Saturday, 10 January 2009

The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men gang aft agley - Robbie Burns

Oh Robbie how right you were!

Did you ever start something and wish to goodness you hadn't bothered? Well just before Christmas I certainly did. My plans took a bit of a scuppering proving no matter how well organised you think you are, there’s often something you didn’t account for.

Anyone remember Sergeant Fraser from Dad’s Army constantly saying “Doomed, Doomed! We’re all doomed”? Well I think I am. Just about everything I plan at home seems to go wrong. At work I used to organise huge careers fairs, information exhibitions and training events and hardly ever had any problems. At home it’s a whole different ball game.

I get very little help from my husband if he doesn’t agree with my suggestions. I usually have to work on him for months to persuade him about something. If it's anything to do with DIY, he runs a mile. He’s very good at it, just doesn’t want to do it. In our other house he installed a new kitchen, a new bathroom and built a utility room with help from his brothers. Since we moved into this house over 20 years ago, he just doesn’t want to know. He talks me out of everything I suggest home improvement wise, apart from getting double glazing. Well let's face it there would be no painting to do then so I know exactly where he’s coming from. I’m digressing as usual, but just let’s say that when it comes to doing anything, I'm usually on my own!

I need a bigger dining table on occasions but don't want to buy another one. I’ve talked about this idea and been
dithering about for years, intending to buy a sheet of some kind of stuff to put on my table to make it larger for when the family arrives for a meal. My dining table was fine for many years when there were just four of us but now we have six at least some days and it’s a bit of a squeeze. I don’t want a bigger table taking up most of my small dining room permanently. I already have one upstairs that belonged to my husband’s Mam but my husband doesn’t like it. It would mean dismantling it every time to bring it down and taking our table upstairs. Not going there! What I wanted was a sheet of whatever to put on the table then it could go into the garage when we don’t need it.

After looking at all those lovely Christmas table settings on Friendship Tea Blog I was inspired to go for it. I measured the table and worked out what size piece I needed, 6 foot by 3 foot 6 inches. Emptied the car boot, took out the child seat, put the back seats down and checked that it would accommodate a six foot sheet. Easy peasy, plenty of room. Picked little grand daughter up from nursery, fed her, washed and dressed her in glorious party attire and took her back to school. The afternoon was mine to get the table top, do some more Christmas shopping and then visit my step mam before taking grandson to the gym. No problema! Well that’s what I thought. What kind of idiot am I with my track record to think it would all be straightforward. Well ever the optimist!

Popped up to the local DIY hypermarket, parked the car miles away from any others so I had plenty of room to manoeuvre, chatted to a nice lady who advised me to buy a sheet of MDF and they would cut it to size for me. Brilliant! Paid for it, they asked whether I needed help to the car, I said no, it wasn’t heavy but if I did, I’d come back. Off I went and then the fun started, You can guess I’m being sarcastic here! I might also add at this point that it was absolutely freezing and there was a pretty strong wind blowing which didn’t help as it kept blowing the trolley away. Also people had parked on either side of me. Sod's law!

Opened up the boot only to discover I couldn’t get the sheet in width wise. I couldn’t believe it. The boot itself is really wide but as it’s a saloon car and not a hatchback, the access to the boot is narrower. I hadn’t ever tried to get anything wide into this car before. What a prize wally I am.

I had to move the car to a deserted part of the car park to try again because of the trolley moving about. I’m no quitter though. Next I decided to try to get it through the side door as that space is pretty deep. Well not quite deep enough by about two inches! Time to call for backup. Hmm, maybe if someone was holding it I could angle it in. Took the trolley and the MDF sheet back across the car park into the shop and got a nice lad to help me. No joy, he couldn’t do it either, so back across the car park with the stuff again to leave it in the shop.

Time to ring my daughter to see if she could help. She has a 4x4 Range Rover Freelander. Rang her at work and she agreed to try later but she wasn’t hopeful. She says it’s an illusion that these are big cars. They’re wide and high but not very long. We met up an hour later complete with grandchildren and had another go. Back out of the shop came the trolley and the stuff. She was right it was wide enough, only just! It wasn’t long enough. Why didn’t I believe her when she told me this? Argh!!!!!!!!!

It was getting colder by the minute too. By this time my back was aching and I was beginning to feel like a character out of a Carry On film or one of those video programmes where people do stupid things. If I’d had a video camera I would have taken one myself and got lots of cash. The only thing left to do was contact my son in law who has a slightly bigger car than mine. He agreed to go to the shop later that night and I told him if it wouldn’t fit to just ask them to cut it in half! That was my last choice and then I’d have to think about putting hinges on it. Oh, the pain! The pain!

By this time I was so naffed off with the whole process I would have asked for my money back but they’d already cut the sheet to size. Anyway he went back later that night and got it in with about an inch to spare!

I used that No Nails stuff to glue some bits of wood on the back of the sheet to keep it in place on my table and it's been quite successful. This was it.

I have to say after all that kerfuffle it was very successful. We had lots of space for around eight of us, no knocking over each other's drinks and plenty of elbow room.

I met up with a friend I used to work with just before Christmas and we had a good laugh as I recounted my little exploit. A few years ago she had covered her dining room table with a sheet of MDF too as her family expanded. In fact she has also done this with another table in her conservatory. When I said it was just a temporary thing, she laughed and bet me that next Christmas it would still be there on my table. Hers had proved so successful she didn't move either of them.

Time will tell, I'm already getting used to the space it takes up as we hardly ever use the dining room. I've also been able to use a lovely linen table cloth I got as a wedding present nearly forty years ago. My friend from Barcelona bought it for us and our dining table was much too small to use it. I never wanted to cut it down as it had lots of lovely embroidery on it. So now it's on the table. Maybe my friend Jill was right and I'll keep the table top in place permanently!

My husband wittered on about it at first saying it was too big, it would damage the table top and so on. However I showed him how I had put the wood pieces in place to stop it moving and damaging the table and that the protective cover was in place on top of the original table. He has admitted that it's been very successful and he liked the idea that we didn't have to worry about any spillages damaging the table.

Anyway that will be my last attempt at tackling DIY projects for quite a while. I’m not tempting fate! In fact my little catastrophe may put me off for life, it doesn’t take much.

To be honest it’s no wonder I’m a procrastinator with my track record of disasters. If this is a measure of my lack of spatial awareness all I can say the world has a lot to be grateful to me for. Just imagine if I had wanted to be an architect or a civil engineer!


  1. I am so glad it did work for you.If you could only had delivery. Your table cover is beautiful.

  2. Winifred,
    With persistence like that you could have been a fine engineer or architect! All projects around the house are very challenging for me. I used to be a wiz a them years ago. It turned out to be a very good thing that you accomplished. Your table cloth is beautiful also and the story that you told about all the problems was very comical.
    Have a great weekend!

  3. I'm impressed. Your blog is very interesting. Why an architect or civil engineer? Maybe a brain surgeon.

    I did this project once myself only the table was round. It was lots of work. You deserve an award.

  4. So glad you were able to finally get your table topper home.

  5. In southern US vernacular, you can "get er done" with the best of them. I don't think you should give up your DIY projects-this one turned out perfectly. The tablecloth is beautiful.

  6. Oh well done Winifred. Had to smile at your persistence too. A video of all that activity at the DIY, speeded up, would have been great! Good for you though to get the job done. My husband is similar to yours in that he won't do DIY if he can avoid it. Never has though! In the past I've done all sorts and there is one job now, still waiting to be done, which I may well have a go at whilst he is away next week! A x

  7. Me again - forgot to say, table looks great - I would keep it that way too. A x

  8. what a great idea, and worth it despite all the time it took!!

    Here is a British fabric site with cheap prices and free shipping: I was impressed with their prices, as I know how expensive fabric is in Britain.

    Gill in Canada

  9. I feel quite exhausted after that effort. What I need now s to sit down at that lovely big table and have a cup of tea with you!

  10. So happy for you that it all worked out ok. Looks like lots more space. We just set a card table at the end of our dining room table, so we can seat more people.

  11. I'm glad to hear everything worked out so nicely. But the struggle was getting it loaded and home. I felt your frustration even while I was reading your ordeal.

  12. Oh My Dear Winifred,

    I've had such a wonderful laugh over this post. I could just see it all in my mind's eye. You are wonderful.

    I've just finished reading "The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Society" and I am dying to go to Guernesy. Have you ever been? Is it as charming as the book makes it appear?

    Have a wonderful day/week/whatever.

    ~hippo hugs~

  13. I am very impressed by your DIY project! Your table with the table cloth is absolutely beautiful! Congratulations on a job well done! You have all sorts of possibilities for lovely seasonal table decor!

  14. I don't think you should give up your DIY projects - you got it done, didn't you? And it looks lovely too.

  15. What a great idea and it looks wonderful! Enjoyed reading all about it.

  16. Frank - that must have been difficult making a circular top. You must have all the right equipment if you pardon the expression.

    Anne I'm intrigued to knwo more about your project. While the cat's away......

    I wish you lived near enough to drop in for a cuppa Brenda. I'm no great shakes at tea making as I don't drink it but I'm great at the lattes.

    Pam sorry to say I've not been to any of The Channel Islands, it's quite expensive. It has been working out cheaper to go to Spain or Greece in recent years. Not so sure in future with the exchange rate being so poor, maybe we'll be staying nearer to home. I've always fancied going there but travel isn't so easy from the North East now. No direct flights.

  17. Your table looks lovely: the simplest and cheapest ideas are usually the best..providing they fit in the car.

    I loved working with E2E...they had their own problems but were a lot easier that A level science spoilt and lazy it was unbelievable..until I trained them hehe

  18. Gday Winifred. Im back.
    I'm pleased everything worked out so well in the end.. your table looks lovely. after the struggle trying to get it in the car and home I think I would have ask for home delivery.. Hugs Jen

  19. Dear Winifred ~~ Well the result looks great, so well done. Sorry you had so much trouble getting it home though.I am glad you liked the Prime Minister joke and the others.I hope your weather stays nice 9 C is about 48 F. We had our hottest day here today, 43 C which is 109.4 I sure don't want too many more that hot. Glad you got some laughs and the cousins and I had a lovely visit together. Take care,
    Love, Merle.

  20. All our efforts were worth looks fantastic.

  21. Also, I saw your comment on Gramma Ann's A Bicycle That Sharpens Knives post, which she posted for me. You can see my post which Gramma was referring to. It's Sharpeners on Bicycles.

    You have mentioned that when you were a child, you used to see such an activity! Which part of the world? I would love to know.

  22. You got there in the end Winnifred and it looks fine with the pretty cloth. Quite a tale.

    Work on him for months - can be years in my neck of the woods.

    Belated Birthday wishes.

  23. Ah, but Winifred, in the end, you really pulled it off, didn't you? It looks great with that lovely linen cloth and I'm more amazed that you knew where to place the stops on the back than I am at your getting the mdf home!


  24. I think it turned out pretty darn cool. Great job.

  25. Hi again Winifred ~~Thank you for your visit and comments and a special Thanks for lighting a candle and praying for my niece Vicki. That is so kind of you. We have another week of temps in the high 90s and over 100F. I will be staying inside most of that week. I am glad you enjoy my stories and jokes. The Wimbledon joke was funny. Take care, dear friend, Love, Merle.

  26. Winifred, I hope the week-end treated you good and you were able to enjoy using you table maybe again over the week-end.

    Winifred, there is an award waiting for you at "My Reading Corner"


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