As summer is upon us, we must acknowledge a sad truth: picnics are not what they used to be. This is something that can cause great upset to those of us who can afford to spend time worrying about such First World problems. While opening a ready-mixed can of gin and tonic.
Therein lies the problem. Ready-mixed. Ready-made, packaged, easy-use. No. No, no, no.
Picnics are not supposed to be a walk in the park when it comes to preparation and assembly. Where’s the challenge in buying M&S salads, mini sausages and individual quiches? With plastic cutlery.
No, picnics in Scotland should be an endurance test, undertaken by stoics who thrive on discomfort.
This was drummed into me from an early age, when a day at the seaside would start at approximately 5am on the only day forecast not to be snowing in August.
My mother would be up at that time boiling eggs so that we could have hard-boiled eggs in our picnic. These were not optional.
Then a couple of loaves worth of assorted sangwidges to feed a family of six. Then basically anything in the fridge that needed to be used up.
It was not unusual to be eating a scotch egg dipped in Angel Delight on occasion.
One of the other main essentials was the tartan rug to sit on. One rug. Six people plus a picnic. We were absolutely forbidden to sit on a bench or deckchair, as that was not “in the spirit”.
We would also have flasks of tea or juice – none of your ready-mixed cocktails in the olden days. Plastic plates and beakers. No cutlery.
It was definitely considered character-forming to have sand in your sangwidges or a wasp stinging your lip while taking a slug of juice.
Nowadays, that pioneering spirit has almost disappeared.
We are all used to getting picnic-ready food and drink, chucking it in a cool bag and sitting at picnic tables, conveniently placed near car parks.
All that namby-pamby nonsense needs to stop. Let’s get back to basics.
After all, it never did me any harm.