*Please excuse the choppy writing. This is a post I have tried to make for so long, editing, deleting, and reworking to no end. So I decided to just write my thoughts and feelings and publish what came out. Enjoy*
I’ve spent the past month trying to write this post. This time last year I published my blog post ‘Here’s to the New Year‘ where I outlined my goals for 2020. The very first goal I had was to ‘Say Goodbye to Lancaster’. I wanted to move away from the student city and find somewhere better for a budding professional. I thought I’d grown tired of everything Lancaster had to offer after four years, when actually I just didn’t realise how good I had it.
Now that the worst year in World History has come to an end, I’m back in Middlesbrough living with my Mum and her Partner. It’s not exactly where I expected to be, but after months of financial insecurity due to COVID-19, I had no choice but to return home. The move meant leaving behind my best friend, the catering aspect of my current job, and a city that I truly loved.
Back in September 2016, I moved to Lancaster with only a car full of boxes and enrolment at the University of Cumbria. They were the only Uni to give me a chance and I will forever be grateful for that. Lancaster city had my heart from day one because of it’s heavy stone architecture. It looked historic and it was small enough that I’d never need to get the bus, but also big enough that there were plenty of areas to explore.
I was fortunate to be assigned a room on the top floor of Mill Hall, an accommodation hall perfectly placed between town and the Uni, with easy access to the canal. From my room I could see the whole city, including Lancaster Castle which hosted the City’s firework show in November. I got to sit in the warmth of my room while watching the sky light up in such a beautiful way.
Everything after is just a blur until September 2017 when I met Ellis. I’d been offered a job at a local cinema which paid only £5.60 a hour for people my age (I know, it’s disgraceful). But, I was desperate to work and so I attended the induction with a small group of 6 people, all University students, all nervous. At the end of the table sat Ellis and I remember thinking “wow he looks familiar”, I felt like I’d known him my whole life and thus wanted to know him. So of course I spent the next few hours trying to show off but actually just embarrassing myself in front of this poor boy who just wanted to start his new job in peace.
However, magically, I somehow managed to convince him to be my friend one day when I asked to swap shits. Or maybe he asked me…either way someone bought someone else a Mcflurry and our friendship bloomed from there. Because of Ellis, I explored more of Lancaster – we’d venture to Williamson Park, The Dukes, Lancaster University campus, and we’d eat at The Royal Kings Arms or Mollys. All places I’d never been to before. Our late night strolls and cocktail nights became a staple of our friendship, we’d visit eachother at work and study at either Uni’s library.
In late 2018, I moved into a house with 6 (sometimes 7) strangers. Though we had met once before I signed for the house and everyone seemed perfectly nice, I know how living with other people can bring out ugly habits and behaviours. However, like a gift from the Universe, these people were the loveliest. As the outsider of the group, they all made me feel so welcome and like I was part of a family.
We’d play Mario Kart for hours on end while just chatting about everything under the sun. There were movie nights, birthday parties, and an amazing Christmas too. I’m so happy to still have these people in my life today.
Before graduating, I had secured a job in the Lake District and committed to a long-arse commute. Because of this role, I not only learned a lot about online marketing and content creation, but also got to see the countryside around Lancaster and the Lake District. On my commute, I became friends with the Lady who made coffee at the train station, read a lot, and made my way through the Netflix MCU. I occupied my time as best I could while travelling. Instead of being my full world, the city became my respite, a place for pure fun and relaxation, somewhere to retreat to at the end of every work day.
Ellis and I still had the occasional night out at the Sugarhouse (thank god for dateless student IDs), grabbed dinner and cocktails in the evenings (shout out to Tipple), and saw plenty of movies for free. Life became more balanced as I could completely remove myself from the stress of work and just unwind Friday – Sunday.
But, by January 2020 part of me was growing tired of Lancaster. At night, no matter the day of the week, I could hear students howling in the streets. New accommodation blocks were popping up left and right. And, whenever I was out and about in public I’d see a group of Uni students and feel old…at 21! This city was the perfect place for a student or recent graduate to find their feet, but I wanted to move on.
Instead, I moved backwards. And now, I find myself missing everything about Lancaster, especially the things COVID-19 stripped from us in March. I miss trudging to work at 7:45am and pronoucing ‘pain au chocolate’ in a weird French accent and the Gregg’s guy acting like it was a perfectly normal way to talk. I miss Christine kicking me out of the train station cafe because she needed to lock up in order to go pee. I miss bouncing into Lush with Ellis and treating each other, or being snobby in Wetherspoons, bumping into people I know and them actually wanting to chat to me, laying in the bucket swing at Williamson’s Park watching the stars. I miss it all.
But, 2020 has been a difficult year. Sometimes you have to realise when it’s time to take the L and work with it. And that’s what I’m doing, working with it. Now that I’m home I can save money quite easily, I have certain basic needs met which means I can focus on work and my mental health, and I’m with my family.
So, Goodbye Lancaster! I’ve loved you and left you and will miss you everyday. But, it’s time I move on.
Enjoy these scenic photos taken throughout my time in Lancaster and please pardon the quality: