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.

John's Journal / Blog
Main Index
Archives
RSS
John's Pictures
Main Index
Main Index (text only)
Categories
Recent Updates
RSS
John's Travel
Main Index
Places
Map
RSS
Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff
Stuffware
Exif.org
Chiesan
Celtlands

Recent Entries:
Al's Birthday Lunch
Mum in London
Friday
St. James's
Negroni and Crisps
Tuesday
Most Expensive Takeaway Ever
London Zoo
Birthday
Friday
Erika's New Coat
Cheltenham Festival
Day Before Cheltenham
One and a Half
Sunny Sunday
Poorly Erika
Not Going to Abergavenny
Erika in the Gardens
Stomach Bug
Tuesday
Sky over Pimlico
Somers Town Coffee House
Hina Matsuri
Red Trousers Friday
Baby Thai Curry
Wednesday
Spanish Food
Monday
Mayfair
Highgate
Erika's New Cardigan
Benoit
Adobo
Tuesday
Back at Work
The Windsor Castle

Al's Birthday Lunch
[Sunday 23rd March 2014]
Al invited the three of us along for his birthday lunch, which meant towards the end of the morning I first did a quick dash out to Fortnum and Mason to pick up a present. As it happened I got there before the shop part had opened, so had a bit of time to kill, and thought I would treat myself to a late breakfast (I can't really bring myself to use the word "brunch") in the Fountain restaurant. I had Welsh Rarebit and a Panama Esmerelda Especial coffee. Both were reassuringly expensive.

Lunch was at 2pm (and I don't think we actually ate anything until more like 3) at Cote in Hays Galleria - right by the Thames on the south bank. It was actually a fairly small group in the end - apparently Al had planned it "last minute" (I think I'd had an invitation 10 days ago, which isn't really last minute in my book, but still). After lunch we went to Al and Charlotte's temporary digs, a rather swanky riverside apartment with views of Tower Bridge. Charlotte had made Al's birthday cake - a sort of chocolate and orange cake - it was very good.

In the evening back at home we had some ludicrously expensive asparagus for dinner - which I'd picked up from Fortnum and Mason earlier. It was the first English asparagus of the season. Erika seemed to like it.
[No comments]

Mum in London
[Saturday 22nd March 2014]
Mum came to London to visit us this afternoon.

A bit like last Saturday when Dad and Janie came to visit, since Erika likes to have a pre-lunch nap at weekends, and Chie likes an uninterrupted opportunity to tidy the flat a bit before we have visitors, I again decided to take Erika for a stroll to meet Mum. Mum had decided to head straight for Brixton again as she'd like it so much last time, and so I thought rather unusually I'd try walking from Pimlico to Brixton. As expected, Vauxhall and Stockwell are just not very pleasant, so you couldn't call it a particularly scenic route, but Erika had a nap either way.

Chie joined us in Brixton, and we had lunch at Franco Manca. After that we headed back to Pimlico, and went for a wander round the Tate Britain - apparently Mum hadn't been before. We then retired back to the flat for tea, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon.

We went to Victoria to wave Mum off, stopping off en route at Le Pain Quotidien for a light early evening snack.

For dinner Chie and I had gnocchi with a dolce latte and spinach sauce - it's a long time since I've cooked with blue cheese, and it was rather nice.
[No comments]

Friday
[Friday 21st March 2014]
Don't remember.
[No comments]

St. James's
[Thursday 20th March 2014]
I seem to have been in a bit of a slump recently. I think it's a combination of several factors - the continuing sense of failure at being nowhere nearer to buying a place to live, which is somehow exacerbated by recently having had a birthday. Also following the tweedy glamour of the Cheltenham Festival last week day to day life has seemed really rather mundane.

As it happened I was in need of a hair cut so it seemed a good opportunity for a bit of a deviation from the normal routine, and after dropping Erika off at nursery I decided to walk through St. James's Park to St. James's, and there headed Ormond Yard, an alleyway off Duke of York Street, to Briggs. It was a delight as always to see Philip, who is around 90 years old, for a hair cut and a chat - this time mostly about our respective favourite churches and cathedrals.
[1 comment]

Negroni and Crisps
[Wednesday 19th March 2014]
A Negroni and some Japanese crisps.
[No comments]

Tuesday
[Tuesday 18th March 2014]
Don't remember.
[No comments]

Most Expensive Takeaway Ever
[Monday 17th March 2014]
Yesterday for dinner I'd wanted to eat Indian food but really didn't want to have to cook. However eating out would probably have meant Erika having another ready meal, and that seemed a bit unfair. So we consigned ourselves to eating at home, and since there are no good takeaways near where we live (I've never really understood why that is) I ended up cooking.

As a result tonight I was doubly determined not to cook, but now in the mood for Chinese food. Again there are no good takeaways nearby, and taking Erika out for dinner after she's been at nursery is a bit of a kerfuffle. So my solution this time was to get a bus to Chinatown after leaving work, and pick up food to takeaway from Mr. Kong: the only place I've found in Chinatown which has a dedicated vegetarian menu. Since I'd gone to all that effort I then ordered far more food than we probably really needed. While it was cooking I had just enough time to pop round the corner to the Coach and Horses for a very quick pint.

As I didn't want the food to get cold (plus there was the timing constraint of Erika's bath looming) I got a taxi back home from there. So added to that the fact that I'd ordered a lot of food, and at restaurant prices, that made this probably the most expensive takeaway we've ever had. It was, however, a world apart from the rather pathetic excuse for Chinese food last time we'd had takeaway, delivered from some nasty little place in Kennington.

I'd ordred mock crispy duck to start, after which we were already half full. Then for the main course I'd ordered three dishes: sweet and sour mock pork, bitter melon with bean curd stick and mushrooms in black bean sauce, and mock abalone with Chinese greens. All three were tasty in their own right (although I'm not sure I wanted to eat a lot of the bitter melon), and they made for a really interesting mixture.
[No comments]

London Zoo
[Sunday 16th March 2014]
I'd decided some time ago it would be nice to go to the zoo today, as a combined half birthday treat for Erika, and birthday treat for me - particularly as she'd been ill on her actual half birthday earlier this week.

Some amount of faffing about was involved as Chie was determined to make use of a special offer which meant going to my office first to print out a voucher. We'd originally hoped to get there when the zoo opened at 10am, but inevitably it took longer than we thought to get there, and it ended up closer to 11.

Despite the lovely weather, somehow neither Chie nor I really felt in the mood for it by the time we arrived, and Erika probably needed a nap and was a bit irritable to begin with too. Still, we attempted to make the most of it.

We started with the aquarium, which was a bit boring to be honest, although Erika dutifully pointed and said "fishy" a lot. From there we saw the Galapagos tortoises (again Erika pointed and said "turtoo") followed by the komodo dragons, which quite rightfully Erika found a bit scary.

After a few more assorted creatures we got to the tigers - Erika loves The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and so despite barely being able to see the tiger for the crowds, did excitedly point and say "tiger". It occurs to me she actually knows quite a few animals already - not bad for 18 months!

After the camels we paused for lunch, and then after lunch Erika finally had the nap she probably should have had at 11, but of course being in a zoo she probably quite reasonably figured she'd miss something.

We then took a slow wander over to the North side of the zoo, stopping briefly for a second lunch (Chie hadn't really eaten anything first time) and then went and sat and waited by the giraffes for Erika to wake up. We had a really good view of the giraffes - they were definitely a highlight of the day - although I noticed while we were there that there was a gate here allowing you to get a pretty good view of them from the road.

We finished off our visit to the zoo at the penguin pool, and just happened to get there at feeding time.

We had a very pleasant stroll back through Regent's Park on our way home, and paused to take some pictures beneath the cherry blossom, which was looking rather lovely. Erika spotted some dogs in the park, and seemed just as excited by them as she had been about any of the animals in the zoo - but then at one and a half how is she supposed to know that dogs are commonplace, and Sumatran tigers, at least in London, are something of a rarity?
[No comments]

Birthday
[Saturday 15th March 2014]
Dad and Janie came to visit London today, they'd originally wanted to come at the start of the month, but we'd had something on the 1st, and they'd had something on the 8th, so it ended up being today - on my birthday.

They were due to arrive at Waterloo at midday, so as it was a nice day I took Erika for a stroll in her buggy to go and meet them, and was treated to some very nice views of the houses of parliament en route. We then got a taxi from Waterloo back to the flat as Dad had various perishable/heavy things from Devon he wanted to unload (including clotted cream and cider!).

I'd spent quite a while struggling to decide where to go for lunch today, but eventually somehow or other settled on Korean food at Kimchee in Holborn. So we all got a tube there, and that seemed to be quite successful, despite the inital disappointment that they'd stopped doing the "backban" (set lunch thing) and our waitress being a bit of an oaf.

From there, I thought it might be interesting to take Dad to a hipster coffee shop, so he could see what is going on at the cutting edge of espresso based drinks these days. Fortunately Holborn is now well served for these - and there's not one but two on Leather Lane. That worked well, as Erika had slept through lunch at Kimchee, and this gave us an opportunity for us to feed her and for her to have a bit of a wander round in the street outside the cafe.

We headed back to the flat after that for a bit, and then round 6 went to wave them off at Pimlico.
[No comments]

Friday
[Friday 14th March 2013]
Felt a bit down today, possibly a follow on of yesterday's come down after the tweedy high of Cheltenham, combined with my looming birthday. Plus also I appeared to getting Erika's stomach bug.
[No comments]

Erika's New Coat
[Thursday 13th March 2014]
Back to business as usual today - I took Erika into nursey in the morning as usual (wearing her new coat I'd bought for her yesterday in Cheltenham), and I went into work. I have to admit the rather lacklustre approach to dressing that most of my colleagues adopt was something of a come down after being surrounded by all the finery of festival goers the day before.
[No comments]

Cheltenham Festival
[Wednesday 12th March 2014]
It had been touch and go whether I'd make it to the Cheltenham Festival today or not, with Erika being ill, but having put in a full day looking after Erika yesterday, Chie said she was prepared to do the same in return today. As it turned out she didn't even have to - Erika actually seemed fine this morning, and Chie decided to drop her off at nursery a bit before midday.

Kyle had agreed to come along with me today, but he almost missed it too thanks to his train to Victoria being cancelled. The staff on the coach seemed surprisingly relaxed about their schedule though, they had already arrived about 10 minutes late, and didn't seem to mind waiting another few minutes for Kyle - so he just made it.

We arrived at the race course around 11:30, and after a cursory wander around, headed for the Golden Miller bar for midday (sun over the yard arm?) - superbly I got the message from Chie that Erika had gone to nursery just as we were about to have our inaugural drink of the day, and I was then able to enjoy it without feeling guilty.

I put small bets on most of the day's races, and had one big win of the day (Whisper in the Coral Cup, at 20:1). The payout from that left me with an overall profit for the day in terms of the betting, and almost paid the day's Champagne bill.

Mostly though I spent the day enjoying all the tweed and trilbies - whilst there isn't really a dress code as such, it's pleasing how many people do seem to make at least a bit of an effort. It was also very nice to be free of the shackles of the "no brown in town" rule and have absolute free rein to wear my tweed suit. Oh and my Lock and Co trilby (which I took for a quick check-up at their stall there).

Got the coach back to London at 6:30. It really wasn't that bad getting the coach both ways in the end (last year we'd got a lift with friends on the way back) - I'd somehow imagined people might be singing or some such, but in actual fact it was very quiet.

As the coach dropped us off at Victoria Coach station I couldn't resist the opportunity to round the day off which a quick pizza at Oliveto before heading home.
[No comments]

Day Before Cheltenham
[Tuesday 11th March 2014]
I took the day off today to give Chie a break (so she could go back to work - yes that really does count as a break!). The day started out pretty badly actually - Erika seemed really hungry, and I mistakenly let myself believe somehow she'd got over the stomach bug and was trying to catch up. After breakfast she kept saying "tato" and doing the sign she does when she's hungry, so I assumed she was trying to tell me she wanted to eat some of the leftover mashed potato from last night's dinner. I gave her that, and then she was sick. I felt pretty terrible.

The rest of the day was actually much better - I made sure to only feed her very small quantities and kept getting her to drink as much as possible.

In the evening I tried on my outfit for tomorrow's outing to the Cheltenham Festival - although at this point I wasn't really 100% sure whether I'd be going or not, as I felt bad about being away, even just for a daytrip, when Erika was ill.

In particular I had wanted to buy a new tie to go with my tweed suit, but with Erika being ill didn't have a chance, so this evening tried to make the best of it with what I already had - in the end I plumped for the cheap naff orange one I'd bought at a 100 yen shop on our last trip to Japan.
[No comments]

One and a Half
[Monday 10th March 2014]
Erika still wasn't well enough to go back to nursery yet, so today Chie took the day off, and I went to work. It sounded like Chie had a rather hard time of it, and it's a bit sad that Erika spent her half birthday feeling poorly.
[No comments]

Sunny Sunday
[Sunday 9th March 2014]
Erika seemed a bit better this morning, so we decided to head over to Peter Jones to do some shopping. In addition to the more mundane requisites like a new mattress cover (prompted by Erika's recent, err, activity) we also went to the toy department to look for Lego. Erika would be 18 months tomorrow, and the earliest Duplo sets start from 1 1/2. I'd dutifully held off on buying any until now, but now the combination of an impending half birthday, and the fact she needed a treat to cheer her up a bit meant it seemed like the right time. After a bit of deliberation we chose a little farm set.

As the weather was rather nice, we decided to buy supplies in Waitrose, and have an impromptu picnic in Hyde Park. Chie called her friend Ayaka-san, who joined us there with her little girl. It was all going quite well to begin with, but eventually it became apparent it was still a bit too soon for Erika to be out and about - an emergency outdoor nappy change was necessitated and a short while later she threw up again. We decided at that point to beat a hasty retreat.

Erika was a bit up and down for the rest of the day, but was at least chirpy enough for a while to have a good play with her new Duplo.
[No comments]

Poorly Erika
[Saturday 8th March 2014]
Erika really wasn't very well today, poor girl. So we didn't really do very much - I just popped out for an hour or two in the afternoon for a walk to Sloane Square, and picked up a loaf of bread, then after that we talk Erika out to get a bit of fresh air by the river. Other than that though our whole day was spent nursing Erika - trying to get her rehydrated and feed her as much as we dared to without making her sick again. Really not much fun at all.
[No comments]

Not Going to Abergavenny
[Friday 7th March 2014]
I'd originally booked a half day off today, thinking we'd be going to visit Vera and Robin this weekend, but it became clear in the morning that Erika would not be well enough to travel.

I had rather been looking forward to going, and of course felt sorry for Erika who was suffering quite a bit from not really being able to eat properly. So this rather put a downer on the rest of the day, and in fact the whole weekend.
[No comments]

Erika in the Gardens
[Thursday 6th March 2014]
I took the morning off to look after Erika today, we'd heard there was some kind of bug going around the nursery and thought we'd better keep her away. Actually though she seemed pretty much fine, in the morning at least, so after some consultation with the nursery we decided to drop her off for the afternoon, meaning I could go to work.

This of course turned out to be a bit too optimistic, in the evening she was a bit unwell again, and it was clear that her having thrown up was not to be a one off event.
[No comments]

Stomach Bug
[Wednesday 5th March 2013]
Fairly normal day in the most part, but in the evening as we were putting Erika to bed she was sick. As has been the case in the past we hoped this was just a one off, but in fact this was to be the start of a week long ordeal of a stomach bug which would make us all pretty miserable.
[No comments]

Tuesday
[Tuesday 4th March 2013]
Trying to write this two weeks hence, and really don't remember anything about today!
[No comments]

Sky over Pimlico
[Monday 3rd March 2014]
Took a picture of the sky on the way home from work, it had looked much nicer a minute or two earlier.

Really don't remember anything else about today apart from that!
[No comments]

Somers Town Coffee House
[Sunday 2nd March 2014]
I have an ongoing beef (a superbly inapt metaphor) with the vegetarian options at Sunday lunch in most central London pubs. With the exception of entirely vegetarian eateries like the Coach and Horses, pretty much every else I've looked at has offered something entirely ill fitting like a mushroom risotto for Sunday lunch - I unequivocally want roast potatoes, gravy, and some kind of centre piece which goes with those two must haves.

So I was very pleased to see someone else had set up a Twitter account to air this very same gripe, and that led to the discovery of the venue for today's lunch - the Somers Town Coffee House near Euston / Kings Cross / St. Pancras. Despite the presence of the dreaded butternut bloody squash this was overall a very satisfying vegetarian Sunday roast - a sort of big spring roll thing (wherein the offending squash was forgivably concealed) with the all important roast potatoes, some very tasty gravy, and a large Yorkshire. Erika slept through most of it too, so Chie and I were able to eat in peace and quiet.

After leaving the pub we decided to take walk through Somers Town, which, frankly, is not a very pleasant part of London at all. That eventually delivered us into Camden, from where we decided to just get a bus back into the centre of town. Did a little bit of shopping there, and went to the new Illy Cafe near Oxford Circus.
[No comments]

Hina Matsuri
[Saturday 1st March 2014]
I hope today was a really nice day for Erika - we tried to fit in lots of things that would suit her really well.

Started off with breakfast at the Regency Cafe (OK that bit was more for our benefit) then went to the children's play area in Victoria Tower Gardens - next to the Houses of Parliament - which I think was only created last year. In addition to the usual swings and slides there are some really nice touches: a set of musical stepping stones, and a fountain which you can turn on and off with a big switch, which then pours over into a little stream. We more or less had the whole place to ourselves and I think Erika really enjoyed it.

After that I took Erika to the "Just for Dads" session at our local library - Chie has been trying to get me to go to one of these for quite a while now, and for one reason or another it hasn't worked out until now. It mostly comprised of singing, but the chap who ran the session (who we'd seen once before in the guise of a Christmas elf and Santa Clause at the Christmas part we went to with Erika in 2012) was a bit of an all-rounder, and also did some balloon animals etc. Erika was pretty quiet for most of the time, although did join in a bit with a few of the songs, and I hope she enjoyed this too.

We went back to the flat after that so Erika could have some lunch, and then afterwards we headed over to Ashford (the one in Surrey, not the one in Kent) where Chie's friend Mika-san lives, for a "hina matsuri" party. Hina matsuri means girl's day - technically on March 3rd - and it just so happens in that particular group of Chie's friends lots of them seem to have had girls. So Erika had a few friends to play with for the afternoon, which, again, I hope was nice for her.

Popped into the "Little Waitrose" in Vauxhall twice today - both on the way to Ashford, and on the way back. I think it has only recently opened, today was my first time to go there, and it prompted me to comment about the gentrification of Vauxhall - a place I'd avoid altogether were it not for the occasional convenience of getting on a train there. As soon as the words left my mouth we encountered a man urinating against one of the outside walls of the actual Waitrose. Still some work to be done there, Vauxhall.

Had fresh pasta for dinner, and after giving Erika a bath and putting her to bed I spent the remainder of the evening addressing the two week backlog of updating my blog.
[No comments]

Red Trousers Friday
[Friday 28th February 2014]
A few people at the office established "red trousers Friday" - for no particular reason whatsoever some people wear red trousers on Fridays. I occasionally observe this too, and was rather delighted that Chie and Erika also joined in today. They came to my office for lunch, sporting their pantalons rouge, and also brought along our NCT friend Iris and her son Ollie, both of whom seemed a little bemused by the whole red trouser thing.

In the evening I stayed at TGIF for a bit, and then popped along to catch some of the (re) opening night of the Finborough Arms, a pub in Fulham that had last closed its doors as a pub in 2006, and I'd heard about through a couple of sources (the West London CAMRA website, and a cider related Twitter feed I follow).
[No comments]

Baby Thai Curry
[Thursday 27th February 2014]
Chie went out this evening, so I picked Erika up from nursery for a change and took her back home. I attempted to make a sort of baby friendly Thai curry, which I'd already planned in advance - tofu and some vegetables cooked in some coconut milk, flavoured with lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. I thought it was actually quite nice, but Erika didn't seem to have much appetite, so just picked out a few bits of tofu and left most of the rest of it - I couldn't even really get her to eat more than a spoonful or two of rice.

Tonight happened to be bath night as well (we normally give her a bath every other day) so I did that by myself too, and then put her to bed, before getting on with domestic chores - I washed a load of shirts - thus today's rather odd picture.
[No comments]

Wednesday
[Wednesday 26th February 2014]
I decided to go to the Cheltenham Festival again this year - my ticket arrived today. At least partly because I want an excuse to wear my tweed suit, and it is probably the greatest concentration of tweed of any event of the year. Chie has decided to pass this time round, and alas my friend from work who is into that sort of thing, and came along last time, has just moved to the US. However, I managed to persuade Kyle to come along, so that ought to be fun. We're going to go on Ladies Day again like last time (it's when I imagine people make the most effort to dress properly).

For tonight's dinner we had parpadelle with a tomato and Japanese mushroom sauce.
[No comments]

Spanish Food
[Tuesday 25th February 2014]
I'd bought a ready made Spanish omelette in Waitrose on Sunday, which we ate for tonight's dinner along with a paella I threw together, containing various vegetables and some Quorn pieces. It turned out rather well.
[No comments]

Monday
[Monday 24th February 2014]
Nice weather today, lovely blue skies.

Tonight's dinner was an odd affair, cobbled together from the leftovers of the previous two nights' meals, which we mostly ate standing up in the kitchen.
[No comments]

Mayfair
[Sunday 23rd February 2014]
Similar to last Sunday, Chie went to see a friend in the afternoon and took Erika with her, so I had some time off to myself. I decided to work through my list of recommended places on Google Maps and go to one of the several pubs I have on the list which I keep meaning to go to but never quite get round to. So I chose "Ye Grapes" in Shepherd Market, an interesting little corner of Mayfair. On the way there I spotted a Lebanese restaurant called Al-Sultan which looked appealing, and decided to have lunch there. That actually ended up being the highlight of the afternoon, as the pub actually seemed a bit run of the mill.

Went back home by way of Belgravia, popping in to the Waitrose there to buy supplies for dinner. Made something roughly approximating a roast meal - insomuch that it included roast potatoes - but it was a bit lacklustre, at least partly because Chie wasn't feeling very well again, and so it ended up just me and Erika eating while Chie had a lie down.
[No comments]

Highgate
[Saturday 22nd February 2014]
Recently I've been considering that it might be quite nice to look at least a bit further afield in our seemingly never ending search for a flat or a house to buy. Somehow or other the idea of Highgate got into my head, and so this week I had found a flat for us to go and take a look at there. If nothing else I thought it would be an excuse to see a different part of London, and while we were there we could have a nice pub lunch and a bit of a wander around.

So we headed up North towards the end of the morning, arriving in Highgate around midday, and made the Flask our first port of call, where we had a very pleasant lunch. We had been once, six years ago, and I'm pleased to report it's still very nice, even if it has in my opinion slightly regrettably gone a bit too far down the gastropub route - I don't think anyone there was just having a drink, which always makes pubs feel a bit less pubby to me. Still, the food was actually good (I had an interesting vegetarian option - stuffed savoy cabbage with mushrooms and pearly barley) and they were very child friendly - lots of other families with young kids there.

The flat viewing wasn't until 3:30 which left us at a bit of a loose end. We wandered vaguely for a bit until we found ourselves down the hill at Archway, where we were planning on getting on a tube down to Kentish Town (another area I had my eye on), but then Chie started to feel a bit unwell, and in the end she decided to just head home instead.

I kept Erika with me to give Chie a bit of a break, and she actually nodded off soon after that, so I went for a walk with her over to Crouch End - the flat we were going to look at was inbetween there and Highgate. Crouch End is one of those almost fictitious places to me - I've heard it mentioned in various places over the years, and have an image of it being full of actors and comedians - but because it's a bit out of the way I'd never been there until today.

I have to admit I was actually a bit disappointed, at least by the "centre" of Crouch End, which mostly seemed to be all the usual chains you'd find anywhere else, and certainly as far as coffee shops went I couldn't really find anything independent. I ended up having to go into a Starbucks, because I really wanted to use the toilet and couldn't find anywhere else (particularly as I had a buggy with a sleeping toddler with me). As I'd made use of the facilities I felt compelled to buy something - I ordered a macchiato and it was just foul. I only had a few sips and left the rest, then, despite not having really been looking for a coffee in the first place, felt I had to find somewhere to take the taste away, so unwittingly went into the Harris and Hoole next door. To the untrained eye it looks like it might be a credible independent coffee shop, but only after I'd been in there a few minutes did I remember this is in fact that chain owned by Tesco, which rather cynically attempts to pretend to be an independent coffee shop. The macchiato here was an improvement, but still not great.

One way or another I suppose these escapades at least killed time, and eventually it was time to go and look at the flat. That turned out to be a disappointment too - it had seemed huge (by London standards) in the brochure - 4 bedrooms (!) - but it was all carved up into lots of pokey little rooms, and it felt cluttered and not particularly big once I was actually in it. The current owners didn't actually seem to have a dining table anywhere which I found particularly off putting. Oh and the garden was a bit water logged, so that was hard to appreciate too. On top of all of that it turned out to be at least a 15 minute walk to Highgate tube station, which made it feel really rather remote.

So we won't be putting an offer in on that place.

Erika and I headed back to SW1 after that, stopping off at Sainsbury's on the way home to buy things for dinner. I made Indian food - sag aloo, dal and mutter paneer. I was particularly pleased with tonight's dal, which was made using individual spices (I usually cheat and use curry paste).
[No comments]

Erika's New Cardigan
[Friday 21st February 2014]
Erika got a new cardigan in the post from Grandma today.
[No comments]

Benoit
[Thursday 20th February 2014]
Benoit, a former colleague who moved back to Paris a few years ago was briefly in London this week, and so we arranged for an evening out along with some other former colleagues who he'd worked with. We revisited some old familiar haunts - starting at the Cittie of Yorke, then progressing to the Whisky Society where the bulk of the evening was spent, with just enough time left at the end for one final drink at Ye Old Mitre.
[No comments]

Adobo
[Wednesday 19th February 2014]
Was craving a burrito for lunch today, and managed to persuade Kyle to come along too. I was rather upset on arrival at my favourite burrito place - Picante Mexican Grill - to see they appear to have closed down, owing to a flood from the apartment above causing them so much financial loss they'd gone out of business. So rather disheartened we trudged back in the direction of the office, but as some small consolation found a new burrito place had opened up round the corner - called Adobo. It wasn't nearly as good as Picante had been, but I suppose it sort of addressed my burrito craving at least.
[No comments]

Tuesday
[Tuesday 18th February 2014]
Um, don't remember! Am writing this nearly two weeks after the fact, and it's one of the days where I don't have any photos to jog my memory, and my location history for the day just shows the normal routine. So I assume pretty much the same sort of thing as yesterday.
[No comments]

Back at Work
[Monday 17th February 2014]
Back to the usual workday routine today after our two weeks in Japan. Erika seemed to go off to nursery with relatively little fuss, and overall I was quite happy to be back in the office. On the plus side it was great to be back in the routine of vegetarian sausages for breakfast, and really excellent macchiatos (I think I've got these down to a fine art now) - plus having my work friends on hand to chew the cud.

On the down side there had been a desk reshuffle while I'd been away and I was now surrounded by a large team on a completely unrelated project, and mostly people who I don't know. My little corner of the office had previously been almost deserted, and I'd really enjoyed the peace and quiet - but I suppose I'd known all along it couldn't last.

In the evening I made Chinese food for dinner, Erika seemed to enjoy eating noodles.
[No comments]

The Windsor Castle
[Sunday 16th February 2014]
Thanks to jetlag we all woke up very early - so around 5sm or so I decided to get up and make some bread. We didn't really have the correct ingredients - regular flour instead of bread flour, and the yeast was out of date - but I decided to give it a go anyway, as otherwise we wouldn't have anything in for breakfast. I left the dough to rise and went back to bed for a bit, although don't recall now whether I managed to get any more sleep or not.

So for breakfast we had my freshly baked bread. It wasn't great but it was better than nothing (which was the other option for breakfast) and anything baked is at least fairly pleasant when fresh out of the oven and still warm. A mostly uneventful morning after that, I think we may have done a bit of unpacking and tidying up, possibly some other domestic chores. Towards the end of the morning I took Erika for a wander round the gardens so Chie could have a bit of a break.

In the afternoon Chie had arranged to meet up with a friend of hers, with Erika in tow, so I was left to my own devices for a few hours. So I decided to head over to the wonderfully eccentric Windsor Castle in Marylebone, as of course whilst we'd been off gadding about in the Far East I had been craving the reassuring environs of a decent pub. What a lovely place to wile away a quiet hour or so. Although I did have a bit of a cough, which was something of an annoyance as I recall.

Back at home I was falling asleep by about 7:30.
[No comments]