The Handbook
The Handbook

In partnership with Fortnum & Mason

The season of picnics is upon us. We can meet another household outside and the pubs are opening up – life is looking pretty good. The weather is suitably unpredictable, which, naturally, makes a British picnic even more exciting. However, instead of munching down on a stale pork pie, wet cocktail sausages and drinking out of plastic cups, it’s time to take things up a notch.

We’re talking fancy blankets, thermos flasks that actually keep your drinks warm and some of the finest fare for those paper plates. Yup – it’s time to go big or go home. And nobody wants to go home, because we’ve been held up there for the past year. There’s only one thing for it: a trip to Fortnum & Mason for luxury picnic essentials.

1. Picnic rug

You’ll want to be seen sitting on the grass in style, so let’s start with the picnic blanket. When it comes to alfresco adventures, it’s always better to stick to tradition, which is why you’ll need a classic tartan check.

This one comes in the Fortnum’s signature eau de nil blue and navy. It has been specially designed for Fortnum’s with leather handles to make it look as fancy as a handbag. Say goodbye to soggy bottoms and grass stains, outdoor dining has never been so comfy. 

Fortnum’s Picnic Rug, Eau de Nil & Navy Blue, £70

2. Canvas carry-all

Right, this one’s going to make everyone in Hyde Park stop and stare. Forget those silly plastic champagne flutes or floral parasols – this canvas carry-all trumps them all.

This is the perfect picnic set for four – it includes everything except the kitchen sink (although that might be in there somewhere too). The pack comes with plates, cutlery sets, linen napkins, a salt and pepper grinder, a corkscrew for the inevitable bottle of wine you’ll be consuming and it’s all neatly packed into a canvas bag. You’ll be the talk of the town.

Fortnum’s 4 Person Canvas Picnic Carry All, £190

3. Cool bag

There are bags that keep things cool and then bags that make you look cool. This is both. Trust us, we know a thing or two about being cool.

This is a fully-insulated Fortnum’s bag that comes with leather style handles, a leather zip and a cute little F&M stamp on the front (just in case people didn’t know how you mange to look this smart).

Fortnum’s Canvas Cool Bag, £75

4. Iced tea jug

Get ready to elevate your tea game to the next level with this iced tea jug. It can hold up to 1.5 litres, so there’s enough for everyone. Plus it looks snazzy, in the classic Fortnum’s eau de nil blue.

Try out some of Fortnum’s cold brews – start with the apricot and cherry flavour for a refreshing fruity kick. Brew the tea strong and with hot water (leave to stew for two minutes longer than usual),  then chill it. It’s best served with ice added in five minutes before pouring.

Fortnum’s Iced Tea Jug, £45

5. Leather games set

Nothing makes a pleasant picnic more exciting than having a few competitive arguments over some games. It could be pétanque perhaps, or bat and ball, or just a civilised session of cards – no matter your choice, it’s essential to pack something to pass the time.

We recommend adding this sophisticated set to your picnic.  From the London-based gifting brand Not-Another-Bill, this  soft-milled leather box includes a pair of traditional playing cards and four solid brass dice. Try your hand at poker, Go Fish or liar dice – just remember that it’s the taking part that counts. Isn’t it?

Not-Another-Bill Leather Games Set, £80

6. The Piccadilly Platter

Can’t be bothered to pack your own food? There’s no shame in that. In fact, that’s a very wise decision. Fortnum’s Piccadilly Platter has to be the best solution to picnicking since, well, since picnicking was invented. And it comes in it’s very own cool bag to take straight to the park.

Inside, you’ll find a host of delights. It’s basically like Christmas in there. Triple cream cheese (yes, triple), waxed cheddar truckle, all butter crackers, Stilton cheese straws… and we’re not done yet. There are also pickled cornichons, pickles, hams, scotch eggs, and pitted green olives. And to wash it down? A bottle of Pouilly-Fumé and Beaujolais. Come rain or shine, this will bring a smile to your face.

The Piccadilly Platter, £125 

7. The Antipasto Platter

If you’re all about the cured meats, this is the picnic for you. Tuck into pimento stuffed olives dripping oil, Fortnum’s cave-aged cheddar, triple cream cheese (yes, it’s back again), beetroot crackers and then the stars of the show: smoked coppa ham and King Peter ham from Tempus Charcuterie.

Then finish on something sweet with Forntum’s ruby chocolate florentines washed down with Pays d’Oc rosé and Fortnum’s Prosecco Valdobbiadene N.V. Who new dining alfresco could be so fancy?

The Antipasto Platter, £100

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