Sunday, 17 February 2019

Birthday Treat - St Pancras Hotel

One happy DB lurking in the shade of a pillar

St Pancras from the outside

I have been wanting to scope out the St Pancras Hotel for literally decades!

In the olden days when I commuted to the City everydayI used the Commuter Link - a bus that went from just around The Little House directly to the City of London, making frequent stops along the way.  When I stopped working in the City the Commuter Link stopped, too, and henceforth travellers have to go to Victoria or Marble Arch.

Anyway, this bus went past the St Pancras Hotel, though it wasn't a hotel then, but used as a taxi rank and other seedy purposes.  They were building the National Library, and every day I was driven past huge billboards featuring famous librarians, that were hiding the passers-by from the building site.

This went on for some eleven years.  You can therefore imagine my delight when I found out that St Pancras, which was pushed by greedy developers who were hoping to demolish the building into wreck and ruin, was going to be rebuild and refurbished!!!!

As soon as the process had been completed I went for a visit, but finances being tight, and time precious, I never actually managed to go on a tour of the hotel.

Such tours have to be arranged by telephone, one can't just wander in, and they are not as frequent as one might wish.  I had been several times close to booking one, but what with one thing and another never actually went through with it.

So for my birthday treat my ever obliging Triplets arranged the whole thing, inclusive a High Tea event at the German Gymnasium afterwards.

What can I say, it was simply monumental!

Our host and guide was extremely knowledgeable - though I did quibble with him about some details - and since it was just us Triplets plus one interloper the tour was both enjoyable and very much tailored to our needs.

I could bore you with details, but others, more attentive to the details that should be included in any description of such a building, have gotten there first, so I just provide some links, and you can do your own research.

150 years St Pancras Station BBC   short film

BBC St Pancras Station   long film

Saint Pancras architecture  Sir Gilbert Scott - shows the building before it was spruced up and became a hotel again

Dan Cruikshank on the Scott family  Part 1 (very recommended - if only because it shows that I was right when I disagreed with the guide about the Scotts in Oxford)

Dan Cruikshank Part 2

Dan Cruikshank Part 3

Dan Cruikshank Part 4

The photos were mainly taken by our Dear Third - my camera went on the blink and I had to rely on her telephone's amazing ability to take photos.  All photos are from the inside of the hotel.  Not of the actual rooms, since they are occupied by paying guests, or owned by wealthy individuals.  Thus most photos of starcases - but what staircases!

DB flanked by the Guide and the Interloper

Wall decoration in the sitting room of one of the grandest hotel suites

So what do you think, £800 million spent well?

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Southwood Garden of St James's, Piccadilly

Church by Christopher Wren - the chap who built St Paul's cathedral and any number of other churches

After the last meeting of the Bookclub at the Club, where the subject discussed was 'Novels based on historical characters', I meandered a little around the area.  Not far from my club there is Piccadilly, and a church with a little market with stalls that mainly sell craft items and bric-a-brac. 

I occasionally wander among the stalls, but this time my eye was caught by several statues looming in the distance in a little park adjacent to the market.  I went to explore a little, and while the park itself is nothing special, I did enjoy the various statues by a modern artist erected there.

The photos are self explanatory, I hope!

Bring your worries to the little green caravan

Emily Young sculpted these

I really like this - reminds me of Etruscan statues

And also of the statue that features in the film Midnight in the garden of good and evil

I always like me a compost heap

Someone gossiping on her mobile, I guess

The market stalls