The beginning of May. Bluebells battle through the hard earth and populate the woods, blossom trees burst their scent into clean air. In a matter of days, Winter has been defeated and we are subject to a new ruler: Spring.
The curfew has ended. Daylight is allowed to linger, and birds rejoice mellifluously. The chill has gone, and whilst warm weather remains tentative, the time for a picnic is ripe.
Geared for a magical evening picnic, Phoebe (who has accompanied me to this and this picnic) and I amble through the woods. Just as the sun half closes its restful eye, we step onto a carpet of bluebells. In a half-mesmerised state we slowly set up picnic in a small, sheltered basin, protected on all sides by an army of blue-hatted guards on green stalks.
With fairy-lights, candles and lanterns we set the scene. Plumping up cushions, laying out rugs and blankets, and unpacking the edibles, we work up a healthy appetite for the feast that is about to take place.
Carrying out the Moroccan feel of the setting, we sit down to a (vegan!) tagine, with spiced couscous, containing flaked almonds, apricots, nutmeg, cumin, and caramelized onions. This was prefaced by a hot potato soup, kept warm by a beautiful silver flask.
Baba Ganoush and Salsa Verde (made up of capers, olive oil, anchovies, garlic, parsley, mint and basil) were accompanied by flatbreads and oatcakes, whilst traditional cucumber sandwiches, a Provencal salad and tomato and avocado salad made up the sides.
Clinking glasses of Gin and Mint Tea cocktail with the final flourish of figs in saffron honey.
With candles fully aflame and fairy lights hanging like little stars, we chatted and feasted until it was pitch black, listening to the deer rustling through the forest.