Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today for me to catch the London train and lunch with Norman at La Barca in Lower Marsh.

On this very cold morning the waiting room was full. Three young women were engaged in an animated conversation available for all to hear. Suddenly they quietened, their eyes span backwards and forwards in their sockets, looking around the room, their voices barely a whisper. The whole room hushed. Silence reigned. I leaned across and, hand over mouth, sotto voce, breathed: “We’re all trying to hear”. Great hilarity all round ensued.

Sleeping bag and belongings

Underneath the arches by the bus stops beside Waterloo Station, someone’s home was piled up. It is not unusual to see sleeping bags and carriers containing sorry belongings in our capital city. I don’t normally photograph them because they are usually occupied and it seems an invasion of what privacy the unfortunate street dwellers have. I can only imagine that the person who left these had gone off somewhere to warm up. Perhaps behind the air vents of an eating establishment such as

Pret window 4

New building

Less than a year ago foundations were being laid for the building of which this establishment occupies the ground floor. To our left of this photograph can be seen Lower Marsh where Norman and I lunched.

Part of the popular Pret aΒ Manger chain, this branch has caught on quickly.

Cubana Street Food Bar

Also visible in the panoramic shot, behind the buses, is the Cuban restaurant outside which standsΒ their Cubana Street Food Bar. Steam rising from the dishes on display looked very welcoming.

In the warmth inside La Barca Norman and I enjoyed a well-filled chickpea soup followed byΒ Fegato alla Veneziana and Polenta served with perfect sugar snaps, broccoli, green beans and roast potatoes. We shared a bottle of a 2015 Montepulciano.


  1. Loved your humorous comment to those chatting ladies Derrick.. And yes unfortunately the homeless in the UK are increasing.. Our local council said recently they didn’t have a problem in our town.. Yet we went down early one morning in the beginning of Jan’ and saw four sleeping rough.. its sad and its getting worse.. So thank you for highlighting it.. It needs our attention.. <3

          1. When I see a homeless one I pass I always speak, if I am able to.. Asking them how far they have traveled.. My husbands family had a farm type dwelling when he was a child.. The same tramp would pass by say twice a year.. He would be invited in and given food, My husbands dad would give him clothes and boots.. And he would tell my husband as a child and his siblings stories of where he had traveled.. Showing them his precious memories, of shiny buttons he had picked up, and he wove his stories around them and the pieces of wood he had whittled down into animal shapes.. He was an educated man.. who had dropped out of society.. My hubby often speaks of those days and of him..
            Thank you Derrick for hosting our conversation.. Wishing you both a wonderful weekend.. xx

          1. Plus the southern Indian’s make a delicious dish it’s a soft bread that’s SO YUMMY and then a sort of soupy chick pea dish that’s part soup part sauce and you scoop it up with the bread (okay that’s it I’ve made myself hungry!)

  2. I really appreciate you not photographing the people who live on the streets. I too find it a violation, although I, like many others I’m sure, am fascinated to see photos like that when I encounter them. Such is my hypocrisy. I used to belong to “Cowbird,” an online site for photo/story sharing, and we debated that subject. Some writers would ask people if they would LIKE their pix taken, but even that seems an imposition most of the time.

    1. Agreed, for sure. I would be appalled to have some stranger walk into my bedroom and ask if they could take a picture. That analogy is a stretch, I know – but it must be close to what it feels like to some. Of course, if the person in the above “bedroom” HAD been there, Derrick would have engaged in such a lively conversation that they would have soon been inviting pics. : )

  3. Derrick, ‘pret window 4’ isn’t loading, is it just me? I’ve never heard of that chain. Love the pic of the street bar of the Cuban Restaurant. It’s so lovely to see un-English colour isn’t it πŸ™‚ As to the homeless, I too appreciate your discretion. It is a growing problem here too, but is kept hidden from those who don’t wish to see quite effectively.

  4. The new building looks good, but I do wish architects would try to blend more with existing streetscape rather than impose their own egos. Funny story about the women in the waiting room. And we too have a homeless problem. In Sydney one of their favourite night places is behind the state parliament building!

    1. Many thanks, Gwen. There’s not much blending in London any more, although the Pret building does actually have some affinity with The Old Vic on the diagonally opposite corner – the same colour at least.

  5. Gotta love the waiting room humor. πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking us to the streets, Derrick. Always a favorite of mine. Sadly, we have our share of homeless that I pass while walking to my office building. It’s heartbreaking when it’s 20 degrees and they’re sleeping on the ground.

  6. Looks like a great day, Derrick. We have Pret a Manger here and I get a kick out of how that sounds. Just means Ready to Eat, which would not necessarily be an advert in English. There’s one right by the 18th Street Subway stop for Farragut West and I have enjoyed a salad there once in a while.

    1. Oh – I have a new (birthday present!!) computer. I see that I don’t know how to use it yet. My picture is gone like they don’t know who I am. I need to get me son on the job. He’ll fix me up right quick.

  7. Les sans abris are heartbreaking in any language and I am glad you choose not to strip what little dignity they have by photographing them …. I’m a bit of a stickler for invading privacy without permission and when you have hit the bottom and can’t see anyway up, it is particularly important. The fellow who founded Pret lived in our village in Oxfordshire and I was graced with an invitation to dinner. My quick witted eldest daughter said ‘I wonder what you will get …. will it be sandwiches?’ It wasn’t!

  8. I really chuckled at your sotto voiced humorous comment! There are times this works and people all unanimously laugh! πŸ˜€
    I have been wondering if Jackie were on the mend, so sorry she is still a bit “under the weather.”
    The Cuban restaurant and the Lower Marsh would really be exciting to see and get together inside (L.M.) or on the sidewalk (C.), eating seasoned and tasty foods, Derrick. πŸ™‚

    1. Very many thanks, Robin. Unfortunately health problems mean that Norman, who loved them, can no longer take spicy foods; and we both need to eat in comfort πŸ™‚

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