Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Brilliance of Professors

Christmas Lunch - December 2011

I think that this is one of the pictures
that I would put in my desert island photo album...
I know that whenever I looked at it
I would still hear the faint sound of laughter
and it would be impossible to feel lonely.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Graduation Day

On Graduation Day
there is a reception in the Department
for the graduands and their guests.

Everybody has a job to do:

there is someone to polish glasses
and wash them up afterwards

someone to lay out the envelopes
and welcome the guests

someone to make the labels
and the fabulous poster display

someone to unwrap the catering
and someone to open the bottles of bubbly

someone to address the graduands
and present the prizes

someone to play the trumpets
(that is a specialist job)

someone to organise the procession
and someone to take the photographs.

It is a pleasure and a privilege every year
because it is such a special day.

original post

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Finalists' Barbecue

The students are in limbo
between exams and results
and their laughter has an anxious edge.

Long tables are covered with white lab roll
and bowls of food beautifully prepared
by the Operations Manager and her Crew.

The student tells me
of his trip to Vietnam.
"It will be the last holiday
I spend with my family."

I think of his mother and I say
"Don't say that - perhaps it won't be."

The academic tells me
of the overnight train journey.
I imagine his two little children
wide awake with excitement
in the sleeper compartment and smile.

The sausages and burgers
are ordered from a local butcher
and are really delicious.

And the team of Physical Geographers
show off their crazy BBQ skillz
and cook everything to perfection.

The Young Academic is recounting
the tale of the Tie of Shame
to the Head of Department elect
who is looking faintly appalled
and wondering what lies ahead in his new role.

The new GeogSoc committee
have contacted me to discuss
the Freshers reception in September.
I tell the ex-President of the GeogSoc
and she laughs
"That's a bit keen -
I didn't think about it until the week before."

Everyone clusters at the top of the Quad
for the traditional photograph.
It will be given to all finalists
on Graduation Day.

The Head of Department
thanks the students
for making it such a good evening
and tells them they are a vintage year.

As I leave the Department
the foyer is still full of students
chatting, laughing,
reluctant to leave.

It is another happy memory,
to take away into the world outside
and keep for a lifetime.

original post

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The Chocolate Cake has landed!
Here it is with my accomplice,
Jenny the Cartographer.
(she reads this blog so do say hi!)

I walked into the Exams Office later in the morning
to find four examiners having a cake-break
and looking very chilled.
(I hope that the Examinations Officer
has not noticed the frivolous silver balls)

There is a cheerful atmosphere in the Department
because the marking has been completed.
(summer fieldwork and conferences seem closer)

This evening 150 students and staff
will be partying on a river boat.
I have given strict instructions
to the GeogSoc Committee
to be careful with the staff.
(I need them all back for the Sub Board meetings)

original post

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lunch Hour

:: sunshine ::
:: daffodils ::
:: students ::

if you look carefully
you will see the big group of
first year Geographers
who waved to me
and called out my name
as I walked through the quad
and made me smile

original post

Thursday, 10 February 2011

the world comes to me

Mark Edwards
Man Watching Crows

The Professor sits down in my chair
with a grateful sigh.

"We were just about to land in Tromsø
when the snow started
and we were diverted to a tiny airport
in the middle of nowhere.
As we approached the runway
the snow was really heavy
and I don't know how the pilot landed the plane.
There was hardly enough room for us all
in the terminal building and no sign of buses.
Eventually, a bus came to take us to Tromsø
and we set off through the forests.
Of course, it was really beautiful...
all those pine trees covered in snow...
but all I could think was that
there were
no chains on the wheels,
the road was icy, the snow was still falling
and the bus was sliding on every corner.
My heart was in my mouth for the next five hours
and I have never been so glad to get home safely."

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Souvenirs of Nerja

I fell in love with the Costa del Sol...

I thought it was just
sun, sand and flamenco

but I discovered
dramatic mountain scenery,

Moorish history

and orange groves.

You can sit in the sunshine in Granada at lunchtime

and then drive across the hills

back to the sea

and the bustle of the promenade.

Nerja, I'm missing you already.

Roll on next year.

original post

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Friday Night in Tutti-Frutti


Help me out, folks...

What shall we call this...

'Social Geography'?

original post

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Another Intense Day

Up early because we are off
to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada...

to study Geomorphology
with our fearless leader.

This required us to spend the morning
in an almond grove
surrounded by sugar pink blossom,

a brief stop for lunch
breathing in the smell of wild thyme,
admiring the white-washed buildings,

and then it is off
down the hill through the orange trees
to the river bed.

Chemical Analysis

Measuring Flow Rate

Observing Sediment Deposition

Taking Photos

Well...somebody has to do it.

original post

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Physical Geography

This is the Geography
of hard hats and rock hammers

of observation,

of landscape.

This is the Geography
of schist, silt and scree

of river, mountain,
coastline and desert.

It can only be done outside
wearing trousers with pockets
on the side of your legs.

I'm coping.

original post