Category Archives: geography

Changes in plans

Plans are meant to be flexible aren’t they?

So 2019 started with an old Andy habit – want to show something is happening – make a spreadsheet / logbook. I did this to show I was exercising more, Anne questioned why I needed a spreadsheet for that and to be honest she was right so that method has gone.

In January post-beach huts event I found myself fighting germs that had not been “allowed” to kick in during the event. Fitness dropped as previous posts said. I have pulled back from training at the rowing club as others are training towards the Scillies in May and are getting fitter and fitter, the gap between us kept growing so own exercise was needed.

Anne and I are doing a few more walks locally – recent examples are parking in Worth (Matravers) village car park and walking down to Winspit, exploring the old quarrying area then walking onto Seacombe on the South West Coast path and then back to the ‘Square and Compass’ for a pasty and some live music.

Pictures above show climbers and other walkers visiting Winspit.

After walks or cycle rides or even kayak trips I use ArcGIS Explorer to measure the rough distance covered, it is also good for sharing with others about routes to take.

The next walk was along ‘Houns Tout’ and as it was a calm day, we descended the steps towards’ Chapmans Pool’ then returned up the valley towards Kingston.

We have had a sunset walk along ‘Houns Tout’ and saw no one on our way to the bench at the end where we watched the waves and sun going down. We only saw one couple on the way back too.

We have just changed phone contracts and invested in Huawei P20 Pro cameras each with a Leica linked camera which hopefully will show in the quality of pictures taken.

We have also had a few walks in and around Swanage including a sunny morning sat at the end of the pier which led to some sketching time. It was good to stop and rest at the pier shelter.

The recent mild weather also inspired me to be out on my other bicycle, not the fat bike but the cyclocross one. I had seen and heard about the bike track through Rempstone forest but it was an area I had driven along the edge of but not explored. For some reason my phone app did not record the distance correctly, the map shown is from ‘Explorer’ again.

An incomplete circuit because I tried to do too much, this is not new as people who have exercised with me know only too well, but I do like to push the boundaries. So a descent down Kingston hill which I am gaining confidence on, through Corfe village and onto Norden and the road across Hartland and Middlebere. Then I left the road and took the bridleway / National cycle route 2 that cuts across to a Studland in the east. Loose sand sections would have suited the fat tyres better. Lots of stopping to unfasten and refasten gates. The scenery was great I saw a few other people out on foot and bikes. A chance to see Poole Harbour from the southern shore.

At Studland I cycled up towards the village and then took the road past the Pig at the beach hotel, and the Banks Arms, the road was busy with cars and pedestrians. I made my way out to Old Harry Rocks then cycled up until fatigue kicked in and had to walk for a while across Ballard Down. The views appeared hazy but the coastal landforms were still clear.

A picture at the triangulation pillar and then I descended some of the bridleway into Swanage, it became too steep and risky for me so I dismounted and walked. A break in Swanage and an ice cream. Then I set off for home. Langton (Matravers) hill was a slow process with many stops at the side to rest, I refused to dismount. Then once just past Burngate I realised I was wiped out, a phone call and my friendly bike taxi came and collected me.

All in all a positive difference and more exercise – enough?

See next post…

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A geography teachers skills can be transferred…

See my latest art blog post for how my geographer roots help my art.

Art post

Fatbike ride 2

So I bought a secondhand Calibre Dune fatbike at the weekend. Today I had decided to go out in the day for my second ride. I had some ideas for a route but how much I did would depend on my fitness.

I live up on a ridge called Houns Tout – I descended through my local village Kingston and took the bridleway past Blashenwell Farm. A rock track where care was needed in places. The lower slope then runs onto Corfe Common and is more undulating. I cycled through the village of Corfe Castle and turned uphill under one of the bridges carrying the Swanage Heritage Railway. Soon I turned off to start the climb up onto the Purbeck Ridge (chalk). I cycled about half the slope which is probably better than I was expecting. I walked the second half until I reached the direction stone. I turned back to ride to the tumulus on East Hill above Corfe Castle. I took some photos on my phone to help with a current piece of art.

Then I cycled eastwards along the ridge. in a couple of places I had to dismount for the slope as well as opening and shutting gates.

I reached the end of the ridge above Ulwell and took a picture before descending.

Descending needed care and attention with small pebbles and rock steps aĺl passed without incident. I continued into Swanage and a refreshment stop at Java Independent Coffee House, a personal favourite.

After my Apricot and Marzipan toasted scone (yummy) and peppermint tea it was time to set off back upto Kingston. This time I would be following the southern Purbeck ridge (limestone). I started on the road then went onto “The Priests Way”. Very muddy in places and lots of gates. I worked my way up feom Swanage behind Langton Matravers and Acton and on towards Worth Matravers. Tiredness was setting in so rather than taking the hillier option from Worth that I had cycled on Sunday. I returned to the top road that runs from Langton to Kingston past several local stone businesses. In Kingston I cycled very slowly by now back up through the village and back along the Houns Tout track that passes our house.

In total 16.4 miles covered and I have rested since except for cleaning the Dune.

In 2019 I want to gradually increase the distances covered and the pace I ride at. Some rides will be more road bases and will use my trail /cross bike. An encouraging start to the year.

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.

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

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

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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. 

Meanwhile….

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 http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com 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.