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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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Olivogelo Again
Tiramisu Gelato at Olivogelo
Zoo and Party
Hana Yori Dango
Crass Bonus Day Celebration in St. James's
Black Winter Truffle and Gosset
Lunch at Al's House
Iron and Ties
Lunch at My Club
- Olivogelo Again
- [Wednesday 3rd February 2016]
Having noticed yesterday that they still had some of last month's special at Olivogelo (mint chocolate chip), today I invited the girls down to lunch at my office, so that afterwards Erika could have some of her favourite flavour ice cream.
Chie and Erika then went to see friends in Chelsea for the remainder of the afternoon which worked nicely as they finished round about the time I finished work, so the three of us headed back home together, and ate jelly beans on the tube.
Oh, and as today was setsubun, when we got back home more beans were involved, this time dried beans which were ceremoniously thrown out the door and in the house, as is the custom.
- Tiramisu Gelato at Olivogelo
- [Tuesday 2nd February 2016]
Not really sure why but I've been craving ice cream the past few days. Odd considering the time of year. Anyway, as a result of following the account for the Olivo family of restaurants on Instagram I'd seen they had a new flavour of the month at Olivogelo - tiramisu - and so after a quick lunch at the office today I popped over there to try it. It was rather good.
In the evening, macaroni cheese for dinner, and then spent the remainder of the evening booking our flights for our next trip to Japan.
- [Monday 1st February 2016]
I like it when months start on a Monday.
- Zoo and Party
- [Sunday 31st January 2016]
Since spending New Year's Eve in the sole company of Erika, when it occurred to me how meaningless that must have been for her given she has no real concept of any unit of time much greater than a day, I've been keenly observing how her grasp of time is subtly but slowly changing. For a while now she'd routinely ask first thing in the morning what we're doing today, which had then gradually turned into asking the night before what the plan was for tomorrow, and from there (often when the initial answer is unsatisfactory to her) she'll then see what's on the horizon for the next few days. Although that said she hasn't yet entirely pinned down all the different names of the days of the week, so sometimes on, say, a Monday, she'll ask "What are we doing today?", followed not unreasonably by "What are we doing tomorrow?", but then slightly more surprisingly "...and what are we doing on Friday?".
It's a bit disappointing that most of the time I have to tell her I'm going to work, even though at the moment she only goes to nursery two days a week, so actually five out of seven days a week she spends the whole day with at least from one parent, and I am back in time for us all to have dinner together almost every evening which is much better than many Dads.
Still, I think this may be part of the reason we end up going to the zoo so much. I don't tend to do much planning in advance, on weekends I would naturally just wake up in the morning and see how the mood takes me, but Erika seems to like to book in a visit to the zoo, maybe just so she has a guarantee we'll be spending time together.
So that's what we did this morning. It was quite a rainy Sunday morning, and I didn't think a visit to the zoo would be a great success, but somehow we managed to have a nice time regardless. She's normally not that keen on going to the aquarium (I don't think she likes the lighting) but I managed to persuade her to spend a bit longer than usual in there, after which she seemed very keen to see jellyfish for some reason, which for some reason are in the building where the bugs are, so that was another indoor thing. That plus a bit of the usual "animals in action" show (fortunately held in a marquee), a ride on the carousel (choosing one of the drier horses on the inside) and then a wander round the shop and lunch in the cafe, seemed to add up to a satisfactory visit to the zoo without getting too wet in the process.
We headed back home after that, but then went almost straight back out again, as Erika had been invited to the birthday party of one of her friends from nursery. I had assumed Chie would be coming along to that as well, but apparently some sort of miscommunication took place and so I ended up taking Erika by myself. I had some predictable conversations with the other parents which at times veered inexorably toward the usual banal subjects like schools and housing, but other than that it was all quite pleasant. The entertainer was gratifyingly oddball (wearing more or less a tweed suit), and overall Erika seemed to have a nice time.
Back at home in the evening I decided to make a roast dinner of sorts - with individual toad in the holes (small Yorkshire puddings each with half a Quorn sausage in, which worked surprisingly well) and some roast potatoes which weren't as good as I wanted them to be, as always. Erika seems to really like Yorkshire puddings and enthusiastically put three on her plate, and, to my delight, polished them all off.
- Hana Yori Dango
- [Saturday 30th January 2016]
I had originally planned to go to Cheltenham today for the Festival Trials Day, which was to be a day off from parenting as my reward for having looked after Erika singlehandedly for ten days whilst Chie was in Japan at the end of December / start of January.
However, after Thursday's ridiculous excess I thought I should probably have a complete break from drinking for a few days, and it was hard to imagine going to Cheltenham without a glass of Champagne in the Golden Miller bar, amidst the tweed wearing classes (in many ways the main point of going), so I decided just to stay in London.
Instead, I joined Chie, Erika, and one of Chie's "Mamatomo" and her daughter for dimsum in Chinatown. We went to Golden Phoenix, which to me isn't a patch on Joy King Lau, but maybe that was just a vegetarian bias. Quality of the food aside though it all felt very wholesome and heartwarming and I was confident I'd made the right decision.
The title of this post is a well known Japanese proverb - "hana yori dango" - which means "dumplings above flowers".
The girls were going to a show after lunch, so I left them to it at that point and instead headed back in the direction of home, and did a bit of shopping en route, then spent the remainder of the afternoon cleaning the flat. Again, probably a form of penance for Thursday's over indulgence.
For dinner I made something I referred to as goulash (because it had lots of paprika in it) but I suspect would be unrecognisable to somebody from Hungary. Either way it seemed to be quite well received.
- [Friday 29th January 2016]
Nothing much to report.
- Crass Bonus Day Celebration in St. James's
- [Thursday 28th January 2016]
As I have often complained about in the past, I have almost always found bonus days to be an anti-climax. Before I worked for a company which had such things I had an image in my mind of wild parties; a day of unbridled hedonism, reckless extravagance, and general decadence of a thoroughly repugnant nature. The reality has always been that there is no perceptible difference in the office whatsoever, save perhaps a restrained murmur amongst colleagues about pension sacrifice schemes, and perhaps at best somebody talking about how they might get their kitchen remodelled.
I feel like this should be one day of the year when people go a bit wild and let off some steam to celebrate all their hard work. But no. Nothing.
I for one struggle with the mundane, the humdrum, the banal. It seems there is even a term in Buddhism for this - sankhara dukkha "the deepest, most subtle level of dukkha" (suffering). The Four Noble Truths do not exactly espouse a boozy evening in St. James's as an antidote to this, and, all credit to Buddhism, they were right - it wasn't really a long term solution. But that's what we did regardless.
It took some arm bending to get anyone from work to do anything really, but eventually I managed to corral some of the usual suspects to go just a bit further than the nearest pub, and some (but crucially not all) of them even managed to dress up a bit for the occasion. In my mind this was probably where the evening had its downfall. We started with martinis at the very civilised Dukes (which mandated a bit of an effort in the clothing department). But that civility is deceptive - their martinis are incredibly strong, and after two of them you should really just call it a night and go home. However, since some members of the group had refused to dress appropriately, we then felt duty bound to meet them afterwards, and effectively we were starting a whole new night out from that point.
I'm not sure it was even that good from that point on. We met the others at the Red Lion on Crown Passage, which, whilst usually a favourite of mine, isn't really the right venue for a celebratory occasion, and I got trapped in a conversation in the corner by an elderly couple who were well meaning but with whom I disagreed on just about every issue that came up. It seemed to be difficult to get the others to leave there, and while I did try and raise the tone a bit by attempting to order Champagne (it turns out they only had prosecco) it just wasn't really the atmosphere I was looking for, and I should have probably gone home before we even got there.
But no, somehow I determined it would be a good idea to take them all to my club (I don't think everyone in the group really met the dress code requirements there, but it doesn't seem to be strictly enforced). So then we were just the one rowdy group in an otherwise quiet and civilised bar. That didn't really work either.
We finished the evening at Brasserie Zedel, wherein I rashly ordered a bottle of Champagne that we realised none of us really had the stomach for.
I'm not sure what the moral of the story is. At least one clear takeaway here is that two martinis at Dukes is more than enough for anyone.
- Black Winter Truffle and Gosset
- [Wednesday 27th January 2016]
I had a craving for truffles this week - probably because it had been bonus day at work on Monday, and (see tomorrow's post for a fuller and more nauseatingly introspective monologue on the subject) it always feels like a crushing anti-climax after all that hard work, and I find a bit of mindless extravagance helps take the edge off.
So I popped out at lunchtime to do a bit of shopping at Fortnum and Mason. They had both white and black (winter) truffles there, but since I read somewhere that January is the tail end of the white truffle season, and they were unlikely to be at their best, I opted for black. As it happened though the chap behind the counter rang it up as a white truffle. I didn't notice that was what he'd done initially, and it's an interesting bit of social observation that, it being Fortnum's, I felt compelled to stoically pretend to be unfazed by the price of what seemed like far and away the worst value black truffle I'd ever bought. I then walked round the store for a few minutes, and once I'd confidently determined it was definitely an error I took it back and they corrected the price.
Also got my hair cut by Philip at Briggs, who I believe turns 94 in a couple of weeks time. We had more or less the same conversation we always do, but in addition he was rightly proud of having just received a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel the night before.
So tagliatelle with black winter truffles and a bottle of Gosset for dinner, which all turned out rather well.
- Venetian Negroni
- [Tuesday 26th January 2016]
Made a Negroni with Select.
- [Monday 25th January]
- [Sunday 24th January 2016]
Took Erika to the playground for a bit in the afternoon.
- Lunch at Al's House
- [Saturday 23rd January 2016]
Picture on the train on the way back from Al's house in Wimbledon, where we went for lunch.
- Iron and Ties
- [Friday 22nd January 2016]
Couple of odd pictures of the iron supplement I started taking recently, and some ties.
- Lunch at My Club
- [Thursday 21st January 2016]
Went for lunch at my club with Chie.