23    City lights

Not wanting to lead the Mages to Bess they leave by a fairy road running along the underground River Fleet, now caged by a sewer. Bursting through the embankment,they find themselves floating over the River Thames.  

Nothing could have prepared them for beauty of the city seen at night from the river
Art: Paul

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Within a minute, two at most, they broke through a wall to find they were floating above the inky waters of the Thames. Nothing prepared them for beauty of the city seen at night from the river. The sparkling blue ribbon of the ley line stretching west and east, acted like a lens, leaving details so clear it was tempting to think you could take each glittering prospect and put it in your pocket.

“Look!” squealed Catherine delighted at seeing a bold glass needle piercing low yellow cloud. “The Shard! And on the other side there is the Cheesegrater… and the Walkie-Talkie. Oh my, they are building ever so many! I would love to be an architect one day. And look… look at those over there...”


“What’s that?” Jack interrupted, staring straight across the river. “Does it spell Oxo?”

“It does,” Ken excitedly agreed.

The lit up tower did indeed spell Oxo, the word written in the design of its brickwork and etched in fluorescent red light.

“It is all so magnificent,” Catherine gushed, captivated by the magic of soaring towers, and delicate bridges spanning the river. Lit from below the illuminated bridge arches were reflected in the dark water, while the brightly lit buildings on every side caused wind whipped waves to twinkle like stars.

Across the Thames, strings of blue fairy lights shimmered between lampposts on the South Bank. Beyond the Oxo Tower, the distant rim of the London Eye, edged in sombre lilac, dominated the night. An immense bicycle wheel, dwarfing towers of concrete and glass.


    On the embankment behind them, as far as the eye could see, stately buildings stretching above the treetops stood ghostly pale in the headlights, streetlights and spotlights glistening off their rain washed walls. Over the parapet of Blackfriars Bridge, the huge sepulchral dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral dwarfed the sparkling summits of the city’s business skyscrapers.

A full fathom above the black water, they shot under the mighty arches of Blackfriars Bridge, and adjacent railway bridge - where ranks of cast iron columns stood guarding the river like sentinels. Past the Millennium Footbridge, suspended between the dome of Saint Paul’s and the chimneystack tower of the Tate Modern - where the tourists swarming like ants over its delicate spider web struts did not even notice them.

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Between the counterbalanced bascules of Tower Bridge they flew, with people walking and cars thundering overhead; past St Catherine’s Dock, down the great curving sweep of the river towards the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, glittering like Manhattan. Past the Naval Hospital at Greenwich where, high on a hill, the Royal Observatory’s ghostly green laser slashed the arc of heaven, dividing the world. Around the vastness of the Millennium Dome they sped, under the cable cars and between the metal seashell shapes of the Thames flood barrier.


from Chapter 22    Homeward Bound

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Thomas the Rhymer