On Wednesday I didn’t have a class at the RSN so we decided to go out and explore London together. Often we decide we’ll see and do things that both of us are interested in. This time Steve wanted to show me two renovated train stations in London and I was more than happy to be the follower rather than the leader. Of course, we would be stopping at the London Bead Company at the end of the day…
When we were in London there was a Tube strike for 2 days. Luckily we didn’t need the underground to get to the places we would be visiting, we could go on the train. We left Teddington Station and took the train into Waterloo station. We then walked to Blackfriars station where the photo above was taken. It’s the shield for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. I couldn’t help but think about how beautiful it would be embroider it in gold and silk…
We took a train from Blackfriars station to Saint Pancras station. St. Pancras was one of the two stations that Steve wanted to show me. It has recently been renovated and an addition has been built to accommodate the international trains. My favourite part of the renovation is how the supporting arches have been turned into retail spaces. All along the sides of the station these arches are enclosed by glass and inside are shops and coffee shops and restraints and flower shops…it is just lovely.
In St. Pancras is a statue of John Betjeman, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972 until his death in 1984. He was a champion of preserving old buildings and the railways. In the floor of the station are round plaques with lines from some of his poems. One of my favorites is below in the middle photo: “A gentle, a willing host, affection deeply planted. It’s strange that those we miss the most are those we take for granted.”
Just behind the statue of Betjeman is a huge statue by Paul Day of a couple saying goodbye. One cannot miss seeing it but what’s at the bottom was far more interesting to me. The base is a circular sculpture representing the life of a train station.
Above are the men who built the station, the hard work they’re doing so clearly etched in their faces. Below a man in a hurry going into the station and a lonely, lost woman and her dog coming out into a place she’s never been before. (My stories, not Paul Day’s. He’s left the story up to the imagination of the viewer.)
Once we walked out of St. Pancras we walked a very short distance to Kings Cross Station. This station was built in the 1850s and in the 1960s a development covered up the original entrance. For years the entrance has been ugly and unkempt and now it’s been put back into it’s original state and looks much better.
Inside I was surprised to find Platform 9 ¾ from the Harry Potter books! I had to snap a photo as I am a huge Harry Potter fan – a great story is a great story!
We left Kings Cross Station and walked back to St. Pancras to catch a train to Kentish Town. Here is the home of the London Bead Company and a good station for Steve to do some train spotting. While I spent an hour in the shop, he stood in the station and spotted trains.
The shop was fabulous! Loads of threads. Loads and loads. Threads I’d read about but hadn’t even seen “for real”. Gumnut threads – beautiful wools, just gorgeous! Thread Gatherer – (I purchased a beautiful white mohair thread for the snow in my canvaswork piece from them) all the Caron threads, both solid colors and variegated colors; silks and cottons. It was thread heaven in London! I met the owner and her daughter and both of them were very helpful. I also finally purchased some blanketing to make the Flowers for Elizabeth blanket. That’s in the future but now I have the fabric so it is a least possible to make it!
I telephoned Steve and he came over from the station ( only a 2 minute walk unless you have to wait for the traffic lights!) and we walked around the corner to a pub called The Pineapple. This is a neighbourhood pub that’s independently owned and operated with a wide array of good English beers on tap. However, the real reasons we decided to have a late lunch are 1. the amazing food and 2. the amazing deal. The pub serves one kind of cuisine – Thai. And they charge one price for any of the dishes on their menu – £5. The food was so good Steve ate the dish he ordered and then ordered what I’d had because it was so good. The weather outside had gotten cooler and it was raining so the fire was welcome.
Kentish Town looked like somewhere we would want to come back to and explore more, but not that day in the rain. We got back on the train and made our way back to our hotel in Teddington, having had the most wonderful day out.
I hope you enjoyed “our day out” and a small break from the Canvaswork course. Sometimes it’s good to remember there’s more to life than the needle and thread…