Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Baskets and Blankets for Picnics in the Park ; Eating Al Fresco Is a Joy with Lightweight Tables and Backpack Coolers

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Baskets and Blankets for Picnics in the Park ; Eating Al Fresco Is a Joy with Lightweight Tables and Backpack Coolers

Article excerpt

Lightweight tables, stylish waterproof blankets and backpack coolers and baskets help make picnics a joy even if you don't like eating on the ground.

I love picnicking, my husband hates it. He doesn't mind eating outdoors, but he abhors eating on the ground, balancing a plate on his lap and flicking bugs from his food. Thus, two decades ago the best wedding present we received was a metal picnic table complete with four built-in seats that folded into a carry case. It traveled with us to chateaus in France, concerts in London, villages in Belgium and beaches in Wales. But for all the wonderful memories it gave us, it had one fatal flaw: It was ridiculously heavy. Lugging it from the car to the always-too-distant picnic spot was a chore.

For better or worse, our old friend became so dented that we needed to retire it. The replacement we found was considerably lighter. Available through PicnicWorld.net, which ships globally, and costing $134.99, the Picnic at Ascot Portable Wood Picnic Table is constructed with a high-strength aluminum frame, making it an easy piece of equipment to carry. It weighs 28 pounds, or 13 kilograms, and folds into a suitcase, and it is also sleek and stylish. Best of all, it is durable, with a weight capacity of 800 pounds for its four seated picnickers.

But with a new table, I now wanted nothing more than to update all our picnic paraphernalia. Because I still don't mind eating on the ground, I turned to www.freshpicnic.com, for a waterproof blanket. Their Smart Blanket Tote ($23.95) is large, soft polyester fleece with a waterproof backing. It comes in a fun array of colors and patterns and rolls up with a shoulder strap. While I loved the Smart Blanket, I adored the Cheshire Stripe Picnic blanket from Laura Ashley-like Cath Kidston (www.cathkidston.co.uk), on sale for Pounds 20, or $31.

With such a pretty blanket, I now wanted cuter cutlery and plates. To that end, I discovered www.picnic-basket.com. Picnic baskets these days come in as many sizes and styles as women's handbags. There are baskets for two, four and six people. And beyond the traditional wicker picnic basket, there are now backpack picnic sets, picnic cooling sets on wheels and even tote bag sets. …

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