O'Sullivan family travels and beyond

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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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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.






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Rain, rain go away…

Missing: big yellow ball of heat.  Last seen in the sky some weeks ago.  Reward if returned before the end of the school holidays.

Well, at times the weather certainly doesn’t feel like August, but we are still trying to be out and about as much as possible. We have had to find some rainy day activities too, such as arts and crafts as well as making lavender bags, which involved decorating circles of material cut from an old t-shirt.

And of course, a great thing to do on a rainy day is making cakes…. the victoria sponge was delicious guys!

Aoife organised a great Karaoke night for the whole family. Good job the weather has been so cool so we could keep the windows closed and not disturb the neighbours with our racket!  We had our very own X-Factor and showed very groovy moves. Simon Cowell is probably heartbroken that he missed hearing such a mixture of hits from Taylor Swift, Little Mix, Tony Christie and surprising choice from Orla, Paul McCartney. Great fun and lots of giggles ensued.

We’re in the mood for music as Broadstairs’ Annual Folk Week has begun. Hooray! As the week went on, the sun has come out so we’ve dug out the flower garlands and the festival hat and are ready to join the merriment.  So far Seamus has enjoyed Wanda the Mermaid at the bandstand and we’re looking forward to a few visits to the Hobby Horse club as the week progresses.

Folk Week is now in its 52nd year and the festival has changed over the years from being an event for a core of enthusiasts of traditional folk music into an event that still attracts that audience but also involves the whole town. The local shops are all sporting the yellow and black colours to help everyone get into the spirit. There is live music in marquees in the park, church and community halls, cafes and bars and the place is buzzing.  In 2012, Kent County Council carried out an independent survey of the Economic Benefit of Festivals in East Kent. Folk Week had by far the most significant impact with an estimated £2.3 million into the local economy…. and that’s not just on beer!

The highlight for me is always the parade. I love watching the Morris Dancers as the walk through the town. Though the kids are still not too sure about Clarence the Dragon, this year have started to love the snappy Hooden Horses and Seamus got to stroke Stanley, the hobby-horse.


Another parade we were fortunate enough to see was Margate Pride. The atmosphere and the colours were great. It is so nice to see positive events and celebrations and to support them. As Margate Pride’s vision reminds us, “Pride celebrations in the UK are especially important this summer, the LGBT community has seen a rise in hate crimes against them in the last year, not just in the UK but worldwide, notably the murder of 49 people in Orlando earlier this summer; in Margate we wanted to incorporate the ever growing arts community in our fantastic, resurgent seaside town, not only reaching out to the existing LGBT community, but also the wider community through events across the town in the week leading up to the event, encouraging liberation throughout the East Kent Coast and beyond…’ There’s not much to add to that other than we had a lovely time.

We have taken full advantage of the sunny weather and enjoyed a lovely walk along the coast, popped into the Turner Gallery as well as stopped for some lovely pizza at GB Pizza. Costa del Margate.

Quieter events this week have included a quick trip to see the lizards at Westwood Dino Park …

…where we went whilst Daddy and Eoin returned from the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival in London. They had a great night, catching up with friends and sampling different brews. Cheers! Hic!

Whilst Aoife played rugby on the beach with her team, Seamus and Orla took part in the Seashore Safari organised by Thanet Coast Project. Exploring through the rock pools at Joss Bay, they found a periwinkle, hermit crabs, topshells, whelks and lots of different seaweeds. Some other safari searchers found some star fish and a crab. The guides were so helpful explaining the finds and encouraging us to put back everything we found. Orla loved ticking the list, and relegating Seamus to net carrier whenever she could. He loved walking over the slippery rocks.  There were families, individuals and couples taking part and although you can book in advance, you can also just turn up on the day. The Seashore Safaris have been taking place at all of Thanet’s beaches. Great fun and right on our doorstep!

So as Sunday afternoon draws on, the family movie is selected and the wind down begins, we realise that’s another busy week of the school holidays done – 3 down, 3 to go!


April and Easter

According to T.S. Eliot, ‘April is the cruellest month’, but we’re finding that so far, it is going very well indeed. The weather has been warm and sunny allowing us to make the most of the (very long!) school holidays. Although it must be said that Ian is complaing about the lack of rain.

However, we ended March, celebrating Red Nose Day at school and nursery, with funny noses and red clothes, followed by Mother’s Day, where the kids help make a lovely breakfast. I was treated with flowers and plants (bought with their own money), a pasta bracelet (“Don’t eat it, mummy”) and some very sweet cards (inscribed with a very heartfelt message of ‘ I love you because you feed me!’)


The month had also ended with news of shocking attack in Westminster, London, which happened at the very time our French language students were near the Houses of Parliament.  We were very much relieved to get the message that they were safe, even though some of their group had been so close that they were instructed to run by police. We hope their memories of the UK are so much more than that horrible time.

Our own trip to London, a few days later was really nice. It was good to see and feel the positivity of people carrying on with their day to day life and whilst that should never lessen our thoughts to those who were injured and the families who have experienced such great loss, the fear of terrible events that can be inflicted so frightenly easily, should not define our every day. We are lucky to be able to feel safe and we should embrace that. We spoke to and smiled at police officers throughout the day, we saw tourists enjoying the famous sights and many families, like ours, enjoying what London has to offer. #Londonisopen

We love the choice, energy and diversity London has – especially when it comes to food. We paid a visit to a family favourite, Wong Kei, in Wardour Street  which years ago was once described as ‘the rudest restaurant in London’. It is a little friendlier these days, but can still have it’s moments, however the food is good….just look at the photo of Seamus which is worth any good Michelin critic’s review.

We visited the wonderful National History Museum walking through the dinosaur bones and seeing a huge, moving T-Rex, which captivated Orla and Seamus’ attention for a long time. Seamus took his toy dinosaur with him so he could see his big family.  With Aoife still wearing her support boot for her injured foot, it was a tiring day but lots of fun.

It’s good to remember that sometimes, especially in the big city, we need to just stop and take time to smell the flowers. Here we are in a small oasis in Covent Garden. A 10 second respite before being hassled by other tourists who wanted a quick snap.

Covent Garden 2017







This time of year is truly beautiful though and we are fortunate to be in such a nice area.  Making our Easter Bonnets made me recall previous Easter and Spring days we have enjoyed since moving to Broadstairs.  They say you remember childhood as endless sunny days and I hope that my children will. Here are some wonderful photos of Easters past which made me smile.

This Easter has been equally special. Starting with a fantastic school Easter service in the church by Orla’s Year Group. She sang wonderfully and her classmates were fantastic.

The girls made Easter pictures as part of the school display and competition. Their hard work paid off, on the last day of term Aoife won the Year 5 group and Orla won the Year 4. A lovely big Easter Egg each!

Seamus’ hat/bonnet was worn with immense pride all the way to school for the Nursery Parade….bar a little tantrum on the way, but thankfully it arrived with its feathers in tact.


and it got another outing at the Broadstairs Easter Trail – a brilliant event organised by the Chamber of Commerce where the children could get sweets from many of the High Street shops. It makes me feel so positive about the local businesses and we want to keep supporting them – Thank you to all the shops (big and small) which take part. We even got our photo taken by the local newspaper.

A bit of glue to repair a few feathers and flowers, and a few days later we headed to the Mayor’s Easter Bonnet parade on Easter Monday at Pierremont Park. The hard work paid off yet again and Aoife came away with 1st prize for most floral bonnet, and Orla and Seamus came 3rd in their respective categories. Result – even more chocolate eggs!

Easter is not Easter without a trip to Planet Thanet Beer Festival – we were one of the first there on Good Friday. And due to being lightweights and having threekidsintow we were one of the first to leave too. However, the short visit was worth it for the salted caramel cider, although Ian is more a chocolate stout fan. We sat high up in the stalls to keep from under the feet of the serious beer drinkers in our own self made kiddies corner.


Other local events have been fun. The kids and I took part in the The Great Egg Case Scavenger Hunt at Viking Bay. This is a fabulous event organised by Thanet Coastal Project. We looked for Mermaid’s purses and other natural treasures, we learned about things which harm our wildlife and then had a wonderful time making marine sculptures. We had beautiful weather and we all would highly recommend this activity – it’s fun, it’s interesting and it is a fabulous way to learn more about the habitats of marine and bird life found on the North Kent coast. Our Egg case findings were counted and will help with their data collection of life on the beach. Come along, join in!

We also had a great time at the Garden Gate Open Day – a community garden in Margate which works with people with mental ill health or learning difficulties.  The sun was shining as the girls made jam jar flower arrangements. We walked aroung the lovely grounds, sculpted plasticine selfies and ate the wood fired pizza – we weren’t brave enough to try the Nettle Soup though! The gardens themselves were lovely to see, the colourful tulips were stunning and the kids were fascinated seeing glimpses of tadpoles in the pond (Seamus’ tadpoles are still residing in our kitchen)



The Tom and Barbara Good Life gardening continues at home too. Seamus has been planting the potatoes, Orla has been digging the trenches ready for the beans and Aoife has been helping as much as she can too. They are talking about setting up an honesty box scheme to sell their produce when it is ready, so get your pennies ready to exchange for rhubarb.

We’ve been to Ramsgate during this half term holiday (school shoe necessity) and loved eating our chips on top of the Maderia Walk Waterfall. We even spotted newts in the water.

We then had a lovely time at the Children’s Centre making Easter baskets from paper plates. It made me giggle when the kids were asked to give their evaluation. Orla said, “it was good because it gets us out of the house”, as if they are never taken anywhere!  Our crafting continued at home, with the girls making felt foxes. Orla sewed hers into a purse, whereas Aoife sewed a 3D stuffed toy.


Another trip to London this month was to mark big brother’s 21st birthday. We enjoyed a lovely meal with some fantastic people to help him celebrate.

We then spent the evening walking along the Thames at Greenwich to see the Tall Ships. It reminded us of all the things we love about London – especially walking pst the Cutty Sark and the pub I used to frequent with work colleagues many moons ago.

So that’s another month well underway. The year is whizzing surprisingly quickly and I am already packing the school bags for the start of another term. I am never quite sure where these words typed into thin air reach as the blog is initially just a way of collecting our memories ( a sort of digital diary as it were) but the stats say we have had visitors from US, Spain, Germany, Vietnam, Russia, India, Slovakia, Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and many more wonderful places. Granted most of these ‘clicks’ may be as a result of a Google search that went a bit wrong but nevertheless, if you are reading this we just wanted to say ‘hello’ and pop back to see us again soon.