Saturday, 30 November 2013

Doodle Tidings

It suddenly occurred to me halfway through a busy shift at work that I need to send Christmas post to my US friends asap. UK post is amazing, even during the busy festive season, and I know that I can send post to anywhere within the country and it's longest delay is about 5 days. When I send stuff to the US, it can take anywhere between 10 days to one whole month to get there. I have no idea why there's such inconsistency, but there is! And that's why I have to make an effort to send my post the latest by the first week of December. And that's why I have to send my things sharpish!

This year I thought I would send Christmas postcards. Why not, right? I like my postcards, handmade and doodley. Here's what I came up with for my Christmas batch:

334/365 - Zan makes Christmas postcards :)

I'm super tired. It was a rubbish shift at work today, with shouty customers and unrelenting queues. It's probably a good time go shower and curl up in bed with a good book :) Or I might go watch another baking program...? We'll see. :)

Friday, 29 November 2013

Four. Five. Six. :)

When I woke up this morning, it was almost afternoon. It turns out that the launch of a video games console is rather draining, and I was super glad to be off work today. But of course the day was full of tidying, organising and shuffling things around. I have to do it in short bursts because a) I only get little chunks of time to use, b) I can't cope with the chaotic craziness that happens just before it gets tidy again and c) all the dust from moving things around makes me sneeze like crazy.

Nonetheless, it was a good day. I thought I'd follow on from the other three happy moments from the other day with today's happies!

4) I got more awesome post. Today it was from my friend Jenny who I've known since college. She's one of the PMs, but I don't get to see her very often cos she's really really busy.

Thank you for my postcard Jen! :) You're so thoughtful :)

5) I found a puzzle thing that I used to play with as a child, and I didn't know that we'd arranged the pieces into a dinosaur. It made me dead happy both to re-discover the toy, and to find out that my liking for dinosaurs has a vague history.

Hello Mr Blue Dinosaur. You breathe fire!

6) We set the table for 4 today because my sister Chris has come up to visit from London. She's been going through her stuff all day too. Look and for tea, we had mussels! :)

333/365 - Zan has another lovely family meal.

Ooh, another wonderful thing that happened today was that I got featured in Ip Dip, the playwork magazine. They published my playworking-retail story from the other day. I'm dead chuffed because I've never been very confident about my written stuff, so when it is showcased anywhere it gives me a little boost. I must thank the editor some time :)

Alrighty. Time to watch me some Masterchef and then sleep. I suspect there to be a challenging day at work tomorrow. Bah. Nevermind.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Rare and Happy Gathering

It's been a long time since my siblings and I have eaten with my parents. I mean, all three of us together, and without eachother's spouses. I'm not entirely sure how we orchestrated it, but today we managed to get us all together as Clem was leaving, and as Chris was arriving in Manchester to go for lunch in celebration of my Mum's birthday - hoorah!

332/365 - Zan eats with family :)
It's a bit blurry but we're all there :)

It was nice to just hang out as a family. We ordered way too much food though, which has resulted in much bloating, and quite a lot of discomfort. Haha. I think the amount of food we ate today would make my Thanksgiving friends proud. Weee! I guess I should give thanks for it too - it was a lovely family gathering today :)

Hoorah for family, hoorah for food and Happy Thanksgiving! :)

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

One. Two. Three. :)

Three things happened today that made me really happy. They made me smile for some time, and it was nice :)

1) We've started wearing Christmas uniforms at work. This officially means that Christmas decorations are permitted in, near or around any vicinity where I happen to be.

Hello Reindeer! :)

2) I had a lovely meal with my friends Nadia and Fiona. Lovely lovely Vietnamese food! Spring rolls and noodles nom nom nom! :)

I want some more now, looking at it again. :)

3) I got a postcard from my colleagues and lovely friends Morgan and Anna. They are so thoughtful! Yaaay! :)

331/365 - Zan has a happy day full of happy little things :)

It's been a tough day, but having these little moments punctuate my day makes it so much better. Ooh, I got a free Curly Wurly too, but I ate it too fast and forgot to take a photo. Boo. Anyway, it was a good day today, and I hope that there will be a few more of them on their way too. Probably not tomorrow though. Tomorrow's another crazy day. Maybe the happy days will come soon after tomorrow :)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rainbow Books

I've been tidying lots, and came across a box of old workbooks from my secondary education. Turns out I've liked rainbows since high school...

330/365 - Zan discovers an array of rainbow books.

Nothing really much to talk about today, apart from the acute anxiety triggered by work related crazy. It's maddening how passionate and urgent the need for a new console is. If that same passion or energy was channelled into play, love, or even peace, I reckon the world would be so much more pleasant.

Anyway, perhaps an early night for me. Til tomorrow!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Always Playworking

When I'm not doing Pop-Up Adventure Play stuff, or researching play for my PhD, I work somewhere that has nothing to do with play: retail. I often find myself completely baffled by my choice to work in this environment, and (especially over the last week or so) mostly disappointed with what this industry demands: it's unrealistic expectations, and it's relentless drive towards gain. Why am I pressured to compromise the things I believe in just to make a living?

But every so often, a moment of magic arrives. And it's usually screaming at the top of his voice. All 3-foot of him doesn't want to come into another shop. Especially if his Dad isn't paying him the slightest bit of attention. So he throws himself on the floor to gain as much attention as possible as his Dad wanders off to pursue his own interests. Maybe all he wants is someone to give him a moment of attention; a moment of play. So I crouch down nearby, close enough to be heard, but not close enough to interfere with the stage he has created. "Hello little man" I say. "What's it like on the floor?" The little man looks around. We make eye contact and he's quiet for a second. And then looks away. The Dad pootles over in an embarrassed manner, and I indicate that it's okay. And I talk again "What's up little man?". He looks straight into my eyes again and considers me. He then smiles and gets up, and almost as an experiment, takes 2 steps forward. In my crouched position, I mirror his actions and I attempt step forward too. He giggles a little bit, and runs past me to his Dad, and for some reason I know, the moment is over.

I may be working in an environment that is devoid of playwork, or any suggestion that children might even be of importance, but that does not mean that priorities have changed. I still have children's best interests at heart, and am always mindful of how difficult it can be to meet a child's needs in the retail environment. But if all it takes a little smile and a wave to a chubby cold kid in pram, or the removal of a mostly melted icecream from a sticky fingered friend, or admiring the performance of an impatient 3-foot-high customer, then so be it. You might be able to take me out of the playwork world, but you'll never take the playwork out of me.

My work colleagues call me the Child Whisperer but I call myself a Playworker: it's the only way I know how to be.

329/365 - Zan reflects on a moment of play, with amazing cake.
This photo is dedicated to Ash because "it's still too early to have Christmas decorations".
This photo is also dedicated to Reece: I told you I was going to take it home and take a photo of it.
Oh, and this photo is also dedicated to Valerie. You know why, Val. :)

Hoorah delicious cake and good reflection times, and hoorah for play in unexpected places! :)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doodle Me Zan

I had day to myself today. After an insane week, and a crazy trip to Wrexham, I really needed to sit down for a week and process it all. I chose to organise my post, tidy some things, watch some tv, do some work (like you do) and I also doodle me a doodle.

328/365 - Zan doodles Zan! Hoorah! :)

I've been really enjoying my doodling. My doodle page is looking really cool, and it makes me really happy when I look through it. It's almost better than my freebie page actually... :) Anyway, it was great to have a day to do what I wanted to do. Back to the crazy tomorrow! Weeeeeeeee! :)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

"I think this is a good junkyard" - Reflections from a day at The Land

I made sure I stuffed myself with a glorious Full English Breakfast before setting off from the hotel to Plas Madoc this morning. Hanna, her little boy and I were very eager to get back into the adventure playground and get stuck in.

While Hanna did her journalistic work, I spent time with her little boy, my little friend.. He's pretty awesome, independent, but only young, so after overcoming the initial overwhelming possibilities at The Land, he was off and away.

It was an unusual day for me. I was able to both play host to the guests in this country as well as do some playwork. I was invited into a rather amazing game of hide and seek, and was also able to witness the construction and deconstruction of things too. There was a fire, a river, trees, loose parts and fresh air. I can honestly say that there couldn't have been a better combination of things for me to be experiencing at the end of an insane week.

Here we are, peering into The Land, from the land beyond The Land. Haha. Funny sentence.

327/365 - Zan enjoys a day of playwork.

Here's my little friend, confidently overcoming the rope swing.

My little friend makes more friends and they go on an adventure!

Little friend: "This place is like a junkyard"
Zan: "Is a junkyard a good thing or a bad thing?"
Little friend: "I think this is a good junkyard"

It was great to talk about playwork for two days. Although it may seem that I spend a lot of time explaining the basics of playwork to lots of people, it's not always as fun to do without stuff to point at like when you're at an adventure playground. Typing out my thoughts for the Playworker Development Course is one thing, being on site with a whole bunch of local kids is completely another.

As always, I am blown away by the work that Claire and the team do at Plas Madoc, and hope that I will be able to bring more people to The Land show more people the amazing possibilities of playwork.

Hoorah for The Land! :)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Hello Plas Madoc! :)

I'm on a fun and slightly exciting trip to Wrexham with my newly acquired friend Hanna Rosin, a reporter from the US, and her little boy! :) I picked them up from Manchester and then drove us all to Wrexham to see The Land @ Plas Madoc. This is awesome for many reasons, but for now we'll concentrate on the fact that we are visiting an adventure playground! :) Here are some photos:

Here's my new little friend. He has never seen a adventure playground before. Here he is, trying out a new slide.

326/365 - Zan has fun at The Land, with my little friend's hat on.

This is the best pic of the day - my little friend with his new friend, in a treehouse, at dusk. Awesome.

And here's a future Masterchef! Apparently, this young man spends most evenings making food for everyone! :) Tonight, we had bacon butties and toast :)

This is the forth time I've been to Plas Madoc, and it is just as amazing as my first visit. And the second. And the third. I'm still really tired from last night's shift (and accompanying night's worth of trade-in nightmares) but after a few hours in fresh air, playing with the children and talking my way through my love of playwork, all my anxiety doesn't see to be nearly as bad. It's all catching up to me a little bit now, sat in a corner in the hotel, stealing the internet. I think I'm falling asleep on the spot! But not before I say just how much I love being a playworker. Love it. 

Hoorah for playwork! :) And hoorah for The Land! :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Emergency Cake

I woke up this morning having spent an entire night experiencing work related nightmares stemming from a tough shift. Who knew you could get quite so wound up about the buying and selling of stuff.

And that was the beginning of it. Due to various other pieces of news that transpired throughout the day, I ended up going from vaguely anxious this morning, to almost brown-bag breathing within a few short hours - and I've not even got to work yet! It's going to be a long night.

So in a bid to calm myself down, I made some cake. Everything feels a little better with a little bit of cake:

325/365 - Zan makes emergency cake.
I experimented with vanilla cakes that have a twist of brown sugar and cinnamon. I think they worked quite well! :)

They were actually quite delicious. Not at full potential yet, because it's still just an experiment, but they remind me slightly of Christmas. And slightly of anxiety. Ha. They made me feel much better. Something that I can control.

Anyway I have a long shift to look forward to tonight. Console launch number 1 of 2. If I manage to keep it together, I will let you all know tomorrow. Especially cos I have an exciting adventure tomorrow! Woohoo! :)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Feet Up

I had a super intense shift at work today. There's nothing quite like the promise of dismissal to keep your senses alive, and your heart a-thumping. Haha, don't get me wrong, I've not done anything stupid, or broken any rules, but today at work we were working with delicate things that followed specific procedures, and if I did them wrong it was instant dismissal.

As you can imagine, by the end of the shift, my nerves were completely shot. So I came home, sat down, and stared at things for a while. My life has come to a bizarre and unprecedented point if the sale of goods has such a high price. Literally and figuratively. There might be some re-evaluating to do.

But of course, the good thing is, that I did everything right today and am pleased with my performance.

After all the staring, I decided to put my feet up and watch Mr Ocean and his 13 friends. It was nice.

324/365 - Zan relaxes with the TV.

My brain feels mushy now and I am exhausted. I think it's time to go curl up in bed with a book and then let my weary eyes find sleepy land. Goodnight! :)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Blue Sky

Today I stepped out of the house on my way to work to be greeted with blinding sunshine and incredible blue skies. I couldn't resist taking a photo with it.

323/365 - Zan enjoys the sunshine despite the cold.

It's super super cold now, and the frosty mornings have begun. I love the cold when it's nice and dry, so I hope the wind and rain holds off for a bit while I enjoy the coldness of almost-Winter :)

Work is hectic and home is a mass of boxes. Don't-even-talk-to-me-about-my-PhD. I'm too busy trying to make a living, and a life! So tired, but quite joyful actually. Just saw a lovely video in support of children's play. I love what I do, and I love to play. Hoorah! :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

The End of a Postal Era

I don't think I can keep it a secret any more - we're moving house. This is a big thing. We have lived in this house for almost 18 years. It's seen me through most of my teenage life, my siblings and I are now all graduates from university, my uncle lived out his happy and carefree life here, and my sister and brother are now married. This house has seen a lot. And my parents and I will be sad to leave it behind.

This house has also had a lot of post. I think that my college friends and I have kept the post office running for the last 18 years with the volume of post that comes through here. I've been here for so long that my friends are a little bit sad too a) because I'm moving away b) because this place has a lot of cool memories and c) because this house is the only other address that they know off by heart apart from their own!

And as a lovely surprise, I have been receiving post off them this week:

322/365 - Zan marvels in postal warmth.
The postcard on the left is from Shazia, the card on the right is from Lee, and the letter (with a really cool underneath pattern) is from Ric.

I had not expected my friends to be so lovely as to send me all this wonderful post with their cute little notes. They've been saying how it might be their last post to the house, and that they'll miss remembering the address. Awwww! They are completely adorable, and wonderful wonderful people. Thank you Lee, Ric and Shazia! :) You've made a very busy week just a little bit more bearable and sweet. :)

I haven't really given myself a moment to be sad about moving yet. There's still too much left to do, and we don't officially have a moving date. But we have been tidying, and re-tidying, and arranging, and packing. It turns out that 18 years worth of stuff is a lot of stuff, and sifting through it takes a lot of time, and creates a lot of dust. That, and 30 hour shifts at my (part time) work, a PhD and a charity to run, I've hardly had time to think! But I think it'll all be okay. Go outside, deep breath, and then just get on with it.

Right now, I reckon I'll just curl up with a book and just enjoy a moment of quiet in this otherwise crazy week. Weeeee! :)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Bake Before the Busy

Today, I was acutely aware that it would be the only day that I'm not going to be busy in the next 12 days. I decided to do a bit of work, have a bit of a rest, and do a bit of baking:

321/365 - Zan does some baking.
These are tomato, sausage and cheese pastries.

I was actually making mini puff pastry goodies, but I used margarine instead of butter so it all became quite shortcrusty instead. They were still delicious but you know... wasn't meant to look like that! Ah well.

There are a whole host of video game devices which need my selling attention in the next coupla weeks so things are going to get busy. Not just busy, manic. I'm also punctuating the busy-ness with a short visit to Wrexham - more on that later this week! :) Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Saturday Night Zan Style

After an extremely busy shift today, I decided to venture into the busy night life of Manchester City Centre before a meal with my colleagues at work. The Christmas Markets have only just arrived and they have filled the freezing cold town hall square with a landscape of little chalets, decorated with twinkling lights and fascinating goods that are a delight to the senses.

I had a hot vimto to warm myself up - it was sweet and sticky, but perfect and lovely. Just what I needed to warm up with.

It was difficult to manoeuvre around today - there were simply too many people, so I chose spots to wander around that was away from the main taverns. Although I didn't really manage to get close enough to the shops to see anything but I was there to absorb the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas.

320/365 - Zan enjoys the Christmas Markets.

I joined my work colleagues later on for some buffet action. I absolutely stuffed myself today and when I got back home, I had to lie down for a few minutes before I could move again. I blame this masterpiece:

"Looks like a Worms level" - Scott
Worms, the computer game, as opposed to any other form of worms.

It was certainly a busy day today, but kinda fun too. I ate a lot, laughed a lot, and smiled a lot. I think that means it was a good day. :) I hope to go back to the Christmas Markets again soon, for a proper wander. I'm happy with my little pootle this time. And also pleased that my internet seems to be back again. Fingers crossed that it'll be here tomorrow too! Hoorah! :)

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Internet, Leaves. :)

I'm using the borrowed internet of my friend Kit today. Again. The lack of internet at home is now making me quite miserable, but hey ho, there's nothing I can do about it. Might have to bake later to try and fill my time.

On the walk over to Kit's, I found me a pile of leaves and I was really quite excited. I read recently somewhere that a pile of leaves that you don't jump on is a missed opportunity. I didn't want to miss my chance! :)

318/365 - Zan jumps in the leaves.

The weather has been very interesting in the last week or so. It will rain solidly for one day, then it'll be super bright and cheerful the next, and alternate like that without much warning. It's all a bit weird really for a UK Autumn, but hey, I can deal. As long as there are enough dry days :)

Anyway, I'd better bask in the internet usage while I have it. And then wander home. Might even do some reading for the ol' PhD too :) Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Smileys

I was given a little gift today for working hard. It made me very happy, mostly because I was so surprised to receive them. It wasn't anything much, but I was really chuffed - it's always nice to be recognised for your hard work :)

318/365 - Zan smiles at the smileys.

The smileys are strawberry and white chocolate disks in a jar. Very yummy. Not so yummy after a dark mint chocolate. Haha.

Had no internet today so had to steal it from work. Ridiculous. My mum's taken to shouting at the internet peeps too now, so let's hope that someone somewhere is fixing something! Hoorah for smileys! :)

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Chrysanthemum Tea

The internet has been terrible. I couldn't get online today at all and was forced to consider my work at a distance, and in draft mode. For a great portion of the day, I was trying to work out how best to remedy the situation and was getting increasingly anxious so then I gave up and started staring at my tea. As it turns out, it was actually really interesting tea:

317/365 - Zan stares at her chrysanthemum tea.
It's not like English Breakfast - it has a sweet smell and an earthy but refreshing taste. I like chrysanthemum tea. Must be a Chinese thing.

I hope the internet situation gets better, otherwise I'm going to have to camp out at other people's houses. Beware! Haha. Until then, I'll keep staring at my tea.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

It Has To Be Nachos

My friends Angel, Lisa, Fiona and I got together for Fiona's birthday meal. It was nice to catch up and have a good giggle at eachother's expense, but in the nicest possible way :)

316/365 - Zan celebrates with Fiona.
Fiona's favourite food in the world is nachos. We're not really very sure why, but it's like her superhero weakness. So to celebrate her today, we had nachos! :)

I had a lovely time with the girls, and had very good food. Sticky toffee pudding for dessert - warming hearty deliciousness! Made me soooo happy! :) Hoorah! :) Until next time, ladies! :) And happy birthday Fiona! :)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Boop Boop

I made a little paper car for another project today. I was so chuffed with it, I wanted to make it somewhere to drive, so I got my recycled book pages out and set to work:

315/365 - Zan doodles a city scape.

There's my little car, boop booping along :)

It's been a very trying day today. Different trades and services in and out of the house, and myself in and out of the house too. Taking the time to draw my little city scape today calmed me down and gave me a chance to readjust and refocus for the rest of the week.

I am, a little bit sad because today, I parted company with my piano. The  piano that's seen me through 8 grades of piano with countless hours of practice is now gone. The same piano that my siblings and my mum also spent so many challenging and joyous times together with is now on it's way to a new home. I really loved my piano, but been neglected for far too long so it's time. Goodbye my beloved piano - take care of all the new pianists that you meet! :)

Now, onwards and upwards! Boop boop! :)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Visiting the Dinosaur

I wanted to go and visit the shiney dinosaur today. I discovered him a couple of years back when uncle was in and out of hospitals. lives in a local park, near a place that we'll be spending a lot of time at in the future. With the glorious blue autumn skies as my backdrop, went to say hi again to Mr Dinosaur.

314/365 - Zan visits the local dinosaur!

I couldn't resist taking photos of the rich colours of autumn leaves against the blue background. Look at those bright colours!

And my fascination with flight paths continue! Hahaa.

It was nice to be out and about today, with no purpose, reason or rhyme. The warmth of the sun on my skin was a nice welcoming feeling against the brisk wind. It allowed me to temporarily forget that I have an enormous amount of things to do, which is really quite a task considering how busy I am!

The intermittent internet is still plaguing me, so I'm currently cadging the internet off my friend Kit. Hopefully in the next few days it'll get sorted, and I'll be back and internettable again. Woohoo! Until then, I'm afraid there will be a lot of internet borrowing! Sigh. Sorry.

Anyway, hoorah for a moment outside, and hoorah for blue skies! And a general yay for Autumn! :) Yay! :)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Shoo Shoo Shoo Shoebox

Today, I joyfully participated in the filling of two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. My mum and my friend Jessica pootled around the shops to fill our little shoeboxes up of little surprises. Then I went home to take up the challenge of wrapping the boxes with Christmas paper - it's always the hardest part of the project. I succeeded quite well though, and here is my triumphant photo:

313/365 - Zan fills up shoeboxes with a little bit of happy.

When I fill up the shoeboxes, I'm always reminded of how blessed I was as a child to be part of a warm and happy household with clothes to wear and food to eat. To think that there are children out there who don't have these things breaks my heart a little, so I try every year to send a little something in an effort to make a child's Christmas.

And of course, I get to so a little Christmassing in November. Who doesn't like a bit of that? :D Hahaa. (Sorry Ash ;) ). The shoeboxes begin their journey tomorrow - I wonder where they'll go! Hope the children like it! :)

Friday, 8 November 2013

First Bratwurst of the Year! :)

It was a PhD day today and as I pootled up hill from the train station into uni, I noticed the little twinkling fairylights on the charming chalets that always signifies the arrival of the Christmas Markets in Leeds. Hoorah! You should know from last year that I absolutely love the Christmas markets so imagine how happy I was today! :) Having picked up my good friend and fellow PhD peep, Andy from a nearby location, we proceeded towards the nearest German hotdog stand and had us our first bratwurst of the year:

An updated system means less congestion - pay for your token and then just pick up your hotdog! Hoorah! :) I got a bratwurst that had cheese in it too! :)

311/365 - Zan has the first taste of the Christmas Markets this year.

The cheesey bratwurst was delicious! I'm so pleased I stumbled across this today of all days! I also can't quite believe that the Christmas Markets have already been set up in Leeds - it's only the beginning of November! It must be good money! Anyway, it was good food and good company today as Andy and I planned to take over the world, one playwork theory at a time. Hahaha. More PhD thoughts to come! :)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Busy

In between the busy of this and the busy of that, I took a few minutes to wander round outside and took this photo:

310/365 - Zan goes outside.

Nothing much to talk about really for today. Internet is still bad and I'm now just constantly anxious about it. Sigh. I can't believe that I am off to uni tomorrow in search of better internet! :( Anyway more tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sparklers :)

I stood on my doorstep today avoiding the fat raindrops falling from the sky, and carefully clutching a pack of sparklers. I think that on any other occasion, my parents would have come to supervise my sparkler time, but the continual bucketing of rain today confirmed to both my parents that even if I had tried, I wouldn't have been able to set anything on fire.

309/365 - Zan plays with sparklers

I love sparklers. They make me really happy :) They are mesmerising to watch, and so very pretty. I usually get a pack to play with on Bonfire Night, but yesterday got extremely hectic, so I didn't get round to lighting them. It was a nice treat after a day of work today :)

The internet has, however, been wreaking havoc on my life. How is one supposed to work internationally when one simply cannot contact them? There has been much shouting to internet people today. The sparklers helped to cheer me up a bit.

Soo, hoorah for sparklers, and hoorah for unsupervised play! :)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Firework Flowers :)

Blooming in pure darkness, these flowers of light
Cause wonder and excitement, with sounds of pure delight
"Remember November the 5th" we recite
Here it is and there it goes: fireworks on Bonfire Night.
308/365 - Zan admires the fireworks on bonfire night.

So it was Bonfire Night tonight. I'm so pleased to have been able to spend the evening with my parents in delighted exclamation at the colourful explosions in the sky. I missed the 5th November last year because I was still in the US (where the celebration of not exploding parliament is clearly not a thing), so I made sure that I did lots of oohing and ahhing to make up for it this year. It was awesome. I'm so happy :)

Hoorah for fireworks, and happy Bonfire Night! :)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Drawing on Leaves

Over the past 10 days, my internet has been patchy. Gloriously internetty, then completely non-existent for an unknown amount of time. I have complained, and shouted, but there is nothing that I can do apart from to wait. Growing gradually accustomed to it, I have found ways of waiting that is offline, and today I decided to play for a while by taking a walk, collecting some pretty leaves and then drawing on them. Inspired, of course, by the internet.

307/365 - Zan doodles on leaves.

They look really pretty right? :)

I'm really quite pleased with how well they turned out. It's quite hard to do because the leaves aren't flat so they like to move when I'm poking them with a pen. But it was a fun challenge that I'm totally going to do again, maybe next time with loads more and make a feature of it somewhere in the house. Oooh. 

I don't think I really mind being offline. It's quite a good feeling being detached from the world, invisible. It's just I have a lot of tour stuff to be going on with, and I can't be having disconnections every 15 minutes, especially during meetings - it's mighty inconvenient! Bah!

Anyway, hoorah for a little project, and yay for being offline! :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

My Next Pop-Up Adventure Play Adventure

Ladies and Gentlemen! Next year, I will be going on tour with Pop-Up Adventure Play. Since coming back from the US about a year ago, I have been itching to get back to the States to continue the work we have over there in promoting the child's right to play. After only alluding to it the other day, I'm pleased to announce that I should be back there next Spring and I will be travelling across from the East Coast to the West and then back again, popping up everywhere along the way.

Today? My day has been all about connecting and promoting the tour. I am the tour organiser you see, and I have only experienced this role once before. I have had to brace myself for the surprising amount of organisation required to keep track of everything, not to mention the serious amount of concentration to remember all the details of the organisation's needs as well as the needs of the hosts. I won't bore you with the specific details of the tour, (which are available on request) but here is the Pop-Up Adventure Play blogpost I have written to entice the American audience into inviting us in. Allow me to quote the bit of the blogpost (that I wrote) that I like the most:
"Just as a playworker makes themselves available for children to play, we would like to make ourselves available to communities across America. We would like you to invite us to come to your neighbourhood, and help you to build a community around play."
And of course, my great adventure would not be without companions. This is going to be an epic road trip and I will be joined by my amazing friend and colleague Miss Morgan Leichter-Saxby who will be mostly in the driver's seat. There will also be special guests along the way, both Pop-Up related and playwork related, but we're going to keep at a secret until closer to the time.

306/365 - Zan organises the big US tour.
Those of you who are familiar with my work might note that that is a Zan doodle. 
Okay, it's a Zoodle, I concede.

After the celebrations of the weekend, it was nice to sit down and work a little. I am also nursing what can only be described as "Cake-Mixing Arm". It only hurts if I move my arm in circles, so it must be from mixing at least 2lbs of cake batter and buttercream yesterday! Guaranteed no bingo wings on my right arm, but I'm gonna have to start getting my left arm in on the mixing too otherwise I'll be lopsided! 

Anyway, I'm preparing for an adventure which is going to be epic. I may need help from you lovely people at one point, because this roadtrip is missing one essential element... but for now, enjoy the vastness of my next adventure, and I will update you all soon with more details! :) Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Tideswell Walk and Rainbow Cake :)

I woke up this morning to a misty view of the Peak District. Part One of Shazia's three-part birthday went very well, so part 2 - her actual birthday day - would be celebrated in force today!

Shazia had already asked a long time ago if she could have a rainbow cake for her birthday, and I had said yes, but of course I had the busiest week ever and didn't quite get all my ingredients ready before setting off to the party. So Lee and I decided to make a moment of it, and walked to the nearest village today to pick up my forgotten icing sugar :)

Here we are, in the blustery wind. Very cold and mostly wet but very pleased to be outside in the beautiful Peak District.

When we got back, we started work. I made 6 different colour of cake for the main birthday cake, and then a small batch of cupcakes in case we ran out. There were a lot of mouths to feed so I wanted to make sure everyone had some good cake :)

Here are my purple star cupcakes! Aren't they amazing! :)

Here's Shazia - showing off her birthday cake. It turned out really good! This pic doesn't quite do the colours justice. Ah well.

305 - Zan celebrates Shazia's birthday with homemade rainbow cake :)

I've had a lovely coupla of days celebrating Shazia's 30th year. I also had a lot of fun hanging out with Lee. If every birthday is as joyous and as much of a blessing as this one, then bring on the year of 30s - who cares if you're old? :) Hoorah for celebrations! :)