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:
Snowed In
Afternoon Off
Pay Rise
Tax
Tuesday
Another Alternative Christmas Party
Spaniard's Inn
Saatchi Gallery
Friday
Lunch at Oliveto
Tower Bridge
Tuesday
Alternative Christmas Party
Back to London
Robin's 60th Birthhday Party
Woodlands
Buying Champagne
Dinner with Tom
Tuesday
Monday
Lunch at the Dove
Garrabel's Birthday
Friday
Dinner at the Grenadier
Lunch at Oliveto
Tuesday
Monday
Sunday with Mum
Englishness Replenishment
Back in London

Snowed In
[Saturday 18th December 2010]
Quite heavy snow in London today, so we decided to just stay indoors.
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Afternoon Off
[Friday 17th December 2010]
What with launching my project last month, I hadn't really been very organised about taking holiday in the latter half of this year, so I ended up with quite a lot of holiday left by the end of the year - in fact, counting backwards, it worked out that today would be my last day in the office, and a half day at that.

So after tying up some loose ends, I left the office at 2, and headed off for a stroll to St. James's, passing a very picturesque snowy Buckingham Palace.

I did a bit of Christmas shopping at Fortnum and Mason, pleasingly punctuated with a visit to the wine bar in the basement for a late lunch and some of their Champagne of the month - this month it was good old Veuve Clicquot.

In the evening Chie was at her office Christma party, and I didn't feel in the mood for cooking, so headed out to try a new Italian vegetarian restaurant near Smithfields called Amico Bio. It was very good.
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Pay Rise
[Thursday 16th December 2010]
I got news of my pay rise for next year today, and was rather pleased with it - so felt like celebrating.

I needed to return briefly to the Whisky Society first, when we'd been there on Monday Iain had bought a bottle and had since realised they'd given him the wrong one. So, after dealing with that I then set about meeting up with Chie, which we ended up doing somewhere near St. Paul's Cathedral.

I didn't have any particular plan, so ended up just using Hotpot on my phone to suggest a place - and it came up with Harry's Pizzeria. I could tell from the reviews it wasn't exactly going to be Oliveto calibre gourmet pizza, but it was fun, lively and a bit different to the usual places we go. Had a bottle of prosecco - so it was a somewhat restrained celebration - but fun nonetheless.

Afterwards we went for a quick pint at the Black Friar to round off the evening, before heading home.
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Tax
[Wednesday 15th December]
Not much to report, other than I phoned the tax office today to register for self assessment - thinking it would only take a week or so, it actually ended up taking somewhat longer...
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 14th December]
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Another Alternative Christmas Party
[Monday 13th December 2010]
Tonight was my company's main Christmas party, but again I didn't really feel like it, so instead a few of us went for a quiet evening at the Whisky Society.
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Spaniard's Inn
[Sunday 12th December 2010]
Iain from work had proposed Sunday lunch at the Spaniard's Inn a while back, an idea which I very much liked the sound of.

Chie and I got the tube to Hampstead a bit earlier than everyone else, so we could have a bit of a stroll across the Heath on the way there.

I really enjoyed the Spaniard's Inn - despite the chronic lack of seating meaning we ended up having to sit outside (thanks to a patio heater and a little covered area it was just about bearable). Somehow I'd never actually been before, and I was delighted by the look of the interior of the place - lots of little nooks and crannies, high backed settles, and an open fire. The food was really good too - the vegetarian Sunday roast option came with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and gravy. Superb.
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Saatchi Gallery
[Saturday 11th December]
Went for a wander round the Saatchi Gallery this afternoon, followed by a coffee at Tom Tom.
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Friday
[Friday 10th December]
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Lunch at Oliveto
[Thursday 9th December]
Went for lunch at Oliveto with some people from work today. Other than that not much to report.
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Tower Bridge
[Wednesday 8th December 2010]
Just one picture of Tower Bridge, taken on an evening out to mark our wedding anniversary - starting with drinks at the Oxo Tower bar, then dinner at Cantina del Ponte.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 7th December]
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Alternative Christmas Party
[Monday 6th December]
Tonight was the Christmas party for the engineers at my office, I went along briefly but didn't really fancy it, so instead went on a miniature pub crawl, and was joined by one colleague, and then later on one former colleague. Went to the Bell near Cannon St for the first time, apparently a partial Great Fire survivor. Rather liked it.
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Back to London
[Sunday 5th December]
It was a very short visit to South Wales this weekend - we just stayed one night, as we were only really there for Robin's birthday party. We stayed until lunchtime - where we were required to "use up" as many of the leftovers from last night's party as possible - before heading off.

Having arrived via the boring route (over the new Severn Bridge and then up the dual carriageway to Abergavenny) I was keen to go the more scenic route on the way back. So we drove from Abergavenny to Monmouth, and from there down the Wye Valley to Chepstow, to get on the old Severn bridge. I love this route, the Wye Valley road has to be one of my favourite roads in the country, and we were treated to particularly wonderful wintery views today (I wish I'd taken some pictures). We stopped off in Redbrook on the way, where I'd had my eye on a cottage I'd seen for sale on the web. Having not arranged a viewing or anything all we could do was look at the outside - and it was a totally impractical daydream anyway (later on this month Dad would entirely put me off the idea by reminding me of the flood risk here - which probably explains why the price was so good).

After the loveliness of the Wye Valley and the old Severn Bridge we then had the antithesis of both of these - the relentless unyielding drudgery of the M4. In order to try and stop ourselves dying of boredom we listened to the chart show on the radio, and I was reminded (pleasingly) how completely out of touch I was with pop music.
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Robin's 60th Birthhday Party
[Saturday 4th December 2010]
Robin was having a party for his 60th birthday in South Wales, so after a quick breakfast at the Regency Cafe, we picked up a hire car and drove to Abergavenny.

We arrived in Abergavenny a little after 1:30 and had a quiet afternoon at the house, before heading over in the early evening to where the party was being held, at Robin's friend's house in nearby Raglan. It was an old farmhouse, which Robin's friend has spent years renovating, and it's absolutely lovely - I think he rents it out as a holiday home now. Some parts of it may be as early as the 16th century apparently.

Getting there was a bit of a challenge, as Vera wasn't exactly sure where the house was - it was down a little country lane outside of the main village - and we were surrounded by extremely thick freezing fog - oh and the roads were extremely icy too. Fortunately we did make it in the end.

Our contribution to the party was the Champagne - knowing there were going to be about 30 guests, I decided not to mess about, and had brought along two magnums of Berry Brothers and Rudd's own Blanc de Blancs. So I spent the first part of the party acting as a wine waiter, pouring out the bubbly to the guests as they arrived. It's quite an unwieldy thing, a magnum, you really need to handle it with some care. This seemed to go down very well.

I understand the party went on into the wee small hours, but we left around 11ish as it was our job to take Vera home - and that was probably about right for us anyway, as it was more a party for Robin's friends, and I only knew a few of them in passing.
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Woodlands
[Friday 3rd December]
Went to Woodlands for dinner with a colleague visiting from the US.
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Buying Champagne
[Thursday 2nd December 2010]
For Robin's birthday party this Saturday I had volunteered to buy the Champagne. So I went out at lunchtime today to see what I could find.

There were going to be 30 guests, so in order for everyone to have at least a glass we were going to need about four bottles, or two magnums. Magnums always look a bit more impressive somehow so I'd made up my mind to buy a couple of those. Interestingly though, although a magnum has the contents of exactly two normal sized bottles, they rarely if ever work out cheaper than buying two individual bottles, in fact they can quite often go for more than twice the price.

We'd recently seen a "reasonably priced" magnum of Laurent Perrier (I think it was) in Fortnum and Mason, but when I went back today these had gone, and somehow nothing else quite fit the bill. So instead I wandered round the corner to another of my favourite shops - Berry Brothers and Rudd - to see what they have, and after a bit of a chat with the staff I settled on two magnums of their own Blanc de Blancs.

I rather enjoyed this whole process. This something quite gratifying on being asked "Can I help you?" in a shop, rather than responding with the usual "I'm just browsing thanks" to be able to say "I'm looking for a pair of magnums".
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Dinner with Tom
[Wednesday 1st December 2010]
Met up with Tom in the evening who was working in London again. Decided this time to take him to Noura - the Lebanese restaurant near my office - this time, which seemed to go down rather well.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 30th November 2010]
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Monday
[Monday 29th November 2010]
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Lunch at the Dove
[Sunday 28th November 2010]
I had a distinct hankering for a pub lunch today, somewhere picturesque, so managed to persuade Chie to make the relatively long tube journey out to Hammersmith, to visit the Dove. I'd only been once before but it had really stuck in my mind, particularly the Guinness record holding tiny little bar room. Pleasingly this was available when we arrived, so we holed up in here for the duration of our leisurely afternoon lunch. I really enjoyed it - I went for the ploughman's lunch which was commendable, and Chie went for the roast pork, which I think she also enjoyed.

Went back home by way of the Waitrose in Gloucester Road, which was rather handy.
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Garrabel's Birthday
[Saturday 27th November]
We were invited to a joint birthday party tonight for Annabel and Garry - Annabel used to work at my office. Started off at a pub near Covent Garden, then went for Turkish food at Sofra.
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Friday
[Friday 26th November]
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Dinner at the Grenadier
[Thursday 25th November]
Had dinner at the Grenadier in Belgravia with some people from work.
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Lunch at Oliveto
[Wednesday 24th November]
Lunch at Oliveto today.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 23rd November]
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Monday
[Monday 22nd November]
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Sunday with Mum
[Sunday 21st November]
Went into the centre for a bit in the morning, had a wander round the National Gallery and Chinatown before heading back to have Sunday lunch at home. Mum got the train back in the afternoon.
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Englishness Replenishment
[Saturday 20th November]
Following my week in the US, today I felt very much in need of a top-up of Englishness.

As it happens Chie had planned to meet a friend in the afternoon, and Mum who was staying for the weeknd was at her conference, thus leaving me to my own devices. So I donned my tweed jacket and sauntered in the direction of Jermyn Street. I popped into Harvie and Hudson, and chatted to the lovely old gent who works there for a while, and he helped me choose a couple of new shirts - particularly I asked him his advice on what would go with the jacket, and he picked out a shirt I probably wouldn't have gone for myself, but have to stay it does go rather well.

Had a rather casual saunter on the way back, by way of a couple of lovely old pubs - the Red Lion and the Cask and Glass. It was an absolute delight to be back in my beautiful England.

In the evening it was left up to me to choose somewhere for dinner for the three of us, so I decided to go out on a bit of a limb, and try the Russian restaurant on Jermyn Street. I think it went down rather well - if nothing else it was certainly different.
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Back in London
[Friday 19th November]
My flight back from San Francisco landed at Heathrow in the early afternoon, and I managed to whizz through customs and security to where the chauffeur was waiting to take me into central London. I'd decided to go back to the office, despite having not slept at all on the flight, and despite - might I add - two colleagues of mine who were on the same flight saying they were just going to head home. Apalling lack of commitment.

So I staggered into the office some time around 2, and bleary eyed attempted to do a few hours work in the afternoon. I didn't really get a huge amount done - particularly as we downed tools at 4:30 to have a glass of Champagne to celebrate the launch of my project with the people who hadn't been able to come over to the US (actually it was just one guy from my team - but we invited a few other people who didn't work on the project to join in regardless). That then led onto the usual Friday beer-and-pizza thing, where the celebratory air continued, and in spite of the sleep deprivation I felt rather chuffed with myself.

Mum was visiting for the weekend, so I didn't stay too long at the office, before heading back home to meet Mum and sort out plans for dinner. We ate at Memories of China, which I think is rather good, and yet more Champagne flowed here.
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