Ikea Trip: Lessons Learned!


You have all heard of a Ghost Writer, I am sure: Someone who is paid to write a book for another (usually because the second person is too illiterate, or too busy being a Celebrity, to do the job him/herself).

I reckon I could do with a Ghost Shopper: One paid to do my shopping for me because, after five minutes in even a small, family-run shop, I lose the will to live and am in imminent danger of becoming an actual ghost myself!

Read on…


Yesterday was hot, very hot – almost the lower range of Crete hot, but with the UK dose of humidity that we all so love to loathe and moan about!

Yesterday, the day upon which Madonna reached the age I have been for simply ages, and in the broiling conditions referred to above (I am, after all, a Brit – though part American, Scottish and Irish as well – and it is de rigueur for us to mention the weather at least once in a conversation!), I set off, for Bristol’s outpost of that well-known Scandinavian Heaven, IKEA, with Son, Son’s Lass and, being an anal retentive, a colour-coded list of items to look at.

But first, my dears, I had to face two of my most-abiding fears: Driving through the centre of a city and zooming onto a motorway. Okay, I will come clean and admit that Bristol is not London, but it is gurt and complex in places; okay, I will come even cleaner and confess that the M.32 (on which I had to travel approximately three-quarters of a mile) is, in the metaphorical sense, little more than an embryo when set against the real grown-up motorways like the dreaded M.25.

Still, you get my point, I am sure!

Given that I have nil ability to read maps, and a sense of direction which is intuitive rather than in any way, shape or form actually useful – God only knows how I navigated my way out of my mother’s womb! – I printed off a thick sheaf of directions and asked Son to be my Co-pilot!

I shall pass over the increasingly foetid and fractious heat within my small car, as Laddie and I argued the finer points of A-B, and Lass, very sensibly, fell asleep – and take us, after a few perfectly understandable wrong turns and spontaneous three-pointers on trying to find the correct entrance, to the blue and yellow marvel that is IKEA.

Well, I say ‘marvel’ and, previously, I opined ‘heaven’…

More accurate are the words I penned to a close friend, after the event, via text; these included, in no particular order, ‘Jesus wept!’ ‘Aghhhhh!’ ‘Moan!’ and ‘Overwhelmed!’ – and I couldn’t swear there wasn’t a covert ‘hell’ snuck in there somewhere!

I bow in homage to the concept. I admire the range of goods and the prices. But, for a rural shopaphobic like me, such a venture gives me, if you’ll pardon the vulgarity (and even if you won’t!), the willies!

The ruddy place goes on forever – and, like all good mazes, brings you back to the place you thought you’d finally escaped not an hour previously! Thus, I became all too familiar with the children’s section and have yet to find the bathroom or kitchen parlours! It’s all right, I am not still wandering, lost and confused, around the tortuous miles; I did eventually, thanks to Lass, find my way back to the car.

Positives? Yes, there were many! I negotiated the M.32 without a problem; I drove through that bloody rush hour, in serious heat (weather, not passion!), with barely a qualm – but I most certainly met my Waterloo – and, in all probability, my 1066 and divers Viking incursions as well – in the innocuous primary colours of the store itself.

I think, in this world, we tend to divide people according to strong beliefs and preferences, thus Protestant or Catholic, Tory or Labour, Pro-or-anti-Hunting; now, I add yet another string to this particular bow (as a very mediocre violin player, this image pleaseth ye soul!): Shopaholic or Shopaphobic?

This trait develops in our earliest years, I suspect: We either take to Retail Therapy or we don’t. My siblings, to a man (despite the facts that most of them are girls!), adored anything shopping-related; I loathed it, with a vengeance, from the start – and would come out in hives/have an asthma attack at the very thought of accompanying my mother on a clothes shopping expedition (read ‘torture session’!).

My attitude is, and always has been, that all this farting around and comparing garments (or furniture, food…) is a complete waste of time and effort. I am as instinctive a shopper as I am a navigator Β – and I am not saying this is a good thing! – and, if I can’t find what I want within five minutes, I’m outa there, Man!

I could not begin to tell you how many weeks we spent in IKEA – other than to say that I have experienced decades that have whizzed by in comparison – but I can tell you that, within, ooh, just a month or so, I was spaced-out, light-headed, utterly discombobulated and in need of a restorative Laphraoig or two!

Yes, the mattresses in the bed section were great fun to bounce around on – but, as I managed to attract a twenty month old tot onto my first bouncing foray (and, as my tonnage and poundage giving that mattress a work-out would, in all probability, have launched her into space!), I very soon got bored with the whole enterprise, and stood, somewhat forlornly, comparing bed-frames for another millennia or two!

To say that I was underwhelmed by the experience is to indulge in complete understatement! The perfectly-understandable tendency of the two Young Things to treat me with the kind of irascible fondness accorded to relatives sprung briefly from the local loony bin certainly didn’t help. I don’t blame them, however: What goes round comes round, and I can vividly remember having almost identical feelings towards my own maternal parent when I was in my mid-to-late-teens (and the rest!).

We escaped – in the end! And I did find nine packets of extremely cheap scented tea lights to add to the six million I already possess…

The friend I texted, in responding, confessed that the thought of warning me, about IKEA, had seemed like a good idea! However, I am glad that this warning did not arrive. The trip at least gave me the opportunity to battle the demons of fear!

Any further interactions with IKEA will be conducted online, however! I know my limitations – and feel that having a temper tantrum in the towels and other fripperies section would not endear me either to Offspring or to the other denizens of Planet IKEA.


32 thoughts on “Ikea Trip: Lessons Learned!

  1. I am the guilty person who suggested IKEA…..lolol……I/ we do love the place BUT forgot a crucial bit of advice…..DO NOT GO IN TO THE PLACE IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS OR WEEKENDS!!!!! We don’t because, yes, it’s HELL ON EARTH and certainly tries the patience of a seasoned IKEA shopper like myself, let alone a poor shopophobe like yourself lol…
    It’s a place where people populate to entertain ( rather than shop!) themselves and their kids, which I find quite bizarre and irritating. If you do go at the weekend or holidays go when they open or an hour before closing before the breeders get there or have pissed off back to suburbia ( sorry breedersπŸ˜‰). Go in for the metaphorical retail kill ( using the big game analogy), bag your trophy and get out- QUICK before the baboons and small monkeys come swinging through the place.
    When we come south, and continuing with the Big Game Reserve idea, we will, I’d you like, be your trackers and guides and negotiate the Poangs and Tidafors, not to mention Eketorps, Torbjorns and the Goteborgs ( as a Swedish speaker I understand the language of these fabled beasts!), and lead you past the Fukovs and Randyskandys ( made that up!) to the cakes and other delectable items on offer…πŸ˜‹πŸ½. This is a challenge. Do you dare to enter the labyrinth again ? Lolol..xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With you, I would dare to enter anything, Dean! Of course! Especially those damned Randyskandys (how could I possibly resist?!!). Just tell me when you’re coming down and I’ll get out my elephant gun, huge net and Solar topee! xxx


  2. This. Was. Hilarious. My favourite parts of the reading:

    * The sense of direction that you have repeatedly shown to not have πŸ™‚
    * The eternity that you spent there… akin to how I feel when my Mom goes dress- or shoe- or jewelry-shopping!
    * The word “shopaphobic.”

    I got my bed, kitchen table, and a few other things of furniture from IKEA, and my favourite part of the whole thing is the illustrated directions with the blobby person on it. (Check out the “International Guidelines for Problem Solving” on Google and look at Sweden’s flag.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie

    You make it sound like an expedition to Africa to hunt some big game… Crikey! Relax and get out more girl!
    IKea has meat balls swimming in white sauce, french fries and gateaux and, to top it all, there’s fucking wifi! What more do you need to make life heaven? Tea? They’ve got that too. Toilets? Just NEXT to the kids department! And so is the restaurant in fact…
    And if you get lost, just look down and follow the arrows on the floor: they’ll take you to the exit. Simple. But if you find yourself turning round in circles in spite of your best efforts, just be zen and enjoy the moment without fretting. In case of emergency, ask for help! πŸ™‚

    You’ve guessed it: I’m a fan of IKEA. I also love MacDonald restaurants. Why? Because you can be anonymous in both and sit somewhere unpretentiously observing people while munching. And you can use their wifi. Bliss!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Each to his or her own, Julie; that’s my philosophy in life! Many people actively enjoy Ikea – fair enough! Now MacDonald’s is fine by me: I go in there to people-watch occasionally! I know what you mean about the lure of anonymity – and, for that reason, I love little cafes hidden away in back streets I never imagined existed. I think that actively facing fear can be like big game hunting – good analogy, actually: There’s little point in hunting creatures deemed unworthy (eg taking pot shots at wild bunnies!); similarly, fear of driving needs to be faced up to in busy city centres and small motorways rather than travelling up and down the familiar route from home to the nearest shop, shall we say?! Big stores are not my bag – but I know they hit the spot for many many others! xxx


      1. Julie

        It takes time to shed fears. BUT time wedded to freedom WILL bring self-confidence, I can assure you. One day, believe me, you’ll be roaring down that motorway to get to Ikea! πŸ˜€

        When you are ready to hit the road again, let me know and I’ll meet you there for meatballs! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve an IKEA about 4 miles from the house and I have successfully ignored the allure all these years. Honestly, when friends of mine travel a hundred miles or more just to wander through, I simply shake my head. NOTHING you need can be that important… honestly, nothing. (deep sigh)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you ever noticed that the very part you actually WANT to see in IKEA is, in fact, the very last place you end up in – NOMATTER WHICH PART YOU WANT!
    I suspect they’re psychic and deliberately switch things around either before you arrive, or while you are there and part way along the Safari Route (guided by misleading “Short Cut” signs)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely true, Chris; I can see their dastardly plan clearly now! Mind you, I probably didn’t help myself: As Son pointed out, the arrows showed the direction clearly, and I had only myself to blame for going against the flow! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah ikea. Hate the place with a passion, 90% rubbishy with a few hidden gems tucked into the labyrinth of shopper bear traps. However may I suggest a game I play whenever forced to visit. It’s better with two but can be played solo (yes like lots of things..). Ok enter the Swedish Knossos and pick an item up, anything will do cushion, bed lamp, polar bear whatever. Mutter ‘my what a bargain’ then carry said item to the next inappropriate department and dump it in a prominent position. Easy enough. But the real trick is to dare to shift larger and larger items you know carpets, coffee tables, childs playhouses and the like and carry them further from the source. Hey I once shifted a four drawer cabinet from furnishings to the plant department placed a couple of ferns on top complete with a large candle. Definitely dung chewy or whatever. Ted (aged 12). Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely hilarious, Ted: I laughed out loud for ages! Oddly enough, I think I must’ve been on your wavelength yesterday – though not up to the grandest gestures as yet! – because I deliberately left a box full of tools (Ooh, er, Missus!) in an obvious position in the candles and other scented lighty-type things department, and felt an inner glow at so-doing! Obviously, a haemorrhoid cushion slapped in amongst the children’s toys would have been even more fun, but I think one has to work up to these things gradually! Thanks for the laugh and the inspiration! xxx


  7. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt anything other than buying more candles from Ikea online. If you thought the store was bad….

    I recommend Argos. Or Amazon. Online. They deliver. (And the mattress I bought myself via Amazon was dirt cheap and the best I have ever slept on).

    I am not a fan of shopping. Except bookshops. And rummaging through junk shops in search of treasures for props.

    Magnificent triumph with Bristol though! Bristol at rush hour is enough to make any driver squirm… I’d rather a two-hour detour myself πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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