So yesterday being Friday, husband was working from home. It's my day off too but I am not supposed to interrupt him, though obviously I do if at all possible. His study door stays firmly shut with a "Do Not Disturb" notice hanging from the doorknob. I view this as a challenge to get in there and cause havoc, my excuse being that as he is working away so often when I do have him at home I can't leave him alone for long. It drives him crazy.
The good news is that in the aftermath of last week's home improvements debacle, he is rapidly going off the idea of strapping on his toolbelt and getting stuck in personally. My subliminal put-off lines have been seeping into his subconscious mind throughout the week and now I think we've reached a stage where he too can't be arsed with the hassle of DIY. So, wishing to strike whilst the iron is hot, I needed him to come with me to one or two kitchen shops and view some units. With fridges. And sinks. And of course, cookers, or more specifically range ovens, with those trendy chimney thingies instead of the old-fashioned cooker hood that we currently have which threatens to put my eye out when I lean forward to stir the gravy. And I need his input re worktops - Formica, wood, marble? And of course, tiles.
Now I've discovered the only way to do anything as hideous as this is to suggest it whilst he is doing something else even more mind-bogglingly boring than looking at kitchens. Yesterday he was doing his expenses, a task so mundane that he needs multiple coffees throughout the morning in order to stay awake long enough to get the stamp on the envelope to Head Office. Coming up to lunchtime so bored is he that he's usually desperate for diversion, so if I want to distract him at all that is the best time to do it.
Coincidentally, my daughter is off work too. She has had a vile affliction called labrynthitis which brings with it dizziness, nausea and general debility. She's had this for a while but is now on the mend, thank goodness. It's ages since she's been out and about so she was getting a bit stir-crazy - there are only so many episodes of Bargain Hunt one can tolerate before madness sets in, so I asked her if she'd like to come along for the ride and look at kitchens with her Dad and me. Being so desperate to get out of the house, she said yes.
So off we go, visit a few showrooms and stare at a lot of kichens. The range is mind-boggling and very, very expensive. I'm not sure we're up for that sort of outlay, so Daughter comes up with an idea and suggests we go to Ikea where kitchens come in kits with cute names such as Ulriksdal and don't tend to cost as much as Third World Debt. And hey, it's Ikea, so what's not to love?
Now it's quite a long time since we've shopped at Ikea. Back in the days when our kids were small we kitted out bedrooms galore with Billy bookshelves and Leksvig beds, but we haven't been there for years despite the fact that a massive Ikea (is there any other kind?) is about half an hour's drive from home, so I don't really know why we've been away so long.
I LOVE IKEA. I love the fact that someone really clever can design a whole flat pack living area, including kitchen, bedroom, lounge and bathroom in the space of a double garage and it can still look incredibly trendy and welcoming. I love the way you get drawn round the winding walkways with lovely goodies either side, room settings containing stuff you don't need but which demands to be bought. Can anyone walk through and Ikea and buy nothing? Not me, for sure.
So impressed were we with the ingenious drawer dividers, the pull-out breakfast bars, the subtly lit glass shelved cupboards that we almost failed to notice Daughter looking a bit pale and wan. Her vertigo had obviously kicked in and her internal gyroscope was throwing a bit of a wobbler, making us wonder if this trip was just a step too far in her recovery process. She sat for a while on a sofa called Ektorp while I fussed around her. Shall we go home straight away? Was she hungry? How about a piece of chocolate cake to raise the blood sugar? She took one of her tablets and said that maybe a cup of tea might help. So off we went to the Ikea Cafeteria trailing a drugged-up daughter who was weaving around looking like she'd OD'd on tequilla slammers.
I've got just one thing to say to you about the Ikea Cafeteria.
Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, lingun-berry "jam" and thin fries.
Despite the fact that I was obviously concerned about my little girl's health and welfare (she is only thirty after all), I couldn't help but be distracted by the pictures of very appetising looking food at very reasonable prices displayed around the servery in the cafeteria. I checked again to see if she was hungry, but the mention of meatballs in cream sauce made her go even paler than before, and anyway she was feeling better now, courtesy of a very sweet hot chocolate. She was fine and ready to continue. And no thanks, she didn't want anything to eat, at all. No Mum, definitely not. Couldn't face it.
But I just couldn't get those meatballs out of my mind, which is very strange for me because I am usually a bit sniffy about factory produced processed meat-products, especially frozen ones, declaring this type of food "nuclear waste" and refusing to have such spawn-of-the-Devil in the house. (If you've ever seen those programmes about how such meat is "reclaimed", you'll know exactly what I mean). But husband assured me that, being Swedish, the food standard would be high, the ingredients would be wholesome and the meatballs would be great. Apart from which, he fancied them too.
So in our large blue recycled Ikea carrier bag, alongside the kitchen brochures, we had one manly looking apron, one matching oven glove, one three way plug adapter with timer, twenty-four Dime bars, 1 kg of frozen Kottbullar Swedish meatballs, two packets of Graddsas cream "gravy" mix and a jar of Lingonsylt lingunberry jam - all for less than fifteen of your English pounds.
And even better, husband says he'll cook so that he can use his new apron and oven-glove, while I browse through the kitchen brochures.