Arriving in Leicester, late morning, I again bypassed the taxis as I knew the hotel was a short walk. It was no more than ten minutes to the hotel pulling luggage. The Belmont Hotel was recommended by a Twitter friend whose father stayed there during a visit. Unfortunately, Jennifer (@jennifermjones) was not in town at the time of my visit. It was also one recommended by the office I was visiting, just a three minute walk away. An early check in, as previously requested, was accommodated, although not as necessary due to the Air Canada arrivals lounge at Heathrow.
It was rainy by the early afternoon, but a hotel provided umbrella (brolley) kept me dry. In minutes I was at the offices of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance of the University of Leicester. This is where I hope to commence a PhD in E-learning and Learning Technologies, at a distance. While not necessary to visit, it was an opportunity to meet the programme staff face to face. My primary meeting was with Dr. Alejandro Armellini, coordinator of the PhD programme and likely one of my supervisors. I’ve been in touch with him for about one year now. In addition to meeting with Dr. Armellini, I spent time with other research and project staff learning about the major projects, and I had a brief chat with a current PhD student whom was visiting for a week. There is no question, I am very interested in the programme they offer, it follows from my graduate degree, and I found a motivated and friendly group with which to associate. It was a pleasure to meet the department head, Gilly Salmon, whom is soon departing for a position in Australia. My only regret was that I was extremely tired due to the travel and wished I could have been more rested.
Departing the offices about 4.5 hours later, I returned to the hotel and was then off to meet another Twitter acquaintance at a local pub. Dr. Tristam Hooley (@pigironjoe) is head of iCeGS (International Centre for Guidance Studies) at the University of Derby, and he resides in Leicester. Jennifer had linked me with Tristam when he was recently searching for a research assistant and offering a paid PhD. It was a potential opportunity, but circumstances did not make it feasible to reside in England for this purpose. We enjoyed a pint, and I ordered my much anticipated fish and chips. I quickly learned, though, that I needed to get the fish and chips I desired from a stand! While it was good, it was not the crispy battered fish that we are used to seeing in a British fish and chips shop in Canada.
The next morning started with a British breakfast buffet in the hotel, and I then headed to the university campus to buy a souvenir hoodie and visit the new campus. The BDRA offices are not on the site. As I left for the university, hotel staff were outside promoting their upcoming Christmas events. It was an appropriately chilly morning with mulled wine, coffee, and mincemeat tarts being given to attract attention.
This was the first hotel stay on the trip, and I would definitely return. The service was friendly, the room was clean and large, and the breakfast provided a good hearty start to the day with a lot of selection. Approximately 24 hours after arrival, I departed by train on my return to London.