Thursday, 25 June 2015

Food, Games and Travel Stories

I met my friends Lee and Dave at Shazia's place today to have some quality food and game time. Shazia made us an excellent Thai curry with rice with a sweetcorn starter, then we played N-Tropy - the game we played last time.

Here's Shazia concentrating hard on the game. It's a cool game - I'm glad I discovered it!

Today was also the closest day we could book Lee in to celebrate his birthday, so I whipped up some meringue, and compiled a peach and honey pavlova based on this recipe. It was delicious.

Happy birthday Lee! Don't eat it all! :)

After delicious pav time, we played a few more games. Qwirkle was first, and then a card game based on Cards Against Humanity. I think I enjoyed Qwirkle more - it has the best colours! :)

Rainbow colours shapes on little wooden tiles? This is a simple game with really tactile pieces that I really enjoyed playing for the first time.

Board games aside, we soon started talking about adventures and crazy travel journeys. We talked about long plane journeys, long train journeys, weird plane stories, fun passenger stories, so many things! Between us, we have traveled to a lot of places and it's amazing to share some of those experiences with eachother. So much fun.

Anyway, it's been quite a day today - I had a lot of fun at Shazia's house, and combined with now warmer weather, for some reason I'm now really tired! I'm going to go and dream up the next adventure, and the next pavlova! :)

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Beginning of Adventures

From right at the beginning of my life with Pop-Up Adventure Play, there has been one person which I haven't talked about that has been key to our success. She's a lady who has constantly reminded Morgan and I to keep our chin up and to confidently stride into our passion for play. The first time I started working with Pop-Up in NYC in 2011, I slept at this lady's house, and then she kept us fed and lodged when we were trying to work out the direction of Pop-Up Adventure Play, and figure out how we wanted our lives to be entangled within the organisation.

This lady is called Madelyn. I have mentioned her a few times, but not in great detail, but she is one amazing lady. She picked me up from the airport when I was fresh into the city, she acted as my tour guide in NYC because I was so new I was scared of the big city life, I cried with her as we went through tough times with Pop-Ups, and through it all, she has encouraged us to keep moving forward. She's helped us to focus our ideas on what we're good at: play. Morgan and I are forever grateful for everything she did for us right at the beginning of our journey together as both friends and colleagues, and Pop-Ups owes her big time!

So of course when I found out she was going to be in Manchester and able to meet me for exactly 2 hours, I totally jumped at the chance to go meet with her. Trouble is, I don't live near the airport anymore where I was going to meet her, and at 8:30am, there was no chance that the motorway (which is currently in build-mode) was going to help me with my journey. So what did I do? I took the Metrolink. I bought me a network ticket that opened up the entire Metrolink map to me, and then I was away.

It took 1hr and 45 minutes (including a short bus trip) but it was totally worth it. I was able to catch up with Madelyn after not getting the opportunity to meet for over 2 years. We talked and talked and talked, and almost forgot to eat breakfast! But that didn't stop us - there was a lot of life to catch up on, and a lot of Pop-Up news that I owed to Madelyn to talk about. It was a wonderful 2 hour meet, and I'm sad that it was so short, but I'm not going to let the next catch up be another 2 year gap. This lady has been so generous to us - I have been careless to let so much time elapse between visits.

Here she is, Madelyn. She is one wonderful lady. :)

After hanging out with Madelyn, I had the whole day to myself with a ticket to the entirety of Manchester, so I decided to go exploring! Manchester airport was the first stop, second stop - Chorlton! I never knew that there would be so many charity shops in Chorlton, but I was definitely very excited about it.

I also went to The Post Box Cafe - mostly because it was the cafe named after something I love, next to a post office itself. Made me so happy! Thank you Chorlton!

I had to head back into the middle before I could go to a new place, so I decided to take a few moments to relax in Manchester's very own Lost Gardens. I really like it there.

I particularly like the wooden pallets used to construct their temporary garden. I think my garden will look like this one day.

I next took a tram to MediaCity - Manchester's TV hub. I wandered around there wondering if any of the other people who were there were famous in any way. I wish I knew. I loitered around cooing at all the BBC things that are at MediaCity (I love the BBC) and I found Pugsey - he's pretty famous.

Pugsey is something I've known about since a child - the mascot for BBCs own charity for children. He's a big yellow bear, how can that not be a happy thing?

Time had got away with me so I decided to do a little shopping and call it a day soon after mingling with the rich and famous. I headed back into the middle of my city and was confronted with something that makes me very sad - the dismantling of the Manchester Wheel. I love that thing, but I guess it's time to say goodbye.

It looks bald like this. Aww. You have been central in many of my Manchester photos for such a long time. I will miss you, Manchester Wheel!

And that, my friends, was my day. My many adventures wouldn't have been possible without Madelyn - especially today's! I think that adventures begin when people with a passion are encouraged and believed in: Madelyn is one of those people for me. A big thank you to her and her husband for their continued kindness and generosity - I feel totally blessed to have these lovely people in my life. I will make sure that we meet again soon.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Meringues and Meeples

Today, my friends Lee and Dave came round to hang out and try my first ever batch of meringues. I made them into little eton messes with strawberries and they were a delicious follow up to homemade lasagne! Yay! :) The evening also led us to playing a new game I bought for 50p and also a couple of rounds of Carcasonne: it's always fun hanging out with Lee and Dave. Here are some photos:

Here are my meringues which I hand-whipped and baked! Oh yes, my bingo wings need to disappear! :) They were crispy on the outside and almost marshmallow-y on the inside. So good, and not too sweet!

This game is called N-tropy. It was surprisingly awesome, and requires quite the steady hand!

And here are the meeples. Still one of my all time favourite words.

I had a nice night, just chilling out and enjoying time with friends. It's nice to be back home too - I've been really relaxed all day and hardly did any work. I think I needed it too. Hoorah!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Few Days in London

I went down to London to hang out with my sister and Bugsy for a few days. It was more of a visit than a holiday, so I did my work while she was at work, and when she came home, we hung out. We also managed to squeeze some time to go to Camden Market, and I can't believe that I've never before. Here are some photos:

Here I am with my sister. It was very muggy in London on that day - it was trying to rain. We were next to Camden Locks.

Camden is full of little shops and stalls that sell lots of cool things.

The colours in this shop really appealed to me.

There was some wonderful architecture. This is carved from wood and found in the foyer of a restaurant.

This is one of the many beautiful carvings at the Horse Tunnel Markets.

I'm totally going to go back to Camden Market to explore it some more - it's everything that I ever wanted out of shopping! From clothes, to lamps, artwork to books - I think I could spend a whole day there, easily, and eat well too! It has the feeling of the Hong Kong markets without the chaos or heat, and with more colour and vibrancy than I've seen in a long time. I had a lot of fun there with my sister, just marveling at what you could purchase. I'm definitely going back.

Anyway, so here are some photos of Bugsy the bunny, one of the most famous bunnies that I know.

Here he is, ready to do some hopping.

This is the stillest and closest I've ever been to Bugsy. I may one day have to frame this photo.

Here he is again, posing for me.

And this is his most regal pose. I love this bunny.

I had a good time to London. Managed to make a quiche while I was there too! It was great to spend some time with my sister - I'd realised we hadn't spent so much time on our own together since waaaay before she was married, so that's like 4 or 5 years ago now. So this has been a long time coming and I'm glad that my work is flexible enough to enable me to be anywhere at any time. 

I'll be back down to London to visit my sister again soon for her Baby Shower! More on that soon! :) Now for some tv in bed - hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A Day in Wrexham

I pootled over to Wrexham today to meet Angela and his little boy. Angela got in contact with me having followed Pop-Up Adventure Play for some time, and she decided to journey all the way from North Carolina in the USA to the UK in pursuit of knowledge about adventure playgrounds. I met her and her son in Wrexham today and we made a day of it.

First we went to The Venture Adventure Playground, where we had the place to ourselves. The last time I came here with with David Ramsey on his voyage around the UK - it feels like ages ago! After a little tour, we wandered around and talked about how play and playwork works in the UK. My little friend got on just fine as we talked:

Next we went to visit an aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte aqueduct to be precise. (I am no closer to being able to pronounce this since the first time I saw the name.) I've been wanting to come here for ages and I'm so glad that I did! My new little friend and I walked all the way across and back as Angela enjoyed the views. It was absolutely stunning there and with the clear skies we could see for miles! I will have to go back again and go on a boat ride.

Here we are, walking across the bridge, and there's a boat coming the other way. This was SO high up, it was kinda surreal, kinda awesome.

Here's the aqueduct from the side. Amazing.

Next we went to visit The Land. Back in March when I last visited, it was a little bit wet and a little bit grey. This time, everything was lush and lovely! Claire and her team were there to show us around, and I did a little playwork, put out some fires, and generally did what I do. My new little friend really enjoyed himself, learning about how to interact with fires and taking a few little risks, building his own confidence. I think that Angela was a little blown away by everything. It was either that or jetlag!

This is what today's fire looked like - moments later, this was completely ablaze!

And here's my little friend on what he called the favourite part of his whole day: the rope swing.

I really enjoyed my day. There was enough play in there for me, and for my new friends as well as a little playwork in there to keep me on my toes. The weather was lovely too, the first visit I've ever had to The Land where I haven't needed to wear my wellies! I loved talking about play with Angela, and hope that I was able to communicate the the message that Morgan and I have been working on for the last few years: let's create more Yes moments in a world of No. 

It was great to hang out with Team Plas Madoc again and I hope that I'll get to visit again soon! Let's see who the next visitor will be! :)

Sunday, 7 June 2015


I've recently come across many circular things. The circular way that social movements develop as part of my PhD for example, and also the Heleglian Dialectic, a cyclical process which theories develop which Fraser told me about the last time I met him. I've celebrated new life, but also heard about untimely deaths, and how everything just seems to cycle back to the beginning again, even at the end. I've been lost and confused within my research, but I know that the next new thought or brainwave will take me through to a new wonderful point where I will then be lost and confused once again. It goes round in a very predictable circle, and actually, I quite like it. It means that journeys both emotional and physical have a way of coming around again, and getting back to that point where you are familiar and comfortable, even if it's weird and uncomfortable 75% of the time.

I felt this today as I helped to organise The Big Lunch at my church - an outdoor feast that was open to all. It turns out that the folks at my church used to do this kind of thing all the time, but somehow lost momentum in recent years and forgot how great it was. It was nice to bring it back round to their consciousness, and to reignite the excitement for reaching out to the community just simply by organising a meal - and quite the meal it was too! It's all come back round again, and people are remembering what a joy it was to do it in the past, with hope for the future.

And maybe all these circular thoughts have broken free from the abstract realm of my brain, and traveled all the way through my fingertips into my most recent doodle:

I really like the effect that this zoodle has, and the colour combinations. It'll be a quite a while before I part from this one.

It's been a good day with good weather, good food and good people. I think I've had some good thoughts too. They were a little abstract, yes, but you know, it just means I'm in that 3/4 section of a circle where things don't always make sense, but I know that moment of clarity will hit soon, and then everything will be comfortable in my head again. So everything is good :) Hoorah for a lovely day, and hoorah for another lovely doodle.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

My Little Niece

After 1 bus, 2 tubes, 4 trains and a couple of short car journeys, I managed to get myself down to Oxford to see my brand new niece, Alexis. Some of you may think I was a little insane for making this journey, but it was mostly because I had to pop up to Leeds to see my PhD supervisory team before going down south. And yes, I knew there was a direct train going from Leeds to Oxford, but no, I am not willing to pay three figures for any train trip. I could have flown for that price! (Speak to me directly for a more in depth rant. :) )

Anyway, my little niece is lovely. She's only small and her life priorities are food and sleep at the moment, but that's okay. She was a joy to be around. Here are some photos:

Here's little Lexi, having a little sleep on top of me, curled up like a ball.

Here she is, after we had a walk in the pram. Great sleep pose.

Here's Lexi after she woke up. That is an intense face.

Now here she is, giving me the stink eye. She was hungry.

Here we are, best selfie ever.

And here is the happy little family. Well, Clem and Fiona are happy, Lexi is... hungry. Haha.

My brother and sister-in-law are doing great, learning fast and getting used to their new hungry little person. They looked like they had everything under control, and I was really proud of them both for doing so well! Aww. They're all awesome.

It's been so lovely to meet the new member of our family. It made the epic 4-train journey all the more worth it. I'm going down south again next week, and hopefully will get to have a little peek of my little niece then, but for now, I'll have to be content with all these photos and the joy a tiny person brings, even if she is just mostly crying.

Welcome to the world again my little niece. Your parents love you, and so do I.