Week in the Life: Crusades, horse-riding and coursework

Harriet Heaton shares the goings-on of her Week 19!

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Photograph by Harriet Heaton

My name is Harriet. I am a third-year student who is now in the final part of her History degree here at Lancaster. After some issues with my house last term, I made the decision to move back to campus and now live back in the best college on campus: County. As a native Yorkshire-lass, my home is in the East Riding of Yorkshire near to the city of Hull, and yes, “It’s never dull in Hull!”

Monday, 12 March

So, my week didn’t actually start in Lancaster. After a rough week, at the weekend I made the decision to go back to Yorkshire to visit my boyfriend who lives in Scarborough and then home on the Sunday for Mother’s Day. I then went back to my boyfriend’s house on the Sunday evening.

Today, I woke up in Scarborough and got on the 9.50am train to Liverpool, changing at Manchester Piccadilly to get to Lancaster. It is quite a long way: I did not get into Lancaster until 1.15pm.

I then rushed to campus to make it in time for my lecture at 2pm. This term I do a module on the Crusades, focusing on those journeys to the Holy Land and the development of the crusader ideologies which became so prevalent throughout the medieval period. I have really enjoyed this module, and I’m a little sad that I will be finishing it next week.

This week we were focusing on the seventh crusade which was led by Louis IX of France who later became a saint. His actions on this crusade were one of the greatest arguments for his beatification.

After this lecture, I headed back to my flat in County Main to unpack my bag from the weekend and settled in to do the reading for my next day’s Special Subject module. I finished this at around 5pm, then finally took a breather after a long day by relaxing with some painting and Netflix.

Tuesday, 13 March

Today started out as it normally would. I woke up, got a shower, dried my hair, put my make up on, got dressed and headed out for my Special Subject module. I treated myself to a Gregg’s £2 Breakfast meal deal before heading to my three-hour Special Subject session which ran from 10am to 1pm.

All third-year History students have to do a Special Subject module, which is worth 60 credits (so one quarter of my degree). It is taught in seminars, you read passages to prepare, and then you discuss for three hours the primary documents and historical research for the week. My module is on the Vikings from 793 to 1077, focusing on North West England and the Vikings’ relations across England, the Irish Sea Region and beyond.

But today was the last taught session for the module. We focused on the Viking Slave Trade. I think at this point I must reflect on how quickly my third-year has gone: it feels like only a couple of weeks ago I was having my first seminar with the group of people I now think of as friends. As usual, this session went all too quickly and it was 1pm before we knew it.

After my three-hour seminar I went to collect my dissertation from the binders: all 53 pages of it! I can’t believe that after nearly an entire year working on it, it’s now finished. It is now sat on my shelf ready to hand in, but I’m going to wait until my friends are finished with their dissertations, so we can hand them in together. I then headed to the library to help my friends format their dissertations: our deadline is the last day of term so haven’t got long to go now!

I then went for a coffee at Costa with a friend before settling into the library for an evening session of reading. At about 8pm I came home to make myself some tea, which consisted of an omelette and salad.

Wednesday, 14 March

So, today I woke up at 8am, had some breakfast and got ready for the gym. I got to the gym for 10am and worked out until 11.30am. I started going in the new year (yeah, I know, the new-year-new-me cliché), but I needed to begin some sort of more intensive fitness training due to health concerns. After being at the gym for nine weeks, I can now run for over a kilometre and have lost 2kg, something I didn’t used to think would be possible!

When I got home I had a shower and settled into some reading. Today, I started my last piece of coursework. This is a small research project for my Special Subject, of 4000 to 5000 words in length. As it is due in Week 21, I wanted to make sure that I got as much done as possible before the Easter break. After an afternoon reading texts about using place-name evidence in the East Riding of Yorkshire to understand the Scandinavian settlement, I went into town to do some shopping. Since I’ve finished my dissertation I thought I would treat myself to some new sports gear.

Having met a friend in town to go shopping with, I decided to go back to hers for the evening where some other course mates met us. Much hilarity was had, and we watched Thor: Ragnorok before I got the bus back to campus, getting back to my flat for about 9.45pm. It was a good day: I felt like I got important work done, but because of the gym session I know I’m going to hurt tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 March

The alarm went off at 8.30am and as predicted I was stiff from yesterday’s gym session. But I had planned to go riding this morning. So, I got up, had some cereal and apple juice, put my riding gear on and caught the bus, getting off at the Boot & Shoe before walking to the stables.

I got to the yard for about 10.30am, just as it started spitting with rain, and I thought: here we go, Harriet’s going to the yard so of course it’s going to rain. But I was lucky, and the rain-spots went very quickly.

Due to the poor weather and my deadlines I haven’t been able to ride for a couple of weeks, so I was really looking forward to hanging out with horses. I have been riding since I was six years old, so it really is a big part of my life and a good way to get away from campus.

Today was a hack out, which means riding out along roads and bridleways. We rode along the canal for a bit which is always really scenic, before heading back. I then stayed for a bit to help with stable duties as, to be honest, I was trying to avoid work!

I got back to campus for about 3pm when I had a shower and then did my lecture and seminar reading for tomorrow. This took me longer than I expected: after being out in the fresh air I was quite tired. For tea tonight, I had a burger and homemade chips (which, I have to say, I am famous for among my friends) while watching the latest episode of Riverdale and then a couple of episodes of The Good Place. A chilled way to end a tiring day.

Friday, 16 March

Today was a little unusual, as last night my boyfriend completely surprised me by turning up on my doorstep.

I woke up at 8.30am, then my boyfriend and I got dressed and headed to the library as I had more work to do on my mini project. But not before picking up a Greggs to see us through the morning. I read three books in the course of the morning and planned more about what I wanted to say in my mini project.

I had a lecture at 2pm, about women in the crusades. It offered an interesting take on how women played an important role as support but also as warriors during the crusades. We used medieval Islamic sources to understand how these women were perceived but also the roles they played on the battlefield and in the camps.

After this lecture, I met up with a friend to proof read her dissertation for her. It was nice to read someone else’s dissertation and something that I would recommend. The small errors of punctuation I found in there revealed how important it is to get a proof reader.
Tonight, me and my boyfriend got Pizzetta for tea, which has to be some of the best Pizza in Lancaster, before watching Game of Thrones (as I am very far behind, only just starting on the first season).

So, this week has been a very busy week. I’ve started working on my last piece of coursework as part of my undergraduate degree, I’ve exercised and tried to eat well to keep my mental and physical health up, as well as made time to be with my friends. I am looking forward to a weekend with my boyfriend and Saturday’s night-out with him and my course friends. Let’s see what the last week of term will bring!