Lockdown rules have relaxed to allow more people to meet up in groups, as long as they are outdoors and follow guidelines to stay two metres apart. Follow our top tips for the perfect picnic – just add your favourite people and a dash of sunshine.
Dress for the occasion
Festivals, weddings and large family gatherings may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean your summer glad rags must remain mothballed – the great outdoors is your catwalk. If Lycra’s become your best friend during lockdown, it’s time to ditch the joggers and pull on something fancier. Get a style upgrade by digging out a cheery frock or colourful shirt. It’ll make your picnic that bit more special – who doesn’t love an excuse to get dressed up?
Raise a glass
In keeping with the dress code, you’ll want to sip something a bit special too. Rosé wine is a picnic classic or you could try pre-mixed cans of Gordons Pink Gin and Schweppes Tonic and Ojos Chardonnay Spritz Rose and Raspberry. Pop into your local McColl’s for fantastic deals on wines, spirits and beers. For little ones, whip up some homemade lemonade. The following recipe is literally easy-peasy, lemon squeezy: blitz three roughly chopped lemons, 140g of caster sugar and 500ml of water in a blender, then pour the mixture into a sieve over a bowl, pressing as much juice through as you can. Tip the liquid from the bowl into an ice-filled jug and top with another 500ml of water. Transfer to flasks and take on your travels.
To avoid one person shouldering too much prep, make each guest responsible for an element of the feast. Put someone in charge of crisps, dips and breadsticks, with others taking on drinks, mains or desserts. You can’t beat traditional classics such as quiches, scotch eggs and sausage rolls – just don’t forget meat-free versions for the veggies. Say no to soggy salads by chopping up tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber and lettuce and transferring to Tupperware just before you leave the house. Add equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar to a jam jar and season well with salt and pepper – then shake and drizzle over your salad to serve. Lockdown turned you into a baking pro? Now is the time to share your spoils: banana bread makes the perfect portable dessert. And don’t forget the crusty baguettes – many McColl’s stores bake on site, so stop by to stock up. Our Taste of Summer campaign means you’ll find great deals on everything al fresco.
Pack the right equipment
There’s nothing worse than discovering you’ve left the cutlery at home – who wants to eat hummus with their hands? Luckily, McColl’s has a great range of disposable tableware, starting from only £1.50. Other essentials include a cool box (warm beer, anyone?), blanket and Tupperware – or, if you’re feeling posh, a wicker hamper. Make sure you pack some toys to keep the kids amused: McColl’s stocks everything from bubble swords and flying discs, to water guns and water slides. And don’t forget sunscreen to make sure little ones stay safe in the (fingers crossed!) sunshine.
Bag up your rubbish
We’ve all seen those awful photos of beauty spots littered with rubbish and overflowing bins. Remember to pack plenty of bags so you can take your waste home and keep the countryside pristine. You can sort and recycle your empties at your house, so you’ll also get the virtuous glow that comes from being kind to the planet. Bonus.