CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Adam Edwards: The demise of the deckchair

PUBLISHED: 12:19 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:19 23 July 2018

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

This content is subject to copyright.

‘Despite those documented decades of inclement summers we are now designing our gardens as if we were living in Provence’

There were many things that were missing from my and most of my contemporaries’ childhoods that we now take for granted. In the 50s and 60s it was, for example, impossible to get a pizza, a bulb of garlic or an avocado. As far as I remember no car had a glass sunroof, no kitchen had an electric clock and no bathroom had a power shower (or any sort of shower for that matter). There were no supermarkets, no cordless appliances, no credit cards and no trainers (only plimsolls).

The list is endless but what in particular prompted this flight of nostalgia during these flaming days was that there was no garden furniture to speak of. It is true the gardens of grand houses had chipped-paint wrought iron chairs surrounding rusty iron tables, the occasional dark wood bench and, if they were particularly swanky, a Lady Penelope swing seat. The rest of us made do with a stained canvas collapsible deck chair or a few seats commandeered from the kitchen.

Nowadays a blast of hot weather sees the back gardens of the Cotswolds’ gentry morph into expensive outdoor drawing rooms. There is not a collapsible Formica table, white plastic chair, or a multi-coloured beach umbrella to be seen. This was exemplified at the Chelsea Flow Show this year when one of the show gardens was dominated not by flowers but by a large designer seating area with puffed up sofa cushions in pale yellow and orange to “blend in harmoniously” with white and yellow peonies and lupins in the less important surrounding borders.

A barbecue that is more professional kitchen than caveman fire is the finishing folly to these alfresco lounges. I don’t know when the British fell in love with barbecuing but it barely existed when I was young. It was, as far as I can ascertain, towards the end of the last century when it became part of our DNA. On the first sunny day of the summer Englishmen would drag out their grease-caked kettle stove to cook, if that is the right word, a chicken drumstick, a burnt sausage and a supermarket burger. Today cookers that would embarrass an Aga have replaced those Heath Robinson medicine balls. (Again at Chelsea there was The Elemental, a bespoke designer streamlined outdoor stove made from wood, stone and metal priced at between £50,000 and £80,000.) And yet despite this leap forward in open-air gourmet gear, the amateur British short-order chef continues to burn the outside of the sausage while leaving the inside of the chicken leg the colour of sunburn.

The bizarre thing about this investment in posh garden furniture and grand BBQs is that the English summer, despite global warming, is erratic. In 2010 I invested in a cheap gazebo. In the seven summers since my pop-up pavilion has shaded an outdoor feast for less than a couple of days in any one year.

This past May has been the hottest since records began in 1910 but another way of putting that statistic is that we have had the first decent late spring and early summer in 108 years. The reason for the old wives tale “ne’er cast a clout till May is out” exists because it is usually a bloody cold and grey month. There are, it is true, some hot weeks in June and the occasional baking days in July. But in August it almost always rains and a sunny September – quite often the sunniest month of the year - is blighted by a return to school and work. And yet despite these documented decades of inclement summers we are now designing our gardens as if we were living in Provence.

There is one certainty about this year’s sweltering summer – if it is a scorcher (and I am writing this in early June) then it is an odds-on bet that we won’t have another like it for years. And for that reason I decided that this year I would buy my garden furniture from the Fosse Cross dump. In a spare container at the tip, from whence any half-decent stuff is kept back and sold, I bought six wooden kitchen chairs for a tenner. They have already earned their money. As for the BBQ I will be burning my sausages on a brand new 14’’ inch steel-tripod portable patio grill that cost me £10.99 on Ebay. The contraption will go to the dump on the first day of autumn… on the same day that I chop up my chairs for firewood.

For more from Adam Edwards, follow him on Twitter! @cotswoldhack

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tue, 11:05

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Thursday, October 11, 2018

It’s that wonderful time of year again when we warm ourselves by roaring bonfires and enjoy dazzling firework displays that light up the skies. Gather your loved ones, wrap up warm and enjoy an evening of Guy Fawkes celebrations in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

After something to entertain the kids during half-term? Or are you counting down the days to enjoy the thrills and spills of Halloween? Here are 20 ways to celebrate the spookiest time of year in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Visitors to the village of Bourton-on-the-Water can now escape the well-trodden tourist trail at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful Greystones nature reserve and its newly opened visitor centre

Read more
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Thursday, September 27, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

No pain, no gain? Walking, cycling and horse riding make getting fit a lot more enjoyable than that

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On a crisp, autumnal day, there is nothing better than gathering the family for a stroll amongst some of the most colourful woodland and countryside the Cotswolds has to offer. We’ve accumulated a list of our favourite places to catch the majority of this season’s golden hues

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

‘For me, Wick Court is a special place because it marks the beginning of the Henson family journey in rare breeds conservation’

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Tracy Spiers takes Emily, daughter number two, who shares her love for anything historical, to this vibrant place and get lost in a heady mix of wild bears, Middle Age punishing devices, timber-framed buildings and live bees

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search