O'Sullivan family travels and beyond

Leave a comment

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!




Leave a comment

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





Leave a comment

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.

1 Comment

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.






Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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.





Leave a comment

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!