In honour of World Parks Day on Saturday, I thought I would write a little bit about my favourite park activity: picnics.
These lovely little events encompass many of life’s wonderful pleasures: people, food, wine, cheese, outdoorsiness, bare feet and hopefully, sunshine. I have often found that when I’m craving a little bit of casual socialising, mixed with a little bit of adventure or relaxation, a picnic will always provide.
Here are some of my favourite types of Brisbane picnics (yes, there are types).
The produce-tasting picnic
I’ve found market-fresh produce is best served with a picnic blanket and some friends. My Saturday morning Davies Park Markets visits often see me sitting in a circle of chilled market goers, comparing and enjoying our produce spoils under a big shady tree.
- Menu – Whatever is in season and is a bargain. At the moment it’s juicy strawberries that stain your lips.
- Activities – Making friends with fellow marketeers, listening to buskers and swapping possible adventures for the weekend ahead.
- People – Whoever is around. Everyone is a friend when there is produce to be shared.
- Place – As I said, Davies Park Markets (better known as West End Markets) is my personal pick, but there are plenty of markets and city-farms in Brisbane, including:
The midnight masquerade picnic
When I first moved to Brisbane, I met a group of glorious people through a mutual friend and was invited to a midnight masquerade picnic. Now, to be perfectly honest, I was a little hesitant turning up to a park in the middle of the night and approaching a group of practical strangers wearing masks. But, the night was a hilarious success and those glorious people remain my very good, and very interesting, friends to this day. The midnight masquerade picnic has continued as a yearly tradition, and so I feel it simply must make my list of favourite picnic types. However, I must stress, the fun in this event is very much in the creativity and uniqueness as much as it is in the people. So…get creative with a fancy dress theme, insist people follow the dress code, and the night will be a roaring success.
- Menu – Novelty foods, cakes, cheeses, champagne and wine… all foods naughty and decadent.
- Activities – Dancing, eating, drinking, playing with sparklers and being mysterious in costume.
- People – The more the merrier. Fancy dress picnics are great for breaking the ice with new acquaintances and combining circles of friends.
- Place – New Farm Park has always been very accommodating for evening picnics, but…where ever you choose, make sure it is a night-safe park, there is easily accessible public transport and you know the rules about drinking, gathering, parking etc. at night.
The family-fun picnic
There is still a place in the list for the traditional family-fun picnic. This is the picnic where people of all ages come together to eat a lot, drink perhaps a little too much and then fight it out in some form of sporting pursuit.
- Menu – The classics: potato and pasta salads, corned beef and pickled sangas, a dead chook, beer and soft drinks, then tea and biscuits for later.
- Activities – Fussing over who gets to do what. Eating too much. Sitting on Eskys and talking about the weather. Playing soccer / badminton / football / Frisbee / cricket. Accidently tripping your siblings. Playing tips, even though you know you’re way too old for that now.
- People – Family, little ones (aka children) close friends, drunk uncles and the neighbours.
- Place – Big parks with enough space to not be hitting fellow picnickers in the head every time you swing for the ball. New Farm Park, Roma Street Parklands and the Botanical Gardens are all good picks for the family-fun picnic.
The Sunday afternoon picnic
Often impromptu, often with the traces of Saturday night’s hangover, Sunday afternoon picnics can be the ultimate way to enjoy that Sunday afternoon relaxed feeling and prolonging the sense of weekend freedom.
- Menu – Leftovers, fruit, salad made from whatever is in the fridge, tonic and cucumber and/or cold cider.
- Activities – As little as possible e.g. lazing in sunshine, reading the weekend paper or napping under a tree.
- People – The inner circle; the people who you feel comfortable enough around to say nothing, or everything, and just be.
- Place – The local park; the nearest grassy spot. Again, New Farm Park, Roma Street Parklands and the Botanical Gardens are all pretty close to public transport for easy Sunday picnicking.