Beautify your al-fresco feasts with these great rugs and totes.

The sun is out at last, which calls, we think, for slow afternoons of ice-cold Chablis, oven-fresh quiche and several punnets of strawberries. Yes, picnic season is here – and it won’t last long, so you’d better make the most of it while you can.

Bear in mind, though, that a great picnic requires a charming location, well-chosen provisions and – to top it all off – the prettiest accessories going. Take as your inspiration the picnic that Ratty packs into his “fat wicker luncheon basket” in The Wind and the Willows, and nobody will be disappointed.

If that sounds easier said than done, we are delighted to whet your appetite with these superb sites for picnic blankets and bags.

SUMMERILL AND BISHOP


Everything is pretty at the homewares stalwart, Summerill and Bishop. The shop has occupied a leafy position in Holland Park since 1994, while its newer website is a feast for the senses. It stands to reason, then, that they sell the prettiest seagrass picnic baskets around. Handmade by women at local cooperatives in Bangladesh, they are a beautifully ethical buy, too.

WEAVER GREEN


When Weaver Green founders Tasha and Barney were travelling in Asia, they came across a rudimentary – but strong and waterproof – fishing rope that had been made out of plastic bottles, lids and all. Inspired, the intrepid couple decided to turn some of the mountains of plastic waste that is polluting our seas into yarn for plastic rugs and textiles. The result is astonishing. We love the machine-washable, mould- and stain-resistant Diamond Chinchilla Blanket. It looks and feels like wool but is made from 300 recycled plastic bottles. The Weaver Green team says they are “excited to offer beautiful recycled rugs, blankets, footstools, cushions and bags that offer all of the benefits of plastic without any compromise in style, feel or value”.

FORTNUM & MASON


It is hard to picture a posh picnic without Fortnum & Mason featuring somewhere in the vision. We bet you didn’t know that, in 1738, the Fortnum’s team invented that picnic essential, the Scotch Egg. When he wrote The Wind in the Willows in 1908, Kenneth Grahame surely had a Fortnum’s picnic hamper and blanket in mind. Well, today, their Tweedmill Polo Picnic Rug is the dream. Made of sheep wool with a nylon backing, this smart blanket rolls up and is held together by leather bridal straps when not in use. You will hold your head high as you lay out lunch on this one.

HERD


After years of advising well-known brands on sustainability, mother-of-three Nancy Powell decided to take everything she had learned about bags, recycling and brands to set up HERD. The company says it creates stylish, hardworking bags for stylish, hardworking people. We think they’re brilliant for stylish, hardworking picnics, too. Vibrantly designed, wipe-clean, durable, made from 30 per cent recycled material, and including a zipped pocket for keys, loose change and phones, these bags are bound to become cult items.

MADE


“No champagne, no private view, just affordable high-end design at your fingertips.” That is what MADE aims to offer, and this wipe-clean rug is a great example of the furniture emporium’s ability to cater perfectly to modern life. Stylish, lightweight and reasonably priced, you will be tempted to pick one up in both colour-ways.

MOORSWOOD


OK, the prices here are not for the feint-hearted but just look at the quality and the finish of this rug. Ratty would be proud. If you only buy one picnic blanket in your life, make it be a Moorswood Dart Roll. Designed for use in all seasons, this is a hardy beast. It splits into two parts, so you can use the waxed cotton water resistant base and the tweed blanket bit separately if you like. It comes with a cotton canvas carry bag with a smart leather handle. Consider this the wise grandfather of picnic blankets – built to last, it knows just exactly what it is doing.

SCP


When it was set up in 1985, SCP’s founding idea was to make and sell design products that are functional, beautiful and made to last. This heavy cotton blanket ticks those boxes. It may not have been conceived necessarily as a picnic blanket, but – trust us – it is the answer for all types of outdoor dining.

ANORAK


Anorak is a perky British brand famed for its design-led homewares and inspired by the great outdoors. But there is nothing whimsy or romantic about its supremely stylish rolltop coolbag. Stick this on the back of the most reluctant urbanite and its trendy, utilitarian vibe will have him lapping up the dappled sunshine and the cool bottled beer.

HEDGEHOG


This charming site carries loads of great things to enhance your picnic. Its Asian Woven Baskets, though, are the perfect way to tote your bottles and packages. The colourful baskets are made using traditional methods of weaving that have been passed down from one generation to the next. The baskets have minimal impact on the environment and give new life to otherwise useless materials. It takes a day for each weaver to make a basket, and the weavers are paid fairly for their work.

RAE FEATHER


This chic site – established in 2013 – is an upmarket cornucopia of monogrammeable items. Get your initials embroidered on one of their hammam towels (excellent when used as a blanket) and any one of their gorgeous baskets and you will be the most elegant picnicker of them all. Pictures of the scene are guaranteed to set your Instagram feed alight as well.

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July 2019