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One snowy day my parents helped my brothers, sister and me to build an igloo using empty ice-cream tubs. I have the photos somewhere to prove it. It ended up with my little brother hitting me with a spade. I still have the scar!
When we were teenagers, my best friend and I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. We couldn’t afford to buy plane tickets so we decided to cycle the whole way there. With no preparation, all the wrong gear and naïve to all the hazards of such a journey, we arrived three weeks later having had the adventure of a lifetime.
I Love the initial consultation when I first meet the Early Years practitioners at a new school. Often they are frustrated by the shortcomings in their outdoors play space and I like being able to see the potential for a whole new space. It’s a blank canvas. As the children and staff discuss what they would like to have in place, I can shape a design to suit them. It’s a privilege to work with schools and nurseries and give their outdoors area a brand new lease of life.
There are so many good memories. In retrospect most of them involve me making some kind of a mess. My mum was very patient with me. My sister and I liked to run around the garden squeezing bottles of talcum powder into the air. We were pretending to be fairies making magical fairy clouds. Oh, and making perfume! Rose petals and grass and water and more talc… the concoctions we produced never smelled quite how I expected though.
And bubbles. Paddling pools filled with bubbles and whisked to a frothy foam with hand whisks, then we would cover all the plants and grass with bubbly white foam. And we made igloos in the snow, and dens in the summer…
Looking back now I can see how utterly absorbed I was in the games we played. My sister and I really were fairies, and we truly believed we had turned the garden to white with our bubble mixture. That is part of the reason why I feel so happy getting involved in children’s imaginary play. It is so real to them at that moment and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.
I take great enjoyment in sharing my passion for play. Whenever I run a workshop with a group of Early Years teachers I feel I am able to fire their imaginations and creativity in how to best use the play areas that we provide. It’s often the simple things that work best, creating with sticks or leaves, or mud modelling on tree trunks. I enjoy helping other adults to see the world through a child’s eyes and to use whatever tools are at hand to build an imaginary world.
My parents had a house on the beach at Sandbraes, Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran. At 12 years old, I had a 14ft wooden clinker built boat which my sisters and I would take out sailing, fishing and riding the wake of Waverley paddle steamer!
The look of amazement of the customers faces when we have completed a job.
It’s been about 6 years.
It’s hard to say. I like it all. It’s varied and each job is so different. I certainly don’t get bored.
I climbed trees. All the time. There’s nothing like getting to the top of a tree.
I joined the team in September 2013
I love the variety of my work. One day I’m sourcing camo nets and water pumps, the next I’m dealing with IT and finances. We also have clients from all over the country and each play space we produce is so individual. I enjoy seeing the projects unfold from the initial request for a quote to the photos of the final play area.
Camping holidays in Spain with my parents.
Around June 2014
Easy. That’s Despacito by Justin Bieber.
My mum. Because she has done loads to support me and my sister.
What is not to like? I’m out in the fresh air and working with wood. The Cool Canvas guys are a great bunch of lads. Ageism isn’t an issue… they’ve really welcomed me in.
Family holidays. Fishing for crabs in Paignton, catching crabs and eels. I remember my dad winning the swimming competition at Butlins. There’s loads more, but these spring to mind.
There a really good working atmosphere at Cool Canvas.
I’ve always loved football and as a child I spent most of my time outside kicking a ball around.
Paul has worked for Oliver for over 5 years. Although he is a man of few words he is awesome at ground preparation. His hard work makes him an incredibly valuable member of the team.
I started working here in July 2017.
I love getting an overview of each job. I get to see how it progresses from that first consultation then seeing the joiners bring the design to life. Knowing that children from all over the country are getting to enjoy the play equipment brings a lot of satisfaction too.
There was a small patch of scrubby woodland near my parents’ home. My brother and I would spend our weekends building dens and hiding from imaginary ‘baddies’. I loved it.