Since having my first son, I’ve turned into something of a trainspotter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not reached the anoraks and timetables stage. But I have spent more time lurking around stations and talking about engines since Ezra came into my life.
One of my favourite ways to while away an afternoon with the boys is to head to St. Pancras International.
The closest thing we have to Grand Central in terms of romance and stature, the renovated St. Pancras is an impressive architectural space. The red brick buildling stands tall in a vibrant neighbourhood that’s a long way from the hookers and junkies’ paradise it once was.
When we arrive, there are three things on our agenda: trains, tea and shopping.
First stop, trains.
Up, up, up we go in the big glass lift (a thrill in itself). We emerge outside ‘Europe’s longest champagne bar’ next to the platform for the Eurostar. ‘That will take us to Disneyland,’ Ezra announces.
One day, little guy.
We move further along to where the East Midlands line pulls in. After clearing it with the guard, we hop on board a stationary train and pretend we’re off on an adventure. A couple of times we’ve met the train driver who has let Ezra climb into the driving seat.
All this ‘travelling’ is thirsty work and it’s time for tea.
St. Pancras offers a good mix of eating and drinking options but we can never resist Peyton & Byrne in the arcade. Ezra has carrot cake and milk, Jed has his rice cake and I’ll tuck into a Victorian sponge slice with fresh strawberries and a thick hot chocolate (yum).
With all the passengers hurrying to and fro, it’s a great spot for people-watching. Ezra is already learning to play the ‘Where’s he going?’ and ‘What’s she thinking?’ game that mama has enjoyed for years.
Next, we hit the shops. It’s hardly a mall but St. Pancras is ideal for dipping and browsing. You’ll find clothing and accessories in Oliver Bonas, Fossil, Thomas Pink or Monsoon, or hunt for last-minute toys and gifts in Wilton & Noble or Hamleys. Often we’ll sit on the floor in Foyles and pore through kids’ titles. Last Xmas, the staff were doling out mince pies and mulled wine as we scanned the shelves.
St. Pancras hosts a variety of events and exhibits throughout the year. Visit the web site to see what’s on offer.