1st July, 2014

Picture the scene...

After months of planning and suspended excitement, you're finally about to set off on your British biking vacation with The Carter Company (who else?). Having arrived at your hotel the previous night and enjoyed a delicious night's sleep, day one of your cycling tour looms large. You head down to the hotel breakfast and treat yourself to a filling and nutritious plate of food to fuel you up for the day. Once you've had your fill, the question then pops up: "What are we going to do for lunch?" Many of our customers like to stop off en route for elevenses and then a hearty lunch in a pub or other local establishment. We recommend this option of course - it's a great way to sample the produce and cuisine typical of your destination, meet some of the regulars and generally stop for a moment and absorb the atmosphere of the area. However, there are some instances in which...
- there are no places to stop and eat en route (particularly on some of our more remote tours like the Highlands and Hebrides guided cycling holiday)
- the scenery is just so breathtaking, that you prefer the idea of sitting outside and enjoying a picnic with nature as your companion

If this is the case, we've got you covered. All bikes on Carter Company cycling holidays come with panniers, so there's plenty of space to pack a picnic. The only dilemma that remains then, is what to put in it. Below, we share our tips on our favourite things to pack in our panniers for a scrumptious picnic.

  1. PIMM'S
    No holiday in the UK, whether it's a cycling tour or not, would be complete without Pimm's. You don't get much more English than this. Head to Wimbledon during the Championships and every other person you see is sipping on a cool glass of fruity Pimm's. It's pretty much a part of English summer tradition. And even if the sun isn't out, things suddenly might look a bit better after a glass or two of Pimm's (NB. we do not advocate more than two glasses if you're planning on continuing your bike ride and following your route directions correctly!) Luckily your bike takes the weight of the panniers, so unlike a picnic in a backpack, you don't need to worry about a bottle of Pimm's and good quality lemonade being too heavy to carry.

    The key with scotch eggs, another very British foodstuff, is to try and get your hands on fresh ones. If you're cycling past a farm shop or staying in a town overnight where there's a farmer's market, you might be in luck. If not, you have to settle for the shop-bought packaged variety, which aren't really the same thing, but better than nothing. We like the fresh ones because they're made that morning, and the yoke should still be runny, which takes them to a whole new level, trust us! You can also get some wonderfully creative varieties if you buy them fresh, like lentil, mushroom and tarragon, instead of the standard pork layer.

    Supposedly invented by Lord Sandwich, the 'sarnie' as it's affectionately known by us Brits, is a real culinary institution. Last year, 1.69 BILLION were bought 'on the go' in the UK. And we're not talking about the baguette here. No, this is one area where we trump the French. Only 10% of our sandwiches sold are baguettes. We like a good pair of granary bread slices stuffed full with fillings and condiments. And nothing is more British than a cucumber sandwich. Keep them simple with good quality unsalted butter, sea salt, white pepper and organic cucumbers. This is what the recommend over at The Guardian, and we think they've hit the nail on the head.

    Firstly, try and buy your strawberries If you can, throw in a couple of fresh mint leaves and sprinkle a little icing sugar over your strawberries before setting off. By lunchtime, they will have marinated nicely in a sweet minty sauce which will be absolutely irresistible. There's no better way to finish off a picnic than with some fresh fruit. You'll be raring to get back on your bike and pedal through the gorgeous British countryside after this, rain or shine.

If all this talk of food is making you hungry, may we suggest taking your pannier packed full of goodies on our Kent cycling holiday for foodies, the ultimate dream trip for all the gluttons out there ;)