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Published:  2012-10-10 Views:  753
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Published in:  Cruises
Recently I had some friends around for dinner and the evening turned into one of those beautiful summer’s evenings, so we opted to sit outside whilst we dined. The dinner was already planned and so I couldn’t show off my barbecuing skills, despite this everyone enjoyed the meal enhanced by the gorgeous weather.

There are many pleasures in life but right there amongst the favourites must be al-fresco dining. We even have recipe books from the celebrity chefs teaching us how to make the best picnic food, the best barbecue food or simply the best food to be eaten outside. There are however two essential ingredients to any outdoor dining experience; one is the weather and the other is somewhere to sit.

Of course you can just lay out a rug, sit on the floor, open up your picnic basket and start to eat; this you can do anywhere, even in your own garden. However, surely more pleasure can be had from sitting around a beautifully crafted table on a set of beautifully crafted chairs. Whether the food you eat is actually cooked outside or prepared indoors and then brought to the table, there is nothing quite like eating outside.

My own garden furniture set comprises a lovely wooden table with six foldable chairs; others come in a variety of configurations from a small bistro set with a table and two chairs to very large tables with up to ten chairs; some also come complete with a ‘lazy-Susan’ turntable, parasol, base and matching cushions. If you only have a very small garden then a bistro set is possibly enough for your needs.

Bigger gardens may have room for more than one seating area and therefore could have a bistro set near to the house and something larger for dining with guests. People with very large gardens who like to entertain would naturally have room for one of the much larger sets as well as other areas for when a smaller number of guests is expected.

On the other hand garden furniture sets do not have to come with just dining in mind and can comprise luxurious padded armchairs complete with coffee tables – after all you need somewhere to put your drink! These kinds of sets are best sited under some sort of shelter to keep off the worst of the weather, however, this does mean they can still be used even when it is raining but still warm enough to sit out.

Speaking of shelter, some gardens have been designed with this in mind and have a permanent structure that has a lightweight roof over it so that sunshine can still get through but nevertheless protects sitters and diners from rain showers. A summer-house is also ideal for this; usually a light airy building with large doors that can be opened wide, they have a dual purpose in that furniture can be stored in them over the winter.

Most people are not lucky enough to have such a luxury, but help is at hand in the form of a pop-up gazebo designed either to shelter you from the rain, or even very hot sun. Most take the form of a canopy held aloft on four tent-pole-type legs, but some come with removable side panels that when utilised all at once can afford as much protection as a tent does.

If you are planning a large gathering in your garden and want to prepare for any eventuality then a small marquee-type gazebo would be just the job for you. The frame once again is made from metal interlocking poles; the canopy that goes over them is made from strong waterproof polyethylene. Once more the panels can be used in any combination to suit the weather conditions (you can even get weights to hold the gazebo down!) and the needs of your party.

Luckily on the evening in question we had no need of such a shelter as we sat out till very late enjoying the warmth. These al-fresco occasions always remind me of a very old friend who, glass in hand, would always say “ah –this is the life!� she wasn’t wrong!

Dining out in style is just one of the hundreds of http://www.myoutdoorstore.co.uk/compare_days-out.html. Follow the link to discover our vast selection of days out ideas.
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