The COT Picnic by the River: grey skies, great times!

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June 20, 2016 by permanentred

It could have so easily ended in disaster… The weather forecast in the week leading up to the picnic was dire. Heavy rain was predicted for Thursday. We had allocated 50 free tickets and ordered 50 picnic packs… Every time I looked at the weather forecast, and those times were legion, the stress mounted.

By Thursday the forecast was looking a bit better but when I arrived to meet the catering van and offload all the picnic packs, dark clouds were looming across the river. We found a spot under the trees and laid down the picnic packs on plastic sheeting.

People started arriving and it all got under way. Everyone mixed and chatted spontaneously and it all started going really well! The picnic packs had beef or brie baguettes, catering for vegetarians and special packs for people with dietary requirements. We also had orzo with broad beans, chocolate brownie with cherry compote, lemonade and lots of white wine from Majestic.

There was a great mix of people there, students and clinicians, academics and managers. There was even a Brazilian occupational therapist visiting London who had seen it advertised on the web and we were happy to give her a spare picnic pack. She works in palliative care so we arranged a visit to the hospice where I work so she can compare services. There was also a passer-by, whose wife is an occupational therapist, who stopped to have a chat!


A text from home showed rain coming down in rods in NW10 and mud splattered on the window from window boxes. The sheer force of the rain had battered the berries out of the bay tree and scattered them on the front garden… we watched the glowering clouds through the round window of the London Eye and heard the thunder, but the picnic stayed dry! We raffled off a selection of goodies including a ticket for COT Conference 2017 for one lucky winner!

It was such a relief to get away with the gamble! It generated lots of ripples on social media with photos being posted, lots of tweets, re-tweets and new followers. Undaunted by the near-washout we were already planning our next picnic before leaving. Next time… Pizza in the Park! We’ll pick a spot, bring some wine and soft drinks then dial for pizza deliveries. It’s a much more robust plan! We’re thinking of setting a date for August. It’s much more reliable than June. Keep an eye on this blog or our Twitter or Facebook accounts so you don’t miss out!

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