threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Happy New Year

Having the lurgy put a bit of a dampener on the festive season, but we’re on the road to recovery even though we are still sounding a little husky.

Christmas was quiet but really nice – with family, fun and good food. Thankfully Santa paid a visit and everyone seemed really happy with their surprises.

We played the (now traditional) game of ‘Punch a Present’ on Boxing Day. We’re not sure how much Ian appreciated his prize of a squishy plastic rat in honour of the one at his allotment which keeps avoiding all attempts to be caught.

After being housebound and living on a steady stream of Christmas movies, we were well and truly ready to get out and so pleased we recovered in time to make the annual trip to the Marlowe Theatre Christmas pantomime. Our lovely neighbours organised the trip as our Christmas present, which we all enjoyed immensely.  This year was Peter Pan.  Seamus was the most excited, judging by his shouting! Aoife loved Ben Roddy, the Dame and Lloyd Hollett who appear every year and Orla loved Hook, Tinkerbell and the acrobats. The music was as fab as ever and the cast were great – full of energy although by this stage of the run they must be exhausted! A great performance, a wonderful gift – thank you.

The start of January has seen the weather continuing to be dull and dreary, but this has meant many of the rainy day activities have come into play. The girls have been making models and experiments from their science kits, Seamus seems to be addicted to dot to dot and mazes, and everyone has been constructing things from his Christmas gift workbench.

We’ve also been doing a lot of baking and playing rugby – but not at the same time!

 

But despite the depressing weather, we’ve still been out and braved the cold and ventured further than the rugby pitch. We wrapped up as warm as we could and walked the Saxon Shore Way at Sandwich with a well-earned McDonalds afterwards. Thankfully it was a tad too cold for anyone on the beach known to be frequented by naturists.

Our ‘Out and About’ side also saw us taking part in Voice100, award-winning composer and sound artist Emily Peasgood’s project which will be launched on International Women’s Day. We went to her recording studio and each shared our thoughts about voting rights, women and how society is and was for women … although Seamus diluted the Girl Power effect somewhat with his announcement that girls “can’t be scientists because they would scream when there is an explosion.” Seamus! Anyway, there will be a premier in March at the Turner Contemporary – so there’s plenty of time for me to buy him a gag!

Quieter evenings saw us heading to the cinema to see the animated film, Ferdinand and on another occasion we managed a sneaky trip to Kaspa’s to see if the desserts matched the hype. Judging by Orla’s expression, we think we can say they did.

 

Treats aside, we’re now firmly back into the routine of hosting students, working and going to school. Seamus has been learning about endangered species and had to dress in black and white for the fund-raising WWF Panda Day. His parents’ evening was very positive (phew!) Orla is learning about The Black Death and Aoife’s topic is the human body, both of which can make for some dramatic and graphic conversations over dinner time – urgh!

The kids have been fortunate to attend a few birthday parties these past few weeks and we have one of our own to organise for later this month too. This means we’ve had no time to make any New Year’s resolutions … … perhaps next month, if things are a little less busy.

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

What a busy time it’s been. When the door of the Advent calendar is opened each morning, the excitement of the children escalates at an equal rate to my level of panic. It always feels like there is more still to do as the diary has been full of plays, performances and parties, but thankfully we’re near enough to the big day to stop worrying about things we may have forgotten and instead we can start to enjoy it.

The Christmas feeling really started when Orla made a visit with her school choir to sing at a local care home. I had the pleasure of attending too, and visited a family friend who lives there. The choir sang brilliantly and had a short break to mingle and chat with the residents, which was very sweet to see.

Equally sweet, Seamus performed in his first school Nativity. Nothing makes you tear up more than a group of little children singing Away in a Manager. Angels wearing tinsel, Jesus played by a Tiny Tears doll, kings wearing hand made paper crowns and children waving mid-performance when they spotted a familiar face in the audience … now that’s Christmas in a nutshell.

Aoife’s performance was less of a Christmas theme but rather more a demonstration this term’s topic work – The Victorians. The year group held a Victorian tea party, some gave their speeches as famous Victorians and everyone performed a short drama piece. We made lots of cakes to donate to the proceedings. I helped out with the refreshments on the day, which was really well attended so didn’t even have time to get to have a cup of tea myself.  However, it was a nice afternoon and the children had obviously worked hard throughout this term to culminate in such a great presentation.

Much less refined was her Christmas party with her rugby team. The coach shied away from the usual treat of a cinema trip or a party, and instead booked them on an army style fitness assault course. So on a frosty Sunday morning, mid December she faced the mud, water and ice (they had to break the ice off the top of the water before wading through waist deep!) and worked as a team to get round. The warm bath when she got home was very welcome! The amount of muddy laundry she came home with, less so. Although not her first choice of party venue, a big thanks to the coaches who organised it and who give so much of their time to the team throughout the season.

 

Rugby continued for Seamus too. We were out for the last session of the year, wrapping up warm to play tag rugby. Even Orla decided to join in with the U6s, helping the littlest ones with some of the relay runs.

She was much more at home though, spending an afternoon  Christmas shopping in Bluewater.

The best part of Bluewater for the kids is Sblended, a milkshake shop where you choose which chocolate bar you want to include. Seamus went for Curly Wurly, Orla had Cadbury’s Caramel while Aoife plumped for a festive Terry’s Chocolate Orange flavour and watched as they were whizzed up and added to their shakes.

We made a trip up to London to see the Christmas lights. We popped into the Wong Kei, as usual for our lunch, and pottered around Harrods and Fortnum & Mason‘s looking at the very expensive gifts and beautiful window displays, sampling the tasters of champagne, trying our best to look like we were potential purchasers and not just looking for a freebie!

We even spotted a Santa or two when we were there!

Back home, we’ve shopped for our mince pies and even made Christmas biscuits and jam tarts.

….and now we are finally ready. We attended the local Christingle service and walked home via the many beautifully lit houses. Now there’s just enough time to put on some mulled wine, enjoy a movie and get in our pjs, all set for an early night – we don’t want Father Christmas to think we’re still awake.

Joyeux Noël, Frohe Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad, God Jul – however you wish to say it, Merry Christmas! And here’s to a wonderful 2018, whatever it may bring.

 

 

 

 

 


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Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming! The countdown has begun. We dug out the old Crimbo knitwear for non-uniform day, but despite the plummeting temperatures, Orla left off her jumper to sport this year’s trend, a Dabbing Santa t-shirt.

There’s no escaping the festive season now. We’ve been to a couple of Christmas Fayres to buy cakes and mince pies and even bumped into Father Christmas once or twice along the way.

At the girls’ school mini fayre, a bottle of wine was the sole result of our tombola efforts. Slightly more success at Shay’s school, winning three child decorated Christmas jars full of sweeties and a babies’ jigsaw (which we gave to a passing toddler) We were lucky enough to find bargains to boot including some wonderful toys….. oh, and managed to fit in a visit to Santa and finally, the cake stall all before 11am!

 

Despite already over indulging on the sweet stuff, we have been making cakes at home too. Our home stay students wanted to have a version of Bake Off, so the kids divided into teams, with Seamus helping everyone AND deciding he was the judge… an enviable job – move over Paul Hollywood! For some reason Orla decided to make her cakes pink, thankfully they still tasted OK and the judge like them a lot.

  

Orla has also been busy baking in her after school Food Studies club. So far this term she’s made jam buns for the school open day, fruit tiramisu, a curry and most recently she learnt to decorate cupcakes.

Fear not, a nod to healthier eating was made when we created our rival version of Subway one lunch time. Orla and Seamus made up the orders. If I were to do a Trip Adviser review, whilst I would acknowledge it was tasty and well made, the rating would have to be reduced a little because Orla declared anyone who dared to ask for both parts of the buns buttered as ‘fussy customers’! Ha ha. She has decided against a career in hospitality.

Such a simple activity to do and they loved it…. more so than my sandwich jokes. “A ham sandwich walks into a bar. The barman takes one look at him and says, “Sorry but we don’t serve food in here.”  Cue my children staring blankly at me 🙂 One for the Christmas crackers, I guess.

Party season is well and truly upon us though. Seamus has been to a class mate’s birthday party and we also hosted a really nice evening with our lovely neighbours. Seamus had a great run around at the U6s Christmas party, which even had a special guest giving out the presents to all of the wonderful players.

As well as all of that, our final group of  2017 students wanted to experience a British Christmas so we had an early version just for them. They helped the children decorate the tree, pulled crackers and even got to have a flaming Christmas pudding brought to the table. Seamus stole the show when he gave out little table gifts whilst dressed as Father Christmas. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will. Ho ho ho.

  

The children are looking forward to each having a little party in their schools too, which will further add to the excitement as the big day approaches.

There were Christmas trees as far as the eye could see when we went to the St Peters Christmas Tree festival this month. Decorated by schools, play groups, Sea Scouts, Brownies, local independent businesses, pubs and many local community groups including the Old Boys Club, dog obedience classes, Slimming World, coffee morning friends and more, the collection of trees on display looked fantastic. Many embraced the Twelve Days of Christmas theme and countless hours must have been spent on some of the handmade decorations. Well done to everyone who contributed, it looked wonderful. Orla sang in the school choir to mark the start of the festival, and even did a solo of Once in Royal David City.

In a rare student free weekend (meaning we didn’t have to rush back), we had a lovely trip to the cinema to see Paddington 2. Seamus was jumping in his seat with excitement at times and we all loved it. A brilliant family film with lots of giggles and we all give it two thumbs up.

But there is no rest for some. Aoife has been as busy as ever with her sporting commitments. She represented the school in the Thanet rugby tournament, achieving a silver medal. Earlier this month, her school basketball team won the Thanet tournaments and will go on to play in the Kent finals and she recently came second in the Thanet Primary Netball tournament. We are so pleased with her commitment, effort and attitude and hope she continues to enjoy it.

 

Other moments of note have been Orla achieving Star of the Week at school for her maths work and Aoife winning the school Christmas card competition resulting in her design being used as this year’s Christmas card …. which reminds me, I’d best get writing mine if I’m to get them posted in time! It’s nearly Christmas in case you didn’t know!


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Remember, remember, it’s already November ….

Well October passed by in a flash and the dark nights of November have come around all too soon.

We did manage to squeeze one last bit of Trick or Treating before the month changed and gathered an impressive haul of sweeties from the local estate where houses were decorated brilliantly. We came home to Jelly Brain for tea …. urgh!

We had a French friend visiting for a week so were busy with jaunts to Canterbury, Ramsgate, Margate, Sandwich and The White Cliffs of Dover to make sure she had an action packed week. I am not sure what she thought of Tracey Emin’s Bed when we went to the Turner Contemporary … it certainly divides opinion! The kids shared their thoughts quite loudly, right next to a tour guide and an enthusiastic coach party. Other displays are equally baffling but interesting nevertheless.

 

The month of November is synonymous with remembrance. The children have been learning about this at school and have supported by buying their poppies. This year is the 100th year and we have seen some wonderful commemorations. In Ramsgate, the waterfall was decorated with crocheted poppies and in Broadstairs, a carpet of knitted ones looked stunning. The time they must have taken to make! A wonderful display to honour the memory of so many – thank you. Sadly the ones at Ramsgate were vandalised but were able to be put back in place before Remembrance Sunday.

 

At rugby we marked the silence at our Remembrance Sunday training, and I was so proud of the Under 6s for managing the full 2 minutes and joining their much bigger counter-parts pitch side.

Events of a more upbeat nature were in full flow earlier this month on Bonfire Night, with an impressive display on Broadstairs beach. We wrapped up warm to watch them. The entire area was packed with people – a fantastic turn out for a night of music and fireworks.

 

Fun was had at the Children’s schools to mark Children in Need. Seamus had to dress in spots and had ‘walk to school’ activities all week, resulting in his Infant School raising over £370. Orla took in cakes for her school’s cake sale and paid her contribution to go to school in her pyjamas on Friday, where they raised over £1000!

We have been as busy as ever with the children’s sporting and school commitments. Aoife took part in the Primary Schools Netball competition and achieved a silver medal after losing 2-1 in the final. Well done to all the Thanet schools taking part. She is also representing the school later this month as the Basketball team have a place in the district finals. Fingers crossed.

Orla took part in an all day opera workshop at school which resulted in joining other schools for an evening performing pieces from Handel’s Semele and work they composed with professional opera singers on stage later that week. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you Garsington Opera  and Looping the Loop Festival. I really hope they manage to secure funding for opportunities like this to continue. Orla loved taking part and we really enjoyed watching everyone. She can now tell us the story of Semele and Jupiter and even Seamus has been singing opera around the house “Lucky Omens….Lucky Omens…Bless our rites!”

The theatrics continued with Aoife performing in the Shakespeare in Schools Festival, Romeo and Juliet to a paying audience at the Theatre Royal Margate. We weren’t able to take photos on the night and much as I support these endeavours, I felt the ones they were selling were sadly so overpriced that I couldn’t consider paying any more (£7.50 plus a further £1.50 p&p for ONE 6″x 4″ photo was the cheapest option) hence the recreated image taken on our stairs. Anyway, that aside, it was a wonderful night.

 

She was treading the boards after some great company, as the previous week we had attended an absolutely fantastic performance of Gyre and Gimble’s The Hartlepool Monkey, based on a legend of my birth place. The acting was first class. The cast, although small in number, never stopped for a moment. But it was the puppetry, from the makers of War Horse, which was most breath taking. An absolutely brilliant evening out. We even got to say thank you to a few of the cast as they headed to the pub! #HartlepoolMonkey

‘Twas a cultured few weeks in the O’Sullivan house.  We even got a chance to be ‘hands on’ by taking part in a performance of Almost Always Muddy  a story telling tour with a twist. The children and adults get to build the scene … literally. With everyone adding to the build, the performers then linked everything, with suggestions and ideas thrown in from the kids, into an amazing adventure with puppetry, music and improvised character acting. Seamus giggled throughout and Orla wants to do it again tomorrow. We built with planks, tubes, netting, wheels, material and a huge array of junk to make amazing shipwrecks, factories, islands, aeroplanes and more. A great event, especially as Seamus was able to be included.

A massive thumbs up for Looping the Loop 2017 we’ll definitely take part and watch what’s on offer next year!

We also managed to squeeze in a lovely evening with our friends in Beechgrove Community to see their music festival – with a nod to Scottish, Irish, English and of course some good ol’ USA songs in the mix. We enjoyed the choirs, the Scottish dancing and the fabulous folk band! Seamus was so impressed he now wants to learn the bagpipes! A lovely evening from some very talented young people. Thank you.

Talents of a different artistic nature have been keeping us busy at home with Christmas requests from school – designing Christmas cards and decorating jars. No doubt I’ll have to buy these back at the up coming school fayres! As much as I try to delay it, the Christmas countdown has begun … best start digging out that wrapping paper and finding the tinsel! Here’s to making the most of the dark winter nights.

 

 

 

 


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Awesome October checking out the Czech Republic

Another busy month. It started with a school -, involving a Dance-a-thon, cake sale and a visit from Warwick Davis! The school raised over £3000 for Little People UK and the Dwarf Sports Association.

More good news as Orla won a prize in the library summer reading challenge so rushed straight from the dance-a-thon to collect her Scalextric set!

As the darker nights are now approaching, the school events continued with a ‘Be Safe, Be Seen’ Glow disco. A brilliant idea to encourage the children to think about their safety when out in the evenings and even the early mornings. We made bows from a hi-vis jacket and topped off the look with fluorescent glow necklaces and bright clothes. Dad even got in on the action with his work jacket.

At home, we had two separate visits from two of our wonderful ex au-pairs. It was so nice to catch up and the children loved talking about what they did when they were younger.

We then set off for our own adventure. We dusted off the backpacks to enjoy a half term break.  

Chips, beer, over priced waffles and a piddling little statue meant we could only be in Brussels! Not our favourite place in Belgium by any means, but a handy stop after the Eurostar leg of our travels.

 

We even stopped for a beer in Le Cercueil, a bar with loud heavy metal music and coffins everywhere!

Then we set off again… travelling through Germany – where we were pleasantly surprise with the Kinderbetreuung (a section in the family carriage where staff provide free activities for the children!) What a fantastic idea!  They were entertained with model making, friendship bracelet plaiting and colouring whilst Ian and I got to read our books and a brief respite from the countless games of  ‘Happy Families’ and ‘I Spy’.  Thank you Deutsche Bahn, I’ll even forgive you for being so delayed.

We eventually arrived in Prague where we spent four nights. We walked miles every day (hats off to the kids!) to try to make the most of it and still find time to do many child friendly things, like visiting the parks.

 

Obviously, we made time for a beer or two…

We visited the castle and saw the changing of the guard. We walked to the Monastery, visited the touristy parts, the Jewish Quarter and found some hidden gems too.

 

 

Of course, we just had to try Trdelník , a chimney cake filled with ice cream, chocolate, caramel or fruit as well as eating delicious honey cake and other regional goodies whenever we got the chance. The restaurants and bistros were great, with a wide choice for those in the family who are vegetarians and some lovely traditional dishes for those who aren’t.

We made sure we did the expected tourist rituals too. Ian and I placed a lock on Charles Bridge , which thankfully had three keys so each of the children could throw one into the river.

 

We also visited the Ice Pub, where we drank from glasses made from ice.  The kids loved it. It was great to find that they weren’t charged to enter and were given free slush drinks. The staff were nice and explained they could leave early if too cold. Ian and I paid 200Kc, approx £7 each but that included the first drink. Our hostel had given each of us a free drink voucher, so much to the annoyance of one grumpy bar tender, we managed to make a few trips to the bar in the 30 minute session, and even had a spare to slyly give to another customer on our way out. Surprisingly, standing in a freezer at -8C was a lot of fun and we all thought it was a ‘cool’ thing to do – excuse the pun.

We travelled on the trams, metro and bus as well as on foot, and found it fairly easy to get around Prague. We even made a visit to the zoo, which cost around £20 for the family to enter. It is huge so it does involve quite a bit of walking, but there were plenty of places to rest and play areas too. As we visited in October, it didn’t seem too busy and not that expensive once in there (the kiddies’ train ride cost 10Kc, which is less than 40p)

Our hostel was nice enough, although the sound of trams through the night was a little disturbing. We had a family room, and although we had some meal making facilities, we ate out as there was so much choice and found meals and drinks were not to costly (less than UK) Prague got a big thumbs up from all of the family!

We then went to spend a night in Cheb. Mostly as Ian had found our train ticket cost was greatly reduced if we used that route. Cheb was quite beautiful in parts with some lovely play parks and sports facilities. A border town, it has a big German influence, with people speaking both Czech and German. However, although our hotel was lovely, we found the people in the bars, restaurants, cafes and even the tourist information office to be unfriendly and found the worst tasting pizzeria outside of Italy. Surely they couldn’t ALL be having a bad day. It was a relief we were only there for only the one night.

After a quick (but delayed by Deutsche Bahn again) hop to Frankfurt and an overnight stay in Belgium, we then headed home.

Once back in Broadstairs, they pace hasn’t stopped. We welcomed a French friend who is staying with us for a week, we went to rugby training, completed an emergency Sunday night homework project on the Solar System, found all three PE kits and still had time to go to a Halloween Party (Thank goodness for that extra hour !) Costumes this year – Aoife was a Cereal Killer, Orla was Scary Poppins and Seamus was a mummy.

The following night we went to a neighbour’s Halloween party and got back to make a start on our pumpkins – grown by Daddy and so huge we’ll be having pumpkin soup for a week. It is not Halloween until tomorrow, so hopefully we will have time to finish our carving. If not, might I suggest they put the clocks back by more than an hour next time and we might just fit everything in!

 


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Fall into Autumn

Busy, busy, busy … the past few weeks are a blur.

After scooping up real bargains at the Scouts’ Jumble sale (change from £1 after buying a throw, an apron for Orla’s cookery club and joggers for Aoife’s camping trip!), we had a lovely time visiting St Peter’s Church when they opened their doors for Gift Day. The girls took their time to complete the guide quiz, only to find it was double sided and they had yet more answers to find.  Seamus was very content to play in the children’s area, surrounded by books and toys.  Aoife tried her hand at bell ringing, which had her a little worried at first as she imagined herself dangling from the bell tower. Thankfully, she got to ring the smallest bell and managed fine.  We had home made cakes and a welcome cup of tea. What a charming start to a weekend!

Beech Grove Community were celebrating their Open Day too. The sun shone, so the children were in their element enjoying the grounds, playing with others and collecting conkers.  Aoife and Orla loved the flower garlands, then they paid a visit to the animal area. It made such an impression that Aoife has written a Dragon’s Den style pitch outlining why she should own a guinea pig.  Seamus loved the trikes driving school and painting paper plates with the spinner. We always enjoy spending time with our friends from the community and so organised a reciprocal visit, where a small group joined us at home for dinner.

We had more guests for dinner when the teacher of our Japanese students joined us. We made a selection of Japanese and European food for everyone and afterwards played some family games. It has been a busy year having students staying in our home and the pace is finally starting to slow down as winter approaches.

The change of season is definitely telling with regards to the allotment. Our Honesty Box has come to an end, with some very kind comments, thank you cards and even new friends as a result! We’ll be sure to share again next year. The children loved the responsibility of restocking and arranging our excess vegetables, and even made a few requested home visits for some people who couldn’t make it there. We’re working our way through the final glut of the tomatoes and pears and have started to see our potatoes becoming part of our meals.  Aoife is still working hard, regularly helping Ian gather 30 sacks of horse manure from a local stable and both she and Orla go with him to collect the brewery hops. Oh, the glamour of the Good Life.

Out and about, we enjoyed the fantastic puppetry of Fireside Tales with Granddad at Dreamland’s indoor event area – the story telling was excellent and captivating and the show was visual with different styles of puppets supporting Granddad’s tales of grumpy trolls, hungry sharks and making underpants for a giant. Settled on huge red beanbags, and despite a very fidgety audience, it was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

 

  

Aoife has caught the acting bug. She is involved in Shakespeare in Schools Festival, which saw her attending rehearsals at Margate’s Theatre Royal. She’ll be performing Romeo and Juliet there next month.

The wet weather returned when we paid a slightly soggy after-school visit to Broadstairs Food Festival on its opening day. There were wonderful displays of cakes and brownies, an array of local produce, aromatic curries and tempting tasters which made us forget the grey skies.  The annual festival lasts for three days and is a foodie’s dream with everything from organic vegetables, freshly baked breads and cakes, Kent cheeses, pickles and preserves alongside award winning beers, ciders, spirits, and delicious freshly cooked street-food.  There are stalls selling hand crafted goods and also additional workshops which offer a chance to make (and taste) even more. ​Most importantly, Ian got lots of advice from the Isle of Wight garlic growers where he buys his seed garlic every year.

Equally tasty was my visit to the MacMillan Coffee Morning in Reading Street. There was a wonderful selection of cakes to choose, nice stalls and a friendly welcome. Best of all, the family were in school so I didn’t have to share! Over £900 was raised, and despite buying lots of tickets, I didn’t win the raffle.

We had a much quieter week when Aoife was away with her school outward bound week. She loved canoeing and raft building and had a fantastic time. She was allowed to take a camera with her – I felt absolutely ancient trying to explain how to use a disposable camera. “You won’t be able to see the picture when you’ve taken it.” “You need to ‘wind it on’ after each photo.” “You only have 24 photos.” “You’ll have to take it to a shop then wait for a few days before you get to see if what you’ve taken is any good.” She looked at me as though I had gone crazy.

It’s been just as busy for Orla too. She competed in another Inter-Primary School Cross Country. This time she has to run 1.5km …. plus the additional few 100 metres to get to the start line in time! Ooops. Well earned trip to McDonalds afterwards.

Rugby is back with a bang – every week, rain or shine, we are there. Aoife has been playing home and away as well as training, whereas Seamus seems to find endless energy for the weekly tag rugby sessions. I hope that energy is maintained as we have another few packed weeks ahead, with a school Dance-a-thon, Halloween and secondary school visits to fit in.

 

 


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Suddenly September

There’s a bit of a chill in the air and the nights are no longer as warm or sunny. Yes, September is here and the promise Indian summer has not been fulfilled yet, in fact we’ve begun to search for our warmer coats and hats.  We’re getting into the old routine with the girls settling back to school, and this week even saw Seamus enjoying his first day into his journey of formal education. Wow, where did the time go?

It doesn’t seem that long ago we were bringing him home from hospital as a newborn. And here we are, celebrating his 5th birthday already! He had a brilliant time as he was joined by his friends for a Ninja Turtle themed party. Big brother returned; traveling down from London to be there, much to Seamus’s delight. We had the party at home and even though we were filled to bursting with lively 4 year olds, it went fantastically well and they all seemed to be having fun.

We spent the rest of the weekend making the most of the Heritage Open Days, an annual event where the doors to historic monuments and buildings are opened for visitors to enjoy free of charge. Due to rugby training and Seamus’ birthday celebrations, it was a shame we didn’t have time to visit some of the more obscure venues which are usually closed to the public. However we did get to experience Ramsgate Tunnels which was fascinating, especially learning about the families who had been housed there for years during the war.

We also managed to fit in Monkton Nature Reserve, who were also taking part in the event. The reserve is set in a 16 acre abandoned chalk quarry and is now home to many species of insects, mammal and bird life. It also has the UK’s first artificial bat cave. The kids loved the dragonflies and we even saw a slow worm. There are small hidden fairy cottages scattered around and they were lovely to spot along our walk. The heritage open day meant we got to enjoy both the tunnels and the reserve free of charge.

With Seamus’s year group being on a reduced timetable as they settle into school life, it has meant he has had some time at home without his sisters. We spent a lovely day visiting Canterbury whilst they were in a classroom learning. We were unable to see all of the Cathedral due to it being used for graduation ceremonies, but we enjoyed walking around the crypt, the grounds and the sections that were open. We got to see another Antony Gormley sculpture , the ancient tombs and monuments within the Cathedral as well as the Amnesty Candle  which was first lit by former hostage, Terry Waite and burns as a sign of hope to those unjustly imprisoned throughout the world.

What with weekend rugby training commitments, being back to school, going to work and continuing to host groups of visiting language students, we are all as busy as ever. September is here and the months seem to be whizzing by. Yes, we love the summer with its prospect of sunshine and warm evenings outdoors, but we’ll make the most of autumn days ahead – embracing the changing leaves, crisper breeze and the dark cosy nights which are beginning to creep in. Bring it on!

#threekidsintow