Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Francis Pryor on the Fens

Reading about the new Francis Pryor book on the Fens.
I'm very much looking forward to reading this, and factoring it into some writing on the Fenland landscapes.
As Francis writes:

In the 20th century the historic medieval cores of towns like Kings Lynn, Wisbech and Spalding were severely damaged by development and insensitive road-building. The well thought-out railway network in the Fens was destroyed by Dr Beeching’s ‘rationalisation’ of the 1960s. Consequently many smaller market towns today boast empty high streets, poorly-attended markets and numerous charity shops. We are also beginning to appreciate the extent of irreversible change that the wholesale drainage of the 1850s and 1970s has caused. And with sea level rise a seemingly inexorable process… Need I say more? The floor of my study is about two metres above sea level; an average high tide would wet our bed, upstairs. And yet, people are still regularly granted planning permission by local authorities to build bungalows. In many respects, the story of the Fens – an area I have grown to love and cherish – could be the story of Britain, past, present and future.

The cover of the book is a painting buy the artist Fred Ingrams, who lives in the Fens.
He has a wonderful style which captures the landscape perfectly.
Check out some paintings from a forthcoming exhibition here.

Here's another of Fred's paintings... There are plenty of Fenland roads looking just like that...

Good Friday on Long Drove
Image copyright: Fred Ingrams

Francis is doing a talk in Ely during my summer break, and I plan to attend and get a copy of the book at the same time.

And the final Fred Ingrams link is that he did the cover of the latest Cambridge University Research Digest (PDF download) - based on the East of England. This contains some excellent research ideas, and images. Worthy of a separate blog post.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Show your Stripes

We have been using the warming stripes for some time in our department, and I also have a natty warming stripes tie. I shall be wearing it on Friday when we Show our Stripes
Ed Hawkins is behind the stripes.
He has created a new website where you can download stripes for your own home region.

We will all be wearing the Stripes on the 21st of June. Posters are up in the Geography Classroom. Stickers are printed for everyone to wear.


Annual average temperatures for England from 1884-2018 using data from UK Met Office.

Graphics and lead scientist: Ed Hawkins, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading.
Data : Berkeley Earth, NOAA, UK Met Office, MeteoSwiss, DWD.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Musical Urbanism

Musical Urbanism
This is an excellent resource for those looking at resources and ideas on the intersection between cities and music.

You can follow the blog at Musical Urbanism, or the TWITTER FEED here.

The creator of the blog is Leonard Nevarez and he is also well worth following.

For example, this post gives me a lot of joy...

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Brick Lane - Food culture in the UK


This film was made in 2018 for the Survey of London by Nurull Islam and Rehan Jamil. 
It documents the changing South Asian restaurant trade in Whitechapel, and includes the restaurant located in this building.

It's part of the Survey of London website.

It documents the change in the area of Brick Lane from the Bengali restaurant trade to 'hipsters' who moved in, buying up the old premises.

It's an excellent little film, useful for GCSE - UK in 21st Century - food and culture, or perhaps Changing Places as well.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Places of Poetry - The Fens

The Places of Poetry website has launched today.
I mentioned it earlier in the year when I first heard about it.
It is collecting poems which are written about places, which can then be pinned to an interactive map. Click the menu icon top right on the home page for all the details and to add your own poem.

Read about the project on the OS blog here. There is a link with the Ordnance Survey.

The project has been developed by Paul Farley and Professor Andrew McRae, who says:

“Poetry has been used across the centuries to reflect on places and their histories. We’re using modern technology to reinvigorate this model, and we hope that as many people as possible get involved. We are excited to see where people pin their poems, and what they say about the places that matter to them.”

I went on this morning and added my own poem to the map.
You can view and read it here, just outside of the city of Ely.
My poem also has a link to the Ordnance Survey, as it describes the survey of the Fens that was done in 1916, and imagines the challenges facing the surveyors of capturing this fluid and flat landscape with its shifting rivers and streams, only to find that an old Fenland boy spots a mistake. Fast-forward 100 years, and students on a geography fieldtrip, using their smartphones, notice a missing stream on their digital maps...



Why not write / add your own poem to the map to contribute.
The map is open for contributions until October, and I look forward to seeing more poems appearing over the next few months.

Here's the poem for those who might like to read it and haven't already...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Current listening - Outcrops

A review can be read here.

Focussing on a series of sandstone outcrops above the West Yorkshire town of Todmorden, Outcrops is an exploration of the geological history of the Upper Calder Valley and Cliviger Gorge. Revitalising an enthusiasm for geology that saw Williamson complete an undergraduate degree in Earth Science in the 1990s, each track was created to invoke a particular phase of that history, namely the interbedded sandstones and siltstones of the Millstone Grit, the formation of the Yorkshire coal measures and finally the glaciation of the valley during the last ice age.


The album was recorded in the field, in a series of small caves where Williamson created the pieces that make up the album whilst almost encased within the landscape he was describing. These recordings were then treated to minimal editing and post production in Williamson’s home studio at the base of the hills where the recordings were made. In this way the album becomes analogous to many of the local stone buildings, the materials from which they were built often having travelled just a few hundred yards to the site of the building’s final construction.

Finally, whereas last year’s The Last Days (The Dark Outside Recordings) was about Williamson leaving his Essex home of the last twelve years, Outcrops is about the discovery of somewhere new.

Monday, May 27, 2019

National Map Reading Week

It's a pity that it's during the school holidays as we normally do a big push on this at school, and it's sometimes been later in the year.

It's National Map Reading Week, so try to get out there this week with an OS Map and try the downloadable guides.



Perhaps this is the week to do a trial of the OS Maps app - it's excellent...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Counter Mapping

I'm signed up to receive the newsletter from The Global Oneness project, and have just received one with information on an intriguing film explaining how some indigenous people 'map' their territories.
It's embedded here:

In this 10-minute film, we meet Jim Enote, a traditional Zuni farmer, elder, and director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in Zuni, New Mexico. The film documents Enote’s work with Zuni artists to create maps that bring an indigenous voice and perspective back to the land. “Counter mapping” challenges the western notions of geography and the borders imposed on indigenous cultures. 

In the film, Enote said that “Maps have done a lot to confuse things for people. More lands have been lost to native peoples probably through mapping than through physical conflict.” We discussed the positive and negative impacts of modern mapping and technology, the colonization of land and the re-naming of territories, as well as local natives and languages. 

Enote describes that “Modern maps don’t have a memory.” If we can recollect and remember the native names of our mountains and waterways, I think we’ll notice the intimate connection between language and landscape that exists right under our feet. One student said, after being asked how she would document her place through mapping, that she would document what is important to her—family, connection, and the land she calls home. The discussions generated from sharing indigenous stories are essential in expanding students' awareness to include perspectives grounded in traditional ways of knowing that challenge western notions of progress.

I've blogged about the project previously.

They have a very useful resource area. (Google Doc link)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Humanities 20:20

A new manifesto for Primary Humanities has been launched today.


Visit the website, read the manifesto and sign it if you like what you see.

Primary schools have a duty to equip children for the challenges of the 21st century. We believe that the primary school curriculum in England is failing to do this or to fulfil the legal requirement for a balanced and broadly-based curriculum. Literacy and numeracy dominate the curriculum while other vital aspects of learning are often ignored. This is wrong.

We want young children to be literate and numerate, but much more than that. We affirm that every child is entitled to rich, stimulating and engaging learning experiences.

We want children to have more opportunities to be creative and to build on their sense of curiosity. We would like to bring more joy and imagination back into the classroom.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A geographer as Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage was announced today as the new Poet Laureate, replacing Carol Ann Duffy.

I've been aware of Simon Armitage and his work for many years, going back to when I was doing my degree in Huddersfield, and he was living nearby in Marsden.
He is the same age as me, the same age as Surtsey, about which he made an excellent radio programme - currently unavailable to listen to.
He studied Geography at Portsmouth University, which makes him a geographer too, of course.

all-points-north
Check out his poem Last Snowman, about Climate Change.

I've read much of his poetry, and all of his non-fiction work. An early favourite (from 1999) was 'All Points North': a meditation on what it means to be from the North, and about the North... Also check out the recent books where he follows long distance footpaths, including the Pennine Way.

Also check out his poem 'Poundland' from a recent collection.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Free Hywel Roberts Webinar

Hywel Roberts is running a webinar on the use of narratives in teaching, drawing on his work in this area with a number of other educators. It is described as a reverie.

The link to the webinar is here.

It's free, and having been fortunate to see Hywel present his ideas in person, I'll certainly be making every effort to listen in to this one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Quarter of a million page views

Passed the 250 000 page view milestone this morning.
Thanks for all the interest in this blog since I started writing it back in 2007.

Not quite up to the level of the 5 million views of LivingGeography, but encouraging anyway....

A day in a favela

A 36o degree Video... Watch this on your phone, or pan around...

In Rio, one out of every five residents lives in a favela. More than one and a half million people. More than one and a half million stories. Step inside this 360 experience of a day in Favela and meet some truly inspiring people and view.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

An exciting opportunity linked to the Better World Detectives


For the last year or so I've been involved with the ongoing development of resources linked with the travel company TUI. These resources come under the banner of the Better World Detectives, which connects with TUI's own sustainability statement of Better Holidays, Better World.

The resources introduce students at key stages 2, 3 and 4 to key ideas related to sustainable tourism, and are free to download. They reflect TUI's work on promoting more sustainable and greener holidays.

The Primary resources are based around the fictional resort of Sonrisa, which is based on Costa Rica. They introduce students to sustainable fishing, the impact of tourism on local corals, and the efforts to protect local turtle nesting sites.
The Secondary resources are focussed on sustainable sourcing of food for hotels, carbon footprints, ocean plastics and the impacts of overtourism. These go into more depth, including a look at how tourism can impact on the health and well-being of residents of Costa Rica and a real-life case study of a Rainforest Alliance conservation area in Mexico. Both sets of resources feature lesson plans, resources and planning documents.
Coming soon are two new exam-style packs, with case studies of Iceland and Mexico, which will be ideal for GCSE or advanced KS3. You can sign up to receive these on the TUI stand at the GA Conference in Manchester, and they will be available to download from their website from mid-April.
The next phase of the development of the resources will involve teachers, and one of those teachers could be you.
This exciting opportunity will take you on an expenses paid trip to MEXICO! The destination will be the Riviera Maya, where TUI is developing sustainable tourism initiatives in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.

Go here to find out more

It will be an incredible and rare opportunity for peer-to-peer working and training, and probably a once-in-a-lifetime CPD experience. It has a competition element, and is being organised by TUI Care Foundation (which is TUI's sister charitable organisation, devoted to making tourism a force for good).


This is a three-stage competition, running from the start of April to mid-August 2019.

1. Register your interest and download Lesson 6 of the Secondary resources by 31st May

2. Teach Lesson 6 to students, and complete the application form which will be in the 'You've registered' email you'll receive when registering by 30th June.

A shortlist of names will then be announced in early July.

3. Those who are shortlisted will be asked to create a 10-20 minute activity that they would take to Mexico with them if selected by 7th August.

4. The final winners will be announced in mid-August.



Those selected will be able to meet local teachers in a peer-to-peer CPD training environment, where they will engage with teachers from the Riviera Maya, and visit locations in the area to learn more about sustainable tourism in the area and, together, create ways to mutually use them in your respective classrooms, whether in the U.K. or Mexico. 


The trip will take place at the end of October 2019, during the October half term. The main experience will last four days: 2 days in a CPD environment, 1 day on an excursion and 1 day in a school in the Riviera Maya. It isn’t essential but would be beneficial if applicants have an understanding of Spanish, though this should in no way deter non-Spanish-speaking applicants from applying.
All expenses will be paid, teachers selected will just need to cover their travel insurance and be available for those dates.
TUI representatives will be at the GA conference, where you can find out loads more information about the competition and register your interest directly with them. The TUI stand is Stand 40, near the main entrance to the main hall.

You could also come along to a session which I'm involved in too if you like.
Thursday 11 April
11.40-12.30
Lecture Plus 7
Celebrating sustainable tourism: Key facts, new developments and case studies
Alan Parkinson, Ian Corbett from TUI - Senior Manager in Sustainability, Becky Kitchen from the GA - CPD, Curriculum and Marketing Manager
We'll be in room 1.219


Contact Maddie Duggan, Better World Detectives Project Manager at
info@betterworlddetectives.co.uk for further information, or speak to Maddie at the GA Conference.

Best of luck to all who enter the competition. It's a very exciting opportunity to visit a part of the world which few will get the chance to experience.