I’m sat in the sun with a foaming pint of ale in a handled, dimpled glass. And it’s bliss. A dozen or so metres away, people pass by, stepping onto or from the trains that make up our transport network.
I’m at Lancaster Station on the West Coast Mainline and as I sit and reflect, I’m reminded of the joy of transience. Of passing by. Nipping in.
Living in West Cumbria, I don’t see much of this. But today, with my pint, I can soak it up.
It’s lunchtime and it’s a glorious day. This means that I can observe people gliding through the station, as well as those who have taken the time to rest their travel-weary legs in this refreshment room.
I’ve seen the mix, the full spectrum. From commuters grabbing a half between meetings to the couple – one on a pint, another with a coffee. There’s been noisy stag groups heading for the Morecambe train alongside quiet, reflective ale drinkers. The lycra-clad cyclists are cheek by jowl with crisp crunching, beer bingers.
And it makes me happy; I feel content.
Everyone here shares something. They’re all travelling. They’re all passing through on the way to somewhere, something else.
Me, I’m on the way to catch up with friends in Birmingham before an excursion to Wales. This pint is an hors d’oeuvre before the main event.
But it’s joyous.
Soaking up life and seeking out conversations and finding connections – the men at the table in front of me talk of the price of a round on a weekend night out, the two girls who’ve just walked in, greet each other like long lost friends. The man at the table nearest the platform rips a hunk of cheese from a much larger slab. He enjoys it with cider. I enjoy that he’s enjoying that.
I’ve had a sandwich, with a greedy handful of crisps squeezed inside. The crunch contrasts perfectly against softness of the rolls made many hours ago, many miles away.
And now I’ve written this post, and finished my pint, I’ll move on. Much like everyone else does.
If you want to replicate this experience, I urge you to visit the new Tite & Locke bar at Lancaster Station. It’s next to platform 3, and I’m not sure there is a better place to try one of the half dozen or more ales on offer – many of which come from the very decent Lancaster Brewery. There’s another dozen craft beers on side pull taps.
And it’s beautiful. A fantastic use of a former storage space.