threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


Leave a comment

Remember, remember, it’s already November ….

Well October passed by in a flash and the dark nights of November have come around all too soon.

We did manage to squeeze one last bit of Trick or Treating before the month changed and gathered an impressive haul of sweeties from the local estate where houses were decorated brilliantly. We came home to Jelly Brain for tea …. urgh!

We had a French friend visiting for a week so were busy with jaunts to Canterbury, Ramsgate, Margate, Sandwich and The White Cliffs of Dover to make sure she had an action packed week. I am not sure what she thought of Tracey Emin’s Bed when we went to the Turner Contemporary … it certainly divides opinion! The kids shared their thoughts quite loudly, right next to a tour guide and an enthusiastic coach party. Other displays are equally baffling but interesting nevertheless.

 

The month of November is synonymous with remembrance. The children have been learning about this at school and have supported by buying their poppies. This year is the 100th year and we have seen some wonderful commemorations. In Ramsgate, the waterfall was decorated with crocheted poppies and in Broadstairs, a carpet of knitted ones looked stunning. The time they must have taken to make! A wonderful display to honour the memory of so many – thank you. Sadly the ones at Ramsgate were vandalised but were able to be put back in place before Remembrance Sunday.

 

At rugby we marked the silence at our Remembrance Sunday training, and I was so proud of the Under 6s for managing the full 2 minutes and joining their much bigger counter-parts pitch side.

Events of a more upbeat nature were in full flow earlier this month on Bonfire Night, with an impressive display on Broadstairs beach. We wrapped up warm to watch them. The entire area was packed with people – a fantastic turn out for a night of music and fireworks.

 

Fun was had at the Children’s schools to mark Children in Need. Seamus had to dress in spots and had ‘walk to school’ activities all week, resulting in his Infant School raising over £370. Orla took in cakes for her school’s cake sale and paid her contribution to go to school in her pyjamas on Friday, where they raised over £1000!

We have been as busy as ever with the children’s sporting and school commitments. Aoife took part in the Primary Schools Netball competition and achieved a silver medal after losing 2-1 in the final. Well done to all the Thanet schools taking part. She is also representing the school later this month as the Basketball team have a place in the district finals. Fingers crossed.

Orla took part in an all day opera workshop at school which resulted in joining other schools for an evening performing pieces from Handel’s Semele and work they composed with professional opera singers on stage later that week. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you Garsington Opera  and Looping the Loop Festival. I really hope they manage to secure funding for opportunities like this to continue. Orla loved taking part and we really enjoyed watching everyone. She can now tell us the story of Semele and Jupiter and even Seamus has been singing opera around the house “Lucky Omens….Lucky Omens…Bless our rites!”

The theatrics continued with Aoife performing in the Shakespeare in Schools Festival, Romeo and Juliet to a paying audience at the Theatre Royal Margate. We weren’t able to take photos on the night and much as I support these endeavours, I felt the ones they were selling were sadly so overpriced that I couldn’t consider paying any more (£7.50 plus a further £1.50 p&p for ONE 6″x 4″ photo was the cheapest option) hence the recreated image taken on our stairs. Anyway, that aside, it was a wonderful night.

 

She was treading the boards after some great company, as the previous week we had attended an absolutely fantastic performance of Gyre and Gimble’s The Hartlepool Monkey, based on a legend of my birth place. The acting was first class. The cast, although small in number, never stopped for a moment. But it was the puppetry, from the makers of War Horse, which was most breath taking. An absolutely brilliant evening out. We even got to say thank you to a few of the cast as they headed to the pub! #HartlepoolMonkey

‘Twas a cultured few weeks in the O’Sullivan house.  We even got a chance to be ‘hands on’ by taking part in a performance of Almost Always Muddy  a story telling tour with a twist. The children and adults get to build the scene … literally. With everyone adding to the build, the performers then linked everything, with suggestions and ideas thrown in from the kids, into an amazing adventure with puppetry, music and improvised character acting. Seamus giggled throughout and Orla wants to do it again tomorrow. We built with planks, tubes, netting, wheels, material and a huge array of junk to make amazing shipwrecks, factories, islands, aeroplanes and more. A great event, especially as Seamus was able to be included.

A massive thumbs up for Looping the Loop 2017 we’ll definitely take part and watch what’s on offer next year!

We also managed to squeeze in a lovely evening with our friends in Beechgrove Community to see their music festival – with a nod to Scottish, Irish, English and of course some good ol’ USA songs in the mix. We enjoyed the choirs, the Scottish dancing and the fabulous folk band! Seamus was so impressed he now wants to learn the bagpipes! A lovely evening from some very talented young people. Thank you.

Talents of a different artistic nature have been keeping us busy at home with Christmas requests from school – designing Christmas cards and decorating jars. No doubt I’ll have to buy these back at the up coming school fayres! As much as I try to delay it, the Christmas countdown has begun … best start digging out that wrapping paper and finding the tinsel! Here’s to making the most of the dark winter nights.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Suddenly September

There’s a bit of a chill in the air and the nights are no longer as warm or sunny. Yes, September is here and the promise Indian summer has not been fulfilled yet, in fact we’ve begun to search for our warmer coats and hats.  We’re getting into the old routine with the girls settling back to school, and this week even saw Seamus enjoying his first day into his journey of formal education. Wow, where did the time go?

It doesn’t seem that long ago we were bringing him home from hospital as a newborn. And here we are, celebrating his 5th birthday already! He had a brilliant time as he was joined by his friends for a Ninja Turtle themed party. Big brother returned; traveling down from London to be there, much to Seamus’s delight. We had the party at home and even though we were filled to bursting with lively 4 year olds, it went fantastically well and they all seemed to be having fun.

We spent the rest of the weekend making the most of the Heritage Open Days, an annual event where the doors to historic monuments and buildings are opened for visitors to enjoy free of charge. Due to rugby training and Seamus’ birthday celebrations, it was a shame we didn’t have time to visit some of the more obscure venues which are usually closed to the public. However we did get to experience Ramsgate Tunnels which was fascinating, especially learning about the families who had been housed there for years during the war.

We also managed to fit in Monkton Nature Reserve, who were also taking part in the event. The reserve is set in a 16 acre abandoned chalk quarry and is now home to many species of insects, mammal and bird life. It also has the UK’s first artificial bat cave. The kids loved the dragonflies and we even saw a slow worm. There are small hidden fairy cottages scattered around and they were lovely to spot along our walk. The heritage open day meant we got to enjoy both the tunnels and the reserve free of charge.

With Seamus’s year group being on a reduced timetable as they settle into school life, it has meant he has had some time at home without his sisters. We spent a lovely day visiting Canterbury whilst they were in a classroom learning. We were unable to see all of the Cathedral due to it being used for graduation ceremonies, but we enjoyed walking around the crypt, the grounds and the sections that were open. We got to see another Antony Gormley sculpture , the ancient tombs and monuments within the Cathedral as well as the Amnesty Candle  which was first lit by former hostage, Terry Waite and burns as a sign of hope to those unjustly imprisoned throughout the world.

What with weekend rugby training commitments, being back to school, going to work and continuing to host groups of visiting language students, we are all as busy as ever. September is here and the months seem to be whizzing by. Yes, we love the summer with its prospect of sunshine and warm evenings outdoors, but we’ll make the most of autumn days ahead – embracing the changing leaves, crisper breeze and the dark cosy nights which are beginning to creep in. Bring it on!

#threekidsintow


Leave a comment

School holidays … hangin’ on in there

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

#threekidsintow

 


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

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?!

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

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!