'Picnic expert' reveals top destinations for Valentine's Day
SANDWICHES, piccolos and romantic hideaways are picnic expert Tammy Burns' jam.
The owner of the Picnic Parlour Café at Boonah has staged and catered for more than 50 picnics since starting her picnic business in 2015 and has pioneered the customised picnic niche.
There is a special art to the romantic picnic and Ms Burns has some timely advice before Valentine's Day for lovers planning a romantic picnic.
"The first thing to consider is location, location, location," Ms Burns said.
"You may find a special spot at a local park, botanic garden, lake, lookout or take advantage of the immaculate grounds at your local winery.
"A view will leave a lasting impression, but you also need to consider privacy, shade, access to toilets and how far you'll need to carry gear."
She said some perfect spots around Ipswich for the traditional time-honoured celebration were Kholo Gardens, Nerima Gardens, Bob Gamble Park, Harding's Paddock, Colleges Crossing and Flinders Peak Winery.
"Time of day can also have a big impact, whether it's a sunset view, brunch or, for the early birds - a sunrise picnic can ensure a unique and private experience," Ms Burns said.
"The latest trend in picnics is romantic and elaborate 'staging'. This may include colourful picnic rugs, textured cushions, a cosy blanket to snuggle under, a bounty of candles and fresh flowers.
"Picnics can now be as glam as you want them to be and our fully customized themed picnics with intricate staging are becoming more and more popular.
A good picnic hampers is the cornerstone of the picnic experience, she said.
"The most important thing to remember is to treat yourself with food that you love but don't have on a regular basis," Ms Burns said.
"Think cheese, cold meats, dips, gourmet crackers, olives, fruit, nuts and sweets. A beautifully decorated mini-cake for dessert always adds a wow factor."
Mrs Burns said to choose foods that would handle the weather - avoid chocolates on a steamy hot day, and make sure to have an ice-block or two to keep things cool on the way to the picnic.
High on the list of things to avoid is using a mobile phone, she warned.
"By all means, take a selfie, but to avoid the worst Valentine's ever - leave your phone in the basket and give your full attention to your date," Ms Burns said.
"Adding an element of surprise can add an extra level of fun. Consider having a photographer go 'undercover' to capture the look on the face of your partner when you arrive."
The most memorable Valentines picnic Ms Burns has provided was when a young fellow spoilt his partner with a dozen red roses, a guitarist, professional photographer and a message behind a plane with a banner reading "Love you to the moon and back" that flew back and forth over the beach.
Ms Burns said she felt privileged to play a part in that special experience, but stressed that a picnic did not need to be that extravagant to win a heart.
"The most important ingredient in any romantic Valentines picnic is, of course, love - taking time out to spend together, talking and relaxing in a beautiful setting is the best way to celebrate," she said.