Archive for 26/10/2014

The Library Time Machine

Adventure playgrounds were a feature of childhood/adolescence which passed me by really. I wasn’t brought up in London and they were mostly I think a phenomenon of urban life. I saw plenty of them when I first came to London in 1973 – brightly painted constructions of wood, behind fences, teeming with kids and I had the vague sense of having missed out on something. If you come from a small town, urban life, even the life in what might be called “deprived” areas looks exciting.

So when my colleague Tim showed me a packet of photos of the Notting Hill Adventure Playground in Telford Road that he’d retrieved in the course of an enquiry, I was fascinated by these scenes of communal play. The blogging cells in my brain immediately recognised them assomething you had to see.

NHG Adventure 011

Most of these pictures come from a large packet of photographs donated…

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Jan White Natural Play


Well, it won!  The recently-new second edition of Playing and Learning Outdoors, as described in my earlier post when it was short-listed, has been selected as the winner of the Staff Resources category of this year’s Nursery World awards.  I wasn’t able to attend the Gala Dinner event at the end of September, but the shiny trophy and framed certificate are proudly waiting on my mantelpiece for my children to see when they are home next.  I think this is the first actual trophy I’ve ever won (my son has more than 20 from his childhood football career!).  I’m very chuffed to have this recognition for the book, and grateful for all the ongoing positive feedback I get about how it has helped both students on courses and practitioners who are thinking about their provision outdoors.

Thanks in particular to Julie Mountain (of Play, Learning, Life) and Juliet…

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Steam rises from the damp soil  as the nurseryman hoses down the careful rows of potted plants. At 10am the heat is already intense and I keep close to the shade of the walls as we descend the steps to the coffee shop. Ahead the sound of a fountain and the welcoming arms of a spreading acacia tree. This is the Four Seasons garden centre in Lilongwe , and we’ve missed breakfast, so two vanilla milkshakes are quickly ordered.

There are several small gift and clothes shops, readying themselves for the day, as well as a restaurant or two.

Gourds for sale Gourds for sale

But of course it’s the plants I want to see – lots of exotic looking ones, which I remember from my days of living in South Africa, as well as the familiar roses, which grow very well here, and a fine assortment of terracotta pots. It seems very…

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WP_20140918_17_52_44_ProWhilst on a trip to nearby Antequera we made our way out of town (eventually, given a one way system, roadworks and a spanish-speaking Sat- Nav)  to see the nearby limestone landscape of El Torcal. says:

‘El Torcal Park Nature Reserve is known for it’s unusual limestone rock formations. … within El Torcal Park’s 17 square km are some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe. The whole area was under sea until one hundred million years ago.

Then the violent movements of the Earth’s crust forced it upward into hills and mountains up to 1.300 m, the limestone still kept its layered horizontal formation. Because of this, over the millions of years the rain and wind have been able to chisel away at these layers to form incredible shapes…’

Of the three marked routes around this fascinating ‘Karst’ limestone landscape, we opted for the shortest, which took us around 30 minutes…..

The landscape was reminiscent of our recent ‘Tor Challenge’ in Dartmoor.  But here the fantastic rock sculptures (many of the more shapely ones being named after well known objects and animals) are Limestone instead of Granite, and here there was so much more exposed rock crammed tightly together, but again set within another dramatic landscape.

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