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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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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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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School holidays … hangin’ on in there

Ok – end of another week and we are still going strong ….

We made the most of the sunshine to have a lovely day at Ramsgate Boating Pool. Yes, the pedalos are a bit tatty but the kids loved it, although it must be said our steering leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, even with the swapping of seats and change of navigators, we didn’t fall in – and in my book that’s a success.  The cafe was lovely and friendly and it’s a great way to spend a few hours. It is a bit of a hidden gem – lovely setting, reasonable prices, nice building, great views – but you just get the feeling that it could be totally amazing with a lick of paint, a bit of TLC and inflating the bouncy castle a wee bit more.

We headed home in style on the summer special open top bus. With the wind in our hair, we rode past Ramsgate Harbour, along Dumpton seafront and got a bird’s eye view on all the Folk Week revelers at Broadstairs bandstand.

This week we also made it to the fab Lark in the Park. Seamus especially loved the Fun Factory area. Aoife and Orla went into the older zone HQ , meeting up with us for our slot in the art tent. Lark is fabulous, friendly and FREE 🙂  Thank you to all the organisers, fund-raisers and volunteers who make it possible for so many families to enjoy for 10 days every year.

We popped back for another day with Daddy, who despite only being in his 50s, enjoyed reading the ‘Mature Times’ in the over 60s Tea Tent the best!

And then Seamus, Orla and myself went back one final time for an evening activity – family pirate night.  Arrrrrr! Sadly, daddy had to stay back for our students so Aoife decided to keep him company. Most likely they probably thought themselves a bit old to be Cbeebies fans as Swashbuckle‘s Gemma was going to be there. Littlest O’Sullivan pirate Seamus loved it, especially the pirate dance that he knows from the show. An evening of piratey fun and games. Once again, thank you Lark in the Park – another fantastic event for the area. It was even more fun walking through Ramsgate on a Saturday night dressed as pirates – on our journey to the taxi rank, we passed a lot of very friendly people who had probably sampled a lot of the Captain’s rum and waved and greeted us from balconies and bars with Arrrrrrs and Ahoys all round.

 

We’ve joined the latest trend… hiding and finding rocks. Pokémon Go is soooo last year! The premise is simple: decorate your rock and seal it and ideally, write instructions on the bottom of the rock that tell the finder which Facebook group to post a photo to once it’s found. Then, hide it. The finder can choose to keep it or re-hide it. Ours will be released into the wild locally next week – let us know if you find any! Come on, dig out your paint brushes and rock your neighbourhood – just be responsible about where you source your rocks. We have only done a couple but plan more next week and then leave them for people to find.

A fab time was had at Millmead Children Centre’s Fun Day. Orla and Seamus particularly enjoyed the pony rides, whilst Aoife ventured off to handle the snakes and geckos. The kids made badges, had glitter tattoos, hooked ducks and bounced on the bouncy castles – great time. Thanks Millmead Children’s Centre

 

We made it to the last day of Folk Week, enjoying the atmosphere, the music and more. Soozi the Caricaturist was there … what do you think of our portrait?

 

The Morris dancers and the musicians were still going strong after their incredibly busy week and the bandstand was packed. If you haven’t been to Broadstairs and you love music, you really should visit during folk week.

Aoife has given up her free time to attend school drama practise every Monday of the holidays and has been taking part in beach rugby training every Sunday too. Seamus enjoyed himself at a friend’s birthday party and is now keener than ever for his own birthday to arrive!  We’ve done most of the boring back to school shopping (hooray!) so bar a few last minute buys and (as you can see from our photos) an overdue visit to the hairdressers, we can just enjoy the final few weeks of the summer holiday. We may have stayed local but we have still found so many things to do … …

#threekidsintow