Teapot Meltdown with the Cafe Sketchers

Cafe Sketchers, Cafe at St Pancras Hotel



If JK Rowling had described the drainpipes at Hogwarts I’m pretty sure they’d have looked something like this.

But it’s not my take on Hogwarts wastewater management systems: this is the real deal (neo-gothic style) at London’s St Pancras International Railway Station.

I’m grateful to Becky, group organiser of Cafe Sketchers, for having chosen this location, thus allowing me to ponder some incredible details which I’ve missed out on,  over the past 5 years of rushing through this transit hub.

For around a year, Becky (who also runs life drawing classes) has proposed locations in central London where the group can sketch (with your own materials) and have a coffee at a relaxed pace. This MEETUP group convenes approximately twice a month and it’s free to attend.

Held on weekday afternoons, it is popular with ‘silver sketchers’, but the age range and diversity of the group was wide enough to confuse, or perhaps incite curiosity, from other cafe goers.

With quite a number of sketchers using watercolours (tins, palettes and rags in tow) and some using A3 boards, we were pretty conspicious among the corporate lunches and business travellers.

Probably all the more-so for a moment of ‘teapot meltdown’ when several of the group (myself included) were flumoxed by an ‘umbrella in spout’ tea-straining device. British people don’t like to, and indeed, will not admit any tea-based ignorance. Especially in the context of a fancy hotel. Subsequently,  there was ill-advised teapot shaking, investigating and analysis: all of which ended with a large puddle of mixed leaf tea on the walnut coffee table.

The waitress, replacing the offending teapots, poured each of our teas individually for us (as I suspect she had been instructed to do) to avoid any more mischief.

I wasn’t that surprised when hotel security came to ask, in the politest possible way, what was going on – ‘is it an art class?’

An Agatha Christie type explained how simply marvelous it was to gather old and young, in such clement surroundings, with such attentive waiting staff to share a moment of creativity – and how kind it was of him to enquire. Thus she deftly snuffed out any possibly of reproach from the side of the hotel. I suspected it had not been the first time the Cafe Sketchers had been held to account.

So it was a rambunctious and enjoyable affair, where chat and tea held equal place with sketching.

I didn’t feel that I could really embark on anything which might involve prolonged concentration, and so made some sketches of some of the people in the cafe before feeling that I really should document something of the beautiful building, hence the elaborate drainpipe above!




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