All you need for your al fresco dining this summer
House Proud: Stoneware, table linen and picnic blankets to make it cosy outside
Portuguese stoneware from Murmur
Nifty shades of grey, chartreuse and indigo
This Portuguese stoneware from British-based homeware brand Murmur features irregular organic shapes with hand-finished detailing. These pieces are available in three shades: chartreuse, indigo and grey, and are designed to be mixed and matched together as pictured, or solo to create a single colour statement look. Dinner plates cost from about €11 each; side plates about €9.50; this is contrasted with floral stoneware salad plate, about €14.70 each, and matching pasta bowls from about €8.30 each The chartreuse cotton twill napkins cost about €7.40 each. Team with gold cutlery to really radiate sunshine.
Table linen to make the table pop
A duck-egg blue tablecloth and matching napkins really pops when surrounded by 40 shades of green from peridot to emerald. The table really begins to pop when you introduce blush shades of rose wine for the adults and Ribena or cranberry-flavoured juices for the kids. This table linen by The Linen Works features a hem-stitch tablecloth, about €145, and co-ordinating napkins, about €9.50 each that can be ordered from the very charming country shop and tea rooms The Old Yard, outside Castledermot in Co Kildare.
Mex-Essex mash-up from M&S
Marks and Spencer melamine Frieda collection is a mash-up of Mexican traditional folk art and classic English floral prints. Its side plates and contrasting bowls all cost €4.75 each, the dinner plates are €5.50 and the matching two-tier cake stand costs €20. Best of all, this tableware is unbreakable so you can crack open as many bottles of white wine as you dare, especially since the floral printed plastic picnic hi-ball and wine glasses are also practically indestructible.
Serving up some midnight sun
This midnight sun collection, Midnattssol, by Swedish designer Sandra Isaksson, features a lovely range that includes pitchers, €27.50 and about €32; handleless mugs, €13.90; bowls and dinner plates, about €11.50 each; and a smart serving bowl with a lid to keep flies away, €29, all bearing the motif. In a matching enamel range there is a covetable coffee pot, €37, and matching hot milk jug, €29, that will work as well on a camping stove as on the kitchen hob.
Blanket coverage for your posh picnic
Lay a couple of blankets on the ground and you have the makings of the original al fresco dining experience – the picnic – a democratic coming-together where each guest contributes something to the food and drink offer. Add a portable Morso fire pit and it becomes a posh picnic. This cast iron design costs about €270 from TJ O’Mahony in Ballymount. For smart blankets that will work in the park and at the beach, Steamer Trading Cookshop sells a nautically striped design that has a soft, fleecy upperside and a waterproof underside for optimum creature comforts. It comes in a bag with an adjustable strap and costs about €25.
Morsodealersireland.com; Steamer.co.uk; Tjomahony.ie;
Toast to coast from House of Fraser
This coastal-inspired Villa Vista collection of dinnerware from House of Fraser features textured seagrass placemats, €24 for a set of four; printed cotton napkins, €20 for a set of four; deep sea-blue crackle melamine dinnerware from €6 per piece; a fish-shaped serving board, €43, dressed with cut lemons that contrast beautifully with the shades of blue. The wind-resistant lanterns cost €33 each, the glass bottle vase €34 and the Padstow-inspired deep-blue vase patterned with abstract wave forms, made of recycled glass, is €40.
Get your mojito working
Sometimes al fresco dining is actually really al fresco drinking, with some superficial snacks served up to cover up this fact. Give in to glorious afternoons spent swigging mojitos from these spill-free Zak mason jar glasses with lids and tankard handles. They cost €7 each from Debenhams. This sleek marble tray, €45, is from April and The Bear.