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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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


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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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June is bustin’ out all over!

Sunshine, then cold blustery storms, then prolonged heatwave … honestly, we can wear clothes for every season in the same month!

June is a busy time for us – birthdays, Father’s Day – so we are still as hectic as ever. Ian’s birthday was first. We bought him a samovar, a much smaller and less elaborate (for that read ‘cheaper’) version of those we saw on the Trans Siberian Railway last year. Actually, truth be told we are not even sure if it is Russian. The seller researched a bit more after we bought it and now thinks it was used in the war, possibly in Anderson shelters during air raids. Whatever its history, we just hope it makes a good brew at the allotment. We also chose a lovely selection of local beers from The Bottleneck in Broadstairs, so if the tea is not flowing, no doubt the Gadds, the Romney Porter or the Whitstable Ale will be.

Father’s Day was equally fruitful, with presents of Bamberg Rauchbier from the little ones and tickets to the British Beer festival from Eoin … I am beginning to see a theme here. He also got some lovely homemade cards and some local honey, another of his favourites.

This month Ian also went to spend time with a friend in London, visiting London Bridge and Borough Market where the terrible attacks happened very recently. We feel it is important to carry on positively at these times. However, more sad news followed, with London experiencing a terrible tower block fire. It is unimaginable to lose everything so quickly. The month also saw a horrific attack outside a Mosque as people were returning from prayer. Truly saddening times.

Ian enjoyed being back in London, as did Seamus, who was well and truly spoiled, although obviously it was a tiring journey.

Speaking of being spoiled, Orla enjoyed quite a few celebrations for her birthday, opening lots of presents and then enjoying a trip to the cinema and a meal with school friends and family the following day. We went to see Beauty and The Beast, which everyone agreed was great. I don’t think anyone noticed me crying at the end.

As a family we loved the annual Le Weekend celebration in Sandwich. The town embraced all things French, so there was a real French Market with visiting French stall holders selling their local produce and wares such as bread, cheese, tartiflette or Jacques Tati movies, alongside live music and entertainment. We loved the Can Can dancers (who hailed from Canterbury!) and the folk bands. Oo la la! The town was decorated in tricolor bunting and there were stalls and many visitors everywhere. It is so nice to see such vibrant activities and something where everyone mingles and soaks in the atmosphere. Vive la Sandwich!

Whilst there, visited the (very) small Guildhall Museum where Seamus enjoyed dressing as a knight and the girls answered an activity sheet.

Closer to home, we saw the wonderful St Peter’s Village Tour when we walked to our local Co-op. Let’s face it, not everyone gets to see Queen Victoria when they pop to the shops for some milk. Seamus loved the guys in the stocks and was invited to throw knitted vegetables at them as their punishment. It seems the naughty step is not such a recent invention.

With Dickens’ Week well under way, Seamus and I took advantage of a nursery inset day and managed to join the Victorian Bathers as we strolled along Viking Bay.  It was hilarious. Thank you for making us feel so welcome and for letting us take part in the fantastic Dickens Festival celebrations.

 

The festivities last throughout a week in June every year.  It’s wonderful to see costumed characters promenading around the town and a host of great events.

 

This month, we were fortunate to be invited to a friend’s graduation ceremony at Beech Grove, a Bruderhof community of 250 people. It was wonderful to hear the speeches given to and by the graduating students and nice to spend time with everyone after the ceremony. Although the community welcomes visitors with regular open days and meal invitations, this was a more private occasion (hence respectfully I wouldn’t wish to take or post any photographs) and it was an honour to see our friend at such a pivotal moment. The open days are so interesting and the community members have always made us feel welcome. Their values are strong, their ethos to help others is shown all they do (we spoke with people who had recently worked with refugees in Lesbos) and as a family, I think we take something from every visit.

Our family took time to support the #greatgettogether a weekend of community events in memory of Jo Cox MP. We went to a get together at St James’ in Margate and met people from the local area, some of whom originated from Kansas, Germany and London. Homemade cakes, tea and a chance to meet new folks…. love it! I really hope the Great Get Together is repeated in years to come – such a lovely idea from such a terrible tragedy. It reminds you how wonderful it is when communities come together.

 

So with a house full of lovely language students every week, and the final school term well underway,it’s as busy as ever. We have been lucky to enjoy fabulous walks, (cycle and scoot) to school in glorious sunshine…

… sometimes stopping to feed the donkeys or visit the horses on the journey home. How great is that! Let’s hope the good weather continues for the up and coming sports days,an inter schools’ race tomorrow and other events we have planned over the coming days and weeks.

 

 

 

 


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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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Spring forward

Well, the nights are getting much lighter and my daffodils are out, so it must be mean that Spring is finally here.

The last few weeks have been busy with after-school activities – Aoife representing her school at tournaments of hockey, rugby and netball, Orla running in the Cross country and singing at Margate Winter Gardens Festival of Song, Seamus’ Nursery presentation for parents, as well as Orla having various friends to tea …. Thank goodness we have a calendar.

     

 

However, it looks like the sport will be on hold for a while with regard to Aoife due to her injured foot but Seamus (and I) will have to still keep playing every weekend – rain or shine.

 

Nevertheless, that wasn’t an excuse for Aoife to do nothing. She still chose to complete her full shift at Tescos packing bags to raise money for the team kit and their tour…. although I did hear that the customer in the final picture was the trickiest, ha ha.

 

Seamus has been looking after his frog spawn, which he gathered from our neighbours’ pond. Big debate as to where they should live – they are currently in the kitchen on the strict understanding that this is reviewed when they start getting legs. The Tadpole Diary is well underway and he thinks it is fascinating. It reminded me of visiting Sedgefield Country Park as a child with a net and a jam jar – I wonder how much of this Seamus will remember and whether he’ll inherit Ian’s mother’s love of wildlife.  He’s taking the job of caring for his tadpoles very, very seriously.

Ian is currently planting. At the time of writing, my living room window sill is filled with brussell sprouts germinating, the laundry room has potatoes chitting and my dining table is covered in newspaper while he transplants his leeks. Can’t wait for them to make the next part of their journey – to the allotment!

The kids are often ‘roped in’ to help too. Aoife has been collecting seaweed and hops, whilst Seamus is known to make the regular trip to the stables for manure with a wheelbarrow. Orla earns her pocket money as sorting the seeds and being a chamber maid, helping me change beds for the students.  Ssshhhh, don’t tell them about minimum wage entitlements.

 

During a rare student free weekend, we made a visit to Bristol to see Eoin – a very long round trip with an overnight stay and a very welcome beer (or two) after the drive. We know we are getting old when we reminisce how his student flat has much more than Ian and I ever had at our respective ‘digs’ – more than one bathroom, a dishwasher, wifi and heating!

Seamus is still getting used to Eoin having a beard and can’t wait to grow one to match, although we have explained that may take sometime.

It would have been nice to stay a bit longer and see more of Bristol, as it is fair to say that it was a rush getting back to pick up our next group of language students. Lots of numb bums on the way home.

 

Did I mention how far it was …..?

We might no longer be traveling, but as we’ve mentioned, the world is still coming to us in the form of international students. And even when they are from very familiar countries, we try to extend that even further by making food from around the world.  A recent evening meal transformed into Mexican night with fajitas, salsa and nachos. The sombreros and moustaches made for some quite interesting selfies for the students and we hope they had a giggle and will remember us fondly. The kids enjoyed the silliness and it’s one of their favourite meals so we might have to make it a regular. Ian, you’ll just have to feign surprise if we give you a Mexican themed birthday meal later this year.

We love keeping up with traditions closer to home too, and it’s time to turn our hand to Easter Bonnet making.  Last year’s travels meant getting rid of a lot of our ‘junk’ before we went, so we had to shop for new Easter chicks, hats, feathers and other seasonal tat required for our individual masterpieces.  Fingers crossed they hold together long enough for the school parade.  Note to self – don’t let the four year old choose a design requiring feathers and glue next year.

What do you reckon? Cool, eh?

As the weather has (sometimes) been kind, we are really enjoying our walk to school, particularly as the magnolia is in bloom. But it’s fair to say, the kids are also looking forward to the end of term. We’ve got the Broadstair’s Easter trail and also a Thanet Coastal Scavenger Hunt to look forward to and hope to be able to fit in a beach trip or two.  Til then, we’ll keep plodding on  xxx