For those who don’t know it, I can best describe Lancaster as a small University City in the North West of England, not far from the much heralded Lake District. It is an old city, with archeological evidence of human habitation dating back to the Iron Age and earlier. It was a port city, the Romans fortified what is now the castle site and linoleum was invented here. To me though, it is more like home.
There were many good reasons to make Lancaster a destination on our travels, most of them people. Our oldest friends in Lancaster, Robert and Gina, who helped us get settled when I was studying for my Master’s degree at Lancaster University, Karen, who we met as neighbours and quickly became my go to for all things related to baby care (more about that later), and later Ruth and Philip, who traveled the journey towards parenting with us. These people were part of our daily lives for the better part of our three year stay in England and we have remained connected, albeit remotely, for the past twenty years.
Heading to Lancaster from York, I was a little nervous about how it would feel to return to Lancaster after a twenty-one year absence. I knew, logically, that things would have changed; businesses come and go, cities grow or shrink and people get older. I was surprised, when we arrived, at how familiar everything felt. Yes, things had changed, some for better, others not so much, but it felt stepping right back into the life we once lived. Meeting with old friends and catching up was amazing; it felt like it had been no time at all since we last met. It made me realise how important they had been to us at that point in our lives and remain so to this day. That was a huge part of what made the visit so special, but not all.
Lancaster occupies a pivotal point in our life. We arrived as newlyweds, Rachel got started in Public libraries here, I earned a degree here, we shared a great year with Rachel’s sister here and our eldest child was born here. Coming back, retracing our footsteps and showing Tristan the city he was born in was an especial highlight, one that we had often talked about over the years. Returning here was a glimpse of what might have been and a reminder of where our philosophy of a good life lived really took shape. It was great to go back and I look forward to returning, especially to go back to the WhaleTail café—–the best vegetarian restaurant ever and say hello to Tricia again.