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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Feeling a little under the weather today. Spent the morning shivering in bed watching an old B&W classic "The Pickwick Papers" with James Hayter, and now a cold has descended clamping my nose and throat... (man flu....)
To cheer me up and get my blood moving, put Martyn Bennett's Hardland on and turned up the volume.
Read about this album HERE, and check out 'Play', 'Snipe Shadow' and other chunks of folk fusion...

This album takes the idea of SCOTLAND as a Place and challenges it, but also reinforces the musical tradition. As it says on Martyn's site:

"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."

The reason for posting is that I can't be at this event, which takes place tonight and which I wish I could have attended.For a fantastic SENSE OF PLACE in music and the late Sorley MacLean's poetry, please check out the video of HALLAIG. A wonderful place to visit.
RIP Martyn.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Everyone a Winner ??
Take a look at the artists impression of a building below which was in the news today.
What sort of building do you think it is going to be ?
It could mean that the re-generation of a city continues... and bad news for other places.
Image courtesy of BBC. Short term use only to illustrate this educational point...

Economic Data
This is a great find by Noel Jenkins via The Map Room via Catholicgauze...

It is a collection of files, which show economic data graphically.
Each country takes the form of an excel file with maps, and there is also a flash animation of the whole world.
Just thinking of how I could use this with A2 students looking at economic systems.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

One of my aggregators led me to Meltec2 (You Tube user)'s time lapse video of Edinburgh and the sky, inspired by Koyaanisqatsi.
Good for clouds, and also for the impact of chimneys/power stations. Philip Glass music and some lovely images.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's Nice up North!Tonight is one of those nights when I could have actually gone out, but the advertising of this event was fairly poor, and I only heard about it yesterday, which was too late.
Sorry if you're reading this Graham - I would have come honest !

It's a showing of Graham Fellows and Martin Parr's film "It's Nice up North!" in a local theatre.
It's a spoof documentary featuring Fellows' wonderful comic creation John Shuttleworth from 'Sheffield, South Yorkshire'. I've seen him many times over the years, and am also a fan of his other creation Brian Appleton.
I remember a famous show in Norwich where several members of the audience had thought he really was a 'versatile singer songwriter', and when he was doing his performance some people asked us "excuse me, but why are you laughing ?"

Nice up North looks at the idea that people in the North of England are far nicer than those in the South. I couldn't possibly comment of course, being from Yorkshire and living in Norfolk...
There is a review HERE.
Versatile singer/organist, John Shuttleworth, decides to test the popular theory, that the further north you travel, the friendlier people will be, by venturing to Britain's most northerly spot, the Shetland Isles. Foiled by failing light, let down by a flat car battery and buffeted by the constant wind, John doggedly pursues his ques, asking everyone he meets the all-important question: "Is it nice up North?"
Filmed by internationally renowned photographer, Martin Parr, "Brilliant observer of middle England" (Daily Telegraph), and co-starring Shetland tour guide, Elma Johnson, as herself, IT'S NICE UP NORTH is a hilarious spoof documentary, a glorious mix of spurious actuality (caught by Parr's ever-roving camera) and complete nonsense from the mouth of John Shuttleworth, "Sheffield's funniest man" (Independent).

You can see a trailer on the SHUTTLEWORTHS website.

Check out MARTIN PARR's photography HERE. His photography is very much about place, and about landscapes of leisure and consumption: themes which are of importance to geographers.
He was also responsible for the collection featured in a recommended book "Boring Postcards", published by Phaidon.
This has some great ACTUAL postcards for unlikely locations, such as Shopping centres, the town centres of New Towns, caravan sites and schools.
It's given me an idea for a lesson which will see the light of day some time, using postcard images to explore landscape interpretation and representation.
The book is only £5.56 on Amazon as I type! Go via my BOOKSHOP please.
There's a nice article relating to this theme and the book at THINGS MAGAZINE.
Check out the FLICKR GROUP too. Wonderful stuff !

What building in your area would make the most boring postcard ?
Why ?

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RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Make sure that you take part this weekend in the annual RSPB event.
There are podcasts to download by Kate Humble.
There are fears that the record-breaking temperatures of the summer and autumn of 2006 may have changed the habits of some birds, and affected their migration patterns and food supplies.
Spend an hour - download the survey sheet - make sure that you add your data.
'The Independent' (which gave away free postcards today) suggests 10 species that you might be lucky enough to spot as well as the more usual birds:
  1. Song Thrush
  2. Siskin
  3. House Sparrow
  4. Chiffchaff
  5. Blackcap
  6. Goldcrest
  7. Green woodpecker
  8. Fieldfare
  9. Brambling
  10. Redwing
Going to take part tomorrow. Will let you know how I get on...

Update: here are our results. Fairly slim pickings !!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Will Self is one of my favourite journalists and commentators. He often appears as a 'talking head' on Grumpy Old style programmes, and is also responsible for the PSYCHO GEOGRAPHY column in the Independent on Saturday, which always has something of interest. He wrote a great piece on Google Earth a good while back, and the column has spiky illustrations by the great Ralph Steadman.
You can read past issues of the column by visiting THIS PAGE.
I was struck when visiting Will's blog that his writing room also has a geographical air to it. There is a 360 degree view of his writing room and maps (and post it notes ) play a prominent part.This image taken from Will's blog of his writing room.
( If there is a problem with me reproducing this please get in touch, although the unrelenting sycophancy of the post would hopefully put you on my side ;) )
However, there is a dark side to all this geographical content: Will doesn't seem to have been too taken by his experience of school geography...
I like his reference to the “windscreen-based virtuality” of car travel, rather than actually walking - something he shares with Iain Sinclair, another pyscho-geographer.
There's quite a lot of PsychoGeography in the ideas of MY PLACE and the YOUNG PEOPLE'S GEOGRAPHIES project as well. Would be interesting to get a bit of PsychoGeography into the new KS3 or GCSE specifications perhaps ? I'll get onto it...

Read THIS ARTICLE to see why Will didn't like his school geography that much
Of course it's all different now !

Anyone else have lots of maps in their working area at home ? Which maps ?

Enjoying this album at the moment - lots of BLOGGERS have this in their favourites list. Title track is a fine piece of work.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Go take a walk...

Contacted by Kye Askins of Northumbria University to mention a project with which I was familiar from the Geography based Tody Programme on New Years Day (see earlier posting)
It's a project called MY WALKS.

A team of academics from Northumbria University’s Divisions of Geography and Environmental Management have recently launched a new website, entitled ‘mywalks’. Mywalks is a project designed to encourage people to open their eyes to the ‘hidden’, perhaps less glamorous corners of their towns and cities - basically the things around you: the man-hole cover, the tower block, the back lane.... ‘Switch off your mp3 players and look around’ is the message. Don’t rely on ‘experts’ to tell you what is worth looking at or appreciating; break away from the tourist trail, which directs us to admire a parade of ‘landmarks’ in any city or town, and engage with the less obviously picturesque sights (or in some cases, the downright ugly…). The aim is to get people thinking about their immediate environments from a different perspective, and to appreciate that geography is everywhere around them, it’s about re-engaging with our immediate urban, day-to-day, city, country, local, taken-for-granted environments and geographies. Through the ‘mywalks’ website, http://nuweb.northumbria.ac.uk/mywalks/intro.php, everyone can share ‘their walk’ and the experiences they encounter, with others.

Check it out !

100 Up
Just a quick celebratory 100th post...
Thanks for reading!

Beachcombing with a difference...

An interesting starter for beach processes could make use of the MSC Napoli, which is currently sinking off the Devon coast.
This could yet become a major pollution incident as oil, and toxic chemicals end up in an area which is famous for its fishing and marine life.
Containers are coming ashore on the beach at Branscombe, containing items such as BMW Motorbikes.
In the past, containers have spilled items which have then been used to track ocean currents.

BTec Learning Portal
Colleague Mr. Bilbie tells me that our BTec Learning Portal is now up and running, so KES Travel and Tourism students need to check out the site below - click the picture to go to the login page...

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Got a lot of Geography experience and want to get professional recognition for all that you do for the subject ?
The RGS-IBG have introduced the Chartered Geographer (Teacher) qualification.
If you meet the requirements below, you might like to apply.

You will need:

  • an Honours degree in geography, a B.Ed with geography or a related degree (or 15 years teaching experience if no relevant degree is held);
  • at least six years teaching experience, and
  • demonstrable commitment to CPD, embedding it in your practice, and supporting others.
Chartered Geographer (Teacher) is the only ongoing professional accreditation linked to CPD in Geography and is being aligned to be relevant to the developing TDA framework of professional and occupational standards for teachers. CGeog (Teacher) can support your application for a leadership or Advanced Teacher role and enhances you career portfolio and employability.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

One of the little extras I do is to write the WEBWATCH feature of GA Magazine. I also wrote an article on the GEOGRAPHY OF HAPPINESS project I was involved in over the Summer of 2006 for the recent issue. GA members can download this issue from the GA WEBSITE.
The website mentions that the magazine is now printed by BUXTON PRESS, which has a real commitment to being as environmentally friendly as possible.


Two Towers

For some people, this will conjure up images of the "Lord of the Rings", but for those (like me) born in Rotherham or certain parts of Sheffield, or visitors to the Meadowhall shopping centre, it probably means the Tinsley Cooling Towers. These are a prominent part of the landscape and are a regular view on the bus or train, or car journeys I made for over half my life.
They have escaped demolition because they are so close to the Tinsley Viaduct which carries the M1 across a wide river valley.

They are featured and pictured on the site of electricity generator E-ON's site, which also features a number of very useful activities on the theme of Energy conservation, and from where I borrowed the image above.
For more images of the cooling towers try putting "Tinsley towers" into Flickr.
Also a link here with BRAZIL.
Can anyone tell me what the link is ? If so, post a comment...

A few new books have caught my eye, and will be looking at these in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Heavy Rain and Floods

The weather has been making the news this week.
This morning I was off to NORWICH for an INSET, and on the way I hit a hugely flooded dip in the road at speed and just about managed to get to the other side of the water... On the way back there was a Police Accident sign so presumably somebody else didn't. Hope they're OK.
There was another flood which caused problems for people getting to the meeting I was at, which was reported HERE.
Any other readers affected by flooding ?
Off to London tomorrow - wonder if there'll be any 'issues' with getting there...
Here's the MET OFFICE SEVERE WEATHER WARNING for tomorrow...

Severe Gales & Heavy Rain0000 Thu 112100 Thu 11

The Met Office is forecasting another spell of very wet and windy weather on Thursday 11th January. Severe gales will affect southern and central areas of the United Kingdom during the morning with gusts around 60mph but a risk of localised gusts of around 70mph before easing in the afternoon. A further swathe of severe gales will then sweep across northern parts of the United Kingdom through the afternoon and evening with gusts of 70mph in places, including parts of the Central Lowlands for a time. Gusts of 80mph are possible over northwest Scotland. Some disruption is expected to transport, utilities (power) and infrastructure. Localised flooding may also occur. Further spells of wind and rain are expected on Friday and over the weekend, and the public are advised to keep an eye on the forecast. Meanwhile, an update to this particular warning will be issued at 1030 on Thursday 11th January unless superseded by Flash messages.

Just listened again to excellent Radio 4 programme on the decline in the Corner Shop.

Shopkeepers of the Nation

Monday 1 January 2007 11:00-11:30 (Radio 4 FM)

Hardeep Singh Kohli traces the history of the corner shop.

He explores why so many Asians, including his mother, set up small shops and why they were so successful. Poverty, racism and the need to support the family were among the reasons why so many shopkeepers were prepared to work extremely long hours.

When I lived in Huddersfield in the early 1980’s , I had a great corner shop at the end of the
street in Newsome, up the hill towards Castle Hill. There was an Asian store where
Tunnacliffe Road met Newsome Road and they sold Golden Lemonade in glass bottles, plus exotic sweets.

Also, new Google Earth Version 4 available to download (yes, I know it's the wrong blog...)

Andjust listening to Richard Morel and Bob Mould's "Blowoff" album on import. Good stuff, and another step on Bob Mould's musical journey which I've been following for nearly 20 years since Workbook and Husker Du before that...

Ordered a USB turntable last week so that I can digitise great albums like "Black Sheets of Rain" which have been sitting in my loft for the last 8 years ! Will allow me to add even more interesting soundtracks to my PhotoJams.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Geography in the Times
Yet again, some Geography bashing. An article by Jane Shilling which starts about the G Team's appearance on Today and later, begrudgingly, appreciates that actually the My Walks project which was one of the items is actually a wonderful thing...
Here's the offending bit:

A certain new year’s languor meant that I wasn’t paying very close attention to the Today programme on Monday morning, especially as they seemed unaccountably to have handed it over to a bunch of geographers to edit. Very worthy, no doubt, but terminal moraines are so not my thing at crack of dawn on the first day of the year.

Reproduced below is Doreen Massey's excellent essay which was read out towards the end of the program. It succintly explains so much about the world we live in today, and the fundamental role of Geography in understanding it !

“Geographical perspectives”

A mini-essay for the Today Programme 1st January 2007

Professor Doreen Massey

There is an argument – about climate change – that goes like this.

  • “… the UK’s contribution to global emissions of greenhouse gas is only a small percentage.”
  • “ … there’s not much point in taking responsibility for our own place when India and China are growing as they are.”

Now, I might have found that a comforting argument. But it seems it is a totally inadequate geography.

What that ‘small percentage’ counts, is the greenhouse gas emissions from the UK directly. In that sense, it treats the UK as an isolated entity.

But it is not.

Firstly, that calculation, it seems, misses out the effect of all the things we import from elsewhere (many of them indeed from China). We demand those goods but we do not count as our own the pollution of producing them.

Secondly, that ‘small percentage’ does not take account of the role UK companies in production around the world. It has been estimated, for instance, that something like 15% of global carbon emissions derives from companies listed on the London Stock exchange. Our economy is said to benefit from those companies. So what responsibilities do we, as UK citizens, have towards them?

I could go on. The point is this. That ‘small percentage’ is meaningless in an interconnected world. We cannot pretend that because all that greenhouse gas emission doesn’t happen here it doesn’t happen because of us … that we are in no way implicated.

But surely, might come the reply, we are improving. The UK is on course to meet its Kyoto target.

Indeed it is. But why?

It is largely because:

  • we have allowed our manufacturing to collapse
  • we closed the mines and dashed for gas
  • we opted for an economy based on services and, especially, finance.

It is not so much that we are behaving better, as that:

  • we have exported our pollution
  • and we have reshaped the UK’s role in the global economy.

That reshaping has also reshaped the geography of the UK itself, as

  • manufacturing regions have declined
  • the north-south divide has widened
  • our economy revolves more and more around London’s financial sector

Forget that comforting geography of small percentages. These are some of the other geographies that lie behind responsibilities for climate change.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Well, that's the first week of term done - OK, so it was only 2 days...
Came across this today in the GA Secondary Magazine for Summer 2006

"Every child matters - and so does every geography teacher..."
I'll keep that in mind as the term progresses...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Over 50 000 games played...


Thanks to Rob Hindle for sending me a copy of his poetry collection “Some Histories of the Sheffield Flood 1864”.

This is a response to an event which few people know about, when the Dale Dyke Dam up in the hills above Sheffield burst, and water poured down through the city along the Loxley and Don valleys.

The book is published by Templar Poetry and costs £3.

This is backed up by a page on GeographyPages, which features some versions of the poems that Rob sent me last year.

Why not sample the poems on the websites and then order a copy for yourself. Keep an eye out for more poetry readings around Sheffield as well.

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Where have you been to ?
This little website application lets you create a personalised map to show the countries you've visited. As you can see, my travels have been sadly confined to Europe so far...

create your own visited countries map

Why not make your own map ?

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Last year, GeographyPages served 1 268 166 pages !
Thanks to all the visitors.
Remember to e-mail me if you spot a dead link. I'm sure there must be loads!


Happy New Year to all my readers!

Currently listening again to the Radio 4 Today programme on listen again, which was edited by the G Team.
Interesting clip from Vanessa Lawrence on the importance of maps in our everyday lives:
"there is more geography being used today than ever before"

Also item on the connection between immigration in Britain and the effect on poverty in Africa.
Apparently people of African origin send home an average of just under £1000 a year. Interview with some Ghanaians living in London and from correspondent in Ghana.

An item on the growth of the EU: the link between Europe and links between Europe.

My Walks: project from Northumbria University - look at familiar places as an unfamiliar place. Geography is about change in the contemporary world. Interview with Dr. Duncan Fuller from the university.

Final interview with the guest editors.

Doreen Massey provided a small input relating climate change to globalisation. We demand goods but don't take responsibility for the carbon emissions produced by their production and transportation. We will meet our Kyoto protocol targets because of the change in our economy and this has "reshaped the Geography of the UK itself..." as our economy revolves around London and its financial sector.

Congratulations to Dan, David and Hannah - a job very well done!

Dan talked about his geograpical teaching. Geography sits centrally in the curriculum...
Creates a real meaning and purpose to the curriculum...

David talked about the importance of fieldwork: the basis of which is observing: using your eyes.

Dan talked about how issues tend to be separated by the media rather than brought together using Geography.

Welcome to those in Romania and Bulgaria who joined the EU from today!

Also visit PASSION4GEOGRAPHY and offer your help to keep the momentum going on the GGiP campaign. Dan and David are looking for people to carry the torch. Well done to David and Dan for all they've done!

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