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:
More Le Creuset
Le Creuset and Eurovision
Andrew's Birthday Drinks
Oliveto, Mexican, Eurovision Semi Finals
Promotion Announcement
Eurovision Semi Finals
Chinese Food on Mondays As Always
Sunday
Tom
Nag's Head and Oliveto
Promotion and Referendum
Chie's Birthday
Tuesday
Penrhyn Castle
On the Llyn
Plas Newydd and Anglesey

More Le Creuset
[Sunday 15th May 2011]
Again mostly stayed in today so that Chie could study for her course. I was suddenly filled with a renewed enthusiasm for cooking as a result of the new Le Creuset, with which I've become temporarily obsessed, and we planned both lunch and dinner around it. For lunch I made a minestrone soup, with some home made pesto (with which I was extremely pleased) and then for dinner as a sort of joint effort (in fact mainly Chie) we made a casserole with Quorn sausages and borlotti beans.

Just two brief forays out of the flat - I went out by myself just before lunch to pop to my office and pick up my laptop, which I'd left there Friday evening, and on the way back I went to Sainsbury's to buy things to cook in the Le Creuset. Later on we both popped out to a car boot sale held not far from where we live, but it was all just old tat so we didn't buy anything.
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Le Creuset and Eurovision
[Saturday 14th May 2011]
Most of the daytime spent indoors, I was slobbing about the flat in an appallingly lazy manner whilst Chie did some studying for her course. I watched a huge amount of telly, including all of Saturday Kitchen, a pirate themed film called the Spanish Main, and even some of the horse racing.

Did eventually manage to drag myself out of my fit of slothfulness towards the end of the afternoon, and we set our mind to going out to buy a Le Creuset casserole pot (whatever you call those things you can put on the hob and in the oven). So we headed over to King's Road. Having not really had much for lunch, we started off with a snack at Le Pain Quotidien (these places seem to be enjoying a bit of vogue in London in the last year or so). From there, we did a bit of shopping at Waitrose (thinking we'd actually need something to cook in the Le Creuset) then headed to Peter Jones where we spent a long while dithering over the size, colour etc, before eventually choosing one.

Back at home I made gnocchi with spinach, asparagus and mushrooms in a cheese sauce - in the new Le Creuset, of course.

Watched the first two instalments of Two Greedy Italians on iPlayer, and absolutely loved it - perfect timing with my sudden Le Creuset induced new found love of cooking. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I completely forgot about the Eurovision final, and tuned in around when the last song was finishing - although I guess I'd seen all the songs already in the semi-finals. So I did at least get to see the voting, which is oddly always quite entertaining.
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Andrew's Birthday Drinks
[Friday 13th May 2011]
Andrew from work had organised a bit of a night out for his birthday (actually Sunday), and the main venue was to be the Tattershall castle, a boat permanently more on the Thames near Embankment, which operates as a sort of floating bar. A very nice idea in principle, although I'm not sure I really liked the actual place - the clientele seemed a bit touristy or something.

Part way through the evening our collective stomachs started to rumble and the group split up to go to various different places for dinner. I managed to persuade Kyle to go for a very civilised supper at Simpson's on the Strand, which was rather nice.
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Oliveto, Mexican, Eurovision Semi Finals
[Thursday 12th May 2011]
Lunch at Oliveto with some people from work, which was nice. Rather disastrous meeting towards the end of the day (owing to technical failures in video conferencing) which was pretty embarrassing, and therefore not so nice. That helped to fuel the mid week slump I was battling with.

On the plus side this was published today, which rather cheered me up.

Went for a wander after leaving the office, and ended up outside Piccante Mexican Grill, the place I sometimes go for a lunchtime burrito, and remembered it has now started opening in the evening. So I gave Chie a call and she came to meet me there. Has quesadillas and tacos.

Back home after that to watch the second instalment of the Eurovision semi-finals.
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Promotion Announcement
[Wednesday 11th May 2011]
Caution: some very self indulgent rambling contained herein. You have been warned.

The official announcements for this round of promotions at work happened this afternoon. Promotions at my company do not have anything to do with moving into management, they've very wisely come up with a structure which does not fall foul of the Peter Principle. I "lead" a team, and have for some time now, but I'm not a manager - I don't have any idea what the other people on my team are paid, for example. Given that salary adjustments can happen completely independently of promotions, it's not really clear what a promotion even means - the nature of my job effectively won't change, and there might be a salary adjustment at some point, but nobody seems to know if, when or how much (not that I'm complaining, mind!). It means technically a different job title - although in practice no-one really uses those for anything on a day to day basis (and besides they've chosen an odd title at this level which doesn't actually sound any more senior than the previous title).

So, a bit of an odd feeling today really - I'd been striving to get this promotion for some time now, and it's only really now that I've got it that I've actually started to wonder what the actual point of it is. That's not to say I'm not proud of the work I've done in that period of time (particularly in the last year) but a lot of mental energy has gone into fretting over whether or not I'll get promoted which in hindsight seems like a bit of a waste.

I guess partly I'm still not completely out of the mindset of having to have some kind of achievement to work towards. From the age of 14 education conditions you to continually have some kind of goalpost to aim for - a situation I managed to drag out until I was 28, when I finally submitted that bloody PhD thesis, by which point I had spent half of my life working towards some qualification or other. I suppose after that academic achievements were replaced with getting jobs - and both my current and previous employer had interview processes as gruelling as the hardest exams I've sat for - if not more so... but I've now been in my current job for almost four and a half years, and having no particular intention to go and work anywhere else, it has naturally become a bit of a plateau. The promotion has been a bit of a substitute for another one of those qualifications I suppose, and consequently my ill-at-ease feeling this week is probably at least partly down to suddenly finding myself without a clear sense of what I'm aiming for now.

Apologies for anyone who has perservered through this drivel to this point - but I think it's actually been helpful to me to reason my way through that. I suppose the answer is that at some point you have to stop accumulating qualifications and actually start doing something practical with them - and I'd like to think that's a transition I made some number of years ago, but somehow didn't completely realise until now. So, like I say, even if the promotion itself was a bit of an anti-climax, I'm proud of the work I did that earned me the promotion - from now on I just need to look on that as the real achievement - and not sit around waiting for someone to pat me on the back.
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Eurovision Semi Finals
[Tuesday 10th May 2011]
Watched first half of the Eurovision semi-finals.
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Chinese Food on Mondays As Always
[Monday 9th May 2011]
Picked up some takeaway from Kym's. Chie still wasn't feeling very well so had a simpler less oily meal mainly involving Chinese leaf.
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Sunday
[Sunday 8th May 2011]
Started off the day with a Japanese/Korean breakfast (see picture). Chie wasn't very well today, she had picked up some sort of bug. Mostly stayed in, I went out for a bit of a stroll late afternoon / early evening.


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Tom
[Saturday 7th May 2011]
Breakfast with Chie at the Regency Cafe.

Met up with Tom for lunch at Tibits.
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Nag's Head and Oliveto
[Friday 6th May 2011]
Went out with a couple of colleagues in Belgravia this evening, first to the Nag's Head, and then later on for a late dinner at Oliveto.
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Promotion and Referendum
[Thursday 5th May 2011]
I'd been told yesterday that I'd been promoted, and having obviously been busy with Chie's birthday yesterday I was keen to go for a celebratory drink with some colleagues this evening instead. As it happens though lots of people were away or otherwise engaged, so I just went for a couple of quiet drinks with my friend Kyle from the office.

Also today was the referendum on AV, which I voted on in the morning. Alas, it turned out the No vote won, which I was rather disappointed about.
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Chie's Birthday
[Wednesday 4th May 2011]
Went for dinner at Sketch for Chie's birthday. Here's my review:

Enjoyed the experience - really fantastic service, plus weird and wonderful decor. Undoubtedly London's quirkiest Michelin star restaurant. We were greeted at the front door by a lovely chap who was very warm and welcoming, and escorted us up to the first floor where we'd be dining in the library and lecture room. We ordered the tasting menus - I had the vegetarian tasting menu and my wife the regular one. The food was good - although I'm not sure I was wildly blown away by it. I did particularly like the course of morels and asparagus - a generous presence of morels which were very flavoursome. The dessert course was also good - about five dishes each, a really interesting assortment of things. The other courses though were perhaps a bit less memorable. Still, the overall experience was good, albeit rather expensive (the two tasting menus plus a bottle of Champagne came to over 300).
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 3rd May 2011]
Decided we should eat at home tonight, having eaten the previous evening, and knowing we'd be eating out the next day.

Chie cooked - a sort of sweet and sour dish with vegetarian "meat" balls.
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Penrhyn Castle
[Monday 2nd May 2011]
A visit to another National Trust property before getting the train back to London from Bangor.

Once back in London we ate dinner at Itadaki Zen, the vegan Japanese restaurant near King's Cross.
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On the Llyn
[Sunday 1st May 2011]
A fairly relaxed day on the Llyn.
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Plas Newydd and Anglesey
[Saturday 30th April 2011]
Arrived in North Wales by train, and immediately off for a wander round Plas Newydd on Anglesey.
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