Hauntings in Chester!

Recently, I visited Chester for the first time! I was there on a day trip with my seminar group for a module I’m studying this semester, about the English Civil War. It turned out to be a really good day, though we were really quite cold the whole time… it even snowed on us at one point.

It wasn’t perhaps the most conventional day trip, considering we were being led around by our tutor, who was educating us on a very specific part of the city’s history – though a very significant and interesting part – but in the course of the day we did manage to go to Caffe Nero three times and an independent café once… We make no apologies, we all like cafés.

My favourite parts of the day (aside from the many and varied, bizarre conversations we all had together) were the ghost tales our tutor told us about various sites around the town. I won’t list all the details of all the stories, not least because I don’t remember all of it off the top of my head, but there were many that involved gruesome deaths, odd sex noises, and which featured thandmaidens. You might wonder why we’re studying ghost stories for a history module about a war, but it seems many of the stories very possibly had a basis in fact – and it’s just a way people remember the time period.

Most of us in the group hadn’t really met before we ended up on this module together, so the day also served as a sort of bonding day, I guess. Luckily, I think we all get on really well, so the project should (fingers crossed) go smoothly. Turns out most of us have a fair amount of Irish heritage, too, which was quite amusing.

I know I don’t normally post much about what I’m studying on my degree at any one time, but this was a cool trip so I thought I would. I like going to see places that have history, and when you’re looking for a specific part of history in a town with so much of it, it becomes even more intriguing – because it’s like people have, over time, selected which bits to remember or commemorate. Chester had a lot of celebration around its Roman heritage (and fair enough) but little obvious detail about the civil war.

Anyway, enough history chatter from me. I’ll be back with another post on Tuesday! (Feel free to click on the Instagram posts and follow me while you’re here, though.)

Katy x

Disastrous Journey to BBC Radio 3

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the BBC in Media City, Salford to watch the Radio 3 show The Verb. Here’s how that day went…

We’d made arrangements to catch a train from the city centre at 11:16, which would take us to Manchester Piccadilly, where we could get a tram direct to Media City. It sounded simple enough, right? Well, maybe not. Despite going to the right platform (according to the board) and getting on the train that had been waiting there since before 11am, we realised 45 minutes into the train journey that we’d actually boarded the following train which left from the same platform.

Goodness only knows where our train was!

We arrived at Manchester Victoria at half twelve, so we were already half an hour behind. Then we had to figure out which tram route from there would be fastest, missing the first one by accident while we tried to figure it out. Long story short, we eventually decided to get to Piccadilly and then get our original route from there.

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So, after much confusion and standing around on platforms, we made it to Media City just after half one – still only half an hour late, the recording wasn’t meant to start for another half an hour – except we had no clue which building we were meant to go into. We popped into the nearest one, got told where to go, and went there. Asked in there and they told us the building we’d just come from. Went into a different one which gave us another building. Went into that one and nobody knew what we were talking about!

Eventually we located the right entrance, with about seven minutes to spare. We made it into the room two minutes late, as the recording had just started… not our finest moment.

Anyway, the show was centred on Paul Muldoon, an Irish poet. The first thing that struck me was that his hair just looked like a poet’s hair. Wild, unruly. He had a good sense of humour, and I found it quite amusing that even he struggled to find the real meaning behind some of his older poems. I have to admit, I’ve never been the biggest poetry geek – I tend to only appreciate war poetry, as a history student – but the experience overall was pretty cool. Knowing that even poets sometimes don’t know what they were talking about is quite reassuring, somehow.

If anyone’s interested in listening to the show, it should be on BBC iPlayer Radio for a few days yet.

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So what did I learn from this experience? Firstly, train platforms lie! Who knew? I maintain we were on the right platform. 100%. We definitely followed the board’s instruction. We just don’t know where our train was. Secondly, despite weirdly confusing signage in an unfamiliar place, Media City was pretty cool. We passed the ITV building across the river, a window covered in Cbeebies characters, and I think we saw a crowd of people waiting to watch Jeremy Kyle. Despite the disastrous three hours it took for us to get there, it was quite the experience.

Katy x