Monthly Archives: April 2014

Elephant by Kenyan flip-flop recycling company Ocean Sole

Meet Philippe, the Flip-Flop Elephant

We met Philippe, the Flip-Flop Elephant, on a recent town trip. There he was waiting patiently for us to visit him at his new home in Newcastle’s Great North Museum. He’d travelled a very long way – all the way from Kenya, in fact.

Philippe isn’t called “the Flip-Flop Elephant” because he’s a floppy kind of animal. He’s called “the Flip-Flop Elephant” because he is actually made from old flip-flops – those plastic sandals often worn on sunny beaches.

The company who created Philippe is called Ocean Sole. They are a Kenyan company who specialise in recycling old flip-flops that are washed up on Kenya’s Indian Ocean beaches and waterways. The flip-flops are cleaned, cut up and stuck together into blocks and are then carved into animals, jewellery and other useful objects.

I think this is a fabulous example of upcycling. Through their handcrafted creations Ocean Sole are seeking to teach the world about marine pollution. Ocean Sole are recycling man-made rubbish that is being retrieved from one of the world’s most precious ecosystems, the sea. From time to time we see news stories about plastic being one of the major ocean pollutants, but I never envisaged flip-flops being such a big polluter.

Ocean Sole describe thousands of flip-flops being washed up every year. This huge amount of flip-flops has a serious impact on the wildlife along the Kenyan coast. The company aims to recycle 400,000 flip-flops every year! That is a lot of flip-flops!

Not only are Ocean Sole playing their part in cleaning Kenya’s beaches, the business also provides much-needed jobs for the local community. It is wonderful to learn about a company so passionate about one of our most important ecosystems and community-orientated too.

I was inspired!

J Peggy Taylor

OS map and Silva compass

Enjoy map-reading with Ordnance Survey maps

As a great fan of the traditional fold-out paper version of OS maps, I was surprised to receive an email today from Ordnance Survey confirming that their paper maps are here to stay. “What?!” I thought. “I didn’t know they’d been threatened with extinction too!” … but then I read on …

Apparently, in some of the UK newspapers that I don’t read, there has been a story circulating recently that Ordnance Survey will no longer be routinely producing maps that cover the whole of the UK.

I am pleased to report these stories are entirely false! In the words of Ordnance Survey themselves –

This is simply not true!

We are pleased to confirm that we have no plans to stop producing our iconic range of OS Explorer Maps and OS Landranger Maps for the whole
of Great Britain.

Ordnance Survey go on to emphasise the importance of their paper maps and recommend that people carry a paper map as well as digital versions. You can find free map-reading guides on the OS website including a map-reading guide for children. I found the children’s guide a useful tool when I was introducing my own children to map-reading.

Map-reading is one of those skills I am always keen to encourage. When we meet ‘lost’ people I find it much easier using a map to explain to them where they are … relative to where they want to be! I know map-reading was part of the school curriculum (at least in the recent past! – though things change so quickly in the field of education here in the UK these days!). But a skill like map-reading can only really be honed with practice. With the Easter holidays around the corner, there’s a great family fun activity for everyone to get lost in!

I jest … slightly! If you are all just beginning map-reading and practising your skills together, I would recommend starting out by exploring your own neighbourhood or somewhere you know reasonably well. This will give you a chance to get to grips with exactly what all those lines and map symbols look like ‘on the ground’.

Map-reading the landscape
Our feature-rich landscape including an earthwork (under the small copse of trees) and a TV mast (across the valley on the horizon towards the right). Roads, field boundaries and height contours can all be more easily understood when they are there in front of us.

We are fortunate to live in a rural valley with lots of visible features such as patches of woodland, a river and streams, a television mast, hills. When teaching my children about contour lines, I found climbing a hill between two known points helped them really understand the relationship between those wavy brown lines on the map and the actual gradient of the hill.

After we’d been learning about public footpaths and bridleways, it was fun to plan a route before going out and discovering the ‘real version’ of the features we’d noted in our plan as we went along. We ‘discovered’ lambs and horses in some fields we were crossing, so this prompted a discussion on the importance of closing gates behind us. We also ‘discovered’ missing stiles and marshy footpaths that had to be carefully negotiated, but this was all part of the fun of exploring.

Moorland in the North Pennines
Exploring the moors in the North Pennines

I am pleased to say my map-reading teaching seems to have stuck with our boys, so now when we’re out walking in unfamiliar territory I am no longer the only one who can read the map and compass.

J Peggy Taylor