The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Barrowbecue Barbecue

wheelbarrowOne hot summer, years ago, Danny had a yearning for a barbecue. I knew that I had one knocking about in the barn. I unearthed it – an old Hitachi. The model that had two wooden legs and slots at different levels to hold the grill. The legs had rotted away but I found a few bricks and stationed the barbecue in the wheel barrow.

We improvised the grill with a large wire mesh fire guard that covered the top of the wheel barrow. I even found a bag of charcoal. Danny fired up the monster and grilled sardines stuffed with lemon soaked bread and herbs. Delighted with our new friend, we christened it The Barrowbecue.

Danny loved it and cooked some amazing meals. It could easily be wheeled around the garden and the large cooking surface with a central hot spot and a surrounding low heat area enabled him to make a wide variety of dishes. He marinated a leg of lamb in yoghurt and lemon juice. This was slow roasted centre stage.

Vegetables and fish were cooked gently in the ringside seats. He even heated plates on the outer reaches. We didn’t have any barbecue tools so D made do with the fire tongs which he hung on one of the handles. All the metal surfaces of barrowbecue heated up so it also served as a sort of mobile heater when the sun went down.

They only problem was that when John Coe arrived to mow the lawn his wheel barrow was already occupied. At first he said nothing. I would find the bricks, charcoal, legless Hitachi and fire screen neatly stacked and the wheel barrow propped in its proper place against the composter.

By the end of the summer it was a different story. It was still not mentioned but the component parts were scattered around the garden. If we were too lazy to transform The Barrowbecue back to a wheelbarrow, we might be too indolent to find the essential parts.

Hunt the Hitachi became a fraught do or die activity. Would we find the components before friends arrived for lunch? After a couple of stressful mornings beating through the nettles searching for the fire guard I decided to ditch the barrowbecue and buy a proper barbecue, like real people use.

I had spotted a superb kettle barbecue in the Homebase sale. This was a Rolls Royce affair. Black, slick and stylish. I rushed home in a fever of anticipation.

Danny politely assembled the beast and examined the tools that hung in a special curved rack on the side. He cooked an excellent roast chicken and then autumn set in. About a year later I realised that we had not had a single barbecue that summer. What had gone wrong?

Danny explained that the new barbecue was boring. Yes, it cooked perfect food but he missed the live wire challenge of The Barrowbecue. I had felt sorry for him battling with this Heath Robinson contraption. He on the other hand was honing his countryman skills. Out in the woods we could survive with an old wheelbarrow, fire guard and tongs.

I have a couple of days off this week and I plan to find the component parts ready for the next sunny weekend.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Amanda,

    I agree. Most of my relations have died and the barn is full of really useful things that eventually come in handy, even if it’s just to raise a few bob. Danny was initially suspicious but, over the years, has seen this store come into its own.

  2. Amanda

    It’s funny how some of the best memories are from things which have been made by cobbling together what’s available. I’m sure it’s half the fun. Shiny, new things don’t cut the mustard in this house either! I think I’m going mad Fiona, I was certain I left this comment yesterday but when I looked today – nope!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat and Lynn,

    Let’s hope that we get some sunny weather soon. I love a mid week BBQ beside the pond. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. What a great story. I think if you find those parts you will have one happy man! Happy Danny = happy Fiona and some good food.

  5. Lovely Story Fiona!!!! Brings back a few memories of past BBQ’s here.

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