I’ve said before, although I love my French life, there are some things about it that I’m not quite so keen on, one of them is the sheer distance you have to sometimes travel to get somewhere in France – in this case IKEA.
Some people might not like IKEA (mostly men) but I’m a big fan and there are times when I see they’ve bought something out that I think is really wonderful and iconic and I have to have it.
My whims and wants were fine in London as there are IKEAs everywhere or at least the stores aren’t far away from anywhere. In France although there are a growing number of IKEA stores, it’s such a big country that they’re not quite as accessible as one might like.
We were renovating the upstairs of the house and had allocated some space to a dressing room and I’d seen some wonderful little drawer cabinets with mirrors that I thought would look lovely and I wanted some of the pull out trouser hangers and shoe rack systems that IKEA do so well. I managed to persuade the Other Half that it wasn’t that far from our house to where the nearest IKEA is located and armed with the Sat Nav and a map we set off one morning for Henin-Beaumont.
The reality is that due to the maddening diversions that you come across from time to time, the Sat Nav lady playing up (I don’t think she likes us much – the OH is too independent) and my dismal map reading skills we finally arrived some two and a half hours later accompanied the entire time by grumbles and warnings that I would never ever again be driven by him to IKEA in France – unless they build one in a neighbouring village which would be unlikely as the nearest DIY store is a 45 minute drive!
We made our purchases and thankfully they had everything we wanted or I’d never have heard the end of it. Unlike the UK there’s more emphasis on form filling and ordering for collection than helping yourself from the shelves so it took a while but everyone was really helpful and friendly. Eventually we made our way back home – it had turned into a 178 mile road trip and taken just under 10 hours for my IKEA shopping trip – I thought it was worth it though, despite the OH acting as if I had asked him to boil his own head.
At least I thought it was worth it until we opened the packages the next day…
Unfortunately, I discovered that the lovely friendly staff at IKEA had given us the wrong drawer units – they were much too wide for the spaces I had allocated or I’d have just kept quiet. I hadn’t thought to check the numbers when we collected the items – I think I was probably too exhausted by the incessant grumbling of the OH by then. I phoned the IKEA branch and explained the problem, they confirmed they had the items we actually wanted in store and said they’d hold them for… 24 hours.
Next morning we wearily made our way back to IKEA and did the exchange – the drawer units look great now, but this is one time when I agree with the Other Half – it’s a shopping road trip too far (to do often anyway)!