A Green City

Simon Brown

By Simon Brown, a BA (hons) Human Geography with Heritage Studies NTU Alumni 

When I first arrived in Nottingham to study at NTU, I was struck by just how green the city is. There seemed to be trees and public gardens everywhere. I was surprised by how much this environment helped me as I settled into my new life here. Nottingham is an open, friendly, collaborative place, and the landscape of the city certainly helps that.

I spent my first year living in halls on Clifton Campus. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the newness of everything as a fresher- a new city, new people, a new way of learning. When I found that it was all moving too fast, I found the city’s green spaces a lifeline. I would take long walks from the campus through Clifton village and down to the river. Sometimes friends would join me, sometimes I would take books for my work, sometimes I took nothing and went alone.

Whenever I visited City Campus -usually to visit Boots Library- I enjoyed spending time in the Arboretum and Forest Fields. These are beautiful green spaces right in the centre of town. Spending time there was an opportunity to pause and breathe, which I found essential for both my mental and physical health.

My degree is a joint honours in Human Geography and Heritage Studies. Inevitably, my studies took me to the city’s museums as well as the public parks and I spent much time at Nottingham Castle. I also recall just how astonished I was on my first visit to Wollaton Park. Such a huge, green expanse, only ten minute’s bus ride from the city centre. I often visited to see the wonderful natural history museum in the hall itself, but spent just as much time strolling through the park. I met my wife while we were both students at NTU, and Wollaton in particular remains a special place to us and our family.

There has been much research in recent years on the health and wellbeing benefits of museums. As I have pursued a career in the museums sector, I see the evidence of this every day. I am now a curator at Newstead Abbey, which is a stunning 12th Century historic house set in beautiful parkland and gardens. I’m very lucky that I can spend so much time in this landscape, and I see many people who come here regularly to take time away from the fast pace of their lives. The combination of natural beauty and the rich heritage of the people that have lived here for over 800 years is unique and fascinating.

Landscapes such as these remain a significant and healing part of my life, and I’m grateful I had such open access to them while I was a student at NTU.

Simon Brown
Curator, Newstead Abbey
Project Curator, National Justice Museum


For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness

This post is part of our regular NTU Alumni feature. Over the next few weeks we will be posting guest blogs written by our Alumni Fellows sharing their experiences and tips on their student journey while here at NTU. If you are an NTU graduate and are interested in writing for us contact: alumni.fellows@ntu.ac.uk
You can find more information about our Alumni Fellowship volunteering programme via the alumni website


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