We had a fine old time the other night.  On the spur of the moment, we decided to hunt tadpoles, which is really a big excuse for a picnic.  It took no time to organise, a quick call to mobilise the friend who would bring the bubbly, a whip around in the kitchen, and we were set.

All we needed to really remember was to bring a big bucket, for all the many tadpoles we would catch.  And catch them we did.  When we got to the pond (which still had water in it, a minor miracle) there were already people sitting on red chequered blankets, nibbling away, in our spot.  One or two – the nerve of some people – had nets and were looking for our tadpoles.

Luckily, not one of these individuals had a zoologist with them, and they announced to us “oh no, there’s no tadpoles here, we’ve looked and looked.”  It’s all in the way you swoop with the net, and more importantly yet, where you swoop.

While the zoologist waded thigh-deep in mud, my friend and I cracked open the bubbly and set to on the fine food selection.  And we dined from the best crockery, from my 1950s picnic set which still has all its bits.  Another miracle.

While the sun set, we nibbled and nattered – so much nicer than staying at home.

And it’s time to do it all again.  We have heard there is a visitor to this same park, who is a bit secretive but well worth hunting for.  It is, in fact, a Japanese snipe who has flown here all the way on its lonesome from, yes, Japan.  This is not the first time it has turned up in Hamilton, last summer many ornithologist types got very excited at its appearance and many went for a look, armed with their best cameras.  This year we have a bigger, better camera, and an even bigger lens.  We are sure to get an award-winning pic of it preening its right wing. 

If we don’t find it, there’s always the picnic to cheer us up. The following salsa is my favourite, especially when the weather is this hot and unfriendly.  It’s very summery and perfect served with the barbied drumsticks.  Just don’t use snipe.

Fruity salsa delight

  • half a watermelon
  • ½ rock melon
  • 1 or 2 peaches
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 fresh chilli
  • salt, black pepper

Cut all the fruit into bite-sized pieces.  Deseed chilli and slice fine.  Chop herbs.
Add everything to a bowl, season, and mix well.  Allow around two hours for the flavours to blend.

The following can be prepared the day before the big event, just so you don’t have to cook before an exciting expedition. 

Barbied drumsticks to go

Easy to whip together, especially on a hot evening, these are just fine to nibble.  They can be cooked the day before.  Wrapping a piece of bacon around the drumstick is also nice.

  • 5 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 4 tbsp chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • chicken drumsticks

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pain on the drumsticks.  Place under a grill for about half an hour, basting frequently.