threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Joyful June

The sun has been shining and we’ve been making the most of the beautiful weather.  It is that time of year, as the school holidays approach, we are really ready for summer.  The flowers, particularly near Madeira Waterfall in Ramsgate, are looking absolutely fabulous.

 

The warm weather has meant we can enjoy an ice lolly or two at the bandstand. Seamus loved dancing to ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ fronted by Trevor Neal. He danced so much, he really needed the lolly to cool down afterwards!

Another visitor to the Bandstand was Plasticus, a sculpture made from the amount of waste plastic that ends up in our oceans every second! A truly horrifying statistic and very powerful to see. It was very well done and made a great talking point of the town.

Plasticus arrived at the same time as filming on the beach took place for ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’ programme. Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan were filming and the artists could not have hoped for a nicer day to be at the seaside. Sadly we don’t have Sky, so we won’t get to see the finished programme.

We will however be making a trip to the cinema when Juliet, Naked is released later this year, as part of it was filmed in Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Click here and see how many bits of Broadstairs you can spot!

Dickensian Broadstairs came to life briefly when we saw the Annual Dickens parade through the town. The celebrations seemed a little shorter this year, no doubt due to costs, however we did enjoy seeing the efforts people had made with their costumes.

Another venture back in time was possible when we went to Sandwich for the Medieval Weekend. The kids got to hear fascinating facts, touch artefacts and even try on helmets.

More celebrations were going on there, as they had Le Weekend, where traders travel from France to sell their wares. We bought pain au chocolat and of course, cheese.

 

 

The French theme continued when Seamus celebrated in school, learning about French culture, trying croissants and crepes and learning a few French words. He could ditch the uniform for the day and wear red, white and blue – the colours of the Tricolor – but we added a garland of paper onions, beret and moustache for a bit more fun. Oo-la-la.

Our biggest news this month is our newest additions to the family. Arriving aptly on Fathers’ Day, Ian got to collect his long-awaited chickens after months, if not years, of planning.  Everyone got to choose their chicken, so we have a mixture of Light Sussex, Speckled Rock, H&N Nick and Bovan Neras. We have already started to get eggs. The kids love feeding the chickens and putting them back into the coop at night. Names? Kentucky, Nugget, Egbert, Goujon and Noisy Beak.

One happy daddy!

 

And we were lucky enough to catch a visit of baby chicks and ducklings when we went to the Pavilion after school one day. All the kids who were there adored having the opportunity to hold them.

 

It was a lively time when we celebrated Orla’s birthday. She and 6 friends (plus Aoife and Seamus…. we couldn’t leave them behind, could we?) went to Revolution. They had an hour of climbing and an hour of scootering on the ramps, followed by pizza and party food. It was great fun and wonderful to see them all climbing as high as they felt comfortable in their harnesses. The instructors were fantastic and so patient and encouraging to everyone.

Equally tiring was the action packed Community Day at Thanet Wanderers Rugby Club. We hosted a fun day of rugby and challenges for the community, so existing players or anyone new to the sport could join in.  Everyone was give a t-shirt of blue, gold (blooming orange!) or black to represent the club colours and every activity you took part in would get points for that team.

The day was run in memory of Paul Keohane and Seamus was chosen to be Vice Captain of the gold team! Myself and Mario ran an hour-long session of rugby games for the mini age group whilst the older players had matches and then we ran one of the nine challenges … we had the Slip and Slide!  A very popular event on such a hot day. Nothing like being pelted with wet sponges as you run across a soapy tarpaulin trying not to fall over. Tyre flip, welly wanging, timed assault course, Kicking practice and more, there was a lot going on and we were there all day.

When the points were added up, the Gold team were victorious and won the first Paul Keohane Cup. A great event and hopefully the start of many more to come.

 

Another event in memory of someone special was The Great Get Together, for Jo Cox – the MP who was murdered two years ago. We baked some cakes and joined a gathering in Ramsgate, celebrating that we have much more in common with others than divides us. #JoCoxMP

 

And of course the month would not be complete without a bit of sport …  The girls both had a great time at their respective sports days, both being in the top scoring class of their year groups. Thankfully I managed to escape the horror of the Mums’ Race!

 

Orla took part in a very hot cross country run and since she needed to find a girls’ team, Aoife has now joined Folkstone Rugby Club.

And we spent a lovely morning volunteering to run a rugby stand at a neighbouring school’s fayre to help them raise funds… although we did get a free glass of Pimms to say thanks and keep us hydrated!

We’ve still got another sports day, an inset day, two school fayres, new class/school transition day for everyone, an end of year performance, a music night and a ‘goodbye to junior school’ event and disco to go before the summer holidays truly begin… phew! Best have a cup of tea and get ready for a busy July.

 

 


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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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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