Sunday, 15 September 2013

Night Lights

London has never had a reputation of being a romantic city; it's too business orientated, too fast paced; too much of the history and culture of the city is lost in amongst the shiny new skyscrapers of the City. 

What's needed is a different perspective, a view that makes you forget the hustle and bustle of Oxford St, the bright lights of the West End after dark, the never ending list of free museums you simply have to visit over the duration of your short stay. 

To get that different view point I've taken to putting this trip on the must do list of family and friends who find themselves in this fine city with a free evening on their hands. 

Starting in Greewich is probably easier; a day at the Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, Greenwich Observatory, the Greenwich markets, feeding squirrels in the park... take your pick. 

After darkness has descended, (sometime in the early afternoon if you;re visiting in the middle of winter) walk down towards the Thames with the plan of catching the Thames Clipper back into the city in time to catch a show of grab a bite to eat. 

However before you do, turn back and look back towards the observatory, streaking though the London sky towards Canary Wharf is the green laser that marks the meridian line. By day its a line in the cobbled pavements, by night this brilliant slash of colour across the black and cloudy sky. 

Catching the Thames Clipper into town you pass under and by some of London's famed monuments but from the vantage point of a more striking angle and illuminated to stand proud and tall from amongst the skyscrapers that dominate the skyline. 
While it is an angle that has been familiar to Londoners and tourists alike for centuries, it is only in the last century that we have had the benefit of gazing upon these magnificent edifices, some only constructed in the 20th century at a time when London was the very epicentre of a global empire and at the height of its power. And it is more recent than that again that we have begun illuminating them at night to the joy f camera wielding tourists like myself. 

One of the newest monuments of the skyline is the Shard. A shining colossus of steel and glass projecting upwards above and beyond the range of much of London's infrastructure, When I arrived it was little more than a hole in the ground, and I hoped that when I left more than two years later it would be complete. Alas, this is nearing completion but still incomplete enough from foxes to clamour inside and check it out for themselves. 

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The Oxo Tower (looking more like an incomplete game of naughts and crosses)

St Paul's white dome glistening above the boats that line the embankment between Charing Cross and Temple. 

 Circling under Charing Cross Bridge you pass the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before coming to a stop within walking distance of Trafalgar Square and the entrance to the West End. 

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