Sunday, 31 March 2013

Our Mini Easter Getaway

Me and my parents decided to leave our normal lives behind for a few hours and go on an adventure today. There's nothing quite like being outside for a few hours, and certainly nothing quite like the adventure we went on today.

I think we'd forgotten that some parts of the UK were hit hard with the snow earlier on in the week, so when we stopped off somewhere to go on our rambling adventure, we were really surprised to be faced with snow banks and huge snow mountains which we had to climb over. Here are some photos:

Here we are, the starting point. We drove for about 30 minutes from my house to get here, and it's beautiful. Anyone know where it is?

It wasn't long before we started seeing patches of snow. This one looks like bubbles! :) Or a frozen cloud. :)

This photo was completely mum and dad's idea. Hilarious people. :)

Here we are - adventurers! We look like we're in a completely different country here!

Someone had made some giant, deep footprints. Mum stood in it to show just how deep the snow was were our adventure took place!

And here I am, at the summit. In the background you can see the point where I took the starting photo!

This is mum and dad being silly and decorating the snowbanks.

89/365 - Zan takes really cool photos of parents, using their ideas. :)

Today, we had a lot of fun. It was a world away from what we normally do and despite only being outside for about 2 hours it felt like we had been on a weekend break away somewhere abroad. It was incredibly snowy and muddy all at the same time too, which is nothing like the area near home. There were some parts of our pathway that were so bad that we had to improvise so that we didn't a) fall through frozen ponds or b) slip off random cliffs. It was exhilarating to be outside and exercising both body and mind in our tricky but exciting adventure. I can't wait to go again! :)

Hoorah for adventures! :)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Box Hunting! :)

Today, I took part in the newly founded sport of box hunting. Invented by me, and named by my Dad, this sport mostly involves the subtle acquisition of cardboard boxes from superstores.

Reason? I've got a return visit to the Cooperative Academy of Manchester to do three Pop-Up Adventure Playground days next week for the Easter Holidays. It's going to be heavy going, especially staffing it all on my own, so I've had some assistance to acquire some more boxes.

Enter: Box Hunting.

It's a skilled sport requiring stealth, a keen eye, and some pretty good cardboard condensing skills. It is physically and mentally challenging, and when you do competition box hunting (like we did today in two teams) it's also emotionally taxing too.

88/375 - Zan and siblings go Box Hunting! :)
The boys won on volume, but us girls won with the biggest box.

We had sooo much fun; boys against girls within a time limit. I laughed so hard when Clem came running up to us with a giant sofa shaped box. Hahaha. It was fantastic. We filled two cars with cardboard boxes, and I went home beaming because I know that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, there will be some very very happy children.

Hoorah for box hunting! :)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Freebie Fridays - dishwasher tablets, vitamins, tote bag and others.

I skipped Freebie Friday last week on account of being knee deep in wedding dress, but waiting one week has worked wonders! It seems like all my freebie post has been piling up somewhere at post office HQ and suddenly all arrived in one week! Ready for my Good Friday freebies?

87/365 - Zan rejoices in postal freebies!
This week we have:
a tote bag
a tube of toothpaste
a bag of glucosamine tablets
a booklet of fragrance swatches
4 different teabags
a miniature tube of top brand named anti-aging cream
2 dishwasher tablets
1 mum and baby moisturiser

On top of this, new releases at work have blessed me with new videogame t-shirts which, I think, are slightly cheating somewhat. But I am very happy to always have a ready supply of up-to-date geek shirts! :)

Anyway, this week has been fantastic, and I am very chuffed. With bank holiday weekend coming up, I don't have high hopes for the week to come, but you never know! :) Hoorah for freebies! :)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

What could it be? #2

In my quest to ever expand my repertoire (read "hoard") of loose parts at home, I have discovered that the most interesting items come from the most unlikely places. At the conference that I recently went to, I impulse bought a whole tub of tubes. Why? Because they made me happy! It only seems like yesterday when I was last excited about tubes, but actually, it was around 2 years ago when I acquired some really cool violin and cello string transportation devices.

Today, my friends, I present to you these:

86/365 - Zan has fun with a tub of tubes.

They're really quite cool - I think tub I had held around 300 tubes? There must be a bajillion things that children could make from these, because I can think of about 10 things myself! :) First, I reckon I'll build small tent :)

The tubes just over 1cm in diameter, and 1 meter in length. They are made of cardboard, brown on the inside but slightly shiny white on the outside. While the previous tubes that I showed you used to hold the strings of violins and cellos, can anyone guess that the purpose of these cardboard tubes were? They definitely used to have a use, but perhaps have been replaced? I only have one clue - they're usually much shorter than this! I don't think anyone will be able to guess right. 

Once upon a time, I started a style of "guess the item" blogposts, but never got round to doing another one, so this is the second of the series of "What could it be?" Woohoo! :) Please leave a message in the blogpost if you think you know what they are! :)

Hehehe! :) 

Hoorah for loose parts, and hoorah for tubes! :)


These tubes were left overs from the production of tampon applicators. Obviously they haven't been used yet and are perfectly clean and hygienic. They are essentially big straws at the moment, but I did briefly cringe when a kid tried to drink water out of them during a session. Eeep! Mystery over! :)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Crumpets or Hot Cross Buns: The Verdict

Yesterday I asked facebook and blog readers to help me decide whether I should make crumpets or hot cross buns. The votes are in and they have been counted. And the winner is.... CRUMPETS!

For those of you who have never had a crumpet before, they're a variation of a pancake, originating from Scotland I think. You usually eat them toasted with a bit of butter and jam, or for the savoury option, I sometimes eat it was cheese and baked beans. Only sometimes.

It was a fascinating recipe involving yeast and bicarbonate of soda. I have to admit that half way through, I was definitely a little skeptical. It was thick, gloopy and weird looking, but definitely bubbly, so maybe that's where the holes come from. And I was right:

85/365 - Zan gets super excited about home made crumpets! Every tiny hole was a happy moment!

I ended up making about 12 crumpets of three different sizes. I had to use pastry cutters instead of chef rings to keep the mixture cooking, so I ended up with crumpets of three different sizes, haha.

Now that I know how to make crumpets, the mystery of this holey (pan fried) product has suddenly been solved. I have honestly spent an entire childhood wondering how on earth crumpets are made, and now I know! HOORAH! A question though, is it still baking if I didn't use the oven?

These crumpets, by the way, are so much yummier than shop bought ones. They kinda taste how I feel like they should have always tasted, but I have never known otherwise. I've just toasted one and had it with butter and jam and they are delicious. I'm so chuffed! Hoorah for crumpets, and hoorah for mysteries solved.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Crumpets or Hot Cross Buns?

I get really excited when I'm thinking about baking. There's not always time to do it, and to be honest, it's not really top priority these days. The day to day operations of Pop-Up Adventure Play is the most important with my PhD taking close second. With what I have of my reserves I go to work and earn some spare cash which quickly gets invested in books and work and when I can squeeze out a few spare hours, I see my friends.

And then when I need to do some unwinding/mull over something complicated, I bake.

Right now I have a deep desire to bake, but sadly, any resulting product will not be enjoyed until the morning, by which time it won't be as enjoyable. So I think I'll wait until tomorrow. But. I have a dilemma  do I make crumpets, or hot cross buns? Now there's a quandry. Answers on a postcard!

Since I don't have the necessary time for baking, I have slowly introduced myself to the world of post-graduate research. It's quite a challenge when there's no actual deadlines, and no course mates to compare to. It's also kinda amusing how easy it is to forget how important it is! Haha. So much so that sometimes, my focus is very blurred:

84/365 - Zan dreams about all the happy things that she wants to do :)

As I dwell on happy baking thoughts, I have to remind myself that I really should be doing more reading. I really love my subject and talk about play constantly. And love doing the reading when I'm actually doing it. But reading has a weird habit of not feeling very productive so it's hard to get motivated. Do you know what I mean? Yes, pages are read and information is gleened, but the outcome? More thoughts, less product. It's so abstract! I wanna make a cake. Now that's a product. And that's also a happy tummy. Sigh.

Nevermind. I'll read now, and I'll bake tomorrow. At least there's progress :)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Thoughts on Inter-Generational Play

I have recently started going to a new church. I'm not going to lie, I'm probably one of the youngest adults at this place but there's something slightly awesome about it. There's still energy at this church, and a love for one another that welcomes you to be part of, rather than having to search for it yourself.

Today, I went to visit one of my new friends from my church. Turns out he lives round the corner from me, and he's called Frank! He and his friend Joan made tea, and I brought hot cross buns with my Dad. It was really quite cool.

Amidst conversation, I had a gradual realisation why inter-generational play was so important, and why I, Zan, had never experienced it much myself. I was brought up by my parents who were the only members of their family in the UK. I didn't technically have any grandparents, nor did I have any super mature people to look up to. I had quite an old English tutor - Auntie Elaine - who, aside from scolding me for being bad, taught me English folklore and encouraged me to ask questions. But I never really spent much time with old people when I was a child.

After eating our hot cross buns and drinking tea, I reflected on some reasons why it is sooo important for children to spend time with old folk:

1) Children learn from the old folk - they have many stories to tell that somehow enrich your life, giving it extra depth and a sense of rooted history in your own life. When old folk share their stories, I feel a little bit like I'm now in a very important game of Chinese whispers where the ultimate goal is to pass on their wisdom to the next generation and beyond because soon, they too will be gone but their stories live forever.

2) Children breathe new life into old folk - being around children as a playworker always provides me with more energy and inspires me to do more things. I can imagine that having children around for old people must give them an extra zing and bounce to their lives, even if they're not always able to keep up. Children are a joy to be around, and old folk don't often get to experience it for themselves.

3) Old people are awesome - having spent about an hour with Frank and Joan today, I had to conclude that they were awesome. They have genuine interest in what I do, and are ever so pleased for me if it's going well, and then with a twinkle in their eye provide advice that is beyond my own understanding of the world, but heavy with their wisdom and age. They chuckle as they tell you about the cheeky things they did when they were children, and then as if my magic, for a brief moment, look like they're a kid themselves.

83/365 - Zan hangs out with two new friends.

I really enjoyed hanging out with Frank and Joan today, and I hope to be able to learn more from them, and the other folk, at my new church. I'm really happy to say that I think I found a church that I feel like I belong, and thank God that he's lead me to something so unexpected. Even if it is just for a little while :)

Hoorah for old folks, and hoorah for new realisations! Yay! :)

Sunday, 24 March 2013


I'm slightly feverish, am nursing two blistered feet and have been shivering all day, so I haven't really had much chance to do much playing today. I was, for a moment, staring at my feet and realised I had a fun photo op, so I took a photo:

82/365 - Zan messes around with her socks. Happy Zan :)
There's a green sock and a yellow sock somewhere but they didn't make it to the photo.

I should probably at this moment point out that I like wearing my socks as two different colours. I have evidence too! There is a photo from the recent trip to Oxford, showing off a free apron, when I read a book outside once, and when I was recovering from surgery. These photos go back a lot further - I've been wearing socks like this for a while now. People always ask me why I'm wearing odd socks, but I always tell them they're not odd because there are two of them, so therefore they are a pair :)

Hoorah for colourful socks! And hoorah because my mum's found me some new ones! Yay! :)

The Journey to a White Wedding

I've been knee deep in wedding stuff over the last few days so I haven't been able to post anything all. It's all over now so I can show you some delightful highlights. Ready?

2 days til the wedding; dry but very cold

Here's me and Nadia visiting the venue.

We found the ducks of Duckington! Then they followed us around!

79/365 - Zan pots the flowers ready for the wedding. 

Afternoon tea with the girls. Nom nom nom! :) Fiona and Wing Chi tried to hide from the camera, but that green shoulder is Fiona.

1 day til the wedding; cold and wet, with occasional sunny spells.

It was sunny, so we had a little look around. Here's a thatch cottage opposite church.

Here's the church - it's lovely! :)

80/365 - Zan enjoys a lifelong dream by being in possession of a lollipop lady lollipop. Albeit briefly.

Nadia's mum made the bouquets. This one's Nadia's. Isn't it pretty?

In the evening, after rehearsal, we set up the hall. Here are the buntings hand sewn by my mum!

Here they are hanging cookies and photos on a spiral stand. Inspired? All Nadia's ideas.

How many ladies does it take to stack a cake? :)

Here is the guestbook tree. Those are the plants that I potted the day before, and on the tree are photos of Nadia and Pat, with messages from guests. Oh, and there's the cake!

Wedding day; cold, windy and snowy

We woke up to a winter wonderland on the wedding day.

81/365 - Zan enjoys a purple snowy moment.

Here are the groomsmen honouring the Chinese tradition of "winning" the bride at the door - they're writing a poem right now.

This is Pat, the groom sharing this name poem: "Nadia is an Amazing Darling, Incredible and Adorable!"

We got the guys to do yoga positions to show their physical prowess. The groom needed a little help with this one.

Sadly, due to the momentum of the wedding, and a tiny tiny handbag, I had didn't have any more photographic ability after these photos. There are a few filtering through on facebook now, and this one's of Nadia is one of my favourites.

He's my Nadia: a beautiful, beautiful bride. I've known her for almost 20 years, and this was definitely an emotional moment.

After we left Wedding HQ, things started becoming a little, erm, crazy. The snow was bad, people couldn't make it, people got lost, we couldn't find the order of services, many more people than expected arrived, we couldn't find the sandwiches, unexpected performances occurred,we ran out of food and then and I was in the center of all the chaos! It was pretty epic really. As weddings go, this was definitely an eventful one!

The service went well, and the reception was intimate and fantastic. There was so much going on, and many many very lovely guests. The food was yummy and the happy couple really enjoyed themselves! I'm really glad that everyone was happy, and really chuffed that things went as well as they could.

I really wish the Nadia and Pat all the best for their future together, and also good luck for HK part of their wedding. It has been a pleasure to be part of their wedding, and really hope that everyone enjoyed themselves!

Hoorah for Nadia and Pat, and congratulations on your white wedding! :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


It seems that I spend a lot of my time travelling. So much so that I have a fixed routine for the time that I am "in transit". This is mostly what it involves:

78/365 - Zan finds her own entertainment on long journeys to her next adventure.

This image is missing my MP3 player, and also the vast quantity of food I always have with me. I'm usually never bored on any long journey :) And always slightly fatter. Hahaa.

I've arrived in Oxford now and am deep deep into wedding stuff with my good friend Nadia - her wedding is on Saturday and there's sooo much to do still! It's all going very well though, so I'm happy, and not stressed in the slightest. Honest ;)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Derek The Dragon

Remember I went to a Hen Do the other week and did some pottery painting? Well, I got my creation back today and I'd like to introduce you to my new friend, Derek the Dragon.

77/365 - Zan welcomes a new friend into her home.

Just as lovely around the back too. And of course it's all purple. :)

Derek the dragon, and all the other creations, have arrived just in time for Nadia's wedding! I'm going to stay with her until the wedding is over, so blog posts might not happen over the next few days. When I get the chance to, I will post up my 365 photo though - we'll see :) 

Hoorah for purple dragons, and hoorah for more exciting adventures :)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Colours and Clyde

I found some time to take Morgan of a quick whirlwind tour of Manchester's Northern Quarter before she was bundled onto a bus to go home. It turned out to be a very colourful day. And we also found Clyde.

We went to look at lovely quality wool.

We found Clyde! Morgan dressed up as Clyde. Awesome knitted computer game geekery.

Rainbow Thread!

Colourful little money pouches.

 This just made me giggle. Heheheeee! 

76/365 - Zan enjoys the cute and colourful little handmade caterpillars!


I love colourful things so I'm really excited that we saw things in the colour palette that I enjoy today. It was a nice day to be outside and looking at new things. I'm sad to see Morgan go but at least we had a colourful send off. Hoorah! :)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

All Work About Play

Today, I spent most of it just working. Talking about work, thinking about work, doing work. There was much, but why? It's because Morgan will be going soon! Tomorrow in fact. To make the most of our time together as Pop-Ups, we decided to fit as much in as possible.

Not much play happened today, but I do have a photo to show you that my mum took, that is probably the funniest photo of myself and Morgan that we'e taken during our stay:

75/365 - Zan reflects on a fun spell with Morgan.

It's been really really good having Morgan stay with us. Professionally we have accomplished loads, personally we have got to know eachother so much more. I have always thought that Morgan was awesome, but she's become one of the most important people I have in my life, both as a wonderful working colleague and a close friend. I feel really blessed with her friendship, and truly thank God for giving me the opportunity to work with such a fun, witty, easy-going and like-minded person.

Hoorah for Morgan! :)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Walking the Quays

Morgan and I took a break from work today and went for a walk by Salford Quays. It was threatening to rain, but we went outside anyway, to see what we could see.

74/365 - Zan is thrilled to be outside.

It's Media City! I wondered aloud if we'd see anyone famous!

Hello Swan! It was huge!

The bridge just outside Media City. It had pretty lights.

Looking back at the Lowry from Media City.

A really cool sculpture. I particularly like the silver on the blue.

It started to rain lots shortly after this, but it was refreshing and nice to be out and about. Both Morgan and I have been working so much recently, it has become stressful and frustrating, purely because we haven't taken much time out to do anything of our own. I really hope that things level out a little so we can have a good work life balance, even if it is all about play :)