Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published September 3rd 2013
Shopping is a Terminal Condition
King's Cross St. Pancras International
No more are public transport venues merely for commuters; they have become a tourist destination, a communal hotspot, a shopper's paradise. King's Cross Station is far more than just a place to catch a train. At St. Pancras International, it is also a shopping centre.
Although I am opposed to the proposal of the High Speed Two Railway that links London to Birmingham, there is no denying that High Speed One has revolutionised long distance travel in the UK. Building work for St. Pancras station began in 1866, and upon completion in 1868, it became the world's largest enclosed space and remains so to this day. Designed by William Barlow in 1863, the station is now a Grade 1 listed building, and most recognisable by its red brick Gothic front.
A hundred years after construction first began on St. Pancras, it was proposed that the station be joined to King's Cross. Then in the year 2000, further developments were introduced by expanding the station to allow for continental travel via access to the Eurostar. As well as adding an international terminus, St. Pancrs was turned into a public space with shopping facilities, cafes, and markets. High Speed One was officially opened by Her Majesty, The Queen, in 2007.
As well as the Eurostar, which will take you to major cities such as Paris, Brussels, and Lille, other train terminals include the Southeastern, from London to Kent, the East Midlands, which you can use to get to Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, and Leeds, and First Capital Connect for trips to Brighton. As it is connected to King's Cross, you can also access the Underground Tube Network.
If you are travelling from King's Cross St. Pancras International, and have a long train ride ahead of you, there might be a few supplies you want to take with you. For example, if you need to buy a packed lunch, there are plenty of places to get 'food on the go'. Grab a sandwich from Marks & Spencer Simply Food or get your meat and potatoes conveniently wrapped in pastry from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. Looking for a healthy option? There will be no trouble fulfilling your fruit and veg quota at the Sourced Market, which sells fresh seasonal produce, as well as Regents Park Honey, cakes and artisan breads from Flour Power City Bakery.
If you prefer to eat before making your journey, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from. Yo! Sushi is a Japanese sushi train bar, in which colour coded dishes (priced £1.70-£5) go round on a conveyor for you to pick up. If you're going to be travelling to the continent, you might as well get a taste of it first;Patisserie Valerie does lovely pastries, breads, and salads.Wanting Italian? Go to Carluccio's; travelling on business? Try The Book Office Bar for corporate, but dramatic interior design.
For those simply visiting for leisure, then there are plenty of shops to keep you busy all afternoon. The fashion conscious can't go wrong; shops include Monsoon, which does colourful designs for women and children, Thomas Pink, a brand that specialises in high quality suits, and Fat Face for trendy, youthful styles.
Book lovers can immerse themselves in Foyles; although it is one of their smaller branches, you'll be amazed how many books they can back into a limited space.
If you want to buy someone (or yourself) a gift, then I would recommend popping into Nehaus, a luxury Belgian chocolatiers. Admittedly, they are expensive (100g of truffles is £7), but if you saw the items on display you'd find it hard to walk out empty handed.
If you have children with you, then a peek inside Hamleys is a must. London's oldest toy shop has hamster balls zooming across the floor, frogs padding in pools, and bugs flapping from the ceiling. You can also have a go at playing a roll up piano.
Play the piano at the train station.
Talking about pianos, you'll find them scattered around the station. Why not sit down and tickle the ivories?