What do you do when you’re on a hot date sans baby with only two hours to fill? Visit the largest home furnishings store in the southern hemisphere of course! Well… actually, we started out the night with the best of intentions. With only a few hours to fill, a movie was out of the question so we dropped by our favourite sushi-restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named and ordered up. I think I may have gone off sushi. I am not sure how or why this has happened but it really didn’t go down too well at all. So that puzzled me and was slightly disappointing plus we were massively tired and grumpy and at one point I announced that this was the worse date ever. Perhaps I was exaggerating just a little, especially when the sushi-restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named chef sent us over a couple of free icecreams and things started looking a little brighter.
So then we were at a loss as to what to do next. We headed on down Victoria Street and voilà! IKEA’s new super store presented itself as the perfect Hot Date spot. It was 8.30 so even though the store has been only open a week or so and from all reports is a crazy, crazy place to visit and should be avoided if one has an aversion to crowds I figured that only a very few people would really want to spend their Saturday night killing time at IKEA half an hour before closing. And we have come to the conclusion that IKEA at 8.30 on a Saturday night is the perfect place to go on a date. Not only can you oooh and ahhh at amazing amounts of Scandinavian cheap design, but there are hundreds of little mini apartments / rooms done up to look as though someone really lives in them and at 8.30pm they look very lived in. It’s as though you get to walk through all these little houses and peer into someone else’s life. Most of the beds looked as though someone had just got out of them sporting huge hang-overs, rugs were rumpled and tripped over and most of the bathrooms even looked as though some one had just used them – greasy finger marks on mirrors and rubbish in the display rubbish bins.
There was a kind of surreal atmosphere created by over tired kids, frazzled parents, inner-city hipsters and eager-to-get-out-of-there IKEA store people, all following the arrows on the floor that allow for no short cuts. With a guy announcing periodically over the loud speaker that the store would be closing in “20 minutes…” 15, 10 and 5, there was a slight sense of panic to get through all the different sections. A sales assistant told me that the record for getting from the start of the store to the end is 7 minutes. You would have to be truly belting through the place at a rate of knots to do it 7 minutes. The most amazing thing about IKEA is the pure hugeness of the store. The smell of pine gets a bit much, and if you actually wanted to buy something the queues at the cash registers were phenomenal but it was definitely an experience. In fact, I would go as far as to say that IKEA Richmond would be a great place to go after dinner (and a few ales) on a first date. You can wander aimlessly through the store and there are plenty of opportunities to make gags, gawp at other people and suss out what kind of person your date really is. Does he go for the slightly bizarre ILEN tv bench? Perhaps he goes crazy in the pots and pans section (a good sign for sure) or maybe he keeps smoothing down quilt covers and tugging at stray threads hanging from sofas, all the while tsk-ing over little kids who are experiencing IKEA in their own way.
Following our trip to homewares heaven, we dashed over to Borders to kill the last half hour and browsed the magazine section along with the multitudes of others who were perched on any surface possible flicking through their chosen mags. I purchased the Martha Stewart trifecta (1, 2, 3 – I really need to do something about this Martha Stewart fixation. It’s getting a bit sad and expensive) and we got out of there within the “free half hour” car parking time limit. So our date that could have been the worst date ever turned out to be pretty fun.
And P? I wasn’t scared of those swans on Sunday. I was wary. And rightly so. They were big, mean and hungry (but they did have very pretty wing feathers).