THE DARK, grey clouds have certainly cleared over the last few weeks for glorious sunshine after a long, dreary winter.

As a result our thoughts now turn to enjoying the summer and the great outdoors.

We start to plan a camping trip to sleep under the stars, or a hiking and abseiling excursion, or maybe a caravan weekend to Morecambe with the kids as an adventure, embarked upon togetherness. It’s a moment to focus on the family and build happy memories.

We all know how nice picnics can be: what could be better than alfresco dining with deep blue skies, fluffy clouds, a gentle breeze blowing through your hair, lying back on a checked blanket with a damp backside in a field full of flies, birds chirping, squirrels playing hide and seek, and a raging bull giving you the eye!

A change of scenery is always good for us and as it turns out, eating outdoors is good for our health unless you’re picnicking on sugary, fizzy drinks and cheese puffs, in which case, stop that!

The good news is the sun’s UVB rays are a natural mood booster and encourage us to eat well. No one wants to spend too much time in the kitchen when it’s cracking the flags outside.

It’s hard to muster up any cooking motivation for a start, and for most of us, a quick and easy healthy meal to rustle up at short notice is always order of the day, which can be taken on a picnic, ideal for the barbie or served up with a big green crunchy salad for tea.

Drum roll please.... here is my amazing puff pastry, red onion and French brie tart which is one of the simplest and cheapest recipes I have ever published. And doesn’t it look very impressive? It’s certainly a crowd-pleaser at my house when I entertain the troops.

This recipe is very easy to put together by simply buying a packet of ready-rolled puff pastry, quartering a few red onions and popping them in a frying pan along with a nob of butter and a little brown sugar for ten minutes. Then simply fill the pastry base with slices of brie and caramelized onions and bake for twenty minutes.

A picnic can be more than a scotch egg, a sausage roll and a bag of cheese and onion crisps, and it’s definitely worth dusting off the picnic basket for this summer and getting the kids off the computers.

They need to let off steam and recharge their batteries in the fresh air – some of my favourite childhood memories were outdoor picnics on muddy river banks eating Dairlylea sandwiches covered in flie s and drinking Orangina with a damp bum!