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:
Sunday
Saturday Shopping
Friday Night In
Afternoon with Dad
Dinner with Tom again
London Pubs with Testsu
Belgravia with Tom
Sunday
Japan to Pakistan, via Aldgate
Putney
Tom Tom
Whisky Wednesday
The Evening I Didn't Go To See Grease, Thank God
Monday
Anniversary of Getting Engaged
Day out in London with Ai-san
Chelsea Embankment
Thursday
Whisky Wednesday
Houses of Parliament in the Evening
Japanese Chefs
King's Road and Roast Meal with Ai-san
Lasagne
City of London Pubs
Working late
Whisky at Home
Herniogram
Shoeburyness and the City
Sorry for the outage...

Sunday
[Sunday 27th September]
Another very quiet Sunday - only left the flat to go to the supermarket.

Had some rather nice meals though - particularly nice ramen at lunchtime, and a reliably satisfying lasagne for dinner.
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Saturday Shopping
[Saturday 26th September]
Stayed in for the morning and the first half of the afternoon - I finally got around to booking tickets to Japan, where I'll be going for a week's business trip from next Thursday.

Eventually got out of the flat to do a bit of shopping, mainly at Fortnum and Mason (the obligatory souvenirs for a trip to Japan!). Oh and I also bought an astonishing four new pairs of trousers.

After shopping we started to feel a bit peckish, so decided to go for dinner at Mildred's - the vegetarian restaurant in Soho we'd been to once before. Didn't enjoy it quite as much as last time somehow, maybe it was more the atmosphere than the food - anyway it wasn't too bad.
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Friday Night In
[Friday 25th September]
Had a welcome quiet night in after having been out every night this week so far!

Attempted to re-familiarise myself with the strange room in our flat with the cooker, sink and fridge in it - made a vegetarian chilli. Not bad.
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Afternoon with Dad
[Thursday 24th September]
Dad was passing through London today on the way back from Guildford, so I took the afternoon off.

Started off with a late lunch at Oliveto, followed by a tour of Belgravia, including a quick visit to some of my favourite pubs there (The Horse and Groom, The Grenadier and The Nag's Head). Rather unusually we then popped into Knightsbridge for a bit of shopping at Harrod's, before hopping on the Piccadilly line and rounding the afternoon off at the Whisky Society.
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Dinner with Tom again
[Wednesday 23rd September]
Had dinner with Tom again this evening. This time a Chinese meal at Kym's - a restaurant I've been to a few times before.
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London Pubs with Testsu
[Tuesday 22nd September]
Our old friend Tetsu was in England this week, actually as part of his honeymoon (they also went to Italy and Germany) with his new wife Kanako-san. So tonight we attempted to give them a tour of the "real" London - which of course equated to a set of pubs.

We also fit in a visit to a fairly authentic fish and chip shop, which ended up being the only place I took a picture this evening.
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Belgravia with Tom
[Monday 21st September]
Tom was in London this week, staying very close to my office by coincidence, so we took advantage of the opportunity to go for dinner - twice this week in fact!

Tonight we dined at Oliveto, and I also took Tom on a bit of a wander around Belgravia.
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Sunday
[Sunday 20th September]
Didn't really do anything today - in fact didn't leave the flat all day!

I did a bit more work on the GPS features in Cheese.
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Japan to Pakistan, via Aldgate
[Saturday 19th September]
Today we went to the London Japan Festival in Spitalfields market, where we were also joined by Andrew and Gav.

It was very crowded there and I have to admit to being a bit put off to start with, but, not unlike visiting Japan itself, a little perseverance paid off, and once we'd accepted the fact we'd need to queue for ages for most things I started to actually enjoy it. There was a good selection of Japanese food and drink on offer and the sights, sounds and smells were pleasingly reminiscent of a matsuri in Japan.

I have a feeling it'll be much better if they do this again next year - I think this was the first year it had been held, and I got the impression the organisers didn't really know how many people to expect. They didn't actually use the whole of Spitalfields - if they spread out the stalls a bit more it could have worked really well.

Anyway, after sampling a few things to eat and drink at the matsuri we decided to head off. The initial plan was to try and find a pub, but this quickly fell into the usual difficulties of finding anywhere open at the weekend in this part of London. After a few disappointing failures (two on my todo list: The Hoop and Grapes and The Still and Star: both closed) we did eventually find one place open - The Chamberlain - which wasn't actually that bad.

We didn't quite feel like calling it a day yet at this point, so went for a stroll - down to Tower Bridge, which is always nice - and whilst we were in that neck of the woods poked our noses in at The Anchor Tap, which is always nice too.

Our thoughts then turned to dinner, and I suggested we try the Lahore Kebab House - which, according to their website, has been serving authentic Pakistani cuisine for over 40 years. Our bill was embarrassingly small - a little over 30 for three of us - partly because for some reason they still don't have a drinks license. It's pretty basic and down to earth, but I think that's part of the appeal of the place.

Gav took some rather better pictures of the day out - I hope he won't me sharing them here.
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Putney
[Friday 18th September]
We were invited by my friend Al from work to Putney this evening, as an Italian restaurant there was having a week long "mushroom celebration" which sounded very much like my sort of thing.



Also managed to fit in a quick visit to a couple of the local taverns whilst there, I particularly liked the Bricklayer's Arms, which this evening had a Devon and Cornwall ale festival and live music - Big Band style - which filled up half the pub. Quite an attractive pub inside too.
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Tom Tom
[Thursday 17th September]
Whilst I occasionally go out for lunch for a bit of a break from the office, going out for coffee is a new experience, which I tried for the first time today (we have fairly good coffee machines at the office, so I'd never really seen the need before).

Not too far from my office, in Belgravia there is a very nice looking coffee shop called Tom Tom - I'd often noticed it but had never tried the coffee before. Having mentioned this to my friend Mick he insisted on introducing me to it, and I was very impressed. I don't normally go for lattes (I'm more of an espresso person really) but this one was superb - rich and silky, a lot of depth, not too bitter - very satisfying indeed. I also tried one of their toasted sandwiches which was very good too.

Not much else to report today really!
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Whisky Wednesday
[Wednesday 16th September]
After hearing about last week's Whisky Wednesday, my friend Mick from the office had expressed a keen interest in visiting the Whisky Society, and I was only too pleased to oblige.



Whilst in the area, I decided we should also go to Fabrizio's again, as that had been rather good last week, and as Mick hadn't seen it before I thought a quick introductory visit to Ye Old Mitre was very much in order.

The whiskies were of course very good as always - the star of the show being a classically "prawn cocktail crisps" style heavily peated yet very elegant Caol Ila - the 53.131. Superb.
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The Evening I Didn't Go To See Grease, Thank God
[Tuesday 15th September]
Chie and our guest Ai-san went to see Grease this evening, a suggestion which I'd avoided like the plague from the moment I first heard it.



So instead I had a pleasant evening out with Kyle from my office in and/around Piccadilly and Soho. We started off with what is now becoming a bit of a regular haunt - the cocktail bar at the top of the Waterstone's on Piccadilly where we had the usual excellent St. James Martini.

Following that we were peckish so I suggested Yoshino - a sushi place just over the road. I spoke to the staff entirely in Japanese and was very pleased with how courteously they went along with that.

We then rounded off the evening with a quick visit to The French House, as I thought this might appeal to Kyle.
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Monday
[Monday 14th September]
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Anniversary of Getting Engaged
[Sunday 13th September 2009]
Went to Regent's Park and Primrose Hill to mark the anniversary of when we got engaged (five years ago now!).


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Day out in London with Ai-san
[Saturday 12th September 2009]
A gloriously touristy sort of a day out in London with Chie and Ai-san.



Started off with breakfast at the Regency Cafe, then from there wandered over to Westminster Abbey to take the tour.

After the abbey, we walked past Parliament Square, up Whitehall (in time for the changing of the guards on Horse Guards Parade), through Trafalgar Square, to the National Gallery. Had a good look around here.

Following a bit more wandering we headed over to Sketch for afternoon tea - what a marvellously eccentric and eclectic place this is! ...and the cakes were very nice too - particularly the little choux-creme.

After that I left the girls to do a bit of shopping, and headed home.
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Chelsea Embankment
[Friday 11th September 2009]
A few not-very-good-mobile-pictures of the Chelsea Embankment by night at the end of a solitary evening stroll.
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Thursday
[Thursday 10th September]
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Whisky Wednesday
[Wednesday 9th September 2009]
Just one largely irrelevant picture at the start of the inaugural "Whisky Wednesday" night out.
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Houses of Parliament in the Evening
[Tuesday 8th September 2009]
Some Thameside shots of Houses of Parliament taken on a very pleasant late summer's evening. Oh and also a few shots of dinner - tortelloni with home made pesto.
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Japanese Chefs
[Monday 7th September 2009]
The evening Chie and her friend Ai-san made dinner at our flat, including a tasting session of unusual Japanese beers.
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King's Road and Roast Meal with Ai-san
[Sunday 6th September]
Spent the morning working on Cheese - added a new feature to extract the GPS coordinates which my Android phone adds to pictures, so that I could make little maps (see here for an example). Was rather pleased with this.

Went to Sloane Square / King's Road this afternoon, mainly because we wanted to buy a couple of things from Peter Jones (a new shower curtain and a salad spinner - how exciting!), but also popped into Waitrose, and had a pasty at the West Cornwall Pasty Co (thus the only picture I took today).

In the evening, Chie's friend Ai-san arrived from Japan, she was going to be in Europe for the next week-and-a-bit, and would be staying with us for some of that time.

Chie suggested I should make some traditional English food for dinner, so it being Sunday it was a roast of course. Rather unusually we had a bottle of champagne to go with it - which I thought actually worked surprisingly well - nice to have something zingy and refreshing as a contrast to a rather heavy meal like this. It was a bottle of Louis Roederer - the same champagne house that makes the (in)famous Cristal.

I thought the meal turned out rather well - the parsnips were particularly successful this evening - the trick seems to be to cook them in a separate pan.
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Lasagne
[Saturday 5th September]
Here's a couple of pictures of the sunflowers I bought for Chie earlier this week - going over a bit by this point, but still quite nice don't you think?

Not much else to report today, I stayed in most of the day, whilst Chie went off to meet a friend in the afternoon. My only excursion out of doors was a trip out to the supermarket later in the afternoon to buy things for dinner.

Made a lasagne for dinner, it was very nice as always!
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City of London Pubs
[Friday 4th September]
Went out with some people from work to do a tour of City of London pubs. The following map probably describes the route best (although we didn't quite make it to all of these):


View City of London Pubs in a larger map
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Working late
[Thursday 3rd September]
Stayed quite late at the office this evening, and then went home and continued to work from there until more or less midnight - I finally got a new feature I had been working on for some time submitted, and wanted to make sure it didn't break any tests or anything.
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Whisky at Home
[Wednesday 2nd September]
Did a bit of a whisky tasting at home this evening, as reported on Twitter:

Hmmm... tried the House of Lords single malt this evening, found it a bit bland to be honest - I really struggle to like most Speysides!

...and then a little later on...

Mmmm.... SMWS Ardbeg 33.74 - that's MUCH more like it! My nose has woken up again.
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Herniogram
[Tuesday 1st September]
Went into hospital today for a "herniogram" - not a very pleasant process, but apparently it went quite well and the radiologist said he had got some good quality results from the scan. It sounds like based on this there's a chance I might not have to have a second operation after all, which if confirmed would be great news, albeit a bit confusing - the ultrasound earlier this year had apparently shown clear signs of a hernia, and this supposedly higher quality imaging technique appears to be contradicting that. Although I think I'll have to wait for the verdict from the consultant before I let myself get too excited about it.
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Shoeburyness and the City
[Monday 31st August]
As it was Bank Holiday Monday today I decided we ought to try and go out for a daytrip somewhere. After some pondering I settled upon the idea of going to the mouth of the Thames. Neither us had ever seen the Thames beyond Greenwich (more or less) and I was curious to see what it looked like where it finally met the sea. So, after a brief consultation of the map I decided we should take the London, Tilbury and Southend line right along to the end at Shoeburyness.

As the pictures probably attest, it wasn't all that interesting - there was a beach of sorts, but with the tide out it was pretty muddy. Anyway, it got us out in the sun for a bit, and at least we can say we've been there now.

On our return to London, we took advantage of the fact we were deposited at Fenchurch Street station, and went for a very pleasant stroll around the Square Mile. What an architecturally fascinating area that is.

Rounded off the day with a quick dinner at Woodlands Indian vegetarian restaurant, which was very nice - particularly enjoyed the giant paper dosa.
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Sorry for the outage...
[Sunday 30th August]
On Tuesday 1st September there was some kind of failure on the Maison - but don't panic (!!) I think everything is back to normal now... It looks like we got moved to another file server...? This broke a number of things on the site, but I think I have fixed most of these, so hopefully we should be back to business as usual.
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