UK Detour, Day 11: London

Mike was between jobs, so I got to shad­ow him with­out being too intru­sive. That not only meant I got to check out his favourite haunts, but meet more impor­tant peo­ple in his life.

At one point, I had to with­draw some cash (since Mike had pre­vi­ous­ly lied to me about my cred­it card not work­ing), and it was strange to sud­den­ly find three dif­fer­ent kinds of cur­ren­cy in my wal­let.

men on benches

So close yet so alone.


The day start­ed with pan­cakes and a lit­tle taste of home. Good to know the Canadian maple indus­try is being sup­port­ed so far away.

Borough Market

Mike told me one of the things that’s kept him in London was Borough Market, where you can buy fresh fruit, veg­eta­bles (or “veg” as the English col­lo­qui­al­ly say), and fish; espe­cial­ly impor­tant when you’re cook­ing with love. I don’t think there was a sin­gle pro­pri­etor who did­n’t know his name on our walk through, owing to Mike’s socia­bil­i­ty. If it weren’t for the com­mu­ni­ty here he may have moved to France.

Borough Market


inside Monmouth

Inside Monmouth (pro­nounced “Mon-muth”), a cof­fee-shop in Borough Market. One of the ways Mike likes to start his day.

Shen fixes hair

Your hair looks fine dear. When I said messy, that meant cute. Nothing is wrong with your hair.

Mike buries face

Oh god maybe if I bury my face in my hands she’ll for­get I’m here.

flower store



Southwark is a dis­trict of London. The dis­tricts aren’t neat­ly orga­nized the way arrondisse­ments are in Paris. It’s pro­nounced “Suth-uck”, which real­ly con­fused me at first cause it’s obvi­ous­ly spelled very dif­fer­ent­ly.

wait signal

Look right and look left are paint­ed on the ground to let pedes­tri­ans know which way to check for oncom­ing traf­fic. Especially help­ful because the dri­ving on the oppo­site side of the road took some get­ting used to. The only oth­er place I’ve seen this in the world is Hong Kong, which I don’t think is a coin­ci­dence since it used to be a British colony.

London street 1


The Clink

The Clink is an old, noto­ri­ous medieval prison, now turned into a muse­um. The expres­sion “in the clink” to refer to being in prison comes from this place.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail, the postal ser­vice of the UK. I saw this van as far as Scotland. Well, maybe not this exact van. I like how so many things in the UK are pre­fixed with “roy­al”.

The George Inn

The George Inn was built back in the 17th cen­tu­ry, and was a favourite spot of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.

The Golden Hinde

A repli­ca of The Golden Hind docked in St Mary Overie Dock. Shen told me that Hanako got to spend the night with her school one time and live like a sailor. A very, very cold sailor.

Winchester Palace ruins

In the mid­dle of sev­er­al mod­ern struc­tures are the ruins of Winchester Palace, built in the 12th cen­tu­ry, most­ly destroyed by fire. Visible now are the doors to the but­tery, pantry, and kitchen.

Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre was the the­atre to which Shakespeare belonged, and con­se­quent­ly made famous.


This struc­ture is called a Dreamachine, which is a stro­bo­scop­ic art piece where the lights turn on and off and fade into dif­fer­ent colours. The shiny met­al com­plete­ly stood out against the grungy bricks on which it was placed.

Southwark cathedral

Southwark Cathedral.

Barclay's bikes

Barclay’s bikes, or for­mal­ly “Barclay’s Cycle Hire”, are all over the city with over 5000 avail­able for rent (or for free, if you take it out for under 30 min­utes). Built in Canada and based on Montreal’s pub­lic bicy­cle sys­tem.

Tate Modern advertisement

This adver­tise­ment for the Tate Modern was embossed in the stone, from before the turn of the cen­tu­ry I’ll wager.

London street 2

I thought I was real­ly out of it when I saw this bus, cause I had­n’t seen a sin­gle ad for this movie with Colin Ferrell in it. Turns out it’s a UK exclu­sive release.

subsidized public housing

Subsidized pub­lic hous­ing.

South Bank

South Bank is an impor­tant arts and enter­tain­ment dis­trict direct­ly along the Thames River.

South Bank sign

A great map of the South Bank. The white cir­cle rep­re­sents walk­ing dis­tance with­in 15 min­utes.

South Bank view

A look across the Thames.

Millennium Bridge

On the Millennium Bridge. At the oth­er end is St. Paul’s Cathedral, which I hap­pened to read about two days pri­or it terms of it’s sig­nif­i­cance to the British morale in World War II.

Shen takes picture

Everyone in this fam­i­ly is a pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

London bench


National Theatre

Children gath­ered out­side National Theatre.

South Bank graffiti 1

There’s a smat­ter­ing of graf­fi­ti along the South Bank under the National Theatre. It’s an archi­tec­tur­al dead-spot named the “under-croft” that’s used as a skate­board park.

South Bank graffiti 2

Big Brother is watch­ing you.

South Bank graffiti 3

This was actu­al­ly the ceil­ing. The align­ment of the sten­cils appeals to me.

self-portrait on pier

Mike lent me one of his over­sized coats, since I was­n’t plan­ning on brav­ing the London weath­er, not that it was more than a few degrees dif­fer­ent from Paris.

Tate Modern front

The Tate Modern muse­um of mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art, for­mer­ly a pow­er sta­tion. Saw my first Mondrian there, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red.



Mike's studio

At Mike’s stu­dio I got to see his set­up and play around with his gear, includ­ing a Hasselblad body that costs more than I will prob­a­bly ever spend on pho­tog­ra­phy. Until then, a Hassleblad was like a Rolls Royce to me; one of those things I’d always hear about but nev­er tried. Getting a glimpse into the process of a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er was one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing things, and prob­a­bly not some­thing many are open­ly invit­ed to wit­ness in such a com­pet­i­tive indus­try.

Also, upstairs is a table ten­nis table, in which he beat me in a good game, but not with­out mak­ing him break a sweat. I swear I could have won if I had my speed glue pad­dle with me.

Mike's studio


Brixton Market

To get to Brixton Market, we had to brave the streets of the Lambeth bor­ough. I was told not to take my cam­era out until we got to the mar­ket, because Lambeth is known for hav­ing the high­est homi­cide rate in all of London, as well as being it’s drug cap­i­tal, and peo­ple tend to be a bit shady. From the faces of the peo­ple on some of the streets, I believed it.

The mar­ket itself has a very eth­nic vibe, full of colours and a mot­ley col­lec­tion of sun­dries such as pirat­ed Jamaican music video DVDs and the hoofs of many ani­mals.

Brixton even has it’s own cur­ren­cy, the Brixton Pound instead of the pound ster­ling, which is used among the locals to keep mon­ey in the com­mu­ni­ty.

Brixton Market outdoors 1


Emma and her coffee

Emma, Mike’s assis­tant, after post-pro­cess­ing an entire night for a client.

Brixton Market outdoors 2


Brixton Market outdoors 3


Brixton Market

Each table has it’s own four-slice toast­er.

Brixton Market coffee shop

You can­not cross the ocean to get away from hip­sters.

greasy pizza

Some local greasy piz­za, with a great thin crust that also came some­what sog­gy. My glass was a deli­cious con­coc­tion of fresh­ly squeezed orange, car­rot, grape­fruit, and cran­ber­ry juices.

Michele's boat

At night we met up with Michele, anoth­er pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er who lives on a boat. To enter his domi­cile required climb­ing a lad­der that he’d prop against the dock for his guests. The lad­der itself was stur­dy, but when the base is anchored to the bot­tom of a boat that undu­lates with the waves, it tends to feel a lot less sta­ble.

Michele's boat


mess hall

Mess hall.

feet on boat


key box

A pow­er box con­vert­ed to a key hold­er.





Michele also lives with two cats roam­ing around on board, both of whom love atten­tion. As a bonus, you can hear Michele and Mike’s accents, the for­mer of which is delight­ful­ly exot­ic, and the lat­ter of which is com­fort­ing­ly posh.

Millennium dome-skyline

The Millennium Dome. View from top of the boat.

Sands Films Cinema Club

The Sands Films Studio to be one of the best kept secrets in London. Their cin­e­ma club aims to help expose peo­ple to world cin­e­ma, the screen­ing room being a red room with sev­er­al couch­es. We went to catch an Iranian film called The Colour of Paradise, which I prob­a­bly enjoyed as much as Mike dis­liked it, the dif­fer­ence our opin­ions com­ing from the fact that I can for­give a lot more in cin­e­ma from oth­er cul­tures.

fish and chips joint

Before head­ing out though, we need­ed food, and I’d always want­ed to try some authen­tic fish and chips while sit­ting in a London restau­rant. Turns out fish and chips is usu­al­ly a mobile expe­ri­ence. There was only one fish left, a bat­tered cod, so we said, “We’ll have three chips and the fish”.

fish and chips

The chips were thick cut, pip­ing hot, and well salt­ed. I pre­fer mild fish too, so the cod was per­fect.

We had to eat on the run since we were late to the movie, and hung the bag out­side the Land Rover when we were fin­ished so it would­n’t stink up the cab­in of the car. It did­n’t real­ly work.

Before screen­ing the film, the host talks a lit­tle bit about the cir­cum­stances and back­ground to bet­ter under­stand the con­text in which the film was made. It was also the British pre­miere of this film, accord­ing to him. He also had a great accent, prob­a­bly a mix of sev­er­al areas.

Europe 2010 travel diaries


  1. Beautiful pic­tures of the ship (actu­al­ly both of them) and the dome out­side it. Places I nev­er thought about going — a nice bit of imag­i­nary trans­port, thank you!

    Was the shop with the toast­ers a bread shop? A bagel shop? what?

    • I have no idea…I think it was a café, but a lot of cof­fee shops seem to be cross­ing over pro­vide more food late­ly too. The guy run­ning the shop came out to ask why I was tak­ing pic­tures, because he thought we were from the press.

  2. great stuff Jeff!
    you make the every­day look epic.

  3. Hi hap­pened upon your blog while look­ing for south bank urban art. Really great pics of my home town. Well done.

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