WHAT a month is July! The winter is a fast-receding memory, the next one in the distant future. With a little bit of luck we will be blessed with long balmy days of sunshine and we can indulge in that rarest of British pastimes – eating outdoors. I think if I am being honest I can count the number of really pleasurable picnics  I have attended on the index finger of one hand. Every time I have tried I have been stymied by the weather or hurricane-force winds. This summer, however, is going to be different, for I have planned.

For the perfect picnic we need to think of all sorts of things. First is venue. My ideal spot is always by a bit of running water, preferably under a shady tree (without any nastily swinging branches) with a patch of unsoggy, un-dog-poo-adulterated grass to sit on. Oh, and absolutely no ants’ nests allowed. Ensure said site is no more than 100yd from the parking place and yet out of sight of the general public (you never know where a picnic may lead).

The blanket needs to be thick and tartan, obviously (which clan tartan is up to you), and big enough to take all the guests plus pies, wine and plates. Chill boxes should be placed behind the tree because they are always unsurpassingly ugly. Necessary, unfortunately, but ugly.