On Friday my husband took the day off and we went and bought our new kitchen from Ikea.
Such a simple statement. The reality was more involved. Building progress determined that Friday was the day to go and collect the kitchen we had designed, redesigned and taken several previous visits to Ikea to prepare for.
We woke minutes before the plasterer arrived, and then had to order a kitchen sink before setting off, so that it would be ready for the joiner next week. It couldn’t have been ordered before as the plumber had a say in the size of the sink unit. As a washing machine and (potentially also) a dishwasher were due to be delivered in the morning, dad was called in to house-sit, as the builder has been erratically present recently, owing to a bad tooth. We showed dad things where important things like milk and recycling bins live in our make-shift kitchen and explained waht to do should various appliances arrive (or not). He had a large book to read about Churchill and a chance of picking up a computer later in the day.
As I am not allowed to carry things heavier than a baby, my mum was also called in to share the Ikea experience. We had booked to hire a big white van from the wrong end of town (via the tiling shop we decided not to go with, who wanted their brochures back) and drive to Ikea and back as early as we reasonably could. In the process she discovered that the slightly incorrect address on her driving licence might cost her £1500 if the DVLA ever realise. Mum is a good driver and took us all the way there, while I pretended not to be hungry.
We arrived in time to eat a packed lunch by the outdoor play area and headed in hoping to meet with the kind of nice person you might expect to be working in the Ikea kitchen department over a normal lunch hour. Which is what we got. Christina was courteous, thoughtful, competent, professional and even praised us up for our preparation and understanding. She uploaded our final kitchen design, ordered the parts which weren’t available in store (with free delivery) and came to check as we were looking for them whether we could find everything. It turned out she was the duty manager. The fridge, as well as 90% of the parts were in stock, and I counted them off as my husband and my mum loaded them on to four trolleys. Not all the bar codes could face the right way, but it didn’t matter.
We had fun queuing with four trolleys and a fridge, and didn’t get too many looks from people. At one point we had to detour up to the kitchen department again, but I forget why. After loading up and a stop for a 50p hot dog and chips, we set off.
Friday rush hour traffic is never great fun on the M25, but we hit a queue which was over 8 car games long, and stretched for an hour and a half to reach the A14. I spied some remarkable things on the way, some of which the others guessed. Most drivers were very good about queuing and did not push in at the end, but the driving part was not easy. My husband was very good about not losing his cool and did a long stint before admitting it was worth swapping over so mum could do the rest.
My mum had to be home early in order to have a quick meal and get out for a concert rehearsal – and be ready to pick up my sister from 30 miles away. The delays meant that we had to take her straight back home and call in a favour from a work colleague of my husband’s, so as to unload the van.
In the end mum did end up driving to collect my sister from a cold station late at night, but it meant that we were able to meet her the next day in town. She has hardly been around since she returned to the UK, as she got a three week job working on a Churchill production. I am still hoping she will get time to help us paint the baby room before it arrives!
Tonight my brother and sister-in-law are popping over to give us some home-cooked food. It is good timing, and may be their way of thanking us, as my husband and his dad installed our old dishwasher in their kitchen for them. I have to say, the microwave meals in Sainsburys can be good, but I am pining for real food again.
This is the fifth week of the builders, and we may not have use of the new kitchen for a week or two. But at the weekend the in-laws are over again to help install units, tile floors or walls and paint. In whichever order is most appropriate.
I don’t know what I’d do if all these people weren’t in my life, helping out and carrying us through. At times I wish I could do more lifting and DIY, but there seems to be a fair bit of that going on in my body at the moment. Which is why I think people are fantastic right now.