threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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School’s out for summer

The heat wave continued and we had scorching hot sunshine each day, week after week. It has meant glorious weather for so many local events. We helped at the annual Alfie Gough Teddy Bears’ Picnic with a session for babies and toddlers. The kids helped distribute the pom poms and shakers to all of the babies and so earned a well deserved ice cream afterwards. We then took part in lots of fun activities including holding snakes and birds of prey. Lovely day raising money for a worthy cause.

 

Ian has also been lending a hand at events – distributing water at two fund-raising for Cancer runs (Pretty Muddy and Race for Life) … and later had to marshal at one event to prevent some of the 5k runners becoming 10k runners!

The sun definitely shone at the 5th annual Pirate Party, a free event for families run by Helter Skelter and Baby Sensory. Arrrrrrr! It was hot, hot, hot… but we had lots of babies and toddlers having fun with the activities and a real ‘feel good’ vibe.  We sang, we danced, we shook our shakers in the sweltering heat …. and I slept like a baby that night!

Summer is starting but before we can get in the swing of it, we had to say goodbye to school. It is that time of year when the end of school vibe is upon us – big changes are afoot with one of our troop saying goodbye to Primary. The start of many goodbyes began with the Year 6 disco … an emotional affair for some judging by the tears at pick up time. Despite it not being a prom, Aoife opted for a dress to be like her peers and they did look lovely.

The next ‘goodbye’ was the Year 6 end of year play, where she had a main part as Dr Who’s assistant Sarah-Jane. All of the year group took part and it was amazing to watch especially when they performed energetic songs by Queen.

 

And the ‘almost final’ send off was a fun packed show stopping event, with circus workshop, stalls and inflatables. The rest of the family were able to join in the fun for the last few hours and all had a fabulous time.

On the last day, with the final ‘FINAL‘ goodbyes, Aoife was awarded the trophy for All Round Sporting Achievement.  A great recognition to her commitment and effort to the school’s sports teams, and it really made her day.  She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at school and here’s hoping the next step is just as much fun!

 

Much further along his educational journey, and a massive ‘end of an era’ took place as Eoin graduated. Ian went to see the ceremony and was very proud indeed. They spent a lovely few days celebrating with friends and family. Well done!

But before we can wrap up all aspects of education for the family and get round to enjoying the summer, we’ve had the usual end of term school stuff too and it has been a task to keep up with it all.

Orla performed her Egyptian play showcasing everything they had learned as part of their topic and paraded their costumes and art work in the school carnival.

She also performed in a wonderful celebration of music one evening, singing in both the choir and chorale group. The evening featured some wonderful musicians, pupils playing guitar, piano and other instruments which made for a very enjoyable evening. Musicians of all levels took part, from beginner to some very experienced and proficient young people. As a parent, I am so pleased that the school embraces all aspects of the arts, it is great to see every child’s talents and love of music being encouraged.

Seamus had a fantastic time in sports day. He was so excited he actually forgot to carry the bean-bags in the bean-bag race at first … which then gave him the giggles.

The drama group performed their WW2 musical ‘We’ll Meet Again’ which was very emotional to watch, quite a few parents had tears in their eyes. It was the story of evacuees and life during the war. Aoife played the school teacher and a mother who sends her child away. This play had won award at Broadstairs Art and Drama Festival earlier in the year.

And then there was the school fair as well, with crockery smashing, more than a little cheating on Hook a Duck, tombolas, raffles, cakes sales and more. No wonder I have so little money!

   

Ahhh, FINALLY it’s now the end of term. That time of year when all the stuff your child makes in school ends up coming home. Soooooo, if anyone fancies a 1m high 3D wall-mountable rainbow elephant head, give me a shout ….

Outside of school, we spent a lovely morning at ‘Margate Made’ where we tried the quite interesting Samurai Shiatsu, made catapults and keyrings with the scouts and had face painted too…. he asked to be a T-Rex in case you were wondering!

And at Broadstairs Victorian Weekend we saw classic cars and Pearly Kings and Queens. We even bumped into a pirate on a day trip to the beach! The town was so busy, and with the fantastic weather meaning the beaches were full, it looked and felt wonderful.

The weather did take a turn for the worse when we visited Ramsgate for the Festival of Sound. After so many sunny days, it was unusual to feel the wind and rain. However, I must say it did add to the atmospheric feel to the installation ‘Requiem for Cross Bones’, a piece by Emily Peasgood which features crosses which sense movement, triggering music and sounds to reflect the history of lives lost.  It was interesting to visit and something very different set in a familiar place.

But the sun shone again for our friends wedding! We scrubbed up well and embraced the happy couple’s love of 1940s/50s.  I got to meet up with some old and dear friends and we all had a lovely day – even though we didn’t catch the bouquet!

The parties continued when Seamus was invited to a friend’s summer party. The set up was fabulous, with assault courses, tissue paper target ranges, paper cup shooting gallery and barricades for a Nerf gun battle. We couldn’t stay long as Seamus became a little under the weather, but he definitely enjoyed his time there. Thank you!

However, earlier this month he enjoyed having two friends round for the day, taking them to the park, having a picnic and also proudly showing them his chickens.

The chickens are earning their keep and are laying regularly so we’ve been sharing eggs and also the mountain of excess veg produce with neighbours and our ‘help yourself’ table at the end of our street. We received a very sweet note saying how lovely it was to see the return of our veg stall. We’re so glad that it makes someone smile.

 

All in all, it has been a busy few weeks and predictably the sun has gone into hiding so we can definitely say “let the school summer holidays begin!!!”


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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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Marvellous May

 

Where to begin … I can’t believe how quickly time is going, almost half the year gone already. And we’ve had the weather of every season this month – torrential downpours and strong winds, closely followed by record-breaking temperatures, only to have to wear coats and hats the following week again!

Thankfully the sun has shone when we needed it.

Aoife and her school took part in the Primary school rugby competitions.  Firstly spending one Saturday competing in the ‘Six Nations’ and then spending another competing for the ‘World Cup’, where they represented Georgia.  Each competition had over 250 local children taking part, a brilliant turn out and fantastic for rugby!

 

The rugby season has come to a close, but her U11 team celebrated with a bang.   The coaches organised a brilliant day canoeing and raft building.  This is Aoife’s final time playing in a mixed team and she has had fantastic coaching over the years.  Both she and the other female player were given a lovely end of season gift from the remaining players and it is such a shame she is moving on.   A massive hats off to the coaching team for all their effort and support; the true unsung heroes of local sport.   Aoife was made up to receive the coaches award for most improved player of the season.   This is her first individual award and great recognition for her hard work – well done Aoife!

 

  

Seamus celebrated the end of his season with a medal and certificate. Sadly, the annual end-of-season water pistol fight had to be postponed for fear of hypothermia (it was soooo chilly!) so will have to be revisited when we go for beach training in the summer! He proudly took his medal to school and received a sticker from the Head Teacher – woohoo!

 

With no rugby on a Sunday for a while, it may mean we actually get the occasional lie in! Well, one can dream…

The festivals are starting and we kicked it off with Margate Bookie – a celebration of literature. One weekend Seamus and Orla took part in a story telling workshop with author Tamara Rattigan, who has written a book ‘Everyone’s Special’ inspired by her son who has autism. They made their individual characters from craft items and celebrated the things which make each of us unique.

We were lucky enough to take part in another workshop a few days later, this time with author Sam Gayton where we made Fanzines. The kids (and I) each made a fanzine on the things we love.  It was a brilliant way to spend a morning and a great way to celebrate our interests – our fanzines featured topics such as emojis, dragons, Ghostbusters, puzzles and 80s music… quite eclectic tastes in one family.

To raise funds for the Water Gala, there was a fun fair and events at Broadstairs Bandstand during the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.  Carousels, dodgems and flying chairs! We took a picnic, met up with friends and enjoyed the sunshine listening to live music! The sunshine brought so many people to the area – the beach was packed!! It really felt that summer had arrived.

 

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Margate this month too – visiting the Turner Gallery (we’re still not sure we ‘get’ some of the exhibitions, but we’re trying!)

We love the quirkier side to Margate and the surprises we find each time when we’re just pottering around …

 

But Margate Meltdown has got to be a big highlight of our calendar. Seamus was in his element when we went to see the bikes along the seafront. Music, scooters, Harleys and sunshine – a great atmosphere and impressive sight on the Bank Holiday!

We visited some familiar favourites too. The Shell Grotto is celebrating its 180th year of being open to the public.

… and we’ve discovered some new ones too. We finally made it to the Tudor House and enjoyed exploring and dressing up.  It gave Orla a chance to tell us some of the things she had been learning at school regarding the Tudors.  The oldest building in Margate, it’s quite an interesting place to pop in.  The staff were friendly and lovely to talk to.  The weather was so pleasant, we spent a while playing games in the side garden.  Brilliant value at £2 per adult and free for children!!

There have been some wonderful events in Margate where we could embrace nature. We enjoyed a Mad Hatters event at forest school. The kids made bug hotels, made shell necklaces, helped plant a tree and seedlings and take part in lots of other activities.  They got to be hands on with the tools and worked with such friendly staff and volunteers. The Forest School is a lovely place and the site is really developing as it establishes.

 

More fun was had at the Windmill Allotments which we visited for their strawberry fayre.  The kids loved pond dipping, finding newts and watching the dragonflies. They blew bubbles, rode the smoothie bike and made friendship hands. It was lovely to see so many people visiting and enjoying everything around them, whether the activities or the peace of the garden environment.

Ramsgate was looking gorgeous in the sun too.  We popped along to go to the cinema one afternoon. Major debate ensued: multi-million pound made-for-the-big-screen block buster, The Avengers or Sherlock Gnomes … guess what we saw!

 

We visited this hidden gem for the first time too. Although we have been to King George VI Park in Ramsgate countless times, we obviously just skirted the edges as had never found The Italianate Glasshouse. It is nestled in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge, Sir Moses Montefiore’s estate.  We popped there for a cream tea and some cake after playing in the park.  Top tip: when you pay by card and they ask where to text your receipt, DON’T give your husband’s mobile number as he’ll find out what you spend your money on!

During our most recent visit, the park was also the venue for the Annual Pugathon – a real celebration of all things pug. There were stalls, activities and lots and lots of dogs!

The Travelling Fair came to Ramsgate too one weekend. With Victorian style quirky curiosities, the kids enjoyed stories from The Wonderful World of Mr E as well as magic and music.

We enjoyed a morning making arts and craft ice-creams and lollies when the weather was a bit murky at Arts in Ramsgate to add to their window display ….

… and went to a slime workshop. Yuck!

The Royal Wedding has given us a chance to enjoy the formal side of life. Seamus dressed as a Prince for his school’s celebration.  Rather dapper, if I do say so myself.

Another chance to dress up was for the May Queen celebrations. A little later and a much smaller occasion than usual due to the illness of the organiser, but nevertheless lovely.

The dressing up didn’t end there. Baby Sensory held a special fundraising week in aid of Tommy’s.  The theme was Showtime – so I was joined by babies dressed up in some fabulous costumes and had to wear a sparkly gold jacket and top hat for much of the day.  We’re not sure of the exact total raised yet, but fingers crossed …

So the month has been incredibly busy with so much for us to be involved in.  We are so fortunate to have such a wide variety of things to do and places to visit, many of which are free or low-cost and are family friendly. June is on its way, we’ve a few birthdays on the horizon and hopefully more fun ahead too.


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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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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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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