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Sizzles for all seasons: Barbie are now in action the whole year round

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Burnt sausages, raw chicken, shrivelled burgers and a sad, mushy red pepper for the oft-forgotten vegetarian, all served on groaning paper plates with limp lettuce, melted choc ices and warm Pimm’s.

We’ve all been there, and will be again, but barbecues have come a long way. Now we buy pizza ovens, Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks and spices from za’atar to asafoetida.

We prep days in advance and are running back to independent fishmongers, butchers and green grocers with open arms.

Let’s eat out: BBQs can now roast, smoke and bake

Let’s eat out: BBQs can now roast, smoke and bake

During lockdown outside spaces became a focus point for many and the trend doesn’t seem to be going away.

So it stands to reason we should get more out of our barbecues all year round.

Here’s how to do it…

THE MAIN EVENT

The current king (or queen) of the barbecues is the endlessly versatile Big Green Egg. Large and ceramic, an ability to reach high (and retain) high temperatures sets them apart.

The Beckhams have one, as does Liz Hurley and Kelly Brook. They are expensive (£780, biggreenegg.co.uk), but the company advocates cooking everything and anything on them all year round. As James Doyan, CEO of Big Green Egg, says: ‘Unlike normal barbecues, Big Green Eggs allow you not only to grill but to roast, slow cook, bake and smoke in your back garden.’

The sturdy design carries a lifetime guarantee and weatherpoof Nasa-grade ceramics ensure that purchasing a Big Green Egg isn’t just a fair-weather investment. If you’re set on this style, the Kamado Joe in bright red is cheaper at £459 (bbqworld.co.uk).

But, looks aside, what’s important is that the barbecue is sealable and has a lid. So something simple like the Weber Kettle barbecue works (£104.99, weber.co.uk) or even the Charcoal Oil Drum from Argos (£50, argos.co.uk). You might also need to try a different approach when it comes to cooking. Roasting meats (especially if they’re butterflied or spatch cocked) could be the answer, or cooking smoky stews.

The current king (or queen) of the barbecues is the endlessly versatile Big Green Egg

The current king (or queen) of the barbecues is the endlessly versatile Big Green Egg

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

From South African braais to Japanese Hibachi grills, many countries have their own version of the barbecue.

In pursuit of practicality (and luxury) British brand Chesneys (Chesneys.co.uk) recently launched a range of hybrid heating and cooking outdoor products. At £1,949 the Heat & Grill isn’t cheap, but the eco-friendly wood burning stove will keep you warm on a winter’s evening rustling up some steaks.

Forward-thinking Danish brand Morso specialises in wood-burning stoves. The Forno Gas Piccolo (£349, morsoe.com) will make life easier in all weathers (as gas will in general) and is portable. The Forno Grill (£549) is a covered wood burner that looks good and throw out heat while cooking.

And fire pits, which have become increasingly popular, can now be easily converted into heating and cooking devices thanks to Moda Furnishings. The company sells BBQ griddles (from £179, modafurnishings.co.uk) which can be placed over a fire pit instantly transforming any outdoor entertaining space into one which can be cooked from, too.

RAIN DOESN’T MEAN STOP PLAY

We can idealise spending time outdoors all year round as much as we like, but the truth is that it rains in the UK. So some kind of shelter for barbecue spaces is sensible. Wayfair has plenty on offer, from the simple 3m x 4m awning by Dakota Fields (£76.99, Wayfair.co.uk) to more substantial retractable features (from £119.99).

There’s also a good selection of larger permanent features at Garden Street such as the Rowlinson Venetian canopy from £549 (gardenstreet.co.uk).

WHAT ELSE?

Lighting a barbecue can be tricky at the best of times, never mind if it is windy or during that unexpected rainshower.

Using charcoal makes all the difference, and a coal chute (£15, diy.com) will certainly help. For something low maintenance (but more expensive) try a hot air lighter (£59.99, Lakeland.co.uk).

Thankfully, the UK’s space heater shortage of last winter is over.

Hanging versions are useful and can double up as overhead lighting, such as the La Hacienda Silver Mushroom Heater (£69.99, therange.co.uk).

A more elegant solution is the Idbury Fire Pit from Graham & Green (£98, grahamandgreen.co.uk).

Pizza ovens are also all the rage and Lidl made a splash this summer by selling one for just £129.99. These sold out quickly but Vonhaus makes a tabletop version which is £159.99 (vonhaus.com).

Finally, barbecuing on an open flame is one of the hardest skills to master in cooking.

Most good brands (think Weber, Ooni, Big Green Egg) have their own cookbooks and they should be used — even if just as a guide.

Or try Pit Cue Co’s cookbook which is a good all-rounder (£17.99, amazon.co.uk). 

What your home needs is… an Adirondack chair

By Anne Ashworth

With its tall slatted back, wide armrest and sloping seat, the Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and admiring the view.

Its inventor, Thomas Lee, a businessman, dreamt up the chair in 1903 while on holiday near the glittering Lake Champlain — one of the many highlights of the ruggedly beautiful Adirondack mountain region north east of New York.

The Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and admiring the view

The Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and admiring the view

It’s best suited for those looking to be more adventurous in your choice of seating — the Adirondack has evolved over the past 118 years, with lounger and rocking chair versions available. Robert Dyas offers the £149.99 Zest in wood guaranteed for ten years (robertydyas.co.uk), while Wickes has the £110 Keter in wood-like plastic (wickes.co.uk).

But if you want to bring colour into your backyard, the cobalt blue Corinne from Wayfair, pictured, made from recycled plastic costs £294.99 (wayfair.co.uk).

Maisons du Monde has the £324 Calanque Adirondack rocking chair in reclaimed wood of different colours (maisonsdumonde.com). Calanque is the French word for rocky inlet, highlighting that — whatever you call it — the Adirondack chair transports you to adventure. 

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Zappone turns down invitation to appear before committee to discuss envoy role

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Former minister Katherine Zappone has turned down an invitation to appear before an Oireachtas committee to explain the circumstances surrounding her now-scrapped appointment as a special envoy.

The chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan confirmed on Monday that Ms Zappone had declined an invitation to attend to discuss the matter.

The committee, which met last Wednesday in private session, agreed to write to the former minister and invite her to appear before it.

It is understood the decision was taken at a private meeting after it was proposed by Sinn Féin spokesman on foreign affairs John Brady and his Social Democrats counterpart Gary Gannon.

The committee is also to invite Martin Fraser, the secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach and the State’s highest-ranking civil servant, to address the issue of precisely when Ms Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Controversy erupted over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights.

Mr Coveney – who is attending UN meetings this week in New York – last week faced down a motion of no confidence as a result of his handling of the matter.

Earlier this month, Mr Coveney told the Oireachtas Committee Ms Zappone was mistaken in her belief she had been offered the job last March.

Mr Coveney also rejected claims that Ms Zappone lobbied for the position or that he breached Freedom of Information legislation by deleting texts between himself and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

However, Mr Coveney apologised for “sloppiness”, and for making mistakes in the past few weeks.

Records released by the Department of Foreign Affairs show Ms Zappone texted Mr Coveney to thank him on March 4th “so, so much for offering me this incredible opportunity”.

In mid-July she sent another message of thanks but Mr Coveney has insisted nothing had been formally agreed until it came to Cabinet on July 27th.

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Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband drop $13M on Palm Desert vacation home

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Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.  

Loughlin, who was released from prison in December, with her husband following in April, appear to be celebrating their newfound freedom with the purchase of their vacation getaway in the La Quinta community.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home, situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club, comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater.  

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

Former Full House actress, Lori Loughlin, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have dropped $13million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis, following their release from prison for their involvement in the college-admissions scandal.

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets

The open dining and living room area is perfect for watching L.A sunsets 

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings

The home comes equipped with several outdoor fireplaces, perfect for entertaining guests on chilly evenings 

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films

Opulent swimming pools encompass the outdoor area, in addition to an outdoor projector for watching films 

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater

The home comes lavished with several amenities, including a wine cellar, movie theater, two pools, outdoor fireplaces, two spas, a wet bar and an outdoor projector-theater 

Former 'Full House' actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Former ‘Full House’ actress, Lori Loughlin, (right) and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, (left) have dropped $13 million on a gated Palm Desert, California, oasis

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million. 

A few of their neighbors include Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Nike’s Phil Knight, Cindy Crawford and Scooter Braun. 

The purchase comes a year after Loughlin and Giannulli bought a $9.5 million modern farmhouse in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles.      

A federal judge in Boston recently granted Loughlin ‘expedited’ permission to travel to Canada to possibly rekindle her career. The request was necessary as she remains on probation.

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

The five-bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home is situated in the guard-gated exclusive Madison Club in the La Quinta community

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

Built in 2019, the home was formally owned by Assurance co-founder Michael Rowell and his wife, Alexis, who purchased it for only $9.5 million

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

An large dining area opens out onto the terrace, as an intricate chandelier hangs from the ceiling

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar

Also featured in the amenities is a chic, oversized wine cellar 

Loughlin was unable to travel due to her prison sentence and ensuing community service commitments stemming from her involvement in the ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ scheme, which involved wealthy parents paying large sums of money to get their kids into elite universities.    

‘Ms. Loughlin anticipates she will be traveling for about one week’ and is ‘being offered a filming production project’ if granted permission, her initial request sent by a probation official stated.   

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California.

Lori and her fashion designer husband paid $500,000 to falsely pass the girls off as potential college rowers on USC’s rowing team.

Although they initially claimed to be innocent, Mossimo pled guilty last May to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services and mail fraud, while Lori pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.  

Giannulli was sentenced to five months, while Loughlin served two months behind bars.

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella's way into University Of Southern California

It emerged in 2019 that Lori and Giannulli bribed their daughters Olivia and Isabella’s way into University Of Southern California

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Tenor fails to rent home as work in Covid-hit sector deemed precarious

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An Irish tenor, who has performed for presidents and emperors and been shortlisted for a Grammy award, is struggling to rent a home in Dublin because of a perception that working in the Covid-19-hit entertainment industry makes him a risk.

Paul Byrom said he was “knocked for six” last week after a potential landlord refused to even meet him on the grounds that the pandemic had made his profession singularly unsuitable for the rental market.

Byrom has earned his living as a musician for more than 20 years and has performed for Emperor Akihito of Japan, former Irish presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson and former US president Barack Obama.

He was one of the original soloists in the Celtic Thunder show that toured the world and had number one albums on the World Billboard Chart. A solo album, This is the Moment, debuted at number one on the same chart and was shortlisted for a Grammy nomination.

Byrom has continued to work online during the pandemic and is looking forward to restarting his live career soon. “I am no Bono, but I am not starting out in the game,” he said.

However, none of his achievements appear to have been good enough for one Dublin landlord. Byrom said he and his girlfriend were keen to move to a bigger home and found a two-bedroom house in south county Dublin advertised at a rent of €2,000 a month.

‘Exemplary tenant’

It was being let by the estate agent which manages the property the couple currently live in and he was assured that, as an “exemplary tenant” for more than three years, his application would most likely be considered favourably.

“The estate agents said that while it was looking after the letting, it wouldn’t be the management company and the guy who owned it would be the point of contact,” Byrom said. “I was told that the landlord would want to meet me and I had no problem with any of that – I thought that made sense.”

He and his girlfriend assembled all the paperwork including her payslips and details of his earnings from his accountant. “I had moved in in my head but then I got a phone call saying the application had been rejected,” he said.

His mother joked that he had been turned down “because the landlord didn’t want you practising your Ave Maria’s at 10 in the morning.”

But that was not the reason. It emerged that the “landlord thought that because Covid had hit my industry hard he would be too nervous to take me on. He simply didn’t want anyone from the entertainment industry,” Byrom said.

Mortgage

He said struggling to rent or get a mortgage were not the only issues entertainers encounter.

“Try and look for car insurance as a singer and the companies don’t want to know. So I can’t drive a car or rent a home or even take advantage of the bike to work tax scheme because I am self employed.

“And this is a country that claims to be the land of the bards and the poets. The amount of roadblocks put in an entertainer’s way are just crazy, but then they will say get out there and sing Danny Boy and represent the country. You’d have to wonder if Ireland wants artists to be here at all.”


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