Wednesday, 7 July 2010

5 reasons for not having a picnic

Yesterday I went out for lunch with my critique group to a local beauty spot called Wistow Park. It’s not that beautiful but it is in the countryside and it’s close to the canal so it’s one of Josh-the-dog’s favourite walks. (He does love tow paths. It must have something to do with a concentration of smells!) It’s also the place we used to go for picnics when I was a child.

A family of ducks waddled round our table as we ate and exchanged news about our latest writing projects. We were outside a colourful cafe sitting at elaborate picnic-style bench tables with large green umbrellas to shield us from the sun and we were eating food that couldn’t be more different from the picnics that Mum used to make.

Every so often I found myself glancing over to the field where Mum, Dad, my sister and I used to go for those Sunday afternoon picnics and it made me come over all nostalgic. I loved those picnics. Dad used to park the car on the grass verge (That’s not allowed now. There’s a proper car park with tarmac and white lines.) and Mum used to spread an old brown ground sheet in the middle of a big square field so that me and my sister could sit side by side and eat. The square field is fenced off now. Cows graze there and the rest of the area is landscaped with footpaths marked out, shops and even a Garden Centre... but my spectacles are not entirely rose tinted. Here come the five reasons for not having a picnic.

1. There were thistles on that field and I always managed to sit on one.

2. There were cowpats on the field and... ditto No 1.

3. The wasps loved my jam sandwiches more than I did.

4. There were no toilets nearby, the bushes were full of nettles and... ditto No. 1 again.

5. Someone (usually me) always managed to spill the drinks. They inevitably went over someone’s sandwiches (usually my sister’s). She would be upset. I would start to cry. Dad would declare the picnic over and we’d have to pack up before we’d finished and go home.

But in spite of the negatives, I remember those Sunday afternoons with a lot of warmth and affection. Yesterday, as I watched children eating carefully prepared cheese and marmalade onion ciabattas or jacket potatoes with Coronation chicken and side salad with olive oil dressing, I wondered if any of them would remember that outing with the same degree of fondness that I have for my family picnics. Somehow I don’t think they will.


17 comments:

  1. Loved this post, Rosalind - I could just picture your family picnicking, and you sitting in a cow pat...!

    Funny how we always look back on those days with such nostalgia.

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  2. Love it! We always tend to forget the annoying parts - and yours made me smile - and remember my own moments.

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  3. Thanks Talli and Jemi. I'd love to know what it is in our brains that makes us nostalgic about the past.

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  4. I love your remembrances! So funny and so honest.

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  5. I don't see why those kids won't have good memories of their picnics - as long as they are still going on the picnics .. that's the main thing.
    What about those kids today who are glued to computers / ipods/ televisions and don't even want to go out any more.
    I worry more about them.
    I think for some reason we tend to remember the mishaps / 'disasters' of our past much more than the run of the mill enjoyable everyday events.
    The 'normal' doesn't stick on our minds.

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  6. Thanks Merrilee. Lots of events are far funnier in retrospect. I was quite a weepy child I'm afraid, but I can, and do, laugh at it all now.

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  7. Ah Wistow Park long ago – as I get older I treasure memories like those more and more. Thanks for a lovely blog Ros and lovely thoughts of “family”……………………

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  8. Hi Ann. The kids I saw the other day were all sitting in a 'posh' coffee shop having a 'posh' lunch. It might be a treat but it's not a picnic and I do so agree with your concern over kids who are glued to their computers. What sort of memories can a computer fanatic have when they're older?

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  9. Hi Rifka. It wasn't such a bad family life way back when, was it ;-)

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  10. Hi Ros, your blog about picnics did make me laugh. I could just imagine all the things you said happening like the cowpat and you spilling your drink on your sisters food. As you say the reality is not always the same as the idea of picnics. But they do make nice memoires to look back on. Karan :)

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  11. Hi Ros - lovely picnic memories floating to the surface - all happy. I have clearly blocked out the scratchy moments of which I'm sure there were pleny.
    And belated greetings on that significant birthday - hope it was a big hooray.
    AliB

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  12. Glad it made you laugh, Karan. I have to say it is all true, right down to me ending up in tears. Families eh!

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  13. Thanks Ali, it was an immensely huge birthday and a big hooray too!

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  14. I loved this and I do love picnics! The only part I didn't like about picnics was when we would eat sandwiches on the beach and the wind would blow gritty sand into them. Not so tasty!

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  15. Hi Olive, Oh yes, seaside picnics are another memory again and the tide always came in just as you were eating too ;-)

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  16. Hi Rosalind - thanks so much for bringing me back to our family picnics which were very much like yours! There was the cuppa lukewarm tea and the hang sangwich along with the cow pats, flies and spillages and rows. Fun days indeed!

    We do take the kids on picnics regularly... and its a roll with choice of either egg mayo or hang or both, packet of crisps and water (sparkling of course) - is this a mix of old and new? Great post!

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  17. Thanks Barbara, hay! A picnic with sparkling water and a choice of rolls. Luxury indeed!

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