threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Eking out the rest of the Easter holiday

Whoa, it must be said that this has been a long school break. The actual Easter Bank Holiday seems such a long time ago, although we still are working our way through too many chocolate eggs as we dig out the PE kits and polish the school shoes.

The first week was quite busy, but we still had a lot to fit in the second one too…

Ready, steady, bake. We were busy in the kitchen making cakes. Seamus was in charge of chocolate crispy cakes – he seriously believes it is a secret recipe! Orla and Aoife decorated cupcakes with different flavoured butter-creams and chocolate decorations. My role – washing up!

Their wares were taken to the rugby club for a fund-raising sale to boost the Under 6s fund. Seamus and the team made lots of great signs, parents and kids contributed with some wonderful looking cakes and it came together brilliantly.  Orla and some older siblings manned the stall whilst we played but then everyone took turns to sell, buy and eat.  In total through donations, the U6s raised over £130 and a huge sugar rush! Wow!

 

More cake was enjoyed when we made a visit to the Pavilion Youth and Community Cafe.  Recently opened it is a brilliant little cafe, open to the general public in the morning and early afternoon but becoming a youth cafe after school. During the Easter holidays they provided free sandwiches for children as well as some great activities. The kids painted pictures, played table football and chatted. Outside they played swing ball and football. It is a wonderful addition to the area and such a great, friendly concept – we had a fantastic time.

 

We enjoy being out and about and have made the most of a few bright Spring days to visit the park.

Wetter days saw us in the library or finding things to do at home.

Aoife and Orla each took a friend to join us for a fun day out to the cinema to see ‘Duck Duck Goose’, followed by a fluffy slime workshop. The children loved measuring and mixing, choosing colours and creating some very strange gloopy concoctions resulting in their stretchy slime. Aoife in particular loves playing with it.

Much more natural beauty was enjoyed when we visited the Garden Gate Project’s Open Day. We made Green Man masks out of leaves, chalk pictures in the style of the cave drawings of Margate Caves and shared cake and good company in wonderful grounds. The Garden Gate is a place where people, particularly those with learning disabilities, social anxieties and mental health issues can work, learn, share skills, socialise and enjoy. We loved sharing their public open day and look forward to their upcoming events.

Seamus had to return to school earlier than his sisters, who made the most of an additional inset day with a trip to Go Ape at Leeds Castle. They wore harnesses and walked amongst the trees on wooden gangways and platforms high above the ground. Both were in their element on the zip wire and increased in confidence on every circuit. The staff were amazing and the setting was stunning – what a fun experience and great family day out (ssssh, just don’t tell Seamus!)

However, he hasn’t missed out as he was included in lots of activities out before he went back and has been busy at home too. He and his sisters organised their own magic show (ticket sales were a little disappointing: 1 … but at least I got the best seat in the house.) Orla had been learning magic at an after school club and Aoife received a magic kit for Christmas. They shared out a variety of tricks to show and were actually quite entertaining …

 

On another day when the weather was dreary, we took the train to Deal to go swimming. It had been such a long time since we swam, and this was our first visit to Tides, but we had a lot of fun. The kids enjoyed the water slide and stopping for pizza afterwards before we headed home.

 

Now that the weather  is finally improving, it is so nice to enjoy some sun. The horses are in the fields, my favourite Magnolia trees are at their best and the walk back to school has never been more pleasant. It has been a busy half term, and we are fortunate to have many things for kids to do in Thanet, many of which are free or low-cost and some great places to visit… let’s hope we just have the energy to keep going to them.

 

 

 

 


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Hatching a plan for an egg-citing Easter!

Happy Easter!

On the last day of the school term, Seamus wore his Easter hat for the school parade. It was so lovely to see a sea of bonnets on the way to school.

School finished early that day for both him and the girls, so with a school friend in tow, we went straight to Broadstairs to join in the Chamber of Commerce’s Easter Trail, where a variety of shops gave out sweeties and chocolate eggs to children wearing Easter bonnets. Thankfully we completed the whole route before the rain started and gathered some lovely treats … and a carrot.

Easter got into full swing when we went to Planet Thanet’s Easter Beer Festival on Good Friday, joined by big brother. Taking our usual spots in the balcony (so we weren’t in the way) we got to try a few wonderful CAMRA beers and ciders … and for some, apple juices! Cheers.

The following day we headed to the Spring Food Festival at Broadstair’s Pierremont Park to sample and buy food from the region. The brownies went down particularly well!

The next day was Easter Sunday. Sporting our Mad Hatter’s hats we joined the colourful Ramsgate Parade through the High Street to the events at the Harbour. The Marina was filled with people enjoying the spinning teacups, an egg hunt, having their face painted and glitter tattoos and browsing round the stalls.  It was lovely to stop for some cake and have our tea (squash) poured by the Mad Hatter when we got to have a sit down. A massive thank you to Ramsgate Town Team, AiR and everyone else who helped make the day happen … and to the people who bought our hats in the Mad Hatter’s charity auction (especially the kind lady who donated one back to us!)

 

We enjoyed a peaceful afternoon at the Shell Grotto, making the most of our family pass. It’s amazing, although curiously frustrating, that so little is known about its history.  We also want to know who had to count the 4.6 million shells!

If you’re looking for things to do with kids during the holidays, we really are very fortunate here, with lots going on and some wonderful places to visit. Many of the things we do are free or low cost and as you can see, there is an amazing variety to see and be part of . We’re still discovering new places.

The sun shone as we headed to forest school in Margate. Thanet Community Forest school, a brilliant community project, opened it’s doors (or should that be gates) for a morning of fun family activities. Seamus loved sawing branches to make his wooden bunny, the girls wove willow wreaths and made wonderful woollen displays. Making bird feeders and bug hotels, we really got to be hands on and try so many things. The Easter Bunny made an appearance too, so we headed to the brambles to hunt for chocolate eggs he had hidden. It was our first time visiting and we had fantastic fun. We can’t wait to go back!

The great outdoors beckoned again when we headed to Ramsgate Beach for the Seashore Safari. We completed a scavenger hunt and collected ray and shark egg cases (mermaids’ purses) to be counted. Orla surprised everyone by finding 21!  The morning finished with some wonderful sand art where we made sea turtles, sharks and jelly fish out of sand, shells and seaweed. Thank you so much @ThanetCoastProj

We are very fortunate to have access to some wonderful coastline and it was brilliant to learn more about the bird and marine life we have on our doorstep. We also talked about hazards which endanger our coast and seas, such as litter and plastic. It’s dreadful to think of the damage we humans do, so we’ll try to pop along to the Big Beach Clean later this year to do our bit.

 

Now that Spring is here, the wildlife is everywhere and the frogs are returning to our pond. The kids enjoyed spotting them and noticing the first of the spawn at the allotment. Ian is spending a lot of time there at the moment, potting and planting, all ready for the start of the growing season.

So we’re only 7 days in to the school holidays (phew!) but we’ve been extremely busy and have had a cool Easter so far.  What with frog spawn, Mermaids’ purses, chocolate eggs – we really have been seeing eggs everywhere … including huge dinosaur eggs at our local shopping centre! Watch out, it’s hatching!!!

 

 


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Spring has sprung but the snow keeps returning

Signs of spring briefly started to show, bringing a bit of cheer for us all.  It was so nice to see the bulbs peeking through …. but then Mini Beast from the East struck, bringing with it even more snow. What a month!

I was invited to spend time at the girls’ school for an afternoon Mothers’ Day tea. We were treated to lovely cupcakes and time with our children. Orla performed in the choir, which was very sweet to hear. A lovely idea repeated for every year group and even featured in the local newspaper (here’s the link)

The Girl Power continued when we celebrated International Women’s Day with a bang! We joined lots of people at the launch of POW Thanet (Power of Women) at Margate’s Turner Contemporary. The event began with the premiere of Voice100, the audio art piece marking 100 years since women achieved the right to vote. Award winning artist Emily Peasgood interviewed 100 people, which included us! We had recorded our voices at her studio earlier this year and had no clue how the finished piece would sound. A brilliant evening with both of my girls celebrating art, history, empowerment and women (it was too late for Seamus to join us, despite his voice being featured in the piece.) We met some lovely people, saw some bizarre art which made us think and smile, and supported artists who were brave enough to bring their ideas to life.  POW!

 

Aoife has been very busy with her sport. She recently competed in Primary School Quick Sticks Hockey competition which means her school team will now go on to represent Thanet in the Kent finals!

As well as that she’s been playing in Netball friendlies and a tournament these past few weeks which resulted in her school team losing out 1-0 in the final to achieve the silver medal.

All this sportiness was celebrated in school further with events to raise money for Sport Relief. The girls got to wear sporty clothes instead of their usual uniform.

At home,  Seamus has worked really hard titivating his Easter Bonnet ready for his school parade. He obviously decided against the ‘less is more’ approach to creativity, so it’s got chickens, eggs, feathers, lots and lots of flowers and huge felt carrots on it.  A true one of a kind creation!  Aoife’s featured a spring garden of homemade origami flowers and Orla went for delicate blossoms on top and even underneath the brim. Sadly there’s no Easter Bonnet parade in Broadstairs this year as the venue in the park is changing owners, but we’ll have an opportunity to wear them at the Broadstairs Easter Trail later this month.

We kept working on our Mad Hatters hats at home too.  Aoife continued her passion for origami, covering her hat with delicate paper butterflies and featuring a small Alice and the snooty caterpillar. Orla’s hat has chess board squares and the Cheshire Cat with a big pink and purple tail at the back. Seamus’s looks very tasty indeed with biscuits, ‘Eat me / drink me’ labels and colourful bottles. It even includes the little dormouse balancing on the rim. They spent a long time perfecting their creations and I love how they each had different ideas within the same Alice in Wonderland theme. We took them back to the workshop at AiR (Art in Ramsgate) to add a few finishing touches and are looking forward to the Ramsgate Easter Parade on 1st April … even though Easter snow is forecast.

 

Here’s hoping the weather improves … although Seamus doesn’t seem to mind.

The return of the bitterly cold weather throughout this month has meant we had to cancel rugby a couple of times due to frozen pitches but we did manage to play on Mothers’ Day, where Seamus seemed to get especially muddy! Cheers boy!

We had the pleasure of the Lifeboat coming to the club one Sunday to raise sea safety awareness. Orla and Seamus loved dressing up in all of the kit.

We used the time of one of the cancelled sessions to have a bracing time at Margate.  The kids loved the huge waves crashing over the Harbour Arm, so much so we went back again after our hot chocolate and then once more after our walk around the old town before finally heading home!

They were mesmerised watching hundreds of little seabirds sheltering in the calmer side of the harbour, watching them feed and fly again and again.

The hot chocolate was definitely needed, if only to warm our hands as the temperature didn’t get above freezing all day. With the wind, it felt more like -7C but it was a lovely day.  We loved going inside the Old Kent Market and sitting at the top of the double-decker bus cafe, listening to the music. There is a great selection of little shops, a bakery and a tiny pub. We were able to get back home in time to see the last of the Six Nations. A cool St Patrick’s Day … although Guinness free.

 

Orla has continued to be in fine voice this month. She was selected to sing in the Festival of Song at Margate Winter Gardens. I volunteered to help out at dress rehearsals, so I was word-perfect when listening to the show later that evening. She joined 300 children from 16 local schools to perform a celebration of pop music to a packed audience, which included the Mayors of Margate and Broadstairs. Orla even got to introduce the final song. I absolutely loved ‘True Colors’ and Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’ although I think the kids favoured the stomping ‘We Will Rock You’ best judging by the noise!

We had another evening out when we watched Aoife perform at Thanet Festival. Her school drama group recently won the coveted School Drama trophy and as a result, they were asked to perform in the Gala Concert at the Sarah Thorne Theatre. The group showed a short mixture of songs from their version of We’ll Meet Again. Trophies were awarded throughout the evening to singers and musicians by Newsnight’s  Evan Davis. However, we had to leave early as Seamus fell asleep. Trying to get a taxi home on a Friday night wasn’t fun at all, thankfully we were offered a lift home – thank you!

One of the best events in a long while was at school where we enjoyed a Harry Potter themed evening. Magic and excitement was promised and it really delivered. Orla dressed as Luna Lovegood, with her homemade costume of Spectra Specs and copy of The Quibbler Magazine. She really looked the part with her dream-catcher necklace and Butterbeer cork complimenting her look.

Aoife shunned the idea of pink and chose to be a Death Eater, Bellatrix LeStrange instead. This involved wearing a long black cloak over her Harry Potter t-shirt, back combing her hair and sporting a secret tattoo.

The school transformed into Hogwarts and we made potions with Professor Snape, cast charms in drama, visited Hermione’s History lesson where we learned about mythical beasts and even played Quidditch. In the Great Hall we had photos taken with the green screen background and could buy drinks including Butterbeer to go with Hogwarts hot dogs, cakes, chocolate frogs and delicious other goodies as well as souvenir scarves and wands. We had helped by making posters and sharing our homemade Harry Potter props and were delighted to see them on display. A fabulous evening with lots of smiles. Truly Magical!  We look forward to an owl delivering more invitations like this.

 

The event was covered in Education Life too – here’s the link!

There’s a few more days of school before the Easter holidays begin. But with spells, songs, sport, sea and snow ….. what a busy few weeks we’ve had already!


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The Beast from the East ….. brrrr

Brrrr...the Beast from the East (wintery blasts from Siberia) has arrived and we’re really feeling the chill. Walking to school in below zero temps – even before you lower it further for the ‘wind chill’ factor – has been bracing to say the least. But we’re made of sturdy stuff and have wrapped up warm and made it to school on time every day.

It has meant that we needed to wear layers of clothes under the costumes to celebrate World Book Day this year. We had a good time thinking about our favourite characters before making home-made costumes combined with a few ebay bargains and funny face paint.

Seamus embraced the Gruffalo with much enthusiasm, Orla decided to be a character from 101 Dalmatians and Aoife went as Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games; a book she hasn’t read, made into a film she’s not allowed to see! Thankfully they chose warm and cosy costumes. All looked great and had lots of fun with book related activities at their schools. It is always amusing to see Harry Potter or The Cat in the Hat on the way to school in the morning. However, for many the day was cut short with parents collecting them from school early due to worsening weather conditions.

 

Not to be outdone with the costumes, there was even a little competition at Baby Sensory. Sadly some of the classes had to be cancelled due to the weather, so I didn’t get to see baby Hungry Caterpillars and Sleeping Beauties but those who posted photos so far look great. I was Mr Tickle (as a result of having a leftover costume Aoife and Orla refused to wear) and the Baby Sensory dolly was Mr Strong, however on reflection I should have made him Mr Small. Next year guys, next year ….

Back to the cold weather … Orla really faced it when she took part in the Primary School Cross Country. She joined nearly 900 children (divided into their different year groups) on a bitterly cold Saturday morning to run her 1.5km. Go Orla!

The next day Aoife attended the Thanet Music, Drama and Dance Festival. She was fantastic and despite having chronic ear ache, she delivered her part well and received brilliant feedback. Her school won their category and achieved a distinction. Aoife plays the part of the school teacher in a musical drama set in the 1940s. The drama group gave a really impressive performance and looked spectacular in their costumes They will be performing in local care homes later this year, which I am sure will go down a treat.

We’ve been involved in more arty stuff which has been going on locally, attending AIR (Arts In Ramsgate), where we are making our Mad Hatters’ hats ready for the Easter Parade. The parade will be on 1st April and has an Alice in Wonderland theme. The hats are coming along nicely but have taken some time as they have had to be completely made from scratch, cutting cardboard, shaping and sticking. I am sure they’ll look even more impressive when they are decorated.

Time for something tasty – We celebrated Shrove Tuesday (well, Shrove Saturday) in style and had an evening of great fun at a pancake party held at the local church hall. Sadly Aoife wasn’t well enough to join us, but Orla and Seamus made sure they enjoyed her share of the pancakes on her behalf!  Seamus loved the pancake flipping challenge … is 4 a new world record?! We had fun playing the Beetle Drive, enjoyed a sing-a-long and had lovely home-made soup before topping our pancakes with a choice of strawberries, chocolate sauce, bananas, cream, marshmallows, golden syrup or lemon and sugar. Thank you to those who organise it and to our friends who joined us and were such good company.

So despite the weather, and many things we were looking forward to being cancelled or postponed, we’ve still been busy and had some giggles, and enjoyed a hot chocolate or two to keep us cosy and warm. We’ve not been beaten by the Beast from the East, we’ve had some fun in the snow but roll on spring … we ready to thaw out now!

 

 

 


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Fabulous but frosty February

30 days hath September, all the rest I can’t remember …. nevertheless, we’ll try to pack a lot into the the 28 days of February!

The biggest and best came from spending a fabulous day in London watching Orla perform at The O2! She was part of the Young Voices Choir, along with 7,980 (yes, seven THOUSAND, nine hundred and eighty) other children with guest artists including Alfie Sheard and powerful soul artist Natalie Williams. They sang a great selection of songs, from Ed Sheeran to Stevie Wonder, with a wee bit of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and some real golden oldies thrown in for good measure. The choir were joined by talented young dancers, Urban Strides and wonderful professional musicians to make a great show and an amazing experience! Well done Orla and all who took part – we loved it! What an incredible opportunity and inspiration for young people, showcasing talents and also raising some well needed funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and FareShare.

Aoife continues to be busy with her sport. Her school team achieved bronze medals against other primaries in a Handball tournament and she was also part of the Basketball team who represented Thanet in the East Kent finals.

(photo from Kent school games instagram as none could be taken at the event itself)

We needed lots of energy to celebrate her birthday too. Joined by 8 of her school friends, 2 siblings and her very enthusiastic dad, she headed to Laser Tag. Our concerns that Seamus may struggle to keep up with the bigger kids was totally unfounded – he was in his element; dressing in his camouflage jacket and trousers to totally look the part. Everyone seemed to enjoy working in teams, hiding and sneaking up on each other. After quite a few ‘battles’, they had their food rations served in mess tins and we all sang Happy Birthday to Aoife.

Not content with one cake, another was required so she could blow out the candles on the ‘actual’ day. However, not one to go for the easy option, she wanted to make it herself. She had copious helpers; Seamus, Orla, our two Japanese students and two of their friends all wanted to be actively involved.  Despite the saying about too many cooks, it all turned out very tasty! Mmmm. One massive cream-filled chocolate cake (smothered in ganache, decorated with white and milk chocolate buttons) plus 48 buttercream topped cupcakes later, everyone noticeably disappeared when the washing up part of events loomed.

The cooking continued with a ‘make your own pizza’ dinner later that week. Catering for vegetarians, meat eaters, allergies, dislikes and sometimes just plain fussiness meant it was a good option and everyone was happy. Lots of discussion ensued about who made the tastiest one though!

We’ve needed to have lots of warm food, especially when we brave the rugby pitch at the weekend. It’s been so cold and very, very muddy. All I can say is that I am so thankful for my washing machine! Aoife has been playing matches both home and away whereas Seamus and I have been busy training with the U6 tag rugby team, which is fantastic fun. Orla takes the ‘hot chocolate in the warm club house’ approach to rugby – some weeks, I have to admit I think she has the right idea!

 

 

Orla does seem to like the finer things, and so was very excited when this beauty rolled up in our street recently. She was out like a shot pestering the neighbours. I guess it’s safe to assume she prefers it to our Skoda.

Ummmm. Try as I might, there is no way I can think of to add this next bit in seamlessly, but (without the kids who were at school) I attended a fascinating talk at Open School East this month about the art and history of embalming. Interesting and not at all morbid. It was a free talk complementing a series future workshops and the ‘Elixirs of Life Eternal‘ project of artist Marguerite Humeau, based on architecture, design, sculpture and the quest for eternal life. Having lost a few friends so far this year and having funerals to attend, I found the talk by Phillip Gore quite reflective and I was so pleased I went.

However, it does link somewhat bizarrely to a topic based drama piece performed by Orla at school before they broke up for half term where they have been exploring the Plague. There’s nothing quite like watching your child act out the Black Death(!)  Strangely emotional and at times quirky and intentionally funny, they certainly gave it their all and it was amazing to watch. I’ve been cracking the same joke for a week as a result of having to juggle a few things in order to attend the performance; “Orla, I am so glad I caught The Plague.”

History continues even outside of school time. We wrapped up warm to visit the archaeological dig in Margate. Check out the link, we get a wee mention in the local news! The site is being explored for only 10 days before the excavation of the caves begins. We were there when they uncovered a small piece of jaw bone, likely to be an animal which headed for the cooking pot. Dan Thompson showed us round the site; explaining the finds which includes the tiled floor of Bryan House – a Georgian school which was the first school to teach science to girls. There was pottery (Aoife picked up what is possibly a piece of 20thC pottery just by her feet) and iron age ditches which were being uncovered before our eyes. The finds will be on display in the planned visitor centre which will be built on the site when the caves are re-opened to the public. A massive thank you to Dan for taking the time to explain everything to us and we hope you and the crew found time for a tea break to enjoy the biscuits we brought.

More discovery, but this time of a more experimental kind, came from our visit to a slime workshop. We’ve attempted to make slime at home before without success, despite youtubing every combination of recipes, so the workshop was ideal.  The kids delighted in choosing colours, fragrances and glitters to add to their concoctions, resulting in some stretchy, gloopy mixtures which they love. They brought their wares home, much to the delight of our students that evening who now all want to make slime. I guess there is no escaping that I will have slime in my house for the foreseeable future.

After a day creating, we had to put on our Tech Heads when we took part in the Digital Den at Broadstairs library. The kids made routes for Ozobots (coding robots), they also made circuits, art pictures featuring battery powered LED lights but most impressive was the musical bananas! A great hands on event, encouraging both girls and boys to learn more about all things technical.

 

 

We’ve had a lovely visit one weekend from big brother and some family friends and headed for a treat of waffles, crepes and ice cream desserts. The three amigos chose the same Oreo sundae and despite their best efforts, no-one was able to finish! Maybe next time: one dessert, three spoons!  We headed home for an afternoon of board games, fun and giggles.

So although we’re only a few days into the short school break, the month is half over already and I for one am ready for more signs of spring and some warmth! We’re doing our best to find fun things to do to keep us active and busy – alongside boring but necessary trips to the dentist and the hairdressers – although we are taking in time to have some cosy things to do too. The kids and I have had a wonderful time at the cinema to see Disney Pixar’s Coco, where we each cried buckets (take a box of tissues and go and see it!) and have enjoyed some arts and crafts at home too.   We’ve still got a few play-date/meet ups planned and a pancake party to look forward to before the dreaded panic of last minute homework and re-packing the PE kit bags begins, so all in all Frosty February may have to be named Fun February. Here’s hoping it continues.

Must dash, I have to leave some (not so) subtle reminders that it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow xx

 

 

 

 


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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.