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Showing posts from 2010

A Frozen Landscape

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail. Proverb It's a bit chilly out there... Snow has been falling on and off for weeks now, and I think a lot of people are getting a tad fed up of it... Started a new Twitter stream yesterday to collate stories of the Big Freeze... Follow @FrozenUK for the cold weather geographical digest... or add #FrozenUK to your tweets and I'll pick it up and add it when I get the chance... There is more snow falling as I type this...

Points of View

A new feature was added to the GA website yesterday, following discussions by the Website Editorial Board earlier in the year, and some great work by the web team. You can now  JOIN THE CONVERSATION.. As a GA member , when you log in you will be able to add a comment to any page of the website and, if you have purchased an item from the GA shop, you can also add a STAR RATING and a comment. Please feel free to add a comment on "Look at it this Way"... This development will let us develop more of a community feel to the website (non GA members will have to wait for their comment to be moderated) and if you are logged in you can add an image to your profile. I have added a comment to the page which contains my WINTER TEACHING IDEAS , so feel free to take a look at that and add your own thoughts... The snow is falling again outside the window as I press PUBLISH POST...

Google Earth 6

Many teachers will use Google Earth as a way of exploring familiar and unfamiliar landscapes. A new version of Google Earth was released recently: GOOGLE EARTH 6 ... It includes millions of 3D trees, and other improvements, including better integration with Google Street View Go to the AMAZON for example, and you can wander the jungle and explore some of the tree species in the rainforest... I'm sure we can come up with some ideas for using this in the geography classroom :) And don't forget my Innovative Geography Teaching funded project from back in 2005...

Derbyshire Poetry Walk

If you live within reasonable travelling distance of the Peak District, you might be interested in a poetry / geography / history event being organised by my friend Rob Hindle. Blitz A descent in the traces of the first bombing raid on Sheffield, 12 December 1940 Longbarrow Press invites you to join Rob Hindle on a walk in the traces of the Blitz: Sunday 12 December Meet at 1.30pm prompt on Platform A, Sheffield Bus Interchange The walk will start on Hathersage Road near the village of Dore at 2.30pm Total distance approximately 6 miles. There is an opportunity to join the walk at Cafe #9 in Nether Edge (see below) at 4pm. The walk from this point is a little under 3 miles. For the 70th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz, Rob Hindle has devised a poetry walk that will illuminate the attack on the city by German bombers on 12 December 1940. The journey will begin at Dore Moor and end in Fitzalan Square (Sheffield City Centre), with Rob reading and discussing poems th

Vaughan Cornish : geographer

Vaughan Cornish was one of the most influential geographers of his time. He was born in the 1860s in Suffolk, and had a career spanning 60 years. He was President of the Geographical Association during that time. Last Friday, while putting some boxes down in the warehouse at Solly Street in preparation for the official opening (of which more later), I found a brown cardboard box, which was labelled "Vaughan Cornish Original Prints" and excitedly opened it to find about 50 large prints on thick card, several of them stamped as being entered for the 1904 St. Louis photographic exposition. Took a few images of some of them... Some of them featured pictures of wave forms , an area which Cornish was particularly interested in. I loved the silvered blue finish on some of the prints, which had faded in the century since they had been made, and then hand labelled by Cornish himself. There was also a print taken after an earthquake in the Caribbean, which I had read about him

SAGT Conference 2010

There was plenty of "Look at it this Way" running through the two seminars that I presented at the SAGT Conference 2010. This was the 6th year that I have been up to SAGT, and I'd be happy to come up next year again - I'll probably go with the GA stand even if I don't offer a seminar... The weather was mixed, and the journey up was not without its delays either, but the actual day of the event was bright and cold, and managed to get some nice pictures taken in the evening, as above - looking along the Clyde from the Crowne Plaza hotel and SECC. My presentation was part of the overall conference programme, which included a number of familiar names from previous events, and from English geography circles... I arrived the night before the conference, and over to Hutcheson's Grammar school via a jammed M8 to set up the GA stand. The school was a nice mix of ancient and modern, with a wonderful church for the keynotes. Our hotel was next to the SECC, and

Latest issue of Mapping News now out...

Always plenty of landscape inspiration and mapping ideas to flesh out some of the ideas in the toolkit series. And what an issue it is... It has 2 articles by me in it, which is always a bonus... One on the new DIGIMAP service for schools, and one on Amanda Hone's Brown Sign blog , which I have mentioned here before. Also some good ideas from Jeff Stanfield on adding a sporting feel to lessons, and details on the ESRI / GA GIS courses running in cities across the country. Remember that the journal no longer comes into schools in paper form. You can view an e-copy, or download a PDF for reading offline (or printing out) at the MAPPING NEWS page.

New Teaching Geography now available for download...

The latest issue of Teaching Geography is now available to download by those who subscribe to it.... It features a range of inspirational articles on the theme of place by Mark Jones, Eleanor Rawling, Becky Kitchen, Margaret Roberts and others... Articles range from a teacher visit to Greenland, to the urban re-branding and renaissance of Scarborough... To add a subscription to your GA membership, or to join (and gain access to the last five years of journals in electronic format) click the JOIN THE GA link. PLACE is a big theme in Look at it this Way, and the ideas in this journal could feed in to several of the lessons. Exploring landscapes through poetry is a great way to draw students in, and Mark Jones has provided some thoughtful analysis on this particular tool...


For the last 3 or 4 years now, I have been involved in posting something on BLOG ACTION DAY on the particular theme of the year. The theme this year is WATER.  The Vimeo video sets the scene... Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo . | Start Petition Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. Our Goal First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue. By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue. Out of this discussion naturally flow ideas, advice, plans, and action. In 2007 with the theme of the environment, we saw bloggers running en

Cape Farewell: a voyage around Svalbard

The Cape Farewell voyages aim to bring a cultural response to the issue of Climate Change. Previous voyages involved Anthony Gormley, and Rachel Whiteread , who was inspired to fill the turbine hall at Tate Modern with white cubes. When teaching the now sadly ex-Pilot GCSE Geography course a few years back, I used the Cape Farewell pack that the Geographical Association produced. The blog posts that relate to my studies of this EXTREME ENVIRONMENT are available by following THIS LINK to the blog: you'll see student work and a range of other resources which I hope you might still find useful... There was plenty on the nature of the POLAR LANDSCAPE and the impact of landscape change due to climate change... and the impact of GLACIATION. The latest Cape Farewell expedition is going to follow the route shown on the map above, and it has JUST SET OFF ... you can follow if for the next few weeks by visiting the CAPE FAREWELL WEBSITE , or following CAPE FAREWELL on TWITTER.

Pylons in the Landscape

Lesson 3 in the book explores changes in the landscape and their relative impact. Pylons are often viewed as being a blot on the landscape. An item for my (relatively) new Iceland blog: NICE LAND ICELAND A proposal to put a string of pylons shaped like human figures , which would go some way to reducing the visual impact on the landscape of this development... Or is a pylon a pylon no matter what shape it is ?

The Future of the Countryside

The STATE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE 2010 report has now been published and can be obtained from here. It is available to download in various combinations from individual chapters to the whole report. Would be very useful for those preparing to teach about urban-rural interrelationships, or the changes that might happen in future landscapes. Handily, all the IMAGES can also be downloaded.

Changes in a landscape

Image by Flickr user Gee Bee under Creative Commons license Imagine you look out of your window one morning and notice that the view you have been familiar with for so long has now changed because something has been added / been removed. This sort of thing happens a lot, but it's always a shock when it's outside your own window. The Trinity Centre Multi storey car park has been a part of the Newcastle skyline for decades. It became famous for a scene in the film "Get Carter", with Michael Caine. Today is the day when the process of demolition starts, and a useful article, with that famous scene was produced by the Daily Mail . There's an interesting quote from the architect of the building: Owen Luder, who said that Gateshead was "losing its front teeth". As parents know, when your children lose their milk front teeth there's a bit of a shock for a few weeks but then they grow up and looking back at old photos a few years later you think "did t

Landscapes in Sound

Have been following up something from earlier today about the sounds of Sheffield .... Steel, Peach and Tozers (or Steelos) as everyone called it, was the place where my dad started work in the mid 1950s ... He was a draughtsman before moving into engineering role, and moved to a number of other mills, including Hatfields (now Meadowhall) before finishing at Aldwarke Works, Parkgate almost 50 years later... I remember doing a photography project on the area between Rotherham and Sheffield and its dereliction in the late 1980s, after the earlier industrial development, with its attendant environmental implications. Came across an album called THE SONG OF STEEL . Listen to the album on SPOTIFY if you have access to this... One of the things that also features on the disc is the mention of " beer note s ". My dad used to be one of the people who handed out beer notes which could be exchanged at the Temple pub just outside the foundry (which is now a museum called Magna, and

Brown signs in the landscape...

There are apparently 93 different brown signs as shown on maps and roadsigns. They denote locations which are of tourist interest. I know this because I've been following the Brown Sign Way... AMANDA HONE's BROWN SIGN BLOG is going to document visits to as many Brown sign locations as possible. Why not explore the BROWN SIGNS in your local area - once you start noticing them, you'll find them everywhere (although I might have an advantage living in a tourist area of Norfolk...) In the village where I used to live there was an interesting labelling. The brown sign used the generic "FARM PARK" to point to the attraction, which was actually called "PARK FARM": some locals assumed the sign had been made with the words the wrong way round... One of my nearest brown signs.... picture by Alan Parkinson Follow Amanda's progress on TWITTER and check out the blog. These signs, like any road signs are part of the landscape : we don't necessarily notice

Dad's gone to Iceland....

New life pushing up through the ash deposits from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano: image by Val Vannet, taken last week After many years of waiting, it seems like I will finally be going to Iceland later this year. I will be accompanying teachers on an inspection visit to Iceland in October 2010. The visit is organised by the Brighton based company TRAVELBOUND Download an itinerary HERE (PDF download) and I might have the chance to spend a few days with you exploring and curriculum making ... Some of the places that are here are on the lists of places that must be seen when visiting Iceland... Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik Hekla Solheimajokull Glacier trek Kerid Crater and Thingvellir National Park Reykjavik Geysirs and waterfalls Hellishollar Why not request a copy of the brochure, or visit the Travelbound website to find out more. If you'd like to come on the inspection visit, the price is £199, and you will need to do the following: Contact James Walker on: 01273 265 266 for deta

Climb every mountain ?

One of the chapters that failed to make the "final cut" in the toolkit book was on the theme of Snowdon and the construction of the cafe at the summit. The mountain has been in the news this week due to some work that has been carried out on one of the main tracks to the summit: the Miner's Track . The Daily Mail had a slightly different angle on the story... Another piece from Janet Street Porter could be used as a way of enquiring into changes in the landscape. "Snowdon is being tamed and turned into a Welsh version of Disney Land" I also had a Facebook message from colleague Tony Cassidy earlier in the week to say that he was standing on the summit... Why not take some of the quotes from the article and debate whether the paths should be improved. What is to be gained and lost from this activity ? ' Snowdon is a mountain not a theme park for children. It defies common sense. Next they'll be wanting to put a lift up Everest or filling in the Grand

Urban Stories new on the GA website

A great one for re-presenting urban landscapes.... Urban Earth is a project developed by Dan Raven Ellison . I have blogged about it on numerous occasions before as a way for young people to re-present the urban spaces that they inhabit. Ben Major has put together a great resource called URBAN STORIES on the GA website. This suggests some additional ideas for using Dan's original URBAN EARTH walks and images....

Tour of Britain - Norfolk...

As already mentioned, the Tour of Britain comes to Norfolk later in the year... Check out the movie... Tour of Britain movie - Norfolk stage Consider the choice of images and locations to represent the landscape of the places that the route passes through... Why not make your own version of the movie ?

Thought for the day

‘The best views are views of familiar things, like cities and farms and bottlenecked freeways. So set aside the beauty of sunsets, the majesty of mountains, the imprint of winds on golden prairies. The world beneath our wings has become a human artefact, our most spontaneous and complex creation … The aerial view is something entirely new. We need to admit that it flattens the world and mutes it in a rush of air and engines, and that it suppresses beauty. But it also strips the facades from our constructions, and by raising us above the constraints of the treeline and the highway it imposes a brutal honesty on our perceptions.’ – William Langewiesche , ‘The View from Above’.

Psychogeography by the sea....

An interesting exchange on Twitter a couple of weeks ago... Led me to some nice work on Hunstanton. It's the work of Tina Richardson, who is a Cultural Studies PhD student at the University of Leeds. She has been exploring areas of Hunstanton . They are mapped using techniques that relate to the idea of "Psychogeography".... ARCADES PROMENADES is one of the outcomes of Tina's work. Don't forget my earlier early-morning virtual tour of Hunstanton that I did 2 years ago.

Gone to Glastonbury

Updates via Twitter @GeoBlogs until Monday :) Picture by chelsea steve on Flickr - CC licensed

Cotswolds Landscapes

Been sent another book via the Cultural Geography blog... This time it's a book called "The Cotwolds: a cultural history" , written by Jane Bingham, and part of a new OUP series called "Landscapes of the Imagination" Will take a look when I get a moment, perhaps on the train to London tomorrow... Plenty on the relationship between the landscape and the people who encounter it in various ways...

Rawding on the Rural

A number of e-mails and other circumstances have led me to revisit a presentation that was delivered by Charles Rawding of Edge Hill University at the GTE conference at Madingley Hall in Cambridge earlier in the year. An excellent introduction to looking at the use of the countryside, at a time when the new government is looking at the way that farmers manage the landscape... Follow the link to see lots more GTE presentations...

Urban Landscapes....

Image copyright Stephen Walter Part of the British Library's " Magnificent Maps " exhibition, which I shall be visiting next week... The ISLAND by Stephen Walter This page now has an interactive zoomable map which allows you to see the neighbourhood detail which forms part of the whole map. These are stories and personal geographies... The Island satirises the London-centric view of the English capital and its commuter towns as independent from the rest of the country. The artist, a Londoner with a love of his native city, offers up a huge range of local and personal information in words and symbols. Walter speaks in the dialect of today, focusing on what he deems interesting or mundane. Could you and your students create other "islands" of your home town or city ??

Notes from a Small Island

Have been accompanied on my travels for the last week by Bill Bryson via a 10 CD audiobook version of his " Notes from a Small Island " borrowed from the library ( don't forget your local library ! ) I've been developing some activities based around his travels, and the impressions that he gives of some of the cities he visits, compared to the views of others, and also the changes that might have occurred since he visited them in 1995 (which is about the time that GCSE students would have been born, so handy for thinking about changes "in your lifetime"...) You can also find a range of video clips from the accompanying TV series on YouTube of course, such as this one... Plenty of cultural geography inspiration, as well as the chance to discuss the nature of the British landscape. Bill Bryson is currently the President of CPRE : the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Teachers TV

Apologies for going "off topic" for a moment... Although obviously the weather does have an impact on the landscape... The three programmes that I recently consulted on for Teachers TV were added to the website on Friday... There are 3 programmes in the series. Each was developed by Beth Newell and colleagues at Brook Lapping from original ideas which we discussed in an Italian cafe in Cambridge last year... Each programmes last for 15 minutes The first one: Today's Forecast, follows a line across the country from east to west and interviews a number of people whose jobs are dependent on the weather... The second: The Great Storm tells the story of the 1987 Great Storm, but from the perspective of the storm itself... The third: Degrees of Change is based on a specially commissioned poem by Mark Cowan and explores the possible impacts of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 degrees of warming in the future... I'd love any feedback if you watch them, and particularly if you use them i

National Trust Soundscape

The National Trust has released an album of sounds recorded at National Trust properties. The sounds have been assembled and turned into an album by Jarvis Cocker, in association with the National Trust, and make for an engaging soundscape... Visit the site and download your own copy ... How about making a soundtrack album for your school grounds and premises ?

City of Staples

A nice art piece Made from thousands of staples ... A very different "urban environment"... thanks to the Daily Mail once again... The city was named Ephemicropolis Watch the VIMEO VID below of the city being made... The making of Ephemicropolis from Peter Root on Vimeo . 100,000 staples arranged over 40 hours. To see photographs go to

Ordnance Survey Mapping News

The latest electronic edition of the Ordnance Survey 's MAPPING NEWS is now available on the OS WEBSITE . It features a range of very useful articles on a range of topics. There is also an article called " LOOKING AT LANDSCAPES " which I contributed to the issue, and is well worth reading...

Bill Bryson on the British landscape...

Image by Alan Parkinson: Castle Acre Castle, Norfolk An excellent article in the Times magazine a couple of weeks ago which I have just got round to blogging... It features Bill Bryson interviewing David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown about their policies on the countryside in advance of the General Election... I used a Bill Bryson quote at the start of my book "Look at it this Way" from the speech that he gave when he took over as President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in June 2007 The Times article begins with this excellent paragraph which would make an excellent discussion piece, or perhaps the script for a video / presentation to be put together by students, along with appropriate images.... Nothing – and I mean, really, absolutely nothing – is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilised – more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities

Landshapers Resource for South Downs National Park

The South Downs was designated as a national park yesterday, as I blogged about at the time. Having investigated the blog a little further, I've come across a resource that would be useful for those teaching about LANDSCAPE . Here is how the project is described on the website: ‘Landshapers’ is an oral history project which tells the story of the South Downs through the people who live and work there. A joint undertaking between the South Downs Joint Committee, Natural England and Hampshire County Council, the six audio visual files help explain how this landscape has been, and continues to be, shaped by man. These stories cover a wide range of themes intrinsically linked to the unique landscape we see today, all presented by a variety of local experts and accompanied by evocative and inspiring images of the South Downs. These are impassioned and personal accounts by the narrators based on their own background and experience. The audio files can also be downloaded onto mp3 players

South Downs National Park

The South Downs was officially designated as a National Park yesterday... Check out the LEARNING ZONE with Nibbles the Sheep.... A useful section on PROTECTING THE LANDSCAPE . It includes the very useful LANDSHAPERS audio resource which I shall investigate in more detail and blog about later.....

Urban Landscape Explorations

The Mission : Explore book is finally out in print and available from tomorrow.... Buy as many copies as you can !! Come and see us at the GA Conference

Very flat, Norfolk

Thanks to those who came along to my lecture last night at Easton College, near Norwich. It was my Presidential lecture for the GA Norfolk branch , and a joint event with the Royal Geographical Society and thanks once again to the Stannards for their hospitality and organisation. The presentation I used is below, although you won't get the full story of course without the 50 minutes of me talking over it... Very flat, norfolk View more presentations from GeoBlogs . There were some interesting comments after the lecture with respect to the (inevitably) partial nature of the presentation: some areas of Norfolk were not featured to the degree that others would have expected, and perhaps reflects my own knowledge and experiences of the county. There was little mention of Broadland, and nothing on Breckland, although I passed through both within the last fortnight. Also some discussion on the political importance of place, and some of the potential future changes in Norfolk's land

Landscapes - Mapping living geography....

Some wonderful maps drawn by illustrator Christoph Niemann, who provides illustrations for the New York Times and a range of other journals are available HERE. I particularly like the island below, which would fit well with those in the ATLAS OF EXPERIENCE and fit very well with the idea of LIVING GEOGRAPHY. Image copyright Christoph Niemann (let me know if you want the image removed and a link added instead)

A new way to view the landscape....

Images copyright Google Google Street View has gone national A huge update of Google's photography means that over 90% of the UK is now covered by the high resolution, 360 degree imagery along most roads in the UK That doesn't just mean in urban areas - the cars have obviously gone along most roads in rural areas, and have captured many of the UK's most stunning landscapes... One of the first things that people would do perhaps would be to look at their own house, and the houses where they used to live.... Just done that myself, and you can see the house where I lived between 1977 and 1988 (ish) above, tho' it didn't look like that at the time... There was a useful post on Simon Haughton's blog which suggested some geographical ideas for how the newly expanded Street View could be used in the classroom. Here are some (more): 1. Previewing a journey that is going to be made / risk assessments for fieldwork 2. Carrying out VIRTUAL FIELDWORK in an unfamiliar are

Urban Landscapes

Nice image by Richard Allaway from his recent trip to Hong Kong...

Lost landscapes ??

This is a website which stores images of OLD POSTCARDS. They are of a particular vintage and feature the photography of John Hinde Studios in particular. Nostalgia for those of a certain age... I like the fact that it also includes the text of any writing that was on the postcard that is shown when the copy was discovered. Would be good for looking at past, present and future of the tourist destinations depicted... A lost landscape ??

Changing Norfolk landscape...

Image by Flickr user Sami Taipale made available under Creative Commons license Image by Flickr user zaser made available under Creative Commons license There was a lot of comment locally this week and last, when BIRDS EYE announced a major decision on their sourcing of peas. (Link to the EDP article) There was a posting on the local PICKENHAM POSTS blog regarding the decision. This will not only have an impact on the landscape, but take away a lot of regular contract income for local farmers. It is also a break in history as the area has been providing peas for freezing for decades. Following a link to the BIRDS EYE website also led me to their CHANGING PLATES report. (Link leads to PDF download) This would make a good resource for those looking at cultural change in the UK and the changing importance of families sitting down around a table to eat a meal together... More on this to come...

Hedgerows in the landscape

A nice new resource for younger pupils looking at HEDGEROWS from HEDGELINK. From the FACE newsletter, which is worth subscribing to...

Landscape of change...

One via my blogroll : an incredible painted landscape in the USA called SALVATION MOUNTAIN . It's the work of Leonard Knight. Here's a FLICKR slideshow of CC images of the rather weird and wonderful location... An extreme example of human impact on a landscape... Why not make your own mini Salvation mountain ? Ask permission from your parents first though...

North and South American Landscapes

Picture by Ollie Bray (I think...): Mark is the one on the right... :) Mark Beaumont speaking tour.... Starts in March 2010 CONGRATULATIONS TO MARK WHO HAS FINISHED HIS TRANS-AMERICAN CYCLE ! Mark's CYCLING THE AMERICAS blog is here for all the latest on his current challenge, which is going incredibly well. He has summited Denali and Aconcagua, and is now cycling the final leg down to the end of his pan-American adventure. There are some spectacular images and video on the blog. Mark's website is HERE. He comes to King's Lynn on the 27th of March 2010 The other dates can be found here: MARCH Tues 16th DURHAM Gala Theatre 0191 3324041 Wed 17th CHESTERFIELD The Winding Wheel 01246 345 334 Thur 18th BOLTON Albert Halls 01204 334400 Fri 19th HALIFAX Victoria Theatre