After spending Saturday morning at the London Library, I met a friend for lunch – which is usually food+beer followed by coffee. Alas, this time it turned into an all afternoon and evening drinking session and when I finally got home I found an invitation to a Sunday picnic in St James Park waiting for me.
Normally, two days of drinking is very bad for me, so I RSVP’d as dubious – but fortunately despite my fragile state the following day I felt just about able to cope with it.
A quick run round the local Waitrose for Champagne, ice and nibbles and off to meet the chaps at St James. It was one of those incredibly hot days and they wanted to sit in the sun, so I spent the first couple of hours slowly melting while impatiently waiting for the shadow from a nearby tree to rotate round to our location.
Adam, as is his wont had arrived with most of the contents of a greengrocer and plenty of Pimms – so while he spent the next hour chopping fruit (and washing it in mineral water), the rest of us switched to other drinks. Someone had brought some tiny Scotch eggs and I am not a huge fan of them frankly, but after my bottle of Champagne had unexpectedly exploded on me and drenched the eggs, it seemed rude to refuse them after that. They were actually quite good, although I put that down to the lack of Egg and an excess of Scotch and Champagne.
It was a bit of an odd afternoon in the totty department though as there was a distinct lack of any. St James Park has rather gone downhill in this regard which is disappointing. One of the chaps had a good zoom lens to focus in one some eye-candy in the distance, but it did feel a bit like being a tabloid photographer. Ugh!
We also managed to run out of ice – thanks in part to the heat melting it in double quick time so some of the guys ran over to a local ice cream van and came back with some ice lollies which were draped around the drinks to keep them cool. After that the melted ice lollies were then themselves poured into the former Pimms jugs and liberal quantities of Gin added. It actually turned out to be rather nice, if not what Walls Ice Cream probably had in mind when designing them.
In the distance, a brass band was playing – although they seemed to stick to popular classics as opposed to the sort of classical music I would have preferred.
As the evening wore on to a close, it suddenly started to rain. Not a light shower which runs off your clothes and hardly affects you, but the huge heavy drips of rain which slam into your clothing and drenches you in seconds. Naturally, we scurried around to clear up and made a run for the now vacant bandstand for shelter. As the rain looked here to stay for a while, it was decided to unpack everything again and carry on the picnic in the bandstand until it got too dark to see properly.
Quite amazingly, one crowd of people stayed out in the rain in the distance having their picnic. They later pulled out tea-lights once the rain stopped and the sun started to set – I must remember to do that myself next time. The candles that is – not the sitting in the rain.
Overall, a very enjoyable day – good company, good food and good drinks, along with it pouring down with rain. In short, a perfect English picnic.