Didn’t we have a lovely time….

Here is our latest article for Vintage Life magazine all about vintage picnics and outdoor dining. The good old street party even gets a mention.

Didn’t we have a lovely time…….

the day we went to the beach, the park or simply parked up by the side of a field. In days gone by, when the sun came out, families packed up the car or the baskets on the bikes and went for a picnic.

Now the weather is warming up, it’s time to leave the comfort of your home and embrace outdoor dining adding, of course, a vintage twist!

The traditional way

Picnics in the early 1950s were eaten from china plates accompanied by proper cutlery. Brexton and Sirram made perfect sets in small, hard suitcases with pretty china held in place by leather straps. They would always contain a flask for your obligatory cup of tea, drunk from a pretty teacup. A blanket was thrown down, with the adults sitting on folding chairs and the children on the ground. The Morris 8 car had leather seats that could be removed for the adults to sit on. The youngsters ran off to pick wild flowers which were placed in a vase in the middle of the rug. Sandwiches were wrapped up in greaseproof paper and ham eaten straight from the tin….plastic storage had not yet become the norm.

 The ladies wore summer dresses, the kids flew kites and the men watched on, dressed in a suit. Even on beach trips the men would be quite smart, with their trousers rolled up to paddle in the sea. The scene was quite formal yet copied today will add a real sense of nostalgia to your picnic.

Plastic fantastic

Things really changed in the late 1950s with the increased popularity of plastic. As families started to enjoy camping trips rather than staying in traditional boarding houses, they fell in love with the durable, fun, coloured melamine made by Melaware and Gaydon Melmex. At one stage it was so popular that it was even used for dinner parties!

Because of this, ceramic manufacturers such as Midwinter also designed ranges. Why not cram a hamper full of Gaydon early 1960s pastels or the later bright, zesty colours of Melaware for your picnic. All came with matching salt and pepper pots, butter dishes, jugs,egg cups….just remember to leave space for your food!

The TV dinner concept took over the camping/picnic world in the early 1970s with stacked trays, plastic cutlery and a space for your drink. The Pac-A-Pic is by the far the funkiest way to eat outside!

A different kind of party

The introduction of Tupperware revolutionised kitchens and the way we ate in the 1950s. Food could finally be stored properly thus reducing the need to cook daily. Sandwiches would remain fresh for outdoor dining and for your packed lunch. With 1000’s of styles, colours and uses the range will add a real retro feel to your picnic and are great to collect. We love the 1950s pretty pastel styles and the 1960s bright orange range with a yellow flower on the front! There is a container for cheese with the grater as the lid, sauce pots, lollipop and jelly moulds, beakers to drink from and jugs for your juice…the list is endless.

The introduction of the Tupperware Party had a real impact on society. Women had experienced great independence whilst working during the war, which was then given up to return to the kitchen in the 1950s. The role of party hostess provided employment and freedom for women in the comfort and safety of their own home. It was a well respected job and product. Friends and neighbours were invited over for the evening, to share a glass of sherry and experience the whole range. Excitement ensued, storage items were bought and delivered only days later. Lets face it, we nearly all describe all food storage as Tupperware even if it isn’t actually Tupperware?

Take to the streets

Don’t wait until the next Royal Wedding to enjoy the ultimate outdoor dining experience…the street party. This is the perfect opportunity to create a real sense of community, hang bunting and balloons and get to know your neighbours. The first street party in the UK was after World War 1 and has been repeated on national celebrations ever since. We propose however, to bring it back for any celebration and with all the bank holidays coming up why not give it a try. Follow the tradition of dressing up the children in costumes and sit them at long tables with the adults standing behind. So, this May Day why not take to the streets and bring a dish…in Tupperware of course!


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