PARAPHERNALIA: Outdoor furniture

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The above is an example of an award-winning outdoor table (yes, there is such a thing). It has three-legged construction for stability, no cross-rails so one doesn't have to perform an undignified wriggle under a bar to sit down at it, as with more traditional designs, and its super triangular design makes it "sociable", say the makers. The very notion of picnic table design is very exciting, given the normal experience of garden furniture that wobbles precariously, spilling drinks, food and people. But award-winning or no, what else might one perch on in the 23 minutes that British weather annually allows one to remain alfresco without freezing or scorching? Cast iron Victoriana has cachet, though it weighs a ton and is actually not terribly comfy. Forget the down-market lightweight aluminium versions available; one good sneeze will blow your "iron" table across the patio. Classic wood is also tasteful (though not when embellished with chi-chi carvings, in particular that soppy poem about being "nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth"). Colonial rattan style is a bit over the top and won't stand up to the rain. Perversely, plastic, though naff, is in fact extremely comfortable. It doesn't have any scratchy, splintery, sticky-outy bits, and is moulded into friendly curves (it's a bit sweaty in the sun, but of course can be hosed down after particularly energetic barbecues).

For more details on the table pictured, contact Michael Lunn BA FRSA, Tabula Trading Company, Heaton House, Leck, Kirkby Lonsdale, via Carnforth, Lancashire, LA6 2HZ (tel 01542 71777)

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