Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Lovely Post Day

I was really excited today when the postie knocked on the door today and handed over parcel and a postcard with my name on! Yaay! :) I haven't had any post for ages!

My sister sent me a chocolate Easter egg and my friend Lee sent me a postcard! Yaaay! :)

A big thank you to my sister for my egg. I didn't get an egg last year because of the house move and tour, but this big egg makes up for it completely, yaaay! :) And to Lee too - thank you for thinking of me when you found a free postcard! It goes perfectly with my 365 project! Yaaay! :)

Such a great post day! Yaaay! :)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Playful Weekend

On Thursday, my Alex from NY came to visit. She works at The Anarchy Zone where I met her the first time and she came over to find out more about the play scene in the UK. Really though, it was a bit of a holiday so we fit in a lot of tourism too. Here are some of the things we got up to:

This is me and Alex, enjoying a little bit of sunshine in the cold.

You can't visit the UK without at least having a scone and tea!

We found Rosie and Jim on a canal boat, and I got a little too excited!

This is a mock tudor house on the edge of a canal. So well restored!

Here are some tiny kids who really wanted to talk to me through a fence. Hello tiny people!

RAWRAWRAWR - Tea at the dinosaur pub!

We went to visit The Land, and the children jumped and jumped.

Andy joined us at The Land too, and got a very thorough tour of the adventure playground. Different tour from the last time I visited, but still jam packed full of climbing and crawling.

I totally had to take Alex to have naan-as-big-as-your-torso. And we totally ate the whole thing. NOM NOM NOM.

I had a nice weekend-and-a-bit with Alex. After she got on the plane this morning, I reflected on the things we saw and did and I think we packed a lot in, even though the traffic has been terrible and despite the weather being decidedly wet. I always forget how foreign the Britain must seem to an American, but was also very happy to realise that now I have a lot of US knowledge to compare the UK with.

I was also really pleased that Alex was able to get a glimpse of what the play scene in the UK is like. We managed to fit in a visit to Andy's workplace, join in with the play scheme in Wrexham as well as spend quality time on The Land. It's all fine and good to talk about this stuff, and show pictures of it, but sometimes you have to see it to really understand it. I hope that Alex was able to absorb some of the awesome play stuff we have going on over here.

I'm pretty tired now, but it feels like I've gone on lots of adventures in 4 days. A very satisfying feeling is brewing inside. I think I will sleep well tonight. It was lovely having you over here, Alex! See you again soon!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Roaming the Hills

I am very blessed to be living near the Pennines. I have access to a lot of great nature, right on my doorstep! Today, I pootled over to the West Pennine Moors and had a little wander in the hills. Here's what I saw:

A sad donkey

A spectacular chicken. Look at its little face pointing out of that hair!

Here's a happy piggy!

I found a tall stone tower. Not sure that it's for, but it's pretty cool.

I found a little secret place next to a little waterfall and under the trees. It was so pretty!

I went to visit a reservoir next and it was lovely and calming. So nice.

I really enjoyed having some time outdoors in nature. Having had a week of solid work I really needed to do something else. Being in nature really re-organises you from the inside out. I didn't do anything in particular, nor did I have any particular goal, and it felt right. It felt like a playful moment just for me, and can feel the benefits. 

Now for a jacket potato on beans! So excited. And then work, hoorah!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Standing On Top Of My World

I've been a little busy with PhD and Pop-Up Adventure Play stuff, but I am still around. Aside from my 365 project, I've also been pootling about and exploring places as usual. You know me, working hard and playing hard.

There's a new street gallery in Leeds where the British Isles has been laid out on the ground and you can see where the gallery images have been snapped. I was just chuffed about standing on top of Manchester!

Here's a misty photo of Leeds on a grey day when I went to uni the other day. I've always felt very blessed to have such a great view when visiting Fraser.

And here is Sirene, my new Singaporean friend who came to visit me and Pop-Up Adventure Play. We had a fun tourism day in Manchester and talked about play!

Stuff for my PhD and for Pop-Up is actually going really well. I'm really chuffed about my progress with my PhD, our new book, our new adventures and with future projects! I could probably go in to more detail on all of this, but I'm just really happy, it's hard to put into words. So all I'm gonna say is yaaay, I'm on top of the world! :) Weeeeee! :)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Back to The Land

One of the many people we met on our US tour last year was our Japanese friend Sachi. She is currently on a UK adventure with her husband and two children, and wanted to meet up with me as she made her way around the country. I met the four at Wrexham today to visit The Land, Plas Madoc's Adventure Playground. Here are some photos of what we got up to before it rained too hard for my camera to be out:

My little friend Christian was there to give us a tour. Yes, it still costs 5p.

There is Sachi and her two children, investigating the spade.

So many tyres! All over the floor. 

We made a Baby Head Pie. And yes, there is a (plastic) baby head in the pie.

Such freedom to roam at The Land.

It was lovely to meet Sachi and her family at The Land today. Sachi tells me that a lot of the adventure playgrounds in Japan are temporary so they would have to tidy up at the end. That sounds like a Pop-Up Adventure Playground to me! Anyway, she was definitely very taken by the permanence of The Land and had completely lost track of time while she was there, playing with her kids.

I'm quite tired from a day of adventure play and PhDing (which I did this morning) and now I think it's time to sleep. It's been a good day. :)

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Zan On Tour 2015 - Reflections

I woke up this morning after a 12 hour sleep to realise I was home. And seconds later also to realise that it was freezing. Yes, Manchester didn't disappoint, and ensured that I would be fully rained on today. It didn't matter too much as today was mostly spent getting reacquainted with the little world inside my room and to reply to all the emails I have been neglecting.

I've also spent a good portion of my day thinking about Australia, reflecting on the adventure there. It seems completely impossible that just 3 days ago I was eating locally grown tropical fruits with Morgan and debating with myself whether I needed to switch on the air conditioning. Looking out of the window now, it also seems ridiculous that I have recently had my first (ever) sunburn and had so many mosquito bites that they made my whole arm swell up.

It all seems a little unreal, really.

But I know it happened - I have enough photos and stamps to prove it. And I know too that I have presented at least 11 different times in 11 different locations about the importance of play and loose parts. That's the most presenting I've ever done, but shh, don't tell anyone.

I also know that there are a lot of people in Australia who want to hear more about play. It's not that they don't know how to play, it seems that they just need reminding that it's important, and that children today need it just as much as they did when they were kids. Adults in Australia have great childhood memories of playing outside, in the Bush or the outback. They just need to also give their children those same opportunities, and in many ways we were there to inspire permission. Permission, opportunity and space. I reckon that in the next few years, there will be loads more play organisations in Australia, because people have caught on early enough that play is necessary, and they understand that things need to change.

I'm also ever so grateful for time spent with Morgan. Working together but in different countries means we lose out on the fun times together. We made sure we got loads of fun in this time, and spent some time looking ahead and thinking about future adventures too.

This was the 2nd beach in one day - the day I got sunburnt. Totally worth it.

I've truly had an amazing adventure. Australia couldn't be more different from what I have here at home. There's great food there, amazing animals, beautiful scenery and big skies. I could feel myself falling in love with the country a little bit, but realised at the last minute that this love was only because I was surrounded by great people. I feel really grateful and satisfied that it was an adventure like no other I have ever had, and am delighted to say that I will be going back there in October with Morgan for round two!

So as the sleepiness of jetlag takes over again, I'll sign off. I enjoyed every minute of my first Australian adventure and am really looking forward to going back again.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Zan On Tour 2015: The Last Few Days

As the parrots revolt outside (a whole flock of them start cawing at the same time and sounds like they're staging a demonstration) I thought I'd reflect on the last few days in Australia. It's almost time to go home now, so I thought I'd better share some of my latest photos:

We went to look at the water in Geelong.

We found a square cow in a tree while exploring Melbourne. Look at that sky!

We went to visit the koalas. They are so fluffy!

We sneaked into a posh hotel to have dessert and look at the amazing views.

And then I baked a cake for a little celebration.

The last few days have been great. Tomorrow I get to have a final little wander before I will get on a plane, ready for the long journey back home. I've had an amazing adventure in Australia, and I have so many great memories to reflect on and share with everyone when I get home. But for now, I'll have to wave Australia goodbye - until next time, koalas! :)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Zan On Tour 2015: A Week Like No Other

Morgan and I are on the 4th week of our month long adventure in Australia, and we are really having a wonderful time. Not only do we get to see amazing things during our time on tour, we have also run into some excellent news. Before I talk about that, please enjoy some of my photos:

This is the view of the harbour as I had breakfast in Newcastle.

We went to so many lovely beaches - this is Redhead Beach

Here I am at the Sydney Opera House

Here are some seagulls with the Sydney Harbour Bridge

This is the evening view in Canberra. Wowee.

And here we are at Ramsey Street. Yes, Ramsey Street.

So as you can see, I've been finding time in between work to enjoy myself. But of course, the work is priority. Pop-Up Adventure Play have now completed 13 different gigs in Australia and are very well received at every location we go to. Not only that, we found out last week that we are shortlisted for 2 awards at the National Playwork Awards, the only playwork award ceremony that we have in our field. On the same day as we found out about that, we met a 4 of the students on our course that we are potentially winning an award for - for a distance learning course with students in 12 different countries, I reckon getting 4 students and 2 tutors in one room was quite the achievement! I will totally write about this more on the Pop-Up blog very soon. Hopefully tomorrow.

Also also also, the Pop-Up book has now been out for 7 days! I'm so excited about this, I have just completely out of words for it. So how about a photo:

Look at me, and my excitement, and a copy of my book. MY BOOK. And Morgan's.

Okay, so that's all the news I have, and a wave of sleepiness has just hit me. It really has been an exciting week, and I'm so pleased to be part of it. I love my work, and I love the way my life is organised. Everything is good and I'm so happy. Hoorah for everything! :)