My Week: Max Mueller gives an adventure playground a lift

The natural play development worker at London Play recounts his week

Max Mueller
Max Mueller

Monday: We're getting stuck into construction at Haringey's Lordship Recreation Ground, where we're building the second of 10 natural play spaces planned for this year. I attend the stakeholders' meeting led by the Friends of the Park to go over the final preparations for Friday's big volunteer day, when Bank of America Merrill Lynch will be sending some of its staff to help. These meetings are important, but today we don't seem to get beyond two hours of squabbling over the right kind of wildflower seed.

Tuesday: I phone a friend to ask for a second opinion on a safe working load calculation for a treehouse project. He also designs playgrounds but works for a private company in Germany.

Wednesday: We're moving tree trunks that will be made into wood sculptures of a giant spider, snake and dragon by one of our chainsaw carvers. We meet the telehandler crew, artists in their own right, who begin reversing the huge four-ton logs up a narrow alleyway with three inches either side. During a break, I chat to Steve, the telehandler driver. "So what are you doing in this whole set-up, then?" he asks. When I pause to think what would best sum up my input, he cuts me short: "So you don't know what you're doing." I just laugh.

Thursday: I get drawn into a debate with a colleague, Bernard Spiegal from Playlink. He thinks natural play features such as fallen trees should be left without safety surfaces. "Trees in the woods don't have a safety surface - that would be unnatural," he says. I'm beginning to see his point.

Friday: The big volunteer day at Lordship Rec. About 170 interns from the bank are doing their bit, digging in edge boards along a woodland path and giving the old adventure playground a facelift. I stopped feeling guilty about using free labour when I realised that we're doing the companies a big favour. Previously, their staff had to bond at expensive paintballing sessions. Now they dig for charity, project an image of social responsibility and save money too.

London Play campaigns for better play spaces and services and supports play work in the capital.

Max Mueller is a natural play development worker at London Play

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