Sunday, December 31, 2006

Polar Year 2007-2008

Tomorrow doesn't just mark the start of the New Year. It also marks the start of the International Polar Year. The pre-launch WEBSITE is up and running, but will have a great deal more information on it once the year gets going.
Lots of links for students are likely to be added. Remember that we are going to be looking at this in the exam in the context of FUTURES.
I also read an interesting article that Svalbard is aiming to be CO2 neutral during next year.

We could also get involved in the MYSTERY CLASS project, which tracks the journey of SPRING southwards.

Arctic Ice Breaking Up

The Ayles Ice Shelf is in the news for possibly the first time ever, and it's in a bad way. A piece of ice apparently the size of 11 000 football pitches (is that UK or American ?) has broken off.
Thanks to Tony for mentioning the BBC NEWS link, but I then read it again today on Boing Boing.
There's a CNN article here.
You should be OK as long as you live at least 7m above sea level...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Various Pilot Postings

The TIMES has a story which suggests that the USA want Polar Bears added to the list of Endangered Species.

Also a story about how SAT NAVs are affecting the ability of people to use a map...

Lots in the paper about the waste of Christmas. Bins around the village are overflowing with stuff - went to recycling centre today to get rid of some of our rubbish.

People as Consumers refers to the fact that we all consume things – lots of things – all the time! You’re consuming electricity right now reading this… unless you’re reading this from a printout in which case you’re consuming paper and ink.

Consumption is not just shopping, it’s about how what we consume changes the landscape, the management of local areas and the relationship between people and place.

Fragile Earth is a rather wonderful coffee table book produced by Collins. It shows some of the impacts that we are having on the world. I received a sampler booklet as part of my swag from SAGT 2006. There’s a good price at the moment on Amazon. Worth a look at the images.

There’s a nice FLASH MOVIE here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Svalbard at Christmas

A few Svalbard spots this Christmas.
There was a repeat of Planet Earth: the producer Alastair Fothergill said Svalbard was one of his favourite places visited during the filming. Some polar bear images in the end of year reviews.
Also an interesting article on the BBC NEWS site, which looked at the difference between the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen and the Russian Barentsburg.
Led me to another story about Svalbard being site of a planned seed bank which will store the world's DNA in case of catastrophe...
Laurel is also on her way to Svalbard after leaving Greenland on her COLD PHOTO journey.
No further replies to my postings on the SVALBARD FORUM.

Update: forgot to put this on earlier...Many thanks to Tony who managed to capture this view of Santa about to arrive in Svalbard on Christmas Eve...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Samaritan's Purse

Each year, we make and send a Samaritan's Purse shoebox

This year, we have also received 2 gift cards to say that a donation has been made on our children's behalf to children in other parts of the world. One of them had a clear link with Geography as it was a blanket to be given to a child who had been affected by the Kashmir Earthquake.
Why not give the gift of life this Christmas ? It's not too late...

Update: it is now... still, there's always next year...

Can you see this post through the Fog ??

Fog is very much in the news at the moment as we approach the Christmas period

There are tens of thousands of passengers delayed at airports like Heathrow. Some have no luggage, and others are sleeping on the floor. The story has occupied many hours on News24, and there are several issues which are of interest to geographers as a result. The fog has finally cleared today in Norfolk, although there are still patches in other parts of the country.

Modern aircraft can take off and land in fog, but safety considerations mean that there are longer delays between take-offs, which at Heathrow leads to major cancellations very quickly. There have to be larger gaps left on the ground in particular, and visibility should generally be around 500m, but in some airports it has been only 100 metres. I went up to Hunstanton yesterday to get the main Christmas supermarket shop done, and stock up on logs for the fire, and the visibility was only around 50 metres.

What is Fog ?

Well, there are actually several types of FOG.

In the UK, we mainly experience advection fog or radiation fog.

Fog requires moist air which is cooled below the dew point. This more usually happens at altitude to produce cloud droplets. Fog droplets are formed around some sort of condensation nucleus, such as dust, or ash, or salt or pollution in the form of aerosols.

When we breathe out on a cold morning, we are producing our own mini fogs, which persist for just a few seconds. The HIGH pressure has allowed for the fog to persist as there are light winds and the sun is low in the sky (the shortest day was during this period of fog, so there is no time for the heat of the sun to evaporate the fog)

Earlier in the week, fog caused the cancellation of the Carling Cup Quarter Final match between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Games can’t be played if the goals can’t be seen from the centre circle, or the referee can’t communicate with linesmen – there are also issues with being able to distinguish colours of the player’s kits… - Wikipedia article - BBC Weather article on Fog

Of course it’s not all bad news. How about this posting from the BBC’s “Have your Say” on the Fog…

Oh well, at least a significant pollution saving is to be had. It's good for the environment. Less planes equals less pollution (and so on). Long may the fog continue.

Mel Cabbit, Petersfield, United Kingdom

A few questions for you to ponder:

a) What is the difference between mist and fog ?

b) Does fog count as a form of precipitation ?

c) Why are the fogs on the Pacific coast of S. America of particular use to the inhabitants. has some useful information to help with part c) of the above

Keep an eye out for fog as we go through winter. Some of the fogs will be advection fog, and some radiation fog.

There are also features called FOG HOLLOWS (also Frost hollow). These are areas where the topography increases the chance of fogs forming.

Banner fog is a feature of my journey to school through the winter. At various points, the road crosses streams and hollows and fog tends to accumulate there, and then evaporate as the road rises up the hill.

Fog has also been linked with a number of unfortunate events in history. Can you identify any ?

Also making a Foggy PhotoJam with some wonderful FLICKR images which have been posted in the last few days: the immediacy of the web once again in action!

Looking for some FOGGY music to go with it. There’s a track by Frank Sinatra called “A Foggy Day”. Anyone know of other foggy music… “Misty” perhaps ?

And finally, the answer to the picture clue of earlier in the month.

The picture was of Eric Morecambe: someone who is very much associated with this time of year due to the enduring popularity of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Shows, and the second picture is of cockles.

King’s Lynn has a large number of Chinese immigrants, many of whom work in the food processing industry locally. In February 2004, a number of Cocklers died in Morecambe Bay. This put the issue of migration and the use of migrant labour into the headlines.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Arctic Futures

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for posting about this YouTube video, which I shall add a link to below, which shows how Philips are using the environment in their advertising for low energy lighting. Remember that this was a homework which I set you earlier in the term - and I didn't get many responses either (and also that you won't get to see this at school...) This could be one way to avoid the Arctic future which most of you wrote about in your Svalbard assignment.

This is an example of advertising which uses the environment.

Also been revisiting one of my favourite weblogs HOUTLUST, which looks at the use of advertising in social campaigns. The ENVIRONMENT section has some fabulous images from campaigns from around the world. The one below is from a Belgian campaign to reduce energy use, and could be a useful focus for work on People as Consumers.

New RSS Feed now available...

OK - one of my Christmas projects is now complete.
I've added an RSS FEED for the blog, thanks to FEEDBURNER.
There is a link on the right hand column to use to add a subscription to your RSS Feed for the blog.

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Take your choice and enjoy the feeds...

Thursday, December 21, 2006


The BBC News site has some pics of the FOG
More on this tomorrow.

Click... and it's on its way

Just ordered this DVD, and also a nice map of Svalbard.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wild Geography

Might be worth going to see. We'll see what we can arrange in the way of a group booking as the school is a member of the RGS-IBG.

"Very flat, Norfolk...."

Image in poster above by Flickr user Fangman. Poster made using BigHugeLabs
This comment was made in the play "Private Lives" by Noel Coward, but anyone who lives in Norfolk will know that there are plenty of undulating uplands and gentle lowlands. There are the morainic landscapes inland from Sheringham and Cromer, and the gentle hills around Holt and Blickling.
Perhaps he was referring to The FENS. These ARE flat, and they are an area which border our place. We are going to look at the formation of these Physical landscapes, as we need to ensure that we have a certain amount of Physical Geography in each of the 3 sections of the Pilot GCSE course. The Fens are also sometimes known as "The Wild West"

Came across this quote, which sort of fits with our work:
"Any fool can appreciate mountain scenery. It takes a man of discernment to appreciate the Fens."
(Harry Godwin, 1932)
We need to be able to appreciate the Fens for something more than a flat monotonous agricultural area. It has big skies, it has wildlife habitat, it has a history of human habitation and struggle with the water...

There is a relatively new Visitor centre, which offers a range of activities to explore the history and landscape of this area called FENSCAPE. It's located at the Springfields Shopping Centre near Spalding in Lincolnshire.
I know that some of you from King's Lynn will perhaps visit Springfields with your parents. Why not pop into Fenscape - it's free, and find out more about this landscape...
If you look at the logo above, you can see 4 crucial aspects of the Fenland landscape.

TASK: What are the 4 parts of the logo above, and why do you think they were chosen to represent the Fens ?

Check out the photos from the FLICKR group for the Fens.
Why not choose one and make a poster using BIG HUGE LABS motivator tool ?
I did one as an example at the start of this post.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Pilot Group have left the building...

As I type, the Pilot GCSE group are walking down the spiral stairs to the Great Hall. No more lessons until the 5th of January 2007.
Don't forget the blog will be open all Christmas.
Special prize to anyone from KES Pilot groups who posts a comment to this posting on Christmas Day itself !

Deck the hall with boughs of Geography Fa la la la la la la la la

Is that enough 'la's ?
This verse was made with the Christmas Song Generator. Here's another one...

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose,
and two eyes made out of Geography.

Frosty the Snowman
from the Christmas Song Generator.

Get your own song :

Just one of the 'fun' things we've been doing today in the final lesson before the Christmas break. A reminder of some of the other tasks which some of you might have left to complete:
  • Powerpoint of UK / Norfolk / KL Images
  • Word document - what is 'your place' ?
  • King's Lynn - research your local area in terms of its Human and Physical Geography, as well as some political and economic stuff...
  • Green Christmas activity and ethical gifts (the People as Consumers taster)
  • iPod trail as a Google Earth 'Tour'
  • Svalbard posters - the Future for Svalbard
  • Weblog comments and activities
Thanks to SLN Forum member 'Teardrop' for her GREEN CHRISTMAS activity from the Long Eaton Blog (Word document)
Once again, in January, the Geography department will be collecting Christmas cards for recycling as part of the WOODLAND TRUST scheme. The collection box will be in B3 - bring your cards and save on the carbon of driving to the recycling point yourself. In previous years, we have collected over 3000 cards.

And to round off the post, another Generator...

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 33.
What is your score? Get it here.

Congratulations to the Prize Winners

It was the school's annual prize giving last night. Well done to those who won Humanities and Geography prizes ! There were Humanities prize winners in Years 7-9, the Geography prize sponsored by Wigram and Ware Ltd. for Years 10-11, and the Winearls Prize for Geography and the Trinity College Cambridge Prize for Humanities in Year 12 & 13. Good to see lots of former tutor and teaching group members picking up prizes. Also well done to Esther and Ben for their Geography degree passes (and to Lizzie S for her First !)

Also particular thanks to Mrs. Clarke for her efforts this term !


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Which is your Old Kent Road ?

You'll remember that we did a Monopoly homework where you chose 9 streets or properties or locations to represent King's Lynn in a themed Monopoly board.
Here are some of the results taken from the homework sheets you created...
Town Hall

Town Centre


Corn Exchange
The Walks

Railway Station
Tuesday Market Place 5
Wootton Bench


River Island
Knights Hill

Police Station
Customs House

North Lynn
King's Burger
The Tandoori
Norfolk Street
JD Sports



Nansen: the Ice King

Image from Wikipedia article on Nansen.
Excellent documentary by Paul Rose on Fridtjof Nansen was shown on BBC4 last week, and I finally got a chance to watch it yesterday. Paul Rose is a former vice president of the RGS, and there was a lot of Geography here as well as some fascinating information on Nansen's efforts to reach the North Pole using the ship 'Fram' which was specially designed to survive being trapped in the pack ice. There was also a demonstration of the Nansen bottle, which he designed for taking samples of sea water from depth.

He overwintered on Spitsbergen on the way back from his failed attempt. Lots of useful detail on pressure ridges on the ice, how to survive for 5 months by digging a hole in the permafrost, and the important discoveries he made about the circulation of ocean currents.

Here is the description of the programme.

Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen was the founding father of polar exploration and he is Paul Rose’s all-time hero. In the spring of 1892, he made a bid to become the first man to set foot on the North Pole. His audacious plan was for his ship to become stuck in pack ice in the hope that it would carry him with the ocean currents to the Pole. Until then, ships had been crushed to pieces by the force of encroaching pack ice. Scientists refused to join his mission, claiming it was doomed. But Nansen had designed a special revolutionary hull for his vessel ‘The Fram.’ It was shaped like a duck, so instead of being crushed by the ice, it was simply lifted from the water and sat on top of the ice. At first, the plan seemed to be working and the ship slowly moved towards the pole, but the ice wasn’t taking her as close as Nansen hoped. So he struck out on foot, instead. He used breakthrough polar survival techniques such as the use of layered clothing, compressed gas for cooking, a revolutionary ski design and dogs to pull his sleigh. Nansen discovered that, unlike the South Pole, the North Pole was all ice with no land. He proved that it was possible to survive in the frozen wastes of the poles and travel great distances without support. However, there was a huge problem. The pack ice Nansen was crossing had begun travelling in the opposite direction from the pole – slowing his progress with devastating effect. Nansen had no option to turn back. But this was the most successful failure ever – he had travelled further north than anyone and pioneered a series of new techniques and discoveries which are still with us, even today. His work is even being used by NASA as they develop ways for astronauts to deal with the loneliness and isolation of space. Crucially, unlike leaders of the doomed expeditions before him, Nansen had brought all his men back alive. He was a true pioneer. He laid the foundations for the study of the planet’s ocean currents which today are crucial to our understanding of global weather systems and climate change.

Well worth catching a repeat of the programme, or watch out for it on terrestrial TV.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Arctic Sea Ice Thinning

Thanks to Mrs. Clarke for pointing out this article on the BBC NEWS website.
It looks at the way in which the sea ice is thinning in the Arctic. It's all getting a little scary now...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Global Warming Posters

A quick reminder about the poster designer at the Australian Inconvenient Truth site.
There's a link to a poster I made HERE, and you can then go on to make your own.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Consumers Lessons 1 & 2 - Ho Ho Ho !!

Coming on Thursday / Friday is the first of 2 lessons on Christmas as part of a sneak preview of the People as Consumers topic.
You will be looking at several resources.
a) Toys in China - read Michael Wolf's TOY STORY
b) Read the BBC News articles relating to the arrival of the huge EMMA MAERSK ship in November of this year, and the GUARDIAN article.
c) Read through the document you will be given about the debate between whether it is best to have a real or an artificial Christmas Tree.
d) How can you reduce the WASTE that goes on at Christmas.
Think about the following aspects of Christmas and how you could reduce their impact on the environment (and ultimately save money):
  • buying presents
  • wrapping presents
  • delivering presents
  • the Christmas turkey & trimmings
  • alcohol consumption
  • Christmas tree
  • TV viewing
  • unwanted gifts (that sweater from Granny...)
  • Christmas crackers
  • Christmas cards
e) Visit HOUSEBLINGER website. This has images of houses covered in Christmas lights (and is also a great name for a website) They have a page on Christmas Lights and reducing the effect on the ENVIRONMENT.
Is there a house near you covered in lights - why not send me a picture and I'll add it to the blog, or check out:
or this amusing BBC ARTICLE.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ethical Consumerism

A brief debate about this on BBC News 24 this morning, relating to the wisdom of flying food around the world, and the impact of our consumer demands on the environment of those countries where the food is produced.
Helen from the SLN forum has posted a selection of alternative Christmas gifts and where you can get them from. This will help you with the lesson on the final day of term...

First of all the Woodland Trust

Save an acre of rainforest
Christian Aid

Present aid
You’ll know the Oxfam unwrapped site – these little extras include colouring pencils made from well-managed forests - £3.99 and 2007 Funusual calendar - made from 75% recycled paper - £2.99

Volcanic rocks (fizzing chocolate in a volcano box)

Global Warming mug (as the mug heats, the land shrinks!)

Can you find any others ?
And while you're working, why not head over to one of my regular visits: the PCL LinkDump, for some Christmas music with a difference. Love the Frosty the Snowman remixes.

And today, got Ice Age 2 the Meltdown, which comes with some interactive games - would make good Svalbard starters for next year.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Next Thursday we will do a bit of work on Christmas and CONSUMERISM to act as a little taster of the "People as Consumers" unit...
Here is another nice VIDEOJUG video, which I'll use as a STARTER...

You need to watch this...

Judging by the half-mast accumulations of fabric, the sloppy 'knots' and general inability to look tidy, some of you should make use of this video from VIDEOJUG (thanks to Tony Cassidy for guiding me here via his blog...)
I'll hope to see some perfect Windsor knots on Tuesday...

How does this link with King's Lynn ?

There's a link from this place to King's Lynn, which is in many ways the opposite to the entertainment and humour that this person generated in his career. It's a sad story, and it involves these...This is one of three external links which you need to do for homework for next Tuesday.

Are you 100% English ? Think carefully now...

While researching immigration into King's Lynn and West Norfolk, I came across the article below:
It comes from the ASKCAB site of the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
It's a well written piece, and since the option to e-mail it to a friend is offered, I presume it's OK to repeat here.

"Over the last few years there has been a great deal of talk about asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees. Most of the comments have been negative but if you think about things logically you will realise that your family will trace its origins back to an immigrant of some description. I hear you saying "that’s rubbish" but is it ? Ask yourself the question was my family trapped here when the last ice age finished and the North Sea covered the land bridge to Europe? Unless they were you’ll find that your ancestors were immigrants.

Just to give you some examples a body was recently discovered at Stonehenge, about 4000 years old, by checking some chemicals in the teeth the scientists were able to show that the person had been born and brought up in Central Europe. During the Roman occupation, from 43 CE to 407 CE, people from all over the Empire came to live and work here. Bodies and inscriptions have been found which identify people as coming from as far away as Syria and North Africa. Indeed when the Roman soldiers retired they were given land in Britain and some of these Colonists stayed after the Roman Legions left. Even the Celts, who were here before the Romans conquered them, had come from Europe to Britain.

After the Romans went the Anglo - Saxons, etc. arrived gradually overrunning the country. Don’t think it stopped here because it didn’t. In the mid to late 700s the Vikings started raiding the country and many decided to stay. In fact they took over much of Northern England, Northern Scotland, bits of Ireland. Why did they all come? Largely for economic reasons as Northern Europe’s population was growing and other peoples were coming from further east meaning there was less land and when they saw an opportunity to better themselves in Britain they took it.

In 1066 the country was invaded and conquered again this time by the Normans, who were French. Once the conquest was complete thousands of French men and women came to England to work for the new masters. The Normans brought the Jews back to England and then in 1254 deported them again. The Jews did not return to this country until the latter part of the 17th Century.

In 1336 there is the first mention of the Dutch coming to Norfolk and over the next few hundred years many Dutch/Flemings came to Norfolk and settled here. In fact there are still many Dutch and Belgians living and working in the county.

In Kings Lynn the German Hanseatic League set up a trading post, which stayed in the town for hundreds of years. As well as Dutch and Germans there were Italians, French, Swedes, Danes, Portuguese and practically every other country in Europe had people coming to live and work in the UK.

During the 17th and 18th Centuries we started to see people returning to the UK who had not been here since Roman times plus others from the Americas including Pocahontas who had married John Rolfe from Heacham and Africans from below the Sahara. We also started to see people from the UK beginning to move out of the UK to America: many people from Norfolk among them, such as Samuel Lincoln from Hingham, an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln.
As travel around the world became easier and the British Empire grew larger and larger so from the 17th we saw more and more immigration from those countries to the UK. However at the same time as people were coming from the Empire to the UK many more were leaving the UK to colonise the Empire especially, America (both before and after independence in 1783), Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Southern Africa.

So I go back to my opening point are you English, British or what?"

What are your opinions on this piece ? Why not add a comment ?

Sustainable Housing

Do you recognise this place ?
(Image copyright Morston Assets)

On the way into work today, I was queueing as usual by the White Horse in Gaywood waiting for the lights and the poster board by the River Lane Fish Bar contained a large advert for YOURS SOUTH LYNN, offering the chance to "Move in for just £99" and houses from £99,950. It refers to a new community I mentioned in my previous post (scroll down to read it)
Click the image below to be taken to the website shown...
Website images copyright Yours South Lynn
The night before I'd attended a public meeting at Hunstanton Town Hall, where I was one of just 3 people to turn up on a blustery night to hear about the new Millennium Community which I posted about a few days ago.
I chatted to Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of Morston Assets: one of the companies involved in the new development, and heard about the development of the new community, and its goals and ambitions for the future. We discussed the possibility of involving KES pupils (particularly Pilot pupils) in trialling some educational and publicity materials which they have in preparation, and continuing to follow the development.
There are some interesting issues for FUTURES and SUSTAINABILITY.

One aspect is the development of HOME ZONES. These are streets where people and traffic have equal priority, and where 'quality of life takes precedent over ease of traffic movement'.
More to come on this in the future...

Also today we saw another PHOTO JAM to get us thinking using some nice images of the town from FLICKR User "Crouchy Crouch" (thanks!) - remember that IMAGES are key in Geography.

King's Lynn also in the news last week thanks to the showing of Gordon Ramsay's 'Kitchen Nightmares' at Rococo (now Maggie's)

We used a diagram of 3 concentric circles in the lesson today, following on from Goodey's Model last week.
This had the words:
ME in the centre
LOCAL in the first circle (also the name of a Pat Metheny album)
NATIONAL in the second circle
GLOBAL in the third circle

We were looking at links with other places.
Needed to mention something about the immigration into Brazil, particularly from Eastern Europe, China and Portugal/Brazil.
More on this to come, plus the answer to the Google Earth puzzle below...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

South Lynn: Yours for Good...

That's the title of a public presentation I'm going to be attending at the Town Hall in Hunstanton later this week. The developers: Morston Assets will be explaining their role in the new development in South Lynn: apparently the 4th of the Government's 7 millennium communities.
It's a study in Sustainable Low Carbon living, and the session aims to tell people:
  • What are sustainable communities ?
  • How can we reduce carbon emissions by lifestyle changes ?
  • Using alternative energy sources and lowering running costs
  • Managing environments to the benefit of the environment
  • Alternatives to travelling by car
  • What's a home zone ?
  • Do new homes stimulate the local economy
  • Find out about SEXYBIZ (‘Sexybiz’ (Space Exclusively for Young Business) facility, developed by the Norfolk Charitable Trust, will offer FREE office space for residents, with overheads covered for the first 12 months to help you get your start-up business initiative up and running.)
I investigated more and came across the ENGLISH PARTNERSHIPS website.

The seven communities which are being developed as examples of best practice are:

The locations span a variety of environments – including a market town (South Lynn), a seaside town (Hastings), a city estate (New Islington), a new town (Oakgrove), and a larger urban village (Telford). They all offer housebuyers a real opportunity to buy into a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as a new home.

Map of the Community Plan is from the YOURS SOUTH LYNN site.

More on the SOUTH LYNN plan here.
Why not browse through the YOURS SOUTH LYNN site. Each house will come with 2 free bikes and be built with high standards of insulation... It will be interesting to see how the community develops. I'll try and see if we can get a visit to the site and the show home, and try to make contacts with the people there. Could make a good GCSE coursework study as well for the FULL course people.
All part of the larger NORA development scheme.
One to watch...

Investigating King's Lynn

We are going to need to have detailed information on our place so that we can answer the questions which appear in the 2nd "slide" above, taken from the presentation you were given in today's lesson. We will look at this on Friday's lesson, but you need to take a look at some of this prior to the lesson... The slide below sums up the information you are likely to be asked about.