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hanging out in stoke newington and scowling at Tate Modern art

Day 69-70 Stoke Newington, Southwark, Tate Modern


We sleep till late morning and struggle out of the house in the early afternoon. There's grand plans for museums and complicated tube crossings. It's all a bit too much for me at the moment. I feel wrenched away from Paris and dour about most everything; the mist hanging about like a smoker's cough, the dark brick houses, the squelching leaves smudging underneath my feet.



Food will help. It always does. After a late night of Instagram scrolling through pictures on the #stokenewington hashtag, we decide to have lunch nearby, at a newly opened placed called 125 Church. It's only a fifteen minute walk from where we're staying but Google gets confused. London's sprawl and mass appears to discombobulate even satellites in the sky.


For lunch, there's only us and one other guy. He sits on the couches and reads the paper. There's still one builder on site, working on the deck. The place smells like fresh paint and locals stop by for nosey and loudly exclaim about the place. It's all very neighbourly.


We eat burgers and grilled cheese, both of which come with a tiny cup of slaw and chips. Not french fries, mind. But potato chips. It's the second day in a row we're eating burgers again. American food is big around here. It's here that I come across the phrase "dirty food"; basically, anything fried, American-inspired, meaty, and perhaps something you'd find in the Kids Menu of restaurants. I'm honestly not complaining. But my latent diabetes sure is.


Nightfall takes me by surprise. Daylight goes around 4 pm, cutting our already flagging desires to be outside, to almost five percent. The High Street is slick with rain. As we walk further and further up the road, the more the urge to put the camera away becomes. It's the first city we've ever felt unsafe in and it's a strange feeling. We get our sim card (15 euros for unlimited 4Gs at Three!), my Boots hairbrush and shampoo, and hustle ourselves out of the pound shop, past a drunk guy fighting with security. At the Stoke Newington Bookshop, I walk around with a leaking umbrella in my jacket pocket and buy a Kickstarter produced Hoxton Mini Press series on East London.

The mist hangs around on Day 70 for our Tate Modern trip.


My corn fritters and pink lemonade at The Table helps for a bit. Rob eats a burger and chews through the enormous chilli skewered on top.


The top floors of the Tate Modern are eye-roll inducing and lead me to almost buy Susie Hodge's Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That from the bookshop to educate myself. Until then, I will continue with my eye-rolls at the lead primordial ooze in the corner, the precariously perched mangled mannequins wrapped like mummies in sellotape, and the two pieces of steel propped against each other.


The Tate encourages comment on some of the pieces and prints it for the walls. One brilliant wit describes this piece as something for a very tall man with very man hats. 


The lower floors are slightly better but the pictures are terribly hung; too close together, awkwardly grouped, confusingly labelled. Our confounding friend, Picasso, is ever present. There's a hairy-chested man in a see-through green top scowling at me.


We spend, probably more time than we should have, drawing on computer screens and taking pictures of our terrible abstract creations on the screen.


Thankfully, dinner is cosier than the art at the Tate Modern. A short walk away from the apartment, Trangallan produces perfect little plates of delicious tapas in a low-lit ramshackle atmosphere. You feel like you're dining in a cooler, low-lit Rachel Ashwell house.


We eat, maybe, 75 percent of the menu; octopus, sobrasada, anchovies, this amazing tortilla textured, weirdly enough, like a moist lemon cake but savoury, turnip salad, pork belly, rib eye, and lots of other things that pass by in a blur.



from ottolenghi to a food truck in shoreditch

au revoir paris and spinning like tops in london