I spend quite a lot of time at St Pancras, mainly as a way to avoid spending any more time than necessary at King’s Cross. I always like to imagine I’m about to get on the Eurostar to Paris, but the truth is I’m always on the train to Grantham. Not exactly the same.
And I guess even more so than other stations, this one will be full of people heading home for Christmas, not just across the UK but back to Europe as well. Which got me to thinking, what if you turned up here on Christmas Eve, ready to head home, and then suddenly realised you’d done no Christmas shopping at all. And you had a whole host of foodies to buy for. All before the last train.
Could you shop, and not be out in the cold on Christmas morning? You could have a go, here’s my quick dash guide to last minute gift shopping en route to the buffet car:
* Maybe make Paperchase your last call, to buy gift bags for anything that hasn’t been wrapped already for you. They also have some great recipe folders and even aprons and tea towels.
* Head upstairs to Carluccios and stock up on Italian goodies. Always look good, taste pretty good too!
* There’s at least 1 big event in 2012, so stop by the London 2012 shop for Olympic goodies like mugs and teapots, lunchbags and teatowels. Go on, we might enjoy it when it happens.
* I know I didn’t love Marks and Spencer’s food gifts this year, but you could run in and buy their best champagne, and a big handful of packets of Percy Pigs. I think that would get you a warm reception from all age groups!
* Oliver Bonas always have an eclectic selection, particularly in books and small gifts. Definitely worth a look. I just have to try and not get distracted by the shiny things.
* If you want a broader selection of books, then Foyles has smallish shop, but usually it’s pretty good in food and drink. Although if you’re carrying them, maybe choose paperbacks, like the beautiful Penguin editions of classic titles by people like Claudia Roden.
* For some French flavours to your gift giving, try the little takeaway section of Le Pain Quotidien, as they have a small but tasty selection of things like jams and marmalade, not to mention plain, milk, white and chocolate hazelnut spreads. Buy all four, and get them wrapped, someone will love you lots for it.
* Two fail safe stops: Cath Kidston for those who like it country and kitsch, and The White Company for those that don’t. I’d do tea towels and aprons from the first, and foodie candles from the second, like fresh ginger or Tuscan fig.
* Peyton and Byrne would mean hoping for some baked goodies, like fig rolls or Scotch eggs. But even settling for some great tea, jam or mustard would be no real hardship. I am particularly partial to their raspberry jam.
* Finally, you’ve got about two minutes before the train, so I would suggest a supermarket style sweep through Sourced Market You’d find it hard to pick a bad treat from here. Wine and beer selections are particularly interesting.
Then head off and let the train take the strain. If you’re trying to do the same at King’s Cross, forget it. Unless your loved ones will thank you for a four pack of Strongbow and a Pork Farms sausage roll from Whistlestop. In which case, wrap up warm, it’ll be cold outside!