The highlight of the SCDTP calendar is without doubt our annual residential visit which saw us return to Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park for our 2018 event. Steeped in history, Cumberland Lodge offers an idyllic venue and location, and is remote enough to allow everyone to momentarily disconnect with the stresses and strains of every day life. And this has never been more appropriate due to this year’s theme of “Wellbeing and Positivity”.
Arriving after a dusting of snow had fallen, the first evening was taken up with 60 second elevator pitches with every student giving a concise overview of their research. In addition to being a fairly informal introduction exercise, the elevator pitches also provided an early opportunity for our attendees to identify possible synergies and networks within the group.
After an excellent dinner (it is rarely anything other than an excellent meal at Cumberland Lodge!), the majority relaxed in front of the lodge’s roaring fires with rounds of board games, and some fairly animated ‘Articulate’ descriptions.
Day 2 started with a completely optional trail run around Virginia Water in the fresh snow. Even the possibility of bumping into Morgan Freeman who was rumoured to be filming in the area wasn’t enough to rouse many for the 7am start, but those who did brave the cold were rewarded with a running route of stunning scenery.
Back in the warm, the bulk of day 2 was taken up with activities with returning favourites, Caleb and Paul, who form WordRocket. For those on their first visit to the residential, the introduction of creative activities designed to look at the theme of the visit from a different perspective always seems to be met with a slight sense of cynicism. This however is soon forgotten by the end of the session when some of the benefits of thinking about yourself and your research in a more abstract manner are realised.
As is traditional, a group walk in Windsor Great Park offered another opportunity to unwind, and for everyone to get to know each other a little better. It also provided a scenic setting for a SCDTP group photo
With day 2 almost at an end, Deputy Director, Amos Channon, ended the organised events of the day with a touching, warts and all perspective of his own PhD experience.
Day 3 saw the arrival of John Perry and his excellent workshop on Stress Management, Wellbeing & Resilience. It would be extremely difficult to believe that anybody came away without any additional tools that can be used professionally or personally. John not only offered strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing, but also gave a refreshing look at ways to identify what causes us stress and why most of the time, it is only our own perceptions that actually cause it.
Our departure from Cumberland Lodge was timely due to the ever worsening wintery showers and although there was a great deal of appeal to being snowed in at such a beautiful location, there were homes to get back to and work to be done. After a fantastic few days which hopefully left everyone feeling a little more positive and slightly more at peace with themselves and the world, even a journey home which took 3 times as long as it should have couldn’t dampen the mood.