Tag Archives | cafe

The bucketmen and the cafe

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I was taking a cut-through from St Stephen Street and blocking my view (it was stopped at traffic lights) was this rubbish lorry. We used to call them the bucketmen and I’m not sure when buckets became bins. Perhaps around the same time that the word lorry was replaced with the Americanised truck?

It’s not what one would call a beautiful view, but just look at the design that’s gone into it. The colour scheme on the buttons, the shapes and spacing – so much detail on what is, after all, a completely utilitarian vehicle. I got just one shot before the lights changed and the truck moved off.

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It was one of those blustery, chilly days and I was at the front at Silverknowes. I went into the little cafe which is one of the most uninspiring places I know to have a cup of coffee. Approaching the counter, I heard two voices yelling, a man and a woman. The argument was conducted in Russian and the man was definitely getting the worst of it. My genteel cough to draw attention to myself went unheard, and eventually I joined in the yelling HELLO CAN I HAVE A COFFEE PLEASE?

Hugging my insipid coffee (nuked in the microwave) I gazed out at the bleak beach, the tide a mere dribble. The mobile ice cream ad seemed completely incongruous – a gloriously grim landscape. Once I’d thawed out, I took some pictures. As I was doing this, the woman from the cafe came past me and sniffed contemptuously.

All Photographs © Rachel Cowan

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Steam & Dark

I confess – this is one of my favourite photos. My fingers froze to the bone while I tried to get exactly what I wanted from what I saw but it was worth it in the end. I was walking home down the hill on a cold night and ahead of me was the cheese shop. The interior, normally quite glacial, must have been sluiced with hot water not long before I arrived, causing a lot of steam.

The colours were worthy of Caravaggio and the way the lighting interacted with the steam was pure theatre. There’s no blur or smudge applied to this picture – this is as was. Never have strings of saucissons looked so good.


This cafe remained dark and silent for many weeks after closing. One evening, I came by and saw these chairs stacked in the window.

Reflections of other buildings and lights across the street made for an interesting added dimension. It was like a movie stage for a film noir – I half expected a homburg-wearing gumshoe, wreathed in cigarette smoke, to emerge from the gloom.

All Photographs © Rachel Cowan

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