Cheese and Gooseberry Jam

In Practice, Production on February 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm

“I’m so fed up of not having anywhere to put things!”

“Then stop buying shoes.”

It was right about then that Sunday started getting a little tetchy. We had about eighty percent of our things in the new place and the old place was a mess of boxes and electricity cables and sundry debris.

The morning and afternoon had been spent to-ing and fro-ing with Kia Picanto-sized portions of our life. Our new house was coming round slowly, as opposed to leaping up at our chests like a keen puppy. It had its annoying qualities – whenever I tried to hang a picture the wall flaked – and its limitations; storage space.

It doesn’t quite have the old world charm of the little casco apartment we are vacating although it will – without a doubt – be a major upgrade in terms of space, indoors and out. I am particularly excited about our private patio and the open air shade it will provide in the hot months. I will have a garden where I can plant edible things. We’ll see whether anything grows; plants tend to just lie down and die when they see me coming.

“You’re stupid”, said K.

“Shut up”, I replied.

“I hate you today”, she countered.

Then we did another run in Polly.

Why hadn’t we noticed how small the new kitchen was? Or that there weren’t any window sills? We’re heavily window sill reliant because we have all these little figures and candle-holders and what not. No chest of drawers in the bedroom.

Why hadn’t we checked more carefully? The back door isn’t properly secure and there is an alarmingly large rust spot in the bath. When we viewed the place the enterprising real estate agent had concealed the spot with a bath mat.

The lying bitch.

As deceitful, lazy, inert and worthless as she has been though (getting a sense of my state of mind yet?), she did give us the keys a week early, which made the move possible. How we expected to do it otherwise doesn’t speak too well of our grip on reality. We were at it for three days solid, till late last night, and that’s after a week of smaller runs. To be fair, I think the people at Kia would be the first to admit that the Picanto is not to be recommended for furniture removals.

It’s Monday now and my first morning alone in the house; a semblance of my normal routine, with added cardboard chaos. The coming week will see a much needed calming down.

The trip to Jerez on Saturday was an unexpected addition to our to-do list. An hour and a half away, it isn’t the kind of thing you might expect of two people in the middle of moving house, but there is something very, very special about Jerez. Something that calls out even to those who have boxes to unpack; you might say especially to those who have boxes to unpack. It has an Ikea

Ikea; clever people, the Swedes. They’ve made a success story out of a blue and yellow behemoth that sucks in the unsuspecting – starry-eyed and home-making, high as kites on dreamy domesticity and full of vim. Then it spits out the husks of these former people: broke and bickering, confused by unforeseen purchases and laden with furniture they will have to build themselves.

It’s all done very well, especially for families. If you like, you can dump your children in the child dump the minute you’re inside the door. Then it’s up the magic escalator to home decor heaven.

“Honey, look at this! We could put it in the corner under the window!”

“What is it?”

“It’s…eh…it’s very well designed is what it is! Jesus, what is it with you and the negativity?”

“Ok. Make a note of the number.”

It’s like the yellow brick road without the yellow as you saunter through sitting room sector and kitchen corner, bathroom boulevard and dining…well, you get the picture.

“These cubes would be perfect!”

“But they don’t have doors. The crockery would get dusty.”

“We could slot in some of these purple plastic drawers!”

“Ok. Write the number down.”

It’s all about solutions, you see. Basically, there isn’t anything the people at Ikea haven’t thought of before you. And it’s all so easy! You just write numbers down and at the end of the rat run, I mean display hall, there’s a restaurant!

I love restaurants!

Time for a coffee and perhaps some Swedish meatballs (meatballs to you and me) before venturing downstairs, whereupon there’s something of a change in ambiance. You’re in a shitty warehouse now, and it’s time to go to work. No, Ikea don’t have staff. Yes, you have to find and carry everything yourself and yes, you will have to navigate a mini-city of temptingly displayed impulse buys.

All very dizzying, and then of course we were spat out. It’s like the crash after a sugar binge. While it looked cute upstairs, there is absolutely nothing charming about the Anaböda chest of drawers with frosted glass front panels when you’re trying to navigate all 30kg of it across a windy car park on an errant trolley and into the back of a tiny car with two shelving units, a lantern, a waste paper basket, two large plant pots, a full length mirror, four candles, two toilet brushes and a palm tree.

Absolutely nothing at all.

Nearly time to go to work. Not sure how I’m going to deal with screaming children today. Probably by being unfair and randomly punitive. I take a bite of my lunch – a trophy from the one thing about the Ikea experience I like unambiguously; the deli on the way out. My personal source of mature Swedish cheese and gooseberry jam.

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  1. I totally relate to the Ikea experience. Am charmed as I meander through, get tired, snarf down the meatballs and back to shopping. I can tell you, a woman should NEVER go alone to Ikea. Wrestled with putting a 6 foot palm into the back seat of my car. Butt in air, my cart rolled off and had a head on with an on coming car. Cart tips over dumping my debris. Dirt spilled everywhere in the car from the palm. I was swearing and then near tears. Then had to return the rental car. omg. Glad you are in your new home.

  2. I wish there is an ikea closer to my area, I would love to go eat their Swedish Meatballs on weekly basis =DD

    Ikea would be better if they allow people to order everything online….saves the pain to go down and carry those things X_X

  3. …or if you could just get someone else to it for you. I’m much more a leafing-through-the-catalogue type.

    Maybe that’s my real problem – that I don’t have a butler…

  4. Oh Robin! I have moved 6 times in Spain and have been many times to Ikea, which I now avoid. I have to buy a table ( my mother is coming to visit) and we COULD go to Ikea, but I won’t because it’s not healthy for my relationship with A, my partner! And I hate Ikea, the come down.

    You’ve nailed it here: “They’ve made a success story out of a blue and yellow behemoth that sucks in the unsuspecting – starry-eyed and home-making, high as kites on dreamy domesticity and full of vim. Then it spits out the husks of these former people: broke and bickering, confused by unforeseen purchases and laden with furniture they will have to build themselves.”

    Good luck to you, it gets better (until the pipes spring a leak and all your walls are damp for 2 months, that’s where I’m at right now….)


  5. What a time of year for that to happen – damp and cold. Hope it gets fixed soon.

  6. Moving is never easy and my heart does go out to both of you. For me, moving always ups the emotional ante. But it is those three little words that drive me over the deep end…. “Some Assembly Required”

  7. The voice of experience! And to think we’ve only relocated by a few streets this time! But whatever the distance, the process does seem to expose you; to time, to predators, to uncertainty.

    We’re not complaining. Life is good. Just wanted to call it as I see it.

  8. I hate to admit this but I have never been to an Ikea! I can, however, completely relate to shopping with my husband. Its why I usually leave him home 🙂 Enjoyed reading about your adventure.

  9. Ah yes, us Scandinavians you know… everything is do-it-yourself. Don’t even have serviced petrol stations up here. Or serviced anything else. That said, Ikea can be ordered online.

  10. Thank you for making me laugh! We just moved in Sept, after moving the previous year as well and I’m always surprised at how little storage space there is when you try to unpack your stuff, compared to what you thought there would be. And don’t even get me started on Ikea, we have a love/hate relationship. Hope you had a really bratty kid to take your frustration out on 🙂

  11. Ikea has taken over Singapore too. The Singaporeans have a different attitude to it than you and I, though. It’s more of a museum-y type place. You pack up your extended family, wander round slowly, encouraging the children to play in the kids area, jump on the beds, spin on every swivel chair… There is no consideration given to people who actually have a job to do — buying stuff. No one damn-well moves out of the way. They just clump around like grazing cows. I found Singapore Ikea infinitely more frustrating than Australian Ikeas. Especially when, on our first trip, we discovered the high chair we went there to buy was out of stock.

    I’d also like extra sympathy points for having to take our Ikea purchases home on the bus. We couldn’t afford a car in Singapore.

    Oh, I’m so happy to have moved to northern Thailand, out of Ikea’s insidious reach.

  12. […] It is K’s contention that I make a poor companion when it comes to enjoying the many delights that Ikea has to offer; I don’t like admitting to my faults any more than the next person but in this case I would have to concede the point – in Ikea one actually ascends into hell and the second my foot leaves the top of the infernal escalator the crankiness kicks in like clockwork. […]

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