This table… I adore this table so much. It came into our lives Christmas five years ago after peeing on a stick for a second positive. Somehow another baby on the way warranted splashing out on a proper grown-up dining table to replace our knackered old hand-me-down.

As a Christmas present to each other, we deliberated about what we wanted and eventually made the order. It was being made bespoke, and I could barely contain my excitement as we awaited the special delivery. Who knew a dining table delivery would be the highlight of my existence? But you’re not an idiot, you can read between the lines and see that a contented family life was my big dream. And this table was a honking great milestone in making that a reality. It was a totem to my passions – family and food.

Delivery day came & we were delighted. It was made from reclaimed scaffolding boards and railway sleepers. Sounds romantic, but actually means there are imperfections that make it more adequate for a workbench than a family dining table – we’ve learned over the years that it’s not flat enough to complete a large-pieced jigsaw on and there are delightful little crevices perfect for collecting crumbs and Hama beads alike. But on the day, our excitement couldn’t be dampened. We loved it in all its imperfect glory.

Fast forward to today. Our family is complete – we have three beauties who are growing up so fast we get whiplash trying to keep up with them. We have friends and family round regularly and food is where it’s at. Man, this table sees a heck of a lot of crumbs, curses and late night singalongs. But most of all, it’s a happy place for our family at 5 pm every evening. Despite the predictably volatile moods of our 6, 4 & 3 yr olds, this place is somewhere we try our level best to keep it Happy.

We make the routine of teatime at the dinner table rock solid and that’s the big tip: make the table a happy, safe and predictable place & then you’ll have the freedom to experiment with the food a little more. And when, inevitably, your little cherub insults your cooking and threatens to starve, you can take a deep breath and stick with the programme.