Al fresco dining on the road

19th August 2005 at 01:00
Bacon and lettuce sandwiches are just one of Elizabeth David's no-nonsense picnic suggestions that would not seem out of place today, though they were considered cutting-edge when first published in the 1950s. Try her garlic bread: "Heat a couple of French loaves for a few minutes in the oven. When they are still hot, split them lengthwise and spread each side with butter into which you have pounded one clove of garlic, some chopped parsley and a little salt. Put the two halves back together, and when you get to the picnic cut them into slices."

Also tempting are prawns with watercress dressing: "For a seaside picnic it is nice to have some fish; in all probability you won't find it there, so take it with you. Buy ready peeled prawns, put them into a suitable jar, season with salt and pepper, and take in a separate bottle a generous quantity of French dressing made with lemon juice instead of vinegar into which you mix a good handful of very finely chopped watercress."

To finish up she suggests figs and creamed cheese: "Dried figs are delicious for a picnic; agreeable to bite on at the end of a meal. Have them with a homemade sour milk cheese, very slightly salted, or little French cream cheeses." Recipes from Summer Cooking (first published in 1955) by Elizabeth David, Penguin Books.

Where to go

* Bourton-on-the-Water: Gloucestershire village known as the "Venice of the Cotswolds", complete with motoring museum.

* Beaulieu: palace house, abbey and national motoring museum in the New Forest, Hampshire. Permanent home of the Shell Art collection and with reconstructed 1930s petrol station. A fine site for picnics.

* Charnwood: local heritage museum in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

Exhibition of Shell art runs until end of August. The surrounding Queen's park is excellent for picnics.

* Other Shell destinations include: Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, a World Heritage coastline adorned with the now precarious Clavell tower, painted by Paul Nash; Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, private forest near Marlborough with public access (the monument to George III was painted by Szegedi Szuts); Newlands Corner, Surrey. John Armstrong captured the spirit of this popular picnic spot on the Albury Downs in 1936.

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