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Posts Tagged ‘playground equipment


We are so lucky to live in the Cartmel Peninsula in the North West of England.  The area is populated with beautiful little towns that have their own characters and treasures.

Cartmel

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Source: Visit Cumbria

Cartmel is considered to be one of the best places to live in the country and boasts; a race track, riding stable, Michelin Stared L’enclume,  a magnificent priory and of course the world famous Sticky Toffee Pudding.  There are also many wonderful pubs to eat in, a brewery, artisan bakery and cheese maker and many lovely little shops that sell beautiful gifts.  The town is  protected by the watchful eye of the medieval priory that dates back to 667 AD.  The town successfully embraces the modern world without removing the medieval element of the town.  Chris Evans (BBC 2) describes it as a, ‘Thimble full of diamonds’.  and many more people are continuing to discover the secret that locals already knew – how wonderful Cartmel is.

Cark in Cartmel

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Source: Ian Taylor

Cark is very reminiscent of 1950’s Britain with the river Eea at its core.  It has a railway station, hairdressers, two pubs, artisan bakers, garden centre, access to the estuary, a small business park and of course the pièce de résistance – Holker Hall.  Cark was originally an industrial town built round a watermill that was used in the production of cotton.  The river is much smaller than it used to be but the high tides restores the river to its original height and makes the estuary look like a magical place.  The estuary is a place of scientific interest and school children come from all over the north west to conduct surveys of the river.  Annually scientists come to study the plants and animals in the estuary.

Holker Hall

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Source: Visit Cumbria

Holker Hall is a magnificent stately home with beautiful gardens.  It is owned ny the Cavendish family, who own lots of property and land all over the Cartmel and Furness area.  Houses owned by the Cavendish’s are painted a special blue colour which distinguishes them from privately owned houses. Many events are run at the Hall including the famous Garden Festival.  You can buy local produce from their farm shop, enjoy a high class meal and of course look around the hall itself.

Haverthwaite and Backbarrow

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Source: Steam Railway Lines

Haverthwaite and Backbarrow are separated by the A590 and were possibly Viking settlements.  Haverthwaite is home to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway which takes you directly to lake Windermere where you can go on a lake cruise, visit the Aquarium of the lakes or enjoy a top notch cream tea at the Lakeside Hotel.  Over the course of the year the railway hold children’s events such as, ‘Thomas Weekend’, and ‘Witches and Wizards’.

Playdale Playgrounds and Lakeland Motor Museum

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Source: Playdale Playgrounds

In Haverthwaite itself Playdale Playgrounds designs and builds playground equipment which is exported all over the world – they have even won awards for exporting.  This timber yard turned playground equipment manufacturer has made play magical for children all over the country.  If you are into cars and yummy food then the Lakeland Motor Museum is the place for you.

Flookburgh

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Source: Sky Dive North West

 

Flookburgh is a small village dominated by the local fishing trade, it is believed that its name originates from the word, ‘Flukes’, a flat fish found in the area.  Some of the houses even advertise that they sell potted shrimps.  The square bustles with a sandwich shop, convenience store, chemist, pub, hairdressers and village hall.  Down a long straight road, known locally as the, Mile Road, you can find Willow Water, the factory where Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding is now produced, Duckys Park Farm,  the Haven Lakeland Holiday Park and Cark Airfield which is home to mega car boot sales, Sky Dive North West and the annual Steam Gathering.

Allithwaite

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Source: Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Allithwaite is a small village between Flookburgh and Grange, it is near to Humphrey Head, which is a limestone outcrop looking out onto Morecambe Bay.  According to folk law, the last wolf in England met a grizzly end after being chased to the end of the cliff with men wielding spears.  There is a street in Allithwaite called Greendales which may or may not be a reference to Postman Pat.  You can enjoy drinks and food in the local pub called The Pheasant and children can enjoy the well maintained playground near to the school.  The church and the school over look the rolling countryside.

Grange Over Sands

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Source: Wordsworth Country

Grange over Sands may have started off as a storage place of grain by the Cartmel monks.  It became a fishing village then a popular Edwardian tourist attraction which boomed during the Victorian era.  Before the River Kent was redirected, Grange was really a beach and ferries operated to jetties leading to the promenade.  The prom is well maintained by volunteers and hosts Prom Art during the summer months.  The railway station is at the end of the prom near to the ornamental gardens.  It has always been traditional to wave at the train going past as you walk along the prom.

Grange Lido

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Source: Bodian

At the far end of the prom is a dilapidated lido that was very popular up until the 80’s where it became difficult to maintain and now looks like a ghost of its former self.  Grange is a cornucopia of gift shops, hardware stores, cafes and pubs.  It is often referred to as, Heaven’s waiting room’, due to the high density of old people’s homes.  However these days there seems to be a resurgence in younger members of the community.  There are a large number of hairdressers and beauty salons in the town and the area in general.  Grange is home to magnificent hotels such as, The Cumbria Grand and the Nether wood.

There are many more wonderful things that I could tell you about my local area but I am at nearly 1000 words already.  You are welcome to come and see for yourself the wonderful Cartmel Peninsula.

 

 


Generally you don’t really take much notice of the condition of playgrounds until you get a child’s eye view.  Parents of preschool children tend to spend lots of time in playgrounds giving their children fresh air and getting out of the house.  Our local Sure Start centre even provide a list of the locations of playgrounds in our area to visit. Therefore it is hardly surprising that you notice how worn out playground equipment is while you sit in your shattered mother of a toddler state.

The little playground near to us is very basic with just a slide, swings and a couple of rockers.  I did consider fund raising to update the equipment but only got as far as contacting  Playdale and a lady who seemed to know about how to raise funds for playgrounds.  My only major issue was that I didn’t know enough people to start a committee with.  Unfortunately the five years you spend with your baby is very fleeting and before you know it they are striving for independence so you don’t really see the playground equipment close up any more.

Once your child has made the transition from toddler to infant and you are starting to foray into the adult world, the shoddy swings and ancient slide suddenly don’t seem to be important any more. New parents take your place in the playground and if they are all like minded they could work together to improve the local playground.  This is exactly what happened in our area but the playground in question is to be a new one on a big stretch of road quite away from where we live.  The playground project is extremely ambitious and aims to fulfill the recreational needs of all ages including adults.

The NCB has produced a fact sheet on how to raise funds for your playground. You can request a funding guide from playground equipment companies like Playdale Playgrounds who have produced a funding guide. They also follow up the request by contacting you to see if they can help with your project.  Once you have read through all of the instructions you will have to form a committee and be prepared to write detailed plans so that people funding your project know exactly what they are paying for.  In some cases you may need to think about why your project is more important than other people’s so you can secure grants from different organisations.

Hopefully you will have some very creative and dynamic people on your committee who will be full of ideas for fundraising events.  Eventually after a lot of hard slog and dedication you will be ready to speak to your local playground adviser who will help you to confirm which pieces of equipment you would like and where you are going to put them.  Once an installation date has been agreed the playground equipment installers will come and set up your playground.  Most playground equipment companies provide maintenance contracts to ensure that your playground remains in tip top condition.

All that is left is for your local community to launch the new playground and welcome children and parents into your amazing play area.

 


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Author Gill Jepson telling her stories about Furness Abbey in the abbey.

When looking at different cultures it is extremely interesting to notice the different ways in which we approach religion, morality, social structure, appearance and of course food.  Fundamentally the needs of human beings are exactly the same but how they are provided is determined by those who rule our societies.  Different belief systems tend to be the greatest determiner of how a country is run.  One element of every culture, that is almost identical, is the act of storytelling.

Storytelling-Quote

Traditionally storytelling was used as a way for elders in a society to teach younger generations about the strife of life and the values of their community.  Stories were passed down each generation like heirlooms changing and growing in each telling.  Cavemen in France told stories about hunting and battles against enemies by drawing on cave walls.  As communication got better and people could share ideas through a common language stories became the main entertainment in any society.

Pow Wow

Before electricity and the microchip revolutionised the world  candle light or the flame from a camp fire was the only source of light groups of people had to gather round.  The most striking image that comes to mind is that of the Native American Pow Wow. Tribes would sing songs and tell stories about the world around them to the flicker of warm protect flames. Without the use of technology and special effects it was up to the storyteller to keep their audience engaged.

Multi Media Storytelling

As society has become more sophisticated, storytelling is presented in the form of; films, plays, computer games, songs and television programmes. I haven’t included books because I am concentrating on the performance side of storytelling.  It doesn’t really matter how good special effects are, if the story is weak then the film will flop.  Stories have maintained their durability due to people retelling them over and over again.

Encourages Anticipation

Being able to communicate and anticipate are two very important skills in life.  Without these skills our lives would exist very much in the present and we would be very vulnerable to the trouble and strife of life.   Retelling stories helps children to structure sentences while they are speaking and get their message across.  Being able to think ahead and consider the implications of any decisions you may make is an extremely valuable skill to learn.  Just being able to sequence a story will help you deal with maths problems.

Written Stories

Eventually people started to write down stories so that they would not be lost by the passage of time.  At first reading and writing was a pleasure that only religious figures and insanely rich people could enjoy.  The introduction of the printing press in the 15th century eventually led to more people having access to books and eventually the existence of schools.  Reading is generally a private activity where one person can immerse themselves into a fantasy world from the safety of their arm chair, while storytelling is very public and involves lots of people.

Storytelling Chair

Schools are very keen to reignite the concept of storytelling because of the many factors I have mentioned above.  As well as storytelling areas in the classroom schools have installed storytelling chairs in the playground.  Sometimes the storytelling chair is surrounded by little seats or benches so that everyone can gather around and enjoy stories being told like our ancestors told them.

Storytelling is always going to be with us and the history of storytelling is one huge story in itself.


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As an advocate of play and all of its positive attributes it is really quite fitting that I live very close to a playground equipment manufacturer. In fact every time I drive towards the main road I can see the yellow sign for Playdale Playgrounds Ltd smiling at me.  The playground next to the school has been stocked by Playdale and most of the school playground equipment has been purchased from Playdale.

Nine Generations Of Croasdales

The evolution of Playdale from Barrel makers to playground equipment manufacturers demonstrates how a family business can survive the test of time.  Since the 1800’s there has been a member of the Croasdale family manufacturing goods in Haverthwaite in Cumbria.  From 1770 to 1978 the Croasdale family have done the following trades; cooper, hooper, woodmonger & farmer, woodmonger, timber merchant and playground equipment manufacturer.  In 1978 the concept of Playdale Playgrounds Ltd was born.

Timber Playground Equipment

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Source: Playdale Playgrounds Ltd

John Croasdale was inspired to make playground equipment when he decided to replace the old equipment in the leven Valley Playing Fields.  He looked at a playground equipment brochure and noticed that it was all made from timber and they could make a lot of the equipment themselves. The playground equipment at the Leven Valley Playing Fields has been updated yet again and the fundraising required to purchase it united the local community.

From Classic Adventure Trail To i.Play

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Source: Playdale Playgrounds Ltd

The very first piece of playground equipment was the classic adventure trail which made use of the natural timber logs.  By 1983 the Croasdale’s moved their business on and concentrated on building playground equipment.  Playdale Playgrounds went from strength to strength and in the 30 years of trading have diversified into building; steel equipment, play towers, slides, outdoor classrooms, play panels and much more.  They also combined technology with playground equipment by developing i.Play  which is a fascinating combination of computer technology and playground equipment.

From Haverthwaite To The Rest Of The World

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Source: Playdale Playgrounds Ltd

Playdale Playground equipment can be found all over the world and they have installed playgrounds in 22 countries all over the world.  In 2014 they won an award for their export success at the Insider’s North West International Trade Awards.  They also participated in the, Exporting Is Great’, national campaign featured in the Financial Times and the Spectator. This year 2015 they opened their global distribution centre.

It is exciting watching this fantastic business grow and grow particularly as they are helping to ensure that children are able to play safely all over the world.


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It is going to be so exciting when the children go back to school in September because they will find some new playground equipment in their school grounds.  The PTA and local business Make Us A Website have put money together to buy playground equipment from Playdale Playgrounds.  If my memory serves me correctly when we go back to school in September there will be a new Story Telling Chair, climbing wall and a bird table. These pieces of playground equipment will be great additions to the playground simply because of the play potential the children can have with them at playtimes.

The school playground is quite small really but the imaginative teachers have utilised the space to its fullest potential by having different activities in all of the nooks and crannies.  It would seem that apart from the sand pit and mud kitchen, the favourite playground activity is to build wobbly towers using crates and terrify any observing adult that they may just tumble when they reach the top.  Parts of the playground remind me of the concept of the, ‘The Land‘, in Plas Madoc in South Wales, where children are able to use every day junk to create their own play area.  Whereas only a minute part of Allithwaite school playground is dedicated to this type of play (it would look really awful otherwise) the whole play area in Plas Madoc is devoted to imaginative play.

Apparently when you approach, “The Land. A Space Full of Possibilities.” (Guardian) it looks like a dangerous junk yard and would send chills down the spine of any over cautious parent.  The whole point of the area is for children to learn about risk in their own way and explore activities that they may be prohibited from doing elsewhere.  Children who play in The Land recall exciting experiences where they have built amazing dens and furnished them with mattresses they have found.  Others remember building a huge water slide.   Inspirational youth worker Claire Griffiths set up The Land and with assistance supervises the children from a safe distance, broken bones and grazes are inevitable but that is all part of the learning process.  Play experts from all over the world have visited The Land to observe and gain inspiration from the project.

Plas Madoc is a town stained with deprivation, the local leisure centre has closed and play opportunities are few and far between for children.  The Land gives these children a sense of purpose and achievement that can not be acquired in a structured environment.  Apparently the risk assessment for The Land is huge and is based on risk verses benefits from the activity, the fire risk assessment is nine pages long.  I was lucky to grow up in a time where there was enough space to do all of the things that the children do in The Land before over protectiveness took hold.  Being left to your own devices to play and learn about pain and your limitations gives you a strength and independence that cannot be found in a text book.

As parents we really do need to loosen our apron strings and let our children find out for them selves what they can create.  It is very difficult though because when your child hurts themselves you can feel their pain and you want to protect them for ever – sadly this does not protect them as it make it difficult for them to deal with adversity in real life.


Illness has always been one of those things that I am terrible at judging, particularly with my own health.  For some bizarre peculiar reason I don’t consider myself to be ill until I can’t function properly and am unable to do the smallest things.  Unfortunately this has often resulted in me battling on incompetently and admitting defeat in a flood of tears. Everyone around me seems to know when they are ill and are really good at discussing symptoms and how it is effecting them.  My inability to detect illness makes it quite difficult for me to decide how ill my son actually is and therefore he has missed very little school because if he can walk and talk then he is well enough to go.

Last week he was really tetchy and everything I did or didn’t do for my son seemed to be an indication of how little I cared for him.  We went to the playground to play on the playground equipment and the mere prospect of leaving caused an unprecedented amount of fuss – well out of proportion to the request.  I had an inkling then that maybe he was going in for something and that hunch was correct as he spent most of the weekend sleeping and watching Miss Marple.  We decided to keep him off on the Monday to let him rest more until he felt better.  On Tuesday he woke up saying he didn’t feel well enough for school and I wrongly assumed it was because he had enjoyed being off too much so I sent him in anyway, dressed with green socks for sports day. He did pretty well and won one race, came second in three and lost another.

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Near the end of the school day I had a phone call informing me that Alistair was feeling sick and needed to be taken home.  Obviously I had made the wrong decision and he was in fact ill and maybe should have been at home.  As a result of this I am keeping him off for two more days and have had to cancel a much awaited play date – he didn’t make a fuss about that indicating that he really wasn’t feeling very well.

Alistair is very rarely ill and is always on the move so when he told me he felt ill and stayed unnaturally still I should have listened to him instead of suspecting that he was trying to miss school.  Being a parent is so difficult at times because you swing from worrying that they are seriously ill and in need of hospital treatment to missing the signs that they are ill.