One-and-a-half kilometers or so further down the longest straight stretch of Thames, I found a large swathe of riverbank claimed by my fellow London food bloggers - the incentive for my morning's journey back to this lovely town. We were nominally there to watch the culmination of the annual four-day Royal Regatta; it's a good thing we had Cook Sister's husband along, a one-time rower, to provide explanation and commentary for the seemingly-arbitrary sequence of races which went by - a pair of eight women; a pair of single men; a pair of four male rowers. But really, we were there for the food - and, of course, the delightful company.
We arrived hungry and within an hour had laid out the savouries for the eating. Lots of people paused as they passed us on the towpath, feet away, to admire our spread. "Now that's a picnic," said a man carrying a barbecue. And it really was. There were breads baked full of savory treats; a tasty bacon-topped potato salad; smoked salmon dip and a meat salad; fresh mozzarella-tomato-basil skewers; chicken with preserved lemons and coriander; curried pasta salad; chickpea salad; lots of fresh crudites; and spicy peppadew and parmesan muffins - among other things. Later, we limped to dessert, partially a competition of bakewell tarts.
Well-armed with a copious supply of that classic British summer drink of Pimms and Lemonade, we whiled away the afternoon lazily by the banks, while England-supporting Elvises motored by in white-and-red, lipsyncing, and the main characters from the Wizard of Oz danced by on another boat. Teams lost and won and other people had all the good hats, but we were the ones with a Picnic.