Wednesday, April 2, 2008

National Lampoon's IKEA excursion

Finally, the first London blog.

By now we’ve been in London for 7 weeks .... can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. After 2 weeks of pounding the pavement looking for a place to live, registering personally with 15 – 20 real estate agents (cos anything advertised on the internet isn’t actually available anymore ...) and two unsuccessful offers on other places we’ve now moved into our London home.

Pretty early on we decided the area we wanted to live in, which is important when the only mode of transport you own is your feet. It’s essential to be close to transport, grocery shops, etc. It’s even nicer when you’re close to your mates, a bit of green space (Clapham Common), fresh food markets on Fridays and Saturdays (2 mins walk down the road) and a plethora of bars and restaurants ... all of which we are! Plus the street we live in has a real residential feel to it (lots of terrace houses). If you haven’t figured it out yet ... WE LOVE IT.

We ended up renting an unfurnished place (certainly not our original plan) as the number of fully furnished places was few and far between. So ‘hi-ho-hi-ho’ off to Ikea we go ...

Being the anal retentive I am, before we went to Ikea I’d trawled through the online catalogue and made a list of the stuff we might buy and determined a reasonable budget. I’d also organised a van for the day to get our stuff home in ... so it was going to be a cinch. Silly me. We (well at least I) didn’t realise that Ikea was like the Bermuda triangle .... once you went in you entered a different time/space dimension and you come out hours later wondering what happened. We also didn’t realise you couldn’t just go to the front counter with your order, they’d collect everything for you and load your van (yes, I've had a spoiled existence I know). You needed to navigate your way through the labyrinth of household goods and cover kilometres of an indoor maze, check the stock location of each of your items, put it all onto trolleys and take it through checkouts (a lot of work when you’re buying a house full of stuff!!). So after 4 trips through the checkouts and to the van (the amount we could physically carry each trip) we found ourselves with little time to return home, unload our gear and return the van. Oh bugger, and its Easter Thursday traffic and its raining.

That’s when the real trouble began ....We were just out of the IKEA carpark and in a traffic jam at a roundabout when a very kind man let Matt (and our trusty LONG van) onto the roundabout into a NOT SO LONG space. Even worse when the car just in front of you is a semi trailer with a very tough steel tray. We almost got around it in once piece when we created a sizable scratch/dent down the side of the van. Don’t think the driver of the semi even knew we touched him. Great, no need to stop .... cos now we have even less time. Luckily we’d paid an extra £10 that morning to reduce the excess on our insurance (see, being an anal retentive does have its benefits).

The traffic was pretty horrendous the whole way home so I rang the rental car company to see if we could return the van the next day to no avail. The very friendly (NOT) lady informed us we needed to have the car back in 45 mins as someone had already rented the van out from that night. There was absolutely no way we could unload all our purchases into our new place and return the van in that time. Ever the solution finders, the only option was to dump everything we bought on the side of the road (unfortunately not right outside our place ... damn London parking) and for Matt to return the van himself while I tried to fend off potential scavengers from nicking our stuff. Luckily Matt’s mate David was in the area so he came and stood watch over our stuff intimidating passer-bys with his weapon of choice (an umbrella) while I started the endless process of carrying our stuff the 100m to our front door and up a flight of stairs.

But story isn’t all bad ... a neighbour, who introduced himself as Gorgeous Dave, saw a damsel in distress and felt compelled to help out. What an angel! He carried all of our stuff from the side of the road, 100m from our place, to the bottom of our stairs where I proceeded to carry it up the flight of stairs into our flat. Kinda didn't tell him I had a boyfriend on his way home at this stage ... is that terrible of me?!?!

But then it came to our couch. Yep, you guessed it, the doorway was for midgets and we had an average sized 3 seater couch. So Gorgeous Dave decided it was going through the window a floor up ... panic started to ensue. Luckily this was when Matt arrived back from returning the slightly (ok, a little more than slightly) damaged van. So, at Gorgeous Dave’s instruction, the boys and I manoeuvred the couch past our new neighbour’s window (‘hello neighbour’) and through our lounge window.

So enough about that ... the rest of the story is a good one (as long as you don’t count trying to get utilities like phone/internet connected). Matt has been rather taken with the ‘market-style granny trolley’ and has purchased his own. After my initial hysterical laughter at my pensioner boyfriend I have to admit it’s come in handy for the other stuff we’ve needed to buy. Off Matt goes with his trusty granny trolley to the Indian £2 shops and comes back with goods-a-plenty. Our place already feels like home. Pics below.

Enough raving on for the moment ... no doubt our next instalment will be about our new jobs ... or not (te, he!!)


Sue said...

We'd like the bed with the giraffe on please!

Sue and Brian

Nick and Nicole O'Connor said...

Hi guys

looks like a great spot you have here... good luck with the job hunting

Nick and Nicole

Sue said...

When are we getting the next installment of the unemployed picnickers. Must be some stories there. Perhaps the Devon and Cornwall trip might stir up the imagination.

Sue and Brian

Lee said...

So I like that you're already picking up the vernacular, such as 'nicked'. That's just smashing.

I'm surprised you had hassles with your couch though. If it truly was from IKEA it would have come in a shoebox and you're biggest problem would involve an Allen key.