It seems no weekend chez Nappy Valley is complete without a trip to our local branch of Bed, Bath and Beyond.
For the uninitiated, this shop - sorry, store - is an Aladdin's cave of household goods; the bastard child of the John Lewis kitchen and bedding departments, and Woollies in its heyday. In other words, perfect for people who have arrived in the US without things like ironing boards, coathangers and American-sized fitted sheets. It's not particularly posh, with a 'pile it high' approach to retail theatre, but its range is huge, and you can get everything there from a beach umbrella to mothballs.
If it weren't for the Littleboys, who use every visit as an excuse for racing up and down the escalators (signs saying 'no unsupervised children on escalators' are like red rags to bulls with them) ensuring I can't actually look at anything properly, I could spend many a happy hour browsing its upwardly stacked aisles.
The first time I went there, I just 'popped in' for some pillows while The Doctor waited in the car with the boys, who were asleep. On my return, a good half hour later, I remarked, "Well, lots of beyond but not sure what happened to bed and bath...". But it turned out I had been waylaid so long in the kitchen area that I failed to notice the entire second floor, which housed the bedroom and bathroom goods.
However, last weekend's mission to buy bedding was somewhat farcical. My father arrives for a visit next week and we need to kit out the spare bedroom. None of our standard double sheets fit the queen-sized beds here (in the US a double bed is called a 'full' and is definitely thought of as inferior). We also needed another duvet.
What we failed to realise is that is a whole new language to learn when it comes to bedding here. Even the way Americans make the beds is alien to us Brits, hailing from a culture where you either sleep directly under a duvet, or under a sheet and a blanket.
For a start, Americans don't have 'duvets', it seems. They have something called a 'comforter'. This is similar to but seemingly puffier than a European duvet. But, judging by the beds we've seen made up in showrooms, in the US you don't sleep under the comforter. You sleep under a flat sheet, with the comforter on top.
We were therefore confused to find something called a 'duvet cover' in a sheet set. What was this for? The comforter? How, I pondered, can you have a duvet cover if you don't have a duvet....?
Next problem. "What on earth is a 'sham'?" I exclaim in bewilderment, looking at the back of the sheet set packet. "Absolutely no idea," replies The Doctor. On closer inspection they appear to be tiny little pillow cases. Now, I know some people are big fans of what I would call 'throw cushions'; I am not, particularly. But here, these appear to be an essential part of whole bedding arrangement.
We departed, duvet-less and shamelessly sham-less, Brits baffled by bedding.
Still, it wasn't an entirely wasted trip.....while there, we managed to mysteriously acquire a brand new coffee-maker, as part of The Doctor's continuing quest to make his pefect cup of coffee in America. Yes, Bed, Bath and Beyond is doing very well out of us.