Crazy times but special times! 

THIS IS A LONG  POST! Don’t feel obliged  to read … It is more of a reminder for the family of  of what we have done so we don’t forget.. We had a very busy August !  

I don’t actually know where to start but I can this… August has been CRAZY! it’s HAS EVen RUN INTO SEPTEMBER! 

Let’s start from the beginning.. 

So as August broke so did the caravan! Our lovely Lola died and we travelled to Wilderness festival in a bulging van and slept in a bell tent… You can read about it in the post ‘Ynot ‘ 

We still had a great time at wilderness and the final night was spent with Tara and kids watching the wilderness orchestra.. Was a great night 

We came home from wilderness festival in Oxford and had exactly five days before we went on our Parisian  trip. 

However , things are never so simple.. The day we got home Libby ( eldest) was setting off to Budapest to a festival with her friends. 

So as we got in to the house after 2 weeks in the road it was a mad rush sorting out a tent and camping stuff as well as taking her to where she needed to be… She arrived safely the next day.

I spent the next few days booking the appartment, transfers, Disney tickets and airport hotels ready for our holiday. I also had to make sure everything was ready for Libby’s 18th birthday party, which was going to take place the day after we arrived home:

I’d booked the local golf club at the beginning of the year and did so as I knew they would set up the room and make life so much easier than hosting a party at home. 

It is a big deal when your eldest turns 18 and mr o and I were keen to host something special to bring everyone together for this special occasion.

In true O’Brien style, we wanted live  music and a chilled out night, but we wanted the room to look great and guests to feel comfortable. I spent the next day at home, making things and packing boxes with table decorations and room decor, complete with instructions for the staff.

we set twig in pots , sprayed white snd hung ‘alice in wonderland signs on them’

We went to the venue to pay the bill and take everything down.. Another job off the list.

Knowing we would be arriving home from late on Friday I knew I needed to have everything ready. So the last few days were spent tidying the house, confirming and booking hair and make up, buying party clothes and hanging then ready. I even order the shopping to arrive late Friday night, with the cakes for decorating and items for breakfast for any guests staying over! 

As our holiday drew closer I found myself starting the packing onSaturday  night as we were setting off Sunday lunch time! Talk about last minute…it does freak everyone else out but we travel all over in the summer and if I have learned one thing, it’s you really don’t need to spend weeks and months planning trips!  

On Sunday we took delivery of my mum and Lizzie ( graces friend) and set off on two cars to Manchester. When we arrived at the hotel it became apparent that the hotel we had booked wasn’t the one we thought it was and it was a bit of a disappointment. No swimming pool or fancy restaurant but a 1960’s throw back with tired decor! But it was clean and tidy and offered parking while we went on holiday.

As we arrived so did the in-laws, as we were in my husbands home town they came over to see us. A quick drink turned into quite a few and at 9pm I realised I had to check in on-line, bath the kids and get settled down.. With mr O still happily drinking I was left to sort everyone out.

Talk about stress! There was no wifi in the room so I had to sit down stairs in the lobby, but the website for checking in was so stupid and kept asking me for information I didn’t have, I must have gone up and down that lift ten times! Eventually I sorted it and we were checked in on line.. But the kids information was all wrong as the slide down menu for their age only went to 1999 !?! So I had to make them older than they were and of course the worries about it all night! I had no sleep what so  ever! 

While I was sat in the lobby of the hotel, this Chinese man came over with his phone, he was, I think, asking me to help him out the password into his phone for the wifi. But because his phone was all in Chinese I really couldn’t help him. But as I handed his phone back he gave me a little bow his stomach made this hideous bubbling noise and he left me with a huge and disgusting smell! After the stress and frustration of trying to fill in a form with crap wifi, hold a toddler near me and try get sense out of a husband who’d been drinking all day.. It was really the icing on the cake! 

Morning came and we were picked up and taken to the airport. After all my worry about checking in on line it turned out they needed to check us in anyway as there was so many of us! 

We had an easy flight and transfer to our apartment  which was absolutely lovely. Totally shabby chic or clean scruffy! It was great tho and we were in a lively village area not far from the Pompidou. 

We had a lovely week traipsing around Paris, it’s always hard when you are a big group, to keep everyone happy. It’s even harder to lead that group when no one wants to take the lead but still has opinions what and where they want to go! But we did it and had fun, we had lots of belly laughs and as always I got to visit my favourite art works. 


Seeing the art work of my studies is like visiting old friends. Every artist has a movement that inspired and moved them and mine was the impressionist and post impressionist movement. I feel like I was there, gallivanting around monmatre and enjoying an exciting life of creative Adventure. 

So seeing money’s water lilies, and visiting Picasso , Manet, Renoir and the rest of the boys makes me super happy! Always shedding a tear when I visit monets bronze ballet dancing girl! I totally love her! I always say to myself how id love to go by myself one time and just sit with the paintings.. When you are with non artists or artist with other inspiration you are always slightly rushed through! 

We drank red wine in front of the ‘big tower’ as kitty called it, visited Sacre Cour , rode the train around monmatre and had various other site seeing and adventures! 


While we were there it was kitty’s birthday! 3 years old! We took her to Disneyland  and she had a ball! Besides missing the last tube home we had a great day! 


We returned home Friday and an easy flight and journey arrived us back for around 7pm… But no rest for the wicked! Libby had arrived home from Budapest the day before and along with our mess  I was faced with copious amounts of washing up, clothes  and cases. As it was the big birthday party the day after I took all the cases and clothes up to our room and left it there! They stayed that way for four days! 
My previous week of organising was already paying off as the shopping arrived on schedule.  I’d bought frozen sponge cakes! It’s a new concept but perfect for what I needed! They were posh cakes from a great baker, but ocado had frozen then.. So as they defrosted over night ready for decorating in the morning, I was able to feed the troups, bath and shower them all and fall into bed ready for a busy day.

The day of the party was a blur, poor Libby was booked in for her hair doing in the morning but work had called her in and weren’t budging an inch. So while she was out I decorated the now defrosted cakes, finished the table settings and took everything down to the golf club.

We had a lovely surprise to find the staff had already set up the tables and decorated the room with the stuff we’d taken down.. They’d done a great job! We added the centre decoration and scattered glow sticks and sweets everywhere. We then had to set up the lap top and the projector.

We had created a lovely video for Libby with pictures and a lip sinc video of all her friends and family miming to queens bohemian rapsody! It had taken hours and hours of work collecting and putting together the clips everyone sent, I was still doing it the night before we got back from Paris! But it was done and was totally fab..! We set it up and watched the presentation together that afternoon and for the first time I ACTUALLY watched it, as a viewer and not as the maker. I had a little cry as I saw Libby grown up through photos before me and enjoyed the knowledge that so many folks had given their time to the video too. Emotional! We got home, room all ready, and after a shower and quick tidy up the make up lady arrived and started work on grace. I had been persuaded to have mine done too and as a none make up lady.. I was nervous! She worked her magic and I looked like a girl! It was weird… Libby hadn’t arrived back as she had finished me so she did a little blush and lippy on Kitty who was thrilled to bits! 

When Libby arrived back from work she rushed in and sat down for her turn.. She glanced at me and said ” wow mummy you look fit!” I guess it was a compliment!

We went down to the golf club and Matt and Denzil were already there setting up the sound gear ready for the disco. We got some drinks in and waiting for the guests. 

What a magical night, we had live music, the video, singing and dancing! It was very lively and most importantly Libby had a great time! It was so lovely to have so many of our family and friends in one place! Just great! Even William hit the dance floor! He totally rocked out! Denzil caught this great pic of him! 


We eventually arrived home and at 5am everyone was in bed! Breakfast was great, hungover mates chilling out and eating bacon, drinking coffee and nibbling on pastries! It’s my favourite part of a party.. The debriefing and chatting in a hungover haze. 

As folks left and new visitors arrived we stumbled through the day, by 6pm we were alone and sat in front of the tv watching crap and eating cake…. It wasn’t a late night! 

Monday came and I had to go in to town to pick up banners and ribbons for Libby’s birthday which was the day after. We had arranged  to give her a car. It was over in Manchester at Keiths brothers house. Keith had planned on giving her the key and getting the car some other time, but it wasn’t exactly the best surprise! I had visions of her opening the key and running out to an empty drive. 

So with some plannjng, I insured keith on the car for the day and persuaded Matt to take keith half way over where Neil met them and took keith the rest of the way. He picked up the car and brought it home, parked infront of the house.. Libby didn’t notice as she arrived home. 

So after another busy day we fell into bed once more! Morning came and I snuck outside to decorate the car. I was so proud we could give this gift! As Libby opened her cards she came to the silver box! It’s a very good job we did bring it over as she screamed and ran straight outside to look at it! It was magic! 

Libby went out with her boyfriend and we planned on going for tea, but I’d picked up a bug and ended up staying in bed while the rest of them went out. She finished her day in Leeds drinking cocktails a happy young adult! 

She and kitty enjoyed their cakes ( kitty hadn’t been sung to on her day so she shared the moment with her big sis) 

Wednesday came and I had to check my emails at last! I found the confirmation for a one day event on the 3rd September so spent the next few day planning and booking folks for that. As well as unpacking from Paris and getting the washing and house sorted.. My days were pretty much full! 

Thursday hit us before we know it and the girls and their friends were going to Leeds festival. Grace at 16 was doing her first festival without us. With two of her friends she excitedly packed and along with Libby ( who was meeting friend there) climbed in the van for a lift. As we arrived the heavens opened! I mean TOTALLY opened. I left them in the pouring rain, water running off the ends of their noses! But they are festival savvy and know the score! I wasn’t worried. We arrived home , ordered fish and chips and watched a film! You can read my post about drug taking at Leeds in my post ‘is drug taking safer at festivals’ 


Friday came the next day and we attended the funeral of a very special young man. Jacob had died suddenly in a bike crash and at 21 we were all feeling a great sense of loss. You can read about him and the funeral in my post ‘losing an angel’ 

We arrived home late from the funeral on Friday night and fueled with a draining sense of exhaustion we collapsed in from of the TV, thinking about our own family and counting our blessings X

Saturday was heaven! For the first time since February , that’s seven months since, we had nothing to do on the weekend.. We did nothing! We watched three films! By 8pm though I wAs climbing the walls.  Mr O played his records on his vintage player while I made Pom poms with the kids! 

Sunday allowed for a lie in , after resting all Saturday we cleared the new downstairs toilet from all the decorating stuff, tools and parts we had for extension. Keith fixed on the doors and I put everything away in the sheds and cleaned the kitchen! It made a big difference clearing away stuff we’ve been struggling to store for months! 

Bank holiday Monday was all about picking the girls up from Leeds and feeding them and unpacking . I managed to get in the garden too and cut back the months of summer growth and mess that comes with a summer on the road. I was happily tired and feeling fulfilled! 


Tuesday was an admin morning! Keith back at work and  I have had a security issue with my bank and payments I’d made had been held… So I woke up to six or so crew asking kindly where their money was. VERY STRESSFUL. I’m still trying to sort it and it’s fine just taking time! I also hit the lap top and sorted the gig for the weekend. 

The afternoon was filled with a trip to Leeds with Grace! She had to enrol on her course and needed someone to help show her which train and where to go. She was so very nervous but got through it. It’s exciting times for her. New city, new course, new friends! I’m kind of jealous …. The smell of oil paint and adventure was in the air! As we arrived home on the train keith picked us up , we dropped the kids off before dashing off to wicks to buy stuff ready for the builder! 

waiting for the train to o Leeds. Grace was ‘practising’

Wednesday brought the builders, who finished the steps to the house and did a few bits of finishing off. They also sunk the posts for the new fence which didn’t go well with our neighbour.. But that’s another blog! Having the steps finished made us really feel like we were getting somewhere and started looking forward to finishing the inside this Autumn.


That brings me to Wednesday! I spent the day in Wakefield with the kids, my mum and keith. It was mums birthday on Tuesday and is not been able to make it because of graces induction. So we treated her to lunch before going shopping for Williams high school uniform! That boy really doesn’t give a shit what he looks like! We literally dragged him around forcing him to try on and show preference in anything… High school will be a shock! 

playing in the fountain in Wakefield while we waited for Grandma
birthday lunch for grandma

So as we returned, Libby came in, sad and dissolutioned as she had said goodbye to her beau for three months! He’s gone to Australia to meet his birth father and obviously Libby is heart broken. We hope she uses the opportunity to find herself and explore her options… But her heart hurts too much today to think so far ahead! Ah to be 18 again! 

We spent the night doing our own thing, I finished designing a treasure hunt for the gig this weekend and decorated the old Silvercross pram for my little show and activities. ‘Mrs O’s magical Prambulator’ is in development and hopefully will become a walkabout theatre peice by next year. 

Keith slobbed out and watched some football, William gamed, grace snap chatted, kitty played play doh and Libby cried a lot! It was like a normal household! 

Friday we went to Derbyshire to run a day VIP gig which was fun.. The site was themed and just a lovely version of ‘adventure island’ with clients getting tokens for food and drink and all the activities and rides free, we didn’t need to spend a penny.

 

Our space was lovely and we provided crafts an theatre… It went down really well ! 


The crew worked hard and we smashed it but the fun came later when we were given lots of left over booze from the bars and cocktail bars as well as cakes and food. We sat in our space in an empty arena watch the fireworks in the opposite field. We had a real laugh and it ended the season off brilliantly! 

​​We just got home via picking up a tool box for graces college equipment! She starts tomorrow and William starts tueaday. So it’s all new  adventures for them! 

I’m having September off! I’m keeping my head down and preparing for hibernation !   

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