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!

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...