So I should make it clear to start that I am not a natural 'late night' shopper. Apart from the odd post pub trip for crisps and chocolate in my younger childfree days I largely prefer to keep retail therapy for daylight hours. Not really sure why - maybe I'm scared the lighting will be wrong and I'll pick up the wrong kind of cheese or that I'm still freaked by my one visit to a 24 hour Asda where I was followed round by a woman in a leopard print dressing gown. 

Anyway because of this and also because these days if I am venturing out of the house in the dark there better be alcohol involved I tend to forget that many shops have opening  later than the end of CBeebies bedtime hour - IKEA being a classic example (9pm in our parts).

Now my love for IKEA is a long and sustained one - I can remember the days when people had to get day returns to Newcastle to get their fix. I swear the day it opened in Edinburgh I cried a little. In pre car days visits involved a two bus odyssey and once saw me even carry home a small dining table much to the amusement of the driver. A former colleague swears that by my slightly flushed cheeks and excited expression she could predict that was off to worship the big blue and yellow. 

There is something magical about IKEA with its Scandinavian style and surprising cheapness which of course means you always come out having bought at least ten things that you didn't actually need (but I really needed a napkin rack and five pairs of scissors honestly). I have spent many a happy hour wandering through its room displays imagining I am some Gothenburg Goddess feeding meatballs to my impossibly blonde children and arty looking friends at my Bjursta pull out table. 

Husband unfortunately does not see this magic but more of a place to purchase much needed 'storage solutions' when the toys threaten to take over. He takes much more of a grab and go approach. In one famous visit with the inlaws mother in law and I had barely got to the kitchens while he and his dad had bought, collected and paid for their items and were polishing off their second hot dog.

Back to the late night visiting thing - after a slight stressful Monday I felt in need of a treat so once the children were in bed I casually informed husband I was off out and grabbed my car keys and sped off into the night - destination Straiton (of course first I had to remember how to turn my car lights on - it had been a while). 

Oh it was so exciting - I felt like I had been released from prison. I could wander round and look at all the room displays, play with the 'mood' lighting although had to stop myself from having a quick bounce on the beds. I was able to indulge all my fantasies of how I would furnish my hip and trendy downtown Stockholm apartment and pick up a new washing up brush. Oh yeah and pick up the stool and desk for small boys room that was the reason for my visit. 

I tell you - its a different crowd of people that go there are night. This is the hard core shoppers. They have lists. measurements and probably iphone apps and are not just there for the free coffee (with the family card of course) and tealights. At one point during my wander I encountered a entire family (I swear three generations) arguing in an unknown foreign language over wardrobe doors. 

Slowly a drifted through the shop picking up the usual surprise purchases (I can use a green plastic box and January is the perfect time to grow herbs). Eventually I found the flat pack item I wanted and shock horror I would have to get a trolley it was too heavy for my yellow bag. Now I have a bit of a weird relationships with trolleys in IKEA for getting a trolley means you have to go to the pick up bit and I am scared rotten of it. I always think that a) I'll reverse into someones car or b) that I'll accidentally whack someone with my Billy bookcase as I manhandle it into the car in a Eric Sykes - The Plank style.

But with nine approaching I accepted my fate plonked my flatpack into the trolley with the rest of my shopping and moved on to the tills. Epic fail number one - I absentmindedly put my yellow bag on the belt and had to be told by the slightly embarrassed sales assistant that I wasn't allowed to take it. Oh the shame I knew that I could have bought a blue one but lets face it I have about twenty and its not like they are going to wear out this millennium. 

I hastily sped through the tills and was about to exit when I thought heck I'm almost on a night out here I'll have a wander round the food section. Somewhere I have a strange relationship with as I never actually like anything you get there but I spent so long browsing that I felt I had to buy something and was leaning towards a large bottle of mustard when I happened upon a new phenomenon - the IKEA pick and mix! Not like any other these are slightly strange looking sweets which in eating you are playing russian roulette that they might taste of chocolate or herring. And of course being pick and mix you have to select the lightest ones or you may end up paying more for it than you did for your kitchen.

Several more minutes were wasted selecting a small number of air filled sweets and then the nailbiting weighing process (worse that weightwatchers the first week of January) to find out whether I did indeed need to remortgage the house but no careful selection had only run up a bill of 84p - result. 

I grabbed my trolley and was about the stride purposefully out the door when I saw the checkout assistant gesturing wildly. In my haste to leave the yellow bag embarrassment behind I had left most of my shopping at the end of her till where it was dangerously threatening to mingle with the cushions and plant pot holders of the wardrobe argument family. 

So maybe that's the reason why I am not cut out for late night shopping - I get overexcited and make a fool of myself. Then again I wonder what time B&Q shuts I think we might just need some varnish. 



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    Fortysomething wife and mum of two. Surviving life in the Edinburgh burbs with the aid of facebook, gin and chocolate. !


    January 2014