Bank holiday picnics in the ’70s

We would take a picnic hamper to Dovedale, jam and sugar butties for Bumble, sandwiches of cheese, paste, tongue, ham, lemon curd (the dessert sandwich), and crisps for the rest of us. Mother was enthusiastic about putting this together: picnics were not the dull, everyday meal from which she was in constant flight, they were the alternative adventure that she was always seeking. Our hamper was not the wicker-basket ideal with gingham napkins, it was better than that, it was a pair of new-fangled silver thermo cool-bags with blue ice-blocks for temperature regulation. We did not take a picnic table and deck chairs, there was no need: the open back doors of the Mini-van offered one bench, the bonnet and wings provided further seating, and Bumble could sunbathe on the roof, whatever the weather. Our friends would bring their own sandwiches, or ‘pieces’ as they were know:
Q. What you got on you pieces.
A. Cheese.

Fillings would be bargained and swapped: ‘A ham for a jam?’ Primula was a popular sundry. Primula is the cheese product that you squeeze out of a tube like toothpaste, the one that contains little specks of smoked ham or pineapple or mushrooms according to its flavour. For a time, Primula was the new Dairylea triangle. The principle methods of consuming Primula were: one, squeeze it down the indent of a stick of celery, or, two (the Bumble method), suck it straight out of the tube while sunbathing on the roof of a Mini-van before anyone else notices. Years later, in my teens, I was living in a hotel staff-hostel in Holland Park in London. For a while I shared a room with a French waiter who introduced me to a French version of Nestlé sweetened condensed milk which came in this tube form. He would lie on his bed listening to Edith Piaf and nursing at it until it was finished. It seemed to comfort and help him with his homesickness.

When abroad on a school trip you could find funny foreign versions too

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9 Responses to Bank holiday picnics in the ’70s

  1. calvininjax says:

    Primula in tubes! You youngsters don’t know you are born. In my day it came in silver foil inside a box shaped like half a threepenny bit. The cheese was accessed with a knife, if you were well brung up, your finger if not.

    Remember the joys of the old Primus stoves. My father would faff around for about 30 minutes in order to boil a kettle for a cup of tea. It would have been easier just to have drunk the meths.

  2. calvininjax says:

    An intake of nicotine has just jogged my memory further. The Primula box in fact contained three triangular portions of the cheese.

  3. OS. says:

    I love reading about posh people. My parents never took me on a picnic in my life although I learned how to do it when I grew up and had my own kids. 😦


  4. Stephen Foster says:

    Didn’t you eat that orange peel and candle wax outdoors, OS?

    That would count as a picnic. [winky]

  5. mum says:

    So OS as we did go on picnics his childhood was not quite as deprived as he makes out !!!!!! See you Saterday !!

  6. OS. says:

    mum, you spoiled him. I can tell. 😉

    Whether I see you sat is anybody’s guess. He doesn’t reply to my mails about the arrangements. I’ve just washed the bedsheets in case he lands on me. 😦

    Wingo, You forgot the apple cores. I remember the nearest we got to a picnic was a boot up the arse as I was kicked out of the house early in the morning, a tizer bottle full of Corporation Pop, and ‘find your own bloody snappin’. I was raised on orange peel, apple cores and candle wax. Oh, and chonuks. Chonuks saved me going to the dentist. By the time I’d gnawed through one of them, I had teeth like a beaver. I always managed to get my own back though. I would get home with my hands covered in gas-tar and it took the entire stock of goose grease and rationed butter to remove it. Ah, the good old days. 😉


  7. Stephen Foster says:

    * He doesn’t reply to my mails about the arrangements. *

    Or to put it another way: he has not received no emails about any arrangements.

  8. Mark Eltringham says:

    I wouldn’t expect you to put clean bedclothes on for him seeing as how you couldn’t be bothered to wash the clothes what I mistakenly left at Bag End.

  9. OS. says:

    Eli, I nearly put your stuff in the wash but I thought it would come out crinkled like winger’s pullover. I don’t do ironing. So, I left it with the undersized Gucci shoes. You’re lucky they didn’t end up at ‘Help The Aged’.

    Wingo, check wot you’re doing. I’ve had no mails from you at all except one in my Gmail box. I’m receiving other mails so maybe YOU have a problem? Just checked, none in gmail either. I’m going to txt u.


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