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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