From chaotic family picnics to evenings grouped around plastic bags of Smirnoff Ice and Tesco-branded sausage rolls, proceeding to champagne-blurred afternoons spent in tartan-mat embraces, you wouldn’t be blamed in thinking that the defining feature of the picnic cycle is its social nature.
What is interesting to note, however, is that if you research any definition of the word “picnic” the string holding the term together is its outdoors, not its social, nature.
noun, often attributive pic·nic \ˈpik-(ˌ)nik\
Simple Definition of picnic
- :a meal that is eaten outdoors especially during a trip away from home
- :a trip or party that includes a meal eaten outdoors
- :something that is pleasant or easy
Fine food and the great outdoors is blissful enough in itself. Where family feuds, cupid’s arrow, or the half-inhaled smoke of sweet-sixteeners threaten to take away from that, why not pack your basket and picnic on your tot. Trust me, it’s not hard to do, and if you pick the right food, the right weather, the right spot, and the right book, then you might just be totting off a whole lot more often.
Top tips on how to go it alone
1. Pick a quiet spot
The one thing you don’t want to feel on your solo picnic, is alone. Now, obviously you are alone, but that’s easily forgotten when you’re looking at a beautiful view or contemplating the quality of what’s in your hamper. It’s not easily forgotten when you’re surrounded by noisy families, canoodling couples, and big groups of rowdy teenagers. Because the funny thing is, it’s not the loud groups, the screaming children and the surreptitious rumpy-pumpy going on in the background that draws the attention: it’s the person sitting quietly on their own, lost in their thoughts.
So, go somewhere where you won’t feel like people are looking at you sympathetically or incredulously, because that is quite frankly very irritating. A private spot, or either a public area where people frequently go and sit by themselves like Brighton Beach, for instance, are the perfect sanctuaries to delve into a good book or a sea of thoughts.
2. Have something to do
A picnic is more than something to eat; it’s something to do. There’s only so much time you can spend eating, looking at a view, and thinking, so to render your picnic experience worthy of the title, make sure you’ve got an activity you can revert to in times of need. Bring your paints if you’re a painter, pens if you’re a writer, book if you’re a reader, sun cream if you’re a tanner. I like to go somewhere where I can start my picnic off with a refreshing swim, so swimwear is a must (unless you’ve found a really quiet area of the beach…). Picnicking whilst you’re studying can be a nice way to make study less stressful and more enjoyable. Or perhaps you want to go to a quiet part of the beach and build a sandcastle. Each to their own.
3. Go all out
Effort tends to be reserved for the social world, whether that’s dressing up for a party, making dinner for two, or tidying the house for guests. As soon as we’re alone, we make only as much effort as we need to, which is, incidentally, very little. Every once in a while, it’s nice to make an effort for yourself, even if you’re the only one to appreciate it. When you go solo for your picnic, make sure you really make it a treat. Spend time making your favourite picnic food, or, alternately, something you’ve never tried before, and dress it all up in a wicker hamper. Don’t be afraid to go all out for yourself because I’m sure, like me, you’ll find it a rewarding and satisfying experience.
4. It’s not for everyone
With all of this said, it’s true to say that the solo picnic isn’t for everyone. For some people, the idea of eating, going out, or living by themselves is a nightmare to be kept at bay. For others, it’s a time of peacefulness, reflection and even adventure. But you won’t know until you give it a go, so when you’re confronted with a boring day ahead of you, a rumbling tummy, and an unclouded sun, why not break the stereotypical picnic cycle and go for a picnic on your tot.