Alone in Lancaster

Lancaster was meant to be a base for visiting bookshops and interesting attractions in a 360 degree radius over a week in the Lancashire region. It came into my trip planner via a Book Trail which I found on the internet. Damn map makers who condense distances into convenience for small brochures…even with the detailed research of my LSM (Long Suffering Mate) around the oddities of train and bus schedules, the distances and circuitous routes around the Trail were beyond challenging. However, having found a budget accommodation online, and studied the maps and schedules, it seemed a challenge yet doable. So it became part of the itinerary.

Lancaster had never been on our previous routes, and it was a fresh field of untapped adventuring. So after the adrenalin of the Wigtown Festival and the pleasures of the Dumfries railway station (see previous blogs and sprinkle your comments liberally), I arrived in Lancaster last Sunday. Without knowing the streets, I chose a taxi ride to 28 Thurnham Street. It was a short ride. Each day since I have walked the 12 minutes through the town cbd to the station and have become as much a local as the market sellers in the Town Hall Square on the way. I even found a few short cuts….and have astounded myself that I have not really been discombobulated too much.

The cynical questioning of the taxi driver on that first day probably should have rung a few bells, but it wasn’t until I keyed in the entry code and then saw that my allocated bedroom was about 2 feet (yes they still measure in old money) from the front door, and the bedroom window was at street level……by the time to hit the hay, the road noise was so intense (on a Sunday night) that I was rummaging for my ear plugs. Then a face mask became an eye mask to block out the glare of the street light outside the window that would be handy at a Sports Arena for a night game. So the unpacking and organising my digs for the week done, I explored the kitchen….a high rating! Shared bathroom up two flights of steep steps……much lower rating. But the towels were big and fluffy. But nothing to put into the fridge. So it was off to find some groceries, and orientate myself. All good. Thank you Sainsbury’s.

Monday was a ‘ get to know the City Centre Day’. Quite a few bookshops….and lots of shelves to browse. A reasonably accurate map and a very pleasant chat at the Information Centre at The Storey was a great start…and the hot chocolate and gf toastie in the Print Room Cafe was a great way to start the week. The first adventure was at the nearby Castle and the start of a week-long quest to discover the stories and trail of the Witches of olden days.

Love the plaques and historic references the UK does so well. Builds the history so quietly and visually identifiable.

With each day’s bus and train schedules firmly imprinted on my itinerary, I was looking forward to heading off to the radiating destinations until the weather decided it was going to throw a hissy fit on the Tuesday and it was a rescheduled rest day for reading and catching up on sleep and flexibly redesigning the following days. Wednesday was trying to track down the Atticus Bookshop and the Assembly Rooms quirky gems, books, costumes and gifts at The Emporium…interesting but no sales and drizzling skies.

Mundane searches for money and street food were interspersed with tracking down interesting lanes and buildings….as much as Lancaster needs a mighty good cleaning of its major tourist attractions, the architecture and inner city buildings are fascinating. St Peter’s Cathedral and the prestigious schools, the different levels of houses, and the gardens and Monuments all tell a story of the city’s industrial past and its contemporary livelihood.

Train strikes on 5th and 8th definitely threw a giant spanner into the works, and the schedule was never consulted again. Ambleside day with sun peeking through was glorious – see An Amble Through Ambleside blog. An absolute delight! The online sessions from the Litfest were craftily sourced and professionally presented……..Julie, the Director, was a delight and gave her time for a director to director chat and generously donated a couple of their publications to Word Fest Toowoomba. The environment theme is definitely drawing a good crowd to the wonderful new releases and their authors. Details will be shared jn the Word Fest Toowoomba website newsletter soon.

So today with no trains running, and Sedbergh off the menu, the postponed walk to Williamson Park and the coppiced woodlands, Ashton Memorial, Butterfly House and getting closer to the Witches Trail made for a morning of discoveries…….and am building a good picture of the witches’ stories.

Lancaster has a mix of very disadvantaged residents, as well as a rich history and a thriving arts and foodie culture. It has been a week of reflection on many fronts, but fingers crossed for a smooth train trip to London in the morning before changing to the Eurostar across the Channel to Paris.

3 thoughts on “Alone in Lancaster

  1. Morning Lyndall, Been having lots of internet issues here and was behind in your travels. Hopefully I have now caught up. It all looks so fantastic and the bookshops you have visited are wonderful. How do you not keep buying books and other items? I love that the clothes are thrown out to make way for purchases. Looking forward to reading your next adventure and hoping that the weather is better in Europe. Regards Vanda

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