Evoke the resplendent river banks of the English countryside with a Centennial Parklands picnic. Whether you’re craving a dose of oxygen or, seeking a pleasurable distraction during school holidays, this is your step-by-step guide to staging a Wind in The Willows picnic.
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is a delightful work of children’s literature. The beginning focuses on a wonderful picnic hamper, shared amongst friends on the banks of a river. “What’s inside it?” Mole asks, eyeing a fat wicker luncheon basket. ‘‘There’s cold chicken inside it,” replies the Rat briefly; “cold tongue cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, French rolls, cress sandwiches, spotted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water …”
With this inspiration in mind, who not recreate a Wind in The Willows picnic by using some quintessential Centennial Parklands picnic locations below.
Step 1 - Dress the part
Get in a good mood by dressing the part. Wind in the Willows focuses on four anthropomorphised animals: Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger. But don’t worry if you can’t find a tail or snout. Remember a simple character hat and some funny sunglasses can alter your entire look. Choose vintage motorsports for Toad, or cream cricket jumper and peak cap for Ratty.
Step 2 - Lay the foundations
A wicker basket is essential. Dig out an old woollen blanket and some dog-eared cushions for comfort, then pile everything in the bottom, loading heaviest items first. Seal it up with a blanket then secure with a strong rope (this will be used later). Don’t forget a rubbish bag and linen napkins to ensure you leave a nice clean river bank behind, as all good animals do.
Step 3 - Include hot drinks
A refreshing teapot steeped and poured into tincups adds a dose of English charm. If you prefer soup, remember to being ceramic cups so it can be sipped slowly. If you fancy Vienna coffee, simply transport your strong black coffee in a large thermos and add a tin of cold-whipped cream so you can top it off with a spectacular swirl.
Step 4 - Plan a menu
Cold meats are perfect on a picnic. It’s quick to create a Mediterranean antipasto or an unforgettable Ploughman’s Lunch. For the latter add whole apples, walnuts, sourdough bread, dried figs and Watsonia cheese or aged cheddar to a large wooden board and serve with knives. For vegetarians, go multicultural with Vietnamese cold-rolls or cucumber sushi and sandwiches.
Step 5 - Go with tradition
For chicken sandwiches; break up poached chicken on buttered white bread with egg-yolk mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add finely chopped walnuts and celery, and torn herbs like tarragon and parsley. Cut off the crusts and serve in triangle. Add plum cake or strawberry tart as dessert to provide a much-needed sugar-hit after lunch.
Step 6 - Bring your own sunshine
Once your food has settled, why not re-start the party by visiting a special zone for a treasure hunt? Use wrapped lollies, like boiled lemon sherbets and dot them around hollows and holes in the great trees of the Wild Wood. Sugar is sure-fire way to motivate children to get up and start playing again.
Step 7 - Ballgames
If you have a competitive spirit, let it run wild with some under -the-tree cricket, or by rigging up a quick Badminton court. You can also stage a tug of war with an industrial strength rope tied off at both ends in a knot.
If you are looking for more nature-based fun check out our Living Learning activities or book a picnic are at the Park for your next gathering with loved ones.