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
- John's Pictures
Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
- Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Turin to Paris to London
Bassano del Grappa
Sunday in Venice
Saturday in Venice
London to Paris, and the Sleeper to Venice
Erika and Chie off to Japan
Zoo, Chie's Friends, and a bit of Gastroenteritis
Apple, Hamley's and Shirts
Olivogelo and Dinner with Erika
Savoy and Cafe Murano
Hello Kitty Beach House
- Turin to Paris to London
- [Saturday 17th October 2015]
Headed home today, by way of Paris where I stopped off for, of all things, a veggie burger. Back at home, for dinner I made taglioni with white truffle, using an Alba truffle I'd bought in Turin the day before.
- [Friday 16th October 2015]
Last city in Italy of the trip - Turin. Got the excellent Frecciarossa 1000 from Milan to Turin in the morning then spent the afternoon in Turin trying, not entirely successfully, to find anywhere which took an interest in vermouth.
- [Thursday 15th October 2015]
From the sleepy backwater of Mantova, I got the train to the flashy metropolis of Milan. Lorenzo happened to be working there in the daytime, so we met when he'd finished and went on a brief tour of the city's cocktail bars. Starting at the Camparino, then on to Bar Basso.
- [Wednesday 14th October 2015]
Got the train from Vicenza - by way of Verona - to the rather majestic hidden gem of Mantova. Had the Caravatti aperitivo at Bar Caravatti, made specially for them, and not available anywhere else.
- [Tuesday 13th October 2015]
Vicenza, on a rather wet and miserable Tuesday. A bit hard to enjoy given the weather, plus the fact so many places were closed, and that I had to spend a big chunk of the daytime attending to laundry. Did however enjoy seeing some Palladian architecture including the Teatro Olimpico and the famous Basilica.
- Bassano del Grappa
- [Monday 12th October 2015]
Somewhat reluctantly left Venice around lunchtime, and got the train to Bassano del Grappa - home of the Nardini distillery, and the birthplace of grappa.
- Sunday in Venice
- [Sunday 11th October 2015]
Took in some of the Biennale in the daytime, interspersed with a nice lunch at Mario all Fava. In the evening, a Bellini at Harry's Bar, a drink at Florian, dinner at La Vecia Cavana, and a little flutter at the casino.
- Saturday in Venice
- [Saturday 10th October 2015]
Arrived in Venice on the sleeper train in the morning, found some much needed coffee (having not slept particularly well), and dropped my luggage off at the rather splendid hotel I'd chosen, overlooking the grand canal. After revisiting a memorable pizza place from my previous trip, I spent the afternoon exploring the bacari of Venice, and made some new friends along the way.
- London to Paris, and the Sleeper to Venice
- [Friday 9th October 2015]
Lunch at St. Pancras, then an afternoon Eurostar to Paris. In Paris met up with Benoit for a drink or two at Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon before boarding the sleeper train bound for Venice.
- [Thursday 8th October 2015]
Spent the daytime at work doing another promotion committee. Rather grueling as always.
Had arranged to have "leaving drinks" with a couple of the usual suspects from work this evening, ahead of my upcoming trip to Italy. None of us were in the mood for a particularly big night out, so we just went for a quiet pint at the Duke of Wellington, which ideally would have been followed by a quick dinner at Oliveto, but alas it was fully booked. So instead we went to the Italian place near Sloane Square, whose name escapes me, wherein the clientele seemed to be predominately old ladies. No Ricky Gervais this time. After that one final pint at the Fox and Hounds, and we all headed home. I spent the remainder of the evening catching up on laundry and making preparations for my trip.
- Erika and Chie off to Japan
- [Wednesday 7th October 2015]
Went to the airport in the morning to wave off Chie and Erika who were off to Japan. This time I was going to stay behind and the just the girls were going. Although I had told Erika this several times I'm not entirely sure whether she grasped it or not, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, as she didn't seem particularly upset or anything when we said our goodbyes.
I got the tube back into London, and went to work for the day. After the usual late meetings I headed home and started to do laundry etc in preparation for my upcoming trip to Italy.
- [Tuesday 6th October 2015]
I dropped Erika off at nursery this morning, to give Chie a bit more time to herself in the hope she might make a start on packing (and then discovered when I got home from work she hadn't yet done anything!).
In the evening we had very simple pasta for dinner - fresh pasta wth just butter and a bit of cheese. I wasn't sure if my stomach was ready for much more than that havng been ill the past few days. After I put Erka to bed Chie finally made a start on packing, which was a bit awkward as most of the cupboards are in Erika's room. I think both Chie and I seem to have a completely inability to pack in advance, it always ends up being at the last minute.
- [Monday 5th October 2015]
Having had a bit of a poorly stomach the previous evening, I was somewhat apprehensive about eating anything today. Some brief research on the web espoused the "BRAT diet" - much of which seemed reasonable enough (B for bananas, R for rice, T for toast) - but I found the A - applesauce (?!?!) - rather incongruous. Anyway I did essentially just stick to bananas and rice today.
In the evening Chie went for dinner with a friend, so it was just me and Erika. We lazily reheated the recently made Japanese curry for Erika's dinner (and I just ate the accompanying rice). After putting Erika to bed I spent a bit of time doing research for my upcoming trip to Italy.
- Zoo, Chie's Friends, and a bit of Gastroenteritis
- [Sunday 4th October 2015]
Erika had been asking to go the zoo the past few days, so even though I wasn't feeling particularly 100% I heroically took her there in the morning, which also had the added benefit that Chie could go off to see her European friends from her university days who were in London this weekend. As is often the case, at the zoo Erika didn't seem particularly interested in actually seeing many animals (although I personally thought the penguins were on good form today), but instead spent a lot of time on the other distractions - the carousel, the bouncy castle, and, for the first time, the big inflatable slide. I'd thought Erika wasn't quite tall enough to qualify for this, but we stood her up against the height chart and she did seem to be right on the line. The first time she managed, with some coaxing, to slide down by herself, but on the second attempt a bit later on she got stuck at the top, and didn't seem to have the confidence to slide down. It is, in fairness, rather high up. Very sweetly though, two sisters arrived at the top of the slide, and without any discussion each took one of Erika's hands, and the three of them slid down together. I almost got a bit teary on seeing this, it was really lovely. I made a point of thanking their father, who was standing next to me, and wanted to go on to say what a great Dad he must be to have raised such kind girls, but English reserve made me stop short of that. I think he got the message though.
Chie's friends were keen to see Erika (and me, apparently?!) so we didn't stay too long at the zoo, and not long after the big inflatable slide (then a bit of a play in the playground) I managed to persuade Erika to leave. We got the tube over to Moorgate, then a taxi from there to Brick Lane, and met Chie and her friends in Brick Lane market for lunch (actually, they'd already eaten) - we had pizza at some sort of pop up pizza van place. Very hipster. We waved off all of Chie's friends not long after that, most of them were flying back to various bits of Germany that afternoon / evening. Chie, Erika and I headed back home, with a stop off at the Pineapple for a quick drink outside.
In the evening I was keen to make a roast dinner, perhaps partly with the thought in mind that the girls were heading off to Japan in a few days time, and so somehow some English food seemed very appropriate. Part way through cooking I remembered we had forgotten the Yorkshire pudding tray when we'd moved house in February (has it really been that long since I've made Yorkshires?) and so having already made the batter I attempted to make one large Yorkshire, which I guess was moderately successful. Erika ate some of that and not much else really.
I started to feel rather unwell after dinner. I'd had a bit of a funny tummy since Friday evening, and hadn't really given it much thought, but as the evening wore on it became apparent I actually was in the midst of a bout of gastroenteritis - admittedly in hindsight not a particularly severe one - but suffice to say the remainder of Sunday evening was really quite decidedly unpleasant.
- Apple, Hamley's and Shirts
- [Saturday 3rd October 2015]
Stayed in the flat for the morning and after lunch I decided we should finally eat one of the only two apples which grew to full size on our tree. I tried to get Erika excited about the event, and said "Isn't it amazing? We didn't have to buy it in a shop, we grew it in our garden." to which Erika looked unimpressed, and replied "We bought it at the garden centre".
We headed into the centre later on in the afternoon, and Erika fell asleep whilst we were in transit. Having had a bit of a funny stomach last night in this morning (which I think I figured out the next day was in fact a bout of gastroenteritis) I'd skipped lunch, but once we got into the centre I felt like eating. So after briefly popping in to Harvie and Hudson to pick up my made to measure shirts, I went to Shoryu for some ramen whilst Erika napped there with me in her buggy, and Chie went off to do some shopping. Erika woke up when my food arrived and we shared the ramen - they've changed the vegetarian option now, it's now something in a kind of soy milk soup, which probably suited both me in my current state and Erika better than the previous thing they used to do. Also had one of their hakata buns - filled with halloumi - which was tasty but messy.
After that Erika and I went to find Chie, and the three of us went together into Hamley's - we wanted to get Erika some new Play Doh, as recently she'd been enjoying playing with it, and the one she had at home was a bit dried out.
When we got back home Chie made dinner for me and Erika - Japanese curry - while Erika and I played with her new Play Doh. She had mixed all the colours together into a not very appealing grey/turquoise in a matter of minutes. Chie then went out for the remainder of the evening to see her friends gain.
- Olivogelo and Dinner with Erika
- [Friday 2nd October 2015]
Popped out to Olivogelo for coffee and gelato in the afternoon.
In the evening Chie had planned to meet up with her friends from her university days who were visiting London from various bits of Europe this weekend. As Chie and Erika had been playing with friends near Victoria in the day time, they came and met me at the end of the working day. Erika had been having too much fun in the afternoon to have her afternoon nap so fell asleep as Chie was carrying her to meet me. After a quick pit stop at my office, Chie headed off to see her friends, and I decided to get the bus with Erika as the tube might be a bit too crowded for her, and there was in fact a single bus which goes from Victoria pretty much all the way home - since it starts at Victoria it's usually easy to get a seat.
I decided to get off in Camden, and try a slightly cheesy looking Italian restaurant I'd had my eye on a bit, checked tablecloths and all. It wasn't particularly great as it turned out, but it dealt with the requirement of dinner. We then got another bus the rest of the way home.
I started to feel rather unwell after that, quite a bad stomach ache, which I think later on that weekend I realised was actually the onset of a spot of gastroenteritis. Managed to get Erika to bed then went to bed myself not that long afterwards.
- Savoy and Cafe Murano
- [Thursday 1st October 2015]
Both Kyle and I had been separately trying to arrange dinner with Al this week, so we decided to combine the two, and they brought along Hannah and Charlotte as well. I decided it might be nice to try Cafe Murano, which I'd had on my todo list for some time, and had been reminded about whilst reading James Sherwood's new Discriminating Guide to London. We actually ended up going to the newer Covent Garden branch rather than the original St. James's one, as the latter was fully booked.
We had a bit of time before dinner, so also managed to fit in a cocktail at the Savoy. The barman seemed very pleased when I ordered a Hanky Panky - "You've been here before!".
Was actually slightly underwhelmed by the food at Murano, it was all a bit, well, bland. Still, it made for a pleasant venue for the evening and I think a fun time was had by all.
- Hair Cut
- [Wednesday 30th September 2015]
I popped out at lunchtime to pick up the trousers for my newest tweed suit from Walker Slater, which I'd dropped off for alteration on Monday. Whilst out of the office I thought I'd also get my hair cut, and decided to try a new place - "Legends" - as it looked a bit like the sort of traditional but slightly trendy vein of Murdock and Ruffians, but a fair bit cheaper. I asked, as I always do, if there's some magic trick they could do to keep the side parting in shape, and not have the hair just flop all over the place, Boris Johnson. I was slightly worried when the barber took the clippers to the parting to draw a line along it (reminiscent of scoring a piece of card to make it fold more easily), but it does actually seem to have made a bit of an improvement.
- [Tuesday 29th September 2015]
Trying to write this several weeks hence. According to my location history, looks like I popped out to Olivogelo for some gelato in the afternoon. According to chat history, apparently Chie made okonomiyaki for dinner. Can't remember much else!
- [Monday 28th September 2015]
Popped to Walker Slater on the way back from work to drop off the trousers from my latest tweed suit for alteration. I'd chosen a smaller waist size than I'd normally go for when I bought the suit because I liked having slightly less baggy legs than usual for a change. Whilst it did just about fit, it was a bit uncomfortable after eating, so thought it might be wise to have them let out an inch - especially as I was planning on taking this suit on my upcoming trip to Italy.
Had - I think - Chinese food for dinner - mock duck pancakes followed by ma po tofu.
- [Sunday 27th September 2015]
Sunday. Bit of a mixed bag, including a pub sunday roast for lunch, and veggie kara-age for dinner.
- Whipsnade Zoo
- [Saturday 26th September 2015]
Took Erika to Whipsnade, London's sister zoo today, having been telling her for ages about the lions and elephants from London Zoo being on holiday there.
- [Friday 25th September 2015]
Just one random picture of a bit of a sunset on the way home.
- [Thursday 24th September]
- [Wednesday 23rd September 2015]
Yet another trip to the zoo, and third time for Erika to get her face painted.
- Hello Kitty Beach House
- [Tuesday 22nd September 2015]
One of Erika's birthday presents had arrived a few days late, and we only finished building it this evening.
- [Monday 21st September]