British consumers, it seems, are an optimistic lot. After the coldest spring in 50 years, John Lewis this week reported a 144 per cent year-on-year rise in sales of outdoor furniture. .
“Shoppers are determined to make the most of the light summer evenings, despite temperatures being below average,” said the retailer.
Building on this confident mood, it’s time to choose the right barbecue – primarily a decision between charcoal and gas, said John Lewis’s outdoor living buyer, Nicola Gidlow. “Charcoal is the traditional option. The heat below the grill gives the food a classic barbecued appearance. Gas barbecues are quick and easy.”
Most barbecues come with a lid, which lets you braise or roast meat, too. Some have a lid holder that you can use as a windbreak. Susan Laffey, leisure and barbecues buyer at B&Q, recommends a pizza stone, which will set you back about £20.
And once you have your barbecue chosen and fired up, there are a few simple ways to make sure your guests remember more than a burnt snag.
“A barbecue should be relaxed, friendly and inviting,” said Villeroy & Boch’s in-house stylist Sylvia Oakley. “I like to use mismatched tablecloths. Using clean earthenware plant pots for cutlery is another nice idea.”
Coloured lanterns and tea lights in old jam jars around the garden will add atmosphere when evening comes.