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
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Main Index (text only)
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Miyajima Aquarium
Sunday in Hiroshima
Saturday in Hiroshima
Shinkansen to Hiroshima
Thursday in Tokyo
Wednesday in Tokyo
Tuesday in Tokyo
Monday in Tokyo
London to Tokyo
Kyle and Hannah's Wedding
Erika Eats Chips
Breakfast on the Balcony
Hats, and Lunch with Erika
Another Trip to Japan
Insufficient Fresh Pasta
Espinacas con Garbanzos
Sunday in Abergavenny
Sunny Weekday Evening
- Miyajima Aquarium
- [Monday 27th May 2013]
We decided to take Erika to visit the aquarium on Miyajima today - whilst most of these sorts of attractions are a bit lost on her at this age, she does seem to like watching fish (there's a fish tank at Chie's doctors surgery).
Being on Miyajima it of course offered the usual fun of taking the ferry, the chance to visit the usual landmarks, and take a few photos in front of the famous umi-no-tori.
Chie was very keen to get to the aquarium in time for the sealion show, but Erika slept through that - still at least one of the girls enjoyed it!
Erika did seem genuinely interested in the rest of the aquarium, maybe it's just the lights and the colours, but still she stared intensely into all the tanks.
On the way back to the ferry we stopped off in one of the shops for a momiji-manju and a cup of green tea. They had a really nice garden out the back which we could look at whilst sitting and eating our momiji-manju. Unbelievably good value for 70 yen (46p!) each.
After getting the ferry back to the mainland, we waved off Hirofumi-san, and Chie, Erika and I took the tram to where Chie's cousin Sato-chan lives, so we could pop in and say hello to her and her baby Kohe-kun, who is about 3 months old now. Erika always seems really interested in other babies and it was interesting to compare notes on what it's like bringing up a baby in Japan rather than the UK (in this particular instance I think the UK fared rather well).
Back at the flat in the evening we had tofu we'd bought in a tofu shop near Sato-chan's house - it was green rather than white which was a bit unusual - but other than that tasted pretty much the same as usual.
- Sunday in Hiroshima
- [Sunday 26th May 2013]
Spent a lazy morning at the Moriwaki family home, and eventually after lunch Chie, Erika and I decided to pop out for a bit to go and sea the sea. We went to the closest beach which is only a 20 minute or so train journey away. It's funny that, whenever you're in a city by the sea it's easy to forget about it somehow, especially when it's quite an industrial port city like Hiroshima.
We didn't stay long at the beach as there wasn't really any shade anywhere, and the sun was quite hot - we didn't want Erika to get too much sun. Still it was very nice to dangle her feet in the water.
- Saturday in Hiroshima
- [Saturday 25th May 2013]
There was a second ceremony today for Chie's Grandfather, who had passed away last month. We thought it probably wouldn't have been a suitable venue for a baby, so I looked after Erika for the duration of it, after having briefly showing our faces beforehand to meet some of Erika's relatives.
The ceremony was some way out of the centre, leaving me and Erika to find our way back to the Moriwaki's flat from an unfamiliar part of the city, which wasn't close to a station. We initially got on a bus, but when that got to the part of Hiroshima where Chie's Grandmother lives I realised we were heading in the opposite direction, so got off and waited for a taxi instead.
The taxi driver was a very friendly sort of chap, and we had a chat for the duration of the journey about his grandchildren, and the regional specialities of Hiroshima.
Erika and I wandered around in the vicinity of Hiroshima station for a bit as I tried to find something for lunch, amongst one or two "depachika" (the food hall places in the basement of department stores). Eventually I bought twice as much tempura as I wanted, because the woman behind the counter didn't hear me properly.
Got the train from there to Chie's parents flat. Later on in the afternoon when Chie and her family got back from the ceremony we popped out for ice cream, and then again later on to the supermarket.
In the evening had the usual mixed bag sort of a dinner, including umibudou - sea grapes - one of my favourite kinds of seaweed.
- Shinkansen to Hiroshima
- [Friday 24th May 2013]
In the office in Tokyo again in the daytime, then in the evening headed over to Shinagawa station to get the shinkansen to Hiroshima, where I'd be spending the next week with Chie, Erika, and the Moriwakis.
Not a particularly eventful journey really - a bit boring in fact. I just about got a glimpse of a silhouette of Mount Fuji - slightly frustratingly although there was an unusually clear sky, it was pretty much dark by the time the train got there, making me wish I'd picked a slightly early train - 15 minutes would have made all the difference.
Arrived in Hiroshima at 11, Chie's Mum picked us up from the station (Chie's sister was on the same train, but sitting at the other end). It was lovely to see Erika again after 4 nights away.
- Thursday in Tokyo
- [Thursday 23rd May 2013]
Not quite such a long day at the office today - I was in at 8:30, but left at 5 - although lunch was a 15 minute affair so I think I still technically did overtime.
Met Andy in the evening, as is becoming the norm at the Hobgoblin in Roppongi. I was keen not to be stuck in horrible Roppongi all evening, so as soon as I could drag Andy away from probably the only place in Tokyo which has English cask ale on tap (which meant about pint number 4 for him - I've learnt from past experience not to bother trying to keep up) we headed over to Shinjuku. I'd envisaged we might do a bit of bar hopping there, but we ended up staying in the Asahi Beer Hall. Therein we ordered their ridiculously oversized steins (apparently 1.3 litre capacity, although Japanese beer always comes with a massive head and they're pretty lax with measurements so I'm pretty sure it was actually much less in practice).
After Andy headed home I decided to round off the evening by poking my nose in at Bar Champion, the karaoke bar I used to go to with colleagues when living in Tokyo. I met three British people there, which was rather nice, and they joined me in a duet (quaduet?) of I Predict a Riot.
- Wednesday in Tokyo
- [Wednesday 22nd May 2013]
Did about a 13 hour day at the Tokyo office today. Was originally thinking I'd just eat something wherever I could find it and slink off back to my hotel after that, but somehow I ended up dragging myself all the way over to Ikebukuro when I finally finished work, and followed the long established tradition of dinner at Rohlan followed by whisky at Quercus. As always I had the vegetarian tonkatsu, and for the first time tried their "hot and sour ramen". This was vast - sometimes ramen can be a giant bowl of soup with just a few noodles floating about. This however would have been a full bowl even if they'd left the soup out, and it sort of defied the laws of physics that it all fit in at all.
Normally when visiting Japan I give Watanabe-san advance notice that I'll be popping in to see him at Quercus, but given the somewhat short term planning of this trip, I hadn't got round to that, so just sort of showed up. He was quite surprised. It was also nice that Kohe-san, one of the old regulars I've chatted to in the past was there. He used to live in London, and speaks English with an English accent, although we mostly spoke in Japanese this evening.
- Tuesday in Tokyo
- [Tuesday 21st May 2013]
Woke up just before 6am this evening, and was in the office before 8am. That was pretty much the pattern for most of this week - I seemed to average less than 6 hours sleep, and somehow was fine with that.
Met up with Tanaka-san in Ebisu in the evening - neither of us could really think of anywhere new or different we want to go, so we ended up just revisiting some of the same places we'd been to in Ebisu on my last visit. Started off in the same branch of Pronto, then as a slight deviation went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, then went back to the alleway full of little bars and restaurants, which somehow didn't seem as fun second time round. Japan really isn't set up for bar hopping / pub crawls - there's effectively a cover charge at every place you go to in the form of an "otoshi" - a little snack which you pay for whether you want it or not, and is all the more annoying for me as it almost always involves fish. I wish in hindsight we'd gone back to the vending machine bar in Yurakucho!
- Monday in Tokyo
- [Monday 20th May 2013]
Our flight landed around 9:30am, and after getting through immigration and customs we briefly met up with Ai-san (Chie's friend who works as a cabin attendant) who was passing through Narita between Singapore and Bangkok. It was a very quick hello, and then Chie and Erika headed off on the shuttle bus to Haneda airport, from where they'd be flying straight to Hiroshima. I waved them off and then wearily got aboard a train bound for central Tokyo.
I arrived at my office around lunchtime - the plan was that I was going to do a full day's work today, but by 4pm I realised I was falling asleep at my desk, and decided I ought to go back to my hotel for a bit of a nap. I was very disciplined with this - set the alarm for 8pm, then got up, went for a quick dinner at the vegetarian Chinese place near the hotel which we'd discovered in March, and then headed back into the office from 9pm onwards. I was utterly determined to do something close to a full day's work.
- London to Tokyo
- [Sunday 19th May 2013]
We hadn't stayed too late at the wedding last night, mindful that we were off to Japan the next day, although mercifully the 2pm-ish flight meant we didn't need to leave home until nearly 11.
Erika was fairly good on the flight, although I started to feel a bit stressed towards the end - the cabin is dark for most of the flight, and somehow most of the passengers seem to go to sleep (I still can't understand how people can manage that). Erika wasn't being especially noisy but she was a bit tired and a bit fed up so was a bit grizzly for a time, and I felt quite under pressure to not disturb the other passengers. As before we spent a lot of time walking up and down the plane, and standing at the bit at the back where the lights are kept on, but that's no longer an option if there's turbulence and they put the seatbelt lights on. So some parts of the flight were a bit frustrating, but we got through it.
I watched the first Hobbit film on and off when Erika was sleeping or otherwise engaged. I don't think I liked it quite as much at the Lord of the Rings films - there seemed to be a lot more bits added in (I found Sebastian the hedgehog particularly surprising) but it made for a pleasant distraction from the tedium of being on a plane.
- Kyle and Hannah's Wedding
- [Saturday 18th May 2013]
Picked up a hire car in the morning (which ended up more like the early afternoon) and drove down to Midhurst in Sussex, for Kyle and Hannah's wedding, at the Cowdraw Walled Garden, adjoining the Cowdray Ruins. Although the weather was a little overcast, it was pleasant enough to be outside, and the location was rather idyllic - we arrived to a quintessentially English scene, with the ruins, surrounded by fields wherein the grass was being cut, and people were playing cricket. The walled garden itself was even more idyllic, and the highlight of the day was very much the milling about outside before and after the ceremony and the meal. Erika was of course a big hit with the other guests - and I'm very pleased to report for her first wedding she was very well behaved throughout the ceremony, barely a peep out of her, although I was standing with her by the door, just in case anything did occur.
- Erika Eats Chips
- [Friday 17th May 2013]
Given our impending trip to Japan, and it being a Friday, we decided to have "fish" and chips for dinner - again using the fake fish from Holland and Barrett we'd discovered recently, which is surprisingly good. But chip shop chips, of course.
We also made mushy peas (from fresh peas, so not really the same as the real thing, but then the real thing is kind of foul) mainly for Erika's sake. We also gave her a couple of chips. I'm sure we probably shouldn't but it was just the two, and we're so careful with everything else we feed her (no salt, no oil, etc) that we decided it would probably just be fine. Not unsurprisingly she seemed to really enjoy them.
- Breakfast on the Balcony
- [Thursday 16th May 2013]
The weather was pleasant enough today to have breakfast out on the balcony at my office, which was rather nice.
Not much else to report, Latitude location history tells me I went home by way of Sainsbury's.
- [Wednesday 15th May 2013]
Andrew - friend from work - had been in the US for a bit, and arrived back today - I also managed to find out it was actually his birthday. So an impromptu evening out in Brixton ensued. I seem to be getting over my phobia of going South of the river - Brixton in particular is impressively vibrant and actually quite exciting.
We started off with pizza at Franco Manca - where I have been a few times before - then walked across the "street" to a bar called 7, wherein we had embarrassingly cheap cocktails. I tend to think of cocktails as something synonymous with really smart hotel bars in St. James's, and can easily be around the £15 or 20 mark - herein they had a bunch at £5, and when I asked for a negroni - not on the main list - I was warned that was going to be a heady £7. It's a different world South of the river.
- [Tuesday 14th May]
- [Monday 13th May]
- Hats, and Lunch with Erika
- [Sunday 12th May 2013]
Erika tried on the hat we bought for her yesterday (for the record it was my choice, and Chie wasn't entirely convinced) this morning. We realised I had a similar hat, from the collection of hats I've bought pretty much every year we've been somewhere for a summer holiday, and then I've never worn again. The hat in question is actually a straw Stetson, bought in Nice.
Chie went out for lunch with her friend at "Burger and Lobster" in Soho. For a change we thought it would be good for Chie to have a break from parenting duties, and so I looked after Erika by myself for a bit. I wasn't really sure what to do to begin with, but then thought we should probably go out for lunch too, and so we ended up going to Made in Italy on Old Compton Street. It hadn't really occurred to me until I sat down but this was actually the first time the two of us have ever been out for a meal without Chie there. I took a food pouch for Erika which she guzzled down enthusiastically, so that was rather lovely.
Met up with Chie and her friend afterwards and the four of us went together for coffee at Fernandez and Wells.
In the evening I made a vegetarian version of niku jaga for dinner, which was quite nice.
- [Saturday 11th May 2013]
Made the classic Hawkins recipe lentil and tomato soup for lunch, and saved some to whizz up for Erika later. It's a very satisfying experience to cook for her, especially as thus far she seems to have enjoyed everything I've made.
Went out to do a bit of shopping this afternoon, I decided I should buy a new pair of trousers, which I found in Hackett on Jermyn Street. While they were being altered (having the little leather patch at the back removed - I can't stand those things) I killed time over some Nyetimber in Fortnum and Mason. Which was very nice.
Met up with Chie and Erika a bit later on, and did a bit more shopping. Erika tried on some sunglasses and some hats, and despite some protestation from Chie I bought one of the hats (the one pictured here).
We also went for a light afternoon tea at Sketch, which seemed to cheer Chie up at least temporarily - she seems to be a bit stressed at the moment.
In the evening had Japanese food, and watched some of Avatar on the telly.
- Another Trip to Japan
- [Friday 10th May 2013]
Booked flights for another trip to Japan this morning, and ended up spending most of the morning on related trip planning activities. As before I'll be working in Tokyo for some of the time, and taking some time off in Hiroshima for the rest of the time.
In the evening I hung around later than usual at TGIF, and unusually rounded off the evening with a whisky at the Boisdale round the corner.
- Insufficient Fresh Pasta
- [Thursday 9th May 2013]
Not much to report. We had mushroom tortelloni and asparagus with pesto for dinner. Those packs of fresh pasta are never big enough, especially with the huge appetite Chie has these days. We were both still hungry afterwards.
- Espinacas con Garbanzos
- [Wednesday 8th May 2013]
For dinner I made a tapasy sort of meal, mainly because I thought the espinacas con garbanzos dish I sometimes make (inspired by the one they serve at Goya, our neighbourhood tapas place) would be good for Erika. I think it's probably pretty nutritious - protein from the chickpeas, vitamin C from the tomatoes and iron from the spinach - and I made it wihout any oil or salt for Erika's benefit. It didn't look quite as appetising once it had been blended, but Erika seemed happy to eat it nonetheless.
- Fashion Show
- [Tuesday 7th May 2013]
Erika received four dresses in the post from Grandma, so we tried all of these on in the evening.
- The Boat
- [Monday 6th May 2013]
Lunch at The Boat in Penallt before heading back to London, by way of Bicester Village.
- Sunday in Abergavenny
- [Sunday 5th May 2013]
Lunch at the Hardwick, then a quick drive up to the top of the Blorenge, then tea in the afternoon with Louise and Ian.
- Chie's Birthday
- [Saturday 4th May 2013]
Picked up a hire car in the morning, and drove to South Wales by way of Malmesbury, where we stopped off for a birthday afternoon tea at the Old Bell Hotel.
- Sunny Friday
- [Friday 3rd May 2013]
Sunny today, so we went out on the balcony for TGIF and had the last of the bottles of Veuve Clicquot I'd had hanging around on my desk for a while.
- [Thursday 2nd May]
Lebanese food for dinner this evening at Ishbilia in Knightsbridge. We ate outside!
- [Wednesday 1st May 2013]
Don't really remember anything about today!
- Macaroni Cheese
- [Tuesday 30th April 2013]
Macaroni cheese for dinner. A particularly good one at that.
- [Monday 29th April 2013]
- [Sunday 28th April 2013]
Pictures of Erika's first teeth, and lunch at Dishoom.
- Dim Sum
- [Saturday 27th April 2013]
Went out for dim sum for lunch.
- [Friday 26th April 2013]
Nope, don't remember.
- [Thursday 25th April 2013]
Erika's first time to have pasta!
- [Wednesday 24th April 2013]
Dinner with Leon in the evening.
- Sunny Weekday Evening
- [Tuesday 23rd April 2013]
- [Monday 22nd April 2013]
A few pictures of us larking about in the flat.