So, to be completely honest, I had a bit of an inkling about our destination based upon the measuring we had been doing in my son’s bedroom and the amount of times my wife had mentioned about how dilapidated his wardrobe was.
Admiral Boom had noted the change in the wind and announced it with his cannon so it’s fair to say I’d seen it coming. Even so, let’s just assume I wasn’t at my happiest.
My wife loves IKEA, it’s like a little treat for her to go there, I think. I’m fairly sure it’s her Disney World. If they built a themed IKEA hotel she’d be there like a shot. Jo skips about the Market Place like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My youngest, Jamie, remarked (after pointing out the umpteenth object on a shelf that he recognised) “Does everything we own come from IKEA, Dad?”, “Pretty much, Son” I sighed, “pretty much”.
It is a misconception, I believe, to think that IKEA is cheap. It isn’t. You can certainly buy cheaper furniture but to be fair it usually is just that, cheaper. And sometimes ‘cheaper’ can be a false economy, The one-year old £80 Argos wardrobe that we were replacing can certainly attest to that.
It would also be unfair to say that IKEA is the best quality furniture available. Of course it isn’t. Spend more elsewhere, if you can afford it, and you can find substantially better quality.
However, what it is – is value. What you get is considerably better quality per pound than in most other places. Also it builds easy. And that is the key.
I’ve bought drawers and wardrobes from MFI before – never again. Once you’ve put up a Billy bookcase you can’t go back.
So there we were. In IKEA.
We got there early and so it wasn’t too bad – it really wasn’t.
The boys were on their absolute best behaviour. I was really impressed. My wife had bribed, threatened and cajoled them mercilessly and they were responding superbly. I think they were a little excited as Jo had told them they could pretend they worked there when we got to the warehouse bit. Nothing like giving them ambition.
We worked our way slowly around the store, following the path like sheep with the other early shoppers. Eventually finding ourselves completely off-plan and with a list so long it needed two different tick-off sheets. But we were getting somewhere.
Meatball based refreshments were taken (obviously) and we were ready for the hard bit.
The Market Place.
This, for me, is where the fun ends and the stress begins but for my wife – well that’s a whole different kettle of fish.
She was a blur.
I’m no expert in these matters but I think she may had one of those female organisms that you hear women having in films but I, for one, have never actually witnessed in real life before. Maybe – who knows? Do they really even exist? There are approximately fourteen million different products on the shelves in this Swedish Narnia and my wife will attempt to justify buying every single last one of them given the chance. There isn’t a single thing in there that we don’t need. The market place in IKEA is a very dangerous place for a husband to be.
Then, my biggest IKEA nightmare of all came true. Jo escaped. My wife managed to give us the slip while I was momentarily distracted looking at rather useful looking electrical extensions. There is nothing scarier than a free-roaming wife in a wonderland like IKEA. I naively tried to reason that she didn’t have a trolley and I was carrying the magic yellow bag so she couldn’t be doing too much damage.
Sometimes I forget how resourceful that woman can be!
Eventually, we found her stumbling towards the warehouse section carrying a hastily but impressively constructed ‘Billy’ yoke, laden with half a tonne of plastic tat.
It was at this point that things started to get a bit difficult.
Out of nowhere, people appeared. Suddenly it was crowded with people zooming up and down the aisles looking for Hasvik or Lack or Malm. Struggling along with an over-burdened trolley, while two children try to “help” in that very special way that kids do, was raising my blood pressure somewhat. For the record, the boys were brilliant all day, they really were, but walking slowly in front of you beeping loudly and shouting “Warning – vehicle reversing” every few seconds remains amusing for only about a tenth of the time that they think it does.
Still. We found the wardrobe. And the drawers. And the chair. And the desk. I still aren’t sure when it was exactly, that we had suddenly needed a chair, desk and drawers combo as well as the wardrobe.
I squinted at the packages and said “You know? This isn’t going to fit in the car with us.” I’d spotted the fatal flaw in our plan. Our car is not small but it certainly isn’t big enough for four people and half of the annual Swedish export for 2012.
Jo looked at me with a smile and what would have been a shoulder shrug had the yoke not been weighing them down, and said “Delivery! We’ll get them delivered.”
She really is very clever you know.
It turned out that IKEA Southampton do not deliver to our postcode. At all.
Jo smiled again. This woman is unbelievably strong willed when it comes to shopping.
In the car park, I tried every combination I could but there was no way I could get both the packages and the people home. Home. Only an hour and a quarter away but suddenly I felt an awful long way away from it.
The solution came yet again from Jo. She took our youngest, Jamie and walked off to the train station to make their way home by rail. Daniel and I loaded up the car and drove. It was brilliant. It may not have been perfect but it worked and it was cheaper than delivery would have been. Had they delivered to our house. Which they didn’t.
So there you go.
It didn’t create one blog post, it didn’t even only create two, because there is a third coming. One more element to the day that I need to tell you about and that doesn’t even touch on putting the spoils together because I haven’t actually started that yet.
I had intended to set to work on them when we got back, but when I went into the garage I discovered a dirty pile of sand and mouldy ice-cream covered buckets, spades and windbreak sat on my toolbox.
“Oh you are good” I sighed, “You really are good…”