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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
a view up to a skylight with overlaid glass partitioning
and a glass brick panel to the side of the door out to the parking lot.
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.
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!
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'.