How to Win the Grand National using your children

In the spirit of the late Queen Mother’s Devon Loch disaster, here’s how to survive this year’s Grand National with children. With racing tips (runners’ names in caps – apart from IKEA, which, to be clear, is not the name of a horse) and Bing Bunny and Plop commentating, just for the hell of it.

“There are too MANY CLOUDS. Looks like BLACK THUNDER,” NW says, biting his lip. He wants to know why don’t all just stay in and watch the Grand National, rather than embarking on a family trip to IKEA.

“We have to BUY WISEly after that ONE NIGHT IN VIENNA,” I say, stuffing the rucksack with fourteen nappies, all of which are probably the wrong size. “Come on; the people LIVING NEXT DOOR to NG’s nursery have just been there and got their kitchen. And the SPLASH OF GINGE on the carpet after NG spilt juice makes me feel we’re living in a KNOCK HOUSE.”

“We’re DOING FINE. In this FINANCIAL CLIMATE, anyway,” says NW with a slight bristle. “And the people next door don’t have children.”

“Mummy, can we go to the swings?” asks NG, who has leftover chocolate rabbit hanging from her bottom lip.

NG liked the contents of this pen. I liked the pen.

NG liked the contents of this pen. I liked the pen.

“Your brother’s napping – we can’t leave him ON HIS OWN,” I say. “And no; we’re going in the car in a minute.”

“I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to IKEA,” says NG, dancing up and down in Peppa Pig sandals, despite the weather.

“Alright,” sighs NW, looking like THE LAST SAMURI. “Bet Prince William’s watching it.”

“Bet he isn’t,” I puff. “They’re off to India on Monday, so Kate’ll be making him help plastic pack her dresses. Don’t worry; I’ll SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR.” And off we go.

shopping on grand national day: what a good ikea.

Bing Bunny (BB): Awwww. Good afternoon and welcome to a rainy Saturday at IKEA. They’re about to go into the holding area for the 10.30 mid-morning arrival scrum so, Plop, over to you.
Plop: (P): Thank you, Bing. That’s right. The four runners for this first Toddler Handicap over three floors are just beginning to struggle up to the start. But that’s ok. It’s good to struggle sometimes, Bing.

That’s Not George (NG); on her toes but somewhat hindered in totally inappropriate shoes. Beautifully turned out, having found a Clinique chubby stick before leaving the house, she looks a right royal picture. And just coming into our picture is Not Charlotte (NC). Now Bing, NC is an immature colt – only six months old – he’s a baby. So we must be quiet. He is excellent at waking up the rest of the field and can be relied upon to turn any event messy. He’s also rumoured to be a bit of a kicker and biter. (We don’t bite, do we Bing?)

There’s the veteran of the field – six year old (that’s mid-thirties in horse years, Bing. That’s really quite old), Not William (NW), moving towards the first real hurdle: negotiating a double seater children’s trolley. A steady performer, Not William but when faced with a Liatorp TV storage combo, has been known to do real damage.

And there’s our favourite, just going towards the sofa by the entrance – Not Kate (NK). A matronly filly, she’s blinkered for most of the time to protect her from bad behaviour from the youngsters.

A quick mention of the favourite but sadly non-runner, Not Lupo (NL). Poor NL. We’ve just heard he won’t be running today, Bing, because – well, they don’t allow dogs in IKEA. But I think he would have enjoyed the challenging ground floor and the elk sausage.

Thoroughbred/thoroughbed ...

Thoroughbred/thoroughbed …

Now the remaining three runners appear to be looking well; NW leading the pack. Oh dear, NC! NC is rearing up! (That’s not a euphemism, Bing, so don’t get any ideas.) He tends to get excited when he’s tired. I remember he had to be retired early at Paulton’s Park. Yes, they’re going to put the hood over him. And now, a late show of betting. Over to you, Bing Bunny.

BB: Awww, thank you, Plop. Hoppity Voosh enjoyed that. NW has toughened up a half a point to 11/8, NK is evens, NG and NC both odds.

P: Yes, and as expected, NL is the 100/1 complete outsider. And that’s it – they’ve got the two maverick young ones in. NG is refusing to be contained but … they’re under starter’s orders and they’re off!

  • NG got a flyer and a tiny pencil and is the first away, with a rather ungainly but speedy start along the nice smooth course.
  • NK, starting from a resting position, was slowly away
  • And as they settle down it’s NG from NW and NG, with the blinkered NK doggedly trailing behind, trying desperately to eye up chrome mixer taps.
  • All faces turn to NC, who is being belligerant and rearing up again.
  • As they start to climb the towards sitting room storage, it’s NC who strains to break free from NW’s controlling lead.
  • NK is now hanging slightly to the left, looking a little bit tired. Ahead of her is NW, striding hungrily towards the restaurant.
  • There is NG again, challenging NW and putting him under pressure, with a request for ice-cream but NW steels his reserve and NG finds nothing.
  • And as they race to the line it’s NW being pressed by NW, who it must be said is carrying NC, with NK making rapid progress, trying to squeeze in between Aisle 40 and an overloaded trolley.
  • And NW’s coming in with a late run as he spies the meatballs sign … NC and NG compete to get their fluffy mice through the checkout.
  • NW and NK are tiring simultaneously – it must be a photo.
  • I can’t separate them, Bing, but I think NW takes first with a last burst of energy as he finds hidden reserves and the IKEA family card.

BB: Awwww, that was one hell of a race (sorry for swearing, Plop. I didn’t meeeeeean to). NK may just have taken first place in the last stride but I wouldn’t like to bet on it. ‘Cos I don’t like making any of my own decisions. And now it’s back to baby wrestling in Norwich.

Two little winners.

Two little winners.



Characters are abbreviated as follows:

NW – not William (husband and father)

NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)

NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and six month old)


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  1. April 5, 2016 / 10:41 am

    Yeah! A draw! What a fun way to get through a trip to IKEA with 2 small children! #marvmonday

  2. April 5, 2016 / 11:48 am

    A fun way to think about IKEA, it does feel like a bit of a race going through there with children.
    Thanks for sharing with #LetKidsBeKids

    • April 5, 2016 / 12:24 pm

      Definitely does – just like the Grand National in my opinion; so many hurdles! xx

  3. April 6, 2016 / 6:51 am

    Great post! I’ll be the horse that turns round and legs it the other way!! #bestandworst

  4. April 6, 2016 / 7:52 am

    Haha good old Ikea, love this. #bestworst

  5. April 6, 2016 / 8:59 am

    Haven’t had the pleasure of taking a child to IKEA, the one local is too many trains away. #bestandworst

    • April 6, 2016 / 9:31 am

      I wouldn’t recommend it unless you get a beer afterwards and they are big enough for Smaland. #bestandworst

  6. April 6, 2016 / 9:25 am

    I find myself dearly wishing that NL could have come along and joined in. Dogs in IKEA would be amazing. Personally, I love a trip to Ikea, although last time we went, I unwisely carried Piglet on my back in a backpack, and he spent the best part of an hour pulling chunks out of my hair. #BloggerClubUK

    • April 6, 2016 / 9:31 am

      Aargh, IKEA is painful enough without your crown being mangled! 🙂 I wish NL could have come too but he was MUCH happier at home. And dogs on moving walkways is probably unwise. #BloggerClubUK

  7. April 6, 2016 / 11:55 am

    Haha this is brilliantly written post and a stroke of genuis on your part or to quote you ” a very good ikea” . I was relieved that it was a draw at the end, which is was I have to do with my children. Every. Time. We. Race. Otherwise there are strops galore that make me want to lie-down 🙂 #bestandworst

    • April 6, 2016 / 3:08 pm

      Oh, thank you Emma! What a lovely comment. I have always thought of Ikea as being a bit of a race and when I remembered the Grand National was coming up it seemed too good-an ‘Ikea’ not to do 🙂 Yes, I ALWAYS have to make it ‘fair’ and NC is only 6 months old … I know I’m in for some mammoth hurdles (like the GN) ahead! Thanks again. #bestandworst

  8. April 6, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    I wish my trips to Ikea were this “exciting”! Although actually I don’t think I’ve ventured there in person since I had my second a year ago – online shopping, now that’s a very good Ikea! Great post #BloggerClubUK

    • April 6, 2016 / 8:47 pm

      Thanks Nicole – they aren’t really this exciting usually; just this one. Usually they end in tears and chips! xx

  9. April 6, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    I HATE IKEA. That is all I have to say. #bestandworst

  10. April 6, 2016 / 7:27 pm

    tehe how fun! I never have a clue when it’s the grand national but always think I should make a bet…or maybe not! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst xx

  11. April 7, 2016 / 10:07 am

    This was such a fun analogy – very clever and humorous! Great photo at the finish too 🙂 #BloggerClubUK

  12. April 7, 2016 / 11:27 am

    OMG Ikea with kids….are you CRAZZZZZZY????! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    • April 7, 2016 / 9:34 pm

      Um – yes … no childcare available that day! It was quite fun … not repeating for a while though! #coolmumclub

  13. April 7, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    Ikea with kids is like amputating your toe with a pizza wheel! You did well!

    • April 7, 2016 / 9:37 pm

      Amazing analogy – and not a million miles away from the truth, that’s true! x

  14. April 8, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Haha, this is such a brilliant take on a boring trip to ikea. You have a great imagination. Thanks for linkingup with us, I’ll now have half a clue who is in the races now!! #bigpinklink

    • April 8, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      Thank you – really glad you liked it! And yes, it was quite educational for me too 🙂 xx

    • April 8, 2016 / 6:34 pm

      Icecream features here too … and cinnamon buns. Then we drive out of the car park feeling sick. Thank you for hosting! #FridayFrolics

  15. April 9, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    Ha ha whatever gets you through a trip to IKEA with kids right?? Have you picked your winner for today yet??! #coolmumclub

  16. April 9, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    I think you were brave to attempt IKEA with the kids in tow – not for the faint hearted that. Can’t beleive after all that you didn’t get a bet on the geegee’s today! #brillblogposts

    • April 10, 2016 / 7:02 am

      I know!! I had really good intentions and the day just slipped away … wouldn’t have won, though, so probably for the best! #brillblogposts

  17. April 9, 2016 / 11:09 pm

    Ha! I love this! What a clever way to compare an Ikea visit. It is very much not for the faint hearted and survival of the fittest 😉 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

  18. April 10, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    I loved this 🙂 I imagine it was a lovely quiet time to go shopping too!

  19. April 11, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    Shopping with three kids definitely isn’t easy – after two minutes the heads go back & complaints start. This is a fab idea – sounds like a fun trip for the whole family! Thanks so much for joining us at #bloggerclubuk

  20. April 11, 2016 / 7:27 pm

    Gotta admit we love visiting IKEA and spend the majority of the time role playing in the display rooms! A great way to look at racing around IKEA! We actually put money on the Grand National this year and made a loss! Boo. #TwinklyTuesday xx

    • April 11, 2016 / 7:56 pm

      Oh no! We actually didn’t get round to putting money on after all that. FAIL!! Really glad you liked it 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

  21. April 15, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    I can’t believe you went to ikea with kids… we have once , and it wasn’t that bad especially as we were all desperate to get out of the car having been stuck in traffic for 2 hours! H was surprisingly well behaved, but hubby and I were braced for more mayhem following the full car park (bad sign!). Great post! #thebabyformula

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