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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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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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!