Saturday, December 10, 2011

KX Xmas

King’s Cross - where even the corporate Christmas decorations are quirky

What do a huge property developer and two of the world’s largest children’s toy and entertainment brands have in common? They’re all responsible for some interesting displays at King’s Cross this Christmas.

At the top of King’s Boulevard, in the middle of the 67-acre King’s Cross development, a 9m high birdcage arrived in mid-November to mark the start of RELAY which is billed as King’s Cross’ first dedicated art programme. Although the promise that it will be suspended from nearby cranes has yet to materialise, it looks lovely, particularly since being joined by a Christmas tree the other side of the road.

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Meanwhile down at St Pancras, pupils from Edith Neville Primary School in Camden, Copenhagen Primary School in Islington and the Harpenden Explorer Scout troop were hard at work creating the centrepiece of St Pancras’ Christmas display - a 12m high tree made from over 600,000 pieces of Lego.

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A couple of weeks later another labour-intensive exhibit turns up further down the St Pancras concourse, this time an origami model of the Disney Sleeping Beauty castle made entirely from Disney brochures to celebrate 20 years of Disneyland Paris.

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A fine effort from everyone involved in these projects. Hope we have more like this next year!

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Recent arrivals - December 2011

A round-up of places that have opened, closed or changed in King’s Cross in the last couple of months. Click on place names or photos for details, directions etc.

Arrivals

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  • Street food pioneers Eat St are now a regular fixture with a delicious and diverse selection of stalls at the top of King’s Boulevard every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtime.
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  • At the bottom end of King’s Boulevard Bean & Gone is a little red van selling high quality coffee every weekday.
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  • Cafe Niko is a lovely little café on the Priory Green estate that has been going since March but I only just found it.
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Changes

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  • I remember getting takeaways from Balti Express when working late in 1998. It had got a bit shabby and food quality had also declined so it’s good to see it re-born and under new management as Unique Spice.
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  • The Brill restaurant is now the Backpackers Bar but has kept its takeaway operation Brill To Go next door.
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  • It’s always a worry when a good pub gets taken over but fortunately the new management of the stunning Somers Town Coffee House seem like an interesting outfit who appreciate what a fine place they’ve taken on.
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  • The Il Casale pizzeria up at the Nido student tower blocks on Pentonville Road is now called Vigata.
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  • Swintons became Navya’s for a few months but is now Swintons again, and is no longer serving Malaysian food.
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  • Likewise the Blue River café is also back to its original name after a spell as Café Napoli.
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Closures

The Café & Tapas chain is still going but its branch in King’s Cross tube station has closed after less than a year. Perhaps eating tapas in an underground corridor didn’t quite deliver an authentic Spanish experience.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beethoven at St Pancras

Here’s a brief sample of today’s lunchtime concert performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by a massed choir, of the finale of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

It sounded magnificent, give or take the odd interruption from arriving and departing Eurostar trains.

Added later: here’s the official video - much better quality than mine!

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kings Cross development: open day

Some photos taken on a guided walk as part of an open day organised by Argent, who are re-developing 67 acres to the north of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.

It was good to see the event well-attended and I look forward to more of these.

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Open day activities in the Western Handyside Canopy. This was a go-karting track for a while.

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Looking out towards the Star of Kings pub on York Way

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The tour sets off with the old York Road tube station in the distance

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Development of The Western Transit Shed is well under way

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Building detail near the Coal Drops

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Looking into the Coal Drops

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I wasn’t a hardcore clubber but I did go to Bagleys a couple of times in the 1990s. That’s it over there.

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Central Saint Martins: the new building on the right is attached to the 19th century Granary Complex on the left.

 

I have to say I’m not particularly keen on what is planned for the area to the south of Regent’s Canal between the two stations. It feels as if too many old buildings have been demolished and too many large office blocks will be replacing them.

Further north however, where this tour took place, things are much more promising. Central Saint Martins already looks fantastic and there is a lot to look forward to as old buildings and spaces are brought back to life.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Liquorice Line

The people behind National Baking Week have made a large and edible tube map topped with various tasty-looking London landmarks inside St Pancras station. I went and took some pics…

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I was confused by the thing on the left but judging by its postion on the map (see bottom pic) I think it’s meant to be Angel.

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Close-up of a non-edible train.

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Side view of Marble Arch.
Thanks to Simon Powell for pointing this out in the comments. I thought from the location that it was Buckingham Palace

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The list of baking week tube stations includes: Add 250ml Waterloo, Baker Week, Bethnal Cream, Charing Hot Cross Bun, Imperial Mint Wharf Cake, Leicester Flapjack Square, Liverpool Key Lime Pie Street, Puddington, St Pancake, Swiss Roll Cottage, Victoria Sponge, White Chocolate Cheesecake Chapel.

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I think Tate Modern has lost its way slightly and there’s a tube train on an overground line, but all in all a pretty good effort.

If you want to avoid getting into a sticky mess remember to use our King’s Cross St Pancras tube guide - it will help you avoid those long walks to and from the Victoria Sponge line.

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