IS there anything better than sitting outside on a warm summer’s evening, enjoying a meal?
If there is, I can’t think of it right now.
There’s something about being outside that somehow makes food taste better.
That first slurp of soup at the summit of a mountain, fish and chips by the sea or a picnic in the sun.
However, do you really make the most of your gardens when it comes to mealtimes?
How many warm evenings have you sat inside eating your dinner in front of the TV?
If I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of this at times.
The rush of modern life means we often forget our gardens are there to be enjoyed if we’d only stop and quite literally smell the roses.
Eating is all about sensations as your taste buds are treated to sumptuous food.
Why not indulge the other senses as well by letting your eyes feast on the display your plants are putting on?
Similarly, your ears can enjoy the gentle sounds of nature, such as birds chirping or the gentle trickle of a water feature.
Even the background chatter of your neighbourhood has its own unique wonder.
Too many of us let these things pass us by.
But now, there’s a campaign looking to encourage people to make more of an effort to eat outside.
Al Fresco Fortnight will kick off on Father’s Day — Sunday, June 19 — and aims to get as many people as possible to eat outside at least once over the two-week period.
The fortnight will cover the summer solstice, allowing for the optimum number of daylight hours in which to be outside.
The horticulture and leisure and outdoor furniture industries are being asked to embrace this exciting new event.
Shoppers will be encouraged to get out and make the most of their gardens during the two weeks.
This will involve arranging and sharing images of everything from garden parties to romantic dinners for two outside.
Garden centres around the country will be taking part and promoting the items they sell to make outdoor dining a pleasure.
Staff will also give advice on how people can refresh their outdoor spaces to make them suitable for entertaining.
You don’t have to break the bank to do some Al Fresco dining.
Options for outdoor dining range from the likes of a folding picnic table costing £20 that will seat four people right up to luxury rattan couches and tables costing thousands of pounds.
However, within those two extremes there is a lot of furniture that will suit everyone’s taste and budget.
It’s just about finding what’s right for you.
Keith Nicholson, chair of the Gardening Industry Marketing Board, said: “The primary aim of this flagship event is to get people entertaining, eating and enjoying outside and giving them the freedom, inspiration and confidence to enjoy and improve their outside space exactly as they wish.
“We believe that this campaign will inspire consumers to spend more time outside improving the plot they’ve got and stimulate them to take that all-important first step to going to a garden centre.”
Britain’s summers can often be a washout and I wouldn’t even try to predict what the weather will be like when Al Fresco Fortnight is running.
However, I’ve decided I’ll do my utmost to eat outside at least once during the two weeks it is running.
If nothing else, it will hopefully help remind me and others about just how nice it can be to dine with nature.