Along time ago, we used to have a make-shift barbecue made up of brick that we stacked against the garage. It served us very well when we used to have big gatherings of people, but it did stain our garage wall completely black, leaving it looking very grubby.
So for his fiftieth birthday, my dad was a proper gas barbecue, and he invited all his friends round for a big party. That was probably the most that the gas barbecue ever got used, because after that, we stopped having so many people round, and were limiting ourselves to just a few members of the family.
There was no point in using the gas barbecue for so few people, so instead, we bought fire pit from B&Q. There are several advantages to having a fire pit:
1. It takes up far less room (we can store ours underneath the garden table when it is not being used).
2. It is more environmentally friendly because you are not using lots of fuel.
3. It is cheaper in both the short and long run (about half the cost of a gas barbecue to buy, and no need to keep replenishing your fuel supply).
4. It is much more sociable. The whole point of a fire pit is to be able to gather round and keep warm during the late evening; it is a great way to spend time together, and feels like you are camping out.
There are a few downsides though. First of all, it takes longer for the fire to get started, and therefore longer for the food to cook. You have to light the pit a good fifteen to thirty minutes before you're ready to put any food on. Second, when you initially light the coals, it can get pretty smoky. A fire pit is also not quite as durable as a standard barbecue. Ours only lasted a few years before the legs started to rust, and not before long, one of them broke off completely. We did buy a second fire pit, but this time, the model (the one in the picture) had been updated. The legs are now much more robust, and are made of stainless steel, so won't rust. This newer version also comes with a shield guard, which makes it safer around kids, has a lid to snuff out the flames when you're done, and has a tarpaulin cover to protect it from the rain.