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Picnic in style with Connolly
Picnic in style with Connolly
Picnic in style with Connolly

"There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort." — W. Somerset Maugham

Picnic didn’t appear in the English lexicon until 1748, but before the word was the deed — committed for millennia, as it happens. The Greeks and the Romans feasted in sacred groves after rituals and hunts and hosted lavish banquets on the beach. For them even modestly provisioned picnics had their charms. The Roman philosopher Seneca often picnicked on bread and figs alone. That, he said, was like having a “New Year feast every day.”

In Japan, the aristocracy similarly made an art of eating en plein air. In 1594, feudal lord and Imperial Minister Toyotomi Hideyoshi invited 5,000 people to a lavish picnic in honor of the famed cherry blossoms that adorned his city of Yoshino. The grounds he had enclosed with screens of gold leaf and curtains decorated by noted artists. Between the cherry trees were strung ropes so guests could hang their kimonos for all to see and to judge the most beautiful. And near the Buddhist temples he stationed watchmen called yama doshin to make sure no one desecrated the temple grounds by eating fish or fowl or playing raucous music. Hideyoshi’s picnic was a success, and he hosted many more like it, each more lavish than the one before.

Such picnics were a blend of saturnalia and refinement. More subdued examples of outdoor license we find in 19th-century Britain. Fitting imperfectly the Victorian trinity of breakfast-lunch-dinner, a picnic could occasion droll inversions. For the whole of a sunny afternoon, picnics forced participants to forget the embroideries of class and circumstance. The social space created the moment a picnicker plunked her basket down hovered somewhere between bourgeois respectability and rustic abandon. As such, it often conjured into being strange tableaux’

With grateful thanks to ‘Lunch on the Grass (a bite sized history of the picnic) ‘ from

And I too see that the picnic does have the wondrous power to make you forget, at least for a short time, an exhausting present and the darkening future ahead. This alone makes me want to dig out my basket and give picnicking another go… especially with one as beautiful as the Connolly handwoven picnic basket with Connolly leather trim and filled with all manner of delights including Gilles and Boissier china espresso cups and plates and olive wood bowls, English silver fish and chip forks and proper linen.