With temperatures warming it's time to get back into one of my favourite outdoor activities – picnics. Spring provides the perfect weather. It's warm enough to head outside without much risk of rain but not too hot that the lovely packed lunch you've made will ruin in the sun. Picnics are great for any occasion, too. Whether it's a family reunion, someone's birthday, a first date, a 37th date, or just because you love any chance to combine a meal with some pretty scenery.
Of course, there are two major dilemmas when organizing a picnic. The first is what to bring. If there's a few of you, I suggest the age old "everyone bring a plate of something" trick. This usually works best if you figure out what that plate is before hand, so you don't end up with 12 plates of mini sandwiches. Don't get me wrong, I love a good triangle-shaped piece of bread, but I'd like a bit more variety at a picnic. If you plan on making your picnic last, it's also good to treat it as a three course meal. Bring a salad, followed by a barbecue, and finally some sort of desert. Even though the Spring weather isn't too hot, it's probably still best to steer clear of ice-cream and instead keep in mind that cake and fruit salad always go over a treat.
The second dilemma you'll face is where to go. If you're having problems with this one, let me give you a few hints. Parks are obviously prime picnic locations and of course there are the classics like Kings Park and the Queens Gardens. But with hundreds of parks around Perth, it's best to explore a little more.
Sir James McCusker Park is located in Iluka, bordering Naturaliste Boulevard and definitely makes my list of top picnic locations. With a playground, several water features as well as an adorable bridge, there's plenty to discover. You might even be able to spot someone in a big white dress, as the park is known to play host to several weddings.
If you're after something a little closer to the city, I'd suggest Hyde Park in North Perth. Cornering Vincent and William Street, you wouldn't realize you're so close to city once you're surrounded by the park's natural flora. There's plenty of shrubbery, trees, and flowers circling the lake in the middle. I am a firm believer that lakes always make a park better and Hyde Park proves my point. With swans, birds and ducklings gracing the water, there's plenty to see as you walk the track around the park. Any place where you can see six little baby ducklings following their mother in the water is a good place by me.
And for those of you living south of the river, a visit to Tomato Lake Reserve is always nice. It is similar to Hyde Park with the water in the middle, though unfortunately it's not in the shape of a tomato, stirring up many a question of the origin of its name upon arrival. Tomato Lake is actually a conservation wetland, protected by the Department of Environment and Conservation. With its main entrance off Oats Road, the Reserve has a few gazebos, barbeques and even picnic tables (perfect to mention in this review). There's even a café, The Tomato Lake Alfresco Coffee Shop, so, if you're feeling a little lazy, you can buy your picnic food on site.
Which ever beach is closest to you will be fine. It's probably best to avoid the major ones as they tend get a little crowded – Scarborough and Cottesloe are prime suspects. Of course if it's a windy day you may want to pick one that's also got a grassed area, sand in your food does not make for a tasty topping. If you live nearby, Sorrento beach is one that ticks both boxes with a lovely grassed area, picnic tables and enough space to distance you from the masses that congregate at Hillarys Boat Harbour.
Also, be sure to bring a jacket or an extra blanket with you if you're heading there in the evening. No matter how warm it feels before you leave, the coast is always roughly 10 times colder.
Of course, if you don't own a car or you don't fancy the idea of packing everything into the car, you can always have a picnic in your own front or backyard. This also works wonderfully if you're short time or need the oven for the party pies you wanted to serve. Plus, you can rest easy knowing you don't have to worry about the state of any public toilets either. It's even better if you've put a lot of effort into your garden and want to enjoy it or if you happen to live somewhere with a great view. This includes the lucky people on Riverside Drive with a view of the city that I discovered just the other night, or those of you living opposite the coast, such as anywhere along West Coast Highway.
No matter where you're going, it's important to remember the final thing you need to have at every picnic; good company. So round up your finest friends and dust off the picnic blanket.