Even the non-cooks among us can't help but love a barbecue. So with the sun shining (fingers crossed) and a gathering of friends and family ready to party, it's time to roll out the BBQ and get prepped for a day of fun, food and festivities, alfresco style!
You can't knock our dogged determination for the great outdoors. Because as soon as the first ray of sun tentatively shines, us Brits are outside in the garden in a flash, jumpers and boots swapped for shorts and flip-flops, and the barbecue dusted off and ready for a day of alfresco dining. With National Barbecue Week just around the corner (30th May - 5th June) what better way to spend this Bank Holiday than with family and friends eating delicious barbecued food, enjoying a few glasses of bubbly and taking in lungfuls of fresh air.
However, given our unpredictable weather and lack of practice, eating outdoors can often be a disappointing novelty - a last-minute hotchpotch of cremated burgers, soggy bread rolls and not enough chairs to go around. The secret is to be organised - with the food, the drinks, the furniture and everything else in between.
Pick up some key pieces of practical and stylish outdoor tableware - cups, bowls, pitchers, trays and cutlery - made from hardwearing melamine that can be used inside and out all year round, so you get your money's worth. Mix up translucent candy colours with pretty florals and crisp stripes for an on-trend, mix-and-match vibe or if you're really up against it, buy packs of throwaway paper plates and colourful napkins that can all be chucked in the recycling bin to save on washing up at the end of the day.
Of course the key piece of kit is the barbecue itself and depending on budget and whether you prefer cooking on charcoal or gas, there is a model out there to suit your needs. Portable bucket barbies are ideal for a small gathering while larger soirées (and BBQ lovers who can't get enough of the cooking outside) may call for a state-of-the-art outdoor cook centre complete with rotisserie, grills and even ovens. But for the seriously discerning alfresco diner, do as the Australians do, and get yourself a permanent, built-in barbecue complete with a fridge, bar caddy and storage cupboard - all to hand in the garden so you don't have to move an inch!
Don't forget to decorate your outside space too - nothing too flash or expensive, just a few strings of pretty bunting (fabric will wear better than paper versions outdoors) and piles of plump, comfy cushions (Bridgman's waterproof, stain resistant cushions are perfect). Our selection of rattan furniture is spot-on for a leisurely barbecue in the garden, but make sure you have enough deckchairs, picnic blankets and hardwearing beanbags to hand should impromptu guests call. Music is a nice touch too and today's portable Bluetooth speakers make it easier than ever to fill your garden with ambient summery tunes.
With the fridge stocked up to the max with good food and drink, the fun is likely to spill over into the evening, so don't forget lighting. Hang up pretty strings of fairylights (before the guests arrive) for a magical, night-time glow and line raised beds and step edges with rows of tealights popped in old jam jars, glass bowls and pretty vintage vessels.
All you need to do now is sit back and pray the rain clouds stay away...
Will you be celebrating National Barbecue Week this year? And what do you love most about cooking outdoors? We'd love to hear your thoughts...
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