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.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Young Geographer of the Year 2019



There is also the Rex Walford award for trainee teachers to produce resources on the same theme.

As always, we'll be working with our students to produce some entries for this competition.

Find out all the details, and age categories here.
Hopefully will pick up more details from the RGS-IBG stand at the GA Conference next week in Manchester.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Shipping containers

Showed this very useful video earlier in the week, made by the Maersk Shipping Line.


This goes well with the activity on p.58 and 59 of the Hodder Geography 'Progress in Geography' textbook, which I use as part of my unit on Stuff...
It links to the location of the OOCL Hong Kong using the Marine Traffic website, following its route between China and Europe like a bus...



Image: Alan Parkinson: shared under CC license

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

900 posts

Just up to 900 posts now...

Thanks for reading....

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The return of Carmen Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego was the eponymous character in an early computer game, which was based around a sort of global treasure hunt / mystery. It was launched in 1985, and reissued in 1992, and spawned various sequels.
Now Carmen Sandiego is back, and instead of 'Where on Earth' she is.. this time it's 'Where on Google Earth' is she?
You'll probably see the game option pop up if you use Google Earth close to the time when this blog was posted... if it's been a while, then the option may have disappeared.

Start up Google Earth on Chrome and give it a go...
You'll even see a little Carmen Sandiego icon in the main navigation area...



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Cultural Geography



There are some useful ideas in the video here.

The Department of Education suggests any decoding of the geographies around us:

“should… start from the local place within which students live or study and at least one further contrasting place through which to develop the required knowledge and understanding. Study must involve moving out from the local place to encompass regional, national, international and global scales in order to understand the dynamics of place. (Note that a local place may be a locality, neighbourhood or small community, either urban or rural)”

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Discover Iceland with Richard and Matt



Discover the World are organising an exciting-sounding CPD event in Iceland in June which involves Richard Allaway and Matt Podbury.

This is designed for those teaching (or preparing to teach) international qualifications.


Day 1 - 29th June 2019

Arrive in Keflavik and head to the Hafnarfjordur area for your overnight stay.

Day 2 – 30th June 2019

8.00 – 8.15 Welcome from Discover the World Education from our travel specialist, Beverley Cameron.

8.15 – 10.15 The Physical Geography of Iceland, lecture by Professor Chris Davies.

10.15 – 10.30 coffee break

10.30 – 12.30 workshops by Matt Podbury and Richard Allaway

12.30 – 20.00 Tour of Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle guided by Chris Davies including stops at Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss and a few hidden gems.

Overnight in Selfoss area




Day 3 - 1st July 2019

Depart hotel at 8am for an exciting tour of Iceland including:
Visit to the geothermal town of Hveragerdi
View two of Iceland’s most remarkable waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss
Discover the incredible Solheimajokull glacier
Explore the black sand beaches at Reynisfjara
Witness Iceland’s newest spectacle; the Icelandic Lava Show.

You’ll head back to Keflavik for your last night before returning home on the morning of the 2nd July.

Go here to find out more, and book your place.
Will be jealous of all those going along, as a few days in such good company in such an amazing place will be a perfect way to set up the summer...

And if you then book a trip you will get the money back, so think of it as an "inspection visit with benefits..."

Monday, February 18, 2019

Dialects - where are you 'from'?

This has been going the rounds for the last few days, and is an updated version of a previous quiz which aimed at pinpointing people's home area from the way they pronounced certain words, or used vernacular terms for particular things.
For some reason, it was shared from the New York Times website.

I was born in Rotherham, and so I had a childhood using words like snicket, spell and wagging it.

It was successful in identifying Sheffield as the likely area.

I have since lived in Norfolk for more than half my life, but not lost some aspects of my accent and natural vernacular vocabulary. The quiz was less successful pinpointing my son, with a vague diagnosis of the SE of England.

How accurately does it locate you?


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Using illustrations for teaching and learning about migrant experiences



House of Illustration and Positive Negatives are delighted to invite educators to a very special Teachers’ Twilight Event to celebrate the launch of our brand new teaching resources for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.

These new resources use illustration techniques for teaching and learning about this important subject. Packed with both inspiration and practical guidance, these cross-curricular resources are completely free to download and ready to use in the classroom.

House of Illustration will launch our KS2 resources, packed with guidance notes, a choice of activities, step-by-step instructions and a slideshow, while Positive Negatives launches their own resources for KS3 and KS4, built around comics and short animations.

These complementary projects address the experiences of unaccompanied young asylum seekers, the dangerous journeys to Europe being undertaken by refugees and the lives of undocumented young people in the UK.

We provide information and activities to explore citizenship, creativity and critical thinking.

Join us for an inspiring evening in the gallery at our special exhibition Journeys Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis.

The event will feature talks from House of Illustration, Positive Negatives, artist Karrie Fransman and teachers with first-hand experience of using these approaches in the classroom.

Take the opportunity to network with a free drink in hand and gain ideas and inspiration from fellow teachers and education professionals.

I'll hopefully see you there.
I have a copy of Eoin Colfer's book, and also Olivier Kugler's recent book, as well as others such as My name is Not Refugee, and Malala's recent book too.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

An Englishman (and Geographer) in New York

I'm heading for New York, for the first time, during the Easter break.

I've got a few guide books from colleagues, and advice from people who've been before, and got a hotel booked. We'll be there for quite a few days, and will of course be hitting the usual places you would expect: Top of the Rock, Ground Zero, Staten Island ferry etc.

There's some plans for architecture, film locations, walking the High Line, taking in a show and some psychogeographical wanderings.

Does anyone have any suggestions for things that I definitely should not miss as a geographer?

The Central Park erratics and rĂ´che moutonnee are on the list of course, as well as the many urban highlights.

Image by Ella Parkinson, edited using Prisma app.

London National Park City crowdfunder

There has been a great deal of progress on Daniel Raven Ellison's campaign for London to become a National Park City.

 This will be launching in July, and Daniel has started a Crowdfunding campaign to ensure that as many Londoners as possible know about it. Why not support the project with a small donation.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Food Choices

Food choices are important...
Intensive or organic?
To eat meat or not?

Watch the film below, and read this accompanying piece from the Guardian which takes this a step further, and explores the importance of intensive farming and our potential food gap, which was flagged up by the World Economic Forum.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Mark Steel's In Town

Mark Steel has been touring the country for quite a few years now, doing his 'In Town' shows. He does a lot of research, and wanders around the town, and then does a show where he gently explores some of the local culture, including quotes from bulletin boards and online discussions. A sort of cultural geography / sense of place type approach to a comedy show.


King's Lynn was the subject of a recent show.
As a resident of the town for ten years, and having spent twenty years working there and teaching a few thousand of its residents, I know all the references here, and was amused to hear someone shout out "this is West Norfolk" when Mark referred to King's Lynn as being in North Norfolk... as he pointed out - if you go North from Lynn you end up in the sea, so that must make it fairly north within the county... also plenty on the rabbits of Hardwick Roundabout and a passable accent...

Listen to the show here.

Some more clips and bits from previous series here, and I guess you could find out whether he'd been to your local area, and search BBC Sounds for more.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Libby App

I came across a reference to this app last week and have used it every day since. If you have a library card you need to enter your card details into the app and hopefully your library service is accessible from the app. I know that not all areas of the country are featured. I am lucky that in Norfolk, a library card lets you borrow and return books to and from any Norfolk library, and not just in your own particular town. The Forum in Norwich is a wonderful library with a massive range of books and other media, and I can access that via this app and download up to 6 books to the app and onto my phone.


My journeys to and from work this week were accompanied by Alan Garner's 'The Owl Service', and I now have 'Stig of the Dump' lined up for next week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

UN Year of Indigenous Languages



United Nation has announced 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. 
These are vital to indigenous communities.


I'm keen to connect with other teachers to do something around this in 2019, so reaching out to overseas colleagues, particularly those who might be in the Arctic area. 

I was particularly taken by Romesh Ranganathan's visit to Nunavut, which was shown over the Christmas period, and made a point of exploring the cultural strengths of the community, and the importance of the language and traditions such as singing and dancing.

I know that there is a real link between language and the landscape, and it is this I would be keen to pursue, partly based on my interest in the writings of Hugh Brody and Barry Lopez.




Friday, January 4, 2019

Brexit and the full English

An article in the Independent on the likely impact of Brexit on the full English breakfast.
One for our geography of food unit potentially...

Weddell Sea Expedition 2019

I've blogged about the Weddell Sea Expedition before, and it's now underway, and has been getting quite a lot of coverage as well. It was on today's ITV Local news.

The Agulhas II is the vessel which is heading for the Larsen C ice shelf to explore the huge berg which broke off last year, and carry out other research, with an additional aim of trying to get to the area where Shackleton's ship 'Endurance' sank.

Follow the expedition's Twitter feed here.

Visit the expedition's website.

The RGS has created some really excellent resources to accompany the exhibition. These include maps, lesson resources, videos and other media. An impressive effort.

I've also got some copies of the posters which are being sent to all schools by the RGS-IBG.

Image: copyright SPRI and other expedition partners - sourced from Facebook conversation


And if you're interested in this sort of thing, you need to visit the Ice Flows Game website, which explores the physics of ice shelves. Download my resources while you're there :)