8th January 2011 This was our first week back after the Christmas holidays and we received a really nice welcome back from the kids. The sessions at all three squares on the estate were a bit busier than usual. We made hammocks and did some crafts folding sugar paper, then games of high jump and limbo with a skipping rope. The next square was great with lots of kids coming out when they saw us. What’s great about this square is that the kids here feel much more of a group and when we play children of all ages seem really comfortable together with the older ones considering the younger ones. This square is private, open only to residents, you have to buzz the intercom to enter, and they’ve created a nice community for themselves. The children here all know each other yet they tell us they don’t play out together here much when we’re not here, perhaps their parents don’t encourage it as it isn’t obviously a play space, being just an empty square without equipment that often has rubbish blown across it from an overfull bin area. The kids have sometimes pointed to an area where they say rats live but we’ve never seen any sign of it, possibly because we always make too much noise! Today we played chase games and hide and seek- the old favourites here. 15th January We had a lively session at the first square, making the most of the sunny, windy day by flying kites we made from paper or just brightly coloured plastic bags on strings. Some boys returned who we hadn’t seen in a few months but they remembered the game we’d played last time and began recreating it- a war between humans and aliens with lots of play fighting, they wanted to be captured and taken to the prison (hammock) so they could gleefully escape again. I spent some time making and playing on a hammock with 2 girls. The boys had taken control of the main hammock but we had some extra net and the girls sought out an alternative space to hang another one in a corner of the square between a lamppost and a locked metal door handle. They told me they had to be careful not to step onto the grass because that corner was by an elderly lady’s flat and she would yell at kids for walking on the patch of grass in front. “Not even one foot”… At the second square we were soon joined by our regular kids, we had a game of football which began seriously and ended with a lot of playful cheating, trying to wrap opponents in net, or hi-jack the goal keeper! The last square was much quieter though a group of girls in their early teens who we used to see a lot last summer stopped by for a chat. 18th January Just a few children came to the session today, a few of the regular kids came out briefly to say hi but said their mums didn’t want them out in the cold too long. A new girl came with her mum, they’ve just moved over from Moldova, they were asking all about the sessions and to play for a while. 20th January Today was a messy session, lots of painting, hand printing and paint flicking! We played football indoors with a soft ball and made friendship bracelets too. 22nd January As soon as we arrived two of our regular girls ran out and wanted to tie the hammock in the new place they’d discovered last week. We’d started playing at doing some gymnastics moves with it last week and they wanted to continue- we bunched the net into a rope and did forward rolls over it. This week I showed them a harder version where you hold the rope and walk up the wall then kick your legs back to backwards roll back over. They tried it many times before they could do it and when they got it they were so pleased and proud of themselves. We went on to the second square. It feels much friendlier towards us now, some of the mums smile when they pass us on the stairs coming in or as they take their rubbish out to the bins in the square where we play. Now we have a bigger piece of hammock net we can make the hammock in this square too and the kids loved it, we hung it high so it was a challenge to get in and out of it but after protests they couldn’t do it, most of them found their own way of doing it! We had a chase game where the person who was it had to wear ‘the skanky wig’ till they caught someone and had a tug of war with the rope, 2 older boys wanting to take on all the younger kids and us together!