The aromatic smells of charcoal-grilled food drifting over twilit gardens are one of the most evocative signs of summer.
A barbecue is a fantastic opportunity to share the pleasures of a summer evening with friends. They will welcome the informality of the occasion; but beware, comfortable informality requires forethought, and you should plan carefully to ensure that your guests are able to relax, eat well and enjoy each other's company.
Ensure that the barbecue is lit and ready before guests arrive. Panic-stricken recourse to paraffin can be discouraging, especially when guests are hungry.
Above all, don't make an exhibition of the cooking. Comedy aprons, chef's hats and swaggering machismo as the meat hits the grill are obtrusive and self-centred. Your guests have come to eat and socialise, and should not feel coerced into applauding a one-man show.