A good old bucket-and-spade day out on the beach is perhaps the classic British family ‘outing’, but if you extend the day into the evening with a barbecue, it may just turn out to be the very best thing you do all summer. 

Cooking and eating outside creates memories to treasure for years. Besides, it’s a well-known fact that food tastes better eaten in the fresh air. The sense of freedom and the break from routine makes eating al fresco feel exciting and energising for children and grown-ups alike.

Always check the safety rules before lighting a fire, as each beach will have different regulations, but generally if the fire is contained and raised off the ground, it is more likely to be allowed. On the subject of safety, obviously never leave a lit fire unattended – and if I were cooking with young children around, I would use rocks or driftwood logs to create a generous circle around the fire that they would be warned not to cross. 

Be considerate of your beachside neighbours and try to light your fire downwind to prevent the inevitable smoke from being too irritating. 

About 30 minutes before I want to start cooking, I start a small fire in the base of my fire pit with a fire lighter and a few little pieces of kindling, to which I add charcoal to provide a good heat to cook on. Once the fire is burning well, I might add a few logs. Sending the children off to gather bits of driftwood is a good way of occupying them, but be aware that foraged wood may contain more water than ideal, so just add a stick or two at a time. As with a barbecue in the garden, you are ready to cook when the flames have died down and the coals are glowing white with heat.


Genevieve Taylor is the author of How to Eat Outside: Fabulous Al Fresco Food for BBQs, Bonfires, Camping and More


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