Thursday October 12, 2006
We were all set to drive over to the Cardiff branch of IKEA today. Been looking forward to shopping for the storage bits and pieces we need for the new house, which is short on built-in storage. And it’s a journey of only ninety minutes.
“Seems a long way,” Graham said. “I wonder how far we are from the Bristol branch?”
So, I checked. “Ah,” I said. “It’s fifty-nine minutes to IKEA in Bristol.”
“No competition, then. Bristol it is.”
And that’s how, instead of going to IKEA over Welsh motorways, we went to IKEA over English motorways. Not a lot of difference, really, except there were fewer miles of them, and all the road signs are in English. IKEA is IKEA, after all, whether it’s in Wales or it’s in England. Or Timbuktu, for all I know.
It was to be a business-like shop, and a hard one, so our timing was perfect. We arrived at the store at nine-thirty, just as the restaurant was opening for breakfast… mmmm… IKEA breakfast!… and were satisfactorily fed and relaxed for the start of shopping at ten.
Oh, lordy, but IKEA is hard work. We’d done our round of the displays by eleven, ending up back in the restaurant, panting for coffee and cake. I was lodged in a suitable window seat to rest up while Graham fetched our snack and he came back in short order, bearing a tray and a big smile.
“You’re going to enjoy this,” he said, putting a plate in front of me. “The woman on the till said they’re soft and delicious.”
I poked it, gingerly. A square of pan-baked cake, it did not look appetising. “Looks like rolled-out foot-rot,” I said.
“Oh, don’t be such a stick in the mud. Close your eyes and take a bite.”
It was like taking a a bite out of heaven. Soft, moist, delicately flavoured and fruited with lingonberry.
“Oh, boy,” I said. “She’s right. It’s gorgeous.”
“Would you like another one?”
“Yes. No. No, better not. I’d like the recipe, though.”
“I don’t think they do recipes.”
“No problem. I have the entire Internet at my command. I’ll find a good one.”
I did, too. A nice, easy recipe which my instinct tells me will come out very like the IKEA version, or could be the basis for experiment. They call it a ‘muffin’. Well, alright, I’ll let them get away with it, just this once. Nothing like a proper muffin but when I’m faced with this degree of deliciousness I am happy to forgive.
Suitably fortified, off we set on the market hall part of the shop, filling two trolleys with stuff and checking it through the tills. Graham paid for it. We’ve reached an understanding on this. I dug quite deep into my savings when we bought the house, adding to our equity fund. This has left me a little short, so Graham is doing his part by paying for the extra things we need to furnish it adequately.
After all these years it still comes a bit strange to me, standing back when expensive things need to be paid for. No point in being coy about it, though. My pension doesn’t have the buying power it did, or the saving power, come to that. As Graham’s income builds up, he’s taking over part of the load. This has always been the plan. Even so… it feels odd.
Having lodged that lot into the car, it was time for lunch. Meatballs for me. Just as I don’t do IKEA unless I can enjoy one of their breakfasts, if it’s to be a full day shop I don’t do IKEA without enjoying a modest helping of their meatballs.
Another quick pass through the market hall and then down into the depths of the self-service warehouse to pick up the heavy flat pack stuff. Two bedside cabinets. Three mirrored bathroom cabinets. A new kitchen chair for Graham.
It all mounts up, and Graham’s packing skills were exercised to the full when it came to stowing the whole lot into the little silver Ford. It’s astonishing just how much can be fitted into a Fiesta. They’re gallant little cars, though, and there wasn’t a moment of hesitation as we set off back home. I took it very easy, having regard to the weight we’d piled in, but I was happy that the car was up to the job, with safety.
As the motorway miles purred away, Graham gave in, curled up in the passenger seat, and slept soundly all the way home, only waking as we pulled off the motorway at Bridgwater to navigate the short distance to the house.
And that was our day, really. Hard work, but fun. We’re planning to rent a van in a couple of weeks time to make a return trip, bringing home some living room and store room furniture—too large and heavy a load for the little silver Ford.
Slowly but surely the house is entering into the first stages of becoming our home, with lamps, blinds, curtains and pictures sprouting here and there. Graham will be off at the holiday camp tomorrow, working until Sunday. Then the cabinets we bought today will be assembled and fixed, stuff will be stowed in them, and so the process will go on. When the big storage furniture is in place the last of the unpacking will get done and then we’ll be ready to sit back and enjoy the winter.
Work on the gardens will start in about two weeks, beginning with the cat-proofing of the back garden. Dolly is becoming a little impatient with her indoors life and needs a bit of outdoor space to explore. We’re all of us looking forward to that.
So, today we had the fetching of stuff. Monday we’ll have the stowing of stuff. Shortly after that will come the disposal of unwanted stuff. It’s all about stuff, I suppose. And lingonberry muffins. Must’t forget the lingonberry muffins.
You’re going to enjoy this
aka Rolled-out foot-rot