Barbecue season fun with friends

I love being invited to a barbecue so the last few weeks where I have been to not one but five have been fabulous despite the changeable weather and the inevitable increase in my waistline.

Firstly we went to a traditional barbecue at my friend Jane's home. Burgers and sausages cooked over coals, lots of laughs, loud music and kids everywhere - it was a proper family day out and I went home stinking of charcoal smoke and covered in chocolate cake crumbs. The children were all grubby and exhausted - always a sign of a good time had by all.

Barbecue two featured salads with flowers in, charcoal-cooked venison and spatchcocked chicken all eaten round a table-cloth enrobed table with candles and garden flowers artfully arranged in the beautiful garden attached to our friend's ancient beamed home. No music, no kids but a memorable night with lots of laughs and chat with wonderful friends.

Barbecue three was a bit of a sad/happy occasion - at the new home of my friend who has moved two hours away. Magnificent homemade burgers and coleslaw washed down with Pimms all eaten inside due to a chilly wind followed by a dog walk for those who could and chatting from chairs for those who frankly couldn't be arsed!

The next outdoor eating event was not strictly speaking a barbecue but instead a hog roast organised to celebrate a good friend's birthday by her daughter Claire who is also a good friend so it was always going to be a lovely day.

We'd been busy moving DS#2's stuff back from Southampton as the uni year has now ended for him so I was more than ready for a giant pile of slow roasted pork on a fluffy white roll with stuffing and possibly the best crackling I have ever eaten.

The weather had been dreadful and I really felt for Claire as hours before the party we drove through relentless rain and mist. Luckily the weather cleared enough for us not to get wet queuing for our roast sarnie and Claires house is large enough to squeeze in the guests and a herd of children ranging from 4 months to 15 years old.

There was too much food to mention including an impressive array of cakes and a take-home doggy bag of pork which beats a party bag of  plastic tat any day in my book!

Moving on to the fifth and final barbecue and by now my jeans were starting to feel the strain. With promises to my husband that we would get back on track diet-wise next week we headed off just a few doors down the road for a German barbecue (our neighbour is German) with a variety of the nation's speciality sausages including a type of bratwurst wrapped in bacon - officially now my favourite sausage!

There was curry ketchup and a thanks to donations by other guests we could also choose venison or chicken kebabs and of course the inevitable burgers. There were some interesting looking salads (not that I tried them. I didn't get a figure like this eating salad) and some even more interesting looking puds. I managed to squeeze in a small sliver, OK quite a large sliver of homemade lemon cake with a side order of cherries and strawberries.

The children hurtled around the garden with bubbles and blow-up beach balls and we congregated firstly in the sunny spots of the garden then, when rain clouds gathered, indoors.

It has been a wonderful and tasty run of parties and I'm sad to report that currently we have no more in the diary. I am normally keen to organise my own but with project conservatory underway filling up the garden with building materials  and a limping unemployed husband affecting our disposable income its not top of my list of priorities.

However I can tell you that my barbecues usually feature kebabs, burgers, prawns and lots of crisps and dip and a background of 80's music as we watch the sunset over the field behind my home. Hopefully by the end of the summer we will be able to invite our friends to a barbecue and retreat to our finished extension when the temperature drops!