Monday, 10 January 2011

A Stroll Through Southwark

The perfect hat for a stroll around Southwark: a baker boy cap! The London borough is where Charles Dickens spent some of his youth, eventually setting some of his novels here. The area around Southwark is where the old London and the new spectacularly collide.  Here you can find a fascinating mix of old brick warehouses, gloomy dripping tunnels and grimy back streets providing the backdrop to throw into sharp relief daring new architecture projects with their high, angular facades of steel and glass.

At night these ancient streets and tunnels are ingeniously lit to remind the visitor that we are in fact in the 21st century. Strips or spotlights of coloured lighting punctuate the gloom - violet strips under bench seats, blue spotlights up lighting trees or coloured spotlights on walls.  Even beneath the arches of the tunnels are lit with gaudy fluorescent strip lighting or studded with fairy lights to mimic a starry sky.

Yet turn a corner and you still come face to face with a street scene that looks straight out of a Dicken's or Conan Doyle novel.  Where else would you feel so at home wearing a cape?

Southwark is one of my favourite places. Home to my favourite food market, Borough Market, here you can also find the famous Globe Theatre, the London Eye and several of London's most famous bridges including London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the relatively new Millennium Bridge.

Mr V and I went to Southwark yesterday to see the Gauguin exhibition at one of our favourite galleries, the Tate Modern. Once a dilapidated old electricity station, now it is a world class showroom for modern art and an impressive example of how modern architecture can revive the shells of abandoned industries that can blight urban landscapes.

The cavernous maw of the old Turbine Hall provides an impressive space that allows for installation of artworks on a gigantic scale like a 35 foot tall spider, or the current installation by Ai Weiwei, where almost the entire floorspace of the hall is covered in a layer of exquisitely crafted ceramic sunflower seeds, a work that questions our place in society and the powers of our actions as individuals.

Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds

Walking out onto the riverside after an exhibition on a chilly night you will be greeted by the sight of the iconic St Paul's Cathedral and its glimmering reflection in the Thames, with the bold architecture of the Millennium bridge arching towards it, a stark reminder of the constant march of the capital towards the future.

Photos by Mr V.

Cap, Accessorise; Cape, Leather leggings, T-shirt dress, Snood, all Cos; Studded leather gloves, Karen Millen; Biker boots, Gap; Bag, Marc Jacobs.


  1. These are really cool! I like the photos :)

  2. The atmosphere in these photos jives exactly with my sense of Dickens.

  3. These photos are so awesome! It makes me want to go to London so badly!

  4. What beautiful pictures. I would absolutely love to visit London some day. I love how all of the new and old collide, yet somehow mesh together.
    No Guilt Fashion

  5. Wow, the upper photos are so dark & mysterious! LOVE THEM! The only thing is missing is Sherlock Holmes (or Batman :))

  6. Gorgeously atmospheric shops and you DO look very Victorian-chic in your cape and cute cap.
    Isn't that starlit archway just beautiful? I wish the city planners around our way had a fraction of their vision. xxx

  7. Love this post. That photo of st Paul's over the river is beautiful! :)

  8. can't wait visiting london once again!

  9. I love this area; often get out at London Bridge to walk along the Thames past the Globe, the Tate... up to Charing Cross. It's thest beautiful skyline - and you do look very at home in your cape and cap outfit. xoxo

  10. I love walking around this area too - I think the part that really makes it is the cobble stones. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they re-cobbled Soho!

  11. The fiction writer in me is having a creative overload with this pictures! How beautiful!!! I really need to get my butt in gear and get over to London!

  12. A great photo-essay about London. I don't know London well at all, and this makes it feel magical.

    Definitely the place for a cape and an excellent hat like that!

  13. Qué precioso paseo por Londres de tu mano.
    Me encantan las fotos soñadoras y los rincones fantásticos. Escribes de muerte.
    MIl besos siempre.

  14. Can you please tell Mr.V I think he is an awesome photographer. I love the atmosphere of the set and you have to sell Londoner even to a Londoner!

    Re cobbled streets, they are a health hazard as far as my heels passion goes so I will reserve judgement ;)

    Lovely post xx

  15. Great shots of night time London - really atmospheric.
    That lit up archway is stunning.

  16. Thank you for the little trip to London that you just gave me. God knows I need a vacation. I am reading a children's book about Charles Dickens to my son. Your photos will come up in my mind as we read the next chapter tonight!

  17. Love the photos! I reading blogs by people who live all over the place. It's like a mini-vacation.


  18. Such atmospheric photos, Mr. V! I can practically hear V's footsteps on the cobblestones, and the dear lady gives me a pleasant frisson of fright in that first eerie picture. I like the black and luminous pale contrasts of the Thames photo, and I adore that starry tunnel.

  19. Thanks everyone for your comments - if you're even in London it really is worth a stroll around the place. Mr V has been duly informed about how well his photos have been received and is feeling mighty pleased with himself!


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