If you are visiting London, you might be arriving or leaving through one of these two transportation hubs. London Kings’ Cross and St Pancras International stations are located across from each other – Kings’ Cross deals with trains that go as far as Scotland, including Northern England as well as places down south and the outskirts of London, whilst St Pancras has the Eurostar that goes to continental Europe, as well as other trains that serve London including some airports.
Both stations are equipped with cafes, book shops, small stores for food, drinks and snacks as well as the necessities in life – Bathrooms (40p charge).
Below are some features of these stations that you might fancy exploring, travelling through the stations or just in the area.
Kings’ Cross Railway Station
For all you Harry Potter fans, a visit to Kings Cross train station is a must even if you are not travelling anywhere! Or maybe you are… Platform 9 3/4 is hidden towards the back of this large station and you too can recreate the magic by getting your picture at this platform. Expect queues (even more so during the UK School Holidays and weekends) but that will give you time to consider which house scarf you are going to wear: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin?
Once you get to the front of the queue, a person dressed as a conductor for the Howarts Express is waiting for you, ready to take your photo. This photo you can view and buy in the shop just alongside this platform, however, if you have a camera and someone else willing to take your photo/s for you then you can do this too. Note, the conductor is not allowed to do this so if you are not with friends, ask nicely to the person behind you in the queue. If you are with friends… group photo!
And of course, no visit would be complete without a visit to a small Howarts themed shop just next door to Platform 9 3/4. It’s small and usually busy, so be careful and sometimes they have security outside to manage numbers for this popular shop. Lots of merchandise to see and buy…. you’re a wizard!
St. Pancras International Railway Station
Everytime I find myself at St Pancras International, I really, REALLY wish I could play the piano. Why?
This is why. St Pancras International has various pianos throughout the station that you can just play. Don’t need to pay anything, if there is no one sitting there, it is all yours to tinker and play! Seriously, if I could play, I would. I love music but I will admit, my mastery of any instrument is poor, however I play a mean Triangle. I can actually see this wonderful addition to St Pancras as a place for a flashmob. Someone to play Piano? Check! Anyone whom loves to sing and dance? Check! Any other portable instruments that people can bring? Check!
Even if you can’t play, just pop-in for a visit and see if anyone else is.
If you venture just a small distance away from these railway stations…
You are going to find pubs, clubs, cafes, restaurants and a select of accommodation to suit various needs, as well as these…
The British Library – http://www.bl.uk/
A stones throw away from St Pancras International, the British Library is free to enter and look around containing a collection of over 150 million items and growing, including items dated over 3000 years old, copy of the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, Beatles manuscripts and much more. The collection grows every year as the British Library as it receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, including print and audio. Phenomenal!
You could easily spend the day here looking at everything in detail, just taking your time… actually, that could take more than one day but you get the drift – I loved it here! Okay, I love learning about history from any era and I throughly recommend a visit if you like your history too.. Historical documents were my thing here, items I have learned about during history lessons during school and I was physically facing them, just seperated by a pane of glass – There significance hit me so much, how influencial there were at that moment and beyond as well as how history could be so much different.
Camley Street Nature Park & Regents Canal –
Two unique acres of wild green space right in the heart of London, this innovative and internationally acclaimed reserve on the banks of the Regent’s Canal is a place for both people and wildlife.
Photo and excerpt from ‘Camley Street Nature Park’
Just a short walk from these two stations, Camley Street Nature Park is a small area cleverly hidden in this busy area of the capital and what a beautiful piece of land it is. I ended up here by accident after a train I had been booked onto was cancelled and had over an hour wait before the next one where my ticket would be valid. I was aware of this place but had never been, so this was the opportunity to do so.
There are small trails for adults and children alike, a small hut to do craft activities, learn of the history of the site and the chance to speak to staff. Plenty of benches to just sit and relax with a view over the canal. The canal can’t be accessed from the nature park, but is just a hop, skip and a jump and you are there… kidding, it’s a 2 minute walk out of the gardens, if that.
Essentially, it is a quiet oasis in the middle of organised chaos. Worth a visit.
One Last Thing…
And last but no means least, is this what you expect to find in the middle of central London?
No, me neither. On a back street (Torrens Street) in Angel, Islington just a 10 minute walk from Kings’ Cross station, this FV-433 Abbot Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) is here for you to see and touch. Not a lot of people know it’s here, so expect some strange looks but, just wow. Check it out!