There can be few portable pleasures as well-loved as the traditional English picnic. It is a symbol of languid freedom and yet extreme order. What could be more shipshape than the tightly packed wicker picnic hamper covered with a gingham tablecloth, ready to spread on flower-strewn grass.

The English have always adored to picnic, especially since the turn of the century, when men sported blazers, while the ladies wore pretty floral hats. Almost any excuse will do – Ascot, Glyndebourne, a polo match, Henley, a local point-to-point, a day on the river, or a drive to a quiet beauty spot.

Although the contents of a picnic hamper can vary tremendously, according to the time of the year and the occasion, this seems to be the favourite list of contents that puts alfresco eating in a class of its own:

Champagne and caviar
Chilled soups
Cold chicken
Pate
Quiche
Veal and ham pie
Salmon and lobster
Smoked salmon
Potted shrimps
Hard boiled eggs
Salad with thick mayonnaise
Cheeses
Home baked bread with fresh churned butter
Strawberries and cream
Fruit pies and flans
Rich Dundee cake
Light white or rose wine cooling in a stream
Lemonade and ginger beer