There is something special about eating food outdoors, whether it is breakfast in the garden, fish and chips by the sea or a picnic alongside a river, all of these moments are good for the soul. However, this being England, you’ll have a completely cloudless sky when you lay the rug out for your picnic and 10 minutes later there is what looks like a thundercloud in the distance. And wasps. Where do they come from?!

If you are brave enough to not be daunted by all that the countryside can throw at you then you will need a book that suggests what to eat. The Picnic Book by Ali Ray goes one step further and has a list of places to go where you can take the food that you have just made. Split into sections for the type of picnic that you might want to carry in a backpack, cool-box or hamper. The recipes are straightforward to make and suit people of all abilities in the kitchen and are a good mix of healthy food as well as treats for your day out.

I liked the variety of suggestions, from pizza puff spirals, fig and blue cheese tartlets, marmalade chicken and various salads, snacks and desserts. There are also menus suggestions, though you can mix and match as you see fit. Having suggestions on where to go to get your outdoor fix is a good idea. They are spread throughout the country so you should find something near you, though for some reason the New Forest gets a mention twice. The photos of the dishes are nicely done too. They didn’t feel twee or made to look perfect and I think that they look more appetising because of that.

Paul Cheney 3/3

The Picnic Book by Ali Ray
AA Publishing 9780749581152 pbk Mar 2019