The Angry Corrie 17: Feb-Mar 1994
OUTDOOR TYPES No. 11: Picnickers from Hell
Wandering around the car, getting your boots on and your gear together, you're aware of a convoy approaching. Away down the glen, you can see a winding queue of traffic, windscreens glittering in the morning sunshine.
The brown Cortina in front moves at an average twenty-five miles an hour, slowing down dramatically at each corner, but accelerating fiercely on the occasional straight stretch, making it as hard as possible to pass.
The convoy approaches the wee flat bit you've found, just wide enough and long enough to get your car off the road, and handy for the stile which will take you over the wall and on to your chosen mountain. The Cortina slows down, letting the traffic behind bunch up a bit, then brakes fiercely and swerves off the road, pulling in behind your car. Screeching brakes and a tinkle of broken lights from the queue. You are forced to climb into the boot of your car as the Cortina closes up, bumper to bumper with you, and stops, leaving its offside rear wing protruding well into the road. The picnickers have arrived.
Four adults and two children pile out of the car, open the boot, and begin to unpack the picnic gear. A folding table, four folding chairs, twenty Tupperware boxes (assorted sizes), two tartan thermos flasks, plates, cups, cutlery, a radio, two footballs and a two-litre bottle of Pola-Cola. They set all this upon the tiny triangle of grass verge behind their car. They leave the offside car doors open, to air the car and impede passing traffic as much as possible.
Grandad wears a cloth cap, sports jacket and flannels. Grandma has on her twin-set and pearls, but has compromised to the extent of wearing sensible shoes. Mum, Dad and the kids wear a mix-and-match selection of track-suits, shell-suits, T-shirts and shorts.
They always picnic right next to the road - the higher the carbon monoxide count, the happier they are. Other favoured spots include: a busy farm entrance; an old quarry, now used to store lengths of concrete pipe; an area of waste ground, already occupied by a heap of loose chippings, a pile of snow-plough parts, and the Sutherland and Caithness chapter of Hells Angels.
As you climb over the stile, they smile cheerily. "Nice to get away from it all", shouts Mum, over the roar of the traffic.