Charlotte Evans, Social and Economic History, Lancaster University (2020 Cohort)
As coronavirus restrictions began to lift (again) in March, spring melted away the last of the long locked-down winter. Lancaster’s bars and restaurants opened their gardens, and then their doors. Since moving to Lancaster to start my MA in Digital Humanities, I hadn’t had much time to properly explore the city without the various restrictions and if I were to write this blog a couple of months ago it would have been short and monotonous. We’ve all been in the same boat the last year and don’t need to read another blog about the student experience during a pandemic. So instead of zoom calls and working from home, I thought it would be nice to explore Lancaster and all that it offers now the restrictions are lifted.
The house-share I found in September is up by the train station, just a short walk from the city centre. As you walk towards town you pass ‘The Storey’, a tall, stone, Jacobean building offering The Print Room café, the tourist office and some postgraduate study rooms with views overlooking the castle and its cobble-stone streets. If you follow the curve of the road round and skirt around the town centre, you’ll find the River Lune. The river is tidal up to the weir, so you can smell the salt in the air if you stand on the millennium bridge with its huge blue-white arches.
Back towards town, there is a fine selection of coffee shops offering great places to study if you need a change of scene from the familiar four walls of home. Herbarium is a plant-based café offering coffees, teas, hot-chocolates and food in an eclectic and cosy setting. There is no wi-fi here, but it’s a great place to bring a book for a few hours of reading. If you need to connect to the web, The Hall might suit you better with its reliable wi-fi, plug sockets (for the less reliable laptop battery) and Atkinson’s coffee.
Occasionally, when the sunshine has been burning through the windows all day whilst I’ve been glued to the laptop screen I jump in the car with a blanket and a book and drive to Morecombe. If you’re lucky, you can look out across the bay and see a silhouette of the Lakes in the distance. Even if it’s too cloudy, there’s an art installation on the promenade offering the Lakes in sculpture form. And, if you time it right, you can watch the sunset over the sea, turning the sky a watercolour of oranges and purples that will always look better in real-life than through a phone screen.
At the end of the day, it’s often the people that make a place. Moving cities during a global pandemic has been challenging at times, but I think it’s also made me realise how important it is to find happiness in the present and not just the far-off goal. I’ve been lucky to find a great bunch of friends and colleagues in Lancaster and finally feel settled into life. Having just found a new flat for the coming year, I’m really excited to move forwards to my PhD and see what the future has in store.