When I go up to Glasgow, which is sadly not as often as I’d like, I stay with good friends – one of whom is Canadian and thus, regardless of weather, which is frequently mixed in Glasgow, I am almost guaranteed a BBQ. Sometimes all it takes is another Canuck in the mix for it to seem reasonable to BBQ under torrential conditions.
However, this weekend was the weekend Scotland got summer. Summers in Scotland can be damp affairs, and to be there on the weekend that summer arrives in all its glory is tremendous (even if it doesn’t actually arrive on a weekend, it tends to last a couple of days). This year, I turned up on Thursday afternoon, to launch my book, and it was glorious: full sun, and hot. Not hot by UK standards, but hot by North American ones, which is to say actually hot and not just that it’s nearly 16C and it’s mostly sunny and this is the best we’re going to get so let’s just behave as though it’s hot.
The best thing about being in Scotland on the weekend summer arrives is the people: they are uniformly stunned. They were staggering about the streets, looking more confused than ever, and this was the beginning of the good weather so you couldn’t even blame the drink.
My friend and I went to walk the puppy and then on our way home we stopped at Tesco for BBQ supplies. He and I are not known for our restraint when shopping for a BBQ but I think we did quite well this time, considering we’d invited no one and hadn’t done anything more than decide between us that a BBQ was an obvious course of action. Indeed, it was the only sensible reaction to such glorious weather. See, when you only get a weekend of proper summer, you need to cram everything in at once because you’re not sure when next such delights might occur.
As the guest, I was in charge of the meat selection and I chose sausages. And then we started adding things to the cart: peppers, mushrooms and onions to be sautéed and added to the sausages, watermelon (obviously), chicken wings, salad things and so on and so forth. Obviously, we got a case of beer.
We had planned to BBQ on the Saturday. Now, keep in mind summer had arrived on the Thursday. For two days, Glasgow was roasting. By Friday night we were at a loss as to what to do with ourselves. We were a bi burnt around the edges, and a bit rough around the edges, slightly pickled in all the senses. We were primed for a lazy BBQ supper.
And then on Saturday, the clouds greeted us. Though, that’s not to say that it couldn’t have still been hot and humid. Clouds are a frequent occurance in summer over here – that said, I still react with a bit of a harrumph even though I know they don’t necessarily mean rain. But this time they did. We wrangled the kids and the dog into the car and went to the park. We had a lovely, slightly damp wander for several hours, and then around 2.30 the heavens opened and it rained. If you have never experienced rain in Glasgow you haven’t lived. The summer rain is much nicer than the howling winter gale rain, but it’s still serious rain. It comes down in sheets. We were instantly soaked — though my friend’s youngest son took it in his stride, only coming under a tree for futile cover when we dragged him.
The rain let up and my pal who was going to come round was reminded that Canadians will BBQ in any weather, and anyhow, my friend, being sensible about such things, had moved the BBQ under the car port awning thing and so we knew we’d be alright.
Now, my friend’s BBQ-ing technique is top notch. He does not burn the meat. Instead, he takes a beer out with him and gently cooks the sausages, turning them frequently so that every side gets slightly blackened. This usually takes half a beer. Ideal timing.
So we didn’t have the BBQ of our Canadian childhoods, but no matter: we’d had sun and hot weather and even though we were eating sausages inside with the fire going, we couldn’t have cared less. BBQ tastes good in any weather.