Friday, 4 May 2012

Feast for the senses - a celebratory end to the A - Z Challenge ...

Grab a rug, a couple of beach chairs, a few cushions .... find your choice of place for a picnic ... under a shading tree, below the dappled branches embracing a manicured lawn, besides a babbling brook, at the sea’s edge where the waves gently lap the shore ...

... a place where the sun shines, where the zephyr wind blows gently ... select a play, a concerto, an opera or a musical you would like to see and hear enacted under the castle walls, out in the garden amongst the hedges, sweet scented bushes ...

... a poetry reading, or a few short stories – ghost stories, mystery sagas, folk or fairy tales ... the afternoon drifts to an evening finale ... that final show as we reach Z – another year to remember of ABCs ...

... wherever your heart takes you in the company of your loved ones, with the children and grandchildren around, or in quiet solitude ... 

... let us share an alphabet picnic – your hamper is ready -  no effort is required – the mind can turn to fill the hamper with forests of delight and spring waters of golden juices, select – the choice is yours:

Dream into this idyll ... the foods of the gods sit awaiting your taste-buds ... conjure up your stage setting ... à la Shakespeare perhaps, or Alice in Wonderland’s fantasy world , or courtesy of the Wind in the Willows and that enticing river bank ... all your decisions ...

Your appetite is stimulated, your thirst needs to be quenched, the players await, the setting is chosen, gentle music stirs your memories ... you drift mindfully towards the finale – the picnic hamper miraculously filled with your chosen goodies ...

Floris van Dyck - 1613
Still Life: breads, fruits and nuts

The curtain comes up ... the music plays on ... select your delights and Tinkerbell will transport your dreams ....
Jordanian Meze

A   Appetisers – asparagus, avocado mousse, dips various, crisps, olives ...

B   Breads and butter – fresh from the bakers – farmhouse bake, ciabatta, wholewheat ...

C   Cheeses – Stilton, Cheddar, Camembert, Gruyere ... celery, grapes ...

D   Drinks – champagne, beer or ales, elderflower cordial or sparkling, soft drinks ... coffees and teas to follow ...

E   Eggs – quail, duck or hen – hardboiled, or Scotch style ...

F   Fresh seasonal berries and fruits – apricots, strawberries, raspberries, granadillas ...

G   Game pies various ...

H   Ham – freshly cooked slices with mustard or pickle of choice, Hamburgers for the grill ...

I   Icecreams – sorbets, rich creamy Italian ones, children’s ones on a stick ...

J   Jellies – simple or posh ... fresh fruit ones, wine jellies ...

K   Kebabs – vegetarian, fish or meat skewers ...

L   Lamb meatballs made with cumin ...

Sturgeon Kebabs from Turkmenistan

M   Meringues and cream – pouring or Cornish ...

N    Nuts – fresh, plain or salted ...

O   Oysters – chucked on ice with lemon and/or Tabasco, or Angels on Horseback ...

P   Prawns, crayfish freshly grilled with lemon oil ...
Eton mess: crushed
meringues, clotted cream,
raspberries and strawberries

Q   Quiche Lorraine, or more sophisticated ...

R   Rum truffles, chocolate delights, desserts, fruit sherberts ...

S   Sauces various – hollandaise, horseradish, salad dressings, mustards, pickles ...

T   Trout – slices glazed in aspic ...
U   Undercooked delicious rare beef slices ...

V   Vegetables various, crudités and salads ....

W   Water from the nearby spring, watercress to savour ...

X   X marks your idyllic picnic spot – are you holding your dream in your mind’s eye ...

Y   Y is for You – your picnic, your guests, your selection, your setting ...

Z   Z is for zizzing it all quietly off .... before Tinkerbell arrives and star-whisks you home ...

Refreshing berries and fruits
You return to our real world refreshed, replenished, ready for the year ahead ... as thoughts turn to reflecting on this year’s A – Z, thoughts no doubt pondering next year’s theme too ...

Dream on, Remember on ... enjoy the happiness of success: that moment when the Z is posted in cyberspace ...

Enjoy the weekend and see you for the A – Z Reflections next week ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


  1. What a generous gift you've given us, Hilary. A wonderful picnic with all that we could possibly desire... and you've reminded me that I have an avocado just ready for eating.

    See you next week in the reflections.

  2. What a lovely picnic! Thanks for the beautiful images you've given us!

  3. Now for some nice warm weather! LOL! Take care

  4. Well now I want all that food for lunch today. :) Yum.

    Wonderful reflections post, Hilary.

  5. A lovely dream. Just wish our asparagus would hurry up. Farmer says it needs sunshine, whatever that is!!!

  6. Nice thought, but it remains a thought while the north wind blows. I'll take your picnice inside.

  7. Whoa, thanks for all the wonderful food ideas.

    Now, I am thinking about lunch and it is only 9: 30 am here...

  8. Mmmmmmmm, lovely. Thanks for the lovely picnic experience.

  9. I'll meet you there. Can't wait.

  10. Oh, you couldn't resist one more A to Z challenge. :)

    What a great picnic. Spring has finally sprung here at home and the weather has been warm. Time to get outside near a stream and enjoy some of those delectable treats you mentioned. If only there were a castle wall nearby as well to complete the scene...

  11. This was lovely, Hilary.

    'the foods of the gods sit awaiting your taste-buds'

    I certainly hope so.

  12. Very imaginative post we need the sunshine .

    Have a lovely week-end.

  13. Okay, Hilary, now I'm hungry and I want to sit by the seashore. A very lovely presentation of the A to Z garden of delights!

    I'll see you on the Reflections list. Just reading your post can refresh our thoughts.

    Thanks for the comments on my blog. I love the photos you've selected for this Reflections.

  14. @ Ros .. I've yet to visit your site and finish listening .. just delighted you enjoyed this post .. and writing this reminded me I haven't had an avo recently - time to sort that out ...

    Yes - my reflections post will be up on Monday ..

    @ Elizabeth - good to see you - glad you like the pics and foods on offer ..

    @ Old Kitty - yes some sunshine would be very nice!

    @ Betty - well we needs lots of sustenance .. the A - Z can be draining!

    @ Lynn - yes I'd love to have that for lunch .. I did have salad!

    @ Jo - a dream too true ... I'm going to go past "my" asparagus farm on Sunday to see how they're doing ... hope it's ripe and on sale!

    @ Bob - well that's fine - a picnic inside suits me too, especially if this wind doth blow

    @ SlamDunk - glad you like the choices .. sorreee - hope lunch was good when it arrived!

    @ Richard - that will be a pleasure to share the picnic with you ..

    @ Luanne - well it just sort of made sense, when I thought about the celebratory feast ..

    You're so lucky if you can picnic - our weather hasn't yet improved .. and cold and snow for the weekend (mind you in Scotland!).

    It's your dream space, so a castle wall will provide your backdrop - enjoy the spread ..

    @ Suze - delighted you enjoyed it - thanks for coming by .. "the foods of the gods sit awaiting your taste-buds" ... wish I had real ones here!!

    @ Yvonne - many thanks glad you enjoyed it .... just 'dem gods need to send us some sunshine!

    @ DG - I got hungry writing it up and thinking about it over night! Glad you enjoy the photos here ..

    Me too - a seashore, lovely rock pools and wonderful fresh foods with delightful company sounds such fun.

    Thanks everyone have lovely weekends .. and see you for the Reflections post next week ...

  15. Aw, no fair, I haven't had lunch yet. ;) That is quite a smorgasbord of treats to round up A-Z. Now I think I'll go round myself up some goodies. Cheers!!

  16. You got me at the cheese! What a fabulous spread this is and what a -- I can't think of the word -- Yes, I think it is generous. What a generous blogger friend you are. Generous with your time, with the care you take for each post and on and on. Thank you for that.

  17. oh a beautiful picnic! I do love camembert cheese. Congratulations on finishing the A-Z!
    Happy weekend!

  18. Fantastic post, I will happily go on this picnic. The oysters alone will be enough to get me on my way. have a great weekend. Diane

  19. What an amazing picnic, Hilary! Thanks for sharing with us all those beautiful images!


    Short Poems

  20. Let's go!! :) I'm very hungry now and I love your creative writing in this post..this is what blogging is supposed to be, such a delight to read!

  21. That's terrific, Hilary! I love your ABC picnic! Nice job coming up with something for each letter.

  22. maybe that is a british-ism?

  23. Hi Hilary! Awesome post. I was able to conjure up a wonderful picnic in a gazebo, with the sound of a babbling brook off in the distance. Butterflies are fluttering in and out of the gazebo and birds are singing from the tops of the trees.

  24. A delicious A to Z in one post. Lovely.

    Lamb meatballs with cumin...we were just talking about these this evening, how bizarre!

  25. Congratulations on finishing! You've succeeded in making me hungry! :)

  26. @ Linda - always a challenge when writing a foodie post, we can never time it right!

    @ Inger - that painting by Floris Van Dyck .. looks a wonderful spread doesn't it. Such a lovely comment Inger - from someone who loves life and is so empathetic .. thank you so much ..

    @ Nutschell - did I tempt you too - excellent .. enjoy your picnic after finishing the A - Z!

    @ Diane - glad you can join us all .. I think I might transport myself to somewhere warm and sunny! I haven't had oysters for ages .. would love some and would definitely happily share with you.

    @ Marinela - great to see you .. glad you enjoyed the thought and the photos.

    @ Scarlett - many thanks .. I enjoyed writing it up and was delighted to read your comment - a real compliment ..

    @ Connie - delighted you enjoyed my picnic ideas ..

    @ Mimi - not sure where it comes from .. I may even have made it up - but unlikely .. a mix of sleeping/snoring it off! In other words a happy contented doze after all the work, the picnic, a glass of vino and that wonderful fresh air ...

    @ Susanne - delighted that you could conjure up your idea of a blissful setting and could enjoy the delights on offer - I think I might come and join you ...

    @ Ian - many thanks for coming by .. I love lamb meatballs with cumin - and so wonderful your family were thinking along the same lines!!

    @ Amy - sorry .. but delighted you enjoyed the thoughts ...

    Wonderful to see you all at the picnic - we'll have so much fun together .. enjoy your weekends and see you Monday when the mirror will reflect back! Cheers Hilary

  27. That's a lot of food, Hilary, but I'm up for it. :)

    Thanks for your generosity.


  28. Woah, I'm stuffed! Never seen such a spread for a picnic before.

    You rock Hilary!

  29. What a lovely A to Z this is! I shall be thinking of you when I am in Wales, and do hope there is space among the raindrops to get a sighting of St Donats and Cardiff castles (and I do hope, also, for a conversation with Friko while I'm there). In the meantime, I just learned that, over at my site, the photographic slideshow of the garden was not appearing. I have now fixed it, so if you should stop back by, I hope you can see it. In reading your post, I thought how nice it would be to take a hamper and sit looking out on the Central Park Conservatory's great lawn.

  30. What a lovely picnic! Just reading the list of food made me hungry for a sunny day, a bottle of wine, a deserted beach and plenty of snacks to keep me satisfied for hours.

  31. Oh, my, this post made me very, very hungry. I think I'll go grab lunch...and eat it outside in the shade of the aspen tree. :)

  32. mmmmmmmm and here I have to diet lol

  33. @ Teresa .. well that's just great - it is the weekend after all .. and look forward to seeing you with your selections ..

    @ Chase .. delighted - those walks around your home area must provide a wonderful picnic place somewhere .. that beach of yours looks good!

    @ Susan - delighted to hear you're so looking forward to your visit .. and I hope to goodness the weather clears a little .. it's pretty miserable right now!

    I've seen Cardiff castle but never been in it .. so being able to get to St Donats and Cardiff with musical friends will be amazing.

    Oh great - I'll be back to see the slide show .. I imagine a hamper on Central Park's Conservatory lawn would be just wonderful - I might pop over and join you!

    @ Rosaria - so delighted you've selected your picnic space ... wine is provided .. and snacks too .. just enjoy the sea air ..

    @ Patricia - it does sound good doesn't it - just wish our weather would allow to step outside without an umbrella... you are so lucky to be able to sit outside in the shade of your aspen tree!!

    @ A Lady's Life - oh no - start after the picnic ... also there's lots of healthy food here ..

    Cheers everyone - wish we could get out to picnic! Need the rain, but this is just too much .. ?! The picnic awaits us all .. Hilary

  34. One thing for sure, your post is making me hungry. I look forward to your post on Monday.

  35. It's almost time for dinner. I'm getting off this computer, so I can eat!

  36. Hey Hilary,
    Awesome, an alphabetical picnic. I'm about to go and finish off some zucchini :)
    A fairy nice ending to the alphabet challenge, indeed!
    Hope you have a wondrous, magical weekend.

  37. Yes please Hilary!

    On the deck last night was a fitting location to share your alphabet feast!

    Heading home to wet, wintry Melbourne soon, so I've been trying to capture the beauty of this location - it's a glorious place to have been fortunate to spend a couple of weeks...apart from the lack of good internet of course ;)

  38. @ Clarissa - many thanks - yes the reflections post will be up on Monday ..

    @ Susan - sounds a good idea .. tummies do take over occasionally

    @ Gary - I love zucchini too .. especially fresh from the garden. It is miserable isn't it - as you know too wet to garden or do much ..

    @ Sue - oh! I think I'll join you on that deck .. have I missed it?! Sounds a delightful place for a celebratory rustic feast.

    Melbourne's have an early autumn is it .. frankly I expect your weather is better than ours!

    Many thanks Clarissa, Susan, Gary and Sue .. so lovely having you here .. see you soon .. Hilary

  39. Hilary! You're killing me! I was hungry before I read this, and now I'm positively starving!

  40. Hilary, I am just amazed and astounded. Most of us struggled to just get the A to Z words done in 30 days and you managed to do it all in one post! And your picnic sounds absolutely delightful.

  41. What a beautiful, beautiful post!

  42. I'm a bit late to the picnic, and you had so many people drop by, I hope there's some food left!

  43. That was fantastic! I think you have an ABC picture book in this post. :) Now all you need are the illustrations for each letter.

  44. Thanks for a lovely picnic! What beautiful photos!

  45. @ Talli - sadly it was a horrid weekend for a picnic .. just hope the weather improves for today - and your hunger was satisfied now.

    @ Karen - many thanks .. sort of foods I love .. and picnic settings where we can all roam free or relax between courses! Glad you enjoyed it.

    @ Glynis - delighted

    @ Annalisa - no worries - Tinkerbell will bring your picnic desires with her when you're ready .. we have plenty (it won't run out!) ...

    @ Sharon - many thanks .. lots of ABC illustrations appeared in the A - Z challenge .. one day perhaps!

    @ Nas - great to see you here .. and am glad the photos stimulate you ..

    @ Alex - I know food like this I think I could eat at any time of day, but I'll wait for the A - Z Challenge picnic!!

    Great seeing you all -thanks so much for stopping by .. on to the Reflections posts .. cheers Hilary

  46. Hilary, I enjoyed your castle tour.

    That picnic looks and sounds delicious. You're making me hungry!

  47. Hi Theresa .. many thanks - glad the picnic looks and sounds delicious - hope you managed to find some late lunch, by the look of your comment.

    Cheers - Hilary

  48. A lovely post...can I come to your picnic too?

  49. Hi Pauleen - many thanks for coming over to connect - good to meet you and of course I'd love to see you, family and friends join us for the ABC picnic ... cheers Hilary

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