threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Keep calm and carry on – surviving the school holidays week 2

We had a lovely treat when we were met by dinosaurs on the way to the cinema. The shopping mall at Westwood Cross had a pop up dinosaur park. Seamus didn’t know which one to visit first! What a welcome surprise when you’re passing Primark. Just hope they are still there when we do the dreaded school uniform shopping!

We had gone to Westwood Cross to use our Sainbury’s Nectar Points offer at the cinema. £5 worth of points gets 2 tickets, which is brilliant value. Such an appropriate offer to have on during the summer holidays – brilliant timing! Thank you #Sainsburys. After diving in to Wilkos for their bargain half price pick and mix, the unanimous decision was to see Captain Underpants, which (thankfully) was extremely funny for parents too.  We’re going to use more of our Sainbury’s points to exchange for tickets to see the Emoji movie later, and Ian is going to see Dunkirk with Eoin.

I had to attend a course for my new job so was away for two nights – first time husband and child free for over ten years. Boy, was it strange! Especially ordering food without having to sort out everyone else’s choices first. I found a brilliant noodle place which had meat free beef so was in veggie heaven, more so because I didn’t have to share or swap with someone who regretted their choice.  I was in Salisbury, so spent a little time pottering around the cathedral on my first evening (too much homework and rain on the second night!) I took Cheese string, so he can add another place to his blog page too. (p.s. in case you are wondering, I passed my course – hooray!)

While I was away, Ian took over the mantle of childcare. He took the kids to some lovely events (I left a list!)

They had a great time at National Play Day event in Ellington Park, meeting the farm animals, Creepy Claws and having a bash at boxing. It is an annual event which is free and I believe it was very well attended (judging by hubby’s moans about the queues)

Quieter but just as much fun was the MENCAP festival in Margate. With stalls and activities, the event was really well organised and seemed a lot of fun. Orla is still talking about the football and the lovely man who helped with circus skills. The festival continued into the night for adults with a learning difficulty/disability with music, a bar and more. So great to see something so positive and totally inclusive.

I got back from Salisbury just in time for the fantastic Broadstairs summer fireworks, which had been moved from its traditional Wednesday to the Thursday due to the weather. One of my favourite live bands were playing (80s music Hyperactive) and the fireworks at 9:45 were spectacular. The kids had a fab time, although Aoife was a little embarrassed due to her parents dancing. Brilliant evening – so glad I got back in time!

Yep, the weather has been a bit disappointing – wet and miserable a lot of the time, which always makes things a bit harder. On the plus side, the veggies are growing and the honesty box is going well with people taking our fresh fruit and vegetables at the weekends when we put it out.

One of the language schools, KSE, held a BBQ for host families. We had a lovely time, the kids really loved the swimming pool and the bouncy castle. Thank you Kent School of English. We have had only a brief few days without students in the past few months but were ready to collect our newest arrivals later that same evening. We’ll be busy with back to back students for the next few months or so and always hope they will have a really great time and enjoy their stay.

The rubbish weather has meant more trips to the library and movie watching at home than expected, but in between the rainy days, we’ve still tried to pop to the park when we can. We went to the beach to spend an evening with some lovely friends (an Italian family who return every year with students) Here’s hoping the weather is better for their visit next year.

With Broadstairs Folk Week around the corner, I have my fingers crossed that the sunshine will return soon.

Well, the school holidays are well and truly underway and I imagine the time will fly by….however,  I’m stocking up on arts and craft stuff incase the wet and miserable weather is here to stay. We can usually find fun things to do at home but the holidays can be long so it’s good to have a few ideas ready. The kids want to re-visit slime making with ‘new and improved’ recipes and ‘honest mum’ promises to help tidy afterwards. After being left with the clear up of the last session, I remain a little skeptical to say the least.

One kid has a school friend coming round for the day, another is planning a couple of play dates too and Seamus is reminding us all that it will soon be his birthday when school starts (note to self: eeek! best start planning something) so one thing’s for sure, it’s still going to be busy.

 


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Summer lovin’

What a way to start the school holidays …. we were spoiled for choice of things to do the first weekend.

Salsa by the Sea at Broadstairs Bandstand was great fun. After a reluctant start, the girls got up to boogie but Seamus was showing his groovy moves right from the beginning! Lovely to see so many people taking part and enjoying the music.

We topped this off with a visit to the Victorian Fayre (not sure how the 1950s classic cars fit in but they were lovely nevertheless) The Pearly Kings and Queens were out in force raising money for some fabulous charities and we had a great time chatting to them.

At home, after sharing veg with our neighbours and eating much more than our 5 a day, we set up a little honesty box for passers-by to take what they need and leave a donation if they choose. The kids have enjoyed refilling the box and checking the money. I predict big discussions ahead regarding how much goes to the farmer (daddy) for next years seeds and how the rest is split.  It is always nice to share and we hope it’s raised a smile or two – or generated plans to make an impromptu rhubarb crumble – whilst people have been out walking.

We know that we love finding fresh fruit and veg on our travels.

The summer weather took a little turn for the worse when we visited Ramsgate for the annual carnival. I suppose we’ve been spoiled with so much sunshine for such a long time.  Despite the cold, the on-off drizzle and the ridiculous amount of time it took us to come home due to all the buses being cancelled or diverted, we enjoyed the fun fair and the parade. If the steel band, the rock band, the skaters, dancers,  baton twirlers and beauty queens et al can brave the cold, so can we.

When we attended the annual Pirate Party at Broadstairs Bandstand, the weather looked as though it was going to be glum once more.  We decided to dress pirate-y and embrace the tropical theme to try an encourage the sun to return. Thankfully, the skies cleared and the rain eased just in time, so we could enjoy the wonderful event. With a fabulous West End star singing Disney hits, a terrific toddler time disco and free face painting, Thanet’s little pirates seemed to be having a blast. The free Baby Sensory session meant there were some really cute mini pirates dressed up too, some just weeks old, ahhhhh, (or should that be Arrrrrrr?!) Thank you to the fantastic Helter Skelter for providing such fun!

We are taking part in this year’s Reading Challenge, visiting our local library regularly over the summer holidays. Last year the theme was linked to Roald Dahl, this time it’s Animal Agents. The aim of the challenge is to get children to read any six books of their choice from their library during the summer holidays and thousands of families take part. I think it is a great initiative and encourages us to use the library a bit more…. although, given half a chance they tend to be drawn to the DVD section first!

We spent an afternoon decorating jam-jars to make our candle lit lanterns and went to see the Littoral Lights II, which was a wonderful twilight art installation on the remote stretch of Ramsgate Beach. At 9pm, when the sun set and the tide had reached its lowest point, artists took over the beach to create magnificent light sculptures, performance and sound installations. We enjoyed walking in between the art, the rocks, the caves and the cliffs. The girls loved holding their lanterns and the battery powered light (which soon became the favourite when the night became darker as it didn’t blow out as often as the tea-lights)  Sadly my photos don’t do it justice and we hope it returns again next year.

We returned to the beach in the daylight to take part in the epic battle with cardboardia. We prepared our own costumes from salvaged cardboard boxes, as we weren’t too sure how much extra armour they may have had. As it happens, they had spares, and Aoife was able to re-arm when hers became a bit damaged in the drizzle. En garde!  Such a giggle to see the fight – brilliant idea and lots of fun. Sadly the weather got the better of us towards the end when the rain became heavier, so rather than become soggy, we went to get some chips!

The beach is always fun, but we make sure we watch out for the sea gulls!

The Twilight Dream Marine was lovely to see, with the superb sea creature costumes parading along the harbour leading us to the main sands ….

 

…where we enjoyed the fantastic Fire Finale which looked spectacular on the beach as the night drew in. Wow! Again, my photos don’t come close to doing it justice. The fire, the lights and the performers’ energy were excellent.

So the first week of the holidays has been very, very busy. We’ve been able to do so much and enjoy the start of our school break on a budget by taking part in an array of brilliant local events. We have been fortunate to find so many things to do during the holidays. Thing is, will we be able to keep the pace?!

 

 

 

 

 


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The End of Term is Nigh …..

The kids and I loved taking part in planting of the Listening Wall in Margate, a truly beautiful idea where people can share their thoughts or worries without any judgement, just enjoy the flowers or help themselves to some gorgeous herbs. It will grow and grow over the summer and look even more wonderful.  The kids were super stars, working so hard and taking pride in doing a good job. We encouraged passers-by to place a plant and even received a lovely ice lolly from a passing friend who saw us working in the sun.  Seamus varied between planting and collecting the empty pots to stack and earned the nickname ‘Pot Man’ responding to everyone’s requests for help , Orla was extremely organised and helpful and Aoife really did work her socks off.  I am so proud of them helping to make something for the wider community to enjoy. Hats off to Rachel of the King Street Project, the lady behind the idea and who did all of the immense preparation. Thank you for letting us be part of something so great.

Margate in the sunshine can be wonderful.  We enjoy walking around the quirky streets and along the sea front.  Seamus especially loves to chase a seagull or two, thankfully we stopped him almost directing one into a little shop just in time!

We visited Ramsgate for the first time in a while to see the Battles for Victory Event.  Ellington Park was packed with vehicles, people in costumes, historical re-enactment scenes and lots for people enjoying the music and the sights.  The swing bands were great, as was the John Miller (nephew of Glenn) Orchestra. The park was buzzing with people, the sun was shining – what a lovely day.

The heat got to us a bit (we’d be no good enlisting with the Desert Rats) so we enjoyed any opportunity for shade when we could.

Walking back through Ramsgate Town, we took time to enjoy the Bee Murals. It is so nice to see art trying to make the most of unused and unloved sections of town. Here we are at the top of the High Street….

Even the spots like the subway tunnel to Leopold Street hold some hidden gems …

And it’s always nice to pop into Gerry’s Coffee and Art House every now and then …

Yet more treats for us when we received a lovely thank you gift from a friend who used our Harry Potter props for a family wedding. The sweeties were a real hit – especially the Golden Snitches made from Ferrero Rocher and the yummy chocolate frogs. The kids enjoyed eating them during a movie night at home. Sadly they didn’t agree to watch Harry Potter, so it was The Smurfs… again! Our friend used our papier-mache sorting hat as the seat placement display, surrounding it with wands labelled with guests’ names and their table setting (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw etc.) Wonderful idea for a Harry Potter Wedding. What a great theme!

 

Not quite the grounds of Hogwarts, but in our lovely St Peter’s, Seamus took advantage of a little trip to the Co-op to spend a good while ‘roly-poly’ing down the nearby hill. This is what popping to the shops should be like although it does make nipping out for some milk more than a five-minute task.

He’s had a wonderful time recently, especially at nursery. The best bit was the Pirate Party! One of the parents kindly made a swag bag for each of the class mates (or should that be ship mates!), personalised them and filled them with pirate goodies. The class celebrated in style, with all the kids dressing up and the teachers embracing the day too with inflatable parrots, drawn on beards and lots of yo-ho-ho’ing. I think he will miss the nursery so much when he moves to ‘big school’ in September…. I know I will 😦

 

Equally busy, Orla rocked at the school music concert. She performed with the choir and also played the ukulele. Thankfully she didn’t inherit my singing voice. It was lovely to see so many kids taking part and some really talented musicians.  Well done Orla, you were brilliant!

Aoife has been incredibly busy with drama. Her year group performed a movement piece to Abba’s Slipping Through My Fingers (this close to the end of the school year, the parents are emotional enough without the weepy playlist to set us off!)  However, there was always her performance in Olivia! to make me smile. She was a big Opera lady and embraced the homemade costume with such confidence. She was fantastic in the role and I was so proud of all who took part! I am still waiting for my Blue Peter badge to arrive after rising to yet another home-made wacky costume challenge though!

So it’s time to say goodbye to another school year. It’s been amazing and fantastic for each of them – jam-packed with learning and fun.  Their end of year school reports were wonderful, a real pleasure to read and I have bought tissues in the event the last day becomes a little sad (for me more than them, most likely). I feel very fortunate and just hope the next school year will be equally lovely for them all.

It’s been a truly tiring year! Some of us are really ready for the break…… bring on the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Half term is here again

Wow, the year is whizzing by. Half term arrived again. It started in typical fashion – with a storm, heavy rain and thunder and lightning, but that cleared after about 30 minutes to bring glorious sunshine and scorching temperatures. Seamus loved splashing and singing in the rain while it lasted, even if he was still in his pyjamas!

So when the blue skies returned and the temperature soared, we were needed at the allotment. We answered Ian’s call in style, marching into the allotment singing Hi-Ho, like the seven dwarfs going to work … albeit slightly fewer in number.  It was all hands on deck to help cover Ian’s poly-tunnel. It’s so large we are considering naming it The O’Sullivan O2! Once the doors are on, it will be great for the tomatoes. I felt like I lost a few pounds being inside it as we fixed the plastic, it was unbearably sauna-like in there! To say Ian’s happy that it is one step closer to completion would be an understatement.

But the holidays are not all work, work, work.  Italy may have the fantastic Mille Miglia, but as we are UK based, we headed to Margate to see super scooters. Last year we had to wear woolly hats and scarves but this year it was sun-cream, t-shirts and shorts. Viva la Vespa!

We have been joined by another child this half term, so the three kids in tow blog needs to be temporarily renamed and renumbered to four (not counting our langauge students who live with us each week).  I took all four kids to enjoy the wonderful music at Broadstairs Bandstand. This Sunday, the band was Goosebumps, who were really good. The bandstand is a perfect spot for chilling with an ice lolly or cup of tea. We often go with a home made picnic. We are so fortunate to have a choice of lovely places and free events to take everyone. Our half term ‘staycation’ is well and truly within budget so far.

Everything is better is cake though. We popped in to support The Four Candles (one of the local micropubs) charity cake sale and ate them at the St Peter’s Dickens Mosaic opposite. It is Britain’s smallest brewpub, so it was quite a squeeze to get in to choose what we were going to buy and sitting at the mosaic gave us much more elbow room. The Victoria sponge got the biggest thumbs up, but my vote went to the chocolate beetroot cake, which was yummier than it sounds. We hope they managed to raise a good amount for the fantastic Macmillan charity.

The mosaic is lovely, depicting characters such as Oliver Twist, Ebeneezer Scrooge and Mr Bumble. There is even Bullseye, Bill Sykes’ dog.  Soon it will be Broadstairs’ Dickens Week, so we will be surrounded by Dickens characters and Victorian costumes around the town non stop, so this was a good way to get us in the mood.

This bank holiday Monday, we spent time in Ramsgate to see the Spring Spectacular which featured bi-plane aerobatics and a display from a Mark 16 Hurricane and the “Spirit of Kent” Spitfire. Naturally, the kids only had eyes for the fun fair, which was extremely loud and more than just a bit grubby – especially in the kiddies fun house. It was quite tricky to see the cycle show due to the number of people crowded round, so sadly we missed most of the stunts and tricks as I couldn’t get the kids near enough to see very much.  All in all, what should have been a lovely day out, was much more expensive than planned (I didn’t know the fun fair was going to be there) and although I enjoyed them, the attractions/displays we went especially to see left the kids a bit underwhelmed and moany… always a good recipe for the bus ride home.

Photo taken by Ed Lewis

However, it was particularly lovely to walk back via the harbour, which looked wonderful. We took time to pop into the Sailors Church too. The Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission was built in 1878 by Eustace Brenan. He saw the need for spiritual guidance and physical help for the men and boys who made up the crews of the sailing smacks who fished out of Ramsgate. It was dangerous, arduous work, especially for the young apprentices who were called Smack Boys. When the apprentices were ashore, they were provided with some comfort in the rooms above the church and later, in the Smack Boys Home next door. It is a small church, but quite interesting and regularly holds services inviting everyone to attend.

  

Broadstairs really looks wonderful in the summer – day trippers, language students and locals all enjoying the beach and more. I didn’t take the photo below, but it shows the promenade off in all its glory.  Soon we will have fireworks in the evening to look forward to. Always lovely, especially when they combine it with music at the bandstand during July and August.

There are some lovely things to see in Broadstairs, some little hidden gems in places too.

One way to get to know our area better was to try the Explorer’s Pack which is avaible to hire in Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. #coastalexplorers. The waterproof backpack can be hired for £5 and contains activity cards and equipment to help discover the natural environment and local heritage. There are marine identifaction guides, compasses and a trail map showing where you do activities such as ‘art on the beach’, ‘seaweed and shell search’, ‘write a postcard’, ‘play hopscotch’ and learn about the weather and clouds. We learned how to make a sundial in the sand, how to spot whether the tide was in or out. Cards give information about the area and its history, encouraging kids to spot clues and make stories. Seamus loved the binoculars, Orla liked the mini microscope and net. It was a different way to get to know our beach. #coastalexplorers. We hired ours from Lillyput Minigolf, but Ramsgate and Margate packs are available from their visitor centres.

 

As all seaside towns, we have the amusement arcades. The kids love to visit and play on the 2p machines. I honestly think they like the machine which converts the change as much as the actual amusements! A few ‘lucky’ wins, a lot of 2ps inserted randomly resulting in noise and flashing lights, we were then able to trade our tickets for two key fobs and a badge! Of course, the kids were delighted and think this represents a grand haul in recognition of their skills.

The following day, we had beautiful sunshine again while we played mini golf at Lillyput Crazy Golf. The grounds looked lovely with flowers in bloom. Admittedly, there was a wee bit of cheating going on at times (I said I wouldn’t mention any names, didn’t I Seamus?!) but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Pierremont Park has been a lovely little oasis for us, sitting under the trees for shade. It’s a perfect spot to eat our chips or sandwiches and close enough to pop to the Co-op for some refreshing ice lollies. We made a couple of trips there this half term. At lunchtimes, it fills with students from the local language schools, gathering together to chat and share pizza and giggles, but is equally used by families and those wanting to spend a few moments reading their book. I was lucky enough to pick up a book left on the seat, inside was inscribed that it was free and to be passed on … I may drop a few around town myself to keep the spirit of sharing going.

Back in the house, the first of the broadbeans have been harvested and eaten. Seamus and Orla did a good job of preparing them for dinner soon after they were picked. As you can see, the usual pose of sitting on the kitchen floor has been resumed!

May 2017

May 2014 – baby Seamus starting young

And finally, as the week draws to a close, preparation is well underway for Ian (Daddy’s) birthday. The kids have been painting the box for his gift. Best not say too much more incase he reads this! Fingers crossed, we hope he likes it. That reminds me, we need to pop to the shop to buy a few more candles!!

All in all, we have been extremely fortunate to have had such lovely weather this half term. As usual, there has been lots of things to do in Thanet for children. The countdown for school has begun as I start to put the PE kits in their bags and dig out the shoe polish. School on Monday – phew, I’ll be glad for a wee rest!

 

 


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Mad Science, May Queens and more Mayhem…..

Well, the Easter holidays are over and it’s back to school for everyone.  Not that my children had the ‘Back to school blues’ as they had so much to look forward to this term.  On the first day back, Aoife’s class dressed up to learn about the Tudors.  Granted, her costume may have ventured more toward Maid Marion than Anne of Cleaves, but it did the trick.  It seems almost impossible to buy girls’ costumes without them being extremely short, very tight or so revealing they look like it was bought from a branch of ‘Anne Summers’. Argh!!  Anyway, I think we pulled it off and she looked good in this dress hence the Maid Marionesque style rather than medieval wench.

A day or two later and it was Seamus’ turn to dress up. He had to wear red and white for ‘England Day.’ He made a small St George and the Dragon from a paper plate and a toilet roll tube to take in, as he had been learning the story in nursery. They played cricket, ate strawberries and sang happy birthday to the Queen who is celebrating her 91st birthday.

I am even more convinced my children’s schools have shares in Amazon and ebay as before the week was out, ANOTHER costume was required. This time it was Orla’s turn. Her school has decided to have a topic about potions so children could dress as scientists or wizards. We gave our Harry Potter outfit to a friend and Orla went as Professor Orla McClever-Cloggs, the lab’s chief scientist and Hadron Collider polisher. Her hair looked amazing when we backcombed and sprayed it and the oversized lab coat added to the desired effect. I see a career in science on the cards.

The science theme continued when we spent a lovely Saturday in nearby Ramsgate to visit Thanet Space Lab. This is a pop up event by Discovery Planet working alongside the university and UK Space Agency. The kids made and measured craters and then designed plating to protect a space craft, which was tested by firing a gun! Needless to say, they really enjoyed that bit. As always, the dress up box came in handy and Seamus went as an astronaut.

The weather was lovely, so after the event (and with our little astronaut in tow) we went to have a picnic of home-made sandwiches and then enjoyed a lovely walk around Ramsgate sea front.

Discovery Planet then held a competition for children to show how they would make clear ice at home. Seamus took part. He wanted to make it in a funny shape, so after discounting using a rubber glove and he decided to pour water in a plastic brain shaped jelly mold. He froze it in the freezer and then took a photo the following day, reporting back on the experiment. Later, he went round the house saying “My brain is melting!” Ha ha ha.

We attended a great event at the Theatre Royal in Margate, solving a real life Scooby Doo Mystery.  The bad guy would have got away with it if it hadn’t been for us meddling kids!  The kids and I invited a friend and his mum to join us and had lots of fun.  Together, we ventured round the entire theatre – the box office, the stalls, the gallery, back stage, in the prop room – collecting clues and cracking codes which eventually led to the missing treasure and meant the theatre is safe again. Phew!

 

During the Bank Holiday Weekend, we also enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in Sandwich during their 1940s three-day event. Dressed as a Land Girl and evacuees with little labels, the kids saw re-enactments, fantastic costumes, military vehicles and more. The whole town got into the spirit of things with shop window displays decorated in 1940s styles and we it was lovely to potter around.  Even the Park and Ride bus was playing Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields.  Seamus particularly enjoyed joining the Desert Rats, and so did Aoife.  Though Orla said the high light was going to the park and sweet shop.

The kids were asked to participate in the St Andrew’s Church / Reading Street May Queen event. Both Aoife and Orla were asked to be attendants and Seamus, a chimney sweep. We thought it wise to swap the authentic heavy sweeping brush with a lightweight plastic one!

We made lots of cakes to go with the afternoon tea which followed. The event saw Morris Dancers, maypoling Brownies in the church, and the afternoon tea was supported with entertainment from a fabulous duo called Einstein’s Children and a lovely performance from Kent Show Choir. It was a really nice community event and a lovely get-together. This is the kind of thing I love!

 

In the words of Monty Python,”And now for something completely different…” it’s time for a tadpole update. They grew and grew. We gave some to the local infant school so they could chart the life cycle and also donated a few to the junior school pond when Orla said the Nature Club frog was MIA, however the majority are now living in plush accommodation at the allotment. Ian made a pond, recycling an old Belfast sink and when it was ready with pond weed and rocks, we re-homed our tadpoles. Seamus really enjoyed the whole process of looking after them.  Oh, and finally, my kitchen is now a frog free zone 🙂

So as May is underway, the rugby season has come to an end. I survived my first complete season helping coach the u6s … and more importantly survived the after training water pistol fight! Brrr!!

Hopefully, if we organise a few beach training sessions over the summer the weather should be warmer, but this is England so there is no guarantee.

One thing for sure, our family will keep trying to find lots of fun things to do in Broadstairs and beyond.

 

 


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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.

 

 


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Dressing up and more…

It’s been a busy start to the year, including a bout of chicken pox. Now we are spot free and hurtling towards Spring.

The fun this week has come from World Book Day, where the children were able to dress as different characters. Shay’s school had a Roald Dahl theme, so he went as James and the Giant Peach, despite my best efforts to persuade him to be an Oompa Loompa. He helped with the costume and was over the moon with the result.  Orla also had the challenge to be photographed reading in an unusual place. Is this wacky enough?!

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The dressing up theme continued with Orla dressing up as a Roman to support the class topic. This must be the most recycled costume ever – I’ve used it for Nativity angels (twice), a previous Roman day, and an Egyptian day. Managed to get my money’s worth after being stung by Amazon delivery prices after all.  Orla and I made the headdress from cardboard packaging and the sash is an old bedsheet, which also a homemade Statue of Liberty Costume at one point. Surely some parental brownie points are due for effort 🙂

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We have been enjoying more than our fair share of pancakes too. Firstly at a community event which held a Pancake Party. We had soup, hotdogs, pancakes with toppings, with a sing a long and a nail-biting beetle drive to boot. Aoife was a champion pancake flipper, managing an impressive 59 flips. The evening was a lovely idea – thank you to those who organised it.  On Shrove Tuesday, we had pancakes at home for tea. After this, I think I will find it easy to give up pancakes for Lent.

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We’ve also celebrated Aoife’s birthday with a pizza party at the fabulous Pizza Express, near Ramsgate harbour. They all had great fun making their own pizzas and it was lovely to see the girls chatting and giggling together.  Sadly, Seamus was too spotty to join us but spent a nice time with Daddy at the harbour and got to eat a lot of spare pizza.

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Good job we have rugby to burn it all off.  Aoife continues to enjoy playing and Seamus loves being with the U6s every week. I am getting increasingly more muddy every week as I help out ‘coaching’ his team.   Washing machine, don’t fail me now.   Rugby has been brilliant fun for the kids and we are lucky to have Thanet Wanderers RUFC so close by.  It is great to see so many kids (and shivering mums and dads) turning out each Sunday.

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Orla has kept the sporty theme going by taking part in Thanet Schools’ Cross Country event again.  She ran with over 130 Year 4 girls in the freezing cold. Well done, Orla!

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Even on cold days, we’ve ventured to the beach occasionally, but mostly motivated by the promise of an ice cream from Morelli’s and a trip to the penny arcades.

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We were also lucky enough to be contacted by some long-lost friends who were traveling to Margate for a day trip to the Turner Gallery, It was fantastic to catch up after and I hope they keep their promise to come to us this summer.  The exhibits at the gallery were beautiful and interesting, with displays made from fabric and furnishings.  One exhibit was the models of penguins. They were like small children and had plimsolls on their feet – definitely a Dr Who plot in the making.   At the gallery, the kids also were able to take part in the weekend workshops which were wonderful – weaving, knitting, drawing and card making.  Our London friends really enjoyed their visit, as did we.

 

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Half term was equally busy. We were joined by a boy from Spain who was on a break from his boarding school and lived with us for the week. So with ‘FOUR kids in tow’, we managed arts, cooking, cinema and Scalextric challenge at Hornby Visitor Centre along with a trip to Powell Cotton Museum at Quex  keeping everyone busy….. I know I was shattered!

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After all that, we are just waiting for Spring, … and of course, getting ready to make our Easter Bonnets!