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Should Have Been a Picnic in the Park.....

John Skelton  | Published on 8/31/2020


In these days of confinement and social distance the idea of meeting up with Area 15 pals was becoming too great. Just nearby to me is a beautiful open space of parkland. It also contains a Palace - and outside loos! 

Following a discussion with Mark to gauge the likely interest I spoke to my contacts at Blenheim Palace and floated the idea. 

On the basis that we would be completely self sufficient regarding all picnic requirements, be completely socially distanced from each other and the public, and not involve Blenheim staff, they agreed willingly. Who wouldn’t welcome 12 Aston Martins parked on their lawn?

The weather had been beautiful for days leading up to the evening - blue skies, balmy evening temperatures and all portents were good. The day came and at 4.30 the skies were once again clear and the air sultry. One hour later threatening clouds had rolled in, breeze picked up noticeably and the temperature dropped - a storm was brewing.

Quickly the dozen cars arrived and we all set up to allow boots to be opened and chairs and picnics set up whilst maintaining suitable distances. The rain had other ideas.

In a desperate attempt to avoid everyone eating in glorious isolation in their cars I went to seek an alternative from the fantastic Palace staff. I met the Head of Security whom I had met once before and asked his opinion - corral under the trees by the cars or set out everything and cower under golf umbrellas. His immediate reaction was - don’t do either there’s thunder coming! We discussed any other locations nearby where we could set up. Both agreed options were very restricted. 

He then calmly said “Oh hang on. I’m not sure if this would be any good” He led me through the archway into the East Courtyard and there stood an enormous marquee with tables and chairs suitably set out distanced from each other. 

I walked slowly back to the assembled throng and asked them to leave their chairs and tables in their cars and follow me back to the Palace. I think the marquee was suitable.

And so ensued a thoroughly enjoyable, dry picnic as the rain poured down outside in the courtyard. Best of all was the opportunity to see and chat to those whom I had not seen for 5 months. 

Thanks must be given to those stalwart members who agreed to come and, despite some horrendous driving conditions getting to the Park, all turned up in the very best spirit of Area 15.

Speak soon!

John Skelton