The Picnic Starter Pack
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Who the heck doesn’t like a picnic? You’ve got your food, drinks and speakers - ready to turn all the way to 11 to frighten off anyone who dares sit near. Oh shit, who was supposed to bring the blanket? Does anyone have a bottle opener? Why are there so many bees? Why are we doing this again?
Exactly. Picnics are a hard thing to master. Which is why we're providing our Picnic Starter Pack complete with: a bountiful deli to load up in; our tip for the ideal spot to stretch out; and a suitable drinking hole to get loose when the day is done. Feel free to toast us when you’re living the good life.
1. Victoria Park
Deli Downstairs is the kind of deli all other delis secretly wish they could be, with an alluring green, red and white facade and all manner of artisanal cheeses, meats, quiches and pies inside. They also stock all the condiments you're legally allowed to be caught in possession of. There's a 'bougie tax' here - watch that bill doesn't get away from you.
With football pitches to the north, and sugared-up kids doing god knows what to the south, we suggest pitching up near the east lake, where you can stretch out on the soft grass beneath the trees. Like that fella in the image above.
In the heat of summer, there aren't many better beer gardens to find yourself in than People's Park Tavern. It's got plenty of long benches, a leafy green backdrop, miniature golf and table tennis. Sure it gets loud, sure it gets busy, sure there a couple of posers, but this is East London, friend. Get yourself one of their home-brewed ales and put your worries in a sack.
2. Brockwell Park
Whilst you've been busy doing you, you might have missed Mimosa's attempts at deli domination in South London. Their original cafe, in the village-like surrounds of Herne Hill, is full of French produce - apt, for it was they that invented le pique nique. Tasty sandwiches, soups, quiches, breads, cheese and wines. All that good stuff, served with a smile.
What's key here is to avoid the playground area and locate a spot with a view - we reckon heading centrally to the walled garden. Don't sit inside the walled garden though, that could spell danger. Instead, find an appropriate slope, get to the top of it and enjoy the view.
All we really want from a pub in summer is a south-facing terrace where we might spill out into the street with a jar in hand, the setting sun reflecting off our sunglasses, feeling at one with all mankind. The Prince Regent fulfils that criteria: a big Victorian boozer where the great, good and well-dressed of Herne Hill pile in.
3. Regent's Park
Melrose & Morgan is the kind of place we imagine we'd shop in all the time were we a wellness vlogger living in LA. Both a grocery shop and kitchen, 60% of food here is made by their in-house team of chefs - you can either buy ready-made sandwiches, salads or soups from people who do it for a living or try and do it yourself with the raw materials.
There are numerous places to enjoy a picnic within Regent's, but if you forced us to pick one place, it would be along the tree lined banks of the south east side, amongst the rose flowers and sporadic couples indulging in startling levels of PDA.
The Edinboro Castle's beer garden, on a quiet, leafy residential street in Camden, is up there with the very best, capable of fitting 300 bods along its long tables and intimate booths. There are craft beers from all over the world on tap and there's decent pub fare in the kitchen. We like it a lot.
4. Hyde Park
A mere 15 minute walk from Hyde Park, Paul Rothe & Son is the kind of traditional, family-run place that warms the heart and the belly. They make such delicious sandwiches here that we're gonna have to advocate getting one, with recipes like salt beef, garlic sausage or mature English cheddar particular favourites.
The tourists stick to the promenades, the Serpentine and the cafes. Oh those shmucks, if they only knew that wandering off the paths would get them amongst oak trees, the long grass and plenty of secluded nooks for all manner of mischief. We suggest somewhere near the Norwegian war memorial in the centre.
An old-timer that harks back to 1721 - a time when the picnic was merely a spark in Mr.Pic's eye. It's right on the edge of the emerald gem with some beautiful views across the park from the terrace or balcony bar. Liable to flow out onto the street come summer, just how we like it.
5. Hampstead Heath
A treasure trove of Italian treats with all the requisite charm you'd want from an Italian deli. They've got lovely breads, cheeses, meats, olives, pickles and patés along with artisan wine and spirits. Swing by here, fill your bag to the brim and head for the Heath.
Approximately 1.5 million people take picnics on Hamstead Heath on a summer's day, but the best spot is not the Parliament Hill lookout nor the banks near the ponds; instead it's beneath the trees and amongst the long grass on top of the steep hill looking towards Highgate. You can barely see any sign of city life, and that's just perfect.
Why the heck did they even continue making pubs after this one? Perched on the north west edge of the Heath, it's a goddamn beauty with the ideal beer garden out back that feels like a true trip to the countryside. Stroke a dog, sip on something cold, bask in the greenery. Or loiter menacingly near someone with a table until they feel obliged to give it up.
6. Peckham Rye Park
Stylish, well stocked and steeply priced. That's Peckham's General Store, which is like the virtual Pinterest board of someone mad into produce. From delicious 'nduja to their croissant loaf and biodynamic wines from France, this is an exceptionally curated shop. Certainly one for a special occasion, but this is a picnic in Peckham Rye park - this is special.
An underrated piece of parkland, the main patch of grass to the north can get overrun with footie and the like; for a bit of calm and very soft grass, hit the eastern strip which is a lot less crowded and apt for Leisure with a capital L.
The Rye covers everything you could reasonably ask of it: ales on tap; £7 negronis; plus a food menu wading into gastropub waters. Yet our favourite thing about this one is the beer garden: a grassy space on a slope full of locals playing table tennis, pétanque, or just chatting about the realities of South London lyf, surrounded by smoke and laughter.
7. Richmond Park
Upon hitting Richmond, head to Alberts Deli: a place where locals meet for a chinwag/bitch, a lazy brunch or to fill their baskets up with excellent produce. The deli is dishing up quiches, fritatas and sandwiches alongside expensive chutneys and various other bits and bobs.
It'll require a little effort and a high level of prep, but if you head into Richmond you really ought to head all the way in - away from the cyclists and the dog walkers and other miscellaneous plebs. Pitch up near the pen ponds and ready yourself for a wrestle in the case of brave deers feeling hungry.
It's a bit of a walk to get there from Richy P (25 mins) but just look at the potential of that sunset riverside cotch. For a pint with a view it really doesn't get much better than this, with the barges, row boats and 24-hour techno cruises drifting past. Depending on how slow you are, you might even find your feet submerged in water as the ol' Thames creeps up to reclaim the pavement.