Up to Cumbria University for my annual look round as external examiner. It's always fascinating to have a chance to see how a similar institution is working and to share some ideas with another team. In the three years I've been coming to Carlisle I've always been really impressed with the way the students respond to their programme and the commitment the staff have to rooting out professional opportunities for them to access. Not easy up here.
Carlisle itself is still recovering from Radio One's big weekend, which saw the town welcome, amongst others, Lady Gaga. Not since Edward Longshanks set forth to take on the Scottish marauders has the town hosted such royalty and the shops are filled with souvenirs and rapidly devaluing memorabilia from the event. Many of the students were involved, working alongside BBC programme makers to help promote local talent and guide them through whatever scene exists in the city.
I was met by Laura Baxter and we had a brief chat about the way the courses are evolving before heading off to look at some incredibly impressive costume work. The rest of the day was spent looking over portfolios and chatting to other members of the team. As an institution Cumbria has had it's fair share of financial problems over the last few years, but a new principal has restructured and there is, on the surface at least, a new sense of confidence that the worst is over and things are set fair to deal with the new challenges facing the sector over the twelve months. There will be troubles ahead for all of us, but Cumbria looks in fairly robust shape.
On arrival back in Euston I picked up an Evening Standard to read about the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the man responsible for the massacre at Srbrenica. It's taken a long time to track him down, but the thought that finally he will face a trial in The Hague will bring a form of solace to those brave widows in Bosnia, who, fifteen years on, sit waiting for the the world to turn again.