John Hawkins



Dr John Hawkins

Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff, home to a huge load of pictures, and my daily blog.

My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.

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Recent Entries:
Lunch at the British Museum
Excess
Thursday
Flat
Tuesday
Monday
Sunday in the East Midlands
Saturday in the Eadt Midlands
Friday
St. John
Tapas
Tax Return
Bugaboo
The Day of Two Sunday Roasts
Lunch at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Friday
Drinks with Al
Cannelini
Dinner at the Pub
Back to Work, sans Beard
Wassail
Brighton
Friday
The Day After New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Eve
Spotty Hat
Turquoise
Drink Driving

Lunch at the British Museum
[Saturday 25th January 2014]
Slightly the worse for wear after yesterday evening excesses today (although actually I didn't feel particularly hungover, the issue was more that I seemed to have lost my voice).

We went for lunch with Gemma and family at cafe in the British Museum, to say our goodbyes, as they were imminently relocating to California. As it happens several of the participants in last night's OTT Champagne binge were also at lunch today, so that became the main topic of conversation for a lot of the time we were there.

The food was surprisingly good - and we had a fantastic large table in a secluded corner of the cafe, on a sort of promontory overlooking the great court. It turned into a wonderfully long and very relaxed lunch in very pleasant company.
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Excess
[Friday 24th January 2014]
Today was bonus day, and I'd arranged with a few friends at the office for a bit of crass excess - rather than the usual beer at TGIF we collectively assembled an array of Champagne bottles and worked our way through them during the course of the evening. Lots of other random people from the office came along and joined in to, and generally speaking a fun time was had by all.
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Thursday
[Thursday 23rd January 2014]
Chie went out in the evening to watch a play with Jude Law in (I forget what exactly - something Shakespearey), so I stayed in to look after Erika. So for once I both dropped her off at nursery in the morning, and picked her up in the evening.

Erika seemed much better today after her visit to the doctor yesterday.
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Flat
[Wednesday 22nd January 2014]
Went to look at a flat this morning, here's a picture of the front of the building. We didn't put an offer on it.

Chie took Erika to the doctor after that - thankfully for once they didn't just subscribe more antibiotics, but they did say she had a bit of swelling in her throat, and prescribed manuka honey.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 21st January 2014]
Erika wasn't very well again today. Other than that can't remember anything about today.
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Monday
[Monday 20th January 2014]
Erika has had a cold the past few days, and was a bit feverish overnight. She seemed slightly brighter in the morning (albeit that she slept quite late) so I took her to nursery as usual. She was quite teary on arrival though, more so than usual, and I also noted with some small sense of dread a notice on the door about a vomiting bug. The stream of illnessses coming from the nursery just seems a bit endless at the moment, and I got into a bit of a malaise today as a result.

Had cheered up slightly by the evening. Made a Thai curry for dinner.
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Sunday in the East Midlands
[Sunday 19th January 2014]
I didn't manage sleep all that well last night, so spent most of the day today in a bit of a daze. Spent the morning lazing around Mum's house, and after a very nice Sunday roast headed back to the station to get the train back to London.

The return journey wasn't nearly as nice as it had been on the way out - the train was full and Erika was a bit irritable, so I spent a lot of it in the vestibule between the carriages trying to keep her from annoying the other passeengers.
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Saturday in the Eadt Midlands
[Saturday 18th January]
Got the train up to the East Midlands in the morning - went first class, and as the carriage was nearly empty and we had plenty of space to spread out it made for a very pleasant journey.

Arrived just before lunchtime, Mum picked us up from the station and we headed back to the house for lunch.

Later on in the afternoon Kendre brought the twins to visit - it's the first time we've met them all actually - and it was really nice to see Erika joining in and playing with them, even though they're a few years older than she is.

Chinese takeaway for dinner.
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Friday
[Friday 17th January 2014]
Chie went out this evening, and I stayed in and looked after Erika. Not much else to report.
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St. John
[Thursday 16th January 2014]
My manager was in town for the second half of this week, to discuss a new project we're starting to look into. We had a sort of mini-summit, with a few interested parties from a couple of different offices convening on London to figure out what we should be focusing on.

In the evening we all went out for dinner at St. John. Despite the waitress rather dismissively referring to what I ultimately ordered as "the token vegetarian option" I actually quite enjoyed it - a sort of fennel gratin. Might try and do that myself at home at some point. Followed on from dinner with a drink at the Jerusalem Tavern nearby - I think it may only be the second time I've been here. I still find the interior very appealing, and the beer is interesting - but the hipster staff (particularly the grumpy woman with the horrible haircut) were a bit offputting.

At Chie's request I carried home a few of St. John's madeleines wrapped in a napkin for her.
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Tapas
[Wednesday 15th January 2014]
Couldn't be bothered to cook in the evening so went for tapas at Goya for dinner. Evening meals out with Erika have become an increasing rarity, as obviously towards the end of the day she starts to get a bit tired and irritable and doesn't really want to just sit quietly and let us all have a nice peaceful meal. This evening was a reminder of that - she wasn't exactly screaming the place down, but needed to be constantly manhandled and distracted to prevent that happening. It occurred to me afterwards it didn't really make for a very relaxing experience - perhaps we'll just stick to lunches for the time being.
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Tax Return
[Tuesday 14th January 2014]
Went for a quick drink with Kyle after work, at the Fox and Hounds in Belgravia. These impromptu after work pints are something of a rarity these days, as I always feel I should get home as quickly as possible to help with feeding Erika, etc.

Also filed my tax return this evening - in record time of just over 30 minutes. Although, in fairness I'd been gathering all the necessary documentation for it as a background task over the past couple of weeks. It was all pretty straightforward this year again, and the only additional tax I had to pay was on the interest on my savings, which I'd expected.
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Bugaboo
[Monday 13th January 2014]
Just over a week ago, one of the bolts on the rear wheels of Erika's buggy had fallen off and got lost while we were out, so we immediately sent off for a replacement. We'd originally been told it would arrive in four days, which doesn't sound that long, but we've become quite dependent on the buggy now Erika is getting heavier, and taking her to nursery last week using the baby carrier had been quite hard work. So now that a week had passed and we still hadn't had the delivery, I gave them a call.

I started out by asking them to expedite the delivery, considering it was already overdue. They said they couldn't do that because it had already dispatched. So then I asked them for a tracking number, which they said they couldn't give me because it hadn't dispatched yet. That was a slightly confusing state of affairs.

I kept on at them over the course of this week, and so on Tuesday they sent another delivery by FedEx which turned into a bit of a drama by itself as apparently it had to be signed for - they just missed us on Wednesday morning, and I actually believe they just pretended to redeliver on Thursday, as we were in at the time they claim to have called. Fortunately though the original royal mail delivery finally arrived a bit later on Thursday.
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The Day of Two Sunday Roasts
[Sunday 12th January 2014]
Chie went to see a friend with Erika around lunchtime, so I was given a couple of hours off from parenting duties. I decided to return to the Coach and Horses for another of their Sunday roasts. Still not 100% sure about their choice of centrepieces (this time I tried the stuffed tomato) but again there's gravy, roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding, and so as a whole ensemble it is very satisfying.

From there I meandered through town until I found myself at Fortnum and Mason (where I bumped into Aimi and Robin from our NCT course - obviously that was going to be a bit of a theme for the weekend!). I bought some tea and some Champagne.

Despite having had a roast for lunch, I decided it was time to finally eat the Tofurky we'd got for Christmas dinner, but hadn't been able to eat at the time because I was too ill. Tofurky seems to attract very mixed reviews - some people love it, some people hate it. I actually thought it was quite good, but way too salty. So I was happy to have tried it as a one off, but I don't think we'll be rushing back to get another one any time soon - especially as they're 30 each here in the UK (I think that's more than double what they cost in the US).

We had a bottle of Veuve Fourny with dinner which was really good, and remains one of my favourite Champagne houses - along with the other Veuve of course.
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Lunch at the Victoria and Albert Museum
[Saturday 11th January 2014]
Kyle and Hannah suggested we go for lunch today at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

As it was a nice enough day, we decided to walk on the way there, and also took in Sloane Square, where we stopped off at Peter Jones to buy Erika some new shoes (which as it turns out sadly didn't even make it through their first week at nursery before they went missing - sigh). Actually Kyle and Hannah also had some shopping to do, so we met up with them here. We also bumped into Jo and Seth from our NCT course.

From there the five of us walked together to the V&A. As always it was a bit of a challenge to find an available table in the cafe there, but we persevered and managed in the end, and it made for a very pleasant lunch - Erika slept through most of it.

We went for a cursory wander round some of the actual museum afterwards (Erika seemed more interested in the little phone things that give you an audio description of the exhibits, rather than the exhibits themselves) before saying our goodbyes, and heading off in the direction of Harrods.

Chie had discovered the children's clothing department recently, and we thought it might be worth having a nose around while the sale was still on, to see if we could find anything nice for Erika. Indeed we did just that I found a Gucci cardigan for her. I rather liked the splenidly OTT idea of her wearing something from Gucci, and it wasn't actually insanely expensive.
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Friday
[Friday 10th January 2014]
Not much to report really. Didn't go to TGIF, instead headed home to make macaroni cheese for dinner.
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Drinks with Al
[Thursday 9th January 2014]
Got a message from Al this afternoon proposing "an ale or two", which is always very welcome. Fortunately Chie was willing to look after Erika by herself this evening despite the short notice.

We started off at the Lamb and Flag, progressed from there to the Harp, then went for dinner at Rossopomodoro, wherein the pizza was very good as always. I haven't seen Al since the start of November - the combination of chickenpox on my side and a rather frustrating housing situation on his side had rather got in the way of things. We spent much of the evening discussing how fed up we are with the ridiculous situation of property in London.

Rounded off the evening with a Negroni in the bar in Skylon, where the Italian bartender seemed quite pleased to have customers so interested in Italian cocktails.
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Cannelini
[Wednesday 8th January 2014]
Made an "interesting" pasta sauce this evening - a tomato base with cannelini beans. It's an interesting challenge trying to make meals all three of us can eat together, ensuring there's some protein for Erika, whilst avoiding any salt or processed foods. I also made a loaf of garlic bread, the way I'd learnt from Mum (using a part baked baguette, and garlic butter made in a pestle and mortar). Along with some grated Twineham Grange and a glass of chianti it actually made for a surprisingly pleasant meal.
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Dinner at the Pub
[Tuesday 7th January 2014]
Chie and Erika went for dinner with our friend Iris this evening, so I had an hour or two to myself after work. I decided to have dinner at the pub, and headed to the Duke of Wellington in Belgravia, where I had their falafel burger. It wasn't fantastic - veggie burgers never are - but it was quite edible, and I found being in the pub again after a long absence to be quite pleasant. Following the usual festive excesses I understand a lot of people decide to have a "dryathlon" in January. In my case this is entirely unnecessary, having effectively been teetotal - not voluntarily I'd like to add - for most of December, thanks to Erika, then me, getting chickenpox.

I meandered home by way of the Antelope and the Fox and Hounds, and got back just after Chie and Erika did, in time to help give Erika a bath.
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Back to Work, sans Beard
[Monday 6th January 2014]
Finally went back to the office today, despite still being a bit spotty, I just decided I couldn't really put it off any longer. With some trepidation I also decided to actually have a shave this morning for the first time in over two weeks. I'd hesitated until now, partly because I thought the proto-beard might hide some of the spots, but also because I thought dragging a razor across my skin in the state it was in might lead to a lot of bleeding and potentially even some permanent damage. I don't think it had ever got that long before, and it took a surprising amount of effortto get rid of it all, but I managed not to cut myself in the process, and it did help me to feel a bit more human.

Once I actually got to the office I found it a bit embarrassing having to explain to people I'd had chickenpox, but I suppose overall it wasn't too bad.
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Wassail
[Sunday 5th January 2014]
After Twelfth Night last year I'd rather got into the idea of wassail - my original interest was mostly cider based, but it also seemed like a good way to round off the Christmas period, or something like that.

I considered going back to Bankside again this year, but had heard there was an alternative wassail event in East Greenwich "Pleasaunce" of all places, so I thought for the sake of variety I'd try that instead. Chie wanted to do a bit of shopping so I thought I'd give her a break, and just me and Erika headed out to Greenwich.

It was a very low key affair, I got the impression most of the attendees were people living locally, but it was no less pleasant for that. There was morris dancing (surprisingly I actually recognised a couple of the songs from my days as an "apprentice" morris dancer with Dad) which Erika seemed interested in, or perhaps a little bemused by. There was a green man of sorts, and mulled cider, and some folk singing etc after the morris dancing. While we were there I took Erika for a bit of a play in the park's playground. We didn't stay very long overall but it made for a different sort of afternoon out, and Erika is at an age where she doesn't really seem to mind too much what we do.

It had been a bit fiddly getting there - two tubes and then a train from London Bridge - and so I tried to be clever on the way back, and simplify things by walking to North Greenwich tube station to catch the Jubilee line. This turned out to be quite a long walk, which felt longer still because we were in unfamiliar - and at times slightly bleak looking - territory. Erika remained mostly quite stoic, although now and again I thought I could detect an expression which seemed to be saying "where the hell are we Dad?". I felt quite relieved when we did finally make it to North Greenwich.

Erika became quite hungry on the tube, and I'd already given her all the food I'd brought with us for her lunch, so on the way back I made an emergency stop at Westminster tube station, where I recall there being a Tesco Express - probably the smallest I've ever been - where luckily I was able to find some baby compatible snacks.

From there we walked to the Tate Britain, where we met up with Chie again. We had a quick wander round the Art Under Attack exhibit, although I was starting to feel a bit tired by this point and wasn't really in the mood for it. I left the girls to it after that - they spent a bit more time at the Tate while I headed back home to make dinner.
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Brighton
[Saturday 4th January 2014]
Having been mostly too ill - or too embarrassed to be seen in public - the past couple of weeks, I was really keen to do something as a family this weekend, before I returned to work on Monday. As the weather was forecast to be pretty horrid I thought it might be nice to visit an aquarium. The one in London just seems hideously overpriced, so I thought we'd give the one in Brighton a go. Besides, we like Brighton, and it's always fun to visit there, even if the weather is, as it was today, plain awful.

We arrived just before midday, and started off with lunch at Terre a Terre - one of several long running vegetarian restaurants in Brighton. Overall enjoyed the meal - including the entertainingly camp waiters - but couldn't help but think I preferred the simpler, no frills version of deep fried halloumi, as they used to serve in Taylor Walker pubs in London.

On to the aquarium after that, which seemed to be an instant hit with Erika, who appears to really like looking at fish. Perhaps this comes from her Japanese side. Better still they had a couple of characters from "Octonauts" - a program on CBeebies we've watched a few times.

After leaving the aquarium the weather was pretty dreadful - the sea looked really fierce today - so we didn't feel particularly enthused to wander about much. We went back to the station by way of Brighton's indoor shopping centre (mainly because it was an excuse to get out of the rain for a bit) but it was a bit banal and uninteresting compared to the rest of Brighton, so we didn't linger for very long.

A hot cup of tea on the train on the way home was greatly appreciated.
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Friday
[Friday 3rd January 2014]
Erika went to nursery again today, I dropped her off in the morning, and then thought about going into the office, but was still just too embarrassed. My skin was definitely getting better day by day - the spots were definitely disappearing, albeit gradually, but still I couldn't bring myself to be seen at work. I was technically already booked off on holiday today and yesterday, so I suppose it wasn't such a big deal to stay home another day.
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The Day After New Year's Day
[Thursday 2nd January 2014]
Chie wanted to go to work today, so we decided to take Erika to nursery. I considered going to the office myself, but still didn't feel up to showing my face (quite literally) so instead did some work from home.

I didn't want Erika to be left there too long on her first day back at nursery - she had been away for nearly four weeks and it was probably a bit of a shock to the system. So I went and picked her up around 4, and we went to Sainsbury's together on the way home.
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New Year's Day
[Wednesday 1st January 2014]
Went for Indian food for lunch at Diwana on Drummond Street - Erika slept right the way through it. Just headed back home again after that.
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New Year's Eve
[Tuesday 31st December 2013]
I finally ventured out of the flat after 8 days of quarantine today, took the Tate to Tate boat to the Tate modern, then walked back along the South bank.
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Spotty Hat
[Monday 30th December 2013]
Erika with a piece of cloth used to cover a jam jar as a hat.
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Turquoise
[Sunday 29th December 2013]
A couple of pictures of Erika in a turquoise outfit.
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Drink Driving
[Saturday 28th December 2013]
A picture of Erika drink driving.
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