An elegant sufficiency

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What a day!

I had an exciting day yesterday - I was sent these tickets for the first carbon-neutral Eurostar train a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled (and the envy of Mark) to think I'd be able to experience the new St Pancras Station at first hand.

It was a beautiful morning - clear and sunny, and the restored station was looking magnificent. The front of the station is still work in progress, so we were directed to the side entrance which led to a view of the most wonderfully uplifting architecture imaginable.

The blue sky complemented the stunning ironwork, beautifully restored and looking perfect for this splendid occasion.

Everyone walked with eyes up, gazing at the spectacular framework, painted "Barlow Blue" - a delightful heritage blue following the original colour scheme.

The person often credited with the salvation of this great building was gazing skyward too - I think Sir John Betjeman would have approved of the finished result and like to think he'd feel this was a fitting tribute.

Of course, the media were there in number, recording the events as they unfolded. I'd already watched several interviews on TV before leaving my hotel room - it was strange to walk across the road, enter the station and become part of the scene.

Above all was a feeling that something was about to happen though for the time being, there was simply a lot of milling around, of waiting and of eager anticipation. Our dilemma was, do we hang around until the fun begins, or do we go and check in now? How late dare we leave it?

In stark contrast to the characterful Betjeman figure, the general opinion was that Hallmark had had a hand in this huge bronze - far larger than any of us had imagined and sad to say, I heard not a single word in favour.

It was great to have a chance to take a close look at the details - the standard of finish and the attention to the finer points is most impressive, the more so since these are hardly the eye-catching features but the more mundane parts of the building which could so easily have been overlooked or economised.

A last look around this level before going downstairs to the check in hall, though, to marvel at the fine clock, the great arch and the fantastic ironwork.

Of course, the photographers were there in the departure hall too, going to some extreme lengths to take original and unusual shots of people checking in. Hardly the most flattering angle for anyone, I'd say, heaven knows what it turned out like!

Train side, we snooked out to grab a snatch of the London Philharmonic and the assembled crowds waiting at the end of the platform, before being ushered on board and plied with champagne...

A few glasses later, nous sommes arrives. Clutching our souvenir hessian bags (with complimentary Green and Blacks chocolate bars and Innocent drinks to keep us going) we made our light-headed way to the front of the station!

It was almost as if the Gare du Nord was trying hard to look its best in the sunshine, too.

Eurostar had arranged a fleet of coaches to transport us all to the Seine, from where a bateau-mouche offered a river tour for those who did not want to faire le shopping

because, of course, there were the perturbations dans les transports today.

All too soon, it was time to return, however, and having had a superb day we checked in again for the homeward journey to St Pancras.

But we'll not forget Waterloo - it's simply great to be British!

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  • What an interesting post. Great pics, too. I envy you your day in Paris, and am excited at planning a trip there for hubby and I (sans infants). Thanks for that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 pm  

  • So glad you got a treat - it looks like you had a wonderful time! Not that I'm jealous or anything....

    By Blogger susoolu, at 12:29 pm  

  • I enjoyed that Gill. Hope to see it myself one day. All good photographers go and lie down on the floor to take photos. I expect one from that angle from you next time (smile)

    By Blogger Digitalgran, at 10:17 am  

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