Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Glass of the Sea

My trips to the beach recently, combined with rich pickings from my USA trip has yielded a fabulous hoard of sea glass! I love the colours so much, I just keep playing with the tiny shiney pieces. While fiddling around with the pieces, I created a little colour wheel:

My sea glass colour wheel. 

It makes me so happy to see this lovely sea glass, but I am yet to find my very own blue piece. My lovely friend Shazia sent me a very rare piece of blue sea glass for my birthday which made me sooo happy. I am yet to add this treasure to my little colour wheel: I hope to find it a couple more friends first. Looks like I'm off to another beach soon! :)

Incidentally, I'd better start noting down where the good sea glass locations are:
  • Seaham, County Durham, UK - 48 pieces in about 30 minutes. All nice and smooth but small. Blue is available.
  • Llandudno, Northern Wales, UK - 16 pieces in about 1 hour. A lot of it isn't ready yet and can be quite sharp. Big pieces. No sign of blue.

Hoorah for sea glass, and hoorah for friends that love the things I love too :)

Monday, 28 July 2014

Super Zoodle

To celebrate my own birthday, I decided to draw myself the biggest and best zan doodle ever. It took about 3 weeks on and off to draw, and ended up being A3 sized, and possibly my best piece ever!

I am SO proud of it, I made prints of it which I have been giving some of my fellow newly third decade friends. Here I am on the day I got my prints! :)

I shrunk it down to A5 size and all the tiny stick men look so tiny but cute! I was SO excited.

This is a wonderful addition to my fun doodle page and I'm dead chuffed with it. It might have taken a long time to draw but it was totally worth it. Especially to see prints of it. I've always wanted to make prints of my own work. HOORAH! :)

Now the big questions: who wants to buy a print of my work? :)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Level 30: Zan :)

I spent a couple of days celebrating my 30th birthday with friends and family. I had a lot of fun in some really great places and have eaten a lot of good food including some amazing cakes! Some of you will remember that I celebrated an early birthday with my friends Shazia and Lee last week. That was a great way to start off the celebrations as the first of many!

Here is the group photo from my celebration with my Chinese friends on Friday evening. Lisa, Martin and Fiona, who live locally, were able to get Damon, Jenny, my sister and brother-in-law to journey from far away and celebrate with me! We had a nice meal, then we raided the arcade like teenagers - so much fun! Here we are holding the prize that we got in exchange for the tickets we earned - we got one each! :) I also got a marvelous little book from them with lots of messages from all the other Chinese folk who couldn't make it - thank you to everyone who made the effort! :)

As a family, we are now becoming pretty skilled at family selfies! Here we all are with my cake on my birthday day having come back from an adventurous day at The Forbidden Corner in Yorkshire. We had lots of fun, ate very well, and Chris made me an awesome rainbow cake too! Hoorah! I also must thank them all for the Hot Air Balloon ride that they bought me! There are balloons in my future! :) I know you were all shattered after a long day, so thank you all for having fun with me on Saturday! :)

Okay, so I'll have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to turning 30. I wasn't having a crisis or anything, it's just that I was feeling a bit old. However, being surrounded by so many people who love me, and are willing to take me to fun places because they know I'd like it was very heart warming, and really did start my thirties as I mean to go on!

So as I look back on 30 years of being Zan, I know that I have a lot to thank God for. And I know that there's a lot for me to do in the next thirty years too! So even though being 30 is a new thing, I don't think I'll be scared of it any more because it's going to be great - there are so many exciting adventures to come and I can't wait to get started! As I will always say now, I'm not older, I'm just levelling up! And when you level up, you get more powers, more skills, and you totally have more fun, right? :)

Thank you to everyone who was part of my birthday weekend - it was great to see you all! And thank you to all the lovely messages I got too - it's lovely to know you're all out there! I had a lovely weekend, and there are a few more 30th celebrations to come so watch this space! :)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Video Game Friends

Twice upon a time, I worked in a video game store. I had taken the job to while away some time, and of course I wanted to be deeply ironic within my field of play. It wasn't all just irony, I picked up skills that I never thought I had, and worked on others that were previously terrible. I learned about video games, and also learned how to pretend I knew about video games. I worked hours at all times of the day, frequently without much appreciation and mostly with impatient, shouty customers who were messy and impolite. I often think back and wonder, hmm, was it worth it?

But of course there was something wonderful to take away! I gained a marvelous group of friends during my 2 ish years at the video game store! Hoorah! And yesterday we got together for a fun evening of eating and board games! Yay for continual irony!

This is Keepon. He dances. HE'S AWESOME. Remember him from the adverts on tv?

Here we are, chatting in the garden.

Here's the host, ready for Pictionary.

And here we are, playing late into the night in the garden with the cool fire thing.

I had a lovely time catching up with my ex-colleagues. It's always a good laugh, and they're just the easiest going lot I've ever hung out with. We had some wonderful food from our host Amanda - a homemade quiche, homemade pizza, chili and loads of fun desserts! Nom nom nom! What a wonderful way to spend an evening - thank you Amanda for having us, and thank you to Rick, Big Ash, Little Ash, Sarah, Ryan, Tom, Ant, Adam and Amanda too for fun times! I'm sure we'll be gathering again soon! Hoorah!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

We Go Llandudno

After telling my parents about sea glass, they wanted to get some of their own. So we went to the beach! This time we went to Llandudno in North Wales and it turned out to be a lovely day!

Mum and Dad, messing about in the rocks.

An amazing view.

Me and mum, climbing rocks.

My dad, looking for sea glass.

Here I am with the amazing cove - it's lined with a row of really neat looking houses.

Mum and Dad at the beach.

We had a walk along the pier.

Then we went to look for sea glass on the beach. The weather was gorgeous.

Zan, feet, beach, sky. Yaaay! :)

Group picture with the sea.

Group photo on the tour boat - a bargain 15 minute boat ride!

Happy Zan at Sea!

Look at that glorious sunshine. So lovely!

My parents did find themselves some sea glass, but not that much, and soon lost interest in favour of admiring the surroundings because it was gorgeous! As we drove to Llandudno today it was really grey and rainy, but turned out to be such a lovely day! I've had a good fill of sea air, and am tired in a really warm and fuzzy way. It was nice hanging out with my parents too and fun to have a spontaneous day out. Hoorah for the beach and hoorah wonderful weather :)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

We're Going on a Sea Glass Hunt

My amazing college friends Shazia and Lee took me to the beach today for an early birthday celebration. Even though the day started with pouring rain, we persevered and drove all the way up to Seaham, County Durham for a wander around the beach in hunt of sea glass.

Here we all are, in the car. Lee drove and Shazia navigated. I spent a lot of time talking and/or singing to Disney's The Little Mermaid.
When we got to County Durham, the weather was actually quite nice. We stopped to take some photos at a nearby beach front before continuing on to Seaham, rumoured to be a good sea glass site.

So pretty!

Me and Shazia - there's going to be an exact version of this photo but reversed in her camera.

Mee and Lee! So happy! :)

When we got to Seaham, people were milling around on the beach front enjoying a warm sea breeze. We went to get some fish and chips (you have to get fish and chips by the sea) and then as big fat drips started making an appearance on our raincoats, we wandered down to the beach to find out whether our trip would yield us much gold. I mean, sea glass :) 

Lee surveys our beach - the clouds are gathering, but our spirits are high and our bellies are full.

The beach is amazing - pebbly and exciting, with plenty of interesting things to pick through.

And yaaaay, UK sea glass! I'm sooooo incredibly excited! More photos of them another day.

The weather turned bad so we took refuge in a local tea shop and dried off a little before hanging out in the car for present and cake time. Remember how on Lee's birthday and Shazia's birthday, they both got rainbow cake, and how I suggested that I also get cake for my birthday? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I got the best cake ever.


I AM UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED AND HAPPY ABOUT THIS! Everyone must congratulate Shazia immediately on her cake making skills. RIGHT NOW.
My friends understand and love me so much. They know my love of rainbows, and cake, and sea glass and adventures. They spent so much time on me, researching beaches, baking cake, driving me around. They know that all I ever really want is to spend time with them, and that even if the day ends up a bit of a wash out, it's still amazing cos I spent it with them. Shazia and Lee are AWESOME.

I feel very blessed right now to have such lovely friends. The last 13 ish years of friendship has been wonderful - I'm looking forward to spending many more birthdays with them! :) YAY! :) Thank you, thank you for an amazing day! :)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Busy Bees

Today was busy. I woke up, spent a good hour on the phone with internet people, did some work with church, had lunch with Mum, got dressed, went to see my accountant, did some PhD-ing, washed my hair, rushed out to pick up Tracey, then went to have food with Tracey, Angel, Shyen Wei, Fiona, Frankie and Benny.

It was a lovely catch up with the girls, as always. It's nice to be in each other's company to update eachother, talk through interesting news, and between the lines discover that not much has changed during the months we don't meet. We're still the same, and still lovely. But we're all very busy though. Like bees, buzzing here there and everywhere, even more so for some of us in a literal kind of way.

A real busy bee that I saw when I was out busying today.

I'm pretty tired now, but I feel like I've had a very productive day. Time to wind down and get ready for a day of fun tomorrow! Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Co-op in My Community

When wandering around the US, I was introduced to the concept of Co-op supermarkets. They sell locally sourced and organic produce, and are usually ran by the people who shop in it. They are filled to the brim with unusual products, which are good for you, usually unprocessed and almost always delicious. It's not a huge chain, it's just that people in specific places get together and decide that they want a Co-op supermarket, and then the members pay a fee to get a reduced price on the food. They also work in the shop as a volunteer for a couple of hours a week too, which I find really cute. Saves paying for workers and the money can go back into the store!

When I came back to the UK I was intrigued as to whether this was a thing here. And then all of a sudden I realised that of course it was - we have the Co-Operative! The Co-Operative here were once locally owned little shops of a multitude of trades, but is now a national organisation, still owned by it's members but is a little more corporate. I hadn't ever thought that it was once anything else besides that huge building in Manchester, but of course a rich history of business in the UK must have leaned on initiatives like community shares! This is like a TransAtlantic history lesson!

So when my Dad informs me that a little co-op shop had just been opened where we used to live, my mum and I hopped into the car and rushed over for a little peek.

Here it is, in the Prestwich precinct where I once knew there to be a Blockbuster video.

Freshly made bread is available and looks scrummy!

Of course there is fruit and veg here. Well displayed and good variety.

I like a shop with a sense of humour too. Just a little bit :)

They have lots of interesting products, so you really can spend a little bit of time here.

And all helped by lovely staff - a nice friendly atmosphere.

It's still early days for the Village Greens Community Co-op. Some of the shelves haven't been filled yet, and produce placement doesn't necessarily make sense at the moment. But it's only been open for a few days, so there's much learning and much growing to do. I'm excited to have found it in these early stages, and I'm excited to watch them blossom into something amazing. I'm so pleased to have a local community co-op shop! Hoorah! :)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sea Glass

A couple of years ago, I learned about about sea glass by stumbling across this website. The photos and the colours completed fascinated me - I think I like the finish on the glass as well as the fact that it's all found material. The day that I discovered the existence of a Sea Glass Beach, I felt like I had hit the jackpot: I wanted to go instantly.

So when we were on Tour and there was a whole day in California to go and look around, I voted whole-heartedly to go to Sea Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is a small coastal town on the edge of the Red Wood Forest. It's actually a really cute little town, accessible by only the one road that goes through it, and, well, it was kinda awesome.

I was there with Morgan and Andy, and when I told them about Sea Glass Beach, they weren't quite as enthused as I was. Especially when I mentioned that the beach used to be a dump site, and the glass is still there because it all got washed up after the rubbish was cleared away. But it was actually really cool, and they loved our visit in the end. Here are some photos:

This is the beach, super beautiful and in a little alcove in the land.

Here's me, super excited about my visit.

Look closely at this beach, it's made up of small, smooth bits of glass and smaller stones. If you weren't thinking about it, it would just look like see-through pebbles.

Here's a photo of me holding some of this amazing sea glass. I could have spent all day here, looking for the elusive blue sea glass.

Today, as I moved some things around my room, I came across my stash of sea glass that I found while on tour. It made my heart swell a little knowing that I'd discovered this gems, and then set out to find the entire beach worth of it and actually have come back with stories and souvenirs. Here's my sea glass collection:

I have some teal/turquoise pieces, which are the nearest to blue I'll get for a while, but it's all lovely right? The colours are awesome! :)

Morgan has the biggest collection of sea things I have ever seen (we discussed at length what she was going to do with it, but she's still unsure) and so was a little amused with me when I put all of my sea things just into the same bag. All of her's is bagged up according to location, and is all very methodical, if not a little weighty and a little mad. Some of my sea glass is actually lake glass - that pink wobbly piece is from Lake Erie, and one of the green ones is from Lake Michigan. I don't really think I necessary mind where all the rocks come from, but I can say I picked up sea glass in lots of places in the USA, and I can tell people how beautiful it was.

And with that, I'll say, perhaps there will be some sea glass to come this weekend! Who knows! Hoorah for sea glass, and hoorah for adventures that give great stories. :) YAY! :)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Day of Play for Zan :)

It's been a while since I've dedicated very much time to anything apart from Pop-Up Adventure Play and my PhD. I thought that it would be fun to arrange myself a day to meet friends and just enjoy being out and about.

In the morning, I met up with Tracey and her little girl Isabelle. They come back every year for the summer, and I think I have a photo with Isabelle from each visit. Here is last year's. Today, we went to have some play time with some bunnies!

I brought Isabelle two crayons in the same of animals that I used to play with as a kid. She's playing with the stickers I happened to bring over.

Here's me and Isabelle, looking at fishes.

And here is a lot of excitement over bunnies. Incredibly fluffy lion-head bunnies. Eeeee! We spent a good half an hour with them!

It was fun hanging out with Isabelle, and having some time with Tracey too. They don't leave til the end of August so I'm going to try and hang out with them again. I'm looking forward to it :)

In the evening I met my college friends at the Trafford Center. Our friend J came back for one of his annual pilgrimages, so it was only right that we got together for some fun. We had food at Five Guys (in Manchester! Yes!) then went for a spot of indoor Adventure Golf. After that we hung out in the arcades for a bit before going home. It was a nice way to catch up and hang out!

Lee, J, Shazia and Dave went on the bumper cars. I don't really like them due to previous whip lash injuries. Some good photos though!

Here's Shazia, J and Dave competing in the basketball throwy thingy. And we got tickets. Tickets!

And here are our spoils! One cake decorating kit, 8 Maoams, 6 bouncy balls and 15 leftover tickets! Woohooo!

I'm pretty tired now. I don't seem to be on my feet very often nowadays, but I hope to change that! Today was a great excuse to get out of the house, and spend some time with other people while thinking about my PhD at the back of my head. Sometimes, you have to have moments where thought just ferment slowly somewhere so you can access it later when it has become tastier and well rounded. I think today was a good day for some of that!

Hoorah for friends, days out and play! :)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

An Evening Walk

After my tea today, I felt waaay too full, so I went for a walk. I've been exploring my new neighbourhood recently, and meeting the locals too. Today, I decided to find out a little about the river that runs near my house.

This is the River Irwell. We live in the bend of it.

I walked along and found the other end of the bend, which was really very pretty.

My housing development is still under construction, so the entire area is fenced off apart from our road including the bend of the river. I wandered around the fenced area and, erm, found a gap and wandered through to the middle section of the river bend that I couldn't get to. SHHH don't tell anyone!

It turned out to be beautiful, especially in the summer sunset. It took me a few moments to take in the beauty of this green space near my new home. It made me smile so much!

Look at it! Relatively unspoilt, and waiting for a proper pathway (which is why it was fenced off). I'm really going to enjoy walks down here in the future! :)

And here I am, excited by my discovery, and loving the blue sky.

I'm really quite surprised to find this little green space by the river. I'll have somewhere pretty to walk to in the future. I hope that they finish with the construction here soon so that I can show my parents the new spot without breaking the rules :) Haha. If anyone asks, nothing happened. Shhhhhh! :)