Monday, 26 November 2018

Edward Storey - Fenland chronicler and poet

I have worked in the Fenland city of Ely for the last six years - commuting in all weathers and at all times through the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Fens...

Edward Storey has died at the age of 88.
He was a chronicler of the Fens: an author and poet.
There was a lovely piece on Edward on BBC Radio Norfolk that I heard yesterday on the way home, which described him as 'a poet of place'.

You walk the roof of the world here.

Only the clouds are higher

And they are not permanent.
Trees are too distant for the wind to reach
And mountains hide below the horizon.
The wind labours through reed
As though they were the final barrier.
Houses and farms cling like crustations
To the black hull of the earth.
Here, you must walk with yourself,
Or share the spirits of forgotten ages.

Keith Skipper has written a lovely piece in the EDP.

More to come on Edward in a future blog post....

Image: Alan Parkinson - Fens near Manea - CC licensed

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Summer images

This is one of my faves, with a touch of Snapseed, and taken at Wells next the Sea on the Norfolk Coast. What are your favourite landscape images of the summer?

Friday, 17 August 2018


A film which connects with Robert MacFarlane's book of the same title...

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

School's out for Summer

My latest blog post for the OS Leisure blog as part of my work as a GetOutside Champion is now up.

It features some ideas for teachers (and non-teachers) to get outside this summer with a purpose.
Why not visit a key case study location, or revisit your commute through new ideas, or get out your camera...
Let me know if you use any of the ideas.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Hunstanton Cliffs - a new resource

A few resources which I worked on are hitting the internet now (or soon...) in time for the last part of the summer term, when hopefully there are some decisions being made about what to teach in the new academic year in terms of curriculum resources.

First up is a resource which I wrote a while back, and which has now been added to the RGS website (although there are a few final touches still to be added I think...) The resource has the context of the Hunstanton Cliffs, and their erosion and management,
It's turned out nicely, and may be of use for those preparing students for NEAs and other situations.

While we're on a coastal theme, check out this 170+ page report on erosion at Hemsby which contains a wealth of technical detail and images on this area of the coast which has been in the news for a while since the demolition of several beach side homes.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Thought for the Day

The Fens is a great landscape. Hint any mountains to get in the way of the view.
Norfolk Saying

Image: Alan Parkinson

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Managing the coast at Studland

A useful StoryMap

Earth in Vision

A few years ago, I was invited to be involved with the Earth in Vision project as a teacher advisor of some kind (my memory is hazy) but was unable to get involved due to my teaching commitments. The project has been developing throughout that time, with assistance from other teachers such as Lauren Otoo, and earlier this week the website went live.
It was one of a number of projects involving Joe Smith, the new director of the RGS-IBG.

The project explores content from the BBC Archive, and collects that which has an environmental relevance for educators.
There are three special eBooks which have been (or are being) produced as part of the project.

One of them is of particular interest: a book by George Revill which explores how BBC programming has helped shape how people see the landscape in the way that it is (re)presented.
This can be downloaded in various formats from this page.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Belle Tout

As seen in 'Look at it this Way' in the chapter on coastal erosion...

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Impact of tourism on Iceland's landscape

An interesting website which explores the growing pressures on Iceland. It's written by Ellis Quinn, who writes on the Eye on the Arctic website.

When most people think of Arctic economic development, things like resource extraction are usually first to mind. But northern regions and chambers of commerce are increasingly touting tourism as a key economic tool.

It’s seen as an industry that creates jobs for a variety of education levels, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship, reinforces and promotes local cultures, and creates the sustainable development lacking in many of the expensive and hard-to-get-to regions of the North; whether the remote Indigenous communities of Arctic Canada and Greenland, or the villages of Finnish Lapland and northern Russia.

But tourism is far from the benign industry it’s often made out to be.

As Iceland has discovered, mass tourism in the North can have social and environmental impacts as profound as those of the mining or drilling industries.

Yet successive governments did nothing to prepare for any of it. Instead, Instagram and Justin Bieber inadvertently ended up doing most of Iceland’s tourism planning for them.

Now, not everyone is sure they’re happy with the results.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Happisburgh Coastal Erosion

One of a new series of BBC Teach videos.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Flooding Resources from the GA

Flooding is an issue which features at KS3, GCSE and 'A' level, and the GA have just added a new section of resources written in association with the Environment Agency. 

Here are the 9 sections that are included in the materials.

 You can also see a range of VIMEO films, such as this one of Gerd Masselink, and some case study links on a related area of the website.

Lovely work.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The importance of reading Ernest

I've recently been reading Issue 7 of Ernest magazine.

It's coordinated by Jo Tinsley.
She has edited a fantastic magazine, and if you check the website you can also order some past issues for the same cost as the present one.
All of them offer a range of photography, and articles of varying lengths which explore ideas around place.

The standout elements of Issue 7 were the sections on East Anglia, with plenty of familiar places which I know very well, including Snettisham, where I lived for 12 years, and also down into Suffolk. There were explorations on the coastal marshes off Wells-next-the-Sea and also along the Blakeney area.

There were also some excellent photos, and a fascinating piece on a map of Antarctic Women, produced by Carol Devine, which fits very well with some of the work we did on Polar regions, and in the week when the expedition led by Felicity Aston which I have been following and producing some materials for (although shamefully slowly) reached the North Pole successfully.

For more on the Polar map of women and Carol's other projects (including an art project on marine litter in Svalbard called Aquamess, which is just the sort of thing I love to see taking place - I've shared and connected with a range of similar projects over the years), visit Carol's website.

Map copyright Carol Devine (2018) 

I shall be ordering some back copies of other issues, as they all look like they will be fascinating reading.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Share your special places

This is the 125th Anniversary year of the Geographical Association, and the conference in Sheffield in April will be very special.

One of the projects I'm doing (and have been doing for some time) is to tweet out a 'top tip' a day for 125 days on the GA Secondary Phase committee twitter feed. This is coming to a climax on the first day of the conference.

As part of the plans for the GA's celebrations, and connecting with my OS GetOutside Champions Role for 2018, I'm going to start collating a list of 125 inspirational places to visit in the UK.

We all have places from which we draw inspiration... This could be a beach, a particular walk, a historic building, a bench overlooking a viewpoint, a landscape feature or something more esoteric. 

The reasons behind the inspiration may relate to family members, an emotional reunion, or sad passing; they may be places that are visited often, or which left a lasting impression from a single visit. They may be places we remember fondly from childhood, or which we discovered later in life.

This project is connected to the 125th Anniversary of the Geographical Association in 2018. One of the projects which the association wants to develop is a list of 125 Inspirational Places to visit in the UK: human and physical landscapes and locations which sum up the best the UK has to offer.

The project also links to work being done by Alan Parkinson as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion during 2018, and the production of a list with further guidance on visiting the places on it will be a project for Alan to complete.

There is also a joint project underway between Alan Parkinson, and Peter Knight of Keele University, who are working to produce a resource for teachers exploring Inspirational Landscapes and Changing Places at 

Here's an example for you:
Surprise View, in the Peak District
A bend in the road where the Hope Valley, Hathersage and Castleton and Mam Tor beyond suddenly come into view spread out below you - the light varies throughout the year, but the view is always exciting - one of the best in the UK
Be careful when driving! Park up and take in the view

OS Grid Reference: SK249800

I've produced a Google form which you can link to here, and help me out with if possible. Feel free to share the link to the form as well.

Protecting nature

This tweet from the writer Melissa Harrison, of whom I'm a great fan, struck a chord earlier as I was flitting from one project and deadline to the next to keep the plates spinning, and thinking about some writing I have pencilled in for the Easter holidays.

Norfolk coast fieldtrip

Earlier in the week, it was out to the Norfolk Coast to explore the area around Sheringham and Overstrand.
We followed the River Glaven along parts of its route, and then headed for the coast at Overstrand to see an active slump and the measures in place to stop it happening.
Here's a few of the images I took which I quite like - click for biggery

Images: Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license

Friday, 9 March 2018

New GPS from the OS

The Ordnance Survey is launching a range of handheld / cycle mounted GPS units, which make use of Ordnance Survey mapping. We were shown the details at the GetOutside Champions launch a few months ago, but the details are now emerging on the OS Leisure Blog.

Our four new handheld GPS devices come with advanced navigation yet simple functionality. Designed for hiking and off-road cycling, they’re rugged, water-resistant and come with all the accuracy and detail of our world-famous large-scale leisure maps.

Not only that, they’re packed with features to keep you on track with your performance, and let you and others know exactly where you are. You can also sync with other products to plot and share routes, or monitor your heart rate, energy and speed.

Find out more details HERE. Sign up to get the news on features and pricing.

I am hoping to get my hands on one for a while, to trial them for use in geography fieldwork and similar contexts.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Nan Shepherd and the Cairngorms

Lovely to see the story that went into creating the newly redesigned Scottish banknotes featuring Nan Shepherd. She was someone who has inspired a great many writers with her tales of the Cairngorms.
A few years ago, I used Nan's book, and Robert MacFarlane's description of walking in her footsteps in 'The Old Ways' as the basis for a workshop at the Scottish Association of Geography Teacher's conference.

Access the resources here.

You can see the story of the notes here:

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The power of walking

I liked this piece by Kristina Olsson, on the Coast to Coast Walk that she did as a 'reward' for spending five years writing her book.
She needed to get away, and in doing so found out something about herself...

This theme of getting outside is something I shall be exploring more of in the year to come. I'm freshly back from two days in the New Forest with Ordnance Survey. We were asked to come to Brockenhurst to a nice hotel, where we were to meet with the Ordnance Survey team that supports their core #GetOutside initiative. As you may remember from an earlier post, I applied to be involved for 2018/19 and was delighted to find out some weeks ago that I was going to be taking part, and also that Dan Raven Ellison, who applied independently, was also going to be going along.
A very early start and a long journey on 4 trains was needed, with Dan joining me in London.
Registration, coffee, and some chats to faces that I knew, including Sarah Outen.

Through to the main meeting room, where we were made very welcome and introduced to the scheme, and given new jackets and boots and various other things. We found out more about OS Maps, and the whole #GetOutside campaign.
We heard from previous and ongoing Champions, and also met Ben Fogle and Kenton Cool, who talked about their plans to climb Everest. Not something that most people can manage, and therefore my work will be far more down to earth, and even below sea level... with an educational emphasis.
We had a photo call: group and individual, and enjoyed some excellent food. In the afternoon, we were set a challenge, and I enjoyed working with the folks on my table: we were placed on a table for the day with other Champions, and some of the other partners involved. I had the chance to speak to Dave from Camping and Caravanning Club's membership magazine, and also Pip from 'Country Walking', which has been leading the #Walk1000miles campaign, which I've also blogged about previously.

We had a challenger treasure hunt to take part in, and we managed to cover the longest distance by running relays back and forwards for part of the time. Thanks to my team, who are pictured below, and there are also links to their twitter feeds for you to follow.
I'm looking forward to working over the coming year to encourage everyone to spend more time outside during 2018. It's certainly galvanised my own plans for getting outside more. In fact, when I finish this post I'm off out to the local common to get some pictures...

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Digimap for School Resource revamp

Over the last few years, I've written a number of Secondary resources to accompany the Digimap for Schools service. My colleague Paula Owens wrote a whole tranche of Primary resources too.

The resource area has now had a revamp so that it is easier to access particular resources from the archive.

The new look page can be accessed HERE.

It has resources for a range of subjects, not just geography, which is a reminder that if you are thinking of getting a subscription for your school, you should make a point that it is not just for geography, and have it paid from general budgets rather than your own budget...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion 2018/19

I'm finally able to announce something which I've had to keep to myself for the last 7 weeks or so...
Back in October 2017, I put in a speculative application to join an illustrious group of people who are selected each year to work with the wonderful folks at the Ordnance Survey to encourage people to #GetOutside and enjoy exploring the amazing variety of countryside that we have in our country (possibly guided with a classic Ordnance Survey map in paper or digital form).
In early December, I received the following e-mail:

There were almost 500 applications last year apparently, and the final list for 2017 included a fair few adventurers, explorers and people who spend their lives in the outdoors, and many of whom are known to millions through their media work. This included Ben Fogle, Sean Conway, Kenton Cool,  Jason Rawles (founder of the Adventurers' Club), and the amazing Sarah Outen.
There were also people who share particular aspects of working outside, or who blog about the outdoors and spend a lot of their time outside, including the Meek Family who were big fans of our Mission:Explore book. There were also people who loved walking, climbing, swimming and other activities, and wanted to share their love of them.
I thought that with my teaching role, my Mission:Explore role, my involvement in fieldwork (I co-wrote a book on it you know) and local place and landscape investigations that I might have something to offer.

This coming year is therefore going to see me getting outside even more than usual, and encouraging everyone to take part in outdoor activities (including pupil at my school, and other schools that I visit), some of which I already have ideas for and others which will no doubt emerge as the year develops, perhaps in collaboration with other Champions. I've enjoyed reading the blogs and tweets from last year's Champions, particularly as they have been reflecting this month on the year just gone and what they have gained from it.

I've been thinking of a few things that I want to achieve during the year, and will be telling you more about those over the next 12 months here on LivingGeography.
I'm looking forward to an event next week when I'll be meeting up with the other champions and finding out a lot more about what we are going to be doing.
I know already that a very good friend of mine is also going to be involved - he'll tell you about his involvement himself.

Here's one of last year's Champions' next venture for example - though I don't suppose I'll go quite that far...