MY NEIGHBOUR recently celebrated his 80th birthday with a day out to the beautiful valley of Farndale in the North York Moors, famed for its daffodils.

“Have you been for a meal at a pub?” I asked. “No, we had a picnic,” his wife told me, “It was lovely.”

My husband and I are massive fans of picnicking. Only last weekend we took a picnic on a day out to Hull, eating sandwiches, snacks and cake on the dockside.

Some may not think of that not as a proper picnic but a cheapskate day out, and they would be right – packing a picnic does save us a bob or two, but eating outside is also fun. We do it year round. In the depths of winter we chomp sandwiches and drink flask tea on benches along sea fronts, at stately homes and in city centres.

There’s no waiting for tables in packed cafes, you simply pick a spot with the best view and sit down.

This week I came across an article in a national newspaper offering tips as to what makes a great picnic. It listed wine coolers, cutlery, plates, bottle openers, cutlery and a set of four wine glasses that cost £40 at John Lewis.

No doubt it’s presented in a wicker hamper and strapped to the back of a Morgan.

Picnics may be posh affairs at Henley Regatta, Wimbledon and the Boat Race, but we northerners are more rough and ready with our al fresco dining. When we roll out our rugs in Whitby or the Yorkshire Dales it’s more Tupperware than silverware, more plastic than porcelain, more Quavers than Kettles, and its sausage roll not smoked salmon canape.

But we have our standards too. Last week a couple visiting Blackpool Pleasure Beach with two young children were left in disbelief after being refused entry with ham sandwiches.

Rebecca Koncienzcy and husband Sean Chapman were told the food they had brought to the attraction breached its picnic policy. Their lunch also included sausage rolls, hummus, crisps and sushi - yet, bizarrely, these items were not banned from the site.

In all my years of al fresco snacking I haven’t encountered a picnic policy other than an outright ban. Hazards are usually of the more natural kind - cow pats, midges, wasps and the odd hungry sheep. And smoky portable barbecues, which I believe should remain within private gardens.

When I was a child we had some wonderful picnics. My mum would pack so much food we would eat ten times more than we ever did at home. We plonked ourselves down beside rivers, up mountains and in the grounds of stately homes. I remember when we first got a cool bag, I thought we were so sophisticated.

I was always fascinated by those couples who pulled over in laybys to erect fold-up tables and chairs for a home-from-home dining experience . They would sit only feet from lorries thundering past. “Why don’t they simply turn off down a B-road and find a quieter, more scenic place?” my dad would say.

Easter is a popular time to picnic, but before you invest in chicken wings, potato salad and Scotch eggs, bear in mind reports that Britain is to face sub-zero temperatures from Siberia as the Beast from the East rears its ugly head again.

Maybe it’s best to eat in this holiday, unless, like me and my husband, you are hardy types and are willing to brave sub-zero temperatures. In 2018 we had our coldest picnic ever at this time of year when we dined in a blizzard, sheltering under an information board on the Battle of Towton trail near Tadcaster. My hands were severely frostbitten as I unwrapped our fish paste sandwiches.

Pleasurable it was not. Memorable, definitely.