Our meeting wasn't until midday, which gave me a couple of hours free to go exploring and so I set off West from Carlisle to find the start of Hadrian's wall at Bowness on Solway. Here hundreds of poor and freezing Romans must have stood, homesick for vineyards, sunshine and the Coliseum; cursing their luck at being sent to the final arse end frontier of empire whilst keeping diligent watch for raids from the marauding, long haired tribal terrorists a few miles away across the firth. It's a long way from the eternal city.
A few miles down the coast at Burgh by Sands, I came across a strange monument to Edward I -Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots - who died of dysentery on the marshes trying to reclaim sovereignty from Robert the Bruce. It stood proud in a field, unvisited and fairly neglected. England's a bit of jumble sale - you never know what secrets each village or town holds.
Back on campus the board went fairly smoothly - even though it coincided with George Osborne's emergency budget, which many of the lecturers were keen to hear. There seemed to be more pessimism about the future from the Carlisle team and several of them hinted that the forthcoming cuts would inevitably mean a reduction in activity and a compromised experience for the students. It's not a discussion we've had, or really are prepared to have, at St. Mary's.
I hope Cumbria stay on the front foot for the future. It's doesn't help to grumble about the cold when you're far from home. Their course is good and the team obviously put a huge amount of thought and imagination into creating a meaningful education for the students. HE is facing a bit of a pinch, and we will need to be on guard against the barbarians. Performing Arts simply lecturers mustn't stop creating partnerships and exciting project work. Perhaps I'm naive - but I do know that no lecture or reading list can teach the scale of investment required to create effecting theatre and students need to test themselves over and over in real situations. You have to do it to get it! Anything else would turn us into a cost-effective, but ultimately self indulgently useless cultural studies course. It'd hardly be worth the survival.