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Sunday, January 5, 2014


Christmas wasn't entirely straightforward.

I ate some of the presents we were meant to be giving away.
'Someone' (hmm) spilled coffee into the box where books were waiting to be wrapped.
I sent some people the same present as last year.
I bought some presents twice.
I hid all the family presents so efficiently I couldn't find them. (They turned out to be in a box in the middle of the landing but I only came across them after pulling everything out of our wardrobe and everything out of our chest of draws and scrabbling about in the dust under all our beds and after warning my husband and children there might be nothing under the tree on Christmas Day but there really were parcels somewhere and they were bound to turn up some time.)
I hadn't taken into account that when internet companies promise delivery by 24th December this doesn't mean I'll have time to post them in time for the 25th. (When we live on the south coast of England and part of our family lives in Shetland (an island half way between the very north of Scotland and Norway) - this matters.)

Then we all had a good time.

But the big news - in so far as anything I do is 'news' - is that we have bought a sofa. Not an ordinary sofa - but a garden bench.

It came about like this.

After a few Goldilocks weeks trying out sofas in shops and stores we'd decided we probably wouldn't buy one. Some were too hard. Some were too soft. Some too narrow. Most too big. All too expensive. (We have expensive tastes, discerning bottoms and vulnerable backs.)

So we went to buy a Christmas tree instead.

The garden centre had set up a sort of one-way system so customers could browse Christmas decorations on their way to the very pleasant cafe. It was dark and scented and glittery and musical and we lost each other in the labyrinth. I was the first to burst back out into the fresh and rainy air where Christmas trees were standing in ranks. (Because I went through the labyrinth backwards.) £30, £60, £70, £90. No! So I sat on one of the garden benches to wait for Ming. Bliss. I leant back. Bliss. I lay down and stretched my legs along it. Bliss. We'd found our sofa! Free assembly for Christmas. Free delivery. Total - £175.

So we bought it. And it arrived. It fits. (No ridiculous amount of space wasted on wide arms.) There's plenty of space for three and we can all sit on it if we don't mind a cosy squash. We spent £100 on throws and cushions, put a duvet under them for comfort and . . . there! we have a wonderful sofa for under £300 instead of the £1,500 we'd have needed for any of the shop sofas we might have agreed upon. It moves easily. There's space underneath for 'things' and it's easier to seat guests now we have more than two comfortable chairs.

(We found a Christmas Tree for £13 outside a supermarket. Told you we'd have a happy Christmas!)

P.S. Not any-old garden bench would do. We Goldilocksed all the benches on sale there (and there were many) and this was the only one without a upright back. Why are people expected to sit at right-angles in gardens?

Happy New Year!



Joanne Noragon said...

Excellent re purposing. I keep buying garden benches to scatter around outside. Adults take the "comfortable" benches with tilting backs, leaving the mistakes with upright backs for small children who don't know any better.

Linda said...

Sounds like my pre-Christmas kerfuffle. I am relieved that someone else has a similar loose grip on Christmas presents.
And I think I now get the wardrobe reference in your comment!
Fantastic bargain of your sofa - a good start to the New Year.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Joanne. I don't understand why almost all garden benches have vertical backs. It's as if there's a stern moral behind them which says 'No Loitering in Gardens Please'. Odd.

Hello Linda. Sorry about saying 'wardrobe' when I meant 'rhubarb' on your blog. It's a very odd slip and I can't imagine how I came to make it. Nothing to do with this post - just a rather strange mistake. I seem to have developed as loose a grip on language as I had on Christmas.

Angie said...

I went sofa shopping a while back hoping for Christmas delivery but all the ones that were 'for Christmas delivery' weren't to my taste. I have to wait until the end of January before it arrives.
I might have had more luck looking at benches!
Tell me Esther, am I the only one who doesn't like the scent of Christmas these stores pump out?

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

That's too funny, I, well we, ate all of the 3 batches of buttertarts before they could be given away. And I am notorious for "putting it away in a safe place" and then totally forgetting where it went.

Sofa shopping is difficult, but when you find the "one" you know it's the perfect one...great idea, and now you are comfortable.


Denise D Hammond, CGFM-Retired said...

I received a gift from my sister that had a receipt from 1991! From a store that went out of business years ago. She was cleaning her attic storage area and found it.

Donna said...

I hope we will see a picture of your garden bench!!

colleen said...

"Christmas was not entirely straightforward". Is it ever? Thought it occasionally holds entirely unexpected surprises - like the perfect sofa masquerading as a garden bench.

Hope it holds many hours of happy lounging, and reading too of course.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Donna. I wondered about putting a picture of my sofa but I tend to put photos on my Esther's Garden Notes blog but thought it might be a bit daft to put an inside-house picture there because it's very specifically a garden blog. (On this one I ramble about a bit! - and I haven't time at present to draw it.)

Hi, Colleen. Already doing the lounging! It's a wonderful liberation for me. I need to rest after a fit so I've been spending a lot of time in bed over the last few years. Now I can lie on the sofa instead and be closer to what the rest of the family is doing. Yesterday evening I was able to be with them to watch the second episode of Sherlock. (Did you see it?)

Stephanie said...

Happy New Year Esther! And Esther, garden bench as sofa is a great idea. Your selection is special :-D said...

Funny post. I hate shopping and always dread having to. I laughed at eating the Christmas presents and having to buy twice. I have done that and being able to replace them was my excuse.

Anna said...

Now that was one of those moments of pure serendipity Esther and I hope that you all enjoy your new item of furniture. May 2014 treat you and your garden kindly xxx

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Stephanie. I wouldn't have thought of a garden bench as a sofa unless I had happened to sit on this one. Often they are not comfortable for long, being too upright and narrow. We struck it lucky!

Hello Gardenwalkgardentalk. It was even worse than I said. One present I ate twice (I ate it, replaced it, ate the replacement.) At the third attempt I didn't buy anything edible. I might have been tempted again!

Hi Anna. That's right. (And isn't 'serendipity' a lovely word?)

squirrelbasket said...

Sofa so good for your blogging in 2014, then! Have a good year.
We have many words for seats, don't we? Bench sounds very hard and wooden. Sofa, I have to say, sounds huge and padded and soft. In my youth we always had a "settee", which now seems a very quaint word. Not quite as luxurious as a sofa. Are you sure your garden sofa isn't a chaise longue?
Enjoy it, anyway :)

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Love the idea of a garden bench as a new sofa! Hope 2014 is a good year for you and yours.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hi Pat, it's like lounge, drawing room, sitting room . . . so many names, We call the room where our sofa is our 'living room' because that's where we are when we aren't in the kitchen. When we lived in a flat the kitchen was too small to do anything but cook in and, for a while, we even slept in the living room - so it really was where we lived. I like the word 'sofa'. I agree, it gives off the air of comfort. ('Chaise longue' suggests languidity and decadence, don't you think?) Before we bought our garden bench we talked about the place where we would put our 'sofa' (comfort being what we wanted) so the word lives on. It looks pretty stylish with its bright throws and cushions and we have to warn visitors not to sit down too heavily or the hardness will surprise them.

Hello Elizabeth. We had a good 2013 here and I hope for just the same for 2014. And I hope the same for you - that life will be easier and happier. That you will have lots of laughter and little grief.