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The annual picnic event started when our children were very small and we wanted to have a party, but they couldn't stay up late and we couldn't afford it - so we invited all our friends to a picnic instead. It sort of became a habit for 38 picnics until Covid disrupted our lives.



However - this is what happened at the 38th and last annual gathering
Sunday 23rd JUNE 2019


PICNIC 2019   Sunday 23rd June was the day of our Grand Annual Picnic, which we convened at Runnymede Country Park as usual. Fran and I were first to arrive and set up our gazebo and our rallying flag of the inflatable pig on a stick. We were quickly joined by Peter & June Barnard and soon after that by Martin & Ann Plummer and Fin the dog. We had consciously only invited regulars this year, and we had received several email apologies, so we were not expecting too many people to turn up. But despite expectations our little gazebo city quickly expanded as we were joined by friends and family. Colin & Jacky Pattenden arrived on their boat, Joybringer - and ultimately we had forty seven humans assembled on the banks of the Thames.  A huge surprise was the arrival of David Stanford - a friend from Manchester, who just happened to be driving back home from Kent and stopped by to join us en route. There were five children in the gang and Jenade and Ben led them in Football, Archery and giant Jenga.  The Met Office had forecast thunder storms for the afternoon and the weather was bright through an overcast cloud cover and both quite warm and humid. There were no storms though, and we had no rain at all until we had packed up and were driving back home - and even that was only a few spots.  Another successful picnic.

People come and go, and not all of them sign the Visitors Book, but we think the following forty seven people were present at some point during the afternoon:

Martin & Ann + Katie

Roger & Fran 

Nigel & Tina Parr

Alex and David Plummer + child


Ann Plummers parents

Heather Elliot & Sue Day

David Stanford

June & Peter Barnard


Mary & Chris

John Sale & Alan Hardy

Jacky & Colin Pattenden

Jenn & Suj Munjee


Alan Field

Jane & David Perry

Gill Samerai

Natasha & Jenade Ahmed


Donna Lloyd

Zak & Sophie

Annisa & Ayden Ahmed

Pinder Nagle and partner


Rich & Liz Cooper

Matthew, Daniel & David

Nat & Ben Davies

Isaac & Scarlett


               plus Fin the dog and Radio London's toy Moosie



Fran cuts the picnic cake


Ahmed family                                                   more Ahmed family                                                       yet more Ahmed family     


  Pirate Radio London                                                               Peter and June                                                              Sue and Heather


                                      Fran                        David, Fran (threatening) and Jenn                                      Fran & Jacky                             

       Sujhat & Jane                                                 Fran & Jenn                                 Natalie the Archer


Jenade cheating at Jenga                                Roger & David                                          Liz and #3                       


      Sue, Roger, Heather & David                                        Grandkids #4 & #6 plus son         

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Our annual picnic used to move about the Country, but eventually became established at Runnymede close to Junction 13 of the M25. Although there were some basic rules (housekeeping stuff so we don't get evicted) in essence anyone can come along.

We've had guests from as far away as Sydney, Delhi, Toronto, Cornwall and Yorkshire; regular visitors from all around the UK "Home Counties", and loads of friends from London. The idea was to invite friends to bring not only themselves, but also their family, and their friends, their pets and some food and drink.  We always had a fair collection of gazebos, so if it looked like rain we were covered. The gazebos were usually grouped together, but one set of visitors - the gang from Radio London - always set their gazebo up a little way from the main huddle (offshore!) and decorated it with pirate flags. We all sit beside the River Thames (or huddle under canvas if the weather demands it) and talk and eat.   Most years we indulge in a Group Photo, some people go for long walks and Colin sometimes brings his boat to give people rides. We've had mono-cyclists, fireball jugglers and we even had a guy with a guitar once; which was interesting because we have regularly had members of The Nashville Teens, Manfred Manns Earth Band, Mungo Jerry, Hermans Hermits and The Savoy Brown Blues Band attend - but until 2018 none of them ever thought to bring a guitar!

The park has some basic rules - no barbecues, no litter, and you need to pay and display to park your car; but there are public toilets, a little shop, a kiddies playground, a big wet river and loads of fun!  

THE  PIG !  Our family picnic emblem is an inflated pink pig on a stick - this originated in the late nineteen seventies when we used to use the "pig-on-a-stick" so that our kids could find us in the crowd when we took them to festivals and open air concerts. Nowadays our kids are grown up and have kids of their own, so PIG ON A STICK has evolved into a more symbolic role as a totem of alfresco dining !  (This is a picture of the pig resting on the ground - he is normally suspended by his tail from the top of his stick, but we thought the RSPCA would be upset if they knew how we treated him).  

Many thanks to my great friend Dave Lewis for the pig photograph.

We started keeping a guest book in 1994 - which made the body count easier to assess. The recorded picnic statistics are:

1994 :  29 people defied torrential rain at Smiths Lawn (Virginia Water)
1995 :  56 people came to Lammas land (Cambridge)
1996 :  38 people came to Chiswick House (W. London)
1997 :  34 people braved the rain and mourned Princess Di at Stockgrove Park (Milton Keynes)
1998 :  73 people came to Stanborough Lakes - site of one of the very first picnics (Welwyn Garden City)
1999 :  71 people came to Grassy Lane Farm to see Renee's pigs (Bury St Edmunds)
2000 :  78 people came on a return visit to Smiths Lawn.
2001 :  81 people came to Runnymede (near Windsor.)
2002 :  89 people came to St Albans in Hertfordshire
2003 :  91 people came to Runnymede - we decided to keep this as a permanent meeting site
2004 : 105 people came to Runnymede - again
2005 :  84  people came to Runnymede
2006 :  48 people braved torrential rain at Runnymede
2007 :  94 people basked in the sun at Runnymede
2008 :  61 people enjoyed getting slightly damp at Runnymede
2009 :  61 people this year - still at Runnymede, this time in the sun.
2010 :  82 people loved the warm sunshine at the "now established site" at Runnymede
2011 :  44 people enjoyed a sunny day
2012 :  83 people came out to see Fran's Picnic Olympics
2013 :  87 people roasted in hot sunshine
2014 :  83 people enjoyed a mostly sunny afternoon
2015 :  86 people didn't realise that there would be no picnic adventure next year.....
2016 :  nobody! we took a sabbatical
2017 :  67 people basked in glorious sunshine at Runnymede - but we don't know the names of eleven of them!
2018 :  71 came to get sunburned at Runnymede in the hottest summer since 1976.
2019 :  47 people joined us for a picnic.
2020 :  Zero: The naughty Coronavirus plague stopped play !
2021 :  Zero: The virus isn't beaten yet !
2022 :  Watch this space.......


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validated 12/11