Alfresco tips – How to stay dry outdoors when it keeps peeing down!

So far 2018 has been wet, wet, wet. And pretty chilly at times. Farmers in many areas of Britain are at least three weeks late letting their livestock out into the fields, which are not much better than a quagmire after endless weeks of rain.

March began with an exceptionally cold easterly flow and loads of snow. It was utterly beastly. Mid-March saw wet and cloudy weather. Another horrid, freezing cold easterly spell delivered more wads of snow on the 17th and 18th, then a brief dry sunny spell came along before the rain settled in yet again. Now it’s April, and at this time most years we’re outdoors enjoying our chiminea. But there’s not much chance of that right now, with the rain still drizzling down on much of the UK.

You might be perfectly happy messing about having fun outdoors in the rain. But let’s face it, most of us prefer to stay dry outdoors when we’re entertaining in the garden. And brilliant as chimineas are at keeping you cosy, they won’t keep the rain off. All of which makes now the perfect time to talk about ways to stay dry outdoors when the weather’s crap. Here goes.

Stay dry outdoors – Enjoy alfresco fun whatever the weather

You can’t light a chiminea indoors. It’s lethal, so don’t even go there unless you want to put yourself at risk from deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. But you can site your chim under a roof as long as there’s a really good air flow, which means those of you with a car port or lean-to at the back of your house are in luck. Did you know you can buy attractive carport canopies on their own, to fit how you like, as well as the whole thing including the legs?

If you don’t have a suitable lean-to you can create something simple and sturdy with four or six brick pillars or wooden posts and a load of light, see-through polycarbonate sheeting. Make it a temporary shelter if you like, something you can dismantle when the weather gets better (if it ever does!) and stash for the following winter.

Sails and awnings are also a decent solution, as long as you fix yours far enough above the chimney part of the chiminea so it doesn’t catch fire or get too hot. Sail shades come in every imaginable colour, are easy to fit and look really good.

A sturdy wooden gazebo is a great solution, basically either free-standing or attached to a wall. They’re usually an open sided square, circular, hexagonal or octagonal structure with a roof. Because the fresh air wafts in through the open sides, you’re safe from carbon monoxide. Just be wary of using a camping gazebo, made from nylon or other material that isn’t very good at resisting fire. The last thing you want is a conflagration!

Outdoor pergolas, usually used to provide cover for a patio, garden or decking, also leave the area safely exposed to the fresh air while keeping you dry.

Great big pub umbrellas, garden parasols and garden umbrellas with good, long handles are sometimes all you need to keep the rain off, the ones you fix into a heavy sand or water-filled base so they stand firm. And some arbours are large, high and wide enough to set a chiminea underneath, too.

Good with tools? Go DIY

Creating a unique chiminea shelter design of your own is entirely possible if you’re good with tools. Just remember to leave enough space around the chim for people to do their thing: cooking, starting a fire and keeping the fire going. And make the roof part high enough so it doesn’t get hot or burn. If you’ve already done that in your garden and stay dry outdoors, we’d love to see pictures.