Thanks for the comment.
The image I've used is an interim one to test the theory out as I felt the same way as you about the test image. I'm hoping to be able to use the original image if I can and splice that up but am concerned that the image is so irregular that the joins won't match up.
As for the use of 3 images, on the test pages I'm currently using 9 - top left, top centre, top right, centre left, centre, centre right, bottom left, bottom centre and bottom right.
The text is put onto the centre image (cell) only with the 3 middle images set to tile. I've also set the table dimensions to both 100% height and width. I've done some tests and no matter how narrow or wide I have the page the text (and images) fills the page width-wise and the length of the page is adjusted to accomodate all the text.
I guess the way to have the text not go so close to the edge of the page is to have the right and left images a little wider. Currently the images are only 45 pixels wide. If I redo them so that they're 75-100 pixels wide then the text won't go so close to the edge.
Anyway, I appreciate your comments. They've been very helpful.