Wednesday, 24 July 2013

BBQ's and Beaches

It's hot in the UK at the moment.  People everywhere are eyeing up the sunshine with a kind of morbid fascination, convinced it will turn on them the second they start to try to plan anything which relies on being outside.  BBQ's are treated with reverence and when we manage to get some sunshine that we think will last a little while we pile as many of them into our social (and occasionally work) calendars as humanly possible and once booked in, nothing come hell or high water will stop them from going ahead.

This has the effect of back to back BBQ's at the moment.  Never mind burning the candle at both ends, currently I appear to be burning the charcoal non-stop.  My waistline is not going to thank me when September hits.
On Saturday we escaped the heat of Canterbury and headed to the seaside town of Whitstable for Hannah's birthday BBQ celebration in her back garden.  I'm really quite jealous of summer babies.  Being an early spring baby myself it is far more likely to rain (or snow) on my birthday which instantly cuts out any form of outdoor activity.  Hannah got to take full advantage of this glorious sunshine and throw a BBQ and trip to the seaside in for hers.  The fact that she lives 2 seconds from the beach is neither here nor there.
Our first mistake was driving to Whitstable.  Never a good idea in the summer.  Should have taken the bus.  We circled the streets a couple of times and then headed to one of the lesser know car parks where we got lucky with a space as someone was pulling out.  We unloaded our bags of food and drink and fought our way through the crowds of tourists who had all seen the sunshine as the perfect excuse to head to Whitstable (you can't blame them really).  We made our way through the winding little back streets and down a tiny alley into the garden which was packed full of people drinking and eating.
Away from the busy high-street this was a sea-side sanctuary in the summer sun.  You could hear the gulls and feel the sea breeze, a welcome relief in the glorious sunshine we have been enjoying.  The air hangs with the tang of the ocean and gulls will bomb you for a scrap of bread (or a full fish and chip dinner.  They are quite bold).

In the garden people mingled and chatted, taking turns to cook the vast quantities of meat that people had donated.
I want to stress now that there was absolutely no competitiveness over the BBQ with people fighting for the sacred crown of BBQ king or queen! All the tong-leaders performed their duties admirably and we had a wealth of goodies to choose from throughout the day.  The chicken kebabs did flummox people though as they would not stay in one piece!
No BBQ is complete without a little bit of 'drama' and when the BBQ went out there was a frantic flurry of activity as people searched for fire lighters, newspaper and scrunched envelopes a hundred different ways whilst blowing gentle on the remaining feeble flames.
It eventually caught and was left to heat up and burn off causing a heck of a lot of smoke, leaving us feeling like we were in a smokehouse but at least there was more food cooked! You know you are with good friends when you don't care that your hair reeks and your eye makeup is halfway down your face as long as people get to eat!
There was plenty of drink to go around (absolutely essential for a good BBQ) and impromptu cocktails created from whatever happened to be floating around. 
There were also plenty of creepy crawlies - not so essential but really rather quite beautiful with their markings.
Plus pudding made by the birthday girl's fair hand.  Lemon cheesecake covered in equally delicious celebrities.  Yummy!  The girls got to request whose face they received on their slice.  The boys were less bothered it has to be said...
As the afternoon wore on we packed up the drinks and some of the left over food, locked up the house, piled into the street and headed across the road to the beach to watch the sunset over the sea. 
We found a nearly deserted stretch of the beach and set up camp on the stones.
We had hoped to go paddling but the tide was pretty far out so instead we played games and chatted, topped up our glasses with wine and munched though more snacks!  No wonder my tummy is feeling a bit full these days!
Chatter wasn't enough for the boys though and a wrestling session broke out on the clattering shale of the beach.
The sun set and that was our cue to pile back into the cars and drive home, tired, happy and smelling vaguely like salt and smoke.

How has your BBQ season been so far? 

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