May 27, 2014
Where to picnic in the city
In green and pleasant England, we usually only have a few short months, or even weeks to enjoy al fresco dining when the sun comes out – and so do the crowds. Trying to carve out a couple of square metres in heaving Hyde Park or Primrose Hill is not my idea of picnic heaven. If you know where to go though, there are still a few hidden gems in London that are yours for the taking, and your picnic basket.
Before you venture forth, you will need to be prepared: there is nothing worse than arriving at the park to set up camp and realising you have forgotten the picnic blanket. Ladybirds in the lemonade and itchy blades of grass do not for a good picnic make. Our collection of luxury blankets and throws is both irresistibly soft and reliably hard-wearing, and if you want to get really comfortable it’s well worth investing in a couple of our cushions, for a comfortable alfresco nap.
A great picnic is not just about a few hastily thrown together egg sandwiches or a dash along the supermarket deli aisle; most picnic sets now come equipped with proper cutlery, space for wine glasses and ceramic plates, so don’t feel restricted by the usual finger-friendly picnic fare and try some more adventurous recipes. For inspiration, Hemsley + Hemsley’s healthy and delicious recipes will convert even the hardiest Scotch egg devotee.
So, with your hamper packed and blanket ready, it’s time to find the perfect spot. Everyone knows Richmond Park is one of London’s most popular green spaces for a walk or cycle ride but there’s no denying it’s not exactly crowd free (and that’s just the deer!). Instead, why not have a leisurely stroll along the river before arriving at historic Ham House and Garden, well worth it for the beautifully landscaped lawns, perfectly manicured hedgerows and deliciously blowsy flowerbeds.
East of the city, you’ll find Springfield Park, with stunning views across the River Lea.This oasis has its own bowling green, outdoor chess boards, tennis courts and bandstand – more than enough to keep kids entertained throughout the day and allowing for that well deserved cat-nap!
If you’re looking for somewhere more central to park yourself during a day of sightseeing, St Dunstan’s in the East is the definition of a hidden treasure. Just a leisurely ten-minute amble from London Bridge, this tranquil spot is the preserve of lunching city workers during the week but blissfully quiet at weekends. Like something out of a fairytale, climbers and ornamental vines cling to the ruined medieval church it takes its name from and exotic plants border the cobbled pathways. Keep this one to yourself!
If you’re planning a more refined affair, not-so-much Frisbee and Rounders as champagne for two, then Postman’s Park tucked away a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral fits the bill. You’ll rarely find more than one or two other lounging couples here at the weekends and with its brightly coloured flower beds and gently flowing fountain it’s wonderfully easy to lose track of time.
So now you know where to head to avoid the crowds and host the perfect picnic, let’s hope for a scorcher of a summer – happy picnicking!