It’s going to be sunny all Summer long, isn’t it? I’m absolutely sure of it. Honest.

But just to be on the safe side, this week I’ve been on the lookout for handsome outdoor furniture that will fulfil our passion for al fresco style while being strong enough to handle the vagaries of the British weather.

People in this country absolutely love outdoor living, sometimes in the face of all odds. Because it can be a rare treat, nothing beats sitting in the garden when the sun is shining, enjoying a long, lazy lunch or spot of sunbathing.

Lovely. That’s why homes with a decent-size outdoor space often fetch the higher sums, and why we’re willing to seek out quality furniture that will turn that space into a highly-usable extra room.

So what should you look for when choosing exterior furniture? It’s worth making a good investment, because the best kind is not only beautiful but also robust.

For a classic outdoor look, I like the Tatton Lounge Set, which comes with two lounge chairs, a sofa and a coffee table. Each piece has been woven round an aluminium power-coated frame, and finished in a sturdy, UV-resistant material – you might think it’s the rain that gets to your furniture, but the British sunshine can be pretty potent too.

The shaped and buttoned cushions make this a perfect set either for al fresco dining or just lounging, and the table is glass-topped for a practical wipe-free finish.

For something a little different, I’m attracted to the Trenton Companion set with its curvy good looks. Made in an all-weather resin with removable cushions, it incorporates two seats, a comfy footrest and a table, all in one – how handy!

Round, organic shapes always go down well in outdoor settings, where they reflect the natural shapes of the garden. To emphasise that rustic feel, use plenty of texture in your patio accessories – for instance, big Thornbury baskets make wonderful holders for sculptural plants such as clipped box plants, and look great standing in groups.

It wouldn’t be Summer without a parasol, of course – well, we live in hope! – and there are some superb shades around this year that not only provide cool comfort on hot days, but also add a dash of colour.

The Deluxe Crank Parasol comes with a base in a range of colours, but I’m particularly fond of the sizzling orange and fuchsia – bang on trend for this season.

And for those luxurious solitary moments with a book and your sunglasses, you can’t go wrong with a hanging lounger such as the Trelawny. It’s got the retro eclectic feel that’s such a popular trend as we move into this Summer, and it’s stylish enough to make a real statement on a corner of your patio.

The Trelawny is made of tough synthetic rattan to last for years, and would also look good in a conservatory.

Let’s admit it – with memories of last year’s long hot summer still nestling  warmly in our minds, we’ve got high hopes for this year. And there’s one thing we know for sure: whatever the weather, it’s time to be stylish out of doors.