After a long and refreshingly unproductive day happily strolling The Stables in Camden, I found myself lost in the abyss of Kings Cross Station. I had it on good authority from my ever faithful mother, sister and aunt (all in law) that this was where my birthday surprise was to take place. Their frantic search for maps and information desks amused me as I stood scanning the vast space around me for clues as to what could be about to unfold.
Now I am the eternal optimist but given it was 5pm and work loomed in a mood crushingly soon 30 hours, I doubted I would be making my way to the Eurostar… Whisked away from my thoughts, the mystery of location had apparently been solved and we thrust ourselves out into the frosty January air. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light outside, we began to follow a series of large red arrows adorned with the motif for “The Railway Children”. This was my surprise.
A feeling of warmth bubbled through me that my kin should once again have grasped the very essence of my personality- a love for the arts combined with a child-like enthusiasm. This initial feeling gave way to mild panic that apart from a vague recollection of a fuzzy VHS, I had absolutely no idea what The Railway Children was about. Undeterred, I took my place in the queue, quite at home amongst my primary school age counterparts.
The entrance to the performance is, in itself quite unremarkable; a wooden fence leading to a narrow passageway and then equally narrow set of steps. All of which giving the alarming impression that you will in fact be spending the next two hours outside in the crisp winter air.
Somewhat under-dressed, relief washed over me as I plunged myself into the joyfully warm air that emanated from the start of what was to be quite a magical adventure.
A broad and festive room transported me back to Edwardian times. A wooden set converted the previously ordinary marquee into a quite extraordinary vintage station complete with pick and mix stand housing colourful sweets in woven, wooden baskets. Two mystery doors highlighted platform numbers and intrigued, I followed my hosts onto platform two and I took my seat (along with my full tub of e-numbers) at the side of the railway.
What followed, I will not dare to spoil for you but what I will say is; more than simply observing, I became a part of three wildly enthusiastic children’s’ whirlwind adventure. Children played not, as you might imagine by appropriately aged child prodigies set to win an Oscar at the age of 11 but instead by refreshingly brilliant adult actors. Brilliant because they had been given permission to harness the raw emotion of the child inside of all of us that we forget to let out quite as often as perhaps we should.
There is, as it states on the posters, a “real live steam train” and it is, as you might imagine, rather magnificent. Book tickets, Watch it and let your inner child find joy and peace for two hours and twenty minutes. You owe it to yourself.