Let’s get one thing straight. Al fresco dining is not something you suggest to your mates after a sweaty game of five-aside. There’s only one reason to have a picnic, and that’s the fairer sex. Picnics can catapult you into a woman’s heart faster than months of indoor wining and dining. Here's how to get the girl:
Think fingers. “An indulgent picnic for two should be a sensuous experience,” says David Herbert, author of Picnics (Conran Octopus). His menu: “Tarts made with the lightest puff pastry, chicken spiked with fresh ginger and herbs or voluptuous finger foods such as strawberries dipped in chocolate,” and not “a hint of garlic”. Homemade sandwiches are passable (a meal deal from M&S doesn’t count), but if even this is taxing, buy a ready-made hamper: try Harrods, Carluccio’s or Fortnum & Mason (pictured above, £200).
To drink, Herbert suggests Kir Royale: turning champagne “a romantic shade of pink with a dash of crème de cassis”. Pimm’s is also fine, though turning up with pre-sliced cucumber, apple and orange could look a bit prissy. Avoid warm lager.
If all goes well, privacy could be tantamount, so choose your picnic spot with care. “You don’t want to be disturbed by boisterous hikers, plagued by midges or contemplated by a herd of mournful cows,” says Herbert. To find the most spectacular rural locations near you, go to www.nationalparks.gov.uk
Don’t underestimate the importance of aesthetics: the look should be “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe”, so think hamper and rug rather than eating from (or sitting on) carrier bags. “Take an armful of cushions, and a big parasol and enjoy an idyllic afternoon,” says Herbert. You might want to add an umbrella.