My pet hate is making picnics. It’s such a chore and my version of a picnic lunch must be a serious contender for winning the prize for most uninspiring (for it is always the same). With five to eight hour car journeys being fairly normal and the roadside alternative being such as it is, I’m forced to pack a picnic, which is often the straw that breaks the camels back when the clock is ticking and we are trying to leave the house.
Tuna mayo sandwiches, cooked cold chipolata sausages, crisps, apples, cold boiled eggs and biscuits. Oh, and a thermos of coffee or tea. Frying sausages, mixing canned tuna and mayonnaise and remembering to pack the crisps, is always done at the last minute, in fraught circumstances. Either the children (& husband) are already in the car, or causing havoc inside by repacking their suitcases or some such.
On long journeys we usually eat on the go – which fills the car with detritus and the children complain of scratchy crumbs under their bottoms within half an hour. The baby will tip a cup of juice over herself at some stage. The experience could be more pleasurable if we were to stop the car and set up under a thorn tree (usually the only option), but watching a sixteen wheeler truck rumble past, when you have spent the last half an hour trying to overtake the lumbering beast, can be soul destroying.
As soon as we set out, at whatever time of day, there comes a call from behind; ‘can I please have a biscuit?’ Then we all keep up an eating vigil that continues throughout the journey (incl. grownups) and then we arrive at our destination feeling bloated and out of sorts. My legs are always folded in knots as the front foot well is always jam packed with easy to get to; bottles of water, packets of sweets, biscuits, nappies, wipes an emergency change of clothes for the children, sunhats, sun cream a thermos and so the list goes on…
When picnicking with friends, we are sure to be outdone. Over time, I have learned that it’s best to accept a chilled glass of white wine and soda with good grace when proffered by a friend. It’s now a pleasure to accompany those who are beautifully prepared and I’m no longer ashamed of my plastic cups and old bottles of water. If someone pulls out a new looking Weber barbeque, I’ll throw my bacon and eggs in and mix them up with everyone else’s. When a picnic table magically appears complete with jaunty cloth, I happily pile my old ice-cream tubs filled with boring sandwiches alongside the freshly baked quiches, dips, pates and cheeses, and tuck in.