On 20th-22nd April, 45 students had the pleasure of visiting Cumberland Lodge for the annual residential trip. Situated in the Windsor Great Park, Cumberland Lodge is an impressive 17th Century country house. Inside, the grandeur continues with immaculate high ceilings and dark wooden panelling.
After arriving the evening before, the first full day is filled with interactive training on time management and resilience. The second features a morning “hackathon” and a group walk, before we all head home, heads full of strategies, opportunities and connections to explore and reflect upon.
Across both days, rooms buzz with the excitement of what is one of the first chances to mix with our SCDTP colleagues since the beginning of the pandemic. Eager first-years, who are just setting out on their PhD journeys, chat with wizened, beleaguered final years, facing the seemingly mountainous task of writing up.
Free time is spent sparking new connections based on common methodologies and research interests. We meet colleagues who, until now, were only familiar as disembodied heads over video calls, enjoying golden-hour drinks on the benches in the garden. We watch the shadows grow as the sun disappears behind the trees, under the lodge’s pretty crenelations, and the wisteria in full bloom. In the morning I find time for quiet, a solo walk around the park means I catch some of the local wildlife including roe and muntjac deer, and a badger, surprised and bewildered by my presence so early in the day. The vibrant red brick buildings stand proudly against the spring greens of the surrounding trees and parkland.
For those lucky enough to go, the residential came as a welcome break from our everyday research, an opportunity to strengthen networks and reflect on new connections, which seem more valuable than ever in our post-pandemic world.