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:
- Japanese Saturday School
Chie and Erika Back from Japan
Organic ESW Tasting
South Downs: Cissbury Ring and Harrow Hill
The Angel and Mao Chow
Organic ESW Lineup and Lebanese Food
Farringdon with Simon
Royal Oak at Wineham and Bolney Wine Estate
Ridgeview, Ditchling and Lewes
Restaurant He and Holborn
ESW Prestige Cuvee Tasting Round Two
Chie and Erika off to Japan
Last Day of Term
Vinegrowing Course Day 5
- Japanese Saturday School
- [Saturday 27th April 2019]
Erika went along to her first Japanese Saturday school this morning. In the afternoon I took her to a birthday party near Holloway Road.
- Afternoon Off
- [Friday 26th April 2019]
Had an impromptu afternoon off for a long lunch with Ricardo and a visit to Alfies Antiques Market followed by later on Chapel Down's new bar in Kings Cross.
- [Thursday 25th April]
- [Wednesday 24th April 2019]
Lunch at the Pineapple and another brief survey of the garden.
- [Tuesday 23rd April 2019]
Had some canele from our local French deli.
- Chie and Erika Back from Japan
- [Monday 22nd April 2019]
The girls got back towards the end of the afternoon, and we had a quick indoor Easter egg hunt for Erika.
- Easter Sunday
- [Sunday 21st April 2019]
Lunch at the Pineapple, then spent the rest of the day lazing around back at home, with an al fresco dinner in the garden as the weather was still very nice.
- Organic ESW Tasting
- [Saturday 20th April 2019]
Held an organic English sparkling wine tasting on Primrose Hill with the usual suspects plus special guests John Mobbs, the founder of the Great British Wine site.
- South Downs: Cissbury Ring and Harrow Hill
- [Friday 19th April 2019]
I went on a Good Friday walk in the South Downs in search of fairies - started at Worthing, then up to Cissbury Ring, lunch in Findon, then Harrow Hill and on finally to Storrington.
- The Angel and Mao Chow
- [Thursday 18th April 2019]
Went for sunset drinks at th e Angel in Bermondsey then on the way home stopped for a late dinner at Mao Chow, a vegan chinese place in London Fields.
- Organic ESW Lineup and Lebanese Food
- [Wednesday 17th April 2019]
Took some pictures of the lineup of bottles for the upcoming organic ESW tasting in the daytime, surveyed the garden, and in the evening went for Lebanese food on Edgware Road followed by cocktails in Camden.
- Farringdon with Simon
- [Tuesday 16th April 2019]
- St Albans
- [Monday 15th April 2019]
Night out in St. Albans with Al and Kyle.
- Sunday Lunch
- [Sunday 14th April 2019]
Tried out the Sunday roast at the Lord Stanley then went to the garden centre to get a new grape vine.
- Royal Oak at Wineham and Bolney Wine Estate
- [Saturday 13th April 2019]
Spent the morning happily pottering around in Lewes, then got the train to Haywards Heath, and a taxi from there to the wonderful Royal Oak at Wineham, where as an added bonus they were having a classic car meetup. After a superbly rustic lunch I walked from there to the Bolney Wine Estate where I joined their afternoon tour and tasting. Then another taxi back to Haywards Heath, and home.
- Ridgeview, Ditchling and Lewes
- [Friday 12th April 2019]
I was originally planning on going to visit Rathfinny today, but when I called on the way down they told me they had sold out of sparkling wine, so I thought best to save it for May or later when they'd release the next vintage. So instead I visited Rideview today, then had lunch at the Bull Inn at Ditchling, then walked up Ditchling Beacon and along the ridge to Lewes. Spent the evening in Lewes, with dinner at the Lewes Arms.
- [Thursday 11th April 2019]
A couple of random pictures, one of my new water bottle, the other of my lunch.
- [Wednesday 10th April 2019]
Nice weather today, so a good opportunity to check the state of things in the garden.
- Restaurant He and Holborn
- [Tuesday 9th April 2019]
Went for dinner at Restaurant He, a restaurant serving Jiangsu cuisine, followed by a stroll around Holborn.
- [Monday 8th April]
- ESW Prestige Cuvee Tasting Round Two
- [Sunday 7th April 2019]
Follow-up to last month's English sparkling wine prestige cuvee tasting.
- Chie and Erika off to Japan
- [Saturday 6th April 2019]
Chie and Erika flew off to Japan, taking an evening flight for a change, meaning we had the day together first. Erika made another soup for us!
- Last Day of Term
- [Friday 5th April 2019]
Last day of term for Erika, we went along to see her efforts in the Easter Egg race in the morning.
- [Thursday 4th April 2019]
Not much to report!
- [Wednesday 3rd April]
- [Tuesday 2nd April]
- Vinegrowing Course Day 5
- [Monday 1st April 2019]
Fifth day of my vinegrowing course.
Today's topics for the morning theory session were "vineyard floor management" (a subject which might historically have just been called "weed killing" but nowadays is portrayed in a more positive light) followed by an overview of approaches to sustainable viticulture.
As I remember my Mother saying many years ago, there is no scientific definition of what a weed is. It's simply any plant growing somewhere you don't want it to be growing. Opinions on the presence of other plants in the vineyard (apart from the actual vines) seem to have varied historically, and part of the reason the subject now tends to be referred to as the slightly more constructive "vineyard floor management" is the acceptance that there can be advantages to having other species of plant present. There are certainly disadvantages to weeds - chiefly that they compete with the vines for resources, and they make access more difficult. They can also harbour pests, and less intuitively can increase the frost risk.
On the positive side though, among other benefits "weeds" can help to prevent soil erosion (recently the subject of a report concerning Prosecco), they encourage biodiversity and the competition for resources with the vines can be a good thing as this can reduce vigour and encourage higher grape yields.
The traditional method for controlling weeds is cultivation (i.e. churning the soil up), however this tends to be a lot of work, and only briefly suppresses weed growth. Other approaches include temporary cover crops, mulching, flame weeding and using animals to graze on the weeds (sheep are apparently very common in English vineyards) - but, apparently, none of these are as effective as herbicides. Although we were told viticulture is approaching a challenging juncture in this regard, given that increasingly more and more of these substances are being banned and the industry will need to rely more on the alternatives in the future.
This led the way into an overview on sustainable viticulture - organic, biodynamic and other approaches. I hadn't fully realised quite how much snake oil there was in biodynamic viticulture - working to phases of the moon, and odd practices involving burying cows horns all sound a bit pagan to me, and not very scientific.
In the afternoon we headed over to the vineyard, and for the first time we actually had pleasant weather! It was very nice to see Rock Lodge and Deer Field in blue sky for a change.
Tom started by recapping some of subjects covered during the morning's theory session, and showing us some relevant bits of machinery which can be attached to a tractor for cultivation. We then headed out into the vines to practice attaching a new wire to the trellis, and then dropping the canopy wires down ready for tying up. He also showed us some examples of Pendelbogen training system, then we finished off back at the shed for a demonstration of the grafting machine.
- [Sunday 31st March 2019]
Late afternoon / early evening wander around Hampstead while Erika was at the cinema with a friend. By chance caught some Morris Dancing.