I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to combine food, alcohol and culture (to allow for a clear conscience), so I'm naturally delighted that the season of outdoor theatre is here once more. One of the best (and most affordable) theatre groups is Heartbreak Productions, who come to Manchester every year - you can tell they arrive this weekend as the heatwave is all set to disappear and the heavens to open.
This summer's performances start off on Friday 7th June at Wythenshawe Park (make sure you lock the car) with The Wind in the Willows, which runs until Sunday 9th June. More grown-up entertainment then follows in July, with Shakespeare's As You Like It at Wythenshawe Park on the 2nd and 3rd, and Jane Austen's Emma at Didsbury's beautiful Fletcher Moss Gardens from July 31st to 2nd August.
The cast are uniformly talented and their enthusiasm is infectious, and their adaptations are always inventive and very entertaining. The potential hazard is, of course, the weather - the performances go ahead in pretty much all conditions (I'm not sure refunds are ever given, even in the event of tornado, hurricane etc.) You can pay extra for seats under cover, but if the weather is nice you will end up sitting right at the back gazing forlornly at all the more intrepid souls lounging smugly at the front.
So, be brave, pack a lovely picnic (quiche, scotch eggs, pink wine etc.), and make sure you take a blanket for when it gets cold after sunset - if you are an experienced cricket-goer, simply follow normal procedures for a day at a test match. Full details of all productions at http://www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk.