How To Enjoy The British Weather: 8 Perfect Outdoor Seating Ideas
To say that the British summer is unpredictable is an understatement. Over the past few weeks, Britain has been experiencing a heatwave so intense that leaving the house in the morning felt like being on holiday. It was warm enough to have friends over and sit in the garden with wine and a BBQ until late at night, no extra heating required. However, it didn't take long for everyone to start moaning that it was too hot and Argos ran out of fans as poor heatwave preparation swept the nation. No one had expected it to be quite that clement, particularly not in North Yorkshire where it's a regular occurrence that the thermostat switches the heating on in June.
Back in the 1970's, our weather was far more seasonal. Every year, together with another family, we used to rent a house directly on the beach in Sandbanks. I can assure you that we were not rolling in cash. This was well before Sandbanks became the country's most expensive enclave with houses costing more than a small continent and more footballers than the World Cup. Every year we had guaranteed sunshine, long days spent on the beach, every day warm. Looking back at photographs we literally could have been sunning ourselves in Spain.
Nowadays, it's impossible to predict. Sometimes it's hot enough to get the Havianas out in May. Sometimes the Uggs are still on in June. I can remember one August Bank Holiday weekend spent on a hilltop campsite in Cornwall in a bell tent when the temperature was a heady 14 degrees and there was so much rain we couldn't get the car on the grass.
Whilst being battered by force ten winds, we stoically decided to go for a walk (not a natural Dawson activity), whereby Joe slipped and fell over. My main memory of this is of Joe being ridiculously dramatic in a slo mo type fashion as he free fell face first into ten inches of mud. The weekend was topped off by a midnight vomit session courtesy of Ella outside the bell tent entrance, which Leo promptly fell in on the way to the loo block.
Last week in Yorkshire it was 33 degrees. The next day it had dropped to 17 degrees and Leo put his coat on to go to school. It's madness.
So the unpredictability of the weather makes planning your garden living space quite a difficult task. I'm a big fan of inside outside living and spend most of the time between May and September moving furniture, cushions, rugs and plants in and out like some mad styling woman to the background noise of my family shrieking that I've taken the jute from under their feet. After selling our ten year old Neptune garden furniture last year because it wasn't cool enough, the family are spoilt for choice with our outdoor seating selection - a metal framed IKEA loveseat picked up at the Community Furniture Warehouse or a mouldy bamboo sofa with no cushions and a faint whiff of damp.
So I decided that it might be time to look into some actual weather proof outdoor garden furniture that doesn't involve the equivalent exertion of a morning in the gym to set up. And, of course, that doesn't cost the same as a week in Sandbanks at 2017 prices.
Jarvis Three Piece Bistro Set, Asda £129
There's been a lot of talk about the fuchsia bucket chairs (same price) from Asda but these ones are an equally good buy. Sleek and understated, they are perfect for a contemporary garden and can be styled upwards with colour pop cushions.
Hanging Egg Chair, The Range £199.99
Last years best buy from Home Bargains was hard to match but this little number comes the closest. It's black and thick woven which give it massive bonus points, plus its pretty enough to be moved inside once the sun has disappeared.
Holly Garden Bench, Maisons Du Monde £136.50
This metal bench is really practical and in light green, will blend effortlessly into your garden. Would look lovely stacked with cushions and throws and it also comes in cream.
Parc Four Seat Garden Table & Chairs, Habitat £119
Habitat have a Sale on at the moment and this little set is a bargain. It adds a serious colour pop to your outdoor decor and is super practical in wipeable metal.
Punta Cana Grey Resin Garden Bench, Maisons Du Monde £314
This super stylish bench and it's understated design will look the part in any style of garden. With metal legs and a resin body, it's good enough to bring inside after the British Summer is long gone.
Garden Egg Lounge Set, Wilko £185
This little pair of beauties ticks quite a few boxes. Neutral, waterproof rattan effect, contemporary and will easily fit into a smart corner. The chairs are good enough to double up indoors as well.
Mastholmen Companion Set, IKEA £194
This rattan range from is weather durable and can be left outside, unlike typical conservatory garden furniture which is not weather proof. Each piece in this collection is made by hand and it would look brilliant in a plant filled courtyard or patio.
Grey Rattan Effect Corner Sofa, Aldi £179.99
So finally, this years bargain comes from Aldi. This corner set with two moveable chaise sections made in polyester resin with matching cream cushions comes on sale in store on Thursday 29 June. It's sold out online already so you'll need to be quick to pick one up on the day.
So that's my mini edit of the best budget garden furniture out there at the moment. Garden furniture seems to have taken quite a few steps forward and is more multi tasking than ever. You've got to love a product that can be used inside and outside and most of these have flexible use making them good value for money. Here's hoping that we'll be more outside than in over the next few months!