Top Ten Blog Posts of 2014

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As we enter 2015 we look back at the top 10 most viewed blog posts of 2015. These include posts by current and past undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff and give a good idea of some of the things that we do here in Geography at University of Liverpool. We look forward to more posts in 2015 and wish you all a happy new year.

 

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10. In Tenth place, a post from February 2014 by PhD student Madeleine Gustavsson on her first publication: First publication – ‘Procedural and distributive justice in a community-based Marine Protected Area in Zanzibar, Tanzania’

 

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9. In Ninth place, a post from June 2014 by James Wilford who graduated with a BA (Hons) Geography in July this year on the Singapore Field Class 2014

 

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8. In Eighth place, a post from June 2014 by Dr. Paul Williamson on the winners of the Edinburgh Field Class 2014 Photo Competition

 

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7. In Seventh place, a post from May 2014 by Samantha Brannan who graduated with a BSc (Hons) Geography in July this year on Geographers on Tour: Santa Cruz Field Class 2014

 

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6. In sixth place, a post from January 2014 about Lisa Reilly who graduated in July this year about her success as National Student Award Winner

 

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5. In Fifth place, a post from December 2014 by Dr Bethan Evans on a Disability, Arts and Wellbeing Workshop with DaDaFest

 

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4. In Fourth place, a post from October 2014 by Sean Dunn who graduated with a BSc (Hons) Geography in July this year and is now studying for an MSc. His post is about the final year Santa Cruz field class on California Field Class and Travel

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3. In Third place, a post from August 2014 by Alexandra Guy, currently a second year BA Geography student on A Year in the Life of an Undergraduate Geography Student

 

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2. In Second Place, a post from August 2014 by PhD student Natalie Robinson on her research with homeless people in Chicago ‘This is My Story: A Photographic Exploration of Chicago’ – Notes from the field.

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1. And in First place, our most viewed blog of 2014 is a post from February 2014 by Jonny Clark who graduated in July with a BSc (Hons) Geography on How a work-based dissertation re-affirmed my confidence in my subject, my own ability and my future

California Field Class and Travel

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Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach

Post by Sean Dunn, graduated BSc Geography 2014, current MSc student

The beginning of our trip started in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport with a mixture of excitement for the trip and dreading the long flight ahead of it. After a couple of good films, singing along to songs in Frozen with Amelia, my teddy bear George and I landed in San Francisco. Due to some severe jetlag we barely made it to midnight after a slice of pizza and a local beer. The next morning we made our way to the Airport to meet the rest of the Santa Cruz goers and the lecturers, where our journey began to Santa Cruz in some rather lively minivans playing California themed songs.

Once we arrived in Santa Cruz we had some time to explore and get orientated with this new city. It may be fair to say on the first night some of us enjoyed the local selection of alcoholic drinks and the novelty of being 21 in America. The next day we were taken on a walking tour of the city by the lecturers making friends with some lively seals, crossing a disused railway bridge and exploring local lagoon systems (which we revisited during our group project). The evening was then our own to begin planning for the next working day on our projects.

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My group did a project concerning drought and whether it had heightened arguments between recreational users and conservationists of state parks and wetland areas. I think I speak for all of my group when saying we thoroughly enjoyed this experience and our project. At times we felt a bit out of our depth choosing a more human geography related topic but wouldn’t change it at all in hindsight. Our methods included interview and volunteering days and I believe this way we were fully able to experience the most of being in California and meeting the locals. It was a lot of hard work but enjoyable at the same time. We had the opportunity to travel throughout Santa Cruz County meeting countless interesting locals from keen fishermen all the way up to conservationists for global companies.

As well as our project work the lecturers took us on trips around the County which I really enjoyed as there isn’t much point going so far to visit a place without learning about your surroundings. The locations visited included the University, San Andreas Fault line, Redwood forests and a beach site where the famous surfing brand O’Neil was founded. I feel like I learnt a lot about the city.

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When we weren’t working on our projects, the evenings and night time were ours to do whatever we wanted. Obviously some privileges come with our first trip to the USA being over the age of 21… a well-deserved night out!  One of the best nights was for our pal Liz’s 21st where the lecturers gave her a cake and card. Most evenings were spent on the beach playing volleyball at the public courts and just soaking up the last of the California sunshine for the day. My room and I bought food from the local supermarket to make group dinners and lunches but if you didn’t feel like that there is no shortage in options. I don’t think there was a day when the boys didn’t have at least one Mexican from the little taco joint opposite the hotel! Apart from that there was a large selection of restaurants and small takeaways both in the city centre and along the boardwalk.  One of the best places we visited doubled up as a restaurant and bar. It is a pizza place called Woodstock’s where we searched online finding a voucher which is pretty good. If you sign up to the newsletter you get half price extra-large pizzas which is about 20 inches. There were 8 of us with 4 pizzas and enough for lunch the next day! Whilst there we saw they had a dollar night, so we returned that day. When you buy a beer it is just one dollar for a refill!

After all of our fun in Santa Cruz and 10 brilliant days it was time to leave the city. It was a weird feeling to be returning back to San Francisco Airport. Once we arrived the goodbyes began but not before a big group photo of the whole trip. It feels weird saying it but it was emotional seeing everyone slowly walk off in different directions with suitcases rolling behind them. Everyone had made different plans whether it was travelling, first flight home or visiting family. For us, we were travelling.

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Our car

First thing to do was collect the cars. It started well when the guy upgraded us to an SUV for free. I was the person driving and when I saw the car, I was in shock. My car at home is a Ford Fiesta and this was huge! Once I managed to get out the small lanes of the car park we were on our way due south! 8 of us in two cars starting our California Adventure. Our first stop was in Monterey at the opposite end of Monterey Bay to Santa Cruz. We grabbed a bite to eat in a restaurant and had a drink before going back to the hotel. We were absolutely shattered and I was preparing myself the drive the next day.

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The next day was the drive down Highway 1. This is possibly the most picturesque driving I have ever done. Every few seconds was a perfect picture moment. Navigating up and down the cliffs on windy roads we finally arrived at Big Sur. We climbed to the top of the mountain to a beautiful waterfall for a photo moment before climbing the other way to one of the best views I have ever seen: looking out onto the redwood forests with the Pacific Ocean in the background. After this we continued to Santa Maria our rest stop for the night. The next morning we set of for LA. We stayed in a hostel on Hollywood Boulevard and drove up Mulholland Drive to take a picture of the Hollywood sign. This was the best part of LA as from this viewpoint you could see the entire skyline of the city.

Our last driving point was San Diego. This was one of my favourite cities we visited and I finally had some time off from the driving. We spent 3 nights here and did so much in such a short space of time! We drove on the interstate to the last exit before Mexico to an outlet mall. I would 100% recommend visiting one of these! I ended up getting a pair of Reebok classics and a Ralph Lauren polo for the equivalent of £40 where that would be about £120 over here! We also went to watch a baseball match between the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. I couldn’t attend without getting a foam finger! Our last day we spent on a local beach watching the sunset all together before an early night for the morning drive back up the coast towards San Francisco. We stopped only for some lunch in Santa Barbara which was beautiful. Lunch at the natural café for some healthy vegetarian food and a quick look in the thrift stores! One overnight stop and 16 hours of driving later we made it to San Francisco. The next two days we spent walking around the city, sampling the seafood and getting some presents for loved ones at home! Our last night was a bit emotional after spending so long in America!

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I would 110% recommend this trip to anyone. I still look back on it now knowing it was the best experience of my life. The photos just remind me of what a good time we had. It was the most amazing way to end my University experience with some of my best mates over the previous three years! I hope I haven’t bored you too much and I hope you enjoy the photos of my teddy bear and his tour around California!

Liverpool International Music Festival – celebrity-filled PhD research

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Post by Cat Wilkinson – 1st year PhD student

During last bank holiday weekend, I was granted backstage access at the Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF) and was able to rub shoulders with some of the U.K’s most coveted artists. Taking over from the highly celebrated Matthew Street Festival, LIMF focused on three things: celebrating greatness, discovering the new, and inspiring the next.

I received this perk in the form of a press pass from my CASE partner KCC LIVE, a local radio station targeting 10 – 24 year olds in Knowsley. I have been based at the station for the last few months conducting participant observation as part of my PhD research project ‘Connecting Communities through Youth-led Radio’. Being part of the team brings with it many exciting opportunities, such as this.

As well as being exciting, attending LIMF gave a window of insight into one key area of geographical thought, namely cultural regeneration. In particular, the festival, working with both the commercial and voluntary sector, brought to the fore the creativity in Liverpool by showcasing the talent of local, as well as global, artists – for instance the internationally acclaimed Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Liverpool legends The Christians, Connie Lush and Deaf School

My co-presenter Rob Tobin and I were allocated press passes which enabled us to watch the concerts, both at the Pier Head and Sefton Park from the area between the stage and the audience. We had an amazing view of the action – the only downside was that we kept being hit by flying objects, including jewellery and underwear, aimed at the A-list stars on stage!

Rob says:

“Being behind the scenes at such a big event was amazing. Casually walking past some of the most famous faces in world music was a bit crazy, and being so close to the stage when the artists were performing was fantastic.”

During the weekend we watched as the artists arrived in their tour buses or fancy cars, got changed in their allocated dressing rooms, had something to eat in the catering room, and then went out on stage. Our mission for the weekend was to get a quick photo with all of the artists at some point in that process, whilst keeping our avid listeners up to date with all the backstage gossip – and we did pretty well!

We met some of the U.K’s finest talent backstage, including X Factor favourites Little Mix (with a special mention for my favourite member Jesy), JLS, Union J, Diana Vickers, and Lucy Spraggan, Britain’s Got Talent’sThe Loveable Rogues, upcoming boy band The Vamps, girl groups The Saturdays and Stooshe and Radio 1’s Dev, amongst others.

Rob sums the weekend up nicely:

“The Pierhead and Sefton Park are both great live music venues and almost 40,000 people were there. Any job that involves meeting The Saturdays is a good one. Getting to go to events like LIMF to interview stars is definitely one of my favourite things about working in radio”

As well as having a fantastic time and getting to meet celebrities, I was able to see first-hand and collect important observations for my PhD research on the cultural impact that such regional sounds (or sonic geographies) have on Liverpool as a city. With LIMF scheduled to run for the foreseeable future, it is hoped that by encouraging local artists and nurturing such creativity, this will add to the wider regeneration of Liverpool. As part of this aim, the LIMF Academy are working to inspire young people (home grown talent) who are interested in entering the music industry, also important to my research as I work with a youth-led radio station. So overall, LIMF was successful in both celebrating Liverpool’s musical heritage and showcasing up-and-coming talent, and for me provided a fun and celebrity-filled weekend as well as important data for my research.

The festival events are running through until the 22 September – more information is available from http://www.limfestival.com/. You can listen to Rob and Cat on KCC LIVE on 99.8FM in Knowsley and Liverpool or online at kcclive.com every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm.

Exercising participant observation skills

Post by Cat Wilkinson – first year ESRC NWDTC CASE funded PhD student in Geography at the University of Liverpool with co-supervision at University of Manchester.

My PhD research project ‘connecting communities through youth-led radio’ looks into how a community radio station can connect communities in times of social, economic and political uncertainty.

My research involves 12 months of participant observation at KCC Live, a youth-led community radio station situated in Knowsley. Upon first entering the field-site I assumed that participant observation would involve sitting at a desk in the office, watching the everyday activities of the young volunteers and jotting down notes vigorously in my over-sized notebook. How wrong could I be! During the last few months that I have been based at KCC Live, participant observation has definitely involved participation as well as observation.

I have taken part in all sorts of activities, including a fundraising bag pack at Asda, a 12 hour ‘bowlathon’, and I have even undertaken broadcast training and am now co-presenting a weekly show on Wednesdays. However, my most recent contribution to the station really took my ‘participant observation’ to a whole new level.

As part of KCC Live’s Healthy Living Month the weekday morning presenters were set the task of producing a short fitness video, this was a competition in which the presenters would battle it out to get the most views. Myself and my co-host Rob decided to do a dance video – our own rendition of Eric Prydz ‘Call on Me’. We kitted ourselves out in headbands, leg warmers and took to the stage. You can watch our video here.

I hope other researchers doing participant observation also fully immerse themselves in the research setting! It’s certainly a lot of fun.

Edinburgh Field Class 2013

Congratulations to Lydia Michie, double-winner of our 2013 Edinburgh Field Class photo competition.

Here are her winning entries:

'Ethnography in Action' Category: Students in Action

‘Ethnography in Action’ Category: Students in Action

'Immobile Phones' Category: Edinburgh

‘Immobile Phones’ Category: Edinburgh

The runners-up can be viewed in our Edinburgh and Students in Action galleries.

The field class took place in mid-April and saw 46 Year 2 BA Geographers and 3 staff heading north, braving a week of intermittent rain and gales in order to put into practise a variety of research skills acquired over the last year and a half of study.

These included interviewing a Member of the Scottish Parliament; surveying any member of the public unable to run away fast enough; participant observation of the ‘local’ (tourist?) cuisine; and experiencing an Edinburgh bus tour in the name of ethnography.

'A Mars a Day' Sampling the 'local' cuisine

‘A Mars a Day’? Sampling the ‘local’ cuisine

The final part of the field class focussed on data analysis, ranging from traditional graphs and tables of survey results through to the construction of ‘word clouds’ based on free-text and interview responses:

Word Cloud (Non-Scottish respondents)

Word Cloud (Non-Scottish respondents)

Word Cloud (Scottish respondents)

Word Cloud (Scottish respondents)

The Edinburgh Field Class is just part of our wider three-year field class programme, which includes trips to North Wales, the Lake District, Spain, California and Singapore. All of these trips are designed an ethos of ‘learning by doing’. Or, in Edinburgh’s Case, ‘learning by doing whilst dodging showers and battling strong equinoctial gale’. Happy Days!

1st Year Fieldclass: day 1 in the Butharlyp Howe

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By Richard Chiverrell

9.00 am and all present and correct 28 intrepid first years set off from a snowy Liverpool via a snow-free Lancashire into a very snowy Lake District, thank god for that, last night was mildly concerned we would not get here. Particularly as the minibus slid most of the way across the Wirral in the snows when I took it home last night.

A quick and very warm welcome at the hostel, the rooms allocated, the 29th student arrived and we were set. Full cold weather gear in hand, we set off to explore the delights of Far Easedale and Easedale Tarn, snow everywhere, big drifts waist deep, snowballs a-flying. A quick run through glacial geomorphology, landscape history, the Neil Macdonald “stone age people, what did the Roman’s ever us??? Vikings, monks and the agricultural revolution in a chilly 3-4 minutes”, we stomped our way around the landscape including a detour to Easedale Tarn and a difficult descent in slippery conditions that everyone survived…..

A warm hostel awaited with luxury hot chocolate (cream, marshmellows, lovely yummmmmm), and a brief rest before a stonking meal, now stuffed with soup, fresh bread rolls, baked potatoes, bolognaise, and a sticky bun and custard. Rolling, a minor rest with a pint of Cockerhoop to plan for tomorrow. Rivers and slopes, and snow stability and shear measurements await…….

SOES Photography competition 2013 award winner Timothy Shaw

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I (Timothy Shaw) was very pleased to receive the award for ‘best environment’ and ‘best overall’ photograph in the recent photography competition within the School of Environmental Sciences open to staff and students. The winning photo, Fairy Glen Waterfalls, proved you don’t have to travel the world to find impressive features and was in fact taken in nearby Sefton Park, Aigburth, a popular suburb of Liverpool attracting students and postgraduates alike as residents during their degrees . Congratulations to the other award winners, nominees and everyone who participated for submitting such a variety of interesting, well taken photos.