THE GARDEN FURNITURE
The cost of garden furniture
At long last we have outside furniture! The tax rebate cheque cleared and we purchased some outdoor furniture to enjoy relaxing and al fresco eating. Buying stuff here is not a simple procedure. Ikea won’t deliver to our home only to a drop off point an hours drive away for a €25 fee and other stores which are an hours drive each way want over €100 delivery charge per item not per delivery! One store charge €180 delivery! This is why we try and fit all purchased furniture into our car. Unfortunately we need a new dining table/6 chairs, two sofas and a sofa bed in the near future which won’t fit into our car, so that’s gonna be a challenge with deliveries. It may result in us hiring a van and collecting ourselves. Garden furniture is ridiculously expensive here, anywhere from €500-€5000 for a basic table and chairs. We are not looking for a sofa lounge set but a dining table set. Most sets are made from plastic but made to look like rattan as they are meant for use around a pool to get wet and survive but we don’t have a pool. We can’t afford a pool or have the space so we just hose each other down with the garden hose. It has 7 settings and we have found the ‘Mist’ setting to be very satisfying when the heat peaks 40. We just wanted to purchase a nice wooden dining set and a couple of comfy lounge chairs. I looked at several furniture stores at Mondego retail park – JOM, JYSK, Homa, Moviflor etc. but every store had the same nasty plastic stuff and each store only had 1 or 2 wooden tables which were well over budget. We also needed 2 sun loungers and they cost €100+ each here without cushions, so crazy!
The first frenzied furniture fiasco failure
That is a lot of F’s in that title and I have another F word to sum up my experience. It rhymes with ducked – (ha ha).
I recently saw a lovely wooden reclaimed table and bench set on display outside of AKI. A nice man came to our car with a tape measure and we all agreed it would just about fit in our car if I sat in the back and breathed in (ha ha). So we decided to pop to a shopping mall first then return to buy the table. When we returned there was a huge queue due to maximum capacity restrictions and Covid-19. I stayed in the car as I still find wearing the compulsory mask a challenge in the heat in stores with no air con working – big mistake. Hubby was gone for over an hour and I ran out of battery on my phone so we couldn’t communicate. The temp reached mid thirties and I was like a hot dog stuck in the car. He left the key so I turned on the ignition to try and open windows but hubby always leaves car in gear (I didn’t know that) it jolted forward and nearly hit the car in front! Hubby eventually emerged with a member of staff and a flat trolley with the boxed furniture on. We all managed to get it into the car and then I thought it would be a good idea to check it over for missing pieces as we had a recent nightmare of buying something which had a missing bit and it resulted in another 2hr round trip to obtain the missing part.
Upon inspection I noticed huge cut marks in one of the benches, not minor scratches but huge damage. At this point I’m nearly passing out in the afternoon Sunday heat but sent hubby back in to sort it out. By this time the queue was even bigger! The man came out again looked at the furniture and went back inside to retrieve another bench. The second bench also had damage and the third one still had scratches. He was willing to deduct 10% off of the price but I don’t want a substandard product if I am buying new and he only had those three sets left. There was a few seconds of awkward stares and silence, it’s a good job we were all wearing masks so we couldn’t read each others faces as the expression on my face at this point was pure WTF I literally give up! So then we had to get this bloody table and 2 benches out of the car and help the staff member take them back to the store for a refund. The bubble wrap blew off in one direction and the instruction booklet in another. I reckon we were there over 3 hrs in total! I was a bit gutted so then hubby had to buy me a soft grey fluffy turtle soft toy to cheer me up and find a McDonalds to buy me a Mcflurry ice cream to cool off before we drove home. We are not wasting money on non essential items but apparently I was so sad that the turtle was an essential buy. We ate our ice cream inside McDonalds to take advantage of the air con, then returned to our car to find that we were blocked in and not going anywhere! The queue for the drive in totally blocked us from reversing out of the parking space. We sat in the car for a bit debating on who would go out and try and communicate in Portuguese that we were not pushing in and just wanted to go home. I won!
When we managed to reverse out of the space and we had to join the drive through queue for ages before it split off for the exit route. At one point I thought we might have to go through the drive through and buy a bloody burger. I hate McDonalds food and only like their desserts and after the huge kebab we had for lunch I couldn’t manage a burger – it would tip me over the edge completely. So, that was our first frenzied furniture buying trip and it was very unsuccessful but I did get a turtle out of it! Luckily our next trip was more of a success.
Solar string lights
I really wanted to buy some solar powered fairy string lights to hang up in the outdoor space. I have never owned outside string lights before, as I have never really lived in a house with a decent garden. There is no way I would have wanted to light up my shit back yards of rented properties (ha ha). The last 8 years we rented a tiny flat on the first floor so no garden at all. I ordered some lights from Amazon but I was a little disappointed at first. They were much smaller than I anticipated. The picture made them look like they were traditional round light bulb size but they are actually really small. They were pretty tangled up too so we had the usual untangling parade, you know what I mean, it happens every year when you get the Christmas tree out of the loft and have the nightmare of de-tangling the fairy lights whilst swearing profusely! (ha ha).
Then I had to charge the solar panel for several hours which was fine but the on/off button needed to be turned on for the panel to charge but there is no way to tell if the button is on or off as it’s circular and you press it once. So it’s a case of press it, charge it, cover the panel and see if the lights come on, pretty annoying. We decided to hang them up before the garden furniture is in place to give us room to manoeuvre the ladder. I was initially not that impressed seeing as they had raving reviews. Hubby said they will look better in the dark, like me (ha ha). He was right, I popped out to check around 10pm and indeed they look better in the dark. I thought I was gonna break my leg or neck stumbling around in the dark! I kind of like them now, they add colour and brighten up the space and they have 7 modes (a bit like my 7 moods) so we can have flashing DISCO (ha ha).
We currently had 2 wall lights and 1 hanging light under the covered area. We also had 1 light on the steps leading up to our house. All lights were electric not solar and old fashioned lantern design. I decided to replace all these 4 lights as although they worked fine, they were all old, dirty, flaky and rusted (just like me!) and some of the plastic window panels were missing. I also am not a fan of the lantern type lights. Also I don’t think they are all black in colour as one (the security step light) looks slightly green to me but that might be my poor eyesight. You can’t really see the disrepair in the photos but I thought if I’m spending a lot of cash on garden furniture, I may as well spend a further €100 or so on lighting. I wanted to replace the light on the steps with a solar sensor light that comes on automatically when we walk up the steps. It doesn’t make sense to me that we currently have to go inside the house to turn on the light as that defeats the object. The light needs to turn on automatically whilst we are walking up in the dark so we don’t break our necks! I am hoping that it doesn’t automatically come on with the few passing cars or cats. Update: So the solar light is not what I expected. I assumed it would come on when you reach a certain number of metres from the light. It does have this function but it is permanently on a dim setting when it gets dark, then when someone approaches the steps it gets brighter. This is fine and makes no difference really.
We purchased the new lights from Leeroy Merlin, they have a huge selection. We wanted the wall lights to match the hanging one. I let hubby choose the lights and he picked very well. You can’t really see from the photos but they are made of metal not plastic and a sort of rustic brown colour and compliment the schist stonework. I really like the hanging light which is a feature point above the dining table.
The second attempt to buy garden furniture
We decided to drive to Porto to visit Ikea, Leeroy Merlin and a few other furniture stores. At least with Ikea we can fit the flat pack furniture into our car and don’t have to pay ridiculous delivery fees. Ikea have some quite nice wooden garden furniture and I get to eat a hot dog (ha ha). We tidied the patios up and we spent Saturday driving to Porto and buying the furniture then put it together on Sunday as well as fixing the new lights. We purchased a lovely table and 4 chairs. Ikea was absolutely dead quiet which surprised me for a Saturday. It was actually busier when we visited during a weekday which is strange. It was a long day, we woke at 8am and left the house by 9am. We arrived back home at 10.30pm very hot and tired. I hate driving in the dark as there is always some A hole who tailgates you even though you are driving the maximum speed limit on pitch black roads with no street lights. Leeroy Merlin in Porto did not have the lights we wanted so on the way back home we stopped off at Coimbra Leeroy Merlin and managed to get the lights. We also stopped off at the Forum shops, Coimbra to do a little more shopping and had some dinner in the food hall. It amazes me how beautiful the views are of Coimbra, even from a shopping mall food court. These photos were taken around 9pm in the evening.
We had to return to Coimbra to purchase the garden lounge chairs as we could not fit everything in the car in one visit. We again grabbed some lunch at the food court and admired the fantastic views.
Table and 4 chairs with arm rests from Ikea €195
X2 Lounge chairs from Homa €198
Small table from JYSK €30
X4 seat cushions from Casa €23.80
Solar string lights from Amazon €16.99
X2 Wall lights from Leeroy Merlin €50
X1 Hanging light from Leeroy Merlin €25
X1 Solar powered sensor wall light from Leeroy Merlin €25
X4 Leaf table mats from Homa €4.80
Candle holders and tea lights from Ikea €10
Tiny potted plant from Casa €3.95
Coasters from A Loja do Gato Preto €14.95
BBQ grill from AKI €12.99
Al fresco dining:
Night time photos:
I love these chairs so much, they are super comfortable and stylish too.
The small table
We needed a small coffee table for drinks. I really like this table and it was reduced from €50 to €30. It was the last one in the store. The wooden coaster set is from my favourite shop A Loja do Gato Preto.
The BBQ (AKA Kate Moss)
We re-built the stone BBQ in a better position. We have named the BBQ ‘Kate Moss’ as hubby used a couple of stones with moss on as he couldn’t be bothered to clean the stones. I viewed some really nice brick BBQ’s and bread/pizza ovens but decided to re-use the stones we have around the garden. A lot of them are made with red bricks which would not match our schist casa. We have a shed/workshop full of stones, it’s ridiculous. This also saved us a lot of money and we only had to buy the grill which cost €12.99. The stone BBQ will survive the harsh weather too and won’t rust or fade in the glorious Portuguese sunshine. Hubby said he thinks we might need a wind break. At first I thought he said wine break so I ran inside to get my wine glass. I did have to laugh, I’m not sure about a wind break for the BBQ but I do know that my hubby break’s wind a lot. He thinks it is fine as long as he says Desculpe, It’s NOT and I tell him off regularly! I think he could enter The Guinness Book of records with his epic daily trumping achievements (ha ha).
I decided to have a bit of fun with the sign and change it when hubby wasn’t looking (ha ha). He wanted me to write Adrian’s BBQ which I did at first! Well we do have plenty of fig leaves! I was a little disappointed as I sat outside for a good hour and a half and no one turned up! I was hoping the man on his horse with the cowboy hat might stop by. I got a bit chilly after a while so I had to go inside and put my P.J’s on (ha ha).
The accident with the tea light
Somehow the yellow tea light holder is leaking glue all over my new table! I think it has a crack in the bottom. We tried to fix it but hubby made it worse and we both superglued our fingers! I decided to bin it as I think it will continue to ruin the table further. I can always replace it next time I venture to Ikea. Personally I think they owe me a yellow tea light and I don’t want to buy a whole pack so I might try and shop lift one (just kidding). I’m not sure what Portuguese prisons are like and I don’t want to take the risk for €8. If I’m doing hard prison time I’m doing it for a worthy cause like murder! I can’t get the sticky mark off of the table so I have strategically placed a different tea light holder over the stain.
The stone titties
We have a really weird feature in our garden. It is 2 round concrete balls that look like cannon balls or bombs. Don’t panic, it’s neither of these just 2 circular stone balls. I don’t know why they are there, it’s an unsolved mystery but they look like a pair of perk round breasts! They are so crazy we are keeping them. I wish I had attended that nipple tassel making workshop at Shambala festival now (ha ha). Unfortunately we only came here with a couple of suitcases so I had to leave my vast collection of nipple tassels back at my dads house in the U.K along with my collection of lucky cats! I’m tempted to buy a couple of plastic nipples and stick them to the top (ha ha).
O.K so it wouldn’t be a renovation without some drama. Whilst moving the furniture empty boxes out of the sun room to take to the recycling bin I got stung by a wasp! I screamed and cried a lot as it hurt like hell. Wasps have made a home in the crack of our sun room door and I must have disturbed them with my boxes. Worst part was we had no water for 24 hrs so I could not run it under water but had to use ice cubes instead. My hand swelled up really puffy and I was very sad!
I am really pleased with how it’s all turned out and we can chill out and relax in our shaded favourite spot and watch the world go by. All we need to buy now is a couple of sun loungers but I’m debating if these are necessary as I would rather sun bathe at a local river beach. It was quite a lengthy process buying and sourcing the furniture. The fairy lights arrived first, then we purchased the dining table set and main lighting, followed by the lounge chairs and small table, then last but not least the BBQ was re-built. I decided to go ‘all things bright and beautiful’ with the accessories e.g. cushions and candle holders. I’m usually a everything has to coordinate and match type of girl but I wanted rustic charm with colour and took inspiration from the string lights which glow various bright colours. The weather is currently scorching hot and I just love eating al fresco and listening to the wildlife and watching the sun set on an evening. We eat outside almost every night. I think we are going to spend more time outside than inside during the summer months. I’m pleasantly surprised about the lack of flies too (but I may have spoken too soon!). I can also take my laptop outside to the dining table to write my blog. So not only do we have an epic outdoor chill out leisure area, I have an outdoor office, what more could a girl want? Right now I am thinking a saltwater infinity pool, Portuguese butlers in the buff (at least 3), bottomless cocktails and an ice cream or two as it’s 39.7 in the shade (ha ha).