After what seems like endless days of dark grey skies pouring never ending rain onto the sodden gardens, it’s hard to believe that it’s May this week! By this time as a family we normally have enjoyed a picnic or two! I’m desperate to get out my picnic rug, cool bag rucksack and my list of picnic places that I’ve been thinking about all winter, itching to enjoy the better weather when it was supposed to arrive!
Sadly the weather has evaded us but I will start to share some of the best picnic ideas in anticipation that things have to get better (don’t they?).
Row, row, row your boat
Quintessentially English. A beautiful, sunny summer day spending time by a river. My picnic idea is to take your hampers onto a rowing boat. We did this last year in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire on the River Nidd. It turned out as one of the best picnics we’ve had.
My husband Josh is a very keen rower, proper rowing boats a la Steve Redgrave (he also wishes he could be the Steve Redgrave type of rower as well!) We set off expertly rowed by Josh and the girls and I were perfectly placed so the boat was well balanced. At a quiet spot we pulled over to the river bank whilst we ate our lunch. My girls were so thrilled we were eating on the river! The people in other boats looked at our ‘floating picnic’ with longing eyes. Drifting a little as we ate we had a lovely lunch. It made us feel as if we were part of ‘Wind in the Willows’ and we wouldn’t have been surprised to see Mole or Ratty in a passing boat!
The ‘floating picnic’ is now an annual trip to Knaresborough. We combine our picnic on water with an ice cream from the famous Brymor Ice Cream shop. Brymor ice cream is made with milk from Guernsey cows in the Yorkshire Dales and is delicious. There are over 35 flavours but my favourite is unchanged from my childhood- rum and raisin. We have to earn the ice cream as the shop is up a lot of very steep steps from the riverside up to Knaresborough Castle but it is so worth it! The castle dates back to medieval times and is another good place to explore (there is parking at the top of the hill as well if you can’t do the stairs).
We take our ice creams to Bebra Gardens, where in June, July and August there is a paddling pool for the children so make sure if it’s hot and sunny you take swimming costumes and towels. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here just letting the children splash in the water. It’s also a great spot for a picnic and to meet friends.
There aren’t that many places in Yorkshire to hire rowing boats but when looking over the country as a whole there are plenty. My list of other ‘floating picnic’ destinations where I would like to go is as follows:
Henley- the ultimate rowing destination.
Oxford or Cambridge- this time have the picnic whist punting on the river.
Durham- with views of this historic city with cathedral and castle.
Stratford upon Avon- rowing out into the countryside.
Hyde Park, London- on the Serpentine at this Royal park way from the crowds.
Lake District- rowing on Windermere, Derwentwater or Ulswater with incredible views of the hills.
Norfolk Broads- there are so many places to row here the selection is huge!
So if you’re dreaming of the summer to come and thinking of somewhere to go try a ‘floating picnic’. You will all have a super time messing about in boats!