How (Not) To Post A Table

by | Jul 15, 2020

I was going to order some little vintage side tables last week but the delivery time, from the Netherlands, was estimated at 4-5 weeks. Considering that the tables are already made – they are secondhand – what in heaven’s name mode of transport could possible take 4-5 weeks? I could construct my own tables in 4-5 weeks, whittling the frames from wood that I have painstakingly collected from the garden and dried out in the airing cupboard. In 4-5 weeks I could do a crash course in glass blowing and make the bloody tabletop!

At the very least I could hire a van and drive over to the Netherlands myself, and back, and that would only take two days. In fact: Google Maps informs me that it’s about eight hours one way and so I could feasibly do it in a day if I mainlined Coca Cola and didn’t stop for a wee.

What transport method could possibly take 4-5 weeks then? I’m finding this hard to fathom. Let’s say it goes by boat, which I’m guessing is the slowest way, how long could a crossing from the Netherlands possibly take? Is it going by rowing boat? Canoe? Pedalo? Is the boat the sort of boat that goes around the houses (or the coastline), picking up other bits and pieces from other ports before finally, thankfully, sliding wearily into the harbour at its final destination? Is it a bit like when you agree to share a minibus to go home from a wedding and a ten minute journey ends up taking three hours because you have to go to Leytonstone via Putney, Notting Hill, Maida Vale and then Putney again because Jeffrey and Toni passed out drunk and missed their stop? Is it like that? Does the boat go all the way up to the east coast of Scotland to pick up some huge crates of frozen organic salmon, and while it’s in the harbour all of the furniture from the Netherlands can be heard grumbling from below deck?

‘Fuck’s sake, Coffeetable. I told you we should have gone in the van with the bedstead and the floor lamps. Sideboard Bob will be officially an antique by the time we get to Shoreditch.’

‘It was cheaper this way, Brass Barcart, I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to say…’

More Google Map research shows that I could actually walk to Amsterdam in 79 hours. How mad is that? I’m guessing that with two solid brass side tables strapped to my back it might take just a bit longer to walk back again, but still, I reckon I’d do the whole thing in less than two weeks. For free. There is actually a collect in person option, so maybe I’ll surprise them.

‘Hi there, I’m here to collect the brass and glass Jean Charles side tables?’

‘Oh hi, yeah, they’re right here ready to go. Can I help you with them into your van?’

‘Nah, no worries. I’m on foot.’


‘Yeah, it was only ten days delivery time rather than your 28-35 days and I thought I’d save on postage. If you can just hoist them up onto my back there and pull this dubious-looking abseiling strap around to secure them, that’d be great.’


The only transport method I can think of, where it would legitimately take that long to send something from the Netherlands to Somerset, is this: sparrows. It’s a bit of a James and the Giant Peach scenario, but bear with. You tie a load of sparrows onto the tables using fine pieces of thread and when you have enough sparrows the tables lift into the air. They all fly, ever so ever so slowly, across land and sea and land again, but they don’t know where the hell Somerset is and end up in Barcelona. By then, some of the sparrows have perished and so the Spanish branch of Overpriced MidCentury Classics has to catch the tables using a man with a hand glider, attach more sparrows whilst in mid-air and send them off again in the right direction.

Another method slow enough to take 4-5 weeks would be by magical van. A van that can do all sorts of amazing things – turn into a musical fairground carousel, become a submarine, change anyone who drives it into a talking squirrel – but can’t drive in a straight line. Magic van can only drive in ever-widening circles, which means that the end destination has to be carefully calculated using the on-board Spirolometer and extra time has to be allowed for all of the pissing about the van has to do before actually getting to the place it needs to go. It wastes the first week driving around and around the bicycle lanes of Amsterdam, much to everyone’s annoyance, and once it gets to the UK the magic bus spends a good while doing both the North Circular and then the M25. Clockwise.

Give me strength. Literally. I’m setting off to get the tables tomorrow and the last time I walked more than ten miles I twisted my ankle…

Photo by David Tomaseti on Unsplash


  1. HAHAHA….!!!
    I can’t forget your journey. amazing..

  2. Please write a book! PLEASE!!!!

  3. You are SO funny, you have me laughing out loud on my lunchbreak!
    SO glad I found you on the gram at the weekend:)
    Had a similar experience, my folks (in the UK) have just got a small package I sent them from Japan about 7 weeks ago ! International postage is a joke these days.
    Look forward to reading lots more and enjoying your Insta. (Loved that hair cut ! )

  4. God, you’re hilarious. Love your work – all of it. Thanks so much for everything you put out onto the interweb. Very much appreciated.

    • Thank you, that’s really lovely to say so. x

  5. You’re really good at telling stories lol~

  6. Only one word in my mind when I read your post is: “Cool!” You’re super cool! LOL~

  7. Only you could make such an annoying thing as incredibly long delivery times so entertaining to think about.

  8. Such a great post! There’s definitely something strange about deliveries from Finland. I ordered some product from Lumene and it took 8 weeks! to get to Canada!!

  9. Time warp. They’re coming by a covered wagon and then a tall ship to England. Things sure have slowed down these days. lol Hopefully they come earlier than that!

  10. I laugh, but wonder…..are you still in quarantine? I’m in the USA and about to slit my own throat.

    • No, our lockdown has eased. Although with young kids it barely makes a difference!

  11. OMG, you’re hilarious. I love getting your posts in the mail in the morning. Best way to start the day!
    I live in California and things are taking ages to get here: a pair of workout leggins from Gap coming from the East Coast took 2 1/2 weeks. I sent a larger envelope package to friends in the UK at the beginning of lockdown and it took over 2 months to get there. The packages took the scenic route around Chicago, spent a leisurely holiday at O’Hare Airport before getting strapped to a snail to make its way from Gatwick into London! I figure at this point we should all start mailing out our christmas cards now, so they get to the destination in time!!!!!

    • Yes that’s probably not a bad idea!

  12. I understand the frustration but I think you need to be more considerate about how people send/deliver goods. It’s probably quite expensive to send in the usual 1-2 week window but I assume (I may be wrong!) they’re not a top company with economies of scale for postage so have to use the cheapest option which is usually the longest.
    Also there’s a giant backlog of deliveries coming from Europe at the moment which are just filtering through as things return to business.
    They also may not be able to get to their post office straight away, maybe only weekends if they work a 9-5 and/or have childcare duties where the post office is shut when they can usually go.

    I think we’ve all turned a little bit too demanding of businesses that are just trying their best!

    • I mean yes, but wouldn’t make a particularly amusing post…

  13. I just read the entire post to my daughter and hubby laughing the entire time!! You so have to write a book Ruth, I’d be first in the queue!!!

  14. Hi Ruth, I have the same experiences, but then the other way round (from England to the Netherlands). LOL !!!

  15. Hahahaha, yes! And why in the name of all that is sacred do you only get those weird “delivery within 5 weeks” notices when it’s something you really really want…!


  16. Haha – I remember when I was young it took 3 months to send parcels by surface mail from Japan to NZ… And I’m only a few years older than you!!! My grandparents had to send Christmas parcels at the beginning of September for us to get them in time

  17. When is your book out? Please !

  18. Brilliantly funny. I was chuckling away and then you described asking with help to strap them to your back and I was crying. I am again now. Thank you Ruth you are a star

  19. That was a good and well needed laugh, thank you ! I’m still waiting for a delivery, from my own city, apparently it’s going to take a month. I think they’re teaching the boxes to walk by themselves.

    • That is frustrating! Just turn up at the door!

  20. Hilarious and can’t agree more maybe they are being transported by snails who keep stopping off at lettuce fields, unfortunately a few of them are being eaten by birds so they have to wait for reinforcements hence the time frames

    • It honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

  21. I have a friend living in the Netherlands, and whilst lockdown seemed to open up a lot sooner there than it did here, she says the post situation over there is awful and small packages and letters from the UK are taking weeks to arrive. From what she’s told me, your delivery estimate is highly optimistic!

  22. If you do find out why it takes so long, do let me know! Because shipments from the UK to the Netherlands (even smaller products then side tables) take such a long time as well….

    I think in your case the shop owner may have some holidays planned that delay the shipment…

  23. Hah, this was extremely funny! Like it is always with you:) They would have to rent a place from a ship for your furniture and I believe that due to the bloody Covid-19 those ships are full for the next month or so..Big companies have paid enough to get their stuff sent first and small companies have to wait and wait and wait….Would love to read a roadtrip story of how this ens up!

  24. Hello, thank you making me laugh, you’ve made my day so much better.

  25. Or… Balloons as in Up. Loads and loads of balloons tied to the tables and when they slowly drift upwards just hope for the right gentle breeze. They will be with you in no time at all.

    • Hahahahaha, I also immediately thought of this, too!!!
      Mind you, the last shipment I received from a shop in Sweden took 8 weeks, meanwhile a parcel from China arrived in only 2 weeks. I reckon the Chinese postal service had bigger balloons…?! ;-)

      Hilarious post again, Ruth!!! =D I cracked up at the “talking squirrels” and had to think of Harry Potter’s insane bus ride…

  26. This had me laughing out loud Ruth. You are such a talented writer


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