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Showing posts from 2021

Arctic Dreams - on the radio

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  I've spoken and blogged about this book many times, and you can now listen to extracts from it on Radio 4 as it has been selected, around 35 years after its first UK publication as the 'Book of the Week'. A heads-up that, to my delight, Barry Lopez's masterpiece Arctic Dreams (1986) will be Book of the Week on @BBCRadio4 this week, starting 09.45am today. The book––and the writer––that made me a writer. Barry passed away in December this year. https://t.co/Eo8vKQKIV0 — Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) June 21, 2021 Barry Lopez is someone whose work has been important to me throughout my career. Catch up with the episodes here. In Episode One of Arctic Dreams Barry Lopez reflects on his first encounters with the surprisingly varied and resilient inhabitants of the polar north and on modern man’s vexed relationship with this beguiling continent. In his breath-taking natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic, Lopez reveals the essential mystery and beauty o

"democratising laziness" - food delivery apps

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Interesting article in today's 'Guardian' magazine on the possible implications of an app called Weezy which is one of several used to facilitate the home delivery of groceries and other foodstuffs. The website describes Weezy as the 15 minute supermarket , and covers a small geographical area, particularly around London and places such as Brighton and Manchester. They don't deliver to rural Norfolk... The article considers whether this is another challenge to bricks and mortar shops, driven by perceived convenience. As the piece by Harry Wallop says, there is a growing range of these apps which have 'democratised laziness' and continued to grow the gig economy: "...with names that make them sound like Snow White’s other dwarves: Weezy, Jiffy, Dija, Zapp, Fancy, Getir and Gorillas are just some of them. All have bold, bright, branding; all hire young couriers riding e-bikes, bicycles or scooters; all promise to deliver essentials including food, drink, ca

Tour de France

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 ...in late June and early July, I will be sat on the settee for several weeks watching live coverage of this event: the highlight of my sporting year. Sadly, because of the earlier start this year, I will miss out on some of the all day sittings... The helicopter shots and landscapes they reveal show the varied landscapes of France, and I am looking forward to seeing the complexities of the tactics unfold over the weeks ahead.

Berlin - a city in sound

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Looking forward to the next album from Public Service Broadcasting, which is apparently inspired by the city of Berlin . Looking forward to hearing how the new music tells the story of this city. I had been due to visit in 2020, but COVID-19 put an end to that. It is named after a collection of stories by Alfred Döblin author of Berlin Alexanderplatz. Via Loudersound. It's their most ambitious undertaking yet and even includes vocals from Einstürzende Neubauten leader Blixa Bargeld. It brings the listener to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hauptstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany – Berlin. Walter Ruttmann’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks provides a key aural resource. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. I've always been excited by the work of the band's multi-instrumental

Tourism.... on its way back?

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  I am currently getting stuck into the new book by Marco d'Eramo , who has previously written about the development of Chicago.  The book is called 'The World in a Selfie' and explores the impact of the tourist industry, which is the biggest industry in the world by value when one considers all the jobs that it creates directly and indirectly. The first chapter also explores the impact of the pandemic, which was when people began to realise more than ever that tourism has an impact beyond any other industry in terms of employment and external influence on places. It also explores in some detail, as it says on the publishers' page: 'Why we are all tourists who hate tourists" The Financial Times featured an excellent piece by their travel editor Tim Robbins on May the 22nd. This referenced the book, with a quote: Are we ready for the return of mass tourism after a year of hiatus for the planet to recover? It seems that we are. The book is reviewed here  by Sop

Thought for the Day

“We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had “suffered, starved, and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.” We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man.” Sir Ernest Shackleton Today is the 105th anniversary of the day that Sir Ernest, along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley arrived at the whaling station at Stromness on South Georgia, following the boat trip from Elephant Island and the crossing of thae mountains and glaciers of South Georgia itself...

So - it's the 19th of May

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 It's the anniversary of the release of this - I believe the phrase is 'absolute banger'.... I saw the tour that accompanied this album when it was first released - I saw a couple of the concerts, with the swooping lights and amazing musicians that Peter took on the road with this album. A powerful experience, ending with arm raised for 'Biko'. Twenty five years later, I was in Glasgow at the Hydro to see the return of the album played in full with the same musicians. I wonder whether the music of today will have the same longevity with students of today. Will they have the same lengthy connections with music as we had, with reduced access and different formats to access it. Second image copyright: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

Happy Birthday Maestro

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Today is the 68th birthday of Mike Oldfield.  A constant in my life since 1973 when I first heard 'Tubular Bells'. Spinning my favourite of his albums 'Ommadawn' and probably more to come. Read about its creation here. Image copyright: David Bailey.

OFQUAL - exams and fieldwork

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As this piece in the TES reports, OFQUAL are proposing to remove the mandatory requirement for fieldwork for geography and related subjects. We have just started doing fieldwork again at my school, with trips to Cambridge and the Norfolk Coast carried out, or taking place last week and this week. If you have an opinion on this, OFQUAL are running a consultation on the issue, which started yesterday and runs through to the 28th of May. As the consultation page says: This consultation focuses on the subjects for which preparation and work for non-exam assessment and fieldwork activities will be taking place this term for students who will be taking their exams in 2022. It covers non-exam assessments in dance, design and technology, drama (and theatre), film studies, food preparation and nutrition, media studies, music, music technology, and physical education fieldwork activities in geography, geology and environmental science assessment of speaking skills in GCSE modern foreign language

Alive

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"Veer off the track Take the path That leads beyond the map I'm a travelling man Each day I walk the byways of this life..." A track by the band 'Big Big Train'. And there they are playing their instruments for real in an excellent live performance. I miss that feeling when the bass pedals can be felt in your stomach at a gig...

Thought for the Day

There will be times on this journey All you'll see is darkness But out there somewhere Daylight finds you If you keep believing So don't run Don't hide It will be alright You'll see Trust me

A chance to work with me...

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Following the interviews for the Senior school Head of Geography post at the school where I work before Easter, we now have an opening for a Teacher of Geography  at King's Ely. Come and take a look at the information .  A virtual tour of the school can be accessed here. Closing date for applications is the 20th of April.

Scotland and Music and Sense of Place

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"Try and find those things that make us Scottish. They are not necessarily Tartan, but are no less colourful. They are in the sound of the kick drum, the bass line, the distortion, the punk guitar, the break-beat. Try and see the old ways in new surroundings. The folk tune of long ago can be heard above the constant traffic of urban life: hear it in the roughness of the fiddle, hear it in the sweetness of the chanter. They are just as valid now as any of our technology, nae, they are more valid than any of it. Hardland calls from the depths of a hard-beat urban underground, but it does so through the heart and beauty of a high land." Martyn Bennett

I approve of this tweet....

 Given the situation in the Suez Canal... Need to move that ship? I know a guy. pic.twitter.com/QHMXG8gcSR — Julien Devereux (@jndevereux) March 25, 2021

The Terror

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I've just finished watching the 10 episodes of 'The Terror'. It's a gothic horror style series, which is based on the expedition involving two ships: the 'Erebus' and 'Terror' to find the NW Passage. This much is factual, as is the disappearance of the men and their ships. Three were found buried on Beechey Island, and the two ships have also recently been discovered, with 'Erebus' also being the subject of a book written by Michael Palin. The trailer is here. It's worth watching. It's a little overlong and could have been slimmed back a lot. It's very dark in terms of not seeing what's going on very clearly at times, but also quite gory and unsettling. There are some terrific performances, particularly from Jared Harris, Paul Ready and Adam Nagaitis. The scenery is a little polystyrene at times rather than ice, but there are some excellent scenes, including a carnival on the ice, and some later scenes in the fog... the creature s

Crown Lands

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Loving this... 

Wind

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A Pixar Sparks short which was shared recently by Ben King. It has themes of migration , and the sacrifices of one generation to help the next generation to succeed. One can read other meanings into this, and there are quite a few reviews and comments already on the various feeds where it has been shared. It is also being shared because of the representation of Asian characters and cultural references which means that it would be suitable for those wanting to discuss decolonising the curriculum, something which I have created a range of blogs about, and will continue to do so as part of the process of educating myself, along with the work being done by and within the GA to reexamine previous work and approaches. In the meantime, enjoy the film... I will be showing this as part of my summer term planning to rejig quite a few things.  I'm alway tinkering and keen to insert new ideas.

World Book Day

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But of course... these are some of the books you could be reading today :)

300 000 page views

A nice milestone reached for this blog. Thanks for coming along and reading.

Life in a Day 2020

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  Check out the trailer for the new Ridley Scott film which tells the story of the world on one day in 2020... A true quotidian documentary, pieced together from thousands of user-submitted video clips. The full film can be viewed here - it apparently has mature themes.

Time of Light

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  In faith and in hope at the end of the day Our love will endure ‘till we return to clay Raise up your spirits my dearest of friends And peaceful your heart in the light of this life One of the last bands I saw live before the advent of COVID-19 was Altan. This beautiful new song is by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and available from Bandcamp. It is called 'Time of Light' and looks ahead to a hopeful future during these dark times. Musicians need our support more than ever with the cancellation of live concerts and the Brexit omnishambles which has added barriers to their options for touring outside of the UK.  See and purchase the song on Bandcamp. Ré an tSolais by Mairéad Nï Mhaonaigh

Townscaper

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I first came across this game in July 2020 when it was on early access on Steam, and sadly not available for iOS. I coveted it. It's created by Oscar Stålberg. I downloaded it a couple of months ago, and have finally had a few hours to get to play with it, and it's excellent and very calming. I shall probably be posting numerous screenshots in different locations over the next few days. There's a GUIDE here , although you can start playing immediately by choosing a colour, scrolling around the existing town and then clicking in different directions. I love watching the seagulls circling and settling on the rooves as well. Here's the description on Steam. It currently costs £4.79 Build quaint island towns with curvy streets. Build small hamlets, soaring cathedrals, canal networks, or sky cities on stilts. Block by block. No goal. No real gameplay. Just plenty of building and plenty of beauty. That's it. Townscaper is an experimental passion project. More of a toy tha

Biko

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“You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher.”  Peter Gabriel, Biko I've been fortunate enough to have heard this song performed live about 8 times over the last 30 odd years. This new version has been released to raise funds for an important charity, and also celebrate Gabriel's 71st birthday, and features a range of world musicians. It also keeps alive the memory of Steve Biko and others in similar situations.

Cultural Geography of the Fens

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 Thanks to Steve Brace of the RGS-IBG for letting me know about this new addition to the Caught by the River website. It's a short film which has been made by Rowan Jaines as part of her work on the Cultural Geography of the Fens. It focuses on the Cambridgeshire Fens , through which I travel on a normal work day and have done for the last eight years. This video essay is part of a four-year research project exploring the cultural geography of the Fen region in the East of England.  The film is made up of a bricolage of clips of the Fen region, scavenged from the internet and put together in a piecemeal fashion so that the images on screen both intensify and disrupt the linear arc of the narration.  This is a film that aims to show the Fens as haunted by both the past and those things that have not yet come to be.

Classic....

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A classic Sunday film...  as are all Powell and Pressburger films.

GA Conference Teachmeet 2021

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  Once again, we are not able to be in person at a GA Conference, so aspects of the conference cannot be done face to face. There are many highlights of any GA conference, and the Teachmeet has become established as one of them: taking place at the end of the first full day and a chance to extend the day and have a beer with friends while listening to ten or more colleagues sharing ideas from their classrooms. You can sign up to either present or lurk here. To get a flavour for the atmosphere at a Teachmeet, you can still watch 2019's version here.  Thanks to Rich Allaway of Geography all the Way for live streaming the event. This year, we are particularly interested in new and diverse voices and storytellers, who have never presented before and are ready to step up and share an idea. There should also be a link to the conference theme of Compassionate Geographies.

For the Teachers

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Thanks Dave

Bye Trump...

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Four years of fomenting hatred and division, ending with the invasion of the Capitol have come to an end.  "We will lead, not with the example of our power, but with the power of our example." Image: New York, taken in April 2019 - I hope to be back some day...

Neil Peart remembered - one year on

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One year since the death of Neil Peart was announced. Here he is during 'Tom Sawyer'... Spatial thinking from the Professor.