Sunday, 23 October 2011

Lancaster city of surprises

I helped organize a stag weekend for one of my closest friends earlier this year. We went to Lancaster. Why Lancaster? You may well wonder. Everybody else did. While it was an honour to serve as best man, the fact that there were two of us sharing this duty meant that there was always a danger of being led down the path of compromise. And so we went to Lancaster. It was far enough away from where everybody lived, so the potential for mischief was greater. Unfortunately, the potential for mischief in Lancaster was negligible. Don't be drawn into thinking that because its a university town there's a lot of naughtiness. That's why everybody goes to Blackpool!

What it does have going for it, apart from mini cab drivers with a seemingly endless stream of homophobic jokes, is some exceedingly beautiful streets and lanes and old buildings made from the kind of pleasing stone that you only find the further north you go. Lancaster Castle is almost next door to the station, sitting on a hill which overlooks the town. Tours may be a problem as these days it functions as a prison.

A little reported fact about Lancaster is the fact that it is also a hotbed for environmental activism. Downstairs from the Single Step Wholefood Shop on Penny Street, you will find the Lancaster Resource Centre, which is home to a wide array of eco-activist groups. Since 2000 Lancaster has been home to Seeds for Change, a non profit training and support network which helps people organize for action and social change.

That's not something they put on the tourist information brochure.

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