It’s a case of you don’t know what you’ve got until you don’t have it – and that’s just the case when it comes to Ikea. I’m used to having a number of Ikea stores to choose from, but in Ireland there was none at all until December when the Belfast store opened.

Yesterday Lissi and I hired a car, a 7 seater Renault Megane, and headed up north. We left Sandymount at 10:30am, headed straight through the deserted Port Tunnel and hit the carpark at Ikea at 11:45am – pretty good going for such a distance! The store opened for browsing at noon, so we managed to get a car spot really close to the front – something we’d be very grateful for later on.

Ikea Belfast follows the same general pattern as every other Ikea – that is the concept of being trapped in an Ikea world with no hope of escape. Totally disorientating, but obviously a winning formula. We soon spotted about 1000 setups that we wanted, but which wouldn’t fit into our tiny flat.

After a few hours we settled on an Ivar unit for the kitchen – and after much tooing and froing and careful studying of the display models, we think we’ve found our solution – will be intersting to see if it works as well as we think it will. You wouldn’t think that you could spend a half hour discussing the virtues of boxes vs drawers, but in Ikea anything is possible.

Next on the agenda was my shoes. I’d settled on a PAX system and carefully measured up my room, deciding on the 236cm wardrobe model. Luckily I decided to discuss my decision with one of the Ikea staff members. Turns out that they didn’t have the frame in my first chioce of colour. My second choice there was a frame but no shelves. My third choice was completely out of stock… ooh, but what if I use a different door? That would totally change the concept… and how about if I went to a smaller frame, what’s in stock there? I think we went back and forth for about an hour with poor Steven before I settled on what I was going to buy – poor lad, I’m sure we’ll rate up there as nightmare customers.

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