Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Little Projects in Progress :)

Some of you already know this, but I like making stuff. I like the process of coming up with and idea then making it happen. Not all of the results are great but I have an interesting support network (called Mum and Dad) who like admire and critique every one of my crazy ideas. Here are some of the things I've been up to:

Remember the crazy knitting square blanket I started back towards the end of 2010? Well, the idea was that my mum was teaching me how to knit different patterns so we did lots of squares with the anticipation of making it into a nice warm blanket. Here's what it looks like now...

Progress has been slow cos I've had other knitting projects in between this one (and a degree to finish) but I actually have a whole pile of squares lined up to add to the blanket. Now it's just tidying my room enough to have to space to do it! :)

I always liked sewing, but sewing machines annoy me a little. It's the fact that I can't drag it up to my tiny little room and do sewing at my leisure that annoys me, I think. Anyway, I've finally worked out a little pattern for a pouch that I can sew whilst in my room, and I reckon the results have been pretty good. I blogged about my prototype sometime last week, but now we have Pouch 2.0. Well, nearly...

I think the colours match nicely. I'm really chuffed that I managed to find such a nice combination! :)

My crafty side is always deeply rooted in making greetings cards. I really like making my own, and usually do for most occasions. I actually made them to order at one point, when I was younger and had more time. Now though, I make them when I can, and have had some of my creations put in my friend's lovely card shop.  I was poking around in my room today and found some cards that I'd made but neglected, and remembered how fun it was to make this particular design:

The multicoloured dots and the simplicity of the card makes me want to smile every time I see it. I want to make more!

The awesome thing now is that once I actually finish my degree I will actually have more time to go back and do more of this making, crafting and sewing thing. The sad thing now now is that I knit as some sort of therapy to ease the discomfort of essay writing and confusion of research. But once I'm set free from academia, I'll be back in full swing with my handmade wares. I'm very much looking forward to it. 

I'm also looking forward to becoming a full time playworker again. Gosh, I miss being in the field. Literally. :)

Hoorah for handmade goods, and hoorah for the ideas to do it! :)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Tiny Piece of Adventure Playground History

My post last week about my visit to 3 awesome adventure playgrounds was so popular, that I thought I would share a little something with you. In amongst the unknown objects of a local scrapstore, I found a very rare and very awesome book:

Now, I mentioned Bob Hughes yesterday. He's written lots of things to do with playwork, his best (in my opinion) is his recent book - Evolutionary Playwork 2nd edition. Although it's the second edition, it actually feels nothing like the first edition, and is so jam packed full of awesomeness, it amazes me every time I look at it. As a playworker myself, I constantly refer to this book for best practice, and just for a point of reference for so many aspects of playwork. It's a wonderful book.

But back to the little red book! This book (or what Dad called "tiny booklet") was published in 1975 and only a very small number of them were produced. It's only a small book - big enough for playworkers to stick in their pockets when they're working on site. I think it's a marvellous little thing, written with adventure playground playworkers in mind, and very much a moment in history in regards to the playwork scene in the UK.

I took a couple of snapshots from inside:

Isn't it awesome? Most awesome of all, I feel like I own a little bit of history. This is a little bit like the Mrs Beeton that I acquired a few weeks ago, but better! I will make sure I look after this one properly and see that it becomes a useful tool as well as a preserved treasure.

Hoorah for playwork, and hoorah for playwork literature! :)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Pop-Up Adventure Play is Go!

Yesterday, I blogged about some of the stuff that Pop-Up Adventure Play has been up to recently. Today, I'd like to tell you about some stuff that's about to happen - it's all very exciting! As yesterday, I'll have to talk about stuff in terms of location. And today I'd like to feature Morgan, Sharon and Anna! Woooo!

Eastbourne, UK
Every year, there is a huge Playwork Conference in the UK in Eastbourne run by the lovely Mr Meynell and his band of awesome people. This year's playwork conference is the 10th and it looks like it's gonna be a big one! Of course, Pop-Up Adventure Play has to be there! Our Morgan is going to be our rep there and is going to be running a few workshops and just generally showing the world how glorious we are as an organisation, and how awesome she is. You know why I say that? Because she's been nominated for a couple of Playwork Awards!! It was featured in Ip Dip last week, so I took the liberty of copying and pasting the short list to show you:

For those of you who are familiar with Playwork, you will know that being in a list with Bob Hughes is a BIG thing. And Morgan was SO shocked when she found out she was nominated for Playwork Writer. She was also super shocked about the Special Mention award too! Hehe! I'm just chuffed for her. She totally deserves it! :)

Largo, FL, USA
So I mentioned that we were in Clemson last year, attending the US Play Coalition hosted Play Conference. Well, when we were there, we met a lovely lady called Jennifer to immediately took to the idea of Pop-Up Adventure Play. A few months later, she told us that she'd been in touch with a gazillion people and was going to run a city-wide "Play Unplugged" event! And not only that, she wanted Pop-Up Adventure Play to be part of it! So Pop-Up Adventure Play's Anna, Sharon and Morgan are going to be deployed to the city of Largo and train lots of lovely people about play and it's awesomeness! Check out the Play Unplugged trailer!

Isn't it all very exciting! I'm slightly gutted that I can't be there, but at the same time, I'm in awe at what our organisation has become. There may be things that still need working out, but Pop-Up Adventure Play is only young, and there's a great future ahead!

So a big hoorah for Pop-Up Adventure Play, and big excitement for the journey ahead! :)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Recent Times with Pop-Up Adventure Play

I'm going to take this opportunity to celebrate Pop-Up Adventure Play talk about some of the stuff that we've been doing recently. I want to applaud my awesome colleagues, and today we feature Morgan, Sharon and Daniel. To do this, I must talk about different places in different countries - I hope you're ready for a bit of crazy! :)

Cardiff, Wales
A lot of you have been following the progress of the Pop-Up Play Shop in Cardiff and it's been doing super well. The locals love it, and the local reporters have been loving it too. We had one press release a few months back when it first opened, and on Friday, BBC film cameras appeared at the Pop-Up Play Shop. It was SO awesome. Morgan was thrilled to bits! We will keep you posted about the show - we think it's airing next Saturday. I haven't got any photos of this, so just a pic from the shop for now. More on this when we find out more! :)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Cardiff to look after the Pop-Up Play Shop whilst it's shop keeper, the lovely Morgan, was invited to Belgium to take part in what can only be described as something awesome. There was a photo in a paper of her and a few wonderful people who all got together to discuss best practice for play and working with young people in Europe. It looked like really good fun, especially because they stayed in a big yellow castle. Can you spot Morgan in this pic? :)

Clemson, SC, USA
There is a huge play conference going on in the USA right now called the 2012 Conference on the Value of Play where our very own Sharon and Daniel of Pop-Up Adventure Play are right now! They are doing a presentation and meeting lots of people from around the States who have a great interest in children's play. We went there last year too, and here is a photo from that:

This is pretty exciting stuff right? I personally haven't been able to do much because of my playwork degree, but as soon as I graduate, I promise I'll be blogging from lots of different places again! :) For now, I ride on the coat tails of my wonderful colleagues and marvel at the success that they have brought to the organisation, and the great things that are to come... and that post I will leave for tomorrow!

Hoorah for Pop-Up Adventure Play! :)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Balloon Themed Baby Shower :)

My friend Tracey is having a baby! It's due in about 5 weeks time, and while it's a period of nervous energy for her, it's also a great opportunity to celebrate this exciting milestone! A few of her girlfriends and I got together and had a baby shower today and it was pretty awesome! I went to collect 20 balloons this morning and felt like I was in the animated film Up! :) I decorated the room and then we made some awesome food. Here are the highlights:

My sister and I made lots of lovely food: those tuxedo strawberries are my sister's creation and I made the chocolate dipped shortbread :)

We had a nice selection of sandwiches: smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress, and cucumber.

My sister also made those lovely strawberry tarts filled with chocolate and whipped cream, and under that, some freshly baked scones that I baked this morning.

Balloon themed awesomeness :)

This is the lovely Tracey showing off some gifts.

And here's me, at the end of the shower and still very excited about my balloons, and my hat! :)

I had a lovely afternoon with the girls, playing silly games and having a good ol' giggle. More food and afternoon tea required! :) My best of wishes to Tracey now as the time approaches. It's not long till we meet mini-Tracey now and I'm very excited!:) Hoorah for babies, and yay for balloons! :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

An Adventure Playground Adventure

A lovely young man from the USA came to visit me yesterday, and we decided to have an adventure. He's called Maayan and is from somewhere near Boston, MA, and had lots of questions about play and playwork. So our adventure took us to Wrexham in North Wales where we did a tour of 3 adventure playgrounds! Here are my thoughts from my day.

1) The Land
Brand new and shiney, Plas Madoc is a lovely junk playground full of awesome junk with a lovely landscape complete with mini stream. Children have taken to this space immediately, and both Maayan and I fell in love with the site. This was the only site where my awesome camera had battery, so we have some lovely pics:

What a lovely name that the local children have given this place.

Look at this fort - built all by themselves!

Lots and lots of interesting junk, scavenged by very skilled people!

And a stream! In an adventure playground! The children must love this place. I particularly like the den with "home" written on the side.

2) The Venture
We went from the newness of Plas Madoc to the established site of The Venture. It's a massive plot of land, just for children on the huge estate that it's in. Sadly my camera died at this point and I had to resort to the mobile phone camera. Not too worry though - it was amazing. Honestly - a huge boat was there, made of wood, a big castle that had an upstairs. Everywhere is linked together with wooden bridges and platforms, not to mention the zip wires that took children whizzing across the playground. It was amazing. I think I only have one good pic:

Many years of awesome playwork, right there.

3) The Valley
The lovely Colin Powell took us around both The Venture and The Valley. The Valley has been around for about 5 years - it's like the intermediate version of Plas Madoc and the Venture. I have to say, I really liked the feel of The Valley. It's not as big as the Venture, but there's something about it that makes it feel really welcoming and awesome. I have a couple of pictures of this:

A little pirate ship/boat.

Some of the buildings the staff and children made together.

I had a wonderful day, touring around adventure playgrounds from light til it was super dark. It was really exciting to see all the wonderful work happening in Wrexham, and I really wish I had a plot of land to make my own adventure playground. There's time though, and there's lots of more opportunities, especially over in the States. Maybe Pop-Up Adventure Play will set up our own Adventure Playground one day? Who knows! 

Both Maayan and I had an awesome day! Hoorah for Adventure Playgrounds, and a big thumbs up to Wrexham! :)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I love pancakes. The first thing I said to my mum this morning when I woke up was "It's Pancake Day!" to which her reply was "Okay, so we having pancakes!"

So when the time came, it was also my annual pancake flipping lesson. Both of my parents are awesome at tossing pancakes - I'm not kidding. They do it with ease! So they were both teaching me, showing me and giving advice. It's so easy to lapse into fits of giggles though, especially when you do it with just one hand. Mum said I had to do it with one hand cos it looks more "pro". So I practiced. And eventually, I got it! Here is a video of me working really hard to flip my pancake 3 times.

My pancakes were delicious! Even Uncle said they were good. I might have to make more another day though cos pancakes once a year just simply isn't enough. Hoorah for pancakes! :) And I can't wait til the next pancake day! :)

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Little Sewing Project

Before Christmas, I bought some fabric that I really wanted to use to make something like a bag or cushion but I didn't have any time to make anything. Last night however, I had a sudden urge so sew. So I did! :) This is what I came up with :)

I did some interesting hand stitched edges.

It was a little labour intensive but it looked quite pretty. I'll need a little more practice though.

Finished the stitching, but what next?

A nice read button I think :)

And there's the finished product, yay! A little pouch, maybe for business cards or tickets? It would probably be okay for other stuff too like jewellery. It could be used for lots of things really! :)

So yes that was my little sewing adventure. I think I must have been inspired by all the things I've been looking at on Etsy recently. It's a magical place, Etsy. You should go there and look at all the handmade stuff they have :) 

Anyway, sewing project over and it was fun! Maybe I'll make a few more :) Hoorah for sewing, and hoorah for handmade stuff! :)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Quick note from the Play Shop :)

Hoorah for robots! And hoorah for Morgan! She's been away on a Pop-Up Adventure Play business trip but is back! It's good to have her back :)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Three Lovely People :)

Three people went the extra mile to make me smile over the past couple of days. I wanted to give them a special mention. Here come the photos! :)

First, my friend Joanna!
I used to babysit this lovely lady. She's all growed up now and took a sneaky break away from uni work to discover that I'm still doing the same stuff as I was about 10 years ago. Yes it has been that long, and yes I still do love it! :) Thank you for coming to visit me at the Play Shop! :)

Secondly, my brother, Clem!
Just as silly as always, Clem came to visit me in Cardiff for a whole 1 hour and 40 minutes! We had food and had a giggle and then wandered around Cardiff in the dark. It was very nice to see him, and as usual, lots of fun! :) Thanks for visiting, Clem! :)

And thirdly, and just as awesome, my lovely friend Chikae!
Chikae sent me some post whilst I was away in Cardiff, and when I came home, it was a lovely surprise! I've put the artwork on my wall now - those colours are perfect for my room! I've always felt very blessed to know this lovely girl. Thank you for thinking of me, Chikae! :)

So yeah, another round of awesome people to applaud. You all make me very happy and smile lots. Thank you for being so awesome, and thank you for taking time out for me :) You will be greatly blessed one day.

Here's photo of me in Cardiff, just to make the photos fair :)
"I'm sure I saw a castle around here somewhere"

Hoorah for Cardiff and a big yay for lovely people! :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Last Day at the Pop-Up Play Shop

It was the last of my 4 day run as guest lead playworker at the Pop-Up Play Shop. It was pretty quiet actually but it didn't stop us from having a good play.

First, a birthday message to my sister! On the wall of the Play Shop!

Then, a cardboard truck!

Next, some knitting with the giant needles, featured on my blog before.

Then, a man made of balloons.

Followed by balloons sticking on people.

As well as balloons sticking on walls.

I went for some finger painting soon after but my hand is now stained orange!

But the hand painty wall looks a little better after a little visitor and I tried to resurrect it.

It was a wonderful week at the Pop-Up Play Shop in Cardiff. I should be back again, maybe mid March, and it'll be even more awesome. I've really enjoyed my time doing some actual playwork. I've met some lovely people and look forward to coming back to have more awesome fun! Hoorah for the Pop-Up Play Shop! :)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Today at the Play Shop

Some twins came in to do some artwork - "The Rainbow Bed"

Then one the twins made a spaceship.

The other twin asked us to help him put the rainbow bed on the wall - "So all the bumpy bits are on the outside. And it's see through so you can still read the words on the wall"

We did lots of painting today.

Everyone painted something.

Paint was everywhere.

A little visitor tired to help. And shortly after that he drank the painty water. Then had a nap.

The final blank wall in the shop now has a little flower on it.

And this is blurry ol' me on shiney paper at the entrance to the Pop-Up Play Shop. It's been a good day :)