Out for lunch

Once every week or two the three of us go out for lunch. That’s me, my wife and the camera. Two of us consume food, the third consumes images.

Images, in my experience can be found in the unlikeliest of places, even in restaurants. And, of course, on the way there and back.  I thought one such day involving Eating Out might make a light-hearted, entertaining post along the lines of ‘A Visual Day in the Life of….’, showing exactly what catches my attention on such an occasion.

So, today’s post chronicles lunch at Nando’s – well if it’s good enough for Rihanna and her crew it’s good enough for us! (If you don’t understand that reference click here to find clarification). My wife and I, I suspect, belong to a minority of folk in the UK who have, up until now, never set foot inside a Nando’s restaurant. We are a little slow to catch on sometimes!

Our ‘date’ started with a minor diversion to a supermarket that involved an underground car park, and an elevator (lift) up to the shopping mall. Cue first image of the interior of the lift. As a black and white image, the line, design and pattern had instant appeal to me.

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That mission accomplished, we drove on to central Milton Keynes shopping centre. In the middle of this vast covered mall is one of the eating zones, identified by a simple but effective 3D graphic hanging from the high ceiling.IMG_5262_wp

We were shown to a table, and then received our introductory briefing: a rapid-fire explanation of food ordering and a resumé of the menu. Delivered at breath-taking speed, my eyes glazed over within the first ten seconds and the brain went into lock-down. Left to our own devices we spent the first few minutes getting to grips with the menu and the set of symbols. Then it dawned that the choice was basically Chicken. Or Chicken. Hmm. Thankfully we both like chicken. Next discussion point was how hot did we want our food?

My eye was drawn to a series of rather clever strap lines over the kitchen area, one of which read: ‘Our ice cream quenches the peri-peri heat. You won’t taste a better fire extinguisher’.

Clever advertising but…do I really want to order an ice cream on a cold day for the sole purpose of counteracting the unwanted side effects of the previous course? No, I don’t!

On a cold day I like my food to be hot, who doesn’t? Nothing better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold day that warms the gullet and the stomach and seeps slowly to ones toes and fingers. However we were talking here about Peri-Peri hot. Meaning burning hot mouth, and tingling lips, and if you’re really lucky a serious dose of heartburn. So after much discussion we settled on the mild mango and lime version of the chicken burger. The order was placed and our wine arrived. Time to look around.

Photography within a restaurant has to be discrete, inoffensive and should not invade any other diner’s privacy, which is why photographing the ceiling is always a good choice. And the ceiling was worth an image. IMG_5251_wp

By chance we had been parked directly under a central stream of coloured lights that extended the whole length of the restaurant. Spoilt for images I took several. Note the fluff and dust that has accumulated on the wiring in the second image. IMG_5247_wp

The feather duster has not been waved at this for quite some time. Thankfully none of this fluff-dust chose the moment of our visit to descend silently as an additional and unwelcome garnish to our meal.

We enjoyed our meal and we will return. But, memo to self: do not sit under lights next time. The meal concluded, it was time to make use of the ‘facilities’. The signage pointed the way upstairs. Up there, someone had been busy and creative with a paintbrush.IMG_5257_wp

Up there too we found another seating area, behind a glass partition. Deserted, shut down for winter, and muted in colour, it too attracted my eye.IMG_5259_wp

Then it was time to go our separate ways. My wife headed up the mall to shop for ‘things’, I headed slowly back to the car, shopping for images along the way, with instructions to collect the car and meet her at a pre-determined time at the far end of the mall. This is how visits to the shops work for us. I get let off the lead, and my wife gets to shop without me fidgeting away annoyingly in the background.

If I was asked to sum up MK in two words I would choose Glass and Reflectivity. Glass is everywhere in MK, in the walls, the ceilings and partitions. A five-minute walk through the malls back to the car, saw me collect a quintessential image of the shopping mall, IMG_5268_wp

a view up to a skylight with overlaid glass partitioningIMG_5277_wp

and a glass brick panel to the side of the door out to the parking lot.IMG_5282_wp

Finally at the appointed time I arrived at the far end of the centre outside the John Lewis department store to chauffeur my wife home. And instantly my eye alighted on the reflective glass exterior and I saw the ‘odd-pane-out’. Why this oddity has occurred I know not. Not for my benefit, but I will certainly take advantage of its presence._DS77892_wp

Going out to lunch is always more than just eating a meal. The place, the location and the journey is always a photo-op. And yes, I really do have a long-suffering wife!

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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24 Responses to Out for lunch

  1. ShimonZ says:

    It sounds like you have a wonderful wife. I know a few who have very little patience for cameras… and aside from that… and aside from the beautiful images, the restaurant sounds very different. In fact, not at all like any restaurant I have ever visited. Unfortunately for me, it’s too far away for me to take a look, see. But I my curiosity has been aroused. Once again, a very enjoyable blog post.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you Shimon. My wife tells me I must appreciate her better in view of your comment! She is very patient and very tolerant, and I am very lucky! Nandos originated in South Africa based on Portugese/Mozambiquan cooking, specializing in flame grilled chickne marinaded in a spicy peri-peri sauce. There are now 1,000 outlets spread around the world.

  2. Len says:

    These images have some excellent patterns Andy. Never heard of Nando. I am guessing they aren’t in the US.

  3. Very interesting writeup, Andy. It gives me ideas of how to look at things anew.

  4. seekraz says:

    Ever inspiring, Andy…thank you for the challenge to keep looking in the unlikely places.

  5. Very nice series here, Andy. I like the shot of the red lines, and the one below it, where those same lines are reflected in the glass.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Melinda. I too like both those shots. There is a softness to the view of the upstairs eating area that I particularly like, and the reflections of the red lines was a real bonus.

  6. oneowner says:

    That odd window really makes this much more interesting. You have a knack for finding the graphic qualities in a scene and I like those images.
    Sorry to say I never heard of Nando’s but I really am not in touch with the latest trends? Who’s Rihanna?

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. I get a kick out of finding graphic images among modern architecture and that ‘odd’ window was a classic example of that. Rihanna is a pop star – not my scene either! I’m more into Jazz – Pat Metheny for example

  7. What a wonderful post and great photos, Andy. Nice of you to share this adventure with us. I really dig that skylight shot. All are very nice but there is something about that one in particular.

    I will have to look up Nando’s since they are in my area. Hadn’t heard of them before.

  8. Inspiring! The red and white one is my favorite! I so wish I had a partner in our pursuit!

  9. rigmover says:

    All great shot Andy, some made me a bit dizzy, or that could be to much coffee.

  10. ehpem says:

    What a nice outing to accompany you on! Looks like a very nice time. The graphic parts of the environment you have chosen here favour flattish lighting and overcast days – really a great subject for winter. My favourites in this series are the first one in the elevator, and the odd-pane window at the end.

  11. It’s really fun to follow your thought pattern on this excursion, not the least how you think in terms of photography. It basically confirms that anything at any time is potentially a photo to be “consumed”. Thanks for taking us along. My favourite picture is the first one, an abstractions that leaves much open for my own thoughts.

    • LensScaper says:

      Good to hear your thoughts as always, Ottto. You are right in your observation that anything can be a photo – I never know what, where, or when I will see the next image. That is what makes photography so much fun for me. It’s interesting how the comments have picked out different images for specific comment. I’ve travelled in that lift many times when I’ve felt lazy but it has never occurred to me previously that there was an image in the ceiling and the light scattered over the upper part of the doors.

  12. The glass blocks interest me as architectural elements. They were used extensively in the US during the seventies. I find that they did not fall out of favor with designers. I there is something about the glass blocks that still appeals. The light and reflective qualities along with the screening function is difficult to match with anything else. I like that image very much. And I really like the red graphic image. What an interesting walk through a modern building!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks George. Yes, glass blocks are attractive for the way they distort and refract the light. I agree, in the UK they were also associated with a certain style of housing for tenants, but I have seen a number of modern buildings that have employed these as building blocks and they certainly add interest.

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