of adventure. As a child I feasted on the literary depictions of picnics in Enid Blyton's adventure books, as did many others. The Famous Five were always packed off with 'lashings' of ginger beer, baskets of boiled eggs, tinned pineapples, cucumber sandwiches, ginger cake and homemade lemonade. And it was no coincidence that with every mouthwatering picnic embarked upon, a new mystery was to be solved. The extravagant yet wholesome food described in Blyton's books became a fuel and catalyst for her characters' appetite for adventure.
That is why every year, at any hint of the sun, you can find me zealously organising an over-ambitious picnic with my friends - as if setting a honey trap to entice a whiff of adventure promised by the advent of summer. Even if chasing wasps away from the cakes is the most adventurous it gets.
Try my favourite picnic recipes: