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  • Andrew Christopher Dunne

Dining Alfresco

Here at ac designs we like to do things differently, so for once this garden writer is not going to lecture you on the merits of a manicured lawn or the benefits of killing green fly and instead I will try to encourage you to get out this weekend and enjoy your garden the way it was meant to be enjoyed . How better to to this than with the cold beverage of your choice, a few friends and our favourite Ozzie import the good old bbq.

With its cremated sausages and floppy burgers somehow made all the more delicious by the all too rare summer sun, the Irish Barbie is truly a thing of beauty and one of my all time favourite ways to relax in the garden.However, much and all as I enjoy them, I think it is about time we elevated the humble Barbie to new heights.

Firstly the garden itself. If you haven’t got time to make your patch pristine simply mow the lawn and trim the edges. It is the easiest way to make your garden look tidy and can also help to distract from those weedy little secrets lurking in the borders. And after that last minute dash to the garden centre for that emergency splash of colour, you are ready to go.

Now although it is the God given right of every man in the country to sink a cold one whilst flipping a burger. Why not push the boat out this year by making your own home-made sangria or my personal favourite - Champagne Mojitos (see below.). And while your at it why not spice up the menu a bit with something different. Marinaded Lamb with fresh rosemary, charred vegetable stir fry, or my personnel favourite Clogherhead prawns in garlic, are just some of the alternatives. There are loads of ideas on-line and best of all everything can be prepared in advance. You would be amazed what can be barbecued I once had a Christmas dinner in Perth of barbecued Atlantic salmon and it was to die for.

Music can also set the mood and add to a sense of warmth in the garden so why not ditch the usual party tunes for the cool Cuban sounds of the Buena vista social club or something with a distinctively tropical feel to transport you away to warmer climes.

As evening turns to night you can fill your garden with doses of tea lights in jars to illuminate the scene and create a sense of romance. A chimenae or fire pit, as opposed to the usual patio heater will provide warmth without flooding the garden in orange light And remember to ensure you have that all important emergency supply of sausages on stand by when everyone is starving again at two in the morning.

Gardens are made to be enjoyed and the wintres are cetting colder so get up off the couch, throw a few snags on the Barbie and make this Summer Count!

Champagne Mojito (serves 8)

Heat 200g of caster suger, in 200ml of water with a bunch of fresh mint until sugar is disolved. Strain and leave to cool.

Fill tall glasses with ice, more fresh mint a squeeze of lime juce.

Add 50ml of your cooled surup a shot of rum and top up with cheap sparkeling wine. And garnish with a lime wedge.

For more bbq ideas visit

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