Chapter *10.7*


What the hell is going on? Helen's talking in bad French, we're being hit on by some lads who look like they are probably at Uni and I'm sat here flaunting my chest at anyone who looks my way.

“So where are you ladies from?” ginger Adam enquired.

“Kat and Sarah are from Germany an' Marie and myself from ‘olland. And where do you boys come?” Hel was controlling things and I just get the feeling the girls have pulled this stunt before.

“Steve's our only foreigner, he's from Derby, the rest of us are from this fine city,” Sam supplied.

Al poked Hel then whispered in her ear.

“We do not know this country Derby , where ees it please?” Talk about hamming it up.

“It's not a country,” Steve informed us, “just a town about twenty miles away.”

“So are you girls on holiday?” Rob asked, clearly determined to not let language get in the way of wooing.

“From ze college,” Ally joined in.

I won't subject you to any more of the play acting, it was embarrassing especially when Adam claimed to know a bit of German and tried it out on Mad who clearly didn't have a clue. So of course I had to translate, he wasn't that bad really but by the time he gave up I'm sure his confidence had taken quite a bashing. I might have been more up for it if I'd known in advance about the set up, but getting dropped in it like that, well…

It ended when the lads realised that we weren't in the market for any action, but I'll give them their due, they tried hard. Rob did manage to get his lips locked to Helen's at one point and Mad was certainly getting Steve a little warm under the collar.

“So what was that all about?” I demanded once they'd gone.

“Just a bit of fun,” Al offered.

“Last time we scored ice cream,” Hel chuckled.

“God, I nearly died when Ginger started with the German,” Mad told us.

“He was actually quite good.”

“Whatever, so what now?” my cousin enquired.

“Vic Centre?” Al suggested.

“What about up the Castle?” Hel put in her offer.

“Sounds good to me, Mad?”

“Castle's good,” she agreed.

I'd forgotten how I was dressed; standing up in the stilts soon reminded me.

“Any chance I can change first?”

“We'll do that up the castle.”

“Ma-ad,” I complained.

“Come on, the others are already outside.”

I sighed in resignation and clomped along behind her.


“This is the life,” Ally sighed before taking another lick of her ice cream.

“Hmm,” I agreed.

It certainly wasn't bad, laid in the sun, ice cream in hand, the sounds of the city a distant hum. So okay I was still wearing the stupid dress but my feet were now free of the tortuous heels and I luxuriated in having the grass in direct contact with my tootsies.

“What's the time?” Hel asked.

“Just turned two,” I supplied.

“Bum. We need to shake a leg, Mum'll go ape if we're not back on time.”

“You and Mad go first, we'll look after the bags,” Al proposed.

Helen and Mad set off for the loos, which allowed me and Ally to finish our Eis before our turn. They weren't actually gone more than five minutes but it felt like a lot longer.

“Come on Gab, hurry up.”

“This dress is tight,” I moaned.

“You need a hand?”

“No, got it now.”

“Don't bother changing your bra, we haven't got time.”

Good advice, I tugged my t-shirt into place and dragged my shorts up, slipping my feet into my trainers as I straightened everything out. The others were impatiently waiting when we emerged from the lav's, its not far to the tram stop but we had to cross the dual carriageway which cost us nearly five minutes, luckily we reached the stop just seconds before a northbound tram.


“I thought we'd messed up there,” Hel sighed .

“We should have a few minutes to spare,” I observed.

“Good day, eh?” Mad proposed.

Having been on the receiving end of Mad's prank with the dress and getting dropped in at the deep end in MacDonald's® I wasn't entirely in agreement with that observation. The tram rattled and clanged up over the hill then dropped down to the Park & Ride.

“Our stop,” I prompted.

We got off and headed for our transport, arriving to find a locked car.

“Ha, it's Mum that's late,” Hel crowed.

“No she's not, she must've been on the same tram.” I indicated where I could see Mrs. J navigating the car park.

“Drat, I thought I'd got one over her,” Helen grumbled .

“Okay girls?”

“Yes Mum.”

“Let's get on then, if we're lucky we'll hit Ikea before the evening rush.”


We clambered into the little Nissan and were soon heading towards the motorway and the Swedish furniture store a little beyond. I'd got myself in the corner this time and while the others chatted I found myself dozing off.

“We could leave her here,” Mad suggested.

“Eh?” I groggily gasped.

“First mention of food,” Al giggled.


“Come on Gabs, we're gonna eat here after Mrs. J has got her shopping.” Mad supplied.

“Hang on then.”

I extricated myself from the Micra's back seat and joined the others.

“Looks like your Mum's found a trolley,” Ally noted.

“Yeah.” Helen agreed as she pointed the lock fob at the car, which beeped in reply.

We ambled up to the entrance where Hel's mum was waiting for us.

“Okay girls?”

“Yeah, Gab woke up,” Helen advised.

“I can see that, come on, we should get round before the tea time rush.”


You've all been to Ikea right? A maze of soft furnishings, cheap and not so cheap furniture, gizmo's and gifts. There are short cuts but they are well hidden so 99% of visitors end up winding their way around the whole store. Back home in Germany there are quite a few stores so you don't get the crowds that epitomize any visit to Ikea to the UK's handful of locations.

Mrs. J clearly knew what she wanted, managing not to be distracted too much by the displays, the four of us trailing in her wake.



“Shouldn't we ring Aunt Carol to tell her we're eating here?”

“I should let my mum know too,” Ally noted.

“I guess so.” Mad agreed pulling out her Handy, I mean mobile.

“Mum...Ikea, we're gonna eat here…dunno, seven maybe…what the little ones in a bag?…I guess…I suppose so…with dill?…I'll see what they've got…yeah…alright…yes Mum…by-ee , ” Mad ended the call.

“Sounded complicated.”

“No kidding, I've got a shopping list now,” Mad moaned.

“You'll have to ride on the roof if there's too much,” Hel joked.

“I bet she wants tea lights,” Al chimed in.

It is a bit of a standing joke that nearly everyone takes a bag of mini candles home, it's like a compulsion.

“How'd you guess,” Mad giggled, ”she wants a jar of herring and a bag of meatballs too.”

“Haute cuisine Swedish style,” Hel chuckled.

Mrs. Joyce had by now disappeared into the kitchen department so we hurried through the maze in pursuit, dodging toddlers and pensioners and fraught mothers. Our quarry was soon located perusing oven dishes.

“Hi Mum,” Hel announced our presence .

“There you are, what do you think, red or white?”

“Has to be the red, white is so boring.”

“Maybe you're right. You girls found anything?”

“I've got a shopping list off Mum,” Mad volunteered.

“Let me guess, tea lights?”

Of course that set everyone off in a bout of giggles – I know but I couldn't help myself.


I don't know where the time went but it was nearly five by the time we found a table in the restaurant by which time I was starving.

“Meatballs everyone?” Manda enquired.

“Yes please,” yum .

“Best get Gabs the twelve, she's got hollow legs,” Mad chortled.

“Have not.”

“If you say so.”



“I don't need to ask you Helen,” her Mum stated.

“I'm hurt,” Hel pretended to pout.

“Won't be long.”

Whilst the place wasn't super busy I think she had to wait for more meatballs as it was nearly twenty minutes before she returned bearing a tray of meaty delight.

“Hel, get the drinks please love.”


“Here we go, twelve for Drew and Helen,” she plonked the plates onto the table, “and six for the rest of us.”

“Mad was only joking,” I protested.

“Eat what you can.”

I can easily eat them, but like you don't exactly ask for a bigger portion when someone else is paying do you?

“Ha, she got you twelve then Gab, race you.”

“Helen Joyce, what have I told you?”


“Don't you mum me, young lady.”

“No Mum,” Hel sighed.

I'm not into eating contests anyhow, which is just as well as Helen finished her plate well before me; I prefer to savour each and every meaty morsel. I have to say that I was pretty stuffed by the time I was done, happy but full.

to be continued....

© Maddy Bell 15.05.12

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