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With the weather this year having been rather sunny, I decided I would like to tidy the garden up a little, and invite some friends over for a barbecue. However, I didn't really have any garden seating, and looking around garden sets seemed quite expensive, so I settled on this fold-out camping/picnic table, manufactured by Kingfisher, and costing £32.99 including delivery from Amazon .
Upon taking it out of it's very well secured box, it looked a little like a thin, flat, blue plastic suitcase - not particularly big - about 83 cm long, 31 high, and 10cm thick. It would easily fit into a car boot for travelling, or under the stairs or in the shed when not in use. It weighs a little under 6kg, and the handles make it comfortable and easy to carry in it's folded state.
The table came with a small instruction page - comprising of a few small and hard to decipher diagrams, and a bizarre language that seemed to be close to English, but not close enough to make any sense . Luckily, a good look at the table makes it very clear what needs to be done to open it.
Releasing the plastic locks on the handle of the case opens up the table top . You need to lie it upside down, and then pull out the seats, which are folded underneath, before securing all the safety catches (there are several, and they stand out on the table by dint of being white, where the rest is blue) to lock everything in place. Then, simply turn it the right way up, and you're all set.
I did notice while securing the safety catches that they seemed to be made of very flimsy white plastic - while the rest of the table seems fairly sturdy, these really looked very insubstantial, which gave me some real concerns, as both my boyfriend and I could cheerfully admit to being cuddly (I'm a size 16 currently, my boyfriend is a little bigger) . I had a good look at the box, and the indecipherable instruction sheet, and found nothing specifying a maximum weight for sitting at the table (though on top of the table itself, etched into the table top, is a request not to put more than 30kg of weight on the table top itself).
Once opened, the table looks very much as pictured. The tabletop is 83cm long, 63 cm wide, and 67cm in height off the ground. The four chairs are 41 cm off the ground, making them a reasonable height for sitting comfortably.
Each of the four seats has a slight dip in the centre, with a small hole drilled out - a handy feature that ensures, should your table get left out in the rain, that water can drain out of it . There is also a hole in the top of the table, presumably for the same purpose that could also be used to hold a parasol stand. On my particular table, I did notice the join on the tabletop was not exactly seamless - on the perfectly level floor of my kitchen where I first assembled it, one half of the tabletop was a few mm higher than the other. I also noticed that the tabletop itself had some rather rough plastic edges, as though the construction had been rushed through.
Both the seats and the table itself have a slightly dappled surface, and the legs are made of brushed effect metal, with black grips on the end, which presumably help to keep the table firmly in place on an even surface.
Our first (and only) actual use of the table was when we decided to have a barbecue . The weather in the days leading up the the barbecue had been rainy and soggy, but we were blessed with sunshine on the day . We left the top of the table bare, except for a few plates and condiments, with all the food on a wheeled trolley next to us. We placed the table on our somewhat soggy lawn - whether the wet soggy ground was partly to blame for what happened next, I'm not sure.
My boyfriend, myself, my daughter, and a friend sat down to enjoy our barbecue .Initially, we were all very comfortable - although the small size of the table would make it too claustrophobic to sit around as a group regularly, it was sufficient for the barbecue .
The first sign that something was starting to go slightly wrong was the slow slide of the mustard pot across the table, followed by a bang, followed by a ping. Naturally, we all stood up immediately , and we all had a good look at the table, crawling underneath it. Initially nothing appeared to be wrong at all - the table was still standing, and a quick check of all the safety catches showed that everything was in its place
We tentatively resumed sitting down, only to be greeted with an eerie creaking noise. Something clearly wasn't right, and we all stood up again. This time we turned the table over, and noticed that although all of the safety catches were in the right place, one was wonky and appeared to be very loose, looking like it would fall out at any minute.
Now, it might have been something to do with the slightly wet ground - one end of the table had sunk ever so slightly into the grass. However, with camping so often being a relatively wet activity, I would expect products to be designed with the odd bit of rain in mind - and certainly the drainage holes in the seats would imply that this was the case.
It might have been because of our weight . I'm a size 16 - actually average weight for a woman in the UK, and my boyfriend is slightly heavier. However, there was no weight warning on the packaging indicating that we would be too heavy to use it, so I'm not sure if this is the case either .
I actually suspect that this camping table was just shoddily constructed - the uneven tabletop when assembled and the very flimsy and cheap feeling safety mechanisms certainly indicate a lack of love and care during the manufacturing process, and the fact that the instructions were indecipherable didn't help much. I also think that the feet of the table are something of a design flaw when using the table on wet ground - being quite small feet, there would be a lot of pressure driving them into the soil - kind of like walking on wet grass in high heels causes them to sink.
We spend the rest of the barbecue sitting on the lawn on blankets - and the table was returned the next day. Luckily I received a full refund, which is being saved towards a new garden table!
Overall, I don't feel I can particularly recommend this table . I might just have been unlucky and had a bad experience, but these don't seem very well made to me, or very safe . Not recommended.