Beijing, for all its charms, is woefully bereft of gardens and personal outdoor space, so it's almost a civil duty that those of us that are blessed with the privilege of being able to plonk themselves down wearing a holey swimsuit and tan in private make the most of their good luck.
Obviously, we still kind of resent people with roof terraces, gardens or balconies, but if we're nice to them and point them towards goodies to jazz their miniature Edens up with then they might take pity on us and invite us round for a frothy or two. That's the plan, anyway.
Scan this list, click the links and order these outdoor necessities for your best Beijing summer ever.
Tell mozzies where to go with these bug-repelling beauties
; the pesky pests can't abide the stink of essential oils, but it smells pretty good to humans and should ensure that you can wile away the coming months without being covered in welts and tiny proboscis holes. They're a bargainous 2RMB a piece from Taobao, and come in attractive glass jars to add a bit of flair to your balcony.
This teenage bedroom staple has its place in the background of everyone's summer Instagrams. These sparkly stunners, either battery-operated or solar-powered, serve the practical purpose of bringing diffused light to your space, which you'll appreciate the fourth time you stub your toe on that random lumpy bit of tiling. They're around 6RMB for a five-metre string on Taobao and come in a range of colours extravagant enough to rival even the luminous excess offered in a Gongti nightclub.
No explanation needed, really: it's a hammock, and hammocks are made of fabric that's got a high thread count of awesome (citation needed). Snag this blue stripey model for one person at just 23RMB, or for two at 44RMB on Taobao, and don't forget to pick up a stand for 268RMB. Yes, it's not the cheapest bit of garden furniture around, but you'll be thanking us when you've barely moved for the whole summer because it's just so blimmin' good to lounge in.
A more stable alternative to hammocks, these multi-purpose lounge chairs - though primarily built for the outdoor - cost as low as 99RMB on Taobao and can perfectly function as a sunlounger for those on a budget. Grab the deal there and your sunscreen, you'll be set for some satisfying al fresco napping time. For proper sunloungers, see pricier models on Taobao in the 400-900RMB range.
Nothing spells 'summer' like slightly charred sausages and warm potato salad, so it's a good job Taobao sells barbecue grills. This wheeled grill has space enough to cook up a feast for a crowd and costs 369RMB. To complete it with some snazzy toolkit, go for a reasonable 469RMB for the whole package including everything from cookware to a rain-proof cover.
For the maximum amount of joie de vivre possible, sling a load of ice in an insulated cooler and add beers in a recipe for the ultimate summer satisfaction. We're digging this 8-litre cooler which goes only for 58RMB.
Shade-huggers and lounge lizards alike will appreciate the comfort offered by one of these seasonal staples, and they come in a range of sizes and designs suitable for almost any outdoor space we can think of. This canopy (498RMB), with stand included, comes in a range of colours and would be triumphant in a small, cramped space, and those of you with the luxury of room should throw down 760RMB for a full-size, jolly brolly.
Add an extravagant burst of colour to your outdoor area with a planter or selection of flowerpots filled with your favourite plants; we're pretty into the functional nature of this wooden one, which costs between 29 to 218RMB depending on the size you choose.
Okay, so they're a relic of the hippy-dippy craze that swept the world, but we're pretty enamoured with the faintly naff charms of the wind chime. Indulge your flakiest instincts with this budget buy, which is 20RMB and, quite frankly, zen.