Saturday, April 30, 2005

British Library, King's Cross, & St. Pancras

My eldest daughter, J2, is attending a dance lesson class in central London. So every Saturday we have to take her there at 1:30PM and come back for her by 5:30PM. I don't want to hang around there for 4 hours and I certainly don't want to go home and come back again for her. What to do? Well, explore London of course! We've gone to the 'big smoke' countless of times but there are still pockets that I haven't explored.

Last weekend me and J3 just walked around the vicinity of where J2 was dancing. The walk was not that far but I was feeling so fatigued on the way back due to the heavy backpack I'm carrying. Feels like a ton. It must have been with all the 'abubots' of J3 crammed in there. Anyway, just about a block away is the British Library. I seem to remember some controversy surrounding it during its inaguration. Can't quite recall what it was. That afternoon it was a sparsely populated place. We just got to view the main reception lobby and their small museum of showcase pieces in their collection. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed.

Among the impressive items they have in the John Ritblat Gallery are the Magna Carta, Shakespeare's first collection of his plays circa 1623, Codex Sinaiticus - earliest New Testament manuscript in Greek, Gutenberg Bible, da Vinci's notebook (not code), handwritten lyrics and notes of the Beatles, among other things. They also have another gallery where they show how book making and publishing evolved. Very educational, indeed. We did not go in the inner sanctum of the library because you have to register and provide documents, etc. to be given access.

Avoiding lots of hassles so we kept putting one foot in front of the other which led us outside to St. Pancras train station that was only a few metres away. Currently it's closed for renovation. Of all the trains stations here this is my favourite - a classic Victorian Gothic Revival building. Beautiful and majestic. You might find its sight familiar due to it being used in Harry Potter 2 movie when Harry and Ron rode the flying car. And right beside St.Pancras is its ugly sister, the King's Cross train station. Low, squat, very functional, unelaborate mass of concrete, steel, and glass. Roads and subways (pedestrian underpasses) are being built and renovated so there are loads of scaffolding and contruction palaver about, which made it even uglier. Despite this, it's famous for its non-existent 9 3/4 platform - you know from the Harry Potter books. We were tempted to go in and see if they made anything special between platform 9 and 10.

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