Country mouse on how to avoid Ikea

To my shame, I’m appalling at DIY and I have the scars to prove it, including a missing tip to one finger. Despite a year’s woodwork at school, I’m simply hopeless, a danger to both the house and myself.

These days, I don’t really attempt it, but our recent move has brought the dreaded word Ikea back into my life. I know assembling a flat pack is barely DIY, but things have gone wrong in the past. Always.

We needed some wardrobes, bookcases and a desk for the computer. I was beginning to wonder which bit of my body would have to be sacrificed next, when Mrs Hedges suggested that we go and have a look at the Prospect Auction Rooms in Alresford. There, in a freezing warehouse, packed to the rafters with objects of every possible taste, description and quality, we picked out different lots, from Edwardian chests to a mahogany sideboard.

Two hours later, after a few nods of my head, we’d got everything we wanted for less than £200. Back home, my drill and screwdrivers can remain in their cobwebbed shed as there’s nothing to do and that, for me, is a very real measure of success.