If you’re struggling to think of what to do for a lockdown Valentine's Day (and we wouldn’t blame you), then we’ve got some romantic picnic ideas that could do just the trick.
Not only is a picnic relatively low-cost, but - if done right - it can also be incredibly romantic. We’ll talk you through all the necessities and non-negotiables, as well as help you spark some ideas of your own to make your Valentine’s Day picnic as thoughtful and personalised as possible.
So, first thing’s first - what should you pack for a romantic picnic?
Whether you’re planning a picnic outdoors or inside, there’s a list of essentials that you’re going to need for the ultimate romantic rendezvous.
If you’re heading to a local park or remote rural spot, do your research in advance. The last thing you want is to turn up with your lovingly-packed picnic basket to be greeted by a very British thunderstorm, a flock of hungry seagulls or over-excited dogs out on their walks. So, perhaps avoid picking a picnic location that has an off-leash dog policy or is renowned for getting overly crowded, as you may struggle to find a spacious and secluded picnic spot for your romantic set-up.
Try arranging your picnic near a lake, river, or even a waterfall for a lovely, natural musical backdrop to your al-fresco meal. Take a trail to a high point with an amazing view and away from busy crowds, or bring your picnic basket to a local botanical garden so you can enjoy the seasonal blooms while you tuck into your sweet and savory treats.
Our guide to the top Northumberland destinations and picnic spots will give you all the inspiration you need for your romantic picnic location.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to check the forecast when planning your romantic picnic, but - let’s face it - the English weather isn’t synonymous with predictability. So, make sure to pack some ponchos, brollies, hand warmers, lightweight but super warm layers (like merino wool) for if it gets chilly, a waterproof picnic blanket and even some portable waterproof tarps if possible.
On the other hand, if a rare British heatwave catches you off guard, you’ll want to prepare with some sun cream, a failsafe bucket hat (practical and stylish, we’ll have you know!) and plenty of cool bags to keep all your picnic goodies fresh.
Now, mental images of damp sarnies, dirty picnic blankets and grass stains on your summery linen outfit aren’t the most appealing. So, even if your picnic is a surprise, it might be worth giving your partner a head’s up on the dress code. There’s something rather romantic about that, anyway.
If you’re arranging something a little more special than the type of picnic that wouldn’t be spoiled by spillages, eating straight from the tinfoil and wiping your hands on your shorts, then you’re going to need to plan accordingly. Depending on the picnic location, you might opt for disposable plates, cups, cutlery and paper napkins - or you might want to ramp up the romance and pack “proper” tableware like cheese knives, silver serving spoons and fancy champagne flutes. Only you know what would go down best with your chosen picnic guest - but we think it’s safe to assume that old, stained plastic tupperware will never go down well…
Either way, it’ll always be important to have plenty of wet wipes, rubbish bags and appropriate accompaniments for your picnic basket contents. If you’re struggling with planning your outdoor dining set for the occasion, you could always opt for a pre-packed picnic hamper or backpack that may include plates, stainless steel cutlery, wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, washable napkins, a corkscrew, chopping board and waterproof blanket. Job, done!
For setting the mood, consider taking a bunch of fresh flowers to brighten up your picnic blanket, some outdoor-friendly candles (such as battery-operated pillars with a life-like flicker, small votives, anti-bug citronella candles and trays/hurricane holders for containing drips and flames) and a small speaker for playing your romantic, pre-prepared playlist - we won’t take credit for the brownie points.
You can also try (carefully and safely) hanging candles in globes or lanterns from tree branches or over clothes lines and illuminating your pathways with standing lanterns to lead your special guest to the picnic spot. And for a memorable centrepiece, pop some floating glass tea lights in a large bowl filled with water along with some flowers or foliage.
As a rough guide, here’s our list of what to pack in a romantic picnic basket:
If, on the other hand, you’re planning a romantic indoor picnic, you’re probably going to have far fewer pesky external influences to consider. So, you can afford to be a little more creative with your set-up.
When it comes to the spread, why not take your time to create the perfect cheeseboard? Chunky, rustic wooden cheese boards are best (in our opinion) for presentation. But when it comes to the savory selection, that’s really down to personal preference. With over 750 British cheeses to choose from, it can be rather tricky to know where to start. When we think of romantic picnics, we couldn’t not suggest a rich, oozy baked camembert for dunking warm hunks of bread. If you’ve been with your picnic partner for a considerable length of time, we also recommend the garlic and rosemary version, which pairs perfectly with a chilled glass of fizz.
From crumbly, classic cheddars to creamy brie or full-flavoured blues, we suggest a combination of soft, hard, rich and light cheeses for your romantic picnic cheeseboard. As for the accompaniments: salty olives, crisp British apples or pears, sticks of celery, a selection of chutneys or piccalilli (extra romance points for homemade condiments!), oatcakes and a choice of cured meats like prosciutto or salami. Standard alcoholic accompaniments include Port, a full-bodied red wine, dark ales or perhaps a wee dram of whisky.
Again, don’t overlook the atmospheric additions.
When it comes to decorative settings, you can never go wrong with sprucing up your table (or floor area if you’re maintaining the traditional picnic style) with some fresh flowers, pretty green foliage and candles. February is never the warmest of months, so you may want to consider soft furnishings like squishy cushions and snuggly blankets.
For presenting your food in the prettiest way possible, try any of the following:
Of course, if you absolutely can’t (or won’t) cook, why not order an Afternoon Tea in advance Packed with lovingly handmade sweet and savoury goodies like our indulgent raspberry and white chocolate flapjacks- which are kind of a big deal - chocolate truffle and luscious lemon drizzle cake, you absolutely can’t go wrong.
Ah, the great British tradition of afternoon tea! So popular, it even took off up here, in the generally regarded "salt of the Earth" North East.