It may not be the best weather for it, but it's National Picnic Week this week (17th-23rd June) so come rain or shine we're planning to get out at least once to celebrate this wonderful occasion!
Temperatures aren't looking that bad (fingers crossed!), with highs of 25oC to hit Central London this week...apparently! Not sure if we'll see some of that sunshine I've heard rumours about though.
Anyway we thought we'd run through some of our picnic essentials to make your lives a little easier this week! We could tell you to pack boring items like wet wipes, warm clothing and insect-repellent, but we're not going to. Instead, we're covering things that everyone wants to know: where to go and what to eat!
If you can think of any other essentials, please let us know and we'll add them to the list!
The first thing I think of when I hear the word 'picnic' is sandwiches, so we'd better not ignore them. Sandwiches are the kings of picnic food and loved by all. Brown/white bread, crusts on/off, squares/triangles, it really doesn't matter, just as long as you've made them yourself – shop-bought sarnies from Tesco don't count as true picnic food in our book!
In my opinion, there's no need to be too adventurous here - nothing beats a good old-fashioned cheese and pickle sandwich for a picnic. However, if you're feeling the need to impress, why not try something with an exotic twist and test out our recipe for Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi.
Next up, snacks. This is something that I could talk about forever but I'll attempt to keep it short. Sausage rolls, pork pies and scotch eggs – even if you would never choose to eat them any other time of year – were meant for picnics. Forget fine dining for a day and indulge in these classic snacks.
For School of Wok's Asian take on the ultimate scotch egg, why not try mixing pork mince and chopped spring onion with some sweet hoi sin, wrapped around a quail's egg and covered in panko breadcrumbs before being deep-fried until golden brown – delicious (remember to bring chilli sauce with you to dip!)
Spring rolls also make a good snack and are perfect hand-food for picnics. However, for a fresh and healthy alternative, try out Vietnamese Summer Rolls.
The location for a perfect picnic can sometimes even be more important than what food you bring. Even though everyone complains about a lack of greenery in the Big Smoke, there's actually tons of great parks and green spaces ideal for alfresco dining around the city, you just have to know where to look. Here's a short list of some of our favourites:
Hampstead Heath: Located in a beautiful - and very posh - part of North-West London, this is a must for any keen picnic'er. A huge area full of open fields as well as heavily-wooded areas (ideal for tree-climbing!), and great panoramic views of the city from the top of Parliament Hill. PS: Make sure to pack a bathing suit if you fancy a dip in the swimming lakes.
Primrose Hill: This small, hilly (as the name suggests) park offers an even better panoramic view of London. It's in a well-kept area which doesn't have as much of a countrysidey feel as other parks in London, but you're sure to spot a few famous people d
Hyde Park: You can't get much more central than Hyde Park – perfectly located for meeting friends from all parts of London. A huge park, stretching all the way from Notting Hill to Oxford Street, is ideal for those looking to walk off all the pork pies you've just eaten.
Richmond Park: Located out in Zone 4, Richmond Park is by far the largest park in London, covering almost 2,500 acres. Easy to get lost in but great for picnics and a big game of frisbee...just watch out for the deer!
Greenwich Park: This large park out east next to the river has spectacular views of London and a load of famous landmarks, so you can wash down your sandwiches with a bit of a history lesson while you're there.
Soho Square: This one isn't an obvious choice. It's a tiny space in comparison with the others and is surrounded by the bustling streets of trendy Soho. However, it's perfect for a mid-week impromptu picnic...just watch out for the crowds as it can get a bit busy! Any advantage of this one is that it's just a short walk from School of Wok!
[NOTE: Check online before you head out to see if you can take booze with you to these parks – we don't want you getting in trouble because of us! Most councils will have information on their websites about this]