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The Great British Picnic

If the last year has taught us anything it’s that meeting outside is a lot more fun if you combine it with eating and drinking. So as it is currently National Picnic Week we thought we would give you a roundup of all the essentials to have the perfect picnic this summer.

My first recommendation comes from long trusted outdoor brand Regatta who have always provided equipment in which to enjoy the great outdoors. I couldn’t not wait to use the Picnic Bag they sent me, it arrived and I thought I’d been sent the wrong item as it was so light. The cool bag contains all the plates, cutlery and cups for four people as well as a bottle opener but is so light even a child could carry this into the hills for a wild picnic. The easy-carry bag, with an adjustable shoulder strap and handle on the top, is made from durable recycled polyester with an easy-clean PEVA lining. I really do enjoy products that just make life easier and this is definitely the ideal product for a picnic or outdoor dining.

I was sent a lovely item for transporting wine that means no clinking bottles as you sneak out the office on a sunny day to meet your friends in the park. Planet Nature sent me a gorgeous wine basket with leather handle. The intricate wine basket is beautifully handcrafted with naturally dried palm leaf. The strong sewn leather handle makes it a sturdy basket that will last and is comfortable and easy to carry. This is perfect for a trip to the supermarket to carry bottles home without the risk of damage but also the very best option for taking bottles on a picnic in a more stylish manner.

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For drinks I thought I’d stay away from the traditional bottle of bubbles or cider normally enjoyed on a summer’s day and suggest some wines and an alcohol free option.

For wines I’m going to suggest a selection of exceptional roses from Les Vignobles Foncalieu in the south of France. The Domaine Haut Gléon Rosé – IGP Vallée du Paradis is wonderfully perfumed on the palette but with a remarkable freshness on the finish. Le Versant Grenache Rosé is delicately scented on the nose, mixing gourmet notes of red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) and more flowery aromas of rose and orange blossom. It has beautiful aromatic persistence with notes of fresh mint. I liked the Ensedune Cabernet Franc – IGP Coteaux d’Ensérune because the aromatic is complex with notes of peppermint, redcurrant and violet and the palate presents a nice concentration, on roasted red pepper, with a long persistence. Perfect if you want to surprise your guests with a slightly different taste. And finally Les Cardounettes Rosé – IGP Pays d’Oc – Vin Biologique, small red fruits on the nose with a fresh and delicious grape side. The palate is fresh and aromatic, intense and fruity, which leaves a pleasantly scented impression.

Now it’s no good having a lovely bottle of wine with you if you don’t have a bottle opener and even then it’s not always the easiest process, nevermind in the middle of a field. I was sent a product by Cuisineart that I actually gave away soon after I used it but we’ll get to that after I tell you how good it is. The 4 in 1 automatic wine opener opens a corked bottle at the touch of a button. It is cordless and rechargeable, comes with all the accessories you need for opening, pouring and storing your wine including an aerator and wine stopper and is small and light enough to pop into your basket and carry with you. It’s one of those gadgets that you just love to use and really does make life easier. However I did give this away to my sister, who has no fingers on her left hand and so had never been able to open a corked bottle without help. She has since informed me that it really is life changing and she can now open bottles and drink much more wine because of the product. What a result!

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Picnics can be enjoyed any time of day so to encourage that lunch break option I decided a non alcoholic yet fancy fizz would be appropriate. Bursting with seaside botanicals and as uplifting as a walk on the beach, Sea Arch is a delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic gin alternative. Crafted using traditional distillation techniques, it is created with complex, natural botanicals such as sea kelp, samphire, cardamom and blood orange then the alcohol is gently removed to create a grown-up, alcohol-free spirit. It’s lovely with tonic and amazing in cocktails if you want to be extra fancy in the park between meetings but best of all it is sugar free and calorie free. I tried their ready to drink cans with a twist of raspberry and rose infused tonic which are a delicious option for those who don’t need a drink in the middle of the day.

A product I was delighted to discover was an alternative to cling film by Wax Wrap. WaxWrap was founded with the goal of providing sustainable solutions for a zero waste lifestyle, without compromising convenience, offering an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap and aluminium foil. Made from 100% natural materials, WaxWrap is plastic-free. Organic cotton cloth is coated in a mixture of natural beeswax, antimicrobial pine resin and antibacterial jojoba oil, giving it pliability and allowing food to ‘breathe’ the way nature intended,  keeping it fresher for longer. You simply rub the sheet between your hands to warm the wax then wrap up your leftovers to store safely at home. Available in a roll or as a selections of sizes, the wraps can be used over and over again but when you’re finally ready to replace your WaxWrap, pop it into your compost bin to biodegrade or use it as a firelighter, either in the home or on the BBQ. Amazing!

On the subject of being eco friendly, I was sent a selection of products from zero waste and eco friendly brand Wake Cup that are perfect for outdoor dining. Using your own bamboo straws is not only environmentally friendly being reusable, recyclable and compostable, this set of 8 from Wake Cup are also anti-microbial and the perfect companion to sip cocktails, iced coffee, smoothies and milkshakes. They come in a lovely linen bag that is small and light enough to pop in your handbag so you always have a plastic alternative at the ready. The Zero Waste Cutlery Set is also perfect for always being prepared on the go. Rather than reaching for that plastic spork with your salad, simply have this wooden set in your bag in its own cotton pouch complete with knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks and a metal straw along with its own cleaning brush. Finally you can get this personalised stainless steel lunchbox as a gift for someone who wants to be more eco friendly or keep for yourself so you don’t have to write your name on your lunch at the office! The lunchbox has two compartments to separate sweet and savoury and is leak-free. Easy to clean with a damp cloth, this box means no more smelly plastic lunch boxes ever again. The two clasps shut the lunchbox so tightly you could even carry soup if you wanted to.

Another product that’s perfect for the eco warrior is the Beast Tumbler from Green Steels which is a stainless steel vacuum insulated coffee cup double wall travel flask with splash proof lid, 2 straws and a free cleaning brush. The range of colours available means there really is one for everyone and the lifetime guarantee on this product means you’ll be further minimising your environmental impact. The cups are dishwasher safe and their huge size means you can get your grande coffee to go every time.

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One of my favourite indulgences in summer has to be ice cream and there is no shortage of it on the market at the moment. However there are a few brands worth seeking out and one of these is Cecily’s . With seven Great Taste Awards already under their belt, they are clearly doing something right. Cecily’s range is perfect for all: for flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans, and anyone looking for simple ways to reduce their intake of dairy and animal products. I particularly loved their Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream but they also launched their Lovely Little Bites this year and they are so perfect for picnics and easy to eat a little at a time.

Another ice cream brand you need to add to your shopping list is Oppo who have one of the widest selections and best flavour combinations of low calorie ice cream I have ever seen. The Oppo Brothers wanted to create a temptation that was healthy enough that you never needed to resist and they have truly succeeded. They were the first major ice cream brand in the UK to launch a nationwide ice cream delivery service meaning that customers can now get hold of exclusive Oppo flavours not available in the shops such as Caramel Chocolate Crunch, Cinnamon Crunch and Maple Walnut. One of my favourite flavours is the Raspberry and Vanilla but to be honest I would suggest buying a few different flavours as each is better than the last and all without the guilt!

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Finally, for the ultimate decadence when planning your picnic look no further than Petrossian. For a century, Petrossian has been celebrating a way-of-life based on authenticity and excellence to offer carefully selected, perfectly matured hand-crafted caviar. I am no connoisseur of caviar so to test out the products available our Editor Lady Charlotte offered to be guinea pig as she has a penchant for all things decedent. Petrossian sent her a section of 3 caviars to try including Sevruga Steluga® Royal Caviar, Ossetra Royal Caviar and Beluga Royal Caviar, all in a cute branded cool bag. Caviar from Petrossian is cold chain guaranteed with all orders delivered straight from their London depot in 24hr or on the date of your choice, this means you always get the freshest caviar ready for the day of consumption. Lady Charlotte tried out the caviar on its own and also on blinis with cream cheese, which would make for the perfect picnic accompaniment. Her favourite of course was the most expensive, the Beluga Royal Caviar. This caviar has a distinctive profile that cannot be found anywhere else, thanks to its characteristically large, soft eggs that range from light to dark grey in colour. The flavour is delicate, not too salty, even creamy on the palate. Outside of the picnic this caviar would be perfect with a champagne sauce on poached fish for a special meal for your friends and family. The other two caviars are slightly more affordable with the Sevruga Steluga® Royal making a comeback to the forefront of the caviar scene after a breakthrough in farm fishing. This small sturgeon, covered in star-shaped patches, produces caviar that is meltingly soft, with a colour that ranges from pearly grey to charcoal grey. Thanks to its extremely creamy texture and perfectly mastered ageing, Sevruga Steluga® caviar coats the palate with strong briny flavours and has a long finish. Lady Charlotte also enjoyed the Ossetra Royal Caviar, which is a great classic caviar. It has a delicate structure with elegant, golden highlights, a perfectly balanced bouquet of flavours reminiscent of the sea and fresh walnuts. If caviar really is not your thing then Petrossian also do a selection of other delicacies including smoked salmon, truffles, crab and even vodka. They also have a selection of gift ideas and hampers for special occasions. Check out Petrossian online for more delicious treats.

Now all we need is a decent spot of weather so we can go outside and enjoy the simple pleasure of a picnic with friends…

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