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Enjoy a welcome taste of freedom Everything you need to have the perfect picnic in Scotland

- ALEX BURNS

WE can’t guarantee that Scottish weather in April will be consistent­ly picnicfrie­ndly. But until the economy significan­tly reopens on the 26th, meeting up for a socially distanced picnic is one of the few ways that you can legally socialise with friends and family outside of your household. Scotland has plenty of beautiful spots for alfresco dining, especially while surrounded by spring flowers, but just make sure to pack a jumper and a raincoat alongside your food in case of unexpected rain. Here’s our guide for everything you need to enjoy the perfect Scottish picnic…

FIND THE PERFECT SPOT

We are, quite frankly, spoiled for choice in Scotland when it comes to finding a picturesqu­e picnic spot. It’s hard to narrow down our favourite locations but one of the best has to be Loch an Eilein, in the Rothiemurc­us Foerst in Aviemore. It has been previously voted as Britain’s best picnic spot and, with a lochside location, abundance of wildlife and dramatic pine trees, it isn’t hard to see why. There is also the bonus of an accessible path round the loch which is suitable for both motorised wheelchair­s and off-road buggies. Other great picnic locations include Tentsmuir Forest in Fife, Portencros­s seafront in Ayrshire, Fearnoch Forest, near Oban, and the ever-popular Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.

MAKE SOME POSH SCOTCH EGGS TO TAKE WITH YOU

You can hardly get a more quintessen­tial picnic snack than a Scotch egg. But, rather than taking along a bland supermarke­t version, why not make your own? This recipe, from trendy cookery brand Mob Kitchen, adds nduja paste through the sausage meat to give the Scotch egg a delightful kick.

Ingredient­s

2 1/2 teaspoonfu­ls of nduja paste 400g sausage meat

6 eggs

8tbsp plain flour

100g panko breadcrumb­s

Small bunch of parsley

Small bunch of chives

Salt and pepper Vegetable oil (you will need a lot)

Method

Finely chop your herbs. In a bowl combine the sausage meat, nduja, salt, pepper and your chopped herbs. Mix together and place in the fridge. Get some water on the boil. Add four eggs, boil for six minutes, remove from the heat and place in a bowl of icy water for two minutes. Take the eggs out and peel off the shells.

Get three bowls: fill one with flour, crack two eggs into the second and whisk, and put breadcrumb­s into third. Add a pinch of salt to all bowls.

Cover the boiled eggs in flour and place on a board.

Remove the sausage meat from the fridge. Divide your meat into four balls, make into a patty shape and pop your egg on top. Then, mould the sausage meat around the egg until you have a nice smooth ball.

Dip each ball in flour, then egg, then breadcrumb­s until evenly coated. Fill a saucepan with oil and heat. Add a few breadcrumb­s – once they start bubbling, it’s ready (you want it on a medium heat). Add your Scotch egg and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the heat, lay on kitchen roll to absorb any leftover oil. Wrap them up and take them along on your picnic. mobkitchen.co.uk

PICK UP A GOURMET SCOTTISH PICNIC HAMPER

If you can’t be bothered making your own picnic food, there’s always the option of buying a pre-made hamper. And Scottish Gourmet Food does it in style, offering a traditiona­l hamper that’s filled with salmon, smoked

Argyll ham, oatcakes, chutney, mustard, smoked duck breast, artisan cheese and two luxury pies. You can then go deluxe and upgrade to a wine hamper, beer hamper or, if you really want to impress, a Champagne hamper. Each hamper can be personalis­ed according to your tastes and delivered fresh to your door.

Gourmet picnic hampers start from £52.75 scottishgo­urmetfood.co.uk

TAKE ALONG A LUMBAR SUPPORT PICNIC CHAIR FROM HIGHLANDER OUTDOOR

Picnicking often sounds fun in

principle. But after an hour or two of sitting awkwardly on an uneven surface, with grass uncomforta­bly tickling your legs, the novelty can wear off. Fortunatel­y, Livingston firm Highlander Outdoor has a portable picnic chair that also offers a tailored back support. With a lumbar support backrest and armrests (plus cup holders) it will enable you to relax in comfort, no matter where you set up your picnic. It folds away into a bag for easy transporta­tion too. highlander-outdoor.com/uk_shop/lumbarsupp­ort-chair.html

BUY PLASTIC-FREE CUTLERY FROM GLASGOW’S GREEN TURTLE SHOP

There’s nothing worse than those who ruin Scotland’s beauty spots by leaving their rubbish lying around. And even if you are careful to pick up all your empties, there’s always a chance that a stray plastic fork could be left behind, or a single-use plastic bag gets blown away by the wind. The good news is that the Green Turtle Shop, based in Glasgow, has you covered. Its online shop has a range of environmen­tally friendly, reusable picnic essentials: bamboo cutlery sets, plastic-free sandwich wrappers, washable steel straws, cotton bags, natural sunscreen, reusable baby wipes, collapsibl­e bottles, travel cups and cleaning brushes, to name but a few. thegreentu­rtle.co.uk/collection­s/out-andabout-1

Get a luxury picnic blanket from Kinloch Anderson Tartan blankets are a fairly standard picnic accessory, but Kinloch Anderson takes them to the next level. The Edinburgh firm, which specialise­s in traditiona­l clothing, offers a range of picnic blankets in various Scottish tartans, coming complete with a brown wax waterproof backing to make them extra durable. The blanket also doubles up as a great windbreak (always handy in Scotland) and it folds up neatly into itself, with poppers and a carry handle to make it both compact and portable. £95 per blanket www.kinlochand­erson.com/shop/

BRING A DOGGY PICNIC FOR YOUR FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND

Dogs and picnics aren’t always the best combinatio­n. Yet with lockdown seeing a huge surge in dog ownership across Scotland, you might well have a four-legged companion in attendance at your outdoor lunch. To stop a dog from swiping your sausages (or giving you a desperate stare until you relent and give them some food), why not bring them their very own pooch picnic? Luxury dog food brand Different Dog has its very own “Pawfect Picnic” meal, coming in three sizes to suit different breeds. It contains a healthy combinatio­n of chicken, red peppers, broccoli, sweet potato and a dash of parsley, providing the perfect doggy distractio­n to allow you to enjoy your food in peace. Even if only for a couple of minutes. shop.differentd­og.com/pawfect-picnic.html

TAKE A PORTABLE SPEAKER TO LISTEN TO MUSIC

Having some music playing while you dine alfresco will set your picnic off in style, but you don’t want your favourite song to be ruined by poor sound from a tinny speaker. JBL speakers offer impressive­ly good sound quality for such a small sized device, with the brand’s Clip 4 speaker boasting a deep, rich sound and 10 hours of battery life, despite weighing just over 200g. Perfect for a picnic, it clips on to a belt loop, bag strap (or even a cool bag) and is waterproof up to a metre of depth as well as being resistant to dust. Even technophob­es should manage connecting it up to their phone or tablet: all you need to do is pair them via Bluetooth.

£49.95 from Richer Sounds richersoun­ds.com/jbl-clip-4-black. html?refSrc=17952&nosto=nosto-pageproduc­t3-copy

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 ??  ?? A socially distanced picnic is one of the few ways you can legally meet friends and family outside your household. Above: a Scottish Gourmet Food picnic hamper
A socially distanced picnic is one of the few ways you can legally meet friends and family outside your household. Above: a Scottish Gourmet Food picnic hamper

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