A summer of barbecues – plan vs reality

It seems that having a barbecue in our house is a lot harder than I’d ever anticipated when I said I’d review one from True Shopping.

We love barbecued food (what’s not to love about meat, meat and more meat according to my OH), and holding one is such a social occasion, it makes me wonder why we don’t have them more often.  Especially when we owe so many people invites back to ours after being at other people’s BBQs.  2015 was going to be my year of the BBQ.

Or not as the case might be!  Please tell me I’m not the only one who has this type of thing happen to me.

The plan and my expectation:

True shopping gas bbq

Barbecue would be delivered, fully built.

The OH would put it in the garden.

We’d buy in the meat, salads, drink and invite friends over.

The OH would get all manly and possessive over it, break out the gas and cook the meat on the barbecue.

We’d all enjoy the food, the barbecue would be easy to clean, and it would be put away under its cover until the next time.

The next time, I would potentially include everyday evening meals, because  it would be sunny weather and so easy to use, why wouldn’t you use it for normal healthy cooking each evening.

The foods I love on the barbecue include: marinaded chicken, sausages, steak from the farm cut really thin, burgers, chicken and vegetable skewers.  All served with various salads, warm minted and buttered new potatoes, rice salad, 3 bean salad (with beetroot if I ask the mother-in-law to provide a dish!), and a green salad with plenty of peppers and cucumber for N.

For everyday cooking, I’d add parcels of fish to the list, plus occasional desserts including the classic treat of bananas with chocolate drops wrapped in foil and then cooked.

The reality

The barbecue arrives.  It’s heavy and the box is big.  I can’t lift it, so I leave it at the farm where it’s been delivered for the OH to bring home.

The OH doesn’t bring it home. He puts it in a barn somewhere and doesn’t tell me.

A few weeks later when we’re looking like having some dry and warm weather, I go to search for it. No joy.

A few weeks later, I get told it’s in the barn.  I find it and start getting things out of the box to check it’s all there.  N is with me having an old moan about something or other.  I realise that it needs to be built. Oh.  Mission aborted when N wants to head back home and go to the toilet.

Next attempt in the barn, child out with his dad somewhere.  I’m building it alongside one of my in laws’ lodgers who’s always working on his broken Land Rover. Handy because I realise I’m missing one quite useful tool.

Do a recheck of pieces, and realise I’m missing one clip and a bolt for a wheel.

Barbecue is now built.  Now to work out how to get it from the barn, up the drive to the garden.  My theory had been sensible assuming that all was put together well, and with all pieces.  I’d not counted on pulling a barbecue up a gravel drive.  It took a while, and I spent a lot of time stopping to put the wheel back on.

Realise that you need to buy gas and a bottle.  Do some research when you find that some places charge over £70 while others charge around £35.

Wait for good weather to coordinate with a day that you’re available and ready to have a bbq.

Go to buy gas.  Homebase – the most expensive place to buy gas.  Plan to go elsewhere.

Go to Countrywide. They spend 20 minutes giving you a lecture on what type of gas is best, what fittings you need, and how you can also buy at the campsite across the road which has prices inline with their own. Find that you can’t get the gas type you wanted, and that the regulator provided doesn’t fit the bottles anyway. Buy a regulator that does fit and buy the other gas for half the price all in vs Homebase’s price.

Try and fit the hose on the regulator – swear a lot.  Ask brother to do it next time he’s round.  Test each burner, listen to brother rave about the barbecue and ease of ignition.  Test side burner which looked like it shouldn’t work.  Watch in amazement as the gas shoots through the gap and into the burner.

3 burners on bbq

Buy meat – sausages, burgers, get steak and chicken out of the freezer.  Realise that it’ll just be you and N because the OH will be working later again.

Months later after receipt…we have a barbecue ready to use, and ready to invite friends over.  Just a date needed when we’re all home.

My top tips for BBQ preparation:

  1. Work up to a gas barbecue.  Start small (think disposable or camping stove!), and practice before getting a swanky one.  Even better, have someone around who knows more than you and has experience of using them.
  2. Build it in situ because barbecues aren’t as stable as I thought they’d be.  Or have a concrete path
  3. Buy a big golf umbrella to cook under in case of rain
  4. When you’re buying gas for the first time, take in the regulator and instructions if you know nothing about buying gas. Then you’ll know what type you need.  You don’t want to take a bottle of gas home to find it doesn’t fit and you need to return it.

What’s great about the True Shopping gas barbecue:

  • Multipurpose – 2 burners and a side plate. Plenty of room to cook for lots of people
  • It’s got a temperature gauge on the lid.
  • A bar to hang utensils
  • Easy ignition
  • Relatively easy to build – I did have to ask my brother to attached the gas tube because it needed brute force to attach.
  • There’s a cover included.  Our barbecue’s outside on the patio getting hit by wind and rain but the cover’s stayed put and the barbecue’s not got wet, so it still looks immaculate.

What I’d love to be improved:

  • Have all pieces included
  • More sturdy wheels. I found it didn’t take much to break one of the ‘hubs’ even once it was in place
  • If there’s such a thing as a universal regulator, provide one. The one provided didn’t fit either propane or butane bottles supplied at Countrywide, which makes me wonder whether it would fit other bottles.

Are you a bbq fan?  Have you had any bbq disasters?  What are your tips for getting and using a new one?

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Disclosure:  I was sent a bbq from True Shopping for the purpose of review.  All opinions and words are my own.  They have bbqs and firepits ranging from £55 to £280

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One thought on “A summer of barbecues – plan vs reality

  1. This made me smile, the best laid plans…! We finally had our first BBQ this summer which was lovely – once we had, like you, located some gas, cleaned the BBQ (that doesn’t seem to have come back clean from the person we lent it to last summer!) and got rid of the wasps in the garden! #TheList

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