Thursday, 8 October 2015

World Map Generator

Via Ben Hennig and worth a look....
A range of options for creating your own maps. The tourist journey one works well, and there are options for downloading and sharing the maps you make.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

London's underground languages

Mapping and languages to show the diversity of London...

Sad topographies

Via Twitter, I love this set of snapshots from Google Maps (?)
Depressing place names snipped out of the map and taken out of context.

Also reminds me of a tweet from last night of this location.

How about a set of happy places, or toponyms, or people's names, or .....

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Out of this world

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade [and these other things]....not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win...

Last week, NASA added over 10 000 photos taken by astronauts to their Flickr page: the Project Apollo Archive.
I have a wonderful book called Full Moon which has plenty of these images, on glossy paper, taken with the finest Hasselblad cameras and capturing the lunar landscape and the grittiness of those early expeditions to the moon. What amazing memories the people involved must have of those times...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Life of a mountain: Blencathra

A beautiful mountain, which I climbed on a lovely day some years back, along with Scafell Pike, and then ended the evening at Castlerigg Stone Circle...
One for Year 7s to see the beauty of the Lake District landscape...
Will have to go back and do Sharp Edge again some day...

Ascension is back online....

Ascension from Ascension Le Film on Vimeo.

Love this film...

Humble and horrible....and 5p from tomorrow

Namib Desert Challenge

This morning, am trying to finish a chapter on Hot desert landscapes for a forthcoming 'A' level text book.... Been reading about the Namib Desert Challenge, which was featured in Geographical magazine. The website has some dramatic images of the area of the Namib through which the competitors will travel who take part. The next running of the race is in 2016.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

New from William Grill

One of my favourite books in recent years is William Grill's retelling of the story of Shackleton's Endurance expedition, and the journey of the James Caird. As we move towards the centenary of the sinking of the Endurance and the events that followed, William has now launched a companion piece, in the form of an Activity Book which, by the look of the publisher's website here is going to be perfect for our Year 8s.
Many thanks to Claire for the tipoff.

Also be sure to follow Ernest Shackleton on Twitter for the full story as it unfolds, tweet by tweet....

Will share of the student responses to the book later this term...

Not so dismal for Weston Super Mare

Dismaland has closed its doors, and the attraction, developed by Banksy is being dismantled. The materials that went into constructing it are apparently heading for 'the jungle' in Calais to help create shelters for refugees who (again last night) attempted to cross using the Channel Tunnel route.

The attraction would make an interesting study for Travel and Tourism students too, as it was exploring the nature of this sort of 'theme' park, and the idea that we should be 'happy to be there'.

The BBC reports on the possible £20 million bonanza that the attraction brought to the town, and also made use of a site that had been derelict for years. I wonder whether the attraction will emerge elsewhere in time... and wonder what will happen to the various artworks that were featured there too.
This would also be a useful attraction for the Changing Place, Changing Places topic in the new 'A' level specifications

Thanks to Nicola Gill of Westonbirt Geography @Westonbirtgeog for her image below, shared via Twitter - one of a small number of schools who had the chance for a fieldtrip there.

New Bristol GA branch programme

The new programme for the Bristol GA has been added to their website, which is looking really crisp and engaging.

Particular useful is the page of resources from previous talks, which I always find is of great practical use when preparing new and updated materials for students.
Nice work by the Bristol GA branch committee, and a model for some other branches to perhaps follow?

GCSE spec meeting for Devon (and district) geographers

Via Paul Berry

Calling all local geographers! A meeting has been organised for teachers to review and discuss the new GCSE and A Level exam specs. It will take place at Exeter School on Wednesday, October 14th. The day will begin at 9.30 am, with the morning until 12.00 pm devoted to GCSE. In the afternoon session from1.00 pm to 3.30 pm we will focus on A Levels. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Although we are still waiting for final confirmation of the exam specs, the meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for geography teachers to share ideas on the current draft specs with fellow professionals, with a view to deciding which spec will best suit their students in the coming years. This is a free course, and over thirty geographers have already signed up to attend. If you would like to join the meeting, please contact me at
It would be most helpful if all delegates brought with them copies of all of the proposed exam specs along with them to the meeting. This could be as printed hard copies, or electronic copies on a lap top. All of the specs can be downloaded from the list below.
At the meeting, we will analyse each spec in detail and make comparisons between them to help make an informed choice on our future direction of study. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday week!
GCSE Examination Specs (Draft Only!)
OCR ‘A’ - OCR-A-Draft-Spec
OCR ‘B’ - OCR-B-Draft-Spec
Edexcel 'A' -Edexcel-A-Draft-Spec
Edexcel 'B' - Edexcel-B-Draft-Spec
A Level Examination Specs (Draft Only!)
AQA 'A' Level - AQA-7037-SP-2016-V0-1
AQA 'AS' Level - AQA-7036-SP-2016-V0-1
It might also be helpful to bring along some of the sample assessment materials provided by the different exam boards on their own web sites:
Just to say that these books look like being a great choice for OCR ... new cover image for the Spec B book just added to the Amazon ordering page...

Friday, 2 October 2015

Educationalists to follow on Twitter

UKEd magazine has released a list of UK (and overseas) educationalists to follow on Twitter, and I'm pleased to say that I appear on the 2nd line of the list.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter on @GeoBlogs - my tweets are protected, so you'll have to request to follow me, but as long as you're in education and/or interested in geography and related stuff you'll be accepted. Thanks to anyone who nominated me...

Don't forget your carrier bags

From next week, you'll need to remember your carrier bags when you go to the supermarket. I popped in today and Tesco were handing out a free bag for life...
There are billions of carrier bags used every year in the UK. Will this make a difference?


Thanks to Jon Wolton for the tipoff to this article which talks about the way that technology has enabled a new type of ex-pat, who stays connected... the 'next pat'...
It connects with the idea of cultural globalisation, and the way that technology changes our connections with other places, with apps such as Air BnB.

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference 2015

"clouds reveal the architecture of the atmosphere" - Gavin Pretory-Pinney

The first ever Cloud Appreciation Society conference was held last weekend at the Royal Geographical Society.
I travelled down on a day which started with cloudless skies, and met up with my colleague Claire and then made our way to the ‘home of Geography’.
Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of the society had curated a range of speakers and other sessions to celebrate clouds. The stage was nicely set, with balloons and lovely images. The day started with the movie by Leander Ward that I shared a few days ago.
Gavin himself took us on a tour through the main cloud types, and talked about the work of the society. There was also the news that the app had been updated with a new gallery upload option and there was a talk with one of the moderators which introduced us to other cloud types.

Image of new app

There was a break for coffee and in that time, we managed to pop out to the V&A, as previously blogged.
After the break, there was a lovely short talk by Peter Moore, who told us about James Glaisher's record breaking 19th century balloon ascent which nearly ended in tragedy.
This was followed by Professor John Thornes, who talked about the art of the sky. He described the sky in landscape paintings and the change in the way that it was depicted through art history, and also how the position of the sun in the sky could be used to date paintings and also work out where the artist may have been standing when painting based on the position of rainbows and other atmospheric phenomena.
There were some science demonstrations which didn't really work as well as hoped, and Cynthia Barnett then gave a short summary of the importance of 'Rain' based on her new book. I enjoyed this session.
A musical interlude followed, the first of several songs featuring Lisa Knapp, accompanied by Mara Carlyle, who is one of the presenters of Radio 3's excellent 'Late Junction' programme.
There was a nice lunch in the garden, sat in the sun, with a cloud based camera obscura that had been constructed.

I took the opportunity after we'd eaten to wander down to the shops of the Science museum (where there was an excellent exhibition on Cosmonauts) and the Natural History museum.

The afternoon session started with a folk song of the sea, followed by what was described as the 'science bit'. Dr. Sandrine Bony had travelled from Paris, where she has worked with the IPCC – Clouds and climate change was the focus, and she provided a range of useful satellite data and other information on the importance of water in the atmosphere.

I left the room for the the slight 'sales-pitchy' talk with the sponsor.

The final talks involved Alexandra Harris taking us back to the culture of the views of the sky in literature, going right back to the Bible, and chatted to a few of the delegates. As it happened, someone I know on Twitter was there, but I hadn't realised he was there. The final talk was from Richard Hamblyn who wrote a book on Luke Howard, the man who named the clouds. I have this book from some years back, and it's a good read. He told of the efforts to have a blue plaque added for Luke Howard's achievements.

On leaving, we were able to pick up a goodie bag which provided a nice new enamel badge, a cloud spotter wheel and other goodies, including a nice customised notebook.
A rather fine way to spend the day, followed by a 5 mile walk across London back to get the train home, under skies which were still blue, but now had more clouds in them than before.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

New Felicity Aston website

A striking new website has now been unveiled by explorer Felicity Aston. I had the privilege of working with Felicity on the Pole of Cold project, for which we won an award for the educational materials that we produced for the Royal Geographical Society.

Check it out...

50th anniversary of the British road sign

One of my favourite things is the design work that went into the road signs we see everyday, by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert

The British Roadsign Project is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of these objects which form part of all of our everyday landscapes.

If you're passing the Design Museum in the next few weeks, pick me up some badges from the shop... including the legend that is Sir Peter Blake as one of the designers.

Sunday, 27 September 2015


Still to see this, but have heard good things about it...

A nation of shopkeepers

Down to the Victoria and Albert museum yesterday on a stunning blue sky morning in London and wanted to see Barnaby Barford's Tower of Babel.
Here's the background to the installation...

The Tower of Babel is a richly-layered work that tells an array of stories about our capital city, our society and economy, and ourselves as consumers. Standing an imposing six metres tall, it is made up of 3000 individual bone china buildings, each between 10 and 13 cm high and each depicting a real London shop. Barford cycled over 1000 miles during the making of The Tower, visiting every postcode in London and photographing well over 6000 shops in the process. These photographs were used to produce the ceramic transfers that have been fired onto the shops, making each shop a unique work of art in its own right.
At The Tower’s base, the shops are derelict, closed-down and boarded-up. Then, as we start to ascend, we find chicken shops, pound shops, and bookies. Climb further and we encounter specialist retailers of all descriptions, chic boutiques and artisan food stores that cater for the aspirational consumer’s every need. Nearing the top, the shops become ever-more exclusive, until finally we reach the pinnacle with London’s fine art galleries and auction houses, where goods are sold at eye-watering prices.
We loved the piece, and the very geographical nature of the subject matter, and also the link to the bid-rent curve and other geographical theories relating to the location of retail activity.
We may even have a go at making our own version for Ely.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Car Free Day in Paris

Apparently today is a Car Free day in Paris. I wonder how it's going ?

Via this article.

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference

I spent Saturday this week down at the Royal Geographical Society in London, for the first Cloud Appreciation Society Conference.

The society has been going for 10 years now, and I was an early member. I went with my colleague Claire, a fellow cloud geek.

There was an article on Gavin Pretor-Pinney: the founder in the Telegraph a few days ago, providing some background on the society.

There was an eclectic array of speakers and musical interludes, and I will be posting more details on some of the individual sessions over the next week or so when I have time. There was also news of an update to the Cloud Spotter iPhone app.

Here's the short video that kicked off the conference.

Cloud Appreciation Society - Somerset Aspirations from Wayfarer Media Ltd on Vimeo.

A short film Wayfarer made for Gavin Pretor-Pinney's brilliantly named 'Cloud Appreciation Society.'

Debut screening at the CAS's conference at the Royal Geographical Society on September 26th, 2015.

Graphs as Art

I came across the work of Jill Pelto ( @Glaciogenicart ) recently. A number of graphs of environmental impact, which have been turned into art... a decline in glacier ice, and the number of forest fires the first that I saw... I love projects like this.

Friday, 25 September 2015

New from Simon Jones

Simon Jones has produced a range of high quality materials to support teachers in promoting the subject, and teaching enquiry based lessons over the last few years.
His latest set of resources is a series of posters.

Click for biggery

You can download the whole set, and make a donation if you want, to support Simon's work. They'll be going up in my classroom next week.

Squam Lake

Hans Rosling's latest programme

A new programme by Hans Rosling.
Don't Panic - how to end poverty in 15 years.

The legendary statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling returns with a feast of facts and figures as he examines the extraordinary target the world commits to this week - to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide. In the week the United Nations presents its new goals for global development, Don't Panic - How to End Poverty in 15 Years looks at the number one goal for the world: eradicating, for the first time in human history, what is called extreme poverty - the condition of almost a billion people, currently measured as those living on less than $1.25 a day.

Rosling uses holographic projection technology to wield his iconic bubble graphs and income mountains to present an upbeat assessment of our ability to achieve that goal by 2030. Eye-opening, funny and data-packed performances make Rosling one of the world's most sought-after and influential speakers. He brings to life the global challenge, interweaving powerful statistics with dramatic human stories from Africa and Asia. In Malawi, the rains have failed as Dunstar and Jenet harvest their maize. How many hunger months will they face when it runs out? In Cambodia, Srey Mao is about to give birth to twins but one is upside-down. She's had to borrow money to pay the medical bills. Might this happy event throw her family back into extreme poverty?

Available to watch for some time...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference

This coming Saturday, I will be down at the RGS-IBG for the first Cloud Appreciation Society Conference. There is a range of guest speakers and activities and opportunities for various workshops and talks and exhibitions to celebrate 10 years of the society. I was quite an early member.

The event runs through the day, and I'm looking forward to it. Will blog about it of course...
Anyone else going and want to meet up ?

Happy Equinox

Equinox today.... the official start of Autumn, and the turn towards darker mornings and evenings.
Out early on to Ely town centre, and noticed the shadow of the cathedral outside the Old Palace.
Quite enjoyed the picture I took...
View large for best effect...

New venue for GA Conference

Instead of the University of Derby, the 2016 GA conference will now take place at University Place at the University of Manchester.
This is a new venue, and has plenty of space, including a 1000 seat lecture theatre (should be enough room for me)

Details here, on the GA website.

Means we have to find a new venue for the Beermeet...

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Another explorer option...

Eight years or so ago, we started our Mission:Explore journey...
There have been a fair few versions of similar books that I've come across since: Nowhere Guides, Crabman books and the various works of Keri Smith among them.

Today, I bought the latest option for interesting ethnographic fieldwork, which has been produced as the Spotters Guide to Modern Life. I bought it in Norwich, and it turns out that the author / illustrator is from the area.

There's a website to support the book which explains what it's all about, and some fun challenges, and quirky graphic presentation.