Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Cheery Rainy Weekend

It was ridiculously rainy this weekend. And of course, what better Manchester weather could my brother possibly come home to? My brother and his wife came up to see the nice new house for the first time, and after quite a long discussion about where exactly we are, they actually found us with no trouble whatsoever! Hoorah!

We went to the market, visited Uncle, went antiquing and went yam cha. Quite a busy couple of days really. It was really lovely to see Clem and Fiona as always. It was particularly amusing have them present to us, on arrival, four thingies of pok choi that Clem had grown himself:

Here he is, all chuffed with is crop. Apparently, it has been a very bountiful harvest in his garden!

It was lovely to recount stories from my US trip, and exciting to hear of information from the great southlands. I was also pleased to note that Clem didn't break anything when he was in the new house, which means it has passed it's "structurally sound" test. Haha. In case you didn't know, Clem is known to be a little bit clumsy and has a habit of accidentally breaking things. Knowing that he's been here for a weekend and hasn't even scratched anything means that this house is suitable for all! Hoorah! :)

I had a nice weekend. Just hope it stops raining soon!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Brand New Post :)

One of the most annoying things about moving house is changing your address. There are so many different companies to contact, all with their particular way of going through the "change of address" formality. Just to add to the complexity of the situation, our new build house is still not a recognised address. Sigh. Technically, our house doesn't exist in the world yet!

No matter. I may not have internet (I'm tethering from my mobile at the minute), and I may have had to fight tooth and nail to have my TV aerial and phone line put in, but at least the postman knows where I live! Hoorah! Today, I received my first real piece of post from my wonderful friend Lee:

Not only is it my first piece of post, but it commemorates my recent trip to the US! So thoughtful! Thank you Lee, for your awesome postcard! :)

I'm looking forward to seeing how well other delivery services do in the near future. A very enthusiastic FedEx man turned up at our house this morning and welcomed us to our new home. It was really quite strange and nice at the same time, but he didn't have post for me - it was for next door. Still, it's good to know he knows howto get here! Haha! :)

Anyway, time for me to head bedwards. I'm enjoying daily blogging again. This is quite nice :) Hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bumble Bee Footprints

The house that we've just moved into is a new build. It's so brand new that it's not even google-able yet. But of course, as a result of everything being new, there's still things being built. Today we had some concrete left to set and as the sun went down, my dad noticed that there was a bee crawling across it. And then all of a sudden, we noticed something that made my day:

This is the little track that the Bumble Bee made. It was so neat and tidy, and so cute!

Look, tiny tiny footprints! Bee prints!

I was completely taken by these footprints in the concrete. I don't think I'd ever thought about tiny tiny things making prints, and suddenly seeing it opened my eyes to a minuscule world of newness. Dogs yes, cats yes, and I've thought about bear prints too. But bees? I usually only think about them flying! I love bees, and I also love ladybirds! I wonder what ladybird footprints look like! TINY FOOTPRINTS!

I also then thought that if a tiny buzzy thing like a bee couple leave prints behind on this liquid concrete, I'd probably make quite an impression if I fell in by accident. HA.

So there you go. Today's excitement for me has been Bee Prints. I don't think I've explained very well why I think they're so great, so please just know that they make me very happy :) Hoorah! :)

Monday, 19 May 2014

A Day of Things

I feel like I did loads today. Besides unpacking, and going to Ikea (again), I also went to the bank, went to the supermarket and went to visit my old house to pick up my leftover post. I also managed to fit in...

A small adventure to a reclaimed materials timber yard with my mum. It was like the daddy of all Scrapstores...

Visited a load of really cute bunnies. They were tiny and bouncy and incredibly fluffy!

Made some Change of Address cards. :) Yay, doodles!

I think I am now back in the swing of things! I feel like I'm getting work done, sorting out my personal snagging list and well on the way to being back and ready for action! Zan is HOME.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Hello House! :)

I've been back in the UK for almost 3 weeks now and I've been swept off my feet. I've been unpacking, building wardrobes, unpacking some more, got floored by some bizarre cold, then unpacked even more. But ladies and gentlemen, I'm ready to announce that I'm officially moved in! All of the boxes that belong to me and my parents are officially under one roof! Hoorah! 

Zan with new house. Hello! :) Lovely sunny day for the photo too :)

We've been shopping for furniture a lot - both new and antique. The week I came back, we went to Ikea 3 times in 5 days - it felt like I was working there again! :) Today, we went to one of our favourite antique places where I was allowed to go enter into the most amazing section of the antique hoard where I took a quick photo:

Chairs as high as the ceiling, with stuff mixed in, around and through other bits of furniture. It's kinda awesome.

And to round off my day, I decided to bake for the first time in this house. The kitchen is completely new so it took a little getting used to, but I'm pleased to say that the cakes are just as delicious and happy, hoorah!

Christening the house with my first bake. Yay! :)

So this is the first of many posts about my new house. I miss my old house a little but this move has been a long time coming and I'm excited for the stories to come. It's been a busy first few weeks, but we're beginning to settle in now and I'm pretty sure that this house will soon feel like home. :)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Spirit of Adventure Play Conference 2014

At the very last minute (halfway across the US, possibly in the middle of Wyoming) we decided to send me to the Spirit of Adventure Play Conference organised by PlayWales. I went a couple of years ago, and a couple of years before that again, so I knew what to expect, and was eager to meet up with fellow playworkers on those very rare occasions that we get together.

And what a conference. I found myself in good conversation with good people, working my way around some tricky "oh you're Suzanna" conversations, as well as the "Ah, you're Pop-Ups" conversations too. I was able to catch up with Clare Bryan, one of the managers I used to work for at Children's Links and also had a good laugh with Special Guest Number 1 Grant Lambie from this year's USA tour too.

This conference was lovely, I think, because I was a free agent. I didn't have to present, but I was allowed to decide what I wanted to do with the time I was given. I was really pleased to find myself in Luke Sutton's workshop on Modifications. It makes my heart sing when I hear playworkers who work in the field come out of their shell and share their reflective thoughts on play.

Spirit also made me realise something else. Last time I was there, I was nervous, new and jumpy. This time at Spirit, I felt at ease. I was happy to discuss, be challenged, be talked to and connected with. I felt alert, confident and ready. Two years of being in the playwork circuit coupled with throwing myself into a PhD has really made me a more confident advocate for play. This makes me happy for a variety of reasons which I won't go into now, but above all, I feel that I have grown to the stage in which I can confidently call myself a founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play, and a Playwork Doctorate Candidate.

The workshop that got me thinking - A Ball of String! :)

This is a landmark moment for me. It's like that moment when you realise what an artist is doing after watching them for hours and hours. Or that moment when you find the word after staring at a grid of letters for what seems forever. It is also a little like that moment when you find that thing that you thought you lost. And that moment makes me smile.

My time at Spirit may not have been filled with responsibility, but it was definitely a great moment for reflection, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Playwork Ninjas

This blogpost is in response to Morgan's recent piece entitled Super Playworkers.

I think there are more playworkers than we think there are. I think there are playworkers in disguise. I think there are some playwork ninjas out there. After my roadtrip around the US, I know there is at least one playground designer, one film maker, at least one circus stage manager, a handful of school teachers, a whole bunch of parks and recreation staff and some museum curators who live secret lives as playworkers.

And why I say that? Because of the 4th Playwork Principle as laid out by the Playwork Principle Scrutiny Group in 2004:
"For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas."
There are people in this world that fight for world peace and for human rights. And others who stand firm in their religious beliefs or political party. Playworkers simply stand up for children's play. Playworkers put children's play on the map, putting them on par with the other things in life that people are fighting for. Because we playworkers know that play is important. We can feel it in our bones that this is necessary. And we as playworkers will engage with every type of adult-led agenda that comes our way to create opportunities for child-directed play.

I have met a lot of people who have been quietly seeking out ways to make the play opportunities possible for children and will try every trick in the book to allow that to happen for the children that they care about in their community. It has been humbling to see these amazing people work, and it has touched the very core of my personal and professional self to see such dedication to play even without an actual play sector to work in.

These playwork ninjas mostly do not call themselves playworkers, because that name carries no weight in the US yet. But I tell you their inherent ability to use a "non-judgemental, non-prejudicial, non-directive, and largely reflective approach" (carefully penned by Professor Fraser Brown in 2007) already earns them the title. Those are highly valuable traits in a playworker, and it amazed me how many of the hosts and their volunteers were able to demonstrate their ability to set aside their own agendas in favour of the child's. Okay, so they may be still be nervous now, but continuing at the pace that they are developing, the bunch of US play people that I have met in the last few months will become amazing playworkers. I just hope I get to watch them get their capes and fly! :)

Here is SuperMorgan, photo taken in Santa Clarita on a very windy Pop-Up Adventure Playground.