August 20, 2012, by Matt

A day in the life of a geographer … Francesca Marriott

“Geography is all around us”

I was a little unsure what to write for this blog as lectures and ‘uni-life’ cannot make up the contents of this blog because of course it is Summer! Well it seems an age since my last blog and a long time since summer began. So what does a 1st year-soon-to-be-2nd year do during the summer?

I’m afraid this summer I have not done anything extraordinarily exciting like ‘finding myself’ in some far off distant country nor have I travelled to the ends of the earth to build an orphanage for those in need due to the current inability to finance such missions.

However, one does not have to travel  far to conduct voluntary work. Brief highlights of my summer so far include the following. A week’s voluntary conservation work at the RSPB nature reserve Blacktoft Sands.  Two weeks later I also spent a week volunteering at a children’s Summer Camp with the charity Over the Wall. (  The charity aims to provide life-changing experiences for children with serious and life threatening illnesses. Which basically translates to a week of me being covered in difficult to remove orange face-paint – it works better than fake tan.

Seeing as Geography has not been placed upon me in the terms of lectures etc, I’ve decided to share what Geographical aspects I encountered this week. It’s hardly surprising I came across quite a bit seeing as spatial aspects such as space and place are key parts of the subject.

The first part of this week I’ve spent in the Scottish borders on holiday. Do not fear I am not going to bore you with my holiday snaps – well only the geographically related ones.

The Law

The Law is on the outskirts of North Berwick close to the Firth of Forth .  An interesting hill in comparison with the very flat topography of the surrounding area.  It is actually the core from an extinct volcano and a walk to the top provided pretty good views.

Grey Mare’s Tail

Another walk also took me through Grey Mare’s tail nature reserve, up and alongside a waterfall. I like to believe my observations in the field have improved greatly in the year I’ve been at Nottingham, though I am also well aware that there is vast room for improvement. On this particular walk I was inundated with Geography. The reserve is set in a hanging valley where the Tail Burn drops 200ft into the gorge below (it’s the 5th highest cascade in Britain). The side of the valley is marked with terraces and at the top of the hanging valley are moraines.

The Reserve 

The second part of this week, I have been working with my part-time job – a Casual Adventure Worker for Notts County Council. I spent a few days working with some young people on a residential. I always enjoy being outdoors and particularly like seeing geography ‘in the field’. There’s something far more special about looking at the geology hanging off a rock-face by a climbing rope or underground whilst caving. Let’s just say it beats textbook pictures any day! We spent a day down Giants and Cadwell Cave – both very interesting yet very different.

Giants Cave 


The final day of my ‘working week’ has been spent on a canoe trip on the River Trent. I always find it interesting to take to the water; I find it gives you a different perspective of your surroundings and the changes from a rural to an urban setting.

The near future holds my second residential field-course ‘Techniques in Physical Geography’ with the Department to Malham at the beginning of September. I was supposed to start the preparation for it this week; thus giving me plenty of time. But alas I appear to have been a little ambitious with my plans and after a very busy time, preparation will have to start next week.


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