5 alternatives to the gym



The NHS recommends at least 3 hours of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy. But If you are like me and feel intimated by all the super-toned people at the gym here are some ideas you can incorporate into your everyday routine instead;

1. Fidgeting

Although this may annoy anyone you sit next, people who fidget burn around 300 extra calories per day. If you take the average calories content of a pound of body fat to be 3500, (300×365)/3500 = 31.3 pounds is how much weight you could lose in a year, besides the increased muscle tone you would eventually get. Fidgeting doesn’t have to mean simply tapping your foot; other ways include walking around whilst on the phone and getting up from your desk about once every hour to do a few stretches.

2. At-home workout videos

Thanks mainly to YouTube, you can now have a virtual personal trainer for free in your own home. My favourite channel by far is Fitness Blender who have videos for all ages/abilities/muscle groups etc. Alternatively, if you have game such as Just Dance, do a couple of dances for cardio and in between do a few minutes of strength training such as lifting weights (bottles of water work well if you don’t have dumbbells) or doing abs exercises such as crunches.

3.  Gardening

Gardening is a great overall workout that you probably you don’t realise you’re doing; 30 minutes digging followed by 30 minutes planting seeds burns around 400 calories! The best part is you’ll have an amazing garden to enjoy in the spring and summer.

4. Dancing

I went properly clubbing for the first time this week, and after a few hour of non-stop dancing my stomach felt like I’d just done 1000 crunches. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but dancing burns 200-400 calories per hour (the crazier the dancing the  better the workout!), and you’ll probably be having too much fun to realise you’re exercising.

5. Ditch the car/bus

This may seem obvious but walk/cycle whenever you can. Although it may be more time consuming in that a 10 minute car/bus journey probably takes 30 minutes to walk, you get to enjoy the fresh air and see some wildlife early in the morning/late in the evening you otherwise wouldn’t see.

Easy Pasta Bake



Going to University means (unless you are in catered accommodation) that it is time to learn to cook! Here’s a quick and simple recipe I created by experimenting with leftovers from the week 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4)

12 oz pasta (I used Farfalle but any pasta shape will work)

1 packet cooked ham (the sandwich type)

2 handfuls spinach (frozen or fresh)

4-6 mushrooms (optional)

200 ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tbsp butter/margarine

Flour (ideally plain but you can get away with SR)

Black pepper



  1. In a pan cook the pasta as stated on the packet.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the spread in a second pan on a medium heat.
  3. When the spread has melted and the milk and stir well.
  4. Add a 2-3tsp of flour at a time to the milk/spread mix and stir well. Keep adding flour until the sauce is at your desired thickness (remember the sauce will thicken further in the oven)
  5. Chop the ham and mushrooms up into small pieces.
  6. When the pasta is cooked; drain and add to pan with the sauce along with the ham, spinach and mushrooms and mix together. Season with black pepper to taste. 
  7. Transfer the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with a generous helping of your preferred cheese (I used Parmesan)
  8. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
  9. Enjoy! If there are any leftovers, simply put them in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 2 days.

MEDC Urban Issues

With references to a city you have studied in class, outline the issues that it faces, and what the causes of these issues are.


An example of a city with lots of urban issues is Los Angeles. LA is a densely populated Mega City, stretching out for over 498 square miles with a growing population of over 13million. The city is located in the state of California on the west coast of America between San Francisco and the Mexican border.

LA has a high population density, partially due to its geography. LA is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, so every available space is used. This limit of space has lead to overcrowding in many areas, especially poorer regions where poor immigrants move there, then can’t afford to move out. Also, because there is so little space for expansion, in many areas there are poor public services as the government hasn’t got the space or the money to build new train lines/stations or improve bus routes on congested roads by for example building another lane. Competition for land and other prime sites means property is expensive to buy or rent. As well as this, freeways built to give access everywhere to drivers, can no longer cope with the volume of traffic so suburbaners who work downtown face long and expensive journeys, as well as increasing the amount of air pollution.

All of this lead to the 1992 race riots, where the high number of immigrants fought back against their poor services in their area and the total lack of government spending. Urbanisation caused 85% of La’s immigrants to be from Mexico or the Asian Pacific Rim countries, and they were looking for a better quality of life in the “city of Dreams”. These people had to take low paid jobs and because they had little money they were forced to live in poorer districts such as Watts, where everything including things such as public services were not of a quality good enough compared to that of places such as Malibu. The riots caused 572 injuries, 25 deaths and over a thousand fires to blaze across the city. Unsurprisingly, the city has a high incidence of crime, including gang warfare where the mix of cultures in the city clash and drug problems, imported from other states or Mexico.

Due to this immigration, LA’s population density has increased rapidly. The amount of people in the area has amounted to high levels of air pollution. Around 13million people relying on cars means that a lot of pollution is produced. Between 60 and 80% of LA’s air pollution comes from Cars and other forms of public transport on the road. This problem is made worse by the fact that because of LA’s geography, the pollution gets trapped over the city as it cannot escape over the Rocky Mountains. This permanent smog over the city causes many problems, but the main ones are that the C02 causes global warming, it corroded and damages all sorts of materials, especially things which buildings there are made of e.g. metal so they need constant repairs, the fumes from diesel cars can cause cancer, crops and fish are killed by acid rain and the fumes from cars also causes photochemical smog to form which causes bronchitis, lung cancer or stops the proper development of the lungs in children.

This problem is not helped by Natural Hazards. The San Andres fault line runs right through the middle of the city. This causes frequent earthquakes which cannot be helped, and there is only so much architects can do in designing buildings so they withstand the earthquakes. So many people loose there lives, are injured or roads and buildings are destroyed amounting to a large re-building cost when an earthquake occurs. Another natural problem is that LA was built in a dessert-like land. This means there is very little water and LA has to rely on Arizona for its large supply. If this supply ever ran out or damaged many problems would occur. Finally, there are frequent landslides in the region caused by earthquakes, heavy rain, deforestation, fires or too much building on fragile land. This destroys homes and other buildings and endanger lives.

All of these problems have lead to a rapid increase in the growth of edge cities. This is where counter-urbanisation creates new smaller settlements where office buildings and houses are built on the edge of LA, over 50km from downtown area. They normally are made off of motorway junctions as this gives road access to the city. As well as the push factors named above, the pull factors for the edge cities are that there are better home and job prospects, less commuting, can escape pollution and congestion in a better environment and lower land and housing costs. These edge cities have all the facilities you would expect except they quite often lack entertainment such as sport centres or cinemas. It is only the richer proportion of the population that move as they are the only ones who can afford to.

Amazon Project part 6: Conclusion

amazon rainforest

Now, in some parts of the Amazon, Logging companies are being more selective and careful about the trees they want to cut down and the best way to do it without doing to much damage. More companies are replacing the trees they cut down with more rarer and valuable species such as mahogany.

As individuals, there is a lot we can do to help the situation. First, do not order expensive mahogany and other wood to make furniture- do you really need it. Be more careful with the amount of paper you use. The average family uses about seven trees worth of paper and cardboard each year. Re-cycle all the packaging and use paper and other products like wood sparingly. Turn off the heating and put on a jumper, do not leave things on standby unless you have to and turn things off when you are not using them and do not need them. This saves tress from being burnt to make your electricity.  

International ecotourism groups such as Tie’s are working with people worldwide in places like Lebanon. They promote sustainable tourism to remote villages. Eco-tourism is sustainable tourism. You can go on holiday to a less well off country like Lebanon as well as many destinations across the Globe. As you can see from the map below, there are projects worldwide. On these trips, you can visit indigenous people and learn about their culture. You can find out their point of view and how they are affected. This gives you a great holiday, a new experience and all without doing a great deal of damage to the environment. Some of the money you pay goes to these people and they can use it to survive. It will give them food and clean water and teach language and friendship skills they can use in the outside world.

National parks are springing up across the tropical rainforests. Parks such as the Jaú National Park protect the rainforest from loggers, miners and farming. They have a great range of biodiversity and help endangered species with special breeding programmes. These parks help save and re-grow the rainforest to its former glory. Here scientist can study the affects of what is happening, and they can study and discover potentially life-saving cures.

In conclusion, if we all work hard, there is still some hope. If we all work together, we can try to save this planet and stop the rainforests of the world from being destroyed.  The planet can stay looking like this…

The Home Front Project Part 8 – Goodnight Mr Tom

From the film Goodnight Mr. Tom you can get a view of life on the Home Front.

goodnight mr tom

The village featured relied heavily on radio. This shows that this was a main way for the Government to send messages to the masses as in the beginning of the film, a group from the village gather around a radio in church to hear the news that Britain was at war with Germany.

It also shows that going to church was an important part of rural life as all the villagers are shown going frequently to church to listen to services and sing. This shows that villages were very communal and everybody was quite close.

Men from all over are seen passing through the village in army gear in army trucks. This shows that people from all over the country went into the army, and it was also younger and older men who went willingly at first.

The film portrays some of the people in the village being reluctant to take in evacuated children. They were forced into it and had no choice even if they didn’t want the child at first. This suggests that because of the war, a lot of personal freedoms could be taken away from you.

Religion is shown as an important way of life at that time because William’s mother wrote a letter insisting he was with a religious person or was placed near the church. The letter also stated that it didn’t matter who that person was showing some parents had more concern about their child’s beliefs in there upbringing rather than the suitability of the person taking care of them.

Evacuees are shown to be scared, confused and upset from being separated from their parents as they don’t all look happy leaving on the train to the village, and seem confused by the different way of life when they get there.

Some food is seen to be similar as for diner they often are seen to have some version of a fry up and for breakfast they have toast or cereal which is what we often have nowadays.

The house where Tom lives has lots of old furniture, there are many decorative plates and other items on display in cabinets or on the walls, the house is basically a cottage with lots of beaming showing, the style of windows are different from those we often have in modern buildings.  This shows our ways of life have changed a lot in 60 years.

The film suggests a lot of children in the larger towns and cities have never seen certain animals in real life before because when William first goes to the new village, he is scared of a dog there and runs away. This shows that unlike today, where a lot of people have some kind of pet, and where most young people have been to a zoo before, it wasn’t like that in those days.

The way we dress has also dramatically changed in the last 2-3 generations. For example, young boys are seen wearing shirts, a pullover, shorts and long socks with boots, but nowadays, young boys would definitely not be seen wearing that sort of clothing in that combination outside of re-enactments of ww2.

Hostile Earth (Part 2)

The Process of aVolcanic Eruption

  1. At a destructive plate boundary the oceanic plate moves towards the continental plate, but as the oceanic plate is heavier it sinks.
  2. The oceanic plate is pushed further under and melts in the hot temperatures of the mantel, and the extra magma increases pressure.
  3. As the melted rock is lighter it forces its way to the surface creating a volcano. Further eruptions build up layers of rock.
  4. Red hot lava flows down the side of the volcano. Gases in the volcano can cause explosions as more magma forces its way upwards, releasing thousands of volcanic bombs and pyroclastic flows. The lava can also mix with water to form Lahas (a type of mudflow which causes more deaths than the lava alone)

If volcanoes are so dangerous, why do we live near them?

  • Fertile soils – the physical breakdown and chemical weathering of rocks over thousands of years forms fertile soil (e.g.  Hawaii)
  • Geothermal energy – water in permeable rocks is heated by the magma beneath to form steam. It can be used to drie turbines for electricity, for spas or for space heating. It is an environmentally-friendly and limitless source of enerfy. (e.g. in Iceland 70% of homes are heated by geothermal energy)
  • Minerals – lava can crystallise into gold/silver/diamonds etc. meaning dormant volcanoes provide good mining oppurtunities, which could lead to job creation and the development of near-by towns.
  • Tourism – Hot springs/geysers are huge tourist attractions and provide additional revenue for the country (e.g. Old Faithful in Yellowstone park)
  • Science – Close study of volcanoes could lead to a better understanding of them and help to develop new prediction techniques
  • Other – local inhabitants often think an eruption won’t happen in their lifetime so it is safe to live there and as it has always been their home they are often reluctant to leave, particually as many jobs are based near volcanoes e.g. logging

Case Study – Mt. St. Helens

A detailed account of the eruption and its affects can be found here, but here is a rather informative and at the same time commical song about the eruption:

Hostile Earth (Part 1)

In this mini-series we’ll be exploring the destructive side of the Earth, its effects and how we can help to protect ourselves. (This will also cover everything you need to know for Unit 2 of  AQA GCSE Geography!)

Plate Margins


  • 2 plates slide past each other, travelling in opposite directions
  • Activity: violent earthquakes
  • Example: San Andreas Fault in California (Pacific & North American plates)


  • An oceanic plate moves towards a continental plate, but because it is heavier it sinks and is destroyed, forming deep-sea trenches  and island arcs. Volcanoes also form as the extra magma created from the destroyed oceanic plate is under pressure and is forced upwards through the rock.
  • Activity: violent volcanic & violent earthquakes
  • Example: Chile (Nazca & South American plates)

Constructive (aka Sea-Floor Spreading)

  • 2 plates move apart forming new oceanic crust as well as mid-ocean ridges with volcanoes
  • Activity: gentle volcanic and gentle earthquakes
  • Example: Mid-Atlantic Ridge (e.g. Iceland) (North American & Eurasian plates)


  • 2 continental crusts collide and as neither can sink they are forced upwards, creating fold mountains
  • Activity: violent earthquakes
  • Example: The Himilayas (Eurasian & Indo-Australian plates)

MEDC Case Study – Kobe, Japan

  • Plate Margin: Destructive
  • Plates: Eurasian & Phillipenes
  • Location: Urban
  • Local Date & Time: 17th January 1995 05:46 a.m.
  • Magnitude: 7.2
  • Primary effects: 200,000 buildings collapsed, 3/4 all quays destroyed, 10 bridges along the bullet train route collapsed, 1 km of Hanshin highway collapsed
  • Secondary effects: 5,500 dead, 40,000 injured, 230,000 homeless when temps averaged -2 degrees, fires from ruptured gas/electricity mains, grid-locked roads, lack of water supplies, industries shut down

LEDC Case Study – Sichuan, China

  • Plate Margin: Conservative
  • Plates: Eurasian & Indo-Australian
  • Location: Rural
  • Local Date & Time: 12th May 2008 02:30 p.m.  
  • Magnitude: 7.9
  • Primary effects: 7,000 classrooms and most buildings collapsed, communication (e.g. phone lines) destroyed, landslides, hospitals destroyed
  • Secondary effects: 70,000 dead, 40,000 injured, 4.8 million homeless, 70% roads blocked, 46 million affected in total, 18,000 still missing presumed dead, $86 billion damage, isolation of villages in remote areas

Reducing the risks from earthquakes

Key definitions

  • Prediction: the use of science/technology to monitor techtonic activity
  • Preparation: creating emergency plans to implement once the disaster has struck
  • Planning: e.g. building design – earthquake-proofing buildings in urban areas to reduce damage, injuries & death
  • Retrofitting: addition of new technology to older buildings
  • Appropriate technology: technology designed with consideration of intended community

In an MEDC…

  • Computer controlled counterweight on roof
  • Cross-bracing to add strength and prevent twisting
  • Automatic window shutters stopping shattered glass#
  • Automatic sprinklers to prevent fires

In an LEDC…

  • Roof made of reinforced concrete
  • Hollow concrete bricks which cause less damage if they fall
  • Foundations made mainly of stone from the remains of previously destroyed buildings
  • Relatively cheap and uses recycled materials

Special Case: Costa Rica

  • Bamboo homes – bamboo is strong but also flexible so less likely buildings will collapse. More environmentally friendly as only 70 hectares of land needed to build 1000 homes compared to 600 hectares of forest.

How to prepare your home:

  • Secure heavy, moveable items of furniture
  • Prepare an earthquake kit
  • Practice earthquake drills (e.g. Disaster Prevention Day in Japan)
  • After the shaking stops check for injuries and check the radio for further instructions
  • Building codes – homes built in at-risk areas must have strong earthquake-proofing

Preperation for and Response to Earthquakes..


  • Local services are well trained and regularly have practice drills
  • New buildings comply with strict earthquake planning regulations
  • Emergency earthquake kits packed
  • Education – teach people what to expect in the event of an earthquake
  • Counselling for distressed children
  • Viible identification numbers on roofs to help helicopters assess damage


  • Looks to international aid and world-wide charities for help
  • Cremate the dead to prevent disease
  • Airfields that bring in rescue teams and emergency supplies are often too far away
  • Poorly built buildings
  • Limited supplies for a large number of victims
  • Makeshift open-air hospitals
  • Limited funds to cover cost of supplies and rebuilding projects
  • Lack of radio/tv/internet that could communicate with people to allow time to evacuatedanger zones or help manage relief operations


  • Evacuation centres in safe areas
  • Community ready and willing to search for victims/survivors but lacks the appropriate equipment
  • Monitoring movementss in the Earth’s crust
  • Massive disruption to power lines transport and communications