Danube, Slovakia, Poland Journeying Slovakia

One Cool Picnic, One Cool Ride

Cooling off with flannels while cycling in the Tatras
Written by Kirstie Pelling

One Cool Picnic, One Cool Ride

Kirstie Profile SmallLike most Lidl supermarkets around the UK, Liptovsky Hradok’s Lidl superstore sells food, and a few other random bits and pieces of clothing and household equipment. But we aren’t looking for food. We are looking for anything that will help us defend ourselves against the relentless heat and sunshine Slovakia is throwing at us on a daily basis as we make our way through the Low Tatra and around the High Tatra mountains.

We have tons of sun cream in our rack pack, but it isn’t enough to protect ourselves against a Slovakian heatwave and dozens of kilometres of climbing. We need a kit, and we have the prospective parts of it in mind. And we are hoping Lidl can deliver.

Dishcloths will do

Lidl doesn’t have the cotton facecloths we want to wipe sweat from our foreheads. So we have to make do with a three pack of multi-coloured dishcloths. It doesn’t have any water pistols or garden sprays either, so we have to pass on that part of our sun defence system. It has lots of bottled water, so we buy a six pack. And it has socks. We are short of socks as washing machines are a rarity in the simple functional Slovakian campsites.

Kids wearing face cloths

At the local Lidl we stock up on essentials. Food, dishcloths, fizzy water and socks.

Christmas fizz

We sit in the Lidl car park on fiercely hot concrete slabs and unwrap our treats. It is like Christmas. The children fight over the coloured dishcloths before doling out blue, yellow and pink cloths; one for each bike. They then crack open the mineral water to soak the cloths in. We have unwittingly bought carbonated water, so the water fizzes all over the cloths.

Cooling off with a dishcloth

The kids are quick to see the benefits of a dishcloth soaked in fizz.

“That’s so nice,” says Matthew, pushing the cloth around his face and neck. Cameron puts his cloth on his head. “Aaaah, brilliant, it fizzes,” he sighs as fizzy mineral water pours down his face. Hannah hangs her pink one from the front of her helmet. She looks like Barbie in a burka.

New socks too

Then we unwrap the socks. We take off our socks in the middle of the car park. We are getting a lot of attention by now from local people who are wondering why we are covering our faces in wet dishcloths and why I am putting five pairs of sweaty socks in the Lidl car park bin. So we settle down to eat some food and hope their attention will be diverted elsewhere.

Kids going looney

We’ve tried all sorts of things to keep cool, with varying degrees of success.

Strange picnics

We have had some strange picnics over the last few weeks, and the children list some of the more unconventional ones.

“What about that time in Austria where it was Sunday and all the shops were shut and we didn’t have anything in the picnic bag apart from corned beef and Emmental cheese. So we made corned beef sandwiches, but with the cheese instead of bread.” says Matthew. “It was well wicked.”

“Or there was that one in Hungary where we only had boiled eggs and mayonnaise, so we squirted the mayonnaise onto the egg in our mouths,” recalls Cameron. “That was so gross.”

“I liked that!” says Hannah.

“Or the one the other day with the Slovakian bacon that tasted like sausage, and I made a sausage- bacon butty?” says Cameron.

“It actually tasted of fish,” says Matthew.

Camp breakfast

We’ve had some strange picnics in some strange places wearing some strange things.

 This is one cool picnic

We eat our cobbled together sandwiches and consider whether Slovakian bacon tastes more like sausage or fish. And then we soak the dishcloths in more mineral water, and stick them on our heads, enjoying how our eyebrows fizz and bubble. Who cares who is watching? This is one cool picnic.
Cycle trailer picnic basket one cool picnic

Now that’s what I call a giant picnic basket. Naturally cooled.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

1 Comment

  • […] It’s amazing the things you’ll do to keep cool when you’re on the road and the sun’s beating down. This shot was taken one cool Friday as we approached the High Tatras in Slovakia on this summer’s tour. The kids decided we needed a way to cool down especially with a week of climbing ahead. So they took us to Lidl and we bought some dishcloths. Brilliant. Worked a treat. You can get the full story of our one cool picnic here. […]

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