Harry Potter open for business at King’s Cross.

That Harry Potter’s opened a store for muggles right by Platform 9 3/4. They got that Warwick Davies to open it. Ribbons, speeches, geeky fans, the lot!

This opened 2 weeks ago and I didn’t even notice. I pass through King’s Cross twice a day and still haven’t spotted the store.

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What I DID spot this morning was that the customary Harry Potter luggage trolley had changed. Like its predecessor, it’s embedded in the wall, making it a super photo op for tourists and/or Harry Potter fans.

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However, the new trolley sports some rugged old leather suitcases and half a birdcage. Is this for the owl? Sadly there isn’t half an owl embedded in the wall to establish this.

This is the 3rd location for the trolley. It used to be tucked away outside Platforms 9, 10 and 11, then they tucked it away by Platform 8 before moving it to its current position. Nice to see they’ve made an effort to Hogwartify the trolley. Before it was just a bog standard First Capital Connect one that got vandalised from time to time.

The map online puts the Harry Potter shop right next door to the trolley, so how come I didn’t spot it?

No idea, but the shop is a very good idea – heavy tourist traffic, excellent transport connections and highly relevant to the film (ignoring the fact that they actually used the more cinematic St Pancras next door for the films).

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The Great Northern Route: not so great.

This week got off to a bad start. Monday night at King’s Cross was like the Slug and Lettuce on a Friday night. It was Lethal Bizzle. The Departures board made depressing viewing. Delayed, Cancelled and no platforms marked at all. No trains.

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The problem was with 14 ‘droppers’ on the line between Hitchin and Stevenage. What’s a dropper? The same question occurred to me. A dropper is the non-electrified wire that supports the electrified lines above the tracks and trains. I think.

Vandalism or scrap metal theft, surely. In which case, there’s little Network Rail can do except replace/fix them. Am I too quick to forgive?

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I was earwigging a member of staff trying to sound as cheerful as possible while telling a commuter “You’re looking at 2 hours.”

I was checking maps on my phone to see how close to home a train from St Pancras would get me. Not great. Harpenden or Luton were the choices. A 40-minute drive for my wife to come and fetch me. Then another 40 minutes back…

But as if by magic the station announcer told us the next train calling at Stevenage would soon be leaving from Platform 0. There was no stampede but there was certainly urgency in the way people made their way to the train.

These situations can be a false dawn; you can’t let your guard down. A place on a train is no guarantee of being sped home with effortless efficiency. When you’re dealing with overhead wires (and we were) you can be crawling along at best or stationary at worst – actually, going backwards would be worse but that’s never happened to me.
But as luck would have it, I was home as fast as I could have wished. So that was the worst over, right?

You know when you get phone calls early in the morning, it’s never good news. All kinds if thoughts rush through your head. Anyway, it was my neighbour to say that if I was considering Parking In Stevenage today, don’t bother.
Apparently the platforms were packed and there was talk of the dreaded Replacement Bus Service. All the way to London. Serious.

My neighbour was right; I didn’t bother.

This post was brought to you by two well-executed semi-colons. I advise you to use them more in 2013. They are unloved and underrated.

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