A LITTLE colour can go a long way towards banishing the winter blues.

My friend and I were reminded of this after a visit to the Gregson.

The bright and quirky interior at this cheery arts centre offers a welcome reminder that the world is not, as we’re all beginning to think, at the end of a dreary January, composed solely of grey and gloom.

We sat by a cosy working fireplace in the bar, under a multicoloured ceiling that looks like something from children’s Elmer the Patchwork Elephant books.

The warm atmosphere of the restaurant, five minutes from Lancaster city centre, was matched with generous portions of homely food.

There were plenty of specials on the blackboard – as well as sandwiches, salads, Mexican dishes and rump steak.

I ordered grilled Mediterranean vegetables, with a huge bowl of rice, rich tomato ragu and hot slices of garlic pitta bread.

A friendly waitress arrived with chilli con carne, rice and nachos for my friend.

It wasn’t what he ordered but staff were apologetic and my companion confessed shortly afterwards that he had been hankering after nachos anyway.

Prices range from between £6 and £13 for a hot meal and there is a fully stocked bar with local ales, wines, spirits and soft drinks.

The relaxed feel of the centre isn’t limited to its restaurant service.

Local orchestras, the town’s Twitter crowd and yoga enthusiasts all treat the Gregson as a meeting place.

It feels like a solid little lighthouse, guiding its inhabitants through the dark nights and keeping winter melancholy at bay.