Picnics are one of my favourite things to do with Ariella, until now they’ve always been a Summer event. One of my most mundane parenting tasks is wiping the floors, highchair and Ariella after her meals, the beauty of picnics means that a good shake down usually does the job for you. Cleaning up after meals closely follows my other soul destroying task – emptying the dishwasher, but needs must.
We were going for an Autumnal picnic with good friends originally, sadly life had other plans but we plodded on just the three of us. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit and soon as our groceries arrived yesterday morning, after unpacking I immediately started mulling wine.
Prior to making mulled wine myself I can’t say I’ve ever really thought that much of it. I realise now that the best mulled wine is home made rather than from a packet or bag, the recipe I highly recommend is one of Jamie Oliver’s which you can find here. I had ordered two huge 1L flasks in the shop to put hot tea and the wine in but we decided only to take the mulled wine as with just the three of us (and one of us not being particularly helpful in the holding department) it would have been just too much for us to carry. We also ditched the wicker hamper in favour of a more practical backpack number that Jamie could attach to his back while carrying Ariella. This left my hands free to carry the food cooler bag, picnic blanket and my trusty flask of mulled wine.
We have been to the Winkworth Arboretum a handful of times, once in the spring when glorious blue bells were out in full swing (for a picnic too) and once in the summer purely for a nice walk with visiting family. This time once again the season change was clear to see, truly beautiful colours can be seen here in Autumn. Winkworth Arboretum is run by the National Trust, which we finally decided yesterday to sign up for a membership for. It really was about time and now free’s us up to enjoy many of the other venues held by the National Trust in Surrey.
We walked around for a little while trying to find the right place to sit down and finally found this really interesting very red tree, it was definitely a point of interest as many onlooker stopped to admire it (as well as point and smile at Ariella).
I always like to take a big muslin square, one of those huge ones for Ariella to sit on because otherwise she would stain the picnic blanket when eating. It’s probably not the most sensible of colours for a picnic blanket, grey and white but I really love it! The extra layer helps and means I can bundle up the muslin once she is finished and wash it which removes any marks, unlike the picnic blanket which is a hand washing affair.When we weaned Ariella we decided to use a baby led approach so she has eaten well independently for a long time. When we first starting weaning her at six months old I remember the Health Visitor (HV) at the time saying that she may struggle to to swallow food, this was definitely a hard pill to swallow it’s hard to imagine now that we know she eats well the worry before. She was quite right though it’s a concern for children with Ariella’s suspected condition but luckily not a challenge we have had to deal with.
I poured out our cups of mulled wine while Ariella tucked into some pesto pasta, the wine went down a treat as it was bitterly cold out. We wrapped up warm though and Ariella was nice and toasty. Half way through Ariella went really quiet and strange then starting crying intermittently, immediately we both tried to work out what was wrong. Did she wants more food on her plate? What food did she want? A fresh nappy? Her water bottle? Eventually we worked out that she would cry each time Jamie put a crisp into his mouth, how unusual we thought. Crisps that definitely would not normally be part of Ariella’s diet, alas we caved and gave her some – sweet chilli thins seem to be right up her street as she was very demanding of more!
Next time I would opt for a hot soup as well as the mulled wine (in flask B), bread to dip in the cups and probably some blankets. It would have been a little difficult to carry though so perhaps we would have to rethink our storage solution! We tried to use more Summer appropriate foods which really didn’t work well in the cold, the cheese for example had no chance to warm up out there.
With all that being said I still highly recommend a lovely Autumnal picnic, it was beautiful to sit there as a family while leaves fell onto the blanket. Ariella had such fun looking up at the sky and for the first time said “Skiay” which we are taking as a another word! I’d love to hear about your Autumnal picnic food suggestions, so please if you do have any lovely recipes to share in the comments or you can message me directly using the about me page.