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The Riverside Picnic: A Serene Escape

The Riverside Picnic: A Serene Escape

A brief history

The history of picnics in Britain is a fascinating tale that spans centuries. In the 14th century, picnics were medieval hunting feasts where huntsmen on horseback received food brought out to them during their expeditions. However, the term “picnic” didn’t come into common use until 1740. It’s of French origin, derived from “pique-nique,” which means “to pick at food” and refers to small, informal gatherings. The French Revolution played a pivotal role. As aristocrats fled for their lives, many settled in Britain. They brought customs with them, including the pique-nique tradition. London’s Pic Nic Society, founded in 1801, combined dining and amateur theatrics, with each member contributing a dish and six bottles of wine. As society embraced indoor picnics, the middle classes wanted to partake too. Thus, the concept of al fresco dining—enjoying food outdoors—became accessible to a wider audience. Today, British picnics evoke nostalgia, scenic settings, and classic fare, making them a cherished tradition.

So, picture this: a sun-dappled riverside, the gentle murmur of water, and a delightful spread of food. A picnic by the river is an idyllic way to unwind, connect with nature, and savour delicious bites.

Location Matters

Choose a picturesque riverside spot. The river banks stretching in both directions near Hampton Court Palace, with its historic charm and Thames views, offer an excellent choice. There are plenty of places to park and often there are facilities near by.

Find a balance between sun and shade. A riverside tree or a cozy nook can provide relief from the sun.

Essential Gear

Picnic Blanket: Opt for a waterproof, comfortable blanket.

Basket or Tote and Cool-bag: Pack your goodies in a classic wicker basket or a sturdy tote bag. Depending on the weather we’d also suggest ice-packs to keep some of your food cool, fresh and, if cheese, in one place!

Cutlery and Plates: Lightweight, reusable options work best so you can take it away and do it all over again!

Glasses: We would say reusable plastic, never single-use. They are safer than glass and you can use them time and time again.

Wine/Bottle Opener: Don't forget this crucial tool!

Kitchen towel: This provide napkin coverage as well as help for cleaning up any mess or spills.

Cushions or Pillows: For extra comfort while lounging.

The Spread

Cheese, Charcuterie, Pâté, Fresh Bread, Cheese Crackers, Hummus, Smoked Salmon are all core to a wonderful event. Olives and Nuts add savoury bites that enhance the flavour profile and are easy to snack on. Salads can provide a light and savoury addition to the main course and of course fruits such as grapes, berries, and sliced apples or pears add freshness and will also go alongside cheeses and meats as well as being great for a bit of sweetness. Chilled wine, beer or sparkling non-alcoholic beverages help to wash everything down and make a lazy afternoon drift by even better.

Leave No Trace

Please remember to clean up properly after yourselves so that others can also enjoy a magical picnic after you have gone. Dispose of trash responsibly. Bring rubbish bags with you to take back and dispose of at home.

Respect Your Surroundings

Also, respect the nature you are taking part in — don't disturb wildlife or plants.

That's it. Go forth and enjoy that most quintessentially British, ok French really, summer past-time. We really hope the sun sticks around long enough for you to do so!