Picnicking is one of those quintessential summer activities that instantly conjure up images of lush grass, cold drinks and tasty bites. Whether a family occasion or a romantic event, in the long-established picnic tradition the supplies for a successful outing are more or less always the same – a chequered tablecloth, brightly coloured crockery and cutlery, and delicious grub packed neatly in a basket to be enjoyed with that ravenous appetite for food and fun that can be only worked up al fresco.
Although it might look like the ultimate exercise in spontaneity, a picnic does require some preparation and organising if it is to provide a safe and pleasant experience for everybody. In movies and magazines people are transported instantly after deciding to venture out in the nature straight onto a magically green meadow in front of perfectly arranged platters. Picnic enthusiasts in the real world however should be aware of slip-ups that can seriously spoil their fun, and plan accordingly to counteract them.
The following list is drawn up on the basis of experience and common knowledge and outlines the three must-haves all prospective picnickers would do well to pack alongside the inevitable basket and blanket.
- Insect repellent. Essential item to prevent major discomfort for kids and adults alike. Not only insect bites are unpleasant and itchy, but sometimes they can cause significant pain or even disease. It would be a pity to have a wonderful summer outing ruined simply by omitting to pop in the luggage a bottle of lotion or spray with insect-repellent effect and ensure everybody uses it to cover the exposed bits of their skin once out in the wild. This is particularly important if picnicking near a water source.
- Cool boxes. The sight of mouth-watering canapés arranged deftly and prettily in the basket would ensure a good photo, but in practical terms the food would stay much fresher in cool boxes and will last better during travel. In addition the refrigeration will prevent against bacteria growth, and consequently, of undesirable side effects of the picnic, such as food poisoning.
- Sunscreen. Often forgotten in the general excitement and fuss created around the non-breakable wine decanter and the bamboo cheese board, the modest plastic bottle containing SPF 30 and above will ensure risk-free sun exposure and safe play under the blue sky. Slip it in the bag alongside the napkins and wipes and apply even if you decide to stay in the shade.