One of the things I love about Melbourne is the endless series of fun, quirky events that see you doing some very strange things in equally odd places: listening to a punk gig in an abandoned building in the middle of a work day, trying tasty treats at a vegan festival at The Convent, cocktails in bars with no names. Basically, if you can dream it, Melbourne does it.
So when I was invited to don my finest tweeds for a Wild Picnic hosted by Reid Cycles and Fowles Wine, I thought, well, hey, when in Melbourne. Leading up to the event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the prospect of pretty bikes and good wine was a promising start.
At 5pm two Fridays ago ‘The Field’ gathered at Fed Square to saddle up. I felt a little overdressed in my pearls and riding jacket on the train in and I hoped this wasn’t going to be one of those awkward situations where everyone except me ignored the dress code (my friend and I once went all out with our costumes for a Global Financial Crisis party, only to find the host had reconsidered the dress up part on Facebook earlier that day, and we were the only ones who didn’t get the message. I’ve lived in fear of similar embarrassment since). Anyhoo, much to my relief, the other picnickers were as eager as I was for the chance to relive a more genteel time.
We were paired with our steeds—Reid vintage bikes in all different pretty colours—and on the sound of the horn, with a round of Tally-hos! we were off. We wound our way along the Yarra at a stately pace, turning heads as we went before crossing the bridge into the Tan and heading for Queen Victoria Gardens.
We were greeted at our destination by waiters offering refreshments and treated to an evening of live music, croquet, canapes and some terribly good wine, thanks to Fowles Wines. For those feeling game, there was also a duck hunt (and given the theme of the evening, I really did half expect to be handed a gun and a hunting cap, but fortunately the ducks in question were of the rubber variety and hidden all around the gardens with prizes for whoever found the most).
In true Melbourne style, the weather had been abominably bad all week, but the sun came out that afternoon to bathe our party in warm, nostalgic light. Glancing around, we really might have been a hunting party reclining on the lawns of some British Lord’s manor a century ago. I met lots of new and fascinating people that knew a lot more about wine, food and fashion than I do, and generally had a ball.
It was the perfect way to welcome in the summer riding season, and made me grateful for this weird and wonderful city I’ve found myself living in. Thank you Reid Cycles and Fowles Wine!
(Note: I got a bit excited by all the food and wine and croquet and didn’t get many in-focus pics, but there are some wonderful shots on Hipstergram under #wildpicnic.)