Skip to main content


Showing posts from 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

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?


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

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.

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. Coastal management dilemmas:Hemsby in Norfolk faces rapid erosion & loss of homes. A plan suggesting 12 differ

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

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.

Belle Tout

As seen in 'Look at it this Way' in the chapter on coastal erosion... Eric Ravilious, #BeachyHead Lighthouse-Belle Tout, 1939. By this time Belle Tout was used as a private home. This #watercolour shows the view from the lantern room towards the newer lighthouse. #Eastbourne #EastSussex #Artlovers #arte #twitart #art — Maude Frome (@frome_maude) June 30, 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. Ye

Happisburgh Coastal Erosion

One of a new series of BBC Teach videos.

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.

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

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

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. I stand by every word of this. There's no entrance exam for being a nature writer; nor should there be. The ability to engage interest, inspire connection and rouse curiosity is what's required to change lives and create a new cohort of people who will protect nature. #WildLines — Melissa Harrison ­čîż (@M_Z_Harrison) March 9, 2018

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

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.

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:

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 th

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. Big Splash! Our new Resources pages is now live! Lots of resources for Primary and Secondary.. we love it! come have a look.. #primary #secondary #PrimarySTEMchat #ukedchat #geographyteacher #STEM #digitalliteracy — DigimapforSchools (@Digimap4Schools) January 22, 2018 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...

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 o