Meals IN Wheels - Progress!

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram you may recognise this post a few months ago..

@Grumpy Panda Food  'Sooo.. This old lady is the beginning of something new for us!...'

@Grumpy Panda Food  'Sooo.. This old lady is the beginning of something new for us!...'

Back in May we acquired the back end of a classic Mini with every intention of quickly doing it up for use at our Summer '16 events. Well, that didn't quite go to plan and four months, lots of boring compliance paperwork, a whole sketchbook of design ideas and basic body rebuilding later and it's allllmost ready for it's first lick of paint.

Firstly, we have to mention Stu. He's the man who found this gem for us, and he's seriously the coolest man we've ever met. From his workshop on a small industrial estate in Gateshead he makes furniture out of ACTUAL AEROPLANES (well, parts of them). Wall clocks from windows, desks from doors, drinks cabinets from trolleys, tables from wings, even a sofa from a jet engine! The furniture is shipped all around the world and it's fantastic. Great job Stu-art Aviation Furniture!

So, back to the Mini. As far as we know (which isn't much to be honest) she's a classic Mini Mk3. Car enthusiasts may object but for now that's all we have to go on. She's stripped down to the shell and cut just before the hand brake slot (remember we know nothing about cars so you'll have to bare with our terminology, sorry!). Like any girl of her age she's got a few screws missing and she's a bit rough around the edges so we've certainly got out work cut out for us. 

After strengthening the bodywork we were ready to get creative and put our plans into motion. We sourced and fitted a boot lid, reworked the edging,  fitted shelves made of pallet wood, and cut out sections of the floor to make it easier to serve from.

We'll post more updates as we go, so watch this space!





Spend A Penny?

When I first started this project I had no idea what I was doing, how long it would take, or what the finished product would look like. Now, I can add professional penny floor layer to my CV!

While decorating our downstairs WC I decided that our freshly painted walls (grey) no longer matched our vinyl flooring (also grey), so I spent a hard three minutes thinking about what I could do to improve the look. I'm not one to do things by the book, and if I want something I'll do my best to get it. In this case, what I wanted was unique, bespoke flooring that would wow our guests, create a talking point for our neighbours, and be cheap to create - not much to ask, eh! 

I remember seeing a photo of a floor covered in beer bottle tops a few years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. I loved how creative and unique it was, and I always wanted something similar installed when I had a house of my own. However, since I don't drink at all it would take me forever to save up all the bottle caps I'd need, and would be pretty irrelevant in my home! But I knew I wanted to do something similar, so I wracked my brain for all of sixty seconds and came up with pennies! English pennies have a lovely copper colour which would go perfectly with our new grey walls. Sorted - now to go penny hunting!

After raiding our loose change jars, asking family and friends, and a trip to the bank, I finally had enough pennies to get started. I scrubbed the floor to remove any dirt, and began individually glueing each penny to the floor. I used 3 tubes of Super Tough, Waterproof Gorilla Glue for this, but I'd think any waterproof superglue would do. (Note: you can make penny 'tiles' and lay them all in one go, but after some research I decided I didn't like this look as you can see the joins between the tiles. It is less stress on your back as you can do all of the penny glueing at a table before laying, but it just wasn't the particular look I wanted).

Tip: If you're using Gorilla glue, you need to wet the pennies before glueing as that's how the glue bonds best. I just kept the pennies I was going to use for each section in a tub of water to save wetting each individual coin. This also helped to clean any leftover dirt off them. 

I wanted the pennies to be as neat and uniformed as possible, so I glued them row by row, making sure they were all perfectly aligned before pressing them down with a heavy object (in this case, a tin of paint). Each penny slotted into the gap between two pennies on the previous row to help leave as small a gap as possible. 

Tip: It’s much easier to start in one corner and go row by row than it is to do a whole section at a time. I tried to jump ahead and work around the base of the toilet and sink first as I thought they’d be the most troubling areas. However, I quickly regretted this when I found they didn’t match up so I had to scrape them all up and start again!

It is a lot of hard work and you feel like you’ve done hours of work for little reward, but once you get into a rhythm time flies by – and the finished product is totally worth the back ache! I worked with one little bank bag of pennies at a time (100 coins) which made it easier to keep count of how many pennies I had used altogether and meant I could section of the rows to spread to work over a number of week nights and weekends.

When the final penny has been laid, it’s time to varnish! For this I used Wickes’ Ultra Durable Interior Floor Varnish. Polyurethane based varnish works best as it’s hard wearing, waterproof and easier to use than epoxy resin, and it’s also much cheaper! (Note: Wickes’ floor varnish is milky white when first applied, but don’t panic like I did, it does dry clear!) I found it best to spread the varnish with the flat edge of a Tupperware lid rather than the recommended paintbrush as there was so much space to cover. It took around 6 hours between coats, and I applied four coats in total.

I could have stopped here if I wanted to, but I didn’t. Originally I loved the idea of all the different shades of copper, but the varnish slightly darkened the pennies and it didn’t ‘pop’ like I hoped it would– not how I wanted to feel after spending so long piecing it together! To lighten the floor I scrubbed each and every penny using a mix of nail varnish remover (it really worked!), white spirit and wire brushes. This took foreverrr and if I’d have known I was going to want shiny pennies across the whole floor, I’d definitely have cleaned them all before I started, it would have saved SO much time!

And well, that’s it! The only thing I had left to do was clean and polish them. I did this using hot water, a wire dish scrubber and a steam mop. I couldn’t possibly count the total number of hours I spent on this project, but I can tell you that I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I absolutely love it, and it certainly does have the ‘wow’ factor I was hoping for!

The best part? The entire project cost under £60!


English pennies: 3644
US pennies: 6
Euro 5 cents: 1
Total coin count: 3651

Oldest penny: 1971
Newest penny: 2016

Cable Table

If I had've known I was going to write a post about this I would've took more photos along the way to show the progression. Nonetheless, it's too good of a find not to share!

So, we've been in our new house for exactly a year now and although we're still living in the middle of a building site, the builders have decided to up and leave - ugh, how convenient. Well actually for us, it is!

I spotted an old cable drum as I drove past the builders yard one day and new I had to have it. From the road it looked small-ish, a 3 or 4ft circumference maybe, perfect size for a patio table in our back garden. Fast forward to the day we eventually got permission to take it.. turns out the road is waaay further away than we thought, and the drum is HUGE. 7ft wide kind of huge, and heavy. SO HEAVY. We struggled to lift it even an inch off the ground. We could've given up but we'd gotten this far so decided to persevere and with a system of lifting and propping it up using broken pallets, we eventually did it inch-by-inch. Once it was upright we had to get it home, and the narrow paths, bumpy roads and unnecessarily high kerbs on our street were certainly not made for cable drum rolling.. 

Eventually home it was time to decide what to do with it. I started off by scrubbing it down to remove excess dirt, rope, spiders, and discarded rubbish that the builders had kindly poked through the centre holes. Next, time to sand! I bought a small electric sander and got to work, making sure to sand down all the grooves and joins on the top surface, and all around the edges - I didn't want anyone getting jabbed by old splintered wood!

To make a statement piece I wanted to add something to the large metal rounded hole in the centre and after some thought we came up with bamboo shoots as they're fast growing, hardy plants. It took a while to get them through the hole, but we got there in the end and even managed to remove some slats from the centre of the table so we could slide a plastic tub in to keep the roots contained. This tub also makes it easier to water and feed the bamboo, genius.

I finished the table off with some bright orange Ikea stools for a splash of colour, and there you go, a huge solid wood table for the price of a few stools. I will varnish it at some point to keep in safe during the winter months but for now it's fine and with enough space to sit 8-10 people, it's perfect for our summer BBQ's!