Return to the great city

Letter 92

London has a strange pull on me. Though I’ve never had the pleasure to live here, it’s where both of my parents grew up and is still home to the majority of my large family. Coming here is coming home.

It contrasts my beautiful Edinburgh spectacularly and the sudden buzz and masses of people when I disembark the train still excites me after 20 years of visiting. I have just spent a lovely weekend here catching up with my nan, aunties and cousin which has made me feel relaxed and very happy. I love my family and it’s hard not to see them more often, but when I do see them, it’s special.

Edinburgh Waverley

I jumped on the train at Waverley in Edinburgh on Friday morning. I was lucky enough to have a window and table seat and enjoyed a pleasant 4 hour journey through the British countryside. I read for the first time in a long time, I had a guilt-free nap and I caught up on some letters. All things I haven’t been able to do whilst finishing off my studies – something I am still revelling in.

Stepping off the train into the Kings Cross iron train shed is akin to stepping into another world. I see people rushing around me to get to the underground or grab a taxi, but no one stops to admire it. The sheer volume and complexity of the structure is quite frankly mind boggling and I could stop and stare all day. It’s safe to say my course may have influenced the way I look at things.

Kings Cross Train shed

In quick succession from the train shed is the shopping centre style station behind it where busy locals and travellers eagerly await their platform announcement, business people stop for a drink and shoppers explore all Kings Cross has to offer. It’s a stunning place and perfect for people watching – a key quality I look for in public places.

Kings cross station

Stepping outside into the streets of the city you’ll find the grand King’s Cross St Pancras frontage designed by the great Scott. The red stone Gothic hotel marks the symbolic entrance to this departure point and it really is wonderful to behold. My phone photos on this cloudy day do it no justice, but it is a fantastic piece of architecture. Ironically it was first built to hide the highly engineered train shed behind, whereas now it is celebrated.

Midland Grand Hotel Kings cross

The next step of the journey, and one of the most iconic in London, is the underground. I normally despise this mode of transport in the city due to the business, sardine crowds and lack of views, but in this instance, I was happy to be on it. That might have something to do with the empty carriage I was left with for about 6 stops before my exit. It also might be because I actually missed it. I miss being in a city so big that you need an underground transport system to accommodate the incredible population. I miss that somehow even when the trains arrive every 3 minutes, each one is still jam packed in rush hour. I miss the diverse array of people you see sitting and standing on the trains and wondering where they’ve come from and where they’re going. It’s quite amazing really.

London Underground

That’s it for my short stay in London. I’ll be back in a few months and I’m looking forward to it. This is my home, whether I’ve lived here or not. Bye bye for now.

From Lou

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