Does anyone remember this, the Readers Digest, AA Book of the Road? If you do you are giving away your age. My Dad had one in the glove compartment of his car, I don’t know when it was published but I think it must have been in the ’60’s.
Today I had a flashback seeing a couple sat in stripey deck chairs sitting in a gateway down a country lane. Their car parked beside them like a trusty steed, and the woman boiling the kettle on a camping stove.
I grew up with family outings like this, Mam and Auntie cooking dinner on 2 primus stoves, men reading the papers and napping in deck chairs.
We had all the equipment, a wind brake was a must, sometimes a tent too if it was a full day picnicing in a field. Farmers didn’t seem to mind then.
We ate heartily, Aunties pies and scotch eggs, a pan of peeled new potatoes freshly dug from the allotment, with a tin of peas. Followed by a chocolate cake or a fruit pie, this was a feast that seemed to feed the whole family no matter how many of us were on the picnic. Sometimes we had salad.
Auntie had the most amazing ,( and posh) picnic hamper, it was like a small suit case, when you opened it it was like Pandora’s box, it had everything, and everything had it’s place, (for 4 people that is) plates and saucers held by leather straps in the lid, flasks, tins containing cakes and biscuits, stacking cups, even a salt and pepper had it’s place. I think we had a shopping bag and some tupperware, but we did bring the whistling kettle!
So what does this have to do with the AA Book of the Road you may ask, well as a 5 to 12 year old what do you do when you picnic in a gateway to a farmers field? I used to gravitate to water but if there wasn’t any I’d go in search of wild flowers, birds, grasses, even landscape features. I’d go back to the car and raid the glove box to find I’d discovered a spotted orchid, quaking grass, or a burnet moth. I suppose this is where my love of the hedgerows and countryside came from, nothing mind blowing or on a grand scale but it was to me, I even developed an interest in local architecture, because in Norfolk ( where we spent our summers) they build with flint.