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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Head over to URBAN EARTH for an update on Dan's MEXICAN adventures.
Some trailer images, which look marvellous, and some blog postings which give some sense of the scale of the city. Adventurous, thought-provoking and brave geography. Hats off to you Dan !
And here's one of him with his hat off looking sexy...

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Image by Emma Johns

Over to Milton Keynes yesterday for a meeting at the Open University. On the way, went past the huge Amazon Distribution Centre at Marston Gate, right next to the M1 Junction 13 as you can see on the Google Earth image below - the location is obviously perfect in terms of transportation links. As well as the M1, it is 20 minutes from Luton Airport, and next to the Thames Link rail line.
It is "the largest e-commerce distribution centre in Europe. This purpose built facility occupies the same space as eight football pitches, equivalent to the length of three London Eye’s stacked on top of each other."

"The 46,450 square foot Marston Gate Distribution Centre was opened in November 2000 with over 300 people involved in its construction. The centre delivers orders placed at Amazon.co.uk to customers across the country and to more than 200 countries worldwide. In the Distribution Centre there are four different picking levels in the picking tower with 82 rows of shelves per level. To move products around the centre, over 5,000 metres of conveyor belts are used equivalent to the length of 500 double decker buses. During Christmas last year, Amazon.co.uk experienced its biggest shipment day ever, when it dispatched more than 300,000 items."

Information from Discover Bedfordshire and Luton webpage

Has also introduced ENERGY EFFICIENCY measures.

Just further along the road was the giant John Lewis distribution centre.
Location, location, location...

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Excellent animation by Chris Weller, as a feature for Good Magazine..

Lots of others on other topics..


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

700 up...
Back in September 2006, I started a new blog: this one...
Since then I have made 700 posts, including this one, which equates to almost exactly one per day over the 2 years: most of them inconsequential nonsense, but I hope a few have triggered an idea, or given the confidence to try something new, perhaps even your own blog...
This blog will shortly be 'moving' to a new home at LIVING GEOGRAPHY, where the focus will be on my new job. I will still post here, but perhaps less frequently... There is also the CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY blog for media related stuff.
I've still got a way to go to catch up with Ewan McIntosh, who has just made his 1501st post on his marvellous blog.

FLICKR is in my top 10 most useful websites: perhaps I should do my Top 10 Websites in a future post...
A relatively new feature which people may not be aware of is the PLACES feature... This maps images that have been added to a map using the sites ORGANISE page.

Below are some examples that I have just done: I added some images of Scarborough (and also of Hunstanton) - see if you can find them...
Another search, this time for Rotherham, shows the way the PLACES pages look, and there is also a link to relevant groups. This will all lead to some excellent images for use in the classroom, which are often licensed for non-commercial use, with the correct attribution to the photographer.Have an explore and see what you come up with...

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An excellent starter image from a campaign by Turkish Greenpeace, via my old favourite OSOCIO (formerly Houtlust)

What other adaptations might we see with global warming ?
Could be an interesting adaptation of the old "create an animal" activity.

On a separate tack, I had visitors from 5 different continents yesterday. If you're visiting the blog from a long way off, why not post a comment to let me know how you stumbled across me. All visitors very welcome, wherever you live...

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Up very early today: the house was too hot, and outside it was about 5 degrees cooler at least...
Out to Hunstanton which was deserted at 6am apart from the people waiting for the first bus into King's Lynn, the man watering the hanging baskets, the newsagent bringing in the bundled papers and the council workers in the promenade gardens. Took loads of early morning pics. The green was strewn with fish and chip boxes which had been hauled out of the overflowing bins by the gulls...

Here are a couple of my favourites..

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The CGeog section of the RGS website has started a new feature to put the spotlight on Chartered Geographers, and the first one to go under the spotlight is me...
Read my little biography here.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Feeling hot...Hot weather in the high 20's has arrived. Time to retire to a shady corner and drink Becks... Also tried out my new barbeque today... It's an Anthony Worrall Thompson one you know...
Out to the coast to start a planned summer project: a photo transect around the coast to take in Rebranding and Crowded Coast concerns for the new 'A' level. Not going to be teaching it, but via the NING and this project I want to offer as much support as possible.

An image of mine has also been included in the new interactive ROCK CYCLE resource produced by the ROYAL GEOLOGICAL SOCIETYCheck it out... it rocks !

If you're reading this tonight, check out BBC4 for 2 programmes on Antarctica: Hurley and Worst Journey in the World...

Also spoke to someone who saw Sigur Ros at Latitude festival...
Here's the setlist. Going to see them later in the year...
svefn g englar
sé lest
við spilum endalaust
með blóðnasir
inní mér syngur vitleysingur

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Friday, July 25, 2008

On the hottest day of the year so far, I caught a train down (bargain thanks to my Network card) to King's Cross, and wandered along Euston Road to the BBC Broadcasting House. Had my usual West Cornwall Cornish pasty (wholemeal vegetable), and a swift half in a classic London corner pub. Over to queue and go through security, and met up with some geography chums. Once inside, it was deliciously cool with the air conditioning kicking in.

Image of BBC Broadcasting House by Flickr User Hugovk and made available under Creative Commons

Into the BBC Radio Theatre: art deco decoration. Laurie Taylor chaired the discussion. A recording of the BBC 4 show: THINKING ALLOWED

3 people on the panel:

Professor Richard Sennett : sociologist from the LSE

Professor Doreen Massey: Open University Geographer

Will Self: author of 'Psychogeography' (blogged about that before) and 'Book of Dave'

Some notes from the session - lasted about 80 minutes, which has to be edited down to around 30 minutes...
  • A lot of the discussion was (unsurprisingly) quite London-centric
  • Will Self talked about sitting in the lobbies of London hotels in a sports jacket as a teen and enjoying the contrast between the individual and the anonymous: no-one knows who I am - and how that could become loneliness...
  • Mention of the flaneur: the wanderer who walks the streets of a city to discover it: the links to psychogeography.
  • Discussion on the segmentation of cities: perhaps by class, perhaps by race (link to the postcode war in parts of Sheffield I read about last week)
  • The colonisation of cities by tourists, particularly the central parts of cities, which can impact on residents (this is an issue for many other cities too of course, and would be an interesting area for geographical study: the views of the residents on tourists, for GCSE or 'A' level students (or why not for KS3 ? - and don't be too concerned with getting a huge 'product' out of the end result - perhaps a Google Map of 'impressions')
  • Seasonality of cities at certain latitudes: changes through the year
  • Doreen Massey talking about the 'responsibility' that London has to the rest of the world.
  • Will Self talking about the increasingly globalised nature of Arsenal FC experience: not just the team, but the spectators and the change between Highbury and the Emirates Stadium
  • Use of the phrase 'Ur-memory': deep memory of how things used to be - like the fact that this was also the first continent, billions of years ago...
  • Discussion of the phrase 'toyist', which appears in 'The Book of Dave'. How many cities are full of unremittingly dull buildings, punctuated by occasional iconic buildings.
  • The homogenisation of the city
  • The idea that although we think of London as a 2000 year old city, occupied since Roman times etc. most of what we see is mid-Victorian...
  • Discussion of N-S divide (N and S London divide) (there's even a Norfolk-Suffolk divide you could say...)
  • Psycogeography: Iain Sinclair, and the 'laddishness' of it all... Why women are perhaps less likely to be psychogeographers...
  • The 'peasantry' of people who don't explore their local area
  • Cities as diagrams...
  • Will Self referring to his wife's version of Psychogeography: "him getting out of the house"
  • Doreen Massey on the narrow time frame of city life, compared to the tectonic scale when surrounded by the rocks of the Scottish Highlands..
  • Discussion on danger and insecurity (brief links to knife crime statistics)
  • The overdoing of danger from strangers, when the more likely scenario is that the child will be "run over by an SUV"...
  • The connection between London and the state (links to work done by Danny Dorling and others in the Census Atlas of Great Britain, on the idea of 'the city' and 'the Archipelago' - which also has a clear link to the island archipelago in the map at the front of 'The Book of Dave') and how London is beginning to be separated from the rest of the country - the common feeling was that the first time London is flooded (which WILL happen...), it will suddenly become part of the SE of England again... (a nice ending discussion on this theme...)
Interesting connections to the idea of Learning outside the Classroom, and the issues with taking students into urban areas.

The programme will apparently be broadcast on the 27th of August - I hope I've given enough of a trail for you to perhaps join the million other people who hear the show in whatever format suits you. Some interesting ideas to develop further - would there be interest in a CPD unit for geography teachers on Psychogeography and alternative explorations of cities ?

Out into the heat, and back to King's Cross for a sweaty train ride home and proofread my manuscript and made a 'to do' list, followed by a barbeque and cricket game at a friend's house...

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A couple of new purchases to take me through the next few weeks. My kind of 'holiday reading'...
Food security is an area of geography which has a link to everyone (we all have to eat), and can also lead on to discussions of other key concepts. Carolyn Steel's 'Hungry City' explores the issues involved. Check out the MINISITE here for a little 'taster' and a mini-blog, which has details on each chapter and a mini podcast to listen to.

Also got the latest from Taras Grescoe, who wrote one of my favourite books: "The End of Elsewhere". This one is called "Bottomfeeder" and the vehicle for the travels here is an exploration of sustainability in fishing, and the impact of our appetite for fish.
Also best wishes to Dan Ellison, who's currently in Mexico for URBAN EARTH.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Apologies, but this blog will not be shutting down just because it's the summer holidays - geography doesn't stop, so I won't.... ;)

Below is link to Richard Allaway's rather sexy updated blog at GEOGALOT. I like the logo in particular..

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A hot day today, and out for a nice lunchtime pint. Also watching the Tour de France, as the riders climb the Alpe d'Huez, and doing a spot of geographical pottering.

Up to Sheffield yesterday to set up my new desk at the GA, transfer a range of resources across, and do a very interesting day's work relating to the Secondary Geography Quality Mark. Thanks to all involved.
For those interested in applying for the Secondary Geography Quality Mark, follow the link.Dan Raven Ellison is off on his travels shortly as part of his URBAN EARTH project. He is walking across Mexico City, Mumbai and London, and has already completed a footprint video based in Salisbury.
Check out the URBAN EARTH blog by clicking the image or the link to see what Dan gets up to next.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Blogging this in a Travelodge with a splendid view of the twilit carriageways of the A1, thanks to my Vodafone stick, which is performing perfectly. Got a day at the GA tomorrow. Some nice atmospherics on the way up with some high ice crystals. Plenty of activity in the Fens, and now watching 'Dragon's Den', which is a good 'framework' for use in the classroom.

There's been a lot in the various media in the last few days about the thoughts of Nicholas Carr on how we are beginning to lose the ability to take in large amounts of text, and lose concentration more easily.
The article is called "Is Google making us stupid ?"
I haven't read it yet, because it's a bit long...

(sure no-one else will have made that joke...)


Went to see Wall-E yesterday...
Great film !

A lot of geography in there, and also comment on a dystopian future where humanity has abandoned the planet, and now lives in space on a vessel called the Axiom. Loads of wonderful scenes and imagery, and good homages to other films.

Plenty on the power of multinationals: particularly the BUY 'N' LARGE corporation which provides the environment for humanity's refuge, while Wall-E's clean up the planet. The film also ends with a brilliant Peter Gabriel track, which I currently have playing on repeat... Superb bass, and loping gait, and excellent lyrics. Can't wait for the Big Blue Ball...
Logo of Buy N Large
Superb design !

If you go to the BUY N LARGE site, you are taken to the WALL-E site, but before the film opened, there was a detailed site.

Will try to develop some more ideas soon related to the movie.
This post is TAGGED SAGT08Media by the way.
Any posts tagged in this way refer to my October 2008 presentation at the SAGT Conference.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

A day in watching the Open Golf at Royal Birkdale. The wind in control today... A sunny day in the Tour as well.


This game is out in September 2008. The website is HERE. It has been developed by Will Wright, who also created "The Sims". The later stages of the game become a little more 'geographical' as the players begin to develop civilisations. Also been some controversy over some aspects of the game's installation and security features, and the apparent removal of reviews from Amazon.

I have been having a play with the SPORE CREATURE CREATOR, which is great fun.

Also a new edition of GRANTA out now is called "The New Nature Writing", and it has some wonderful contributors. There are 2 articles by Robert McFarlane which would be well worth reading.
There is one on the changes that have been taking place in Beijing, and one on the Fens.

There are also 2 VERY nice online pieces.
An interview with the author Jonathan Raban, who was born in Norfolk and went to Hull University (2 things that 'connect' me to him), and has produced some of my favourite books. A thoughtful piece.

The second VERY useful resource is a photo essay on the Liverpool suburb of Netherley, by Niall Griffiths and which would be very useful for the new 'AS' specifications. It even starts with the author using

Tomorrow, it's off to see WALL-E. This also has an environmental message, but has also been 'in trouble' for its portrayal of humans as obese. Could it be a comment on society, particularly US society ?

This post is TAGGED SAGT08Media.
Any posts tagged in this way refer to my October 2008 presentation at the SAGT Conference.

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This has been a strange week. Had the final week in my old job, final lessons, final activities, and saying lots of goodbyes. Also been doing preparations for September.

Got a replacement sat nav: same Garmin model as before. When I turned it on for the first time, it had obviously not been turned on since it left the Taiwanese factory where it was manufactured, as you can see below. Seems to work fine so far...Also took delivery of my Vodafone mobile broadband USB stick, to keep me online when on the road. Works very nicely - in fact, a trial download had a faster speed than my home connection ! Also took delivery of quite a few books, including Barbara Ehrenreich's "Going to Extremes".

Today, it was the arrival of the MOO CARDS with the MISSION EXPLORE mission samples on them. Coming soon to an INSET event near you. Thanks to Dan RE.

So, now on holiday. Got some writing and other jobs to do before end of July.
Also worth going to the People's Trust for Endangered Species website to download some SURVEY forms if you're making a journey. They are asking people to keep an eye out for mammals and record them. One for the journey to holiday (assuming you're not flying off to the sun...)

Put a few of my blogs into hibernation: the TEST CARD went up on:
  • GeoBlogs Blog
  • Google Earth: a Users Guide Blog
  • Key Stage 3 Geography Blog
  • GCSE Pilot Geography Blog
From September, this blog will move to a new home. Will tell you all about it nearer the time, so that Janet in the office, and everyone else can follow the next step in my geographical journey.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The sun sets on my time at KES....
Thanks to all colleagues past and present...

Image from Flickr, user details lost, and can't find the image again to give the credit. Do you recognise it ?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One of the blogs that I regularly read is Russell Davies' and related projects. Russell is behind an event called INTERESTING which I have posted about before. This year, Geography Collective colleague Dan Raven Ellison was one of the speakers.
Read about Dan's URBAN EARTH session, which got a GOOD REVIEW.
Check out the website.
Good luck for Mexico City, London and Mumbai Dan !

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Been waiting for Elonex to get back to me with my order for an Elonex One: a sub £100 laptop, that I ordered back in March.

Finally got an update, and my laptop should be ordered within the next month, and following the delay, I will get an updated ONEt instead. Here's the SPEC...
Will let you know how it goes.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

One via Tony Cassidy.
This has been shared via Slideshare, and is in a 'Shift Happens' stylee...
The importance of WATER.
Check it out, and well done to J Brenman for creating / sharing it...

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Signed up today, to keep me in touch when I'm out on the road...


Just a trial to work out how to embed half a min games in response to a query: especially for those who have no website..

Some great ideas in this presentation on Slideshare via Dave Cousins from Bristol.
Nice ideas on the Olympics in particular.
May give some of you some inspiration.


Slideshare on rock types from Year12blanchgeography, for GCSE students...


Final full week of teaching.
Had staff 'do' and wore a Simon Carter shirt borrowed from my brother in law, which had OS maps of Norfolk on it (complete with some humorous alterations) - would love one and have been doing a bit of research, but last mention of this was in 2004. Next time I'm in Covent Garden will check out the shop.

Just out to dodge the rain, and have lunch at the Lifeboat Inn
Back to see Mark Cavendish winning his 2nd stage in this year's Tour de France.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Go to this website to order campaign materials, including free stickers and other information.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Geography and 'Psychogeography'....

Thinking Allowed: Imagination and the City

In Association with the Open University

Hosted by Laurie Taylor with Will Self and Doreen Massey.

Thinking Allowed: Imagination and the City - a special edition in association with the Open University.

How does the way we imagine the city match up to the realities of urban life?

How is our experience of the city, affected by the ideas, fears and fantasies we have about it? When crime statistics say one thing and fear says another, what kind of social reality does the fantasy create?

Join the debate and have your say as social science meets art, and Will Self, novelist and ‘psychogeographer' faces urban sociologists and the geographer Doreen Massey to discuss the role of the imagination in the reality of city life.

This programme will be filmed for website use.
Tickets can be booked for this show.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Head over to OpenLearn's Learning Space website to sample free courses from the Open University.
Several free courses on SCHOOL GEOGRAPHY


Question: Should Geographers use a Sat Nav ?

Shouldn't a road atlas and a mental map be adequate for navigating to unfamiliar destinations ?

Well, yes... Until today I would have agreed, but then with my new job and all that, and having to find my way to numerous new places in the middle of major cities, I went to Halfords and managed to get an extra bonus deal on a Garmin StreetPilot C550 which has British and European mapping, speed camera alerts (although I never speed), integrated traffic alerts and rerouting around problems, an mp3 player with SD card slot, and Bluetooth connectivity so that it can act as my hands free kit...
I'll let you know how it works later in the week when I have to find a Travelodge on some industrial estate in the North of England...

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Thanks to David Rogers

Urban Earth Adventures
A great little movie which shows the difference between the physical footprint of Salisbury (the land it occupies) and the ecological footprint that it requires...

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The trophy...
Here's Mark with his trophy for winning Whisky Bar of the Year. That's 2 of us that have won nice glass trophies this year !
Image by Val Vannet.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

What a rebel... ;)Thanks to FunkyGeography for the pic....

Good post on Ewan's blog on improving pupils' use of POWERPOINT. Excellent stuff as always.

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Well done to the Taychreggan Hotel !!

My favourite place to drink whisky, as blogged about in 2006, in West Ferry, Dundee has been named as the Malt Whisky Bar of the Year, even beating off the Gleneagles Hotel...
Below is a picture of Mark, the owner
I hope to pop in later this year for a dram or three...
Slainte !!

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