Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Spot of Lunch

My friend Lee and I went for lunch today. We went to my local pub and had a good catch up about everything since Christmas. Lee's also doing a 365 project, so we spent a lot of time taking about it. He's decided to take one photo a day, and of course that totally appealed to me! So today, there was a lot of photo taking, and a lot of photo talk. But first, food!

I had a steak and kidney pudding with mash. Lee had a seafood medley topped with cheesy mash, Here he is, photographising.

We went for a walk afterwards to take lots of pics in the winter sunshine. We saw a squirrel do a big jump from one tree to another!

After our walk, we went back to the pub for dessert! And of course I got another Eton Mess!

It was really lovely to hang out with Lee today. We talked, and laughed, and told stories, and shared problems. It's so lovely to have such great friends around. Thanks for coming round, Lee - see you after Australia!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Travel Journals

My friend Ric, inspiration behind this year's 365 project, bought me a very simple, very thoughtful Christmas present in 2013. It was a travel journal, with lined, squared and plain pages, and little pockets to put in tickets, cards, scraps: it was awesome. He gave it to me with the words "of all the people I know, you're probably the only one who will know what to do with this".

It was also a very timely gift as he knew that I was going on my tour of the USA. What he didn't know was that I've always wanted a travel journal, but could never find one that I would like, and didn't want to buy one in case I got it wrong somehow. I think that this gift helped me realise that there is no right or wrong to journaling, and the page variety really appealed to my playful side.

So I took my journal on tour with me in the USA, and sat down with it every night to fill in the stats, and to reflect on my day. Morgan would peek over to my bed as I wrote and ask me what I'd additions were going in, and sometimes I'd share. This is a book that is very precious to me, and seems to represent an adventure that I can't seem to find the words to talk about out loud.

This journal doesn't close any more, but for some reason, makes it all the more awesome.

I don't think I journal like most people. I like making lists and drawing diagrams to represent my thoughts and experiences. And I, of course, travel around with photo corners. I'm organised like that.

When I got back, I was fortunate enough to have coincided with Ric and Rach's visit to Manchester. I was so pleased because out of everybody I knew, I wanted to show them that I had taken their gift and made something amazing from it. It was all because of them that now I know what to do with the blank pages of a book. It's the story of my journey, and noone can say I've done it wrong. 

Thank you, Ric, and Rach. I don't know if I had told you how much this journal has meant to me.

With all those thoughts in mind, today I wandered around Manchester looking for a new journal. I'm going to Australia next week to work with Australian friends Malarkey as part of Pop-Up Adventure Play, and it's going to be a tour again! It's nowhere as long as last time, but that's okay. I reckon I have found my journaling mojo and it won't be hard to fill the page of this journal up! I'm excited and I don't want to forget about any of it - I've ever been to Australia before! 

It took a long time to find a new replacement journal, but here it is:

Hello new replacement journal! You will be filled with Australia thoughts! :)

I'm sure that this new Australia journal will also be awesome. I'm already looking forward to filling it all with my random thoughts, and scraps and tickets, and then making Morgan smile when I've written something down that we've both forgotten about. I chose the sunny cover for the sunny adventure we're about to have. I'm pretty sure we're not driving around in a camper van, but there will definitely be a lot of travelling to do.

The USA journal isn't actually filled yet, and you know what? I'm thinking of getting some of my photos printed (shock horror!) and sticking them in. It seems fitting somehow. I love that there's only one copy of this book, and you can get it, and touch it, and stick things in. It's very tactile, very rudimentary, and above all, it's mine. You'll have to come round to see it some time. :)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Into the Snow Storm

I've been really panicky in the last couple of days. Partly because my Annual Progression Meeting, held today in Leeds, but mostly because of the weather forecast. "Blizzard" and "amber weather warning" were words thrown around for two days, and while I am completely unfazed by driving in the snow, I know that other people are.

So when I got in the car this morning, I was expecting bad traffic. What I wasn't expecting was soooo much snow in such a small amount of time. In the 45 minutes it took me to get from my home to the motorway, everything was covered in an inch of snow. It's not very much compared to other locations, but of course, it had caused a bajillion accidents already, and the bit of the motorway that links me conveniently to uni had become an inconvenient car park. It took me three hours to get to uni and I was 20 minutes late for my half hour meeting. I hate being late. Luckily Fraser had called on ahead to let them know that we were delayed by the weather.

It went very well. The two external panelists (?) had positive and encouraging things to say about my research. They asked questions which I competently answered without waffling and Fraser nodded in encouragement at the right times. Everyone seemed pleased with my progress and Fraser said I did good. So I guess I should be thankful at this point, that I've got this far and with such great support. It was worth the 3 hour trip after all!

All this means that I can continue on to the third year of my 6 year part time PhD, and I'm really pleased. It would have been a shame to be told I had to stop, and all of my worries from the other day would have reared it's ugly head. But it's all good!

And of course, the only photo I have to show for the day is my 365 postcard. So here it is, sent from Leeds, in the snow.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

"Last time I couldn't, but this time I can" - Reflections from a day with Hannah and Nina

My little friends Nina and Hannah came round to play today, and I made sure that I had all my grown up work done before they got here. They were so excited to see me when I opened the door, and once we had changed into outdoor clothes, we were straight back outside.

Last time the girls came round, we went to the park together and they had so much fun. It was completely unsurprising that they wanted to go back to the same park again, so we did. This time they were braver, went higher, and tried scarier things than last time. Here are some pics:

Nina climbed higher and faster.

Hannah tried the scary slide that she wouldn't go on last time.

We had hot chocolate to warm ourselves up on this cold winter day. It was a nice time to relax and reflect on life together. I'm kinda jealous of their coats.

The girls were brave enough to ask a passing couple of they could have some breadcrumbs to feed the ducks. They got really close and though Hannah was scared, we all still fed the ducks.

And as we left, Nina asked us if we could visit Petunia the dinosaur which we named last time. Sometimes, I can't believe how much children remember.

We went home shortly after that photo was taken and made robots, sent postcards, ate chocolate and turned my room upside-down. It was all great, but the part of the day that will stay with me the most was when Hannah said to me "Last time I couldn't, but this time I can". If that isn't a child being able to admit out loud that they have made physical and emotional progress in play, then I don't know what is. Such awesomeness. I can't help but feel a little proud. 

It's always wonderful to spend a day at play. Looking forward to catching up with them again soon!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Adventures Ahoy!

There are many adventures in the works at the moment, and I've been having a lot of difficulty just concentrating on any one of them recently to work through the preparations. But it's all so much and it all demands so much of my attention! Here's what's happening:

PhD
So it's come to the time of the year when a panel has to scrutinise my work and deem me fit to continue researching what I'm researching. It's not so much the start of an adventure as much as a continuation of a super long one, and permission to continue would really help. It has been quite an adventure so far too, because I've learned things about myself that I didn't know, and also connected dots in my head that has helped to move the research forward. My Annual Progression Meeting is next week and I'm scared. What happens if they don't let me continue. I don't think my heart could take it. I mean, I've done enough work to continue so there shouldn't be a problem, but going to a meeting like that implies that there's two outcomes: continuation or discontinuation. It's the kind of thought that completely freezes my brain, but I've been working hard to prepare for it.

Pop-Up Adventure Play's First Book
Morgan and I are writing a book. Actually, it's almost finished! But I can't quite believe that we're doing it because we've been talking about it for such a long time. It didn't ever seem like it was going to be real. But actually, almost a year after we set off for on our tour of the USA, we're publishing a tour about that journey, and it's awesome. Here's a little piece we wrote about it a while ago, and here's the piece our publisher has written about it. I'm so excited, but of course, there's going to be quite a lot of back and forth for the next couple of weeks to get the look, words and photos finalised. It's all ridiculously awesome. I can't wait til I can hold it in my hands! This is an adventure in the book world like I've never had before, and has been something I've always wanted to do. Stay tuned fore more!

Australia
I'm going to Australia. It's going to be a month long tour, like in the USA and we will be teaming up with some great contacts we have over there to go on this epic adventure. They're the peeps who invited us over, and they're the peeps whom we will be relying on to understand The Land Down Under. What an amazing opportunity!

It's in just over 2 weeks time, and due to the aforementioned projects, I feel like my excitement about this trip is a little muted. I just don't think I'm going to give myself permission to think about the trip yet - fun and exciting it will be - because I'm not done with all the other excitement and work that needs to be completed before going. Gah! I know as soon as I'm on the plane, I'm going to get adventure butterflies, but until then, it's going to be work work work!

With all the complex thoughts going through my head, and a pint of milk in the fridge that had come to the eat-by-date without me noticing, I decided to bake my thoughts straight. Here is the quiche that I came up with:

Just a plain old broccoli and cheese quiche - a parental favourite.

Now, I haven't baked for a while, and as I was rolling out my pastry, I remember why I like to bake. It helps me physically work out the knots in my thoughts. I feel more liberated somehow, just making a dough and baking a product. I must remember that for next time!

Anyway, with all that self reflection, I feel a bit drained now so I'm going to go and wind down. It was nice to get my thoughts down on paper, and work out my emotions through baking. I'll have to do this all again. :)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Treat Day

Today was a treat day. After doing my usual work for Pop-Ups it started snowing big outside. It was lovely to see - beautiful cotton puffs of snow falling from the sky. I was being treated to a lovely show.

After lunch, my parents and we went shopping and I decided to treat myself:

I treated myself to a piece of delicious black forest gateaux.

And I bought myself some new postcards. 
I may have gotten a little carried away, but my justification for this is that I have over 300 postcards to post this year so... the more the merrier!

It's not often that I get to spend a little time to indulge on myself, and sometimes I feel a little guilty when I do splash out. It's not that I don't take care of myself by the way, because I do. I just don't normally go out of my own way to make me happy :) But when I started staring at the cake my mum said very simply "just get one", I really did just think to myself "why not?" And then began umming and ahhing over all the choices.

So today, I was treated to snow, and postcards and cake. I am soooo happy. Deeply. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Errands in the Snow

I was sent to run some errands today and I was super pleased because a fresh layer of snow had landed, covering yesterday's boring fake snow. I decided to head to Ramsbottom and capitalised on being outside by having a little walk before my errands, and here are some of the pics:

Introducing... new wellies! The other stripey ones have gone into retirement because they're holey. 

This is a frozen droplet of water. They were everywhere, and they were beautiful.

Here's another frozen droplet. You had to pick them off the branches like a fruit - it was fascinating!

Lovely view across a little reservoir I found.

And these ducks are... orange. Compared to snow, they're not white at all!

And just as I finished off my errands, the sun came out and it was beautiful.

I had a nice day outside, and really enjoyed the snow-capped landscape. There wasn't enough to make a snowman, but there was the right amount to make everything look beautiful. I had so much fun that I forgot to post my postcard while I was out, so I had to go out again. Ah well, more snow time for Zan :) I promise I did more work today than yesterday!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

A Little Snow

Today, it kinda snowed. It wasn't really snow, because the stuff that was falling from the sky wasn't fluffy. And it didn't so much float down as pelt down. And we ended up with piles of tiny little white balls that felt a little bit more like polystyrene than snow.

But I was totally excited about it, and I totally went outside to enjoy it anyway.

It's lovely what you can do with a little overexposure on the ol' camera.

Here I am - excited and smiley in the snow! :)

Anyway, there wasn't really very much "snow" to report on, so after sloshing in it for a while, I went back home to finish off the doodle I've been working on. Here it is:

Oh wow, looks crazy when you view it from a distance!

This doodle will be turned into 4 new postcards, ready to be sent to people from all over for my postcard project. Gotta make sure I have a constant source of postcards to be sending!

It's been a day of weird weather, and a day which has trickled by slowly without much being done, but no worries - tomorrow is a new day and it will be fruitful! Onwards!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Over The Pennines

It was windy today as I set off towards Leeds. I must have been very preoccupied with my thoughts because before I knew it, I had arrived at uni and was pacing up and down the aisles of the library trying to find the book I needed. I'm pleased to say that the supervisory meeting that I had with Fraser today went very well. Okay, so some of the work needed a little looking at, but I had made a breakthrough for my conceptual framework and was massively relieved to find out that what I had was indeed conceptual-eque and framework-y.

Anyway, a happy coincidence also had me meet up with my friend Nadia who just happened to be in Bradford today! Hoorah! We chatted, ate super sweet desserts, had a sugar high and a crash, and then filled up on savoury goodness. We had a lot of fun, sharing stories and filling each other in about our lives. I don't see Nadia very often because she lives far far away down south, but I have a feeling I'll be writing more about her in the coming year! :) Hoorah! :)

Anyway, so I forgot my camera today, and only realised when I'd driven over the Pennines (which are a range of mountains by the way) so I was a little sad that I didn't get to take a photo of Nadia. Instead, here is a photo of a doodle I am working on:

It's going to be A4 sized, coloured, and then segmented into postcards. The handmade postcards have humble beginnings :)

There's a lot to process from today so I'm going to leave it there for now. I think I'll have an evening off, watch a little TV and do a little doodling. Hoorah for Nadia and hoorah for a day well spent!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Pootling About

Being trapped inside doing PhD stuff generally makes me go a little mad, so today I decided to go out and about and breathe some much needed fresh air. My Dad and I decided to pootle down to Ramsbottom to have a little wander before the weather got too wet again: it's been blowing a gale here!

At the local antiques place, I spotted my favourite Sylvac bunny hanging out in a cabinet. This one's really big! And green. Such awesomeness.

We visited a farm shop where the farms chickens are looked after by the children! I instinctively wanted to get all of them. I only got half a dozen.

It was nice to just wander around somewhere with Dad, spotting where all the postboxes are generally taking it easy. And it was nice to be outside. The air's so much nicer there.

A quick report from the postcard front - I'm on day 11 and it's all going well. It turns out that hibernating inside doesn't help with the posting part of a postal 365 project, which means that sometimes I have to get dressed in a hurry and run down to the postbox with moments to spare before the last collection. I think it'll be easier when it starts to get lighter, and drier - I'll actually want to go outside then! Anyway, I'm surrounded by stamps and addresses and postcards and am still loving sending post. :) Here is today's:

Interactive postcards gifted to me from my friend Ric :) Postcards sent so far can be found here.

I'm meeting Fraser tomorrow for supervisory goodness, and then I will be meeting a fun mystery friend from down south! Who could it be? More tomorrow!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Thank You Post

I love post but for some reason, I never seem to get round to sending thank you cards. And because I don't think about them, I'm always surprised when I receive thank you cards, and doubly excited when it's a sent in the post! Today, I was indeed pleasantly surprised:

I got a little note and a little story inside a typewriter :) Yay! :)

My friend Ric (who inspired my 365 project) and his Rachel were the wonderful people responsible for today's post. I was really excited about it, and was super excited because they sent it in a relatively ordinary envelope from which I can extract the stamp. (Ric sends me homemade envelopes normally, and I never chop those up for the stamps because it would ruin the effect of the whole package.) Now I have added that stamp to my collection - hoorah! Thank you for my thank you note, Ric and Rach! :) (When does the thankyou-ing stop? ;) )

Speaking of stamps, I went to the library today for something, and totally got distracted by a stamp collecting book, which I have now brought home. I've since compared my stamps to the glorious photos in there and have had a lot of fun seeing how far back my stamps go. The stamp that Ric sent to me today is from 2008!

Anyway, I have been deliberately quiet in the last few days, trying to focus my brain and energy into writing some stuff (about social movements?) for my PhD. It's tough going, but it is going so I am pleased. So work continues and my daily postcard posting is my only relief for now. Ah well. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Stamps from Everywhere

For a long time, I have been squirreling away a collection of stamps. This collection wasn't started intentionally - I know a local charity that collects old stamps so I have been donating my stamps for a long time. But then I realised that I have been blessed with quite a lot of post over the course of my 30 years, resulting in my obtaining a lot of stamps from all over the world. So I started saving all the interesting ones for myself, and donating the doubles or the boring ones. I haven't really thought much about the ever growing collection until today when my favourite old person, Frank, gave me some stamps that he got over the Christmas period:

There are 2 stamps from Germany, 1 from New Zealand (it's Bard!), 1 from the US and 4 from Australia! And they're all so pretty!

Having spent a lot of time with boring 1st and 2nd class stamps in the UK I always forget how lovely stamps can be! And when I consulted my collection of stamps, I was reminded that even UK stamps are pretty too!

My favourite stamps include the crazy fruit face ones (from the UK), the really nice Chinese one that says "Cow" (from Canada) and also the electric tram stamps (from Singapore).

When I look at all these stamps, they make me feel very happy, very blessed. People took the time to send me post with those stamps on - how lovely! These stamps don't include the many that I have still attached to postcards! I didn't want to destroy my precious postcards by peeling off the stamp, so the above collection represents letters I have received over the years. Thank you to all the people who have sent me post over the years, and continue to send me post now - you are all amazing and thoughtful, and postcards will likely arrive at your homes soon :) Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Page of Postcards

Along with my Doodle page and PhD research page, I'm now adding a Postcard 365 page to my blog so I can keep a record of all my postal adventures this year. The page currently looks a little like the doodle page because there's a lot of overlap right now (the postcards being doodley and all) but when I start getting busy, the postcards will probably be ready made ones. I'm still very excited, and when posting today's postcard I still got the same thrill I did many years ago when I posted my first letter home. I love sending and receiving post. Makes me so happy.

Today's postcard is robot themed. Yay! :)

And of course, if you'd like to receive a postcard from me this year, please let me know. I'd love to brighten up your letter box with a fun piece of post. :) Hoorah for continued postcard excitement! :)

Friday, 2 January 2015

Relaxing and Restarting

I pootled over the Pennines to go and visit my friend Andy today. He works very hard and is normally very busy so I always value any time that he has spare to hang out with me. Today, we really did just chill out and chat. Nothing serious, nothing exciting, just a bit of food, some charity shop window shopping and then we hung out with his housemate at home. In many ways, this is exactly what I needed from today - just relaxed normality with no pressures and just good company. It's refreshed me enough to get home and do a little PhDing too! Hoorah!

Anyway, no photos of today except for my 365 project postcard, which I guess is pretty appropriate for today! Hoorah! :)

Another zoodle postcard from me, by me! Hoorah! :)

The week to come will be all about the PhD, and getting back into the rhythm of Pop-Up Adventure Play stuff. The break from everything has been nice but I'm itching to get back to it now. I'm excited! :)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The 365 Project Goes Postal

In 2013, I did a 365 project that I really really enjoyed. Because I knew how packed 2014 would be, I decided that I wouldn't be able to commit to a daily blogpost documenting a play moment, so I didn't do one last year. I really missed it though, and over the course of the year I realised that I really wanted to do another project that required a daily commitment. I couldn't decide what that might be until October when my friend Ric challenged me to sending a postcard a day for a month, and then it all fell into place: I'm going to make it into a year-long thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, for my 365 project in 2015, I am going to send a postcard a day. I guess I could call it my new year's resolution! Hoorah! Here is the first one:

This is a handmade postcard made from one of my doodles. You can learn to make one here, or buy one here. Woohoo! :)

The postcards can be any type, handmade, bought or obtained for free. The key is to send one a day. They might not arrive daily but that's totally out of my control. And on days that I might be jet-lagged or crossing time zones, I'll do my best to ensure that the allotted amount of postcards are sent according to the amount of days I'm in the air. I might over-send, just in case.

I have no idea how I'm going to document this - I might just tag the photo on to the end of a blogpost, or create a new page for it. Hmmm... I have no idea. Anyway, until I've worked it out please enjoy a photo of my first postcard of the year - there are many more to come! :)

If you want to receive a postcard as part of my project, please drop me line with your address! :)

And Happy Happy New Year people! This is going to be a post-tastic year! :)