The Great Outdoors

Ok, so we may not have had the ‘BBQ summer’ everyone on this wet little island continues to hope for relentlessly year after year, but there’s been enough decent sunny spells in the last month or so to get some of that summer feeling.

Which is precisely what inspired me to pimp up the small yet respectable outdoor space on offer in our current abode. It may not be ‘great’ but it’s private, and the definition of ‘outdoors’ may seem a stretch when you look up to see a succession of rooftops and chimneys lining the horizon, but nevertheless it is providing a much appreciated extension to our living quarters.

The whole thing started when I finally decided to acquire a proper gas BBQ. Add a table and chairs and hey presto, outdoor living!

The BBQ has pretty much been in constant use on most dry and sunny days. I’m too much of a girl to bother with charcoal so the option of simply turning on a burner suits me to the ground. I quickly learned about maintenance and cleaning – the hard way! I asked a few (male) friends how often you needed to clean such a contraption and the answer pretty much amalgamated to ‘Just scrape off the bits the next time you use it’. Hmmm. I figured there must be a bit more to it, so I dutifully scoured the racks after each meal. I had vague ambitions of cleaning the drip tray, too – maybe once a month or so.

That was before the great fire. Turns out after maybe 5 or 6 cookouts, enough grease had accumulated in said drip tray to flambé my lamb kebabs. All calm and collected, I turned off the burners, closed the lid and switched off the gas bottle for good measure. One peak under the lid later, I concluded it was time to summon a higher force. The higher force first suggested water, which I vetoed based on common sense, and a few first aid courses. We subsequently agreed on flour (all the while watching respectable sized flames shoot up), and a short while later I was left with no flames, half-cooked kebabs and my new gadget covered in white powder. Much more time-consuming to clean than maintaining a grease-free drip tray!

I also Googled some general cleaning advice and decided the following (written by a sensible man!) was a practice worth adopting:

If people thought of their grills like they do their stovetops, there would be a lot less problems with grills wearing out. Think of it this way, after you cook something on the stove you generally have to wipe up the spills.

True dat.

To make the most out of the good weather, we’ve also been having al fresco meals for the last three days. There’s something to this Mediterranean-lifestyle-thing. I mean, it’s hard to be grumpy when you’re lunching under an umbrella watching the girl have deep conversations with the cloth pegs on the washing line (they do look a bit like birds on a wire, I suppose). As an added bonus, not a single piece of food has hit the floor (just when you don’t have to worry about stains on the dining room carpet!), although cutlery still gets dismissed with great alacrity and a perfunctory wrist flick. I wasn’t quite convinced that this morning was nice enough for porridge on the porch, however, the fact that a certain someone had converted the vacant dining room table into a satellite office provided, shall we say, encouragement.

So here’s to making the most out of every ray of sunshine this country is blessed with. And to hoping that the next time you hear me say ‘It was a scorcher of a day’, I’m really am simply talking about the weather…


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