Sunday, 18 December 2011

Normal service will be resumed in 2012...

I'm going to take a couple of weeks away for Christmas (although I probably won't be able to resist blogging if something important happens between now and the 1st of January 2012.)

I'm going to be doing one or two things over Christmas as well as enjoying the festive cheer

  • Writing a GCSE book
  • Completing a major resource pack for the Ordnance Survey
  • Planning out a Children's book I'm going to be writing
  • Preparing for CPD events in the New Year
  • Writing some Online Updates for Harper Collins
  • Edits and proofreading for 2 books I'm editing that are published in early 2012
  • Adding new content to my Vital Geography Portal
  • Preparing some thoughts for new Curriculum consultation
  • Putting together some ideas for Mission:Explore Food

On 1st of January I'll be back with various New Year thoughts...

Please join me on the 5th of January for my Teachshare on New Year New Geography

It'd be great to have your company at 7pm with your plans for the year ahead for New Year New Geography, and if you are tweeting your plans, please use the tag #nyng

Thanks to Rich Allaway for his early contribution to the tag.

Thanks to everyone who's employed me during 2011, or visited this blog and contributed in some way.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Moorland Changes

I worked on a range of projects for the Royal Geographical Society a few months back, and the final pieces of the project that I contributed have now gone live on the RGS website.

They were part of the Goldsmith's funded FROM THE FIELD project.

The latest module which I contributed was for the KS4 series, and is on the theme of MOORLAND ECOLOGY. It explores the process of moorland regeneration, and its link with the ecology that is needed to make the regrowth productive.

It's worth remembering that all the resources from the Geography Teaching Today website have now been migrated to either the RGS or the GA websites, depending on which organisation was responsible for producing the original content.

If you're after the excellent KS3 RESOURCES they are available here on the RGS website.

If you're after the FIELDWORK resources they're here on the RGS website.

Thanks to Rose Wilcox, PhD researcher from the University of Hull for her guidance and support on the From the Field project and images, and thanks to John Lyon for the images that he contributed to the project as well.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Landscape in a Box - more student examples

Thanks to Jack Marsh for sending me some examples of 'landscapes in a box'. Landscapes in a box is one of the ideas that seems to have gone down the best of the things that I've shared over the years. The basic idea is to create a landscape within a box, perhaps a burger box (but could also be a shoe box)

This was featured in 'Teaching Geography' in 2009.

Jack used the activity with his groups, and has sent me three excellent images of contrasting images from the students: an Antarctic scene, New York's Central Park, and Paris... Outstanding work !!

If you've used Landscape in a Box, why not share your students' work too...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

VITAL Teachshare: Google Earth Placemarks

My next VITAL Teachshare will be on Wednesday the 16th of November (that's tomorrow if you're reading this today) at 7pm.
It's on ways of customising Google Earth Placemarks...

Click THIS LINK just before 7 to join me. You'll need to allow the download of the plug-in to handle the Elluminate session, which will then allow you to see and hear me, and to take part.

Don't forget to check the KEYHOLE BULLETIN BOARD to get the full range of layers and files shared by  Google Earth users. Use the SEARCH function to unearth the goodness....

Plenty of LANDSCAPE related content...

This will be my little contribution to WORLD GIS DAY, which is taking place tomorrow, as part of GEOGRAPHY AWARENESS WEEK.

What are you doing for World GIS Day ? 
Why not add a touch of GIS to your teaching tomorrow...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pennine Landscapes

A quick blog post on a day spent racing to meet a writing deadline, which I fear may now slip into tomorrow....

Just came across an excellent site on the Pennine landscapes...

WATERSHED LANDSCAPE has a focus on the Pennines near Bradford, just North of the area of the Peak District that I am working on. As the site makes clear, these regions are "rarer than rainforests"..

The site also has a very useful bank of materials for teaching about LANDSCAPES which piqued my interest. Also the WILDLIFE guides and information.

I liked the ideas for using GPS and other geographical tools.

Also materials for Environmental and Land Based Diploma.

There are also links to some useful videos, such as this one:

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Will Self on the Rural...

An interesting feature by Will Self.

There are plenty of things here that Geographers would recognise of course. One recurring theme here is that there are few places that have escaped the hand of man... Landscape as palimpsest is a recurring theme in the work that I do with colleagues.

Monday, 10 October 2011

I'm always up for new stamps, especially when they are geographical in nature.

Some new Royal Mail stamps are out later this week.

They are the first in a set of 26 stamps, which cover famous places from A - Z

Which A-Z would you choose ? 

A = Angel of the North                      
B = Blackpool Tower
C = Carrick-a-Rede
D = Downing Street
E = Edinburgh Castle
F = Forth Railway Bridge
G = Glastonbury Tor
H = Harlech Castle
I = Ironbridge
J = Jodrell Bank
K = Kursaal (Southend)
L = Lindisfarne Priory

Fits very nicely with Lesson 6 of my GA toolkit book: "Look at it this Way"

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Landscapes of the Imagination

As I may have mentioned before on the blog, I did some work a few months ago for the Geography Collective on the theme of 'the local area'. This was for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC education in the USA, and Dan from the collective went over to Portland to speak to educators from all over the USA.

Now there have been some videos released from the National Council for Geographic Education for the session that Dan Raven Ellison did for the conference, and they are on the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE blog.

Here's the first one and the other two are on the blog...
This is very fine work, and explains the origins of the Geography Collective and our recent work, ideas of geography and showcases projects that Dan and the Collective have been involved with....

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pylons in the landscape

Pylons are a common feature of the British landscape.
They are not well liked by people, but burying the power-lines that they carry would add substantially to the cost of the infrastructure, and we all use electricity (apart from those of us who life 'off-grid')

Cumbria is the latest area of landscape to be 'threatened' by a new line of pylons.

There is a competition currently to identify the best new pylon design.
Which of the 6 is your favourite ?

I like these ICELANDIC ones personally.
Don't forget to visit the PYLON APPRECIATION SOCIETY.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Discovering Britain - new from the RGS-IBG

Thanks to Jenny from the RGS-IBG for letting me know about the imminent launch of a new site which offers a fresh look at the UK.

The site is called DISCOVERING BRITAIN.

"We are developing an exciting series of geographically-themed walks across the UK that aim to bring these stories alive and to inspire everyone to explore and learn about our different landscapes."

Look forward to seeing the full site when it appears in just over a month's time....

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Landscapes: made by Joel

I love the quirky paper landscapes of Made by Joel.

Now with added Paris and Sydney.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Town - new BBC series

Nick Crane series just started.

Some interesting content, if nothing new to a seasoned geographer...
The supporting website, in association with the OU has links to a range of useful additional detail.


Also check out the opportunity to RUN YOUR OWN TOWN. This is a decision making interactive where you get to run a town and make important choices...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Spending a few days barn & dog-sitting in a rather fine barn in the Dartmoor National Park.
It's stocked with shelves full of books, WiFi for Spotify and a wine cellar... So it's got pretty much all I need.
One of the books is Ian Mercer's 'Dartmoor', which is published as part of the Collins New Naturalist Library with a lovely cover by Robert Gillmor.
I liked the description of Ian Mercer as "a geographer and naturalist at heart, never happier than when revealing the secrets of a landscape".

The author's foreword begins:
"This book is about my perception of a landscape, and what knowledge is needed as a foundation to that perception..." which is an interesting statement, as it links with some of the ideas in the GA's current CURRICULUM consultation.

He goes on to say "the attraction of true local geography is that it depends upon the wielding of a broad brush much of the time, but allows the display of intricate detail to illuminate corners of the canvas wherever necessary."

Dartmoor has a number of interesting landscape elements: the geology is complex and age-old, there are the tors crowding the skyline with their slopes of clitter below, the mires in the low-lying areas, scarps and plateaux, the 'passes' cut through the peat by early travellers, lines of reaves, the china clay and kaolinite, the leats that were used to drain water towards mills and as urban drains, the commons and forests and the reservoirs.

As soon as I drove up onto the high moor from Moretonhampstead earlier today, over the sheep track (cue the old joke about breaking wind as the car drives over it...) we were into ponies, sheep and shaggy faced cattle with Dutch and German tourists parked up nearby with long lenses.

Opening the OS map of the moor provides plenty of other factors that have changed the landscapes.
The National Park designation, the battle to preserve the commons that has been going on for hundreds of years, and even the military. Large areas of the moor are designated as "danger areas". The military have been using the moor for over a hundred years, often to practice firing weapons.

There were also the tin miners and the stannary towns including Chagford, which I popped into earlier (more shops should be like the Aladdin's cave of Webber and Sons)

There were also the turnpike roads, which converged at Two Bridges. A fine pub garden to sit in, and the track starts from there to Wistman's Wood, which I shall return to later.

There is a lot of useful detail in the book on the role of National Parks and the NPA

There are mentions of some management of visitors and the landscape, including the DARTMOOR VISION (from 2008) and also the TAKE MOOR CARE campaign, which reduced the speed limit to 40 mph on the unfenced areas of moorland.

There are some useful FREE DOWNLOADS. These include some really useful resources - check them out...

There is also a link with past glacial activity, and periglaciation. This is an important period in the UK's history, and you'll find patterned ground, stone stripes and other evidence of frozen ground on the border of glaciated landscapes.

Dartmoor was also a case study that I used for Edexcel 'A' level as there was a section on a landscape that was the result of GRANITE.
Chapter 2 explores the importance of granite to the landscape, and the volcanic intrusions into the country rock that shaped the prominent features. Also introduced me to the metamorphic rocks such as hornfels.

Later chapters explore the weather and the importance of water, flora and fauna and the various farming practices that have shaped the moors. The moor is an Environmentally Sensitive Area, and has a number of SSSIs.
There are also a few locations where climbing is possible. These include Hound Tor, below which is the famous snack van (popped in there last year): "The Hound of the Basket Meals".

Finally, there is mention of one of my favourite mysterious places: the fern covered ancient oaks of Wistman's Wood. The trees are contorted, and grow amongst a clitter of boulders to a height of around 4 metres. They have beards of ferns and other plants, and lichens. A place of real mysterious power....

All images: Alan Parkinson

Was also reminded of the album cover to the Yes album "Tormato", which features a map of part of Dartmoor, particularly the area around Yes Tor. Check out "Release, Release"...

A recommended read...

Thought for the Day

"A landscape is the function of structure, process and time"
W. M. Davis, 1884

Monday, 13 June 2011

Coastal fieldwork opportunity...

On the GA Ning, there's a posting from Stephen Savage, who works at Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve.

Since the beach became a nature reserve in 2006, I have been developing an education programme focusing on natural history, coastal geography and maritime history.

Shoreham Beach LNR is a shingle spit with rare vegetated shingle habitat. In fact it was designated a nature reserve to help protect this local and globally rare habitat. The eastern end of the shingle spit forms the harbour entrance, with the Downs to the north and the chalk cliffs and wave cut platform further east at Brighton. Longshore drift deflected the river to the west, in the process creating the shingle spit which is now Shoreham Beach.

We have worked with a number of local primary and secondary schools, providing on-site and outreach sessions and worked to develop links with these schools to provide feedback and suggestions for future development. One area we are planning to develop further is a module that links the River Adur, Shoreham Beach and the coastal waters as one system.

If you would like to know more about using this site as a resource, or you would like to contribute help or suggestions for further development of our programme, you can take a look at our education programme on our new “Education on the Beach” webpage at

Having lived locally all my life and being involved in the marine coastline for over 30 years, Shoreham Beach has been an exciting project to be involved in...
One to check out if you live and work fairly locally...

A useful location to add to the ideas in Lesson 8: "Living on the Edge"

Friday, 10 June 2011

Richard Long exhibition

There's a new Richard Long exhibition at the Haunch of Venison in London.
I am in London next week and will make time to go and see it. Seen Richard Long's work in a range of locations over the years: from the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the foyer of DEFRA on Millbank, and various other places...
An artist who very much connects with the landscape.
I used a set of Richard Long postcards as a resource for a literacy exercise, and the way that his works link with mapping is also wonderful.
Last exhibition I saw was 'Heaven and Earth' at Tate Britain in 2009, so I am overdue some more Long work....

Saturday, 14 May 2011

South Downs National Park

All schools that lie within the newly designated South Downs National Park will soon receive an education pack which was put together by the Geographical Association.
It features a range of activities to explore the geography of the National Park, and the idea of landscape as a palimpsest...
It matches nicely with some of the ideas in my KS3 Toolkit: "Look at it this Way", which is available from the GA's online shop.

The pack will also be available to download from the South Downs website from Monday 16th of May....

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Yellowing....

My KS3 toolkit book "Look at it this Way" has a lesson looking at the "yellowing" of the countryside through increased planting of oilseed rape.

This year, the countryside is turning yellower than ever. There has been rising demand for oilseed compared with cereals, and a growing market for the oil. This means that a larger area has been planted, and the warm, dry weather in April has not damaged the crop as much as it has other crops...

I was listening to Farming Today on the way up to Sheffield today and happened to be passing a large expanse of yellow at the time.
You can LISTEN AGAIN to the programme...

Another bonus of the warm weather in April is that English Strawberries will be ready earlier than usual, and be particularly sweet this year...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

MyFarm - National Trust project...

This could be a wonderful context for teaching lessons 3 and 4 of the toolkit book in particular...

My Farm is an ambitious project that has been announced by the National Trust within the last week (this blog post was ready on the day but has been sitting in draft for a while), and has been getting quite a lot of press and media coverage.
It extends the idea of virtual farming with very popular online games like Farmville (which has tens of millions of players) to an actual farm, part of the Wimpole Hall estate near Cambridge. I have been to the farm myself some years ago when my kids were much smaller...
The website provides some background detail as to how the scheme is going to work. The National Trust are looking for 10 000 people to invest £30 in the scheme, which will allow them to take some decisions relating to the farm. They will vote on a range of issues relating to the management of the farm, although given its organic status and location, there are obviously going to be limits as to what those decisions might be...
I am tempted to go for it, and may well do so in the next few days if I can get £30 together from somewhere....
Here's a map of part of the estate where the farm is located.

All a long way from the old Herefordshire farm game of the late great Vincent Tidswell....

The virtual farmers come from a range of backgrounds judging by the messages that are already appearing on the forum site that goes with it...

The £30 to take part could perhaps be raised by a teaching group / year group, or even taken from a departmental budget as an investment in curriculum engagement.

There are already some farmers who are geography teachers such as this person here:

There is a YouTube video here, one of several from the MY FARM CHANNEL which sets the scene for the first few decisions which will be made once the virtual farmers have been recruited...

A similar sounding project (by name) is FROM MY FARM which provides information about seasonal produce for consumers...

This links through in turn to the BRING BACK SUNDAYS website and campaign which is aimed at getting us eating a Sunday roast again. 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

#ukcside - the British seaside...

The seaside is an essential part of the British "cultural landscape"...

Another great collaborative Twitter project response...

Yesterday, I asked colleagues who follow me to provide some descriptions of the British Seaside...
Words that appear larger were mentioned more frequently by the word cloud generator.

First of all a WORDLE - click the image below to be taken to the Wordle page...
Wordle: #ukcside

Here is a Tagxedo version of the Wordle...
Click for biggery...

Thanks for all the contributors.
What words would you choose ? 
How could you use this diagram as a resource in the classroom or for a homework task ?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Doreen Massey Landscapes Essay

Thanks to @JoeMoran for the tip-off to a Doreen Massey essay on landscape - part of a larger blog project: The Future of Landscapes...
One to make you think... I don't pretend to understand all of it, but there are some nice sections and links to a film project.

GA Conference 2011 - University of Surrey, Guildford

A number of posts are appearing over at my LIVING GEOGRAPHY blog on the follow-up to the GA Conference 2011.

There were some wonderful sessions.... but enough about me...

Anne Greaves has started to post resources from the conference on the GA WEBSITE.

Image by Bryan Ledgard
Copyright Geographical Association

Plenty of interest for teachers of physical geography and landscapes...

Also a chance to see the GA TOOLKIT books on the GA stand...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Geography Collective and Cultural Olympiad

Look at it this Way is very much about the concept of PLACE.
We can now announce a new PLACE based project that I'm involved in...

One of the things I'm proudest of in the last few years is my involvement with the Geography Collective, and our Mission:Explore books, iPhone app and other activities...
We can now announce our latest project, thanks to the project leadership of Daniel Raven Ellison.

We are very pleased to say that we will be delivering a major project for the Cultural Olympiad as part of the Discovering Places programme called Discover Explore. Discovering Places is funded by a grant from Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) through the London Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). It is delivered by The Heritage Alliance with the support of key partners.. one of which is us.

We will be working closely with The Workshop to create something very beautiful and cool which will be launched this summer.

“The project aims to inspire young people and their families to discover hidden, extraordinary and important historical sites and stories in cutting-edge and engaging ways. The unique collaboration between Discovering Places, The Geography Collective and numerous small and medium scales historic and natural environment organisations will inspire active participation, animate spaces, raise awareness of environmental sustainability and enhance learning by linking up local heritage assets.” The Heritage Alliance 

‘We are extremely excited to be working on this cutting edge and creative strand of Discovering Places.  This project is going to open up opportunities for children and families to explore and experience places in new ways and have a great deal of fun while thare are at it.  We will be uncovering heritage in ways that will demonstrate how inclusive the Cultural Olympiad is and break new ground on engaging young people with the people, places and stories of not only our pasts but our future’s past.’ Daniel Raven-Ellison, Project Director, The Geography Collective

To read more about the Cultural Olympiad, Discovering Places and our project take a look at the Heritage Alliance newsletter here.

Look forward to meeting the rest of the Geography Collective in May to kick-start the project... 


Monday, 21 March 2011

Rory's Story Cubes for your Landscape stories...

During my lunch-time at the Education Show I took the opportunity to do a quick trip up and down the aisles to make sure that I saw as many of the stands as possible and have a chat to anyone who had a geographical connection, or who caught my eye.

One stand I particularly wanted to see was the CREATIVITY HUB stand, where RORY's STORY CUBES were available.

I have these cubes as an iPhone app and also as the infinitely preferable 'real thing', and have used them with many teachers over the last few years to explore the ideas of geography as "writing the earth".

I have used my cubes with hundreds of teachers as a way of exploring creative writing, including my sessions at various conferences. By using a net for creating a cube such as the one below, taken from MATHSISFUN with thanks, you can also add your own cubes...

Cut out the shapes and add your own words or instructions on the six sides relevant to the subject that you are using them for.

If you were making a set of geography cubes, they might contain instructions. These could be used to add a map symbol or place name, to turn a particular compass direction (to direct a route across an OS map sheet perhaps), or to describe a particular landscape.

I got a set of ACTIONS cubes to mix in with them, and had a chat with Rory - who looks just like his picture on the flyer.

I was also really impressed with the MAX cubes, and a bit disappointed that they were only prototypes and not available to buy - not yet anyway... Follow the link to add your thoughts on whether they should be made more widely available for the particular reasons that are suggested.
Follow Rory and the team on Twitter @storycubes, and read this story from the Belfast Telegraph for some information on what they are planning yet. Some interesting projects to come...

New Zealand: where I'd like to be today...

My earlier blog post about the Christchurch memorial service was a reminder of the many connections that exist between the UK and New Zealand.
My friend Simon Hathaway, who now lives in Wellington (which is a major improvement on Rotherham) sent me a pack of newspaper and magazine articles this week to add to the other resources that I have gathered to help teach about the resilience of a major city following an earthquake. I was interested to read the 'North and South New Zealander of the Year' piece, which awarded the Supreme Winner to the people of Christchurch... and that was following the earlier September 2010 quake...
There was also a really useful piece from the Dominion Post by Chris Kalderimis on the most useful items to have in a home emergency survival kit, and lots of personal stories.

The #blog4nz campaign is encouraging bloggers the world over to focus on New Zealand for a while, and this post is part of the effort.

Although my work involves me in translating a range of media into resources which can make a difference in the classroom, there is also a lot of personal interest in exploring these distant places, and one area to develop is the impact of tourism in New Zealand.

One of the potential longer term impacts of the Christchurch earthquake is the effect that it might have on the tourist industry on both islands, but particularly the South Island.  New Zealand has been on my must-visit list for ever, and I still fully intend to visit one day, although the current financial situation is not making it any easier...

Image shared under Creative Commons license by Boston Public Library
When I was asked to produce a KS3 book for use in the geography classroom, I was determined to get a little bit of New Zealand in there. I chose an iconic landform to focus on: the distinctive Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

My contribution to the GA's toolkit series included two lessons called "Mountains on my Mind". They involved students applying for a job with a fictional tour company which operated flights into Milford Sound. Students needed to prepare themselves for the job interview by researching answers to the sorts of questions that tourists would have as they flew over the mountains.

Below is a slideshow of images taken by Simon Hathaway, which were used to introduce the lesson - the music is by the band "Suns of the Tundra" - with thanks to Simon Oakes for the remix music track :) - warning: it could get loud !!

Create your own video slideshow at

When clicking on the Dominion Post link earlier to create the hyperlink, I noticed a few tourism related stories straight away:

Preparations for the next Rugby World Cup later this year are already well underway, and there was also the story about the filming for 'The Hobbit' movie.

This reminded me of a the tourism benefits of the filming of "The Lord of the Rings" which resulted in a major surge in visitors, and the publication of several guides to the filming locations.

So what would my top priorities be for our family visit to New Zealand, which was going to be 2012, but now looks like being later... My interest in some parts of the country date back to 2007. At the time I was supporting Val Vannet as she followed Mark Beaumont around the world on his record-breaking
I took over from Val over the Christmas and New Year period 2007-8 and followed Mark through New Zealand and therefore spent a lot of time using Google Earth and other sites to trace his route and identify some geographical highlights....
Here is a 'top ten', which provides a taster.... There'll be no bungee though, or white water rafting. I prefer more sedate pleasures...

1. Wellington
We'll be based in the city as that's where friends who've offered us a bed for as long as we want live. But from there we'll branch out. Wellington has plenty to offer the visitor, and we'll explore the hills and the city itself. Plenty of interesting food and cultural highlights... We can get over our jet lag here before exploring further afield in a motor home...

2. Ferry to the South Island (and back)
Looking forward to this trip. We enjoy boat journeys and this is one of the more spectacular ones.

3. Christchurch
As a geographer, I'd be interested in seeing the city for various reasons, but not the least to show that it is as safe to visit as anywhere else along this fault-line. This would not be "disaster tourism", but a genuine desire to support local businesses as well as publicise for geography teachers and students back home some of the longer term ways that 'resilience' manifests itself....

4.Mt.Taranaki / Egmont and the surrounding area
Egmont / Taranaki is an amazing mountain, and the surrounding area has plenty of interest. I am particularly keen to visit places that are as 'different' to the day-to-day as possible.

5. Rotorua
Having visited Iceland recently, including a trip to Geysir and other hot springs, I've had my fair share of sulphurous water, but this is one of those places where the thin shell of the Earth's crust becomes obvious, and for that reason I need to take a look...

6. Milford Sound - I'm torn between driving in, and flying in - perhaps I could do both ? This is one of the great places of the world. When I was younger I visited the Hardangerfjord and other fjords of Norway, and I'm always impressed by huge cliffs and deep water. The waterfalls and jagged peaks are stunning.

7. Moeraki
Always wanted to see the Moeraki boulders, looking like dinosaur eggs on the beach. Moeraki is not too far from Christchurch. The family might not be too impressed if I dragged them a long distance to see "a few rocks", although they are beautiful rocks...

8. Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro
In the same area of the North Island, I used to teach about the eruption of these volcanoes for many years. I like the idea of seeing the peaks and snow fields, and making the link with the 'Lord of the Rings' locations...

9. Franz Josef Glacier
Again, my recent trip to Iceland allowed me to walk on a large glacier, but this has a much different feel to the Solheimajokull ice cap, with its steeper gradient and dramatic crevasses...

10. Shackleton connections
Sir Ernest Shackleton has always been an inspiration of mine, and the chance to visit some of the places where he prepared for his journeys would be a good reason for heading South... Two places on the list would be the grave of Chippy McNeish in Karori cemetery, Wellington, and the port of Lyttleton.

Picture by Simon Hathaway - Chippy McNeish and Mrs Chippy...

I am keen to trace some of the connections with the early Polar explorers, as we prepare for the centenary of Scott and Amundsen's race to the Pole next year. I have no doubt that someone somewhere is planning to tweet their journeys day by day (and if they aren't I though of it first... ;)  )

See you there !

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Urban Landscape News

There were 3 or 4 "urban-related" tweets in my overnight feed that I caught up with earlier 'today' while having my breakfast...
Part of my daily routine now is to look at what has happened while I slept, and e-mail any interesting tweets to my e-mail account, so that I have a record of the links, and can follow them up when I have a moment...

This weekend, there has been an urban theme to many of the updates. Several of them were from the excellent @urbanphoto_blog stream... You need to follow them if you don't already.

One led me to the Twisted Sifter blog, from which I got this remarkable image, which apparently shows the suburbs of Mexico City marching into the distance, irrespective of topography.

The images were from Pablo Lopez Luz

I haven't explored the site further, but it seems to have a range of interesting images and other content.
The second site, which was equally arresting is a description of the development of a new (or perhaps not so new it seems) 'city' stretching out into the Caspian Sea from Baku, and called Oily Rocks.

The Liquid Infrastructure blog has the story and more amazing pictures of this complex structure.

Next was the news of a fire in the Garib Nagar slum in Mumbai. One of the houses affected was the home of an actress who featured in the film "Slumdog Millionaire". Of course there were thousands of other people affected too...
This was followed up by another newspaper article on the slums of Mumbai, and plans to bulldoze Dharavi. One to extend into the idea of local politics and ownership of land...

This was followed by a tip-off from Bob Digby to an article on the increased threat that coastal settlements in the UK are likely to face
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation relates to the idea of Social Justice, and looks at the impact on disadvantaged UK coastal communities.
Click HERE to download the report as a 1.4 Mb PDF file

The possible impacts on East Anglia (as featured in the report) are summarised below...

•  Weakening and collapse of cliffs due to desiccation as a result of higher summer temperatures and lower precipitation; also cliff destabilisation as a result of decreasing vegetation cover.
•  Weakening and collapse of cliffs due to increased precipitation in winter, which causes more water to penetrate into desiccated cracks.
•  Higher rates of coastal erosion from higher sea levels, more frequent storm surges and weakened cliffs.
•  High erosion will cause enhanced rates of longshore drift which may pose threats to the major ports of Great Yarmouth, Felixstowe and Harwich.

And finally, was an article by Rick Poynor on the book "Edgelands", which I am reading via Kindle app at the moment, along with some images of these peripheral areas.

So basically, Twitter - thanks to the Flipbook app - has replaced the need for me to buy a Sunday newspaper...

Pylons in the Landscape

As featured in Lesson 3 in the book...

There are plans for more pylons in East Anglia to connect proposed power stations to the National Grid to improve infrastructure.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has been opposing these developments in some areas of Norfolk.
My local paper has some more on this issue...
It costs 10 times as much to place cables underground as it does to put it over ground.

Check the plans and have your say here.

And don't forget you can also join the Pylon Appreciation Society

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mission Explore Launch Drinks

Fancy a new way of exploring your local landscapes ??

In just over a month's time, there are two new Mission:Explore books launched on the world by The Geography Collective and Can of Worms Press.
Here are the front covers for those who are interested. They are already available to pre-order on Amazon so make sure you buy at least one copy....

There will be launch events in London on the 1st and 2nd of April, but if you are around in London on the evening of the 31st of March, you can join us at the Old Explorer, just a short walk from Oxford Circus.

Sign up to join us....

Plenty more to come in a month's time...

Saturday, 26 February 2011


Holiday reading...
Took the plunge into KINDLE apps....
An interesting exploration of the urban-rural fringe...
References Marion Shoard's classic article... (click to download PDF)

For a taste of the book, see this INDEPENDENT article...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Olympics 2012 - the legacy...

The urban landscape of East London has changed for ever...

Thanks to John Widdowson for alerting me to the existence of this website from the LEGACY COMPANY, which acts as a tremendous additional resource for those teaching (or planning to teach) about the Olympics 2012. It includes an excellent interactive map with a number of 'layers' which shows the true scale of the Olympic park, and the various developments that are planned.

The GA will be producing a whole range of resources for the Olympics nearer the time, and we have already had a range of Olympics activities including a teacher conference, and of course Bob Digby's ongoing tours of the Olympic Park (there is a chance to take part in one of these on day one of the conference)

There is a large section on the Sustainability of the Olympic site in John Widdowson's GCSE toolkit book, which is now available from the GA shop.

There is also a Top Spec Geography title which is forthcoming, and a KS3 toolkit publication too.
With the opening of the velodrome today, this is a good time to take another look at what is planned for the park, plus there is the ongoing talks about the football future for the Olympics stadium itself.

There is a useful brochure on Scribd which is embedded below...

Future of the Park launch brochure

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Human Planet

Just ordered my DVD copy of this amazing series, which should perhaps be an essential part of every geography department's multimedia library... It should perhaps sit alongside Planet Earth, Coast, and various other DVDs which I bought...

There are so many clips and aspects of this series that should find their way into the curriculum in lower school, as well as supporting many GCSE contexts.
There are 8 episodes in the series.

There are chances to watch some of the previous episodes that haven't yet been broadcast on the iPlayer page

Check out the BBC HUMAN PLANET EXPLORER for more details.
Some fabulous images and other media on the HUMAN PLANET BLOG.

Check out the SURVIVAL SKILLS resource too... splendid..

Following on from last week's FORESTS episode, there's an excellent GUARDIAN INTERACTIVE on the world's endangered forests.

Finally, don't forget that you can get embeddable videos from each programme too, such as this one of the CEMETERY dwellers of MANILA