Dr John Hawkins
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home to a huge load of pictures,
and my daily blog.
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- Recent Entries:
- Sunday in South Wales
Saturday in Abergavenny
Second Fitting and Proms
Guernsey to Poole to London
St. Peter Port, L'Eree Bay and Castle Cornet
Jersey to Guernsey
Plemont Beach and A Night Out in Rozel
Driving around Jersey
London to Poole to Jersey
Team Pub Crawl
Home made bread and (not home made) macarons
Lunch at Noura, dinner at Goya
Out with Al and Kyle
Cittie of Yorke and Seven Stars
The Man from Del Monte
Udon at Koya
Half way through the year
Lunch at Oliveto
Goodbye drinks with Gav
Churchill Arms and Windsor Castle
Victoria Tower Gardens
- Sunday in South Wales
- [Sunday 31st July 2011]
It was a bit of a flying visit to Vera and Robin this time - we only stayed Saturday night, and had booked a train back to London at 3ish in the afternoon.
Still, we had time this morning for a leisurely breakfast, and to take Vera out for a walk around the estate, and to lend Robin a bit of a hand in the garden, before lunch. A Sunday roast, of course. The potatoes were particularly good. We also spent some time during the morning and over lunch talking about the idea of buying a holiday home - we're still unexcited by the prospect of buying a flat in London, but given the current rate of inflation I feel like leaving money in the bank may not be the best thing to do. Maybe just a daydream but it was a rather appealing idea, and possibly even a fairly sensible one.
Lunch extended more or less until it was time to get our train. As almost always seems to be the way when going back on a Sunday the return journey took much longer - the line between Bristol and Swindon was closed, so they had to divert via Bath and Chippenham for that bit. Anyway, we eventually got back home for 7.
Chie managed to scrape together some Japanese food for dinner in the evening, mainly from dried things we had in the cupboard.
- Saturday in Abergavenny
- [Saturday 30th July 2011]
Got the train to Abergavenny in the morning, and arrived there almost on the dot of midday, where Robin met us at the station. We went straight to the house, and started off our afternoon with a pre-lunch drink on the patio, which was rather nice (a bottle of the Sharpham Sparkling Pink which seemed rather appropriate as we'd all been to visit the vineyard on holidays in Dartmouth). Had some fresh pasta for lunch (with an artichoke sauce, which I haven't had before, and was rather nice). Then spent the afternoon lounging around at the house - I always really enjoy time spent there, lolling about, drinking tea, chatting to Vera and Robin, and casually leafing through Country Life.
In the evening we headed over to Llansoy, where we met up with Louise, Ian and Robert for dinner at the Star Inn. I remembered I had been there years ago with Louise and Ian. It has apparently changed hands a few times since then, and in its current incarnation it's quite a food led pub (probably for the best as it isn't really in walking distance for many people). Had a very pleasant evening there, and the food was pretty good too.
- [Friday 29th July 2011]
Planned to go to South Wales to visit Vera and Robin this weekend, but had decided to avoid the Friday night crush on the trains and go Saturday morning instead. So we had a nice quiet evening to catch up on some domestic chores and so on.
For dinner I attempted (as I have several times) to recreate an excellent pasta dish I used to have at a (sadly now closed) Italian restaurant in Tokyo called Al Dente. The dish was spaghetti with some Japanese mushrooms (I think probably mainly shimeji) in a tomato and olive oil sauce. I remember it being fantastically rich, and had it several times whilst hungover. I still wasn't quite able to recreate it but I think I got a bit closer this evening. I tried a few tweaks - I remember the sauce not having any "bits" in it other than the mushrooms, so I just used one clove of very finely chopped garlic, no onion, a bit of pureed garlic, and a bit of pureed chilli. I also used a lot of olive oil (as I said I remembered it being very rich) and polpa fine instead of normal chopped tomatoes. For the mushrooms I used a mixture of enokitaki and buna-shimjei, and I fried them separately in a frying pan so that they wouldn't just disappear in the sauce.
The end result was quite good, but still not quite how I remember it.
- Working Late
- [Thursday 28th July 2011]
Went to the dentists today to see the hygienist - I've got into a routine of going once every 3 months now. After years of pretty patchy dealings with dentistry, and having changed dentists lots of times, I've finally found one I am more or less happy with, and have eventually fallen into a good pattern again.
As appears to be becoming a bit of a tradition, after going to the dentists I went for lunch at Oliveto (partly because it's close to my dentist). My friend Kyle from the office joined me there.
Had a rather slow and unproductive afternoon, and as Chie was out with some people from her office this evening I decided to stay late to try and make up for it. I had a sudden burst of inspiration during a late meeting, and from 7 onwards engaged in a sudden burst of productivity.
Rounded off the evening with a late drink with Andrew from the office, who also seemed to be staying late, and a friend of his at the Horse and Groom. It was still nice enough to sit outside even at around 10 o' clock.
- [Wednesday 27th July 2011]
For dinner tonight, fresh pasta with samphire, which has become a bit of an obsession of mine over the last year or so. I'm determined to actually forage for my own at some point, until then I've been making do with little packets from Waitrose.
- Second Fitting and Proms
- [Tuesday 26th July 2011]
Off to Savile Row at lunchtime for the second fitting of my suit. It wasn't a drastic change from the last time I'd seen it - the stitching on the jacket was still all temporary - but the trousers were pretty much finished, and the jacket had a bit more definition, and pockets. Apparently it should be just a month or so now until the finished article is ready to collect.
In the evening, a colleague had arranged for a few of us from work to go to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall - and better still he'd booked a box for us. Whilst I'm not sure I actually particularly enjoyed the music (something by Liszt and a couple of other composers whose names I forget) it's my first time to be in a box at any kind of performance like this - and I rather liked that. Particularly given that you can have drinks and nibbles in there, which made it a much more sociable occasion. Also had dinner at the RAH before the performance in their cafe/restaurant, which was actually pretty good.
- [Monday 25th July 2011]
First day back at work after our holiday - it was a bit hectic - lots of meetings etc.
More Japanese food for dinner tonight - I made a nabe with the Japanese mushrooms I'd bought yesterday, tofu, atsuage (fried tofu), a bit of kimchi, udon noodles, and a few other bits and bobs. It was rather nice.
- Japanese Food
- [Sunday 24th July 2011]
I always like to have a day off at home between a holiday and going back to work. Partly it's good to have a chance to catch up on domestic chores etc, but also somehow it seems to ease the transition, and soften the blow a bit.
Spent the morning feverishly writing comments and sorting out my holiday photos, then in the afternoon we headed into the centre to do a bit of shopping. Chie bought some clothes, whereas I mainly focused on food. Having been on the Channel Islands for the past week we hadn't been able to eat some of the more exotic things which are readily available in London, and I'd found myself craving Japanese food. I bought some Japanese mushrooms (enokitake and buna-shimeji) in the Waitrose in the basement of John Lewis, and then we went to our usual haunt (Rice Wine Shop) for all our other typical sundries - tofu, kimchi, rice etc. Dinner was then the typical sort of Japanese meal we have after buying Japanese food, with rice, miso soup, and then lots of other little dishes.
- Guernsey to Poole to London
- [Saturday 23rd July 2011]
We were booked on the 12:35 ferry back to England today, so didn't really have much time to do anything significant in the morning. After breakfast we got our things together, checked out, and went for one last meander through the streets of St. Peter Port (by way of a Post Office to send some postcards). As a nice extra touch a marching band was going along Le Pollet as we were leaving - very thoughtful of them to lay that on for us.
Journeys home are never much fun. The ferry was delayed by about 45 minutes (something to do with a yacht race), and having very conscientiously got there in plenty of time we ended up with a long boring wait in the ferry terminal. The crossing was much, much calmer than it had been on the way over, but it was still pretty windy out on deck, and as before there wasn't much in the way of shops etc to pass the time. We had at least thought ahead and bought a baguette in a boulangerie in St. Peter Port, so at least we had something reasonable to eat.
I'd booked tickets for a train from Weymouth, with a good hour between the time when the ferry was supposed to arrive and the time when the train left - thinking we might even have time for a quick drink inbetween. As it happened though there was no way we were going to make that train. We got on the next one instead, and fortunately the guards on board were kind enough to accept our tickets, which were technically only valid on the earlier train. Rather superbly the first guard said to us "It's fine - because I want you to use the train again - if I make you buy another ticket now you probably won't bother with the train next time". What a nice man, and what a welcome bit of common sense.
It was quite a long, slow train back to London, and we eventually got back to the flat just before 8. For dinner we had spaghetti "al crudo" - I made a very simple fresh pasta sauce from the tomatoes we'd bought on Guernsey - raw, chopped, mixed with olive oil, lots of black pepper, and a touch of garlic paste and chilli paste. It was very nice.
As always whenever we go away I'm reminded just how much I like our flat - all the furniture is so comfortable, everything is where we want it to be, and thanks to some excellent 1930s institutional plumbing our shower is still better than any hotel I've ever stayed in.
- St. Peter Port, L'Eree Bay and Castle Cornet
- [Friday 22nd July 2011]
Started off the day with breakfast on our balcony, which was rather nice, even if the vegetarian options at breakfast at our hotel were somewhat limited.
Spent the remainder of the morning in St. Peter Port doing a bit of family tree research. My Great Grandfather, Vernon John Charles Hawkins, had lived on Guernsey for a few years in the 1890s, and it seemed he had also met his wife there, and their first three children were born there too. I'd been able to find that much out just from looking at census records which were available online, but the exact birth and marriage records were only available actually on the island. Conveniently all these records were available in the Priaulx Library, just a short walk from the hotel.
It was a reasonably successful exercise - I was able to find entries in the birth and baptism registers for my Great Grandfather and his two sisters who were born on Guernsey, but couldn't find a marriage record. These were filed by church which made it rather laborious to search for - especially for someone not familiar with the island, like me, who doesn't know where all the churches actually are. Anyway, eventually I decided to call it a day - it seemed a bit unfair on Chie to be stuck indoors for any long period of time given that the weather wasn't actually too bad today - so we left the library just before 12, and headed out for a walk around St. Peter Port. In doing this research I'd found names of streets where the family had lived at various times, and I wanted to go and see them all. They all seemed to be fairly close to the Randalls brewery, which seemed significant, as that was the trade my Great Great Grandfather was in. We also visited the Town Church, where the records told me my Great Grandfather and his younger sister were baptised (on the same day).
For lunch we returned to the Chip Inn, and decided to try their cheese and chips, which seems to be quite popular in the Channel Islands. Again we ate on the seafront, and again we were watched by a hopeful seagull the whole time.
After that we returned to our hotel for a bit of a lounge about in our room (there's no point in having a suite if you're never actually in it) and to plan what to do for the rest of the day. We decided in the end to take the bus to see the other side of the island - and in particular we wanted to see the causeway leading to Lihou Island, although we knew in advance we wouldn't actually be able to get across. It seems the tides vary at different times of the year, making it inaccessible for several days at a time, even at low tide. So we got on the funny little bus which pootled slowly over to the other side of the island, had a look at the causeway to Lihou, and then walked back some of the way round L'Eree bay to Fort Grey, where we then had a long wait for the bus back to St. Peter Port again.
Once back in town, we had a quick drink at the Albion House pub (again, a bit rough around the edges) and then headed over to Castle Cornet to see some of the open air music festival being held there this evening. It was also a great chance to walk around the castle for free!
For dinner we headed back into town, an after a bit of umming and arring decided to eat at an Italian restaurant called Da Bruno which was a bit naff in a charming sort of way, and had a nice view out over the harbour.
We finished off the evening back at our hotel with a couple of drinks at the bar, and, oddly enough, a game of Scrabble in the lounge.
- [Thursday 21st July 2011]
Fortunately the weather was much better today for our daytrip from Guernsey to Sark.
We had breakfast at our hotel then headed down to the harbour to catch the 10am ferry. It was a lovely trip over to Sark, calm sea and blue skies with great views of the islands inbetween - how I'd imagined/hoped our previous two ferry journeys would have been.
We arrived on Sark just before 11 and walked up from the harbour to the village centre where we enjoyed the novelty sights of what must be one of the most picturesque NatWest bank branches anywhere (they also have an HSBC, not bad for a population of just 600) and the assortment of other little shops and businesses. There we picked up a couple of bikes from Avenue Cycle Hire and headed out on a cycling tour of the island.
First we headed South to La Coupée, the narrow isthmus linking Sark and Little Sark. It's a rather iconic spot and so we really savoured crossing over here (pushing our bikes, I might add!). From there we had a bit of an explore of Little Sark, including a quick look at the silver mines and a while sitting by the sea at a spot labelled Rouge Terrier on the map.
From there, back to the "mainland" (i.e. the bigger part of Sark) to continue our cycling tour, starting along the West coast, then more or less up to the Northern tip, and then back down the East coast to the village. We rewarded ourselves with a quick drink at the Mermaid Tavern towards the end of the afternoon - this seemed to be more of a locals pub so we didn't linger too long. We spent the remainder of our time in the village, and visited some of the shops there, and returned our bikes.
We headed back to the harbour by way of the Bel Air inn, the other main pub on the island (although I imagine the hotels all function as pubs too). All in all it was a very nice day out on Sark indeed. Definitely a highlight of the holiday.
We were back in Guernsey around 7, and headed to our hotel where we went to our new room - appropriately enough the Sark suite - where we'd be for our remaining two nights. This was much, much nicer than the room we had the previous night. It had a separate living room area, two balconies, two bathrooms, and the decor was a lot nicer. Once settled in we thought we'd go for a quick swim in the hotel's outdoor pool before dinner, and also availed ourselves of the jacuzzi in the hotel's spa.
For dinner we headed to a restaurant called Christie's, which I'd found on the web because it had an entire vegetarian menu. The food was ok although not outstanding, but the place had quite a nice atmosphere, and we had a little semi-circular booth which was quite nice.
- Jersey to Guernsey
- [Wednesday 20th July 2011]
The weather went back to being pretty miserable again today. We checked out of our hotel in the morning, and drove down to St. Helier where we'd be dropping off our hire car before getting the ferry to Guernsey in the afternoon. Had a bit of a wander around St. Helier in the morning but it wasn't much fun as it was rather damp.
The ferry crossing was a bit choppy again - not as bad as it had been on the way over - but visibility was pretty poor, and so it wasn't a particularly enjoyable trip. Still, if nothing else it was at least fairly short - the crossing takes about an hour.
Arrived in a rather damp St. Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey, and headed to the hotel we'd be staying at for our three nights there - the Old Government House. It was a damp and not particularly pleasant walk from the ferry terminal to the hotel - we couldn't find a taxi anywhere and realised we'd have to go up hill a bit to get to our hotel, which was not much fun with bags, in the rain.
After checking in I was somewhat disappointed with our room - probably not helped by the rather miserable journey we'd had in order to get there. It was more expensive than either of the hotels we'd stayed in on Jersey, but was smaller and just a lot more basic, and the decor was just really tired and unimaginative. The bathroom in particular looked really naff - with circa 1980s fittings. Another low point of the holiday. I was sufficiently disgruntled that I asked to speak to the manager and explained my disappointment. She told me they were fully booked tonight, but would give us a complimentary upgrade us to a different room for tomorrow night. I'd originalyl booked this room for the first two nights, and then splurged on a suite for our final night - as it turned out we ended up in this naff room just for the first night, and the remaining two nights in the suite. So I guess in the end it actually worked out rather well.
In the evening we headed out into St. Peter Port and tried to make the most of a night out in the crappy weather. We started off with a drink at the Cock and Bull, which I'd found on the web, and understood to be regarded as one of the better real ale pubs in the town. It wasn't bad - it certainly didn't look as naff and rough around the edges as the pubs we'd been to on Jersey, but instead it had quite a modern feel to it which isn't really my sort of thing. Dinner was a slightly odd affair - for a "starter" we bought some chips from the "Chip Inn", which we'd happen to wander past and looked very tempting. We sat and ate them on the harbour front in an attempt to create a bit of a seasidey atmosphere despite the weather, which almost worked. To follow up we decided to go for pizza at a slightly naff looking pizza place called Valentino's. The pizza was at best average but the staff were very nice at least.
- Plemont Beach and A Night Out in Rozel
- [Tuesday 19th July 2011]
After two rather miserable days of weather at the start of our holiday, the sun was actually shining this morning! So we started off the day with a nice breakfast in the conservatory of our hotel, before hurriedly getting our things together and heading out for the day.
I was determined while the weather wasn't miserable that we'd make it to a beach, and so we headed to Plemont Beach, which I'd read about on the web before coming to Jersey. On arrival we realised that it wasn't actually accessible - the part I'd neglected to read a bit is that it is completely covered until it gets pretty close to low tide. Fortunately though we were only a couple of hours away from low tide, so we decided to go away and come back later.
So in the intervening time we went to visit the ruins of Grosnez Castle. Although the castle itself isn't really that interesting to look at, it is positioned on a rather nice vantage point with some good views out to sea, and along the rest of the Coastline of this north westerly tip of the island. So that made for a pleasant diversion.
After that though, back to the beach, and we were among the first people on it when the lifeguard opened it up for the afternoon. I didn't feel it was quite warm enough to actually want to swim, but it was definitely pleasant enough to go barefoot, and have a bit of a paddle. There were lots of interesting caves and assorted nooks and crannies to explore, and having been freshly washed by the sea just minutes before our arrival the beach was in pristine condition - this was definitely one of the highlights of the day, and of the whole week in fact.
We decided to meander back towards our hotel after this - keen to have afternoon tea on our balcony while the weather was still nice. We stopped off en route briefly at Greve de Lecq, and had a swift half at the old mill inn there. It was ok but reinforced the feeling I was getting that they just don't really have lovely olde worlde pubs in the Channel Islands - whilst the building was probably genuinely old, the decor inside (with the exception of the exposed mill workings behind the bar) was more indicative of a something from the 1980s. It all just looked a bit tacky and rough around the edges - which seemed to be the case for pretty much every pub we saw this week.
We were back at our hotel for around 3, and ordered afternoon tea out on our balcony. It was a simple affair - just scones and clotted (Jersey) cream - but very pleasant nonetheless (with the slight exception of a single but very persistent wasp).
After tea we then wandered down to the Hungry Man kiosk, mindful that, although we weren't really hungry, if we didn't go now we probably wouldn't get another opportunity. I had managed to find this place on Street View when researching the holiday. I had even more or less been able to read the menu on the boards outside - and was suitably impressed with the number of vegetarian choices. So I indulged in a rather excellent veggie sausage and bacon bap. I loved everything about the Hungry Man kiosk - an al fresco greasy spoon by the sea in a tiny little village with no shops and only a couple of other places to eat. It also had a similar vintage to the Regency Cafe (both established in the latter half of the 1940s).
In the evening, we weren't really hungry, but were mindful of the fact that a lot of places on the island stop serving food fairly early. So we decided to take a drive down to Gorey - the other ferry port on the island - and have a bit of a wander around, taking in the nice views of the castle to be had there. I'd found a sort of gastropub on the web called Castle Green, and so we popped in there but were told they were fully booked. Neither of us were particularly disheartened by this given that, as I said, we weren't actually particularly hungry. So we just drove back to the hotel, and decided we'd make do with whatever we could find in Rozel, the little village where our hotel was.
We started off with a drink at the Rozel Bar and Restaurant, although it turned out they don't serve food at all on Tuesday evenings. There was also a little tearoom in the village, but this (like the Hungry Man kiosk) only opened in the daytime. So our remaining options were either the Navigator restaurant, or back to the hotel. Fortunately the Navigator was open and had one last spare table, so we ate there. It was a delightfully tiny little place, overlooking the sea, with a predictable but nonetheless charming nautical decor. It was basically just a single room - not many more than 20 covers - and with the chefs working in an open kitchen the other side of a counter. The food was Italian and very seafood oriented, but luckily there was one vegetarian dish on the menu - the "fettucine Popeye" - i.e. with spinach. We both rather enjoyed it here.
- Driving around Jersey
- [Monday 18th July 2011]
Picked up a hire car in the morning and spent most of the daytime driving around Jersey in mostly rather miserable weather conditions. We started off at a little bay East of St. Helier, and from there went to visit the Samares Manor for a stroll around the gardens. While we were there we joined a guided tour and talk on herbs which was quite interesting.
After leaving there our thoughts turned to lunch, and we tried to get to the Smuggler's Inn - more or less the other side of the island - before they stopped serving food. It turned out to be a rather difficult place to find, and I hadn't really got used to the scale of the map I was using yet. So when we got there it had just gone 2pm, and the kitchen was closing up. We had to make do with a rather disappointing baguette. The rest of the pub was really a bit of a disappointment too - it looked more like a 1980s seaside pub to me than an authentic 17th century inn, and the real ale selection wasn't particularly exciting either - nothing local. This was rather a low point of the holiday really. The weather was miserable, driving around had just been frustrating, and we didn't even have the solace of a lovely old pub to comfort us. Given that the weather forecast for the rest of the week hadn't been at all promising either we seriously considered just cutting our losses at this point and heading home.
Anyway, we didn't do that, and decided afterwards to meander slowly to the hotel we'd booked for the next couple of nights, stopping en route if we saw anything interesting. This ended up being the Devil's Hole - which was a bit uninspiring but at least it wasn't actively raining at this point, and a quick wander around the shop at La Mare vineyard, where I didn't feel compelled to buy anything.
Things started to improve a bit when we arrived at our hotel - the Chateau la Chaire - in the Rozel valley. We had a very nice room with a large bay window, a four poster bed, and a balcony/terrace off to one side. It was a classic country house hotel, a style I'm actually rather fond of, and I particularly love that smell they always seem to have - which I'd always assumed to be hot buttered toast - but is probably more to do with wood panelling.
After surveying our room and the hotel, we went for a bit of a wander around the hotel grounds, and the little harbour of Rozel. The weather was still pretty miserable so we didn't stay out too long.
I'd booked for us to have dinner at the hotel this evening to make life easier. We started off with a drink in the bar- a half bottle of good old Veuve Clicquot to cheer us up a bit - which was rather nice. The meal itself was OK but not wildly exciting, but it was pleasant enough to just be in the warm and be surrounded by lots of reassuring wood panelling. We took our coffees into the rather interesting rococo lounge after dinner, and leafed through the property pages of Country Life. I found that oddly rather enjoyable.
- London to Poole to Jersey
- [Sunday 17th July 2011]
Today was the first day of our holiday in the Channel Islands. We got the train from Waterloo to Poole in the morning, which got us there just before midday. As we had a couple of hours before the ferry went, we had time for lunch at the Poole Arms, which I'd found with my now tried and tested technique of just searching for "oldest pub in X". It dated back to a respectable 1635, and has a rather attractive green tiled exterior.
After lunch we headed to the ferry terminal, where we sat waiting for a while to board the ferry. Looking around we realised we weren't exactly in the typical demographic of foot passengers on ferries to the Channel Islands - we were pretty much the only people in there under 60.
The ferry crossing started off pleasantly enough, but once we got out into the open sea it got rough. Really very rough. It stayed that way for pretty much the entire three and a half hours. When booking the ferry I had rather naively said "oh it'll be like going on a cruise" - it wasn't. We were on the fast ferry so the facilities on board were pretty basic - a fairly naff cafe and shop, and the obligatory duty free shop in with nothing I actually wanted to buy. There's fairly limited outside space but in today's conditions you didn't really want to be outside for long anyway. There were attendants on hand handing out sick bags. Not exactly the glamorous start to our holiday I'd imagined!
I was very glad when we arrived in St. Helier, some time between 5:30 and 6. Although it was actually pretty grey and miserable there too. We had a damp walk from the ferry terminal to our hotel for the first night - the Royal Yacht - where we almost immediately headed for the spa to warm ourselves up a bit. With a combination of saunas and jacuzzis we started to feel a bit more chirpy.
I'd heard (probably from the telly from the likes of Rick Stein or Keith Floyd) that there was a large Portuguese community on Jersey, and as a result there were some good places to eat Portuguese food. Having never really had Portuguese food before I was keen to give it a try, so we'd booked a table at a restaurant called Casa Velha. It was very quiet in there, being a Sunday evening, but the staff were very nice and we had some hearty fare therein. Chie ordered a cataplana - a special Portuguese dish served (and presumably cooked) in a copper pan. I went for the vegetarian option which was probably not very Portuguese at all (vegetables in a sort of Chinese tasting sauce) but was nice nonetheless.
- Chap Olympiad
- [Saturday 16th July 2011]
My first visit to the Chap Olympiad, a sort of sports day for dandies. It's basically an excuse to dress up in eccentric chap outfits and stand around with other like minded individuals whilst some whimsical sporting events take place. I'd bought two tickets for it a while back, and had persuaded Chie, who seemed a bit perplexed by the whole thing, to come along too.
I started off the morning running some errands - I was out of the flat not long after 9, and headed over to Peter Jones, the Sloane Square branch of John Lewis, to buy a new digital camera (the last one has an annoying artefact on the lens which I haven't been able to remove) - I decided to try a Canon Ixus this time round. Whilst there I also bought some handkerchiefs - wanting something to put in my jacket pocket, to complete my outfit for the afternoon. Good old John Lewis. I also needed to swing by Victoria station to pick up our train tickets for our holiday, and my office to pick up my umbrella. This turned out to be essential, as it rained pretty much all day long from then on.
Despite the relentlessly damp conditions I did still manage to enjoy the Chap Olympiad. It was a bit harder to gauge Chie's reaction, which seemed to be largely one of continued bemusement at the whole thing. In particular the chap doing the commentating on the event had a very dry and chappish sense of humour which was rather superb. See the pictures for more details of the day's events.
- [Friday 15th July 2011]
Chie had a very minor operation today, so I went to meet her after she was finished and take her back home. On the way back we picked up some Chinese takeaway (the area around Earl's Court seems to have quite a few Chinese places) and got a taxi back to the flat. The place we went to was very reasonably priced and for £15 we managed to get far more food than we could realistically eat.
- Team Pub Crawl
- [Thursday 14th July 2011]
I organised a team pub crawl this evening for visitors from the US, which ended up being rather epic - 9 pubs and probably in excesss of 20 attendees.
- [Wednesday 13th July]
- Team dinner
- [Tuesday 12th July 2011]
I went for pizza for lunch at the Express Coffee Co, the place that does very cheap pizza near Channel 4's headquarters.
In the evening there was a big team dinner, as we had a lot of visitors from the US this week. We went to Bumbles, a restaurant near Buckingham Palace, which I'd been to a couple of times before. It was so-so.
- [Monday 11th July]
- Home made bread and (not home made) macarons
- [Sunday 10th July 2011]
I had a sudden urge to bake some bread in the morning - probably I've been watching too many cookery programmes on the telly recently. It wasn't bad, but I'm never hugely satisfied with my own home made bread - it always ends up too doughy and stodgy and tasting like, well, home made bread.
In the afternoon we went out to do a bit of shopping, and picked up some macarons from Yauatcha.
- [Saturday 9th July 2011]
Chie went to a sort of Japanese festival in West London in the early afternoon with her friend Noriko. Later on they both came back to the flat, and we spent a bit of time out in the gardens enjoying the almost summery weather. Later on we went to Sainsbury's to buy stuff for dinner - I made a Thai green curry.
- Lunch at Noura, dinner at Goya
- [Friday 8th July 2011]
Wanted to get out of the office so went for lunch at Noura - I thoroughly enjoyed it as always.
In the evening I took our visitors from the US (and a couple of other people from the office) out for dinner at Goya.
- [Thursday 7th July 2011]
Went out for curry with a few people from work, including a couple of visitors from the US. On a recommendation of a colleague we tried the Akbar in Pimlico, which wasn't bad.
- [Wednesday 6th July 2011]
Got my hair cut today. Chie came back from her business trip to Turkey. Not much else to report.
- Out with Al and Kyle
- [Tuesday 5th July 2011]
Drinks with Al and Kyle at the Red Lion in St. James's, followed by another quick drink at the Criterion bar, then dinner at Taro on Brewer Street.
- Cittie of Yorke and Seven Stars
- [Monday 4th July 2011]
Chie was on a business trip in Turkey for the first half of this week, so I went out for a stroll in the evening around Holborn.
- The Man from Del Monte
- [Sunday 3rd July 2011]
Went out to do a bit of shopping in the afternoon, and bought a suit and a hat to wear at the Chap Olympiad - I went for a kind of Man from Del Monte look.
- [Saturday 2nd July 2011]
We made pancakes for breakfast. Went for a drink at the Cask and Glass in the early evenng. That's about it.
- Udon at Koya
- [Friday 1st July 2011]
Met up with Chie in the evening after work, and went for dinner at Koya. I had the hiya atsu (cold udon with hot soup) this time, I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced about the idea of cold noodles, but this seems to be what Japanese people tend to order.
- Half way through the year
- [Thursday 30th June 2011]
Half way through 2011 now then. Other than that really not much to report - I'm writing this over three weeks hence and in the absence of any pictures, or location history from Foursquare or Latitude, I can't actually remember anything that happened. It seems I just went to work and then went home again. I probably went to the supermarket on the way home.
- Lunch at Oliveto
- [Wednesday 29th June 2011]
Had lunch at Oliveto with the usual suspects (Iain and Andrew). Not much else to report.
- Goodbye drinks with Gav
- [Tuesday 28th June 2011]
Our friend Gav was deserting us and moving to California, so we had arranged one final outing in London this evening to mark his departure. We decided to stick to a bunch of old favourites - okonomiyaki for dinner at Abeno, followed by a pub crawl around Holborn's finest - the Princess Louise, the Seven Stars and then Ye Old Mitre.
Very sad to see Gav go, but he reassured us he'd be back in London frequently, and of course I'm occasionally required to go to California so hopefully we'd still be able to meet up fairly often.
- Churchill Arms and Windsor Castle
- [Monday 27th June 2011]
Chie had an appointment near Earl's Court this afternoon so we met up near there and wandered North to Kensington, for a quick visit to the Churchill Arms and the Windsor Castle. It was rather a hot day.
On the way back popped into Whole Foods Market and shared a tostada in the food court. Mexican food two days in a row!
- Victoria Tower Gardens
- [Sunday 26th June 2011]
Not much to report. Stayed in most of the day, just went for a late afternoon stroll to Victoria Tower Gardens. Did a bit of shopping on the way home and made Mexican food for dinner.