A bit of rain on my barbecue won't tip me over the edge this time! By Colin the emotionally unstable chef

RAIN can put a real damper on a barbecue – pun intended! Here’s how to stop a sudden downpour causing you to have a slight mental breakdown and do A Very Bad Thing.

Try something different with your barbecue

First, plan a wonderful barbecue as usual. Sure, you’ll have to serve the usual burgers and hotdogs, but also try a show-stopper like a whole leg of lamb marinated in lemon juice, paprika and sumac.

Or try an oriental take on coleslaw with fish sauce and lime juice. But don’t put yourself under so much pressure you go batshit loony. That’s quite an important barbecue tip.

Have plenty of lids ready

Obvious really, but if it starts to rain, have something to cover your potato salad etc. Invest in a barbecue with a lid, and a sheet of plastic is handy for quickly covering a whole table of food. It’s funny to think I spent years training to be a cordon bleu chef but these days I’m trying to stop burger buns going soggy.

Looking back, I think it was negative thoughts like these that set me on the path to The Very Bad Thing.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast 

Try not to get caught out by it suddenly pissing with rain, like I did last summer. Countless items of food and hours of preparation down the f**king toilet and you’ll feel like crying or punching someone, or worse.

Have the oven ready 

Here’s a neat tip – leave the oven on a low heat, then if it rains you can whack it up and quickly be finishing off chicken drumsticks and kebabs while you do hotdogs and burgers under the grill. 

Just be prepared for a horde of guests all pestering at the same time for their burger like noisy, drooling, stinking pigs who want to cram their maws with as much free food as possible. Try to keep calm, even if you start getting the ‘red mist’.

Salvage what you can

It shouldn’t come to this if you’ve followed the tips above, but you can still keep the drinks flowing and cook food that isn’t waterlogged in the kitchen. Be aware some guests will fail to appreciate all the stress and hard work. Guests like Steve, who on that occasion said: ‘Have you got a normal Birds Eye burger? All this poncey food gives me the shits.’

Avoid doing A Very Bad Thing

What you definitely shouldn’t do at this point is hogtie Steve with tea towels as your horrified guests look on. Then don’t attempt to manhandle Steve onto the barbecue and cook him, all the while shouting strange comments such as: ‘What’s going on the barbecue next? You, Steve, you PHILISTINE SACK OF SHIT! Get ready to find out HOW JOAN OF ARC FELT!’

Luckily the other guests restrained me while I was giving Steve a honey and soy glaze, so he didn’t get even slight grilled. And the police couldn’t be arsed to take it any further, thank God.

Final tip: don’t have a barbecue at all

This is far and away the best method for preventing barbecue disasters. Now I encourage guests to bring a microwave meal, and we heat them up one by one while forming an orderly queue. It’s dull but you won’t worry about rain, attempted cannibalism or whether the chicken drumsticks are cooked all the way through.

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Let's move to where the welcome is as warm as the weather. This week: Cardiff

What’s it about?

Wales’ capital is a magnet for party people. Packed with pubs and nightclubs, the city at the foot of the valleys combines cheap drinks with the very low bar of not being in England.

Visitors sometimes ask if there is a different currency, and the answer is yes: the currency of violence. Whether there’s a game of international rugby or just the usual aggro in clubs, visitors are almost guaranteed to see a scrap. Croeso i Gaerdydd! (That’s Welsh for ‘Welcome to Cardiff’. No one will ever say that.)

Any good points?

Cardiff has beautiful public gardens, with green lawns and abundant flora. This is because it’s the wettest city in the UK, which makes walking around gardens very unpleasant. The city’s botanicals are best viewed through the condensation in the window of a bus going elsewhere.

There’s a buoyant media industry in the Welsh capital, and you can frequently watch the filming of Doctor Who or one of its spin-offs. Which, depending on whether you are in your 40s and live with your parents, may or may not be a selling point.

Wonderful landscapes?

The view from the top of the castle is stunning. Visitors can see across the city and out over the Bristol Channel. And from the top terraces of the Principality (formerly Millennium) Stadium you can just see Europe. They’re doing a reunion tour and it’s safer to get tickets for that than the football.

Hang out at…

Cardiff’s suburban pubs with equally flat roofs, beer and noses. Go for the sense of adventure, stay because it’s pissing with rain outside, again.

St Mary Street is the centre of the nightlife. It’s like the Vegas strip, if the casinos were chain pubs and the restaurants were chain pubs. For those still standing at the end of the evening, ‘Chippy Alley’ is where you can get chips. But does anything good ever happen in an alley?

There are things to do in the daytime, too. Roath Park has a lighthouse in the lake. You know, one of those things that warns you not to go there. And outside the city there’s a genuine medieval village not too far away. It’s called Swansea.

Where to buy?

Splott. It’s a real place. You’ll be laughing at that for weeks if you’re easily amused. But it’s cheap.

For the la-di-da homebuyer there are suburbs like Llandaff, Penarth and Radyr. A good rule of thumb is the further away you get from Cardiff, the more expensive.

From the streets:

Ryan Whittaker, aged 40: “Cardiff is definitely a cultural hub now. Some people call it The Paris of Wales, although that’s because of all the dog shit.”

Lucy Parry, aged 23: “I love living in Cardiff. Mainly because it’s not Swansea.”