threekidsintow

O'Sullivan family travels and beyond


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Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming! The countdown has begun. We dug out the old Crimbo knitwear for non-uniform day, but despite the plummeting temperatures, Orla left off her jumper to sport this year’s trend, a Dabbing Santa t-shirt.

There’s no escaping the festive season now. We’ve been to a couple of Christmas Fayres to buy cakes and mince pies and even bumped into Father Christmas once or twice along the way.

At the girls’ school mini fayre, a bottle of wine was the sole result of our tombola efforts. Slightly more success at Shay’s school, winning three child decorated Christmas jars full of sweeties and a babies’ jigsaw (which we gave to a passing toddler) We were lucky enough to find bargains to boot including some wonderful toys….. oh, and managed to fit in a visit to Santa and finally, the cake stall all before 11am!

 

Despite already over indulging on the sweet stuff, we have been making cakes at home too. Our home stay students wanted to have a version of Bake Off, so the kids divided into teams, with Seamus helping everyone AND deciding he was the judge… an enviable job – move over Paul Hollywood! For some reason Orla decided to make her cakes pink, thankfully they still tasted OK and the judge like them a lot.

  

Orla has also been busy baking in her after school Food Studies club. So far this term she’s made jam buns for the school open day, fruit tiramisu, a curry and most recently she learnt to decorate cupcakes.

Fear not, a nod to healthier eating was made when we created our rival version of Subway one lunch time. Orla and Seamus made up the orders. If I were to do a Trip Adviser review, whilst I would acknowledge it was tasty and well made, the rating would have to be reduced a little because Orla declared anyone who dared to ask for both parts of the buns buttered as ‘fussy customers’! Ha ha. She has decided against a career in hospitality.

Such a simple activity to do and they loved it…. more so than my sandwich jokes. “A ham sandwich walks into a bar. The barman takes one look at him and says, “Sorry but we don’t serve food in here.”  Cue my children staring blankly at me 🙂 One for the Christmas crackers, I guess.

Party season is well and truly upon us though. Seamus has been to a class mate’s birthday party and we also hosted a really nice evening with our lovely neighbours. Seamus had a great run around at the U6s Christmas party, which even had a special guest giving out the presents to all of the wonderful players.

As well as all of that, our final group of  2017 students wanted to experience a British Christmas so we had an early version just for them. They helped the children decorate the tree, pulled crackers and even got to have a flaming Christmas pudding brought to the table. Seamus stole the show when he gave out little table gifts whilst dressed as Father Christmas. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will. Ho ho ho.

  

The children are looking forward to each having a little party in their schools too, which will further add to the excitement as the big day approaches.

There were Christmas trees as far as the eye could see when we went to the St Peters Christmas Tree festival this month. Decorated by schools, play groups, Sea Scouts, Brownies, local independent businesses, pubs and many local community groups including the Old Boys Club, dog obedience classes, Slimming World, coffee morning friends and more, the collection of trees on display looked fantastic. Many embraced the Twelve Days of Christmas theme and countless hours must have been spent on some of the handmade decorations. Well done to everyone who contributed, it looked wonderful. Orla sang in the school choir to mark the start of the festival, and even did a solo of Once in Royal David City.

In a rare student free weekend (meaning we didn’t have to rush back), we had a lovely trip to the cinema to see Paddington 2. Seamus was jumping in his seat with excitement at times and we all loved it. A brilliant family film with lots of giggles and we all give it two thumbs up.

But there is no rest for some. Aoife has been as busy as ever with her sporting commitments. She represented the school in the Thanet rugby tournament, achieving a silver medal. Earlier this month, her school basketball team won the Thanet tournaments and will go on to play in the Kent finals and she recently came second in the Thanet Primary Netball tournament. We are so pleased with her commitment, effort and attitude and hope she continues to enjoy it.

 

Other moments of note have been Orla achieving Star of the Week at school for her maths work and Aoife winning the school Christmas card competition resulting in her design being used as this year’s Christmas card …. which reminds me, I’d best get writing mine if I’m to get them posted in time! It’s nearly Christmas in case you didn’t know!

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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.

 

 

 

 


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Awesome October checking out the Czech Republic

Another busy month. It started with a school -, involving a Dance-a-thon, cake sale and a visit from Warwick Davis! The school raised over £3000 for Little People UK and the Dwarf Sports Association.

More good news as Orla won a prize in the library summer reading challenge so rushed straight from the dance-a-thon to collect her Scalextric set!

As the darker nights are now approaching, the school events continued with a ‘Be Safe, Be Seen’ Glow disco. A brilliant idea to encourage the children to think about their safety when out in the evenings and even the early mornings. We made bows from a hi-vis jacket and topped off the look with fluorescent glow necklaces and bright clothes. Dad even got in on the action with his work jacket.

At home, we had two separate visits from two of our wonderful ex au-pairs. It was so nice to catch up and the children loved talking about what they did when they were younger.

We then set off for our own adventure. We dusted off the backpacks to enjoy a half term break.  

Chips, beer, over priced waffles and a piddling little statue meant we could only be in Brussels! Not our favourite place in Belgium by any means, but a handy stop after the Eurostar leg of our travels.

 

We even stopped for a beer in Le Cercueil, a bar with loud heavy metal music and coffins everywhere!

Then we set off again… travelling through Germany – where we were pleasantly surprise with the Kinderbetreuung (a section in the family carriage where staff provide free activities for the children!) What a fantastic idea!  They were entertained with model making, friendship bracelet plaiting and colouring whilst Ian and I got to read our books and a brief respite from the countless games of  ‘Happy Families’ and ‘I Spy’.  Thank you Deutsche Bahn, I’ll even forgive you for being so delayed.

We eventually arrived in Prague where we spent four nights. We walked miles every day (hats off to the kids!) to try to make the most of it and still find time to do many child friendly things, like visiting the parks.

 

Obviously, we made time for a beer or two…

We visited the castle and saw the changing of the guard. We walked to the Monastery, visited the touristy parts, the Jewish Quarter and found some hidden gems too.

 

 

Of course, we just had to try Trdelník , a chimney cake filled with ice cream, chocolate, caramel or fruit as well as eating delicious honey cake and other regional goodies whenever we got the chance. The restaurants and bistros were great, with a wide choice for those in the family who are vegetarians and some lovely traditional dishes for those who aren’t.

We made sure we did the expected tourist rituals too. Ian and I placed a lock on Charles Bridge , which thankfully had three keys so each of the children could throw one into the river.

 

We also visited the Ice Pub, where we drank from glasses made from ice.  The kids loved it. It was great to find that they weren’t charged to enter and were given free slush drinks. The staff were nice and explained they could leave early if too cold. Ian and I paid 200Kc, approx £7 each but that included the first drink. Our hostel had given each of us a free drink voucher, so much to the annoyance of one grumpy bar tender, we managed to make a few trips to the bar in the 30 minute session, and even had a spare to slyly give to another customer on our way out. Surprisingly, standing in a freezer at -8C was a lot of fun and we all thought it was a ‘cool’ thing to do – excuse the pun.

We travelled on the trams, metro and bus as well as on foot, and found it fairly easy to get around Prague. We even made a visit to the zoo, which cost around £20 for the family to enter. It is huge so it does involve quite a bit of walking, but there were plenty of places to rest and play areas too. As we visited in October, it didn’t seem too busy and not that expensive once in there (the kiddies’ train ride cost 10Kc, which is less than 40p)

Our hostel was nice enough, although the sound of trams through the night was a little disturbing. We had a family room, and although we had some meal making facilities, we ate out as there was so much choice and found meals and drinks were not to costly (less than UK) Prague got a big thumbs up from all of the family!

We then went to spend a night in Cheb. Mostly as Ian had found our train ticket cost was greatly reduced if we used that route. Cheb was quite beautiful in parts with some lovely play parks and sports facilities. A border town, it has a big German influence, with people speaking both Czech and German. However, although our hotel was lovely, we found the people in the bars, restaurants, cafes and even the tourist information office to be unfriendly and found the worst tasting pizzeria outside of Italy. Surely they couldn’t ALL be having a bad day. It was a relief we were only there for only the one night.

After a quick (but delayed by Deutsche Bahn again) hop to Frankfurt and an overnight stay in Belgium, we then headed home.

Once back in Broadstairs, they pace hasn’t stopped. We welcomed a French friend who is staying with us for a week, we went to rugby training, completed an emergency Sunday night homework project on the Solar System, found all three PE kits and still had time to go to a Halloween Party (Thank goodness for that extra hour !) Costumes this year – Aoife was a Cereal Killer, Orla was Scary Poppins and Seamus was a mummy.

The following night we went to a neighbour’s Halloween party and got back to make a start on our pumpkins – grown by Daddy and so huge we’ll be having pumpkin soup for a week. It is not Halloween until tomorrow, so hopefully we will have time to finish our carving. If not, might I suggest they put the clocks back by more than an hour next time and we might just fit everything in!

 


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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

 


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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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More fun in the sun

Most people would enjoy a lovely lie in at the weekend, but having students who need breakfast and packed lunches for the trips to London, combined with children who wake at the crack of dawn means an early start – Saturday or not!

One such Saturday, the girls were both eager to try their best at Upton’s Inter Primary School Cross Country at the morning race. Thankfully the weather was a little cooler than previous days, meaning the 1km run was more manageable than expected.

The sporty theme continued with school and nursery sports days. Orla had a fabulous time, completing circuits with her class group and then individual races, resulting in when her class being the overall year group winners.

The rain held off enough for us to enjoy Aoife’s sports day later that week. She took part in the exhausting mat flipping race and the skipping race, and her class group were the overall Year 5 winners! And Seamus, who not only took part in the siblings’ race at both his sisters’ event, got a Sports Day of his own, with a non-competative nursery sporty circuit. Thankfully both Ian and I managed to escape the parents’ race at all events this year … my excuse – I am still recovering from last year!

Although not natural athlete myself, I do still like to help out with community events, so I was one of the coaches from the local rugby club volunteering my time to run some taster sessions at local primary school. After the school visit, I learned the equation: Caroline + shorts + 2(rugby socks) = a red sunburn stripe on each leg! Sun cream for the following week’s taster day was applied after session!

However, one of the most striking images of sport has to be the iconic scene from Chariots of Fire. Seamus and I went to see the Mayor’s unveiling of the blue plaque in Broadstairs. Seamus got to hold the 1948 Olympic torch and also took part in the beach run. For full effect, look at the next photos whilst listening to Vangelis’ soundtrack, ha ha.

 

Whilst Aoife was in Dreamland rolling skating at a friend’s birthday party, Seamus, Orla and myself went to the Turner Contemporary. We looked at the exhibits but were also able to take part in a workshop. We left the ‘masterpieces’ they both made there, so the can both now say they have work displayed in the Turner Gallery, ha ha! The weekend event workshops are great and made the visit a bit more memorable for the kids.

A week later we returned to take part in the Artgate event, which marked the first day of the Margate Festival. We attended on of the four separate pop up art sessions, then joined the Rock Choir to sing our way through Margate town centre, along the sea front to all meet at the Turner Contemporary for the Big Sing and refreshments.

   

Margate is looking lovely this time of year, and each time we have enjoyed walking along the seafront or having a little picnic on the grass near the Clock Tower. When the weather is this good, it is a shame to be inside!

 

We love seeing the unusual and the bizarre …

Art of a different nature, Aoife’s school performance of Wind in the Willows was incredibly well done. All of the kids who took part were great. She has another play later this month, which we are looking forward to watching. They have worked so hard this term and their effort has really paid off. Really proud.

School has been amazing this term, topped off with the school fayre. Both girls chose to run stalls – Orla with a Treasure Map game and Aoife setting up a craft stall where people could decorate their own bookmarks. In an hour, they raised over £21 for the school, not bad going when they priced at 20p or less.

They did enjoy other aspects of the fayre too….

Learning doesn’t just take place in school though. To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day we took part in a fantastic event delivered by Discovery Planet, with a wind turbine focus. The kids learned how electricity was generated and all about energy. They were tasked to design and make a wind turbine to be tested. Great hands on experiments, lots of encouragement and I hope, good inspiration for all three of them to consider engineering, science or mathematics as career choices.

The village fayres and fetes are coming thick and fast. We visited St Andrew’s in Reading Street and bought brownies and cupcakes. Sadly no success on the tombolas though.

We missed the St Peters fayre though as we lent our voices to the anti-austerity demonstration. Not usually overly political, but I am quite saddened of the thought of further cuts to schools and health in particular.  We joined the small but sweet gathering in Broadstairs, rather than the thousands in London.  Here’s hoping our little voices may still be heard.

Still, self sufficiency is getting closer.  Aoife distributed our excess courgettes, patty pans and potatoes amongst all of the neighbours, which were gratefully accepted and so lovely to see each kid taking a turn to visit a house. We do need to work on the wheelbarrow control a bit though.  Green fingers at the ready, we are off to Margate again tomorrow to help volunteer to make this year’s Listening Wall. We saw it last year and are so excited to be able to contribute to something in the area and actively take part in making something to be enjoyed. Be sure to see it when it’s complete.


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Manchester sadness and positive thoughts

Truly saddened by recent world events including the horrific attack in Manchester.  It is hard to know how best to discuss such tragedies with the kids but we’ve always tried to go with an honest approach, inviting questions as they arise.  The natural reaction is to want to shield the children from anything which may distress but that can give more worries and concerns as they find out information second or third hand.  Aoife mentioned that a friend was meant to be going to the London date of the Ariana Grande tour, as she had been given tickets for Christmas, so had obviously been talking with her friends.  It is so heartbreaking to think about the lives lost and the injuries and trauma to people.

Because of that, it has been difficult to summon a level of enthusiasm to do much but I am equally of the belief that fear should not limit us, so onwards we go …

Kindest to others is one way.  We had been busy the previous Saturday baking together. Seamus and Orla made a huge carrot cake for the family and mini cupcake sized ones to distribute to our neighbours. I take it that it was soooo delicious, Daddy obviously couldn’t wait to take a slice before we got a photo!

Seamus, who is thankfully too young to have the awareness of world events (his biggest concern this week was making sure he had the correct coloured socks for nursery photograph day) has been enjoying the glorious weather. He only attends nursery in the mornings, meaning the afternoons are free to be spent doing other stuff or chilling watching Cbeebies. He has been to the beach to collect shells and crab legs, after a little visit to knock on the Fairy Door near the High Street sweetie shop on the way.

Both girls have had a wonderful time at their respective school discos.  Orla doesn’t believe in dressing down for any event, so looked as if she was Pippa Middleton’s extra bridesmaid.  Aoife looked especially grown up too and was most pleased to be there until 9pm!

The latest craze, after the short-lived (and banned-from-school just as I ordered on ebay) fidget spinners, is now slime. Apparently there a hundreds of youtube videos showing how to make slime at home using household items. I tried to get them to stay clear of the more toxic sounding chemicals such as contact-lens solution and Borax, so our efforts may be less successful than professional blogging slimers in their stylish, unmessy kitchens. Seamus particularly liked playing with cornflour and water, watching the mixture thicken then return to liquid. His toy soldiers were well and truly covered. The girls, with a friend, mixed various potions and made some well and truly gloopy, gooey substances.

They also wanted to make edible emoji poo which as you can imagine was as delightful as it sounds. We used a Curly Wurly as it is a chocolate coated caramel. They then tried to sculpt it into the desired shape. The chocolate was a bit too crumbly, so perhaps there are more suitable chocolate bars to use, but it worked for the most part… and yes, they ate it!  Much hilarity and joking followed. “Are you playing with your poo?!” “Mummy, she’s eating poo”  Urgh – I am hoping the next craze comes along soon.

Other activities included making bracelets and pendants out of drinking straws which were melted between baking paper sheets.

The allotment, aka Ian’s Sanctuary, is in full glory at this time of year. The garlic is ready to be harvested, the broad beans are fattening, the glut of spinach is blanched and in the freezer, the strawberries are ripening (that’s if they hadn’t been picked by an over eager Seamus!) Despite the ever-changing conditions faced so far this year (mild, drought like, then frost, followed by heavy rain, now heat wave) many of Ian’s crops are doing well. The question is, does that mean we give each other a chest freezer or pickling jars as an anniversary gift?!

So half term holidays are fast approaching, and even in such saddening times, I’ve got to keep positive thoughts and get my mojo back to find fun things for the kids to do. After all, you do not fight darkness with a sword, you defeat it with light.