st pancras train station

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Promo display for Murder on the Orient Express at London St Pancras railway station in form of a delicious handcrafted train made of 60kg+ Belgian Godiva chocolate [x] [x]

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Concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt’s “El Contrabandista”, one of the most difficult piano pieces ever composed, on a rickety old piano in St Pancras Station while waiting for her train.

Ashton Imagine: Travelling the World

Author: Rhine

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You forgot where you started, but you knew you sure as hell didn’t want it to end.

You’ve lost count of the places you’ve been to, lost track of the days on the road and hours on the plane.

You’re lost – so unbelievably lost – but with him by your side, it’s not so much being lost as it is discovering something new.

And that’s just what it was – you were exploring the world together.

No guides, no schedules, no plans, no tours – just you and him on a whim, spontaneous plane flights and car breakdowns halfway across yet another country.

And if you woke up to grey skies and rain dotting the motel windows, lips pursed as you said I wish it wasn’t raining, he’d spin you so you’re looking at his hazel eyes instead, smiling when he whispers then we’ll go someplace where the sun doesn’t stop shining.

It was that simple – pack your bags in an hour, in the taxicab, and you’re at the airport asking the receptionist two seats for your next flight.

You were just two rugged travellers who couldn’t get enough of the world, couldn’t get enough of each other.

It was just you and him across countries, large backpacks strapped to your shoulders with the bare necessities – mostly an assortment of snacks and carefully stashed polaroids of you and him with the places and the date scrawled messily underneath.

It was all you needed.

He’d kiss your suntanned forehead with soft lips and stare into your eyes, fingers interlaced with yours as he leaned back on the airplane cushions, broad shoulders taking up some of your space.

And half of the time you didn’t even know where you were going – it wasn’t until you touched down that you thought oh, here I am, always knowing this is where I’m supposed to be.

With him.

You’d watch the clouds clear from the airplane windows and suddenly you’re bracing yourself for landing as another city comes into sight – sometimes pointed skyscrapers, sometimes flat fields, always a new adventure.

And then you and him are off, tearing through the airport like little kids, stopping only to grab a map and flag a taxi down, pointing to the biggest pictures on the tourist guide.

You’d go to all the monuments and museums and famous landscapes and you’d take those cheesy pictures of pushing the Leaning Tower of Pisa or triumphant star at the end of the Great Wall of China and holding the Pyramids of Giza in between your fingers with laughter as you tried to get the angle right.

There’s the tourist-heavy places where you and him with the large camera strapped around his neck fit right in, sunglasses perched on your heads and irregular tans from travelling between hot and cold, sun and rain.

And then there’s the places you got lost with him – he’ll take your hand and lead you down some road to take a picture of an age-old oak and before you know it, he’s leading you down a near-invisible path to the streets that the timeless locals called home.

Those were the places you liked the most, you think.

Because then you’re really discovering the place, you’re really hearing the chatter of different languages and dialects, you’re really seeing the worn clothes and shingled roofs of a place that people called home.

And Ashton’s there, he’s there with his tall figure and loud voice, eyes staring in wonder through his camera lens as he takes picture after picture; rain puddles with reflections of cracked homes and locals with chipped smiles.

You’d try the foods straight out of the ovens of the residents’ homes, none of that industrialized famous meals that restaurants so proudly boast – family recipes and homegrown vegetables, spoons with worn handles and squeaky chairs.

He’d always to his best to discover as much as he can, taking your hand and pulling you with him.

Broken English with the natives, dirty shoes in brand name stores, farmer’s tan in the middle of a family farm, loose curls escaping a thick knitted hat as he tried to catch snowflakes on his tongue.

And god, there’s no way to describe it – travelling with Ashton was unpredictable and exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, oftentimes with a smidge of danger, but always, always fun.

He’ll say he wants to try snorkeling and he’ll hold your hand as he pets a manta ray, he’ll say he wants to drive across the country then forget to fill up the gas, he’ll say he wants to go urban ziplining then shout your name as he parachutes off a fifty-storey building.

There’s an abundance of sketchy hotel rooms – everything’s usually spent on plane tickets – where the showers are too cold and the toilets too covered in grime, the bed probably infested with something and the windows slightly jammed open with a draft.

But there’s his arms around your waist and even though he reeks of sweat and you swear you can practically smell his adrenaline and puppy-dog excitement, you don’t think you could ask for better service than this.

There’s food that doesn’t always match your taste – Ashton what did you order oh my god is it moving – and the occasional crashing at a house of someone that looks trustworthy enough – you’ll knock them out if they try anything, right? – but Ashton’s charm always guarantees you a couch and a belly full of food at the very least.

He’s the first to hold your hand when you’re hiking – step on this rock babe, careful – head turned back to make sure you were okay, running through everything with you – we don’t have to stay if you don’t want to – and always more than happy to carry your backpack and you while he was at it – I’m Smash, I’ve got this.

He’s a stranger to every country but he’s no stranger to you, and even if the world around you is a blur of languages you’ll never understand and cultures that you’ll only ever skim on the surface – you’ll know him like he’s the only thing you’ve ever been taught, you’ll understand him as if he lived inside you.

He’s your home – right where your heart was.

And this is it, this is all you’ve ever wanted.

No more dull worries of if you remembered to buy milk or pay your rent, no early morning drags out of bed and same old paths, no more mundane routine and waiting for Friday night.

You’re living under the same sun and seeing the same sky, but god, now your life was something you were actually living.

Writing your names on the inside of a paper lantern before releasing it to the night sky in Taiwan, the echoes of your breath in an empty historic opera house in Siberia, giving elephants baths in Thailand, smashing tomatoes in his face during the tomato festival in Spain, discovering every last crevice of the Lost City of the Incas in Peru, falling asleep on his shoulder as you ride the bullet train in Japan.

You’ve lost count of all the things you’ve done with Ashton – things people only dream of, things people spend their lives wondering and wishing – and here you are, two free spirits who scattered themselves around this great world that they called home.

The list goes on and on and the polaroids grow and grow – hundreds upon hundreds of you and him, faces together, staring off, when you aren’t looking.

His frizzy curls during the downpour as you walked through the Summer Palace in Beijing. His tanned skin against the green mountains on the shores of Mekong River in Laos. His glinting hazel eyes beneath the layers upon layers of clothing in the Antarctica snow. His dimpled laugh as he dances, picture a blur from his movement, pure carefree joy during the Brazilian Carnival. His long fingers pointing to a pub sign in Ireland, a beam on his face. His wild curls in the wind along the Boulders Beach in South Africa.

Your eyes drink it all in, your lips taste it all, your skin savors every touch.

The northern lights shining in his eyes when stares at you instead of the sky in Finland. The feeling of his hands on yours when he holds you tight on a rollercoaster in the middle of India. The little intake of his breath just before his lips meet yours when you’re on the peak of a mountain in British Columbia.

There’s no limits for the two of you, not for the world, not for your love.

Dog sledding in Alaska and picnics on the hills in Scotland, hang gliding in São Conrado then slow-dancing on Victoria’s Peak in Hong Kong. Climbing El Potrero Chico in Mexico, whispered stories in your ears next to the stone Moai on Easter Island.

You’re running, running to catch a train to Paris in St. Pancras station, running to make that last jump off the cliffs of Jamaica with Ashton’s arms around you, running to avoid the rain in Hawaii, running all around the world but always running with Ashton’s hand in yours; running and running but never running out of laughter, of memories, of love.

And no matter where you are – sacred temples or mountaintops or bustling cities – Ashton loves you, the one person he wants to see the world with, the one person he wants to spend forever getting lost and being found with.

You could be on a plane to another country or underneath a waterfall or swimming through the ocean or trekking the dessert but Ashton’s love never changes no matter where you are – his eyes still glimmer whenever he sees his girl with a smile on your face at a mountain conquered, flowers woven in your hair and dirt smudging your cheeks, scratches from branches on your calves and mosquito bites on your arms.

He loves you like no other – in the snow, in the rain; breathless underwater in a deep sea scuba hunt and nothing but air to catch him on a skydiving fall.

Jetlagged timezones and last week’s dirt under your nails, breaking sneakers and uneven tan lines on your skin; Ashton loves you to the moon and back and fifty times around the world.

You’ve seen thousands of people with hundreds of stories, but none of them make you smile quite like he does.

You’ve seen millions of stars dotted across the night sky, interlaced with colours and glimmering by the moon, but none of the shine quite as bright as him.

You’ve tasted food that were made out of things you didn’t know could be edible and you’ve pronounced names of places that washed you with something excitingly foreign, but nothing even compares to the taste of his lips on yours, his name in your mouth, no matter how many times you’ve run your tongue over it.

You’ve slept on musty motel beds and worn couches of families’ homes, but nothing matches the warmth of home, of Ashton’s arms around you at the end of every night no matter where you were.

You were discovering the world with him.

But with his hand in yours, it’s almost like you’ve never left home.

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more imagines here!

Maureen Corrigan reviews the 10th anniversary edition of Jacqueline Winspear’s English mystery, Maisie Dobbs, set during WWI: 

“Rereading Maisie Dobbs has made me appreciate anew its subtler strengths–the strengths of a mystery that does a really fine job of playing within the traditional boundaries of the genre.  It’s Winspear’s command of the period detail of Maisie’s Georgian and World War I world, as well as Maisie’s own quiet smarts that make the novel compelling.  Born working class, teenaged intellectual prodigy Maisie toils as a maid in a London townhouse until the day her aristocratic employer catches her in the library reading the philosophical works of David Hume and sends her to Girton College at Cambridge. I know, I know.  This fantasy of benevolent despotism is as bad as the more cloying aspects of Downton Abbey.  But, the occasional sentimental weaknesses of Maisie Dobbs are more than offset by the novel’s sober awareness of all its heroine must give up in order to make her class climb.  When young Maisie leaves the scullery for university, one of her fellow servants comments that:  “Fish can’t survive long out of water… .”  Indeed her solitude puts Maisie in the alienated company of every other first-class detective from Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste Dupin onward. ”

1907 St. Pancras Train Station, London via Topical Press Agency / Getty Images