Saturday, 31 January 2009

Gumboot Dancing...

Josh C's stamping about in the Hums corridor at breaktime the other day reminded me of the "gumboot dancing" that some of the boys at the school I worked in in South Africa used to do.

Gumboot dancing originated in the gold mines of South Africa during the Apartheid years, when the mine workers - forbidden to speak - slapped their gumboots and rattled their ankle chains to send messages to each other. It has since developed into a "working class art form with universal appeal".

This is one of the many gumboot dancing videos on YouTube - none of them are quite as spectacular as "the real thing", but will give you a taste of what it's all about...

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Explore: Patagonia to the Pampas

Those of you who liked Tropic of Capricorn (and/or Simon Reeve!) will be pleased to know that he is back this evening with a new series - Explore... Detail about the first programme is here:

Simon Reeve leads a team of presenters on a journey through the spectacular landscapes of Argentina, from the vast ice fields of Patagonia to the wide-open plains of the pampas.

In the south, a group of indigenous people are locked in a historic dispute with the area's biggest landowners, Italian clothing giants Benetton; in Buenos Aires, the children of the disappeared are seeking to find out the truth of what happened to their parents at the hands of Argentina's generals; and in the pampas we meet one of the last true gauchos, whose way of life is being destroyed by an argricultural revolution.

On the way, we take in one of the greatest matches in world football, visit a penguin colony on the edge, and meet a bishop with a rather unorthodox interest in Evita.

BBC2, 9.00pm

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Very useful map generator

Just discovered, via Noel Jenkins' Digital Geography blog, a really useful website that allows you to custom colour a map of the world (the one below shows where in the world I've been... think I need to get travelling a bit more!): also has a wealth of facts, figures and superlatives, and there is a handy little tool to compare two countries.

Get exploring!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

You think it's cold here?

Some great pictures from Hannah, whose cousin lives in Canada... -25oC there at the moment...

Fancy yourself as a travel photographer?

The Guardian are running a travel photography competition for under-16s... All you have to do is to send them a photograph of a place that you love that will make people want to go there...

Prizes up for grabs include a family ticket to Alton Towers and a £50 book token... More details here.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

If you haven't already, it is well worth going to see Slumdog Millionaire...

This audio slideshow from the Observer, looking at Dharavi - the Mumbai slum where the film was made - makes for interesting viewing, and there are some great descriptions of Dharavi and what life is like there in this article.

Changing Derbyshire

Nice resource from the BBC looking at how Derby is changing with developments such as Westfield and Derby Cityscape... Lots of photos, artists' impressions of future developments, and some interesting discussions about the impact that all this will have on the city.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Are you the Young Geographer of the Year 2009??

It is Young Geographer of the Year time again - and there are some fantastic prizes up for grabs! For the 16-18 year old category, the prize is a place on a month-long BSES expedition to East Greenland, and for the 13-15 category and the 12 and under category, you could win a 5-day "Arctic Ice Adventure" - both are fantastic opportunities and you'd be daft not to enter!! (Oh, and you can win some fab Geography goodies for school as well!)

What you need to do:

"We want you to carry out a project that involves a journey to the Arctic. What would you take with you and why? What would ensure your journey’s success? Your project should reflect a thorough investigation into the geography of the Arctic and a realistic portrayal of a journey to the North Pole. We would also like you to include one luxury item for your journey and an explanation of your item of choice and your reasons for choosing it.Your entry can take whatever form you think is most appropriate – be it a written report, a short video film, a photographic essay, an audio file or a mix of all of these. The most important thing is that you plan and research accordingly for your Arctic journey and most of all – make sure to be creative and have fun!"

If you want more information, click on the picture below to link, or come and speak to me...

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Some historical Geography!

I have mentioned the brilliant-ness of Flickr before, but I have just discovered an amazing set of images of Norway, Sweden and Denmark from 1890-1910...

This one shows the Supphellebreen Glacier in Sognefjord, Norway:

The 169 images have been added by the Library of Congress (the national library of the USA) and are part of a set of 6500 "photochrom prints" ("Published primarily from the 1890s to 1910s, these prints were created by the Photoglob Company in Z├╝rich, Switzerland, and the Detroit Publishing Company in Michigan. The richly colored images look like photographs but are actually ink-based photolithographs, usually 6.5 x 9 inches.") of Europe and the Middle East.

Click here to go to the Photochrom Travel Views set on the Library of Congress Flickr page.

Even more interesting is the "Then and Now" project that has been set up by Flickr users, comparing the LoC images with recent ones of the same views. Unfortunately none of the "nows" are Creative Commons images, but if you click on the screenshot below it will take you to the Then and Now page.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


Since I added the FeedJit widget to the blog, the most interesting thing has been watching the various odd locations it seems to think I come from - at the moment, it thinks I live in Worksop, but whilst I've been sitting in the very same spot I'm in now, it's had me in Rotherham, Doncaster, Nottingham and Mansfield. At my parents' house in Bradford, it thought I was in Mansfield and Huddersfield, mainly. It's also been pleasing to see that there have been a good number (though perhaps not as many as there should be, given the intended audience of the blog!) of visits from Alfreton (or maybe the visits registered as Alfreton are actually in Sheffield somewhere...).

Anyway, another interesting thing about it is that I have discovered a regular visitor from Iasi in Romania. Being a geographer, and having never heard of Iasi, I felt the need to go and find out more...

Iasi (which should have an accent on the s which I can't do in Blogger (does any one know how?!)) is, according to Wikipedia (which can't always be trusted, admittedly!) pronounced Jassy. It's a city in the northeast of Romania, as shown on the less than brilliant Google Earth screenshot below...

Although there are a good many videos about Iasi on YouTube (the "sad city", the "city of dreams" etc) I haven't found it particularly easy to find out much more about Iasi - other than that it is sometimes known as The City of Seven Hills.

Iasi is also home to the oldest Romanian university, and is a city known for its culture.

The Wikipedia entry (approach with caution!) is here, and there is more information on the Iasi City website.

Hopefully Suzzmoon, (my Romanian is not great, but I think that she is a geographer and student, perhaps a geography student) will be able to tell us more....????

For a more general flavour of Romania, have a look at this video from


You will probably have noticed that it's been a bit chilly of late... Some pictures I took last week at Scar House in Nidderdale:

And it's been pretty cold in Paris too, judging by these fab pictures courtesy of my sister who lives there:

However... the "Arctic blast" has casued huge disruption across Europe, and the cold has been blamed for the deaths of at least twelve people...

The decision by Russia to shut down gas supplies via the Ukraine has affected fifteen countries and left hundreds of thousands of homes without heating.

Closer to home, cold weather payments, issued when temperatures fall to 0oC for seven consecutive days, have caused controversy...

The Big Freeze Round-Up from the Met Office is a good summary of the weather of the first fortnight of 2009 - which is predicted to be one of the five warmest years on record!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Blogging/Tagging Game

It seems that I have been tagged by Alan Parkinson (aka GeoBlogs) for a blogging "game". The idea is that I tell you, Geogtastic readers, seven things you didn't know about me! So here goes...

1. I am left-handed... That is, I write with my left hand, which means that when I write on the board, it is with my left hand, although given the regular interjections in my lessons along the lines of "Why are you writing with your left hand, Miss?" that is not something that is widely known. I throw [badly] with my right hand though, and if I was forced to kick a ball I would probably do it with my right foot. I hold my knife and fork as though I were right-handed, but can't use a spoon in my right hand (much to the upset of my late great grandmother, who apparently used to take the spoon out of my left hand and force me to use my right.

2. I spent a year before university living in South Africa. I taught Biology, Physical Science, Speech & Drama, PE (!!) and Art (!!!) and was a houseparent looking after twelve 15-year old girls... (I was 18. It was good experience!) I seriously looked into staying in South Africa to do my degree - in Biology, not Geography... It turned out to be too expensive, which was probably for the best... I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed there?!

3. I played the clarinet, the saxophone and the piano when I was at school. I was never very good at the piano because I didn't like having short nails, but wasn't bad at the clarinet or saxophone... Not played either for a long time though, until last week.

4. I like filling in forms.... strange but true... I don't understand it either.

5. I caused myself a nasty injury trying to wash a tomato tin for recycling... Since then, despite the fact that I do recycle glass, paper and card wherever possible, and buy things with not much packaging, etc.), I don't always recycle tins. I think that better be my New Year's resolution...

6. I like cooking and baking, and like to think that I am not bad.... Ask Mr Rodgers or Mr Hoben about Malteser Cake.

7. Despite telling Alan Parkinson a couple of years ago that I couldn't understand his interest in what he referred to as "Cool Geography", I seem to have developed a strange fascination with ice, snow, cold places... Antarctica, Norway (far enough north to see the Northern Lights), Svalbard and South Georgia (blame the penguin webcam) are at the top of my "To Visit" list, together with Japan, Madagascar, New Zealand, the Grand Canyon, and lots of other places...

ps Several other people who have completed this "activity" have added photographs to illustrate their seven facts. With the laptop issues I have had of late, I can't easily lay my hands on relevant pictures, but will try to add some over the next few days.

I am supposed to "tag" seven other people to continue this blog game... Several of the people I would have tagged have already been done, so I will add:

Mrs Magee - Histatic
Mrs Kambalu - Adventures in T&L (amongst others)
Val Vannet - GMPaY
Anna Simpson - Natural Wonders
Ayrshire Geography
Mr M - Hulme Geog Blog