Saint Pancras

For those not of a religious nature and in fact those without a specific knowledge of 14th century saints, the name St Pancras means nothing, other than it being a somewhat magnificent London Railway Terminus.For those who may want to know more, St Pancras became a saint due to his martyrdom and rebellion against the Romans in defence of the Christian faith. He is not really a top ten rated saint compared to Animal loving St Francis, travel insurance expert St Christopher, snake repelling St Patrick and many others who get regular top billing both in the church and popular literature and films. Anyway if a St Pancras question comes up at quiz night, you will be the hero of your team now. St Pancras station however really is out there making a name for itself. This magnificent building which has a gothic cathedral like appearance from the outside was constructed in the 1860’s and was in good use for the first 100 years of its life but fell into gradual decline from the 1960’s and was nearly derelict by the 1970’s with only a small number of departures to the Midlands of England with most other services having been moved for various reasons to other stations nearby such as next door neighbour modernist Kings Cross,and near neighbours St Marylebone and Euston.Then a stroke of luck…the newly created international services of Eurostar to Paris and Brussels needed a larger terminus; the newly created high speed domestic trains to the Kent coast likewise, and also some other commuter services needed a station that could accomdate increased train lengths introduced due to traffic growth.That’s just the background and the ‘raison d’etre’ for the stations rebirth.And what a transformation….light, sculptures, classy shops, restaurants and champagne bars truly have brought the romance back to train travel.The full story of this transformation is worth a read…well documented on Wikipedia. For those not looking for the detail….just try to visit it if ever you are in London. You really won’t be disappointed.

Seizing the moment…..

Travelling back to Yorkshire from a family event in Essex last Sunday was not a rushed journey, so we took the opportunity to stop off at Cambridge. Cambridge is probably just over 2 and 1/2 hours drive from our home when the traffic is being kind, but we never really go there, so making an en-route stop was a sensible and long overdue idea.

I lived in London for 10 years and although I saw and did a lot when I lived there, as a (regular) visitor now, I probably make many more purposeful visits to see things now far more than I ever did when I lived there.

And actually, Scotland is an even more valid case… I lived there for 18 years but really saw none of it other than Glasgow

where I lived and its very near neighbour Edinburgh.

Now Glasgow and Edinburgh are great places and I commend them both to everyone , but there is of course so much more to the country.

I really have a lot of catching up to do there in Scotland……..

Meanwhile back in Cambridge…. it was a relatively short visit this time but with already reaffirmed intentions to visit more.

We parked just by Kings College on the other side of the Cam, and walked in to the city and with unseasonably sunny and mild weather, Cambridge looked good on that Sunday afternoon.

Whether it the buildings, the punts on the Cam

or fantastic open air market, or just the historic bookshops, there is plenty to please the eye.

Later in the week I was chatting to my hair dresser and as you will have read in a previous blog Do you want conditioner these are not conversations as you would expect that include the three standard hairdresser questions * , but we talk about everything and in fact I had been asked ….where is the most amazing place I have visited….now to be fair, that conversation was really more linked to exotic places that my current and previous employers have dispatched me to, to go and drink coffee, or attend a meeting! …and the answer by the way was I think Mauritius…. but I think if I had been asked for a UK town, Cambridge would certainly have got in my top ten!

Enjoying this blog ? I hope so. Please do comment and share if you feel it merits it.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

  • The three questions are : Have you been to work today?, Are you going out tonight?, Got any holidays booked?

The only way is….

TV viewers of a certain generation in the UK will be familiar with TOWIE. For those not in that demographic, its a reality TV programme, ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ following lives of 20 somethings living and nightclubbing around Romford, a London suburb but actually in the neighbouring county of Essex and holidaying in Magaluf and Benidorm.

Full of stereotypes and predictable storylines of who has cheated on who, and who has had what cosmetic surgery!

Why mention this…well I informed a German colleague that I was going to a family celebration in the county and he said ah yes, I have seen it on satellite TV.

I felt an explanation was required!

TOWIE… So is this a representation of Essex life?To a degree yes but it’s a large county and go to the other end…i.e. the bit not bordering London and you find picturesque villages more akin to John Constable country than dodgy nightclubs!

I am a bit biased..having lived at the London end, but having family connections in some of the more rural parts, that’s where I would always want to be. Even the district names remind you of the deep history of the place .

The Essex seaside towns of Clacton, Frinton and Walton in are in a district called the Tendering Hundred. Why? Hundred was unit of English local government and taxation,an intermediate between a village and shire, which survived into the 19th century. Originally, the term probably referred to a group of 100 hides (units of land required to support one peasant family)

I could write so much more about the good side of the county…but that will take time….

And on the subject of hundreds…my last subscriber was number 100…I was amazed when I had one so to have 100 of you I feel flattered and humbled.

I appreciate that not every post, is for everyone but I sincerely hope that in my 100 plus posts to date, there has been someting that at some point has amused or informed you….or perhaps just made you glad you don’ t live in the UK!

With my heartfelt thanks for hopefully enjoying what I write…….

Bookshops, log fires and trains

A few weeks ago, we had a quick visit to Northumberland for the weekend. From where we live in Yorkshire, it’s only a couple of hours drive away and to use that well used cliche, it is a hidden gem!

Castles, deserted beaches with seals , lighthouses and unspoilt towns all just a couple of hours away.

Our first stop was at the town of Alnwick…in summer very popular with visitors to it’s castle (the location of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies) and also the renowned Alnwick Gardens.

But our winter visit was focused on a warm and cosy tea shop for lunch, then some Christmas shopping in the town centre which has a great array of independent shops rather than the ubiquitous array of vape shops, tattooists and charity shops that seem to abound on many UK High streets. Alnwick also has the most wonderful second hand bookshop, Barton Books in the towns old railway station. It is huge and has a stock of over 200,000 books…that’s a lot of books!

It is wonderfully eclectic in style with a model railway above the bookshelves, several eating places in former waiting rooms complete with log fires and is very dog friendly.

What’s not to like?

A short post I know, and no earth shattering revelations of science, politics or general knowledge , nothing of great amusement to be repeated to your friends…but sometimes in life, its the simple things that are the best and this was one of those weekends!

I hope you enjoy these posts ….please do comment and share. Meantime I wish you a good weekend…..

Who are Helen and Steven?

It’s Twelfth night today and as tradition dictates, time to take down the Christmas decorations.

We had numerous Christmas cards and as we were gathering them for recycling we noticed one from Helen and Steven. A nice seasonal card, with snow, robins and a picture perfect cottage in the woods with roaring log fire. One problem…nobody in our household knows a Helen & Steven.

Even visiting offspring and accompanying partners denied all knowledge of said pair. So we remain perplexed. Who are these people and how did a card from them arrive at our house (and get a place on the fireside)?

So now we have an extreme feeling a of guilt…there will be family somewhere saying…”wonder what’s happened to Helen and Steven? We have had a card from them every year since 1983 but nothing this year ..we must have upset them somehow, so if thats how they feel, wish we hadn’t sent them one, certainly won’t send them one in future.”

So in one fell swoop we have upset the intended recipient of Helen and Steven card….and also the mysterious Helen and Steven!

Happy Twelfth night everyone!