I can hardly wait until my son is three years old, and it’s got nothing to do with him learning to talk and sharing exactly what’s going on under those golden curls of his. It’s because that’ll be the day I can safely deposit him in the Ikea creche, amidst the field of mult-coloured plastic balls, to share bodily fluids, germs and who knows what else with scores of other strange children (do they ever clean underneath those balls? I have my doubts). Then I’ll have a whole hour to myself while I cruise the Lack shelves, dither over dinnerware in the marketing hall and watch other couples arguing about which colour sofa to buy. If I’m feeling really indulgent, I might treat myself to some gravadlax and a cinammon danish in the cafe. But until then, even now Ikea is still a pretty good option for a daytrip – it’s a sad reality that these days, for me, heading to a grey concrete retail park in Edmonton actually constitutes a treat. If it’s Monday to Friday, you get a free cup of coffee or tea courtesy of your Family Card (though whatever you do, don’t choose the mint tea. This isn’t actually herbal peppermint tea. It’s ordinary black tea that has somehow been infused with essence of After Eight. Except nowhere near as nice as that sounds. Some things aren’t worth having for nothing.) The restaurant at Edmonton also has a circular sensory soft play area, surrounded by a sort of breakfast bar where you can perch with a cuppa, and watch your tiddler roll around, gaze at the pwetty lights, and try and eat a piece of fluff and another child’s manky half-eaten ricecake. It may not sound much, but have you tried having a cappuccino with a squirming 10-month-old on your lap recently? Watch and learn Starbucks. And of course, if you so wish, you can buy any number of cheap-as-chips stuffed toys, storage baskets and tupperware. Fact: it’s simply not possible to go to Ikea and spend less than £100, even if you have no idea exactly what it was that you bought when you get home, except for a couple of drinking glasses and a lightbulb.

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