Author Archives: AliJBirkett

In the City… we keep it rockin’

It’s spring 2019 and Lancaster University’s Campus in the City project is back, bringing research and researchers from campus into the city centre shopping arcade to share their discoveries with the city residents.

“Because of what you do we’d like to invite you to the launch event,” they said.

“Oh, what an honour!” we thought.

“The deputy mayor will be there!” they said.

“Sounds like canapes and complimentary drinks on tap!” we thought.

“So if you could be there to set up from 9 am and have your stall and activities ready to open to the public at 10 am, then work until 3 pm, that would be excellent,”

Hang on a second…

Yes, we were part of this year’s Campus in the City launch event, and it was a great honour! We were introduced with full fanfare by Lancaster University’s champion for engagement Prof Sue Black, alongside other colleagues from Lancaster Environment Centre and other University departments. I have to say that even at Glastonbury, I’ve never talked someone about the Wonders of Woodlands with a stilt walker stood beside me!


Another thing we’ve not experienced before is for one of our visitors – a complete stranger – to come back to us towards the end of the day with a bag of chocolate as a “thank you for all you do”. Wow. To that lovely person we extend our thanks for making us feel that our hard work is appreciated. We’re very grateful.

Indeed we had such a lovely day on the 2nd March that we’ll be back on the 23rd! We’ll have the full woodland tent with us this time: shoppers of St Nicholas Arcade, Lancaster won’t be able to miss us! If you’re around In The City, we hope to see you there!

(NB the complimentary drinks – of the hot caffeinated variety thanks to a local cafe – were much appreciated, though oddly canapes never did materialise!)



Friday the 13th…

OK, so somehow the first official outing of 2016 for the Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll Roadies was on Friday 13th… whose idea was that?!

Not being superstitious by nature, I’m not sure I’d thought about the significance of the date we’d agreed to until not long before the event, when preparations started to go awry! Posters wouldn’t print; Roadies realised they’d double booked themselves; companies couldn’t get things to us in time… We were even having issues as we tried to refresh the old favourite and forever faithful “Whose poos?” game! Ominous, and somewhat stressful you might say!

The event itself was to be part of Lancaster University‘s Campus in the City program of community engagement. This annual 10 week program sees researchers from all departments and disciplines spending a day sharing their interests and passions with Lancaster’s residents and visitors from a rented shop in the city centre shopping arcade. As you can imagine, we thought this was right up our street, as well as being a great opportunity to dust off our skills before the new festival season! Unsurprisingly however, when it came to dates, most other sensible people had turned down this particular slot…


Taking our games to Campus in the City, Lancaster

Thankfully though, after dealing with some logistical transportation issues, once we were on site the event itself went really well! We introduced over 120 adults and young people to the world of ecology (not bad considering we were competing with draw of Morecambe beach on one of the sunniest days of the year!), and inducted a new Roadie to the team. We also had a great time working along the Campus in the City team, including challenging them to a “swab-off”! Have a look at the results and see whose clothes were home to the most microbes…

Thanks to the members of the public for being good sports with the swabbing too! It looks like Kay’s bag wins for the greatest variety of microscopic residents: don’t forget some of these organisms are actually very good things to have around!

So in the end our Friday the 13th was a resounding success!! The relief!!

But maybe we should avoid black cats and walking under ladders for the next month before Glastonbury just in case…

Posted by ThatAli