It’s only a four letter word but the mere mention of it has been known to cause great divisions and extreme emotions in our household. I am of course talking about Ikea, that blue and yellow temple of Swedish practicality and self-assembly. The thought of going there fills me with excitement and anticipation while my husband approaches the trip to Croydon’s finest industrial estate with nothing but dread.
I love going through the catalogue and marking out the things I want to buy while he breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of battling the crowds and then having to spend several hours assembling all the furniture I’ve bought. I do sometimes try to help out but as I’m not remotely practical the best strategy is usually to stay out of his way unless it’s to offer a G&T or two.
In any case, with both boys away at Scouts camp this weekend and the grandparents kindly offering to look after the girl, a trip to the aforementioned store is planned for this Saturday. I have been busy drawing up a long list of everything I can think of, from a desk for our eldest, a new rug for the sitting room and bedside lamps to wine glasses, baking trays and picture frames. And let’s not forget the napkins and tea lights – no self-respecting Swede would venture into Ikea without stocking up on these.
Going off-list is strictly forbidden as my husband likes to plan the route around the store, pile everything into the trolley and get out as quickly as possible. Much to his chagrin, the children seem to have inherited my love of Ikea even if they’re more enticed by the meatballs and the play area than the actual shopping.
But this weekend it is just the two of us and the other 300 people who have decided that there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than at Ikea. I, for one, can’t wait. Hopefully we will still be on speaking terms come Sunday!