One of us is an historian. That’s why were up at half past six the other morning. The train was at half past eight and we had to be on it. We started to ring for taxis at half past seven. We could have had practically every taxi in Warrington – at half past nine. A good neighbour who was taking the day off work to have root canal surgery offered to drive us to the station. It might take his mind off things …we caught the train. The ticket machine at the station worked perfectly, at the third try. The young gentlemen sitting in our pre-booked seats vacated them with a smile. The train was on time. We arrived at the Lancaster University early enough to wander round and get lost. We found our way back to the Ruskin Library and Research Centre. It’s an exciting, dynamic structure, ship shaped, approached along a causeway through a field of wildly waving grasses. Beautiful. Through the heavy double doors (less of these later) and into the interestingly shaped lecture room. It’s ‘Y’ shaped. The audience sit in the arms of the Y, unable to see one another. The lecturer stands at the joint of the arms and attempts to be heard by both sides at the same time. Behind the lecturer is a huge window which gives a clear view of buses entering the University grounds. No 1 seems to be popular. A working sound system would also be popular.
Coffee and very nice biscuits were in a cramped corner of one of the arms by good humoured staff, as was an excellent lunch. Perhaps if there had been room for a few tables lunch would have been even more enjoyable? Certainly less enjoyable was the blocked lavatory I encountered after lunch. As it appeared to be the only one available I called on my army training and cleared it. The wash basins have very hot water. Thankfully.
The lectures were excellent, interesting, and mostly audible. An announcement was made during the afternoon tea break. Storm Callum had blown one of the heavy entrance doors off its hinges, and the entrance was considered to be unsafe. We would therefore exit via the basement. We did. Our taxi picked us up, and, apart from developing a fault with its brakes, delivered us, on time, to the station. Being on time was unimportant because a tree had fallen on the line north of Lancaster and or train arrived 32 minutes late. We were assured that Virgin would refund our fares.
An interesting day, and we learned much about the extraction of peat from the Cumbrian fells, and more about the problems of bracken for the commoners of the region. We’re due to visit Whalley Abbey in the New Year.