It’s just typical, after several days of glorious sunshine, that it’s pouring with rain as I write this. But what is a British summer without a smattering of the wet stuff?!
On a warm sunny evening last week, we decided to pop to the park for a picnic after work. This was made easy thanks to two things – some tasty Higgidy goodies, and my Always Ready To Go Kit for family days out. More on the kit later, but first the picnic!
We’ve tried out several of Higgidy’s products over the past year or so, and they’ve always been a winner. For a picnic, their quiche and veggie (or sausage) roll range are just perfect. In our picnic hamper were Little Ham Hock & Petit Pois Quiche, and Feta & Red Pepper Veggie Rolls. I also received a melamine beaker, with a gorgeous seashell design. I’ve procured that for my bathroom as it goes so well with the theme in there!
Feta & Red Pepper Veggie Rolls
Feta, crushed chickpeas, red peppers & chia seeds wrapped in buttery puff pastry, topped with a crunchy tomato crumb.
Little Ham Hock & Petit Pois Quiche
Seeded shortcrust pastry filled with slow cooked smoked ham hock & petit pois in a free range egg custard, topped with a turmeric & mustard crumb.
On the way to the park, we popped into the local shops to pick up some more picnic foods, and enjoy our dinner that evening, al fresco, sat on a blanket in the park. There is something really fun about a picnic, and as a family, we really love them! The quiche and veggie rolls were delicious. I personally preferred the veggie rolls over the quiche, but both of the Higgidy products were full of flavour, and just the right portion size for a picnic. We did receive several packs of each, so a couple went into the freezer for another time, and the next day, we heated the rest in the oven (as they can be eaten hot or cold) and the warmth on the quiche made it taste even nicer! I’d say if you can warm it up before you go out, then wrap it up in foil and then a tea towel, it’ll stay warm till you get to your picnic place! Or just have a picnic in the garden!!
For picnics, I generally like to take foods that are not too messy, and can be eaten with your hands – just in case cutlery and plates get forgotten! Dips, and things to dunk in them are good – tortilla chips and crudites (quite often you can buy them ready made in supermarkets). Sausage rolls, quiche, pies, deli meats and sliced cheese – and some wraps or rolls to make sarnies on the go. For pud, fresh fruit, or individually wrapped cakes and biscuits.
I’ve got a list of 50 Picnic Recipes that I put together here, if you want to up the ante, and prepare things in advance. This particular picnic was very much off the shelf at the local shops!
What are your family favourites for taking on a picnic?
Now onto my Always Ready To Go Kit, and how that came about in the first place…
I used to find that on the days we’d made the decision to go on a family day out, we were rushing around like lunatics, trying to get everything together that we needed. Quite often we would end up shouting at each other, because we can’t remember where we’ve put something – like the cool bag, or picnic set. Then, when we were out on the road and it decides to start raining, we’d realise that no one had remembered to put umbrellas in the car. This then lead to tension on the road (not good!) and could sometimes put a downer on the day.
I came up with the idea for my Always Ready To Go Kit after an afternoon at the park with my son, who said we should go out and enjoy the sunshine. We had bought some lunch on the way, and when we got to the park, I said “do we even have a blanket in the car?!” Fortunately, yes we did, and it meant we could sit down on the grass, avoiding grass stains on our clothes!
As he kicked his football about, I lay on the blanket in the sunshine, with my mobile office – phone, notepad and pen and wrote a list of all the things that we would likely need on a family day out. My thinking was that the kit could just be picked up, popped into the boot of the car and we’re away – no stress, no fuss. In fact, the main bulk of it can stay in the car, so we really can be off in a moments notice if we wanted to! I really hate wasting a day, so faffing about in the morning really gets on my nerves – this kit will hopefully stop that!
18 must-have items to take with you on a family day trip
1. Collapsible Storage Crate
These sorts of crates are good for storing everything neatly in the boot of your car, and when not in use, can be folded down and stored easily – my reason for picking this type of storage. Corralling everything in a crate means that it won’t all move around in the back whilst you are driving.
For sitting on the ground and avoiding grass stains on clothes! Ones with a plastic baking are best, which means, even if the weather is nice, but it’s previously been raining and the ground is a little bit wet, you can still sit down. I have put both a plastic backed blanket and a regular blanket in the car – the regular one is good for wrapping around you if you get cold!
3. First Aid Kit
Good to keep in the car anyway, but if you’re out and you get a minor injury – scrapes, cuts etc, a first aid kit will come in very handy. You can make your own up and put into a plastic tub with plasters, antiseptic cream, bandages etc, or buy one ready supplied.
4. Anti-Bacterial Gel
This stuff is great if you can’t get to running water to wash your hands.
5. Wet Wipes
It’s been a long time since I had a baby in the house, but I’ve never stopped buying baby wipes! They’re good for so many things, and come in really handy to wipe up sticky hands after a picnic!
6. Paper Napkins and Tissues
For drying up spills and other liquid issues!
Don’t let a rain shower spoil a day out – put a brolly in your kit.
8. Sun Cream
Don’t get caught out in the sun, which can be surprisingly hotter and more burning than you realise.
9. Picnic Set
Be it melamine, paper or plastic, always be ready for a impromptu picnic with plates, cups, bowls and cutlery. I would add drinking straws too.
10. Plastic Bags
For rubbish, dirty clothes, foraged finds etc.
11. Emergency Money
Keep a stash of coins in the car for parking meters or for buying an ice-cream. Also keep an emergency tenner or twenty pound note in the car, just in case you can’t get to a cash point, or you go somewhere that doesn’t accept cards.
12. Road Map/Atlas
Yes, I know we live in a GPS age with sat navs, but a real, hold in your hands map book can help you find some hidden gems. We spent a holiday in Dorset years ago with just a road map for our guide and found some lovely little places to stop at. Plus, you never know when your sat nav might let you down – don’t get caught out!
Or any type of ball game – a wide open space is a good opportunity to run around and have fun.
14. Non-Perishable Snacks
Dried fruit and nuts, crisps etc., things that can stand up to being in the car for long periods of time. Many a long drive when my son was little did I regret not having a snack in my bag for him!
The following items are things to have to hand to make a day out easier…
15. Thermos Flask
Love your tea, coffee or other hot beverage? Keep them that way in a flask!
16. Folding Chairs
This may well be dependant on where you go out for the day – but if there are people in your group who struggle to get down on the floor (and back up again) they’ll be thankful for a chair to sit on. They are really good value for money, and take up little room in the boot of a car.
17. Cool Box or Bag
I picked an awesome collapsible one, which is good for storage – we used to have one of those retro plastic ones – they’re a nightmare to store! Remember to always have some cool packs in the freezer to keep things nice and chilled for your day out.
18. Picnic Box on Wheels
I saw this and thought it was fab – if you have a big family, then carrying a picnic box can be heavy! No more with one that is one wheels!
I’ve covered all the eventualities that I could think of! Of course, you could add and take away things for your Always Ready To Go Kit, which will, I think, be dependant on your family size and children’s ages. As I’m finishing off writing this, a bucket and spade popped into my head. So did a wind breaker (which we actually have in our shed, and comes in really handy on the beach), and a pillow – good for the kids if they want to sleep on the journey – or for sitting on, on the ground.