Category Archives: geography

Reminders – positive ones

On Twitter yesterday a Depuy Head teacher that I used to correspond with about various education ideas remade contact. He commented how he had read my blog up until the point that I left social media for a while as teaching as my core thing imploded. In chatting it made me realise that now after two years I have actually moved on. I have landed very fortuitously living in a coastal area, I have the finance to support our life and when I work I can choose to do things I like.

Today, wondering how it might make me feel I scrolled down through all of my blog posts on here back to 2011 and revisited my 365 photo blog that I started blogging with on a platform called Posterous. Then I imported the content into WordPress and Mishmashlearning was born out of my first experience presenting to education peers at a Teachmeet in Feb. 2012. This caused some reflection on how much went on and changed between 2012 and 2016 for me to leave teaching all together. I wasn’t getting upset which is a relatively new feeling, teaching is over.

I read on through 2012 and the amount of initiatives I was aware of and trying to bring into school while discussing ideas with professionals I admired online and in several cases met at education events in the next four years. I still feel passionate about Solo Taxonomy although I resist applying it to everything I do now, I just know that my enjoyment of learning new skills and ideas has transferred into my boat work and art.

So many thanks Dan B. for a prompt.


Once a geography teacher…

Thursday March 1 2018. My local coastal town of Swanage in Purbeck, Dorset faces a range of conditions.

– Spring Tide due to full moon – so higher tides

– Storm Emma bringing snow from continental Europe

– an associated area of low pressure which raises local sea levels

– easterly winds gusting into the bay at 45 mph

All of these combine to a flood warning status. In November 2016 Storm Angus caused flooding in the Lower High Street and damaged the sea wall – my first experience of the power of easterly winds into Swanage Bay.

I woke early and decided to go into Swanage to watch the high tide and the trial of a new temporary flood defence system. I knew where would be unsafe to park and where my car should come to no harm, nor obstruct any emergency services if they were needed.

I roved around with my camera and phone recording images in the run up to high tide. I posted images and video clips on social media – facebook, instagram and twitter.

The following images show some of the things that I witnessed. On Friday March 2 I was unable to go down to watch events on the next Spring tide as overnight freezing rain had caused sheet ice which meant I would only be leaving home on foot and not travelling far.

Shore Road – sea foam -I saw the remains of this later in the day when it had lost its lively nature.




Then I moved around to the stone quay area by the flood barrier which was being extended by the coastguard and council workers.





I then took pictures from further around the south side of the bay.





I haven’t gone into any geographical explanations but I did enjoy my trip and finished it with a breakfast at the High Street Cafe.

















Wow, didn’t know about this….

Checked twitter feed last night to find this picture sent to me.

So after some tweeting, linkedin messages later, this morning I have a copy of what was said about me.

Yes turn your screen or head but don’t crick neck. I have thanked my likely nominators and am now going for afternoon / evening trip to be at #gaconf17 #teachmeet and #beermeet although I will be on soft drinks to drive back tonight as working in the morning.

Very honoured to have my contribution recognised like this. 


Part time job for Wareham Boat Hire means I spend lots of time splashing about in a river moving boats and talking to a wide range of customers. 

Artwork is going steadily in build up to Purbeck Art Weeks – see for separate art blog. 

Mental health generally good – now been keeping GOB diary for 110 days and 102 are positive.

Life is much more relaxed, frequently fun and quirkiness encouraged.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

Living a dream …

For those of you who read and support a bit of an update. GOB is now 61 days, on the 12 March my first journal will be full. I attended Teachmeet Poole last week (Thursday 23 Feb) and as a presenter received a nice notebook which I shall use to continue the GOB journey.

Those who know my background and change in circumstance might well challenge, why is Andy at a teachmeet? It’s a fair question. I had looked up to see if Jenna Lucas’ TMBournemouth would be on and found details of the event in Poole on Differentiation. I immediately thought what about a piece on Solo Taxonomy, whose enthusiasm has not left me. I offered my services and settled to participate in the break marketplace and fill any other gaps that arose. I ended up in a mock classroom in the corner of the school theatre presenting to the entire teachmeet. Not what I had expected but I just got on with it. I loved talking about Solo. As I finished I made the point, from the chap in shorts and polo shirt, that this was my first time in a school building since November when I had a nervous breakdown and left teaching. It was a great evening to see the enthusiasm of young staff. There was repetition of many familiar ideas I have seen previously but I was left to wonder how long they would stay in teaching and knew it was unlikely to be as long as I had managed and that still upsets me.

Anyway apart from that I have been sketching with other artists for PAW (Purbeck Arts Week) at The Etches Collection – fossils of Kimmeridge. I liked the setting, found the number of experienced artists quite intimidating tbh. However it was a link back to degree days with Jo Angseesing my palaeontology lecturer. In fact my eyes were drawn a lot to the architecture after the urban sketching trips I have attended with both London and Cambridge groups previously. I have taken some photos to allow follow up on this.

Yesterday, March 2nd, I had a conversation with a mental health professional about a local programme Steps to Wellbeing, and after being very open and honest about what the last six months have been like – a range of triggers, it was felt and I agree that I am doing all that I can to recover and don’t need additional input outside what I am doing already for myself which overall is working. Yes there are slips and dips but that is the nature of depression and anxiety. In fact after the phone talk I went out on an standee walk from the house along the SW Coast path. T-shirt, shorts, walking boots and a sweatshirt for when I stopped plus camera. In the end I walked about 8 miles, took over 200 pictures (the advantage of digital) many of landscape and waves, enjoyed fresh air and sunshine, got muddy but felt great.

Today the weather is back to cloud, wind, rain and more time indoors I suspect.

A rambling post, not pre planned as usual but flowing from my thoughts. I live in a wonderful place, I have an active lifestyle. I share delights of hares, deer, numerous birds with most of my family. I live a sort of semi-retired status and it suits me.

Our friend Morris the Mad March hare who may mean we have ravaged lavender bushes, but it’s a price worth paying.

Gosh four days without an update, how remiss of me

Well a change of attitude at the weekend saw me take more control of my situation. I would keep busy, do more things, useful ones. Stop being lazy and be helpful around the house.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all positive days, some low points in conversations at home in the late evenings. Gardening – leaf collecting, drain clearing, drainpipe cleaning. Starting to rediscover outbuildings features with extreme gardening or just excuse by me – yesterday was in garden in shorts and sports sandals (top modestly covered). Shopping  – tumble dryer, cd/radios, did bits and bobs, sideboard, dining room chairs. Exploring centre of Poole without getting lost (in geography speak: exploring). Yesterday afternoon I attempted to kayak at Studland beach – not much distance but wet, cold and invigorated. Been to coach junior rowers on Monday. Actually completed majority of open rowing training on Tuesday. Walks around Studland bay – so a lot more positive.

This morning started well despite being awake from 5am, read book, did ironing, retail, went to direct a delivery Lorry which  drove up the footpath trail rather than main drive and passed me on its way out. Started to consider options for working outside and put some “feelers” out. Enquired about and booked self on open day about Outdoor Pursuits instructor course on next Autumn. But in trying a third place at 4pm to get mother in law a late paper, drove past “the” school, realised it was yr 7 parents evening where I “should” have been teaching and talking to parents. Lost plot, ranted openly on FB, lots of support messages from friends and also returned favour for some as well. Lost several hours but recovered for family to viewing of recorded show, although aspergers review of series one and catching up voiceover from armchair made it a burying at times. 

Now blogging and several jobs identified for tomorrow to stay busy.

Thanks for reading. Some canvas prints from pictures taken down here on my expensive camera (mobile phone actually).

Storm Angus and Swanage

Last night (Saturday 19/11) storm Angus hit Dorset in the evening and overnight. Wind speeds and the driving rain slowed by dawn. Local social media sources showed that there had been damage to the seafront in Swanage and encouraged people to stay away. The best sources early on were The Bournemouth Echo news site and Swanage Fire station Facebook page. BBC South later filmed a clip which was used.

Late morning (Sunday 20/11) I went down to Swanage to see which areas were still cordoned off. Keen not to get in the way off any clean up efforts, but willing to help it if needed. The map screenshot from Google maps is used to show the location of the images I took.

1) The parish slipway and sea wall in front of the Square (Town Museum) bore the brunt of damage to the wall. Apparently waves colliding were causing spray up to 30 ft high and the wind was gusting at up to 60 mph. The first photo shows the stone benches and debris which had been scattered over the footpath.  

The second photo show the damage to the tram / rail lines used to move stone to the quay.

Playland amusements that is on the side of the path had three plank high aluminium flood defence in place, but water had obviously still got in. The next obvious signs of debris was around Gee Whites restaurant building opposite the stone quay. The waves had carried in a range of cobbles and seaweed to the west (3) and east (4) side of the building.

The fifth photo shows some debris on the slipway, some of these may have been pushed there by the JCB removing flood debris from the Lower High Street earlier.

I hope the located images are useful for some of my geographer friends and possibly classes. 

New life approaches …

At Easter the family went on holiday to Swanage. While we were there I saw a new school building and looked them up online. Intrigued by what they offered I looked at their vacancies not expecting anything of interest – but there was a Humanities teacher post. The curriculum and structure appealed. So I rang the school, the headteacher was in school while year 11s were revising, what time could I be there…I walked (10 minutes from the cottage) and Mr Hobson greeted me and showed me round, I also met Mrs Gray – humanities lead. I was interested but the holiday was why we were here. In the second week prior to the GA conference I posted off my application.

The week of the 25th April saw me travel down for interview – I would be teaching about War and Peace to Year 8. I had researched and come up with an idea – a walk along the Purbeck Ridge above the school pointing out historical features for tourists or locals. I travelled down the afternoon prior to interview day and sent a pleasant evening down busy the beach watching the sea rowing club and sailing club out at play. Wednesday saw me take a 15 minute walk from my hotel to school. Four of us on interview, not all younger as I had anticipated – I stood a better chance now, I thought. An interview, a student panel, a free lesson (one candidate had dropped out), teaching year 8 and I had what I later described on my drive back to Essex as my best day possible. I had done all that I could, yes I really wanted this job and new lifestyle but would understand if I didn’t get it. Well, Thursday I had set off to work when the phone rang – yes I was successful.

In the last two weeks and three days I have had all my checks done, signed my new contract, resigned from my current school, had a weekend in Swanage for house viewings, made an offer on a property and had it accepted, put our house and my mother in laws on the market and one has sold already…oh and started clearing the loft – two journeys of a whole carful done each time to date. Life is changing….fast. 

A life at the coast beckons, the speed things have changed at is quite mind boggling. I am looking forward so much to the next stage in my career. I am also looking forward to a slower pace of life, lots of fresh air, strolls on a beach 15 minutes walk from our new home.

I will track this adventure as we move to Swanage. If I seem to be gloating I am not I am just so happy about this new adventure.


Last year I set 15 targets split in 5 sections – so I will review these first. I will decide as I post how targets will be set for this year. 

Dec 2015 review
1) Family: (3)
spend more time with parents – this has varied as own pressures impacted but speak to even more regularly especially as now both living in same residential home.

spend more time with both sons, whatever is happening in their lives- seen less of eldest as he has been accommodated in fewer places this year but finishes the year after six months of relative stability. Youngest at home, have done a few mote things together including some Forza sessions on xbox 360.

couple time – Anne and I to get back into our dining / evenings out more frequently- some dining but more day trips, break in Bristol and time for walks and nature. Support each other’s interests with choir and sketching.

2) Self: (3)
– I have a kayak and a bicycle which both need more of my company throughout the year and exploring far and wide – not used a lot,limited kayaking but some trips with Anne past Ulting church and met school D of E expeditions at Papermll Lock. 

– Cedric, the cello and subject of a recent post, and I are to make music more in 2015 and maybe even some guitar and the keyboard that is currently hidden in the loft-  failed

– screens are nice and I can access and share information, but 2015 is the year where I rediscover the pleasure of reading from books. I can start with my recent purchases from Tate Modern: London Villages and I’ve lived in London for 86 1/2 years by Martin Usborne- more successful including 10 books in summer with #teacher5adayread. I have also bought a read a variety of books on sketching from the urban sketching fraternity.

3) School / work: (3)

– I have two more terms leading to our first set of GCSE results under my management. Three sets are under my tutelage, so mocks in January, revise intervention groupings and work hard to a happy August results day – worked b***** hard throughout the year, results ok but not progress I had hoped for. Analysis interrupted by September breakdown. Best success girls results A* to C  up from 25 to 65%.

– continue to develop our revised KS3 curriculum and delegate sections to Adam and Michelle as we develop as a team – aha, well rewrote ks3 year one with more to develop, inclusion of John Muir Trust award successful. Adam lasted the year and a great loss. Michelle didn’t return for Spring term and in fact staffing throughout school year caused lots of stress. Started better this year with Gordon, but then own breakdown  upset the rhythm.

– more student voice and more hands on geography to make our department a “happening” place- considering staffing upheaval a good reputation generated overall in first year in post, tbc.

4) Twitter: (3)
– 2015 will see account no. 6 start with a departmental one so pupils can follow and share geographical ideas, sites …- didn’t start this as too much else to do.

– @knillsocks to continue especially as a bumper load of new socks hopefully being opened later today- account continues, remains novelty of teaching – the one with a Twitter account for …

– @globalsolo and @gasigict to continue to develop and facilitate discussion and collaboration globally- gave up @globalsolo in May and passed Twitter account to Pam Hook. Still using solo taxonomy including in own teaching but staffing crashed development in department. Shared ideas in school and at some events.

5) Blogging / presenting / … (3)

– have another successful year with GASIGICT, Promethean Advocates… – GASIGICT goes well and Twitter account from strength to strength. Presented at #GAConf15 on developing global network to small group. Ceased Promethean link as no time and no benefit to what I am developing.

– develop all of the linked blogs and Mishmashlearning to continue to have less #mentalhealthmatters – GASIGICT blog is paused, global solo gone, but now two mishmash – original and new sketching blog.

– present throughout the year – BETT, TMBexley, PedagooLondon3??, GA Conference, Northern Rocks, TMHavering2015?? TLT15??? ……- missed BETT and TLT15. TMBexley was good, also did a Medway event – interpretive dance and solo taxonomy intertwined – used this at NRocks15 with Andy Day for second year (this also featured jiving with KDWScience. GA Conference session – small attendance but seemed well received. GASIGICT stand display I did was popular. PedagooLondon was in July and presented this year on John Muir Award, also did this for PedagooHampshire in September plus an impromptu solo session when presenter no showed. Contributed photograph to #teacher5adayexhibition. Inspired (I am told) #teacher5adaysketch in October and took part in #teacher5adaype in September. So however busy school was still did some of own CPD. Also applied for FRGS – heard all ok and await paperwork. Fellowship of MirandaNet confirmed in January.

So a reasonable review – still did too much and it has had an Autumn consequence which I am recovering from. Also not mentioned here- finding all 50 of London Shaun the Sheep and 37 in Bristol. Family holidays in Cromer twice, Cardiganshire once. New hobby sketching started, 400 plus sketches to date in 6 months art supply shop geek now as yesterday’s Christmas money spend shows. Attended urban sketcher meets in London, Cambridge and Colchester. Rejoined a gym. Have lost 3-4 inches of waist fat.

2016 targets / priorities

I am sticking with five headings but more generalised and definitely not 16 targets.


1) Family

Regular phone contact or via social media with all branches of the family.

Quality time – this links to work targets as I rephase back in. School work to not come home.

Trips out especially with Anne sharing our interests. Lots of London day trips.

2) Self

Keep exercising – bike and kayak where possible plus walking

Hobby time – play some music and sketch skills and practice inc. sketchcrawls

Read more often

3) school/work

Based on return to work aims:

– give work 50 hours of my time each week

– school work stays at school

– pace

– Inform others when stressed/ mood issues as agreed

– develop department

– Friday social time / staff sport to end the week

4) Twitter

– go with the flow, if tired less, use and stay in contact especially with friends

– GASIGICT – do not over commit time as discussed at meeting

5) Blogging / presenting/ …

-mishmash continues plus sketching posts in own blog too when feel like it

– presenting – less in Jan to July. TMEpping February to attend and listen only. GAConf16 workshop. See how year goes after Easter.

Key aspect is listen to my mind / body and work with them. That also includes friends too and reciprocal support.


Hexagon peg – square hole

What a week… A Teachmeet presentation in Medway, Kent extolling the virtues of solo taxonomy and interpretive dance and Ronseal(c) references to teach physical processes in geography – a chance to be passionate about teaching and liked for it. A meeting where I feel steam rollered about what my job title actually means. An email to say that I felt steam rollered. A follow up meeting where compromises are made. A sports day where therapy is raking the sand pit after each jump for long and triple jump. A drink or two (non alcoholic) with comments about how I come across as a passionate educator.

Overall, lots of positives, the lessons outside, the entries coming in for the art, photography and originality in presentation competitions within the department (yes we teach geography, but creativity is king), lots to savour, lots to smile about.

But at the end of the week the overwhelming feeling that I do not fit. How can being passionate about my job, role, subject, vocation feel that I am in the wrong?

I am fighting letting go and sloughing (? Should that be slowing ?) in to despond. I do not want to fall, slide, fall off. I can not be around my family easily I am a miserable, snappy sod this morning. I want to fight back.

Is it time I leave teaching! I can not believe that question is in my head after Tuesday’s Teachmeet but there it is it is out in the open. Am I the obstacle?

Thoughts – mishmashlearning consultant, time out, travel, tutor, work in education a different way. I want to teach. I love to teach, I am a teacher, I am a geographer but also a cross curricular advocate.

If you are a regular reader; comment – don’t leave this post hanging. And be honest…thanks