& FRANS PAGES
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 and in 2019 we celebrated the 38th picnic
THE GRAND ANNUAL PICNIC
CLEARLY WE CANNOT CONVENE A PICNIC WITH THE TRAVEL AND SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES OF THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN - SO WE SHALL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL 2021.
However - this
is what happened at the last gathering, on Sunday 23rd
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
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:
Fran cuts the picnic cake
more Ahmed family
yet more Ahmed family
Pirate Radio London
Peter and June
Sue and Heather
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 &
Grandkids #4 & #6 plus son
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN YOU JOIN US.......
|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 demanded 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 brought 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 the 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 was 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 picnic statistics are:
1994 : 29 people
defied torrential rain at Smiths Lawn (Virginia Water)