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
- John's Pictures
Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
- Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
North London Pub Crawl
Easter Monday, In The Flat
Drinks in the Gardens
Lunch with Andy
Regent's Park and St. John's Wood
Whisky Society Tasting
They tried to make me go to Riyadh, but I said no, no, no...
Mi estomago esta muy contenta
- [Sunday 19th April 2009]
A couple of random pictures of some tulips.
- North London Pub Crawl
- [Saturday 18th April]
Following the success of mine and Andy's last pub crawl, and given that we were both at a bit of a loose end this weekend, we decided it might be nice to do another one.
I had spent just a few minutes mulling this over the previous day, and came up with the idea of having a wander around North London. I took a look at the excellent pubs.com, and using the equally excellent Google My Maps, I plotted all the pubs that were feature on that site in NW5 (Kentish Town) and NW3 (Hampstead), of which there were quite a few.
View North London Pub Crawl in a larger map
So today we then set about following this hastily thrown together route, and a jolly nice day out it was too.
We started off in Kentish Town, where about half the pubs on my map were located. This is an area of London I've hardly ever been to, so all these pubs were new to me, although Andy (having lived nearby at one point) had been to a few of them before. Of this first batch of I particularly liked The Pineapple, and we also had a very nice lunch at The Junction, which was a bit more of a restaurant than a pub really, but the food and beer were very good so I'm not complaining.
I rather liked the idea of having the itinerary split into two clusters - Kentish Town and Hampstead - particularly as this meant inbetween we had a very pleasant stroll over Hampstead Heath.
Once in Hampstead the mission resumed in earnest, and we visited four out of the six pubs I'd originally put on the map (we left out the Flask as I'd been there not too long ago and was a bit disappointed, and the Spaniard's Inn was just a bit too far away from everything else).
We finished off the day with a late dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Hampstead called Jin Kichi, which was very nice too.
See the pictures for more details.
- [Friday 17th April]
For reasons which I may explain at a later date, I was keen to spend this evening in the company of Polish people.
As it happens, my friend Andy is a quarter Polish, and, on explaining the situation, he rather helpfully suggested we go out for a drink this evening, and he also brought along a Polish colleague of his. Oh and we were later joined by another guy who wasn't at all Polish (being in fact a bit French and a bit German) but that did not spoil the effect.
We met at The Yorkshire Grey in Fitzrovia - a really gorgeous Sam Smith's pub - and chewed the cud there for some time before heading round the corner to an Italian restaurant to get something to eat. After that we rounded off the evening at another nearby pub which had a late license - The George.
- [Thursday 16th April]
A quiet night in was very much called for this evening, so I headed home from the office relatively early, went by way of the supermarket to buy things for dinner, and then made Mexican food - started off with tortilla chips with sour cream and my homemade salsa, and for main course had fajitas.
Enjoyed Around the World in 80 Trades on the TV again - exactly my sort of program.
- [Wednesday 15th April]
Went out for drinks this evening with a couple of people from work - including one person from what will hopefully be my new team. We went to the cocktail bar on the 5th floor of the Waterstone's on Piccadilly, and also had some snacky tapas food there to go with our martinis. All very sophisticated.
- [Tuesday 14th April]
I fancied pizza this evening, and suggested to Chie we should meet up in the centre and find somewhere a bit different to the usual Pizza Express. Unfortunately, T-Mobile wasn't being particularly reliable, and it turned out Chie didn't get any of my messages, and neither of us could phone the other. So I ended up pointlessly heading into the centre, whilst Chie was on her way back to the flat.
Once I was eventually able to get through to Chie we decided I should probably just head home, and we would settle for the Pizza Express near where we live. It was a bit of a disappointment actually - I ordered one of their current special "Theo Randall" (whoever that is) pizzas, and found it to be really pretty bland, and was left a bit miffed that I had been charged over the odds for it. Ho, hum.
- Easter Monday, In The Flat
- [Monday 13th April]
Didn't really do much with the last day of the long weekend, just hung around the flat mainly, and popped out to do some shopping briefly in the afternoon.
- Tunbridge Wells
- [Sunday 12th April]
A day out to visit Tunbridge Wells to taste the famous Chalybeate spring water, wander through the Pantiles, and go for a ride on the Spa Valley railway.
- Easter Saturday
- [Saturday 11th April]
Spent the morning regressing to childhood and playing with Lego. Pirate Lego to be precise.
Went out with Chie in the afternoon for a bit of shopping and a bit of a walk. Not particularly eventful, I bought a few odd things including an Easter egg from Charbonnel and Walker, a new shirt to go with my tweed jacket, some cheese and biscuits from Paxton and Whitfield on Jermyn Street.
Oh and we had lunch at Tibits again.
Chie cooked again for dinner, tonight we had a Japanese curry.
- Good Friday
- [Friday 10th April]
A friend of Chie's had stayed over the night before, and in the morning they went out for breakfast and to do a bit of shopping. Chie also met up with another friend in the afternoon, so she was out pretty much all day.
I decided to just leave her to it. I was going to have a nerdy day in front of the computer - maybe even have a go at writing an Android app. Alas though that was not to be - around mid morning our broadband stopped working (and it didn't actually get fixed until Saturday evening), and so I decided I should probably go out instead.
I got the bus to Tottenham Court Road, went to the vegetarian Chinese buffet place there for lunch, and from there proceeded to go on a bit of a meandering stroll Eastwards, with a quick stop off at the British Musuem, towards Holborn. The weather was pretty crappy today - grey, occasional showers, and a sort of muggy feeling in the air. The climatic conditions persuaded me I probably fancied a nice refreshing glass of crisp beer, and so I headed for the Cittie of Yorke. It was very quiet in there, which was rather nice, and the back bar looked stunning as ever.
Interestingly enough, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is on Twitter (or at least their London member's rooms) which has been an interesting application of the technology, especially as it highlighted to me that they were in fact open today - I had assumed they'd close for the Easter weekend.
So I spent a while sampling a few very nice malts there - starting with the 27.66 (a very satisfying albeit otherwise hard to characterise Springbank), an unusual foray into Speyside with a custardy/peppery 35.24 (Glen Moray), and the 10.64 - a Bunnahabhain, an unusually peated example from the Islay distillery which usually produced a far less peated output.
On the way back home, on a whim, I decided to go into Hamley's and buy myself some Pirates Lego.
Chie cooked for dinner, had Japanese food - the old faithful kimchi nabe. Very nice.
- Maundy Thursday
- [Thursday 9th April]
Last day at work before the long Easter weekend. I think some people must have been taking an extra day and making it an even longer weekend, as it was very quite in the office. Reminded me a bit of the last day of term.
Chie went out in the evening with some of her friends from work, but I didn't have anything planned, so after leaving the office went for a bit of a wander through London, half thinking I might find somewhere to go for a quiet drink by myself, but in the end I just kept walking. I eventually got as far as Oxford Circus, and then just decided to get on the tube and go home.
Had a mostly fairly uninteresting evening in front of the telly, the only exception being Around the World in 80 Trades which I actually quite enjoyed.
- Drinks in the Gardens
- [Wednesday 8th April]
Recently there seems to be a recurring theme that I've fancied pizza on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, Pizza Express does some sort of special offer for Orange customers on Wednesdays, and Chie appears to get somewhat frustrated by the knowledge that everyone else is paying less than us. So actually pizza is effectively banned on Wednesdays.
As it was a relatively nice day, I had thought it would be nice to sit out in the gardens of the square where we live for a bit. Originally I had intended we could also eat this imaginary pizza there, but clearly that was not to be. So instead we just had a quick gin and tonic, only we didn't have any gin, or tonic. We bought a bottle of tonic and instead had vodka tonics, with angostura bitters. Really quite pleasant - the first drink out in the gardens of the year!
Somewhat reluctantly I cooked for dinner in the end, I remembered I had bought some dried morels on my way back from Switzerland, and thought these might go nicely with some fresh tagliatelle we had in the fridge, along with a simple cheese sauce. It's the first time I've ever actually cooked with dried morels (they're kind of expensive so I've always been put off buying them before), and I wasn't really sure how to rehydrate them properly as all the instructions were in French. I think the flavour probably suffered as a result of being rehydrated a little too harshly, but anyway it was a bit different nonetheless.
In other news (today was quite an eventful day!):
- Started having Japanese lessons at work. Had the first trial one day.
- Had a phone conversation that I wasn't really looking forward to with the director of the project I've been working on, about me leaving the project etc. Hmmm hard to really explain here, but this was sort of the final requirement before I could move projects, so it was a big weight off my mind.
- I booked a summer holiday for Chie and I - well, the transport arrangement at least. After much delicate probing I managed to deduce that Chie probably didn't want to go to Orkney for our main summer holiday (funny that), so instead we're going to get the train down to Nice, hire a car there, and then drive around the Mediterranean. Which ought to be nice.
- Lunch with Andy
- [Tuesday 7th April]
My friend Andy came and met me for lunch today - it turned out it was in fact his birthday. So that made for a nice break from the norm. After lunch we also squeezed in a quick pint at the Grenadier in Belgravia.
- [Monday 6th April]
Hmmm not much to report. I think we had tagliatelle for dinner, probably rather oddly with a spicy tomato sauce. Not sure that really worked, but we were feeling lazy.
- Regent's Park and St. John's Wood
- [Sunday 5th April]
Went for a Sunday afternoon stroll through Regent's Park to St. John's Wood. It does seem like Spring is here finally, and the weather was really quite pleasant, even warm enough to not need a jacket from time to time.
- Whisky Society Tasting
- [Saturday 4th April]
Mostly quite a lazy day in the dayime, slobbing around the flat doing nothing in particular.
Towards the end of the afternoon Chie and I headed out, and met up with a friend of mine from work, to go to an "open tasting" at the Whisky Society. They release new bottling lists on the first Friday of every month now, and so on the first Saturday they have a special offer at the Members Rooms where you can sample 5 whiskies from the new list at a very reasonable price.
- They tried to make me go to Riyadh, but I said no, no, no...
- [Friday 3rd April]
A rather nice impromptu work night out occurred this evening. Started off at the usual beer-and-pizza thing where I found a couple of colleagues at a loose end, who all fancied going to get something to eat after work, and so I persuaded them to go to my favourite little Sardinian eatery in Belgravia - the ever wonderful Oliveto.
After that, another colleague had proposed we head over to the Headliners Comedy Club in Chiswick, which, as I had nothing better to do, sounded like as good a plan for the remainder of the evening as any. I don't know why I don't make the effort to go to see live comedy more often, as I always enjoy it immensely. On the bill tonight were three comedians - Jim Tavaré, Otis Cannelloni and Scott Capurro. We arrived a few minutes late so missed the first half of Tavaré's act, but I thoroughly enjoyed Otis Canneloni's onslaught of lovingly hand crafted gags. Perhaps my favourite was the fabulous pun which forms the title for this post - describing a recent tour of the Middle East he'd done -
"I've been to Dubai, Kuwait, Beirut, all over the place. They tried to make me go to Riyadh, but I said no, no, no..."
I enjoyed it even more because half the audience didn't get it (if you're still a bit confused, it's a pun on an Amy Winehouse song), and of the half that did I guess the majority weren't big fans of good old fashioned puns. So I was pretty much the only person laughing. I think in places my sense of humour is probably the absolute inverse of other people - in the same way some comedians try to be avant garde by being deliberately shocking and outrageous, to me a brave comedian is one who attempts to get away with an appallingly groanworthy pun like that. Otis Cannelloni, I salute you.
So that was a lot of fun. After the comedy, we headed on for a couple of final drinks at a nearby cocktail bar, before hailing a small fleet of taxis to take us all back to the various and diverse bits of London we live in.
- [Thursday 2nd April]
Poor old Chie had to work quite late today - she didn't get out of the office until around 8 which is pretty unusual for her. I could tell she was a bit tired and fed up so in an attempt to cheer her up I made a lasagne for dinner, which came out rather nicely as always (it seems to be a pretty much foolproof dish).
- Mi estomago esta muy contenta
- [Wednesday 1st April]
I found April Fool's Day somewhat tedious this year - it felt like the majority of pranks were just all too tedious. Perhaps the one exception to this was the amusing thinly veiled outpouring of vitriol by the Guardian on the recent hot topic of Twitter (see here). Odd really, as I have recently started using Twitter, which, despite my age and requisite "seen it all before" attitude to Internet crazes that is expected of a senior software engineer, I actually rather like it. I also rather like the Guardian.
In the evening Chie and I decided to go out for tapas at the little place near our flat which we go to now and again. Following our last visit, where we had oddly rather enjoyed sitting at the bar, we decided to do the same again, and were once more entertained by the somewhat charismatic Spanish barman there. His opening line was "what can I get for the beautiful couple?", and I have to say I entirely approve of this utterly insincere form of flattery.
I used Google Translate on my phone to come up with a querky Spanish phrase, by which to say thank you at the end of a very good meal, and thus the title of this post. It means "my stomach is very happy" and I hope you'll agree it has rather a nice ring to it.