Happy holidays

Taking my annual summer break for a while... back in August.

Copyright Paul Slater / Mike Rigby

New KS2 Global Trade resource

A series of new resources have been added to the RGS-IBG website in recent weeks, and the latest is now live.
It's a 6 week resource on the theme of Global Trade, and is the work of Olivia Russell.

New British Antarctic Survey Website

BAS has had a website refresh, and it is now much more visually attractive and clearer to navigate.

Don't forget that the focus for this year's RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition is on Antarctica too.

Materials from here will be featured in the SoW in the first week(s) back after Summer

Diving off the coast of Japan

A powerful read on the BBC's Magazine page.
A reminder of the legacy of the tsunami....

3D Aral Sea

Loving this by Peter Vojtek, and would like to give it a go - need some thick craft paper of some kind to make it work well I reckon, or something laser cut would be great.

Cut out the template from the link above, and start folding..
A classic case study


I've followed GeoVation since it started, and have been involved in a few projects which gained funding, notably our early Mission:Explore projects.
The hub opened recently as a venue for meetings and projects to take place in London, and I've attended several events with Chris Parker and colleagues, including the initial launch at the Royal Society of Arts.
An e-mail from GeoVation  alerted me to the launch of OS Open Names, which has an API and looks like it might be of some use with a little investigation.

The latest GeoVation challenge will be launched shortly...

E-waste republic

Thanks to OCR Geography team for the tipoff to this excellent Al Jazeera resource. If you have never taken a look at this news network's videos and materials then you have missed a great deal of useful stuff for geographers..
This would be of use for anyone exploring the idea of commodities, e-waste and globalisation / interdependence in a Follow the Things style way.

Scroll down to access images, data and text. A site I shall certainly use next year...

North Norfolk

I've spent quite a lot of time over the last fortnight finalising drafts of chapters for a new GCSE textbook for Hodder that is due to be published in April 2016. I've been writing about coasts.

Yesterday I had a chance to get out and visit one, and visited the Cley15 exhibition which we try to see each year. A lovely sunny, blustery day...
Got out to Cley Beach, and the start of Blakeney Point. Made an audio recording for the Sounds of our Shores project, but it was a bit poor.
View from Cley Beach back towards Cley across the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.
Click for biggery
Image: Alan Parkinson

It's a reminder that you should try to GET OUTSIDE as often as possible. I've had a lot of screen time for the last 2 weeks in particular...
The Ordnance Survey launched its GET OUTSIDE project today...

#teacher5aday end of year review

Back in December, I wrote a post as part of Martyn Reah's #teacher5aday initiative to encourage teachers to consider their wellbeing at the start of the new year.
It's now time to review that post (mostly because Martyn 'told' me to)

I've certainly done plenty of that, working with hundreds of teachers again at events at venues ranging from the National Coalmining museum, to a school in Bourne, to a conference organised by Bob Digby for Osiris on a sweaty day in London a few weeks ago, but I've also connected with students and will be going back to teaching full time from September and taking on a KS2-3 leadership role, bucking the trend shown here

Images that I took have been used in the 2 exhibitions that Maryn's organised: at Haslemere Museum and more recently at UCL Institute of Education (one of my current employers)

As for disconnecting, well I'm 2 weeks into my summer break, but not quite there yet on disconnecting completely, with writing projects keeping me busy up until now. But I haven't driven down the A10 for 2 weeks now, which is pleasing to me...

I've walked around quite a few new cities, and certainly made the most of my time in Helsinki - next up will be a few coastal walks in Devon in a week's time, and the Shaun the Sheep trail in Bristol - the annual trip to Devon is part of the rhythm of the year, and it is the regular rhythm of the year which drives so many teachers' lives. We heard a few weeks ago that we're going to be involved in an EU project next year, which will get me to lots of new cities which I can walk around...

I've noticed plenty of new things, and also made lots of new musical discoveries... I managed to go back to the street where I was born last month, and wandered round places where I grew up - I noticed lots of changes and chatted about them with a friend I've not seen for 15 years...
I also tried some new routes to get to work, all framed around getting different views of Ely Cathedral such as this one...

I still have a big pile of books by my bed, with several pencilled in for the summer break, as I'm taking part in the #teacher5adayread project. Currently reading Ian McMillan's 'Neither nowt nor summat', on Yorkshire - a wonderful chapter on food that I read last night, and the importance of the Yorkshire pudding
I'm still working on a range of projects, and am currently doing lots of reading before writing several chapters of an 'A' level textbook for the new specifications. Always learning...


I've helped a lot of teachers by answering e-mail queries and shared resources and advice and answered questions. If people take the trouble to seek out my opinion, I try to help, and several colleagues followed up on sessions that I'd done. I'm going to be doing some more GA branch lectures in the new academic year and have other projects which I shall be working on.

Coming up to summer blogging break too when I will #disconnect for a while...
Have a great summer everyone!

Image: Alan Parkinson

Thought for the Day

"The city is too complicated for a solitary definition and perhaps it is one of our greatest mistakes to think of it as a singular, measurable quality".
Leo Hollis

World Emoji Day

I'm not a big user of Emojis: little graphics expressing particular emotions, or perhaps conveying a message in visual format... they can be added into Twitter posts and emails.
I've been interested in developing an activity where students could tell a story using Emojis. In some sense there is a connection here with the use that I regularly make of Story Cubes, where different pictures on the sides of the cubes can be interpreted in different ways.

Here are some of the emojis that are possible in the Twitter app - many of which could be used in a geographical way... to explore ideas related to food and consumption, weather, landscape, cities, biomes and travel, and this is just a sample.
Would be a nice quick challenge, with the app on an iPad to ask students to sum up the main theme of the lesson using emojis, or challenge them to tell a story such as:
What are the benefits of Fairtrade ?
What are the disadvantages of living in a large city?

or perhaps in the first week of the Autumn term, the old classic... What did you do in your holidays ?

Any other ideas for using Emojis in Geography ?

Cities: Skylines

Yesterday, I heard I'd won a prize in a Geographical Magazine competition.
It was a copy of a city simulation which I'd been considering buying in any case to help support my work teaching about cities and how they develop. It's called Cities:Skylines.
The game is available to download on Steam, and has some great reviews.

Today there was an article in the Guardian showing how some real cities have been modelled by the game's creators.
Will share what I do with it here once I get my copy downloaded.

I already have one game on Steam waiting for a few hours when I can explore it. It's called Never Alone, and looks similarly stunning, although the subject matter is rather different.

CSV uploads in Digimap for Schools

I've worked on a range of resources for Digimap for Schools and Digimap for Colleges over the last few years, and am always excited when a new tool is added.
Three new tools were added this week.
You'll need to login and then look at the ADD MARKER dropdown options to see them.

Stickman marker could be used to mark human influence on an area, and colour coded for good or bad impact e.g. in a National Park, or along a stretch of coastline...

Grid Reference marker will be useful for adding them to printed maps which are used for fieldwork purposes, so that they can be used by students, perhaps in association with the OS Locate app.

You can now also add in CSV files of locations.
There is a help page for this function.

Read the blog post to find out more. The upload function won't work if you are using DfS on an iPad

Don't forget that printed maps also now have a north arrow included on them.

Key Stage 2 animation from the RGS-IBG

Following on from recent post of an animation on Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, noticed that there is also a nice KS2 summary video on the same section of the RGS website.
Worth a watch for KS2 colleagues.

Excellent Story Map on Wind Farms

Thanks to Addy Pope for sharing this map, the creation of UWE students Arron Beecham, Tony Gregory and Jonathan Michael
Shows the potential of StoryMaps... lovely work, and might be very useful for folks exploring wind energy in Wales in particular.

Music Maps: Cities of the World

A nice Spotify map produced by Eliot van Buskirk
It shows songs which are popular in particular cities around the world.

Norwich has some interesting tracks associated with it.

Thanks to Anne Greaves for the tipoff to this map. Not the awesome Gracenote map that sadly disappeared, but useful nonetheless...

New RGS-IBG Animation on Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes

This is a new animation that is in the KS1 and 2 Subject Knowledge section.
It explores Mountains, Volcanoes and Earthquakes in animated form, and runs to just over 11 minutes long.

Thanks to Steve Brace for bringing this to my attention.

London becoming Dubai

Alain de Botton video on the Guardian website, since our attention is on London today...

6000 up...

This is the 6000th post on this blog.
A busy academic year has closed, but have a busy summer of textbook and resource writing, and a few other projects pencilled in alongside preparing to go back full time teaching in September. The blog posts will keep coming for as long as I'm living geography...
Thanks for reading.

Sign up top right to get a daily e-mail with any new posts that have been added...

A big day for the Greater London National Park initiative

A major event in London which over 300 people are attending.

The launch of a new, and rather beautiful, website, which rewards exploration. There's plenty of interest here for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the proposal.
There are also 50 000 newspapers, which have been printed.

An article in The Guardian on the proposal.

Follow on Twitter for the latest news.

Read the proposal here...

Sixty Degrees North

One on the list of books to buy...

Malachy Tallack takes a trip through the North...

Listen on BBC Book of the Week

AONB: landscape and the value of a view

A really useful new resource from National Parks England.

It explores the value of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and the value of landscapes.

Landscapes for Life has a range of useful resources.

Download as a PDF by clicking this link.

A day at the seaside

Over to Southwold yesterday for my wife's birthday, and we had a good day on the Suffolk coast, and had just finished our meals in the sun, and were packing up to go home when the rain started pouring...

My wife was wearing her Mapisart scarf which I had ordered some months ago. These are rather pricy, but unique...

Here's the area featured on the scarf

If you look closely you can see Sizewell nuclear power plant in the distance in the picture at the top of the blog post.

Southwold was featured on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning as it is apparently close to the point where second home ownership and holiday homes will outnumber those who live there permanently. An interesting place to explore using various data visualisation tools.
Here's the illustreets people profile for example.

The Ramblers - the big pathwatch

You can visit the Ramblers website to find out more about the campaign

Download the app and take part - a good excuse to go out for a walk.

Air traffic visualisation

Another transport related link ahead of the launch of a new resource I've been involved in producing for CILT and the GA. More to come on that in the new academic year.

London 24 from NATS on Vimeo.
NATS handles over 2 million flights in UK airspace every year.
Of those, over 1.2 million arrive at or depart from one of the five main London airports.
That's over 3,000 flights every day using just six runways.
And 99.8% of flights experience no ATC related delay.

An award for my school...

From the Principal's end of year letter....

We heard that we had been nominated for an award from Education Business Awards, an organisation in its tenth year of providing recognition for successful investment in education across all sectors of Primary and Secondary education nationally. 
We don’t know who nominated us, but we are very grateful to whoever it was because, at the award ceremony in London today, we won the ICT Facility Award for the ‘educational establishment in the UK that has made outstanding progress in the provision of a first class environment for the teaching of ICT and related subjects’.
The entry in the programme read: 
King’s Ely is quickly gaining a reputation as a trailblazer when it comes to the use of ICT.  Despite its mediaeval buildings, the school is making advancements in ICT provision including four computer rooms, Bring-Your-Own-Device initiatives and taking part in a Europe-wide Erasmus project to build digital resources.

Which is nice :) 

World Population Day

Explore the UK's population change in the last 10 years with this ONS interactive...

Rackheath and Waverley

Rackheath Eco-community is a planned eco-town on the edge of Norfolk.
It is one of a series of eco-towns which are proposed to meet the demand for new and affordable housing, and also provide energy-efficient homes.
It promises to offer:

  • Renewable on-site energy production
  • User-friendly public transport systems, encouraging people to use cycles and walkways
  • Efficient recycling and waste management
  • High quality amenities, including shops, schools and sports facilities
  • A network of green open spaces, parks and gardens

It's difficult to find up to date news on what the current state of the planning is though...  happy to hear from anyone who knows more about what is happening...

There is already a campaign against Rackheath (SNUB) which also opposes a new road that is designed to join up the eco-town with the Norwich southern bypass.

Waverley is a new community, currently under development on the edge of Rotherham, close to Sheffield, and the former Orgreave works, which became famous during the miners' strike of 1984. I passed through it this week while avoiding some roadworks on the M1, and noticed some significant changes since I last drove through about 2 years ago. This is going to be another large community, but it needs to have a range of services and also jobs in the area if it is going to be self-sustaining and not just another dormitory estate for workers in Sheffield. I noticed that the pub is built at least...

Cambourne, on the edge of Cambridge is well under way... 

Cambourne is a new settlement, made up of three villages: Upper Cambourne, Lower Cambourne and Great Cambourne. Construction began in 1998 and still carries on today. It is expected to have a population of around 10,000 once finished. Cambourne is based in the district of South Cambridgeshire and is around 9 miles west of Cambridge.

And today, we have a news report suggesting that the planning system is going to be shaken up so that brownfield sites can be built on without planning permission.

Climate Change history

Rewind to 1984, and I'm doing my Geography degree at Huddersfield Polytechnic, specialising in hydrology with (now Professor) Tim Burt. Outside of lecture time, I got involved in some fairly offbeat stuff, which I won't be recounting here (none of it illegal), and met Conor Kostick, who was studying Maths at York University at the time. We kept in touch over the years, as Conor showed the range of his talents as a gamer, writer, chess player and historian. He runs tours of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, and became a Medieval historian, where he lectures at Trinity College, Dublin and became an expert in the Crusades. Along the way, he also wrote a series of award-winning and rather fine children's books, particularly the book 'Epic', which drew together a lot of his interests.

Conor came up in my Twitter feed yesterday, as he was actually at the Royal Geographical Society (along with a few other people that I know) for a Historical Geographers' conference, and it turns out that he's turned his historical talents to a geographical 'cause': climate change.
As part of his current work at Nottingham University, funded by a number of prestigious research grants, he has looked through medieval manuscripts to find any mention of phenomena which could be connected with volcanic eruptions or other events which could have a short term impact on climate.

Conor contributed to a paper published in 'Nature'.

Polar Collective

Polar Collective is the name of a new citizen science project which involves Felicity Aston as part of a large group of scientists and other specialists.
I worked with Felicity on the Pole of Cold project, and this one takes her back to the Arctic, but this time the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole.

Here's a description from the expedition website:

During four return trips from Murmansk, we will break through 1-3 meters of sea ice to take 520 adventurous travelers to stand on top of the world at the Geographic North Pole. While doing so we will be collecting valuable sea ice data to provide to our partners in the sea ice research community.
Our aim with this citizen science project is to prove to the polar tourism industry that we can be more than just visitors to the most remote and fragile environments of our earth. With our extended access to these areas, we are in a position to collect and deliver extensive sea ice data to institutes and organizations who desperately seek it.

From the bridge of the ship we will assess sea ice thickness and concentration visually. These data will be input into Ice Watch’s ASSIST program, standardizing it with data collected by other users. Data collected in this way from a ship is more detailed and accurate than is possible with satellite remote sensing and it is useful for researchers who are developing seasonal prediction models for ice in the Arctic Ocean. 
Our data will be particularly helpful to scientists studying summer ice processes (i.e. melting and breakup of the pack), and our visual observations are particularly valuable for allowing researchers to develop a ‘feel’ for the nature of the ice pack; this allows them to more easily develop hypotheses that can then be tested with their models.
This will be the first time that repeat transects characterizing the changing ice pack will have been collected in summer for Ice Watch, and it is particularly valuable that this section runs from the ice edge to the interior pack.
Our melt pond observations and measurements are important because it has been noted that melt ponds play a major role in the summer melting process and they are a key predictor of total summer ice loss. The reason for this is that melt ponds absorb a lot more heat from the sun than the ice surrounding them does. By measuring their prevalence, area and depth we provide data that can be used to validate and correct thermal models of the Arctic which include melt ponds in their calculations.
Finally, we hope that the mere existence of this project encourages others in the polar tourism industry to follow our lead. Not only would this provide the sea ice community with a significant quantity of data but it would serve to open lines of communication between two separate communities of polar professionals that may have a lot to gain from each other. We also hope it will inspire adventurous travellers, enhance their trip with us, and give them a feeling of connection with the Arctic, having collected valuable scientific data and been more than 'just a visitor’. Our role as professionals in the polar tourism industry is to create a corps of ambassadors for the regions in which we travel, who will go home and, we hope, act as advocates for protecting these wild and beautiful places.

Read the blog to follow progress.

Image: Felicity Aston via Facebook feed

UK Car ownership

An ONS interactive... part of several transport related posts which are coming up shortly...

White Horse Village

White Horse Village is a village no more. It has been transformed by the rapid pace of urban growth in China.
The BBC has a range of resources based on the village, some going back a decade, but has recently revisited the village again, with some nice interactive features.
They tell the story of particular families, for example. Scroll down the page to see images and text describing how China is changing, and the impact it is having on individuals. It is always important to have these individual narratives to sit alongside the bigger picture of change.

Who killed the khat ?

An interesting possible case-study to look at the impacts of decisions made by one government on distant communities. Via Moira Jenkins of Global Dimension.

Khat was the main commodity produced in the Kenyan town of Maua. It is a stimulant which is popular particularly amongst Somalian communities, who number in their thousands in some British cities, including Sheffield.
This article explores the background and the impact of a decision made by the British government to reclassify the drug as a Class 'C' drug and ban imports of the product.

This needs a little further exploration, but may be of interest to someone as it stands.

Image by Flickr user eesti
Shared under Creative Commons license and used with thanks

Field Notes Earth app

The Field Notes Earth app is new in the iOS App store.

Field Notes Earth is a new app from ESRI which extracts information from the Living Atlas.

Field Notes-Earth is a small sampling of the amazing questions that can be answered from the Esri Living Atlas of the World. To learn more about Esri content, visit http://livingatlas.arcgis.com 

This app shares the power of geographic information through a common language to describe the landscape of the Earth.

1. Choose a place, such as your hometown, to learn interesting facts about population, nature, and physical landscapes.
2. Choose a second location to compare and contrast the differences.

These types of comparisons help us to better understand the differences in our landscapes and allow meaningful conversations on how to manage and protect our resources.

I had a play, comparing different places. This could work for different locations which are provided by the teacher for students to compare e.g. different land-use zones, biomes or different locations within a specific country e.g. population densities, urban areas etc.

Here's some screenshots.

Primary Geography Quality Mark

I spent yesterday with Primary Geography colleagues at Solly Street in Sheffield, moderating this year's 50 applications for the GA's Primary Geography Quality Mark. We looked at submissions at all three levels from Bronze to Gold, and some schools will get a nice surprise as we upgraded their entries.
I had a good day working with Sharon Witt from the University of Winchester (you can see us far right here working hard) and it's always good to see what good geography is happening out there. I'll be back in Sheffield next month for the Secondary Geography Quality Mark moderation.

One of my jobs for the new school year is to compile an application for the Primary Geography Quality Mark for my school, as part of . We already hold the SGQM and Centre of Excellence for our senior geography, but my EY / KS1 and 2 colleagues are also doing great work, and we look forward to collating it into a portfolio.

Image: Paula Owens

Globalisation benefit ?

Was interested in this story that came to me via Twitter today.

It's a story of a young boy called Daniel Cabrera, who apparently did his homework by the lights of a McDonald restaurant in the Philippines.

What other unintended benefits could globalisation bring ?

Coastal scenery on the Tour today..

The race passes through Etretat.... home of the famous coastal scenery that was in a few geography textbooks...

And on that theme, don't forget Nicholas Crane and the Coast team's new series at 9pm on BBC2 tonight: 'Our Holiday Coast'.

Regeneration Park Norwich or the Northern Distributor Road - two local issues

When teaching about urban redevelopment or regeneration, or other issues where there is change over time involved, it's handy to have a local issue that you can focus on. When I started teaching, we were waiting for about 10 years for a flyover to be built across the notorious Hardwick roundabout in King's Lynn, then there was controversy over the felling of trees in a park called The Walks. More recently, there has been a great deal of debate over plans for a waste incinerator close to the site of what used to be a sugar beet factory until the 1990s... and close to a huge new site operated by Palm Paper.
Wherever you are, there is likely to be a local issue making the news. It could be related to transport, or perhaps energy generation. Sometimes the issue is an environmental one, or perhaps linked to employment - or both.
There are two new schemes in Norwich which promise to offer local geography teachers plenty to talk about and follow for some years to come.

Generation Park Norwich is a proposed redevelopment of an old site that was previously used for utilities, but has stood derelict for a long time. It is planned to benefit the local community.

An exhibition of the plans was held in early June in Norwich. I was unable to make it, but there is a website which contains the details here.

Plans are being drawn up to regenerate the long-derelict 30-acre Utilities Site close to the city centre, transforming it for the benefit of the people of Norwich and Norfolk. The site has a proposed name of Generation Park Norwich.
The plans centre on a pioneering project which would place Norwich and the East of England at the forefront of addressing the twin challenges of community energy generation and climate change. A proposed green Community Energy Centre, fuelled by renewable straw pellets, would produce sustainable power for major business users in the city and supply the National Grid. It would also offer our community the prospect of more affordable heating bills through a new District Heating Scheme.
The proposals would create an attractive park in a riverside setting and complete an important missing link in the city's walkways and cycle paths.
The development would also feature an Education Centre, Energy Research and Development Centre, low carbon homes and student accommodation.
Subject to planning permission, taken together the proposals would redevelop the derelict Utilities Site and provide a heartbeat for sustainable living in Norwich, reducing the city's carbon footprint by up to a quarter.
Another issue that will also be relevant for some years to come is the plan to build a Northern Distributor road around the north of the city, which will cost well over £100 million for a road less than 9 miles long.

This has been called the 'road to nowhere' by campaigners who argue that it doesn't complete a 'ring' around the city.

The Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) will;
  • Provide a dual carriageway link from the national road network to Norwich International Airport and beyond, serving a large area of Broadland and North Norfolk, including existing and planned business and housing areas
  • Offer a quicker and more convenient route for a range of shorter journeys by linking existing roads into Norwich, cutting journey times and bringing relief to local communities and the city centre
  • Carry around 40,000 vehicles a day between the Airport and the A47 at Postwick – traffic drawn from other less suitable roads
It will also connect with the proposed eco-town of Rackheath (which is a whole separate issue by itself)

There is already a campaign against the road called the SNUB campaign.

There is plenty in the local newspaper: the EDP, and I've started to collect clippings about the project.

Killed by tourism?

A useful CNN report here on 9 places that are being killed by the tourists that are visiting them, because they are being damaged by the sheer numbers of people, or the activities that they are doing.

Can you identify other local tourist honeypots perhaps where there are conflicts developing because of the way that people are using the areas, or disrespecting the local culture (Mt. Kinabalu was in the news recently)
I can think of a few other places, such as the Lascaux caves, which had to be closed off to visitors as their breath was damaging the cave art on the walls and ceilings, and a replica created.

Have you been to any of the places mentioned in the article?
What did you notice while you were there?

Learners pay attention to these...

How well do we do at this in Geography ?

The Drâa Valley - Morocco

A nice Story Map by Richard Allaway.
Useful for those exploring desert landscapes, extreme environments and link with tourism...
I will make use of this for a new desert resource that I'm writing.

Leo Houlding's new climb

One of the highlights of the GA Conference this year was a talk by Leo Houlding, who described the ascent of a peak in Antarctica.
We are also looking forward to another adventure in 2016, which will become a new resource in association with OCR. 

This week, Leo is in Greenland about to start his latest adventure, to climb the massive Mirror Wall. You can read about the plans to climb the huge wall here.
You can follow on Twitter.

Digimap for Colleges

A year or so ago, I wrote a set of resources for use with Digimap for Colleges: the version of Digimap which is designed for further education colleges. At the time, this was 'skinned' to look a little differently, and it didn't have quite the same range of tools that the school's version had. Digimap for Schools has now had similar 'treatment' visually.
It's a reminder that although these resources were written for older students, there would be value in schools taking a look at the approaches that I've suggested.

Further resources for Digimap for Schools are currently in preparation, and the tool is now being used in more UK schools than ever...

Into no man's land

A new RGS-IBG sponsored expedition called 'Into no-man's land' is preparing to set off, and would act as a useful stimulus for students to explore ideas such as conflict, changing places, and global learning.
An introduction to Into No Man's Land from Into No Man's Land on Vimeo.

It is heading from London to the Egyptian-Sudan border.

No Man’s Lands have the capacity to intrigue and inspire. They challenge straight forward understandings of ‘place’ and excite our understanding of geography, revealing the ragged (and rugged) edges that continue to feature on maps of the modern world. And yet, far from being empty and abandoned spaces, this expedition will uncover the landscapes, lives, and ways of living that no man’s lands contain and produce.

Marking the centenary of the Great War, this 6000-mile expedition traces the historical- and political geographies of the No Man’s Land from its Medieval origins to describe the cracks between fiefdoms to the militarized No Man’s Land of the Western Front, along the fault-line of the Iron Curtain in Eastern and Southern Europe and the UN Buffer Zone that continues to divide the island of Cyprus, even after 40 years. It culminates in Bir Tawil on the Egypt-Sudan border – the last truly unclaimed space on Earth.

As a figure of speech, No-Man’s Land is applied to anywhere from derelict inner-city districts and buffer-zones to ‘ungovernable’ regions and tax havens. But what is no-man’s land? What are the conditions that produce it? How is it administered? What sort of human activities do no-man’s lands harbour? These are the questions that prompt us to think about the no-man’s lands not as dead zones, but as living spaces.

Follow on Twitter for the latest updates

Britain on Film from the BFI

Just launched on the BFI site: an archive of historical footage. Perfect for exploring changes in your local area, whether landscape, urban or cultural...
Search over 1000 films from all over the UK.

Art in the landscape...

FOUR on Anglesey from richard broomhall on Vimeo.
Take a journey across Anglesey with Anthony Garratt as he creates four large paintings in the landscapes where they now reside on rusted steel easels, slowly evolving amidst the elements that inspired them.

This project has been featured in the national press through out the UK:





Agafia's Taiga Life

Watched this earlier today: a life of isolation in the Russian Taiga....

Think I'll make one of these to put next to our school seismometer...

Inside Out..

Working out a few ideas for how to get these folks into a Geography lesson... any ideas from readers?
Looking forward to the film coming out...

Beautiful map of Great Britain

From Boston Public Library - click for biggery...

Adidas' recycled trainers... helping the oceans?

Adidas may release a new pair of trainers in 2016. A concept pair has been made which were apparently made from old fishing nets and plastic waste, including some which were confiscated from those fishing illegally.

Details from the link above:

Adidas has partnered with a multidisciplinary creative environmentalism organisation to create a concept sneaker made almost entirely out of plastic waste and discarded fishnets taken from the sea.
Fishnets are a significant source of ocean pollution, but at least part of the nets used to create these recycled fibers came from a more interesting source than simple sea trash; The Sea Shepherds, a sea-bound environmental activism organization, captured roughly 72km of illegal gillnets after tracking illegal poachers wanted by Interpol off the coast of West Africa for 110 days. When the poachers’ boat sank, the environmentalists saved them, too!

WebCAT map by TfL

Thanks to Google Maps Mania (once again) for a link to a new and very useful isochrone map of London which shows the relative accessibility of certain areas, and the time taken to travel particular distances across the city.

The Core Project

Was introduced to the Core Project today, via a tweet by Max Roser.
This explores ideas related to the economy, which has a link to some aspects of 'A' level geography specifications (the resource is perhaps pitched beyond GCSE level) 
Worth exploring...

I like the tagline, which suggests that it is bringing the teaching of these topics up to date...

Let them eat Shrimp

Free on Kindle for a limited time, and very useful for anyone teaching about supply chains or similar, or using the Follow the Things approach to look at the wider stories of our food and other everyday items.
Let them Eat Shrimp by Kennedy Warne explores the supply chains involved in the production of shrimp... or prawns as we'd call them...


I've followed the changes in the Australian Geography curriculum with interest for several years now, as the changes they were preparing for happened at the time when I worked for the Geographical Association.

A new curriculum resource was released a couple of weeks ago, and I followed this via some of my Australian twitter colleagues, especially Susan Caldis, who is currently the President of the Geography Teachers' Association of New South Wales.

The resource describes the development at Barangaroo.
This is a new redevelopment of a peninsula near Sydney, which was completed this month, and offers a range of amenities for residents and visitors.

Check out the YouTube channel for videos which are also found on the site.

The most interesting aspect is an education portal. You will need to register for access, but this is free and easy access.

This would make an interesting, and certainly new example of urban redevelopment for use with students, and I intend to make some use of this next year.