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:
- Negroni and Crisps
Erika Ill Again
Trinity Buoy Wharf
Sunday in Abergavenny
Saturday in Abergavenny
Back to Work
Lunch with Ali
E1 and N1
Al's Birthday Lunch
Mum in London
- Negroni and Crisps
- [Friday 11th April 2014]
I was in a promotion committee at work today which went on rather longer than I'd hoped - I didn't leave the office until 7 (and no TGIF!).
I'd rather hoped I might follow the tradition of past promotion committees I've sat on (See here, here and here) - previously always in Zurich - and go out to drink whisky afterwards, but Erika, although she had gone back to nursery today, was still not 100%, and I imagine Chie would probably need a bit of help in the evening.
So instead of the whisky I made to with a quick Negroni.
- [Thursday 10th April 2014]
Same sort of thing as yesterday - Erika still had a fever, although otherwise didn't seem too bad - so we felt compelled to keep her away from nursery. I looked after her in the morning, and Chie did in the afternoon.
In the morning whilst at home I tried to catch up on one or two chores, including packing up the Dyson Hot, which needs to be sent back for repair. Erika helped with this by covering it in stickers.
- Erika Ill Again
- [Wednesday 9th April 2014]
Poor little Erika has had a pretty rough time of it the past couple of months - she seems to just be constantly getting ill. She was sick again last night (although it seemed more like a one off than last week's stomach bug) and had a fever this morning. So we thought we'd better keep her off nursery. There was some friction between Chie and I over who would stay home to look after her - it's not that we mind spending the time with her of course, but we both feel a bit stressed by the amount of time at work we're losing because she keeps getting ill. Not Erika's fault of course - being at nursery is pretty much like spending four days a week at a germ warfare research facility.
So the compromise today was that I'd stay home in the morning, and we'd swap over at lunchtime (I had a couple of meetings I couldn't easily cancel in the afternoon).
- Tapas Takeaway
- [Tuesday 8th April 2014]
I think we have pretty much got to the point where we've given up on trying to take Erika out for evening meals in the week - after a day at nursery she's tired and doesn't react well to that kind of noisy environment. It was easier when she was younger and less mobile, but the last couple of times it's been a case of one of us basically holding her still, and attempting to distract her so she doesn't make any noise, whilst the other one of us can rapidly shovel food down so we can leave before she creates a scene. It isn't really much fun, and it certainly isn't very relaxing.
Nonetheless Chie really wanted to eat tapas from our local tapas place this evening, so the solution we came up with was to go and get takeaway from there. We weren't even sure if they did takeaway, but it turns out they do. Whilst the presentation obviously suffers a little from the necessary foil containers, the flavours were all pretty good still, and this actually did seem to be quite a satisfactory compromise.
- Trinity Buoy Wharf
- [Monday 7th April 2014]
Long time readers of the 'Maison will remember Sheri who used to be a contributor a few years back (nowadays it's really just me isn't it?). Anyway, I recently had an email from him, as he'd entered one of his paintings in a competition, and they weren't able to send it back to him, so it needed to be collected in person. As Sheri lives in France that would have been a bit of a trek, so he asked me if I could collect it and send it on.
This turned into a bit of a Monday morning adventure (the bar for anything to be considered exciting is set very low on Monday mornings) as the place I needed to go to collect it was all the way out at Trinity Buoy Wharf in E14. The nearest tube station was apparently Canning Town, so after dropping Erika off at nursery I walked over to Westminster and squeezed onto a jubilee line train with all the rush hour commuters. Unsurprisingly the train was utterly packed up to Canary Wharf, then pretty much empty after that. I don't think I'd ever actually been beyond North Greenwich on the Jubilee line before, so on arrival in Canning Town I was very much in unchartered territory.
It was supposed to be a 15 minute walk from there to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but being in very unfamiliar territory, despite having Google Maps and the directions from the Trinity Buoy Wharf website to hand, I managed to get a bit lost, and it took me more like half an hour. There were the sorts of natural obstacles in the way that one doesn't normally have to consider in central London - dual carriageways and rivers (not just the Thames) without bridges over them where you'd like them to be. I did an unhelpful circuit of the Limmo Peninsula Ecological Park, somehow believing it would help me cut the corner. It didn't.
Anyway, I got there in the end (oh and it started raining en route) picked up Sheri's painting, boxed it up, and managed to blag a couple of bin liners to protect it from the rain.
My return journey was significantly more efficient - I had noticed on the website as I'd been reading and re-reading the directions that there was in fact a ferry service operating between Trinity Buoy Wharf and North Greenwich Pier. This quickly became the highlight of my day - I love these little obscure boat services. I think I timed it just right - the little decommissioned police boat appeared at the largely unmarked pier just a couple of minutes after I arrived, painting under one arm, the other arm holding my James Smith brolly. I did not look particularly seaworthy what with that, in addition to my herringbone jacket and brogues, and it was a little precarious walking along the narrow deck at the side of the boat with all that clobber, but regardless the captain ushered me onboard, and I was in fact the only passenger for the crossing. The fare was a paltry £2 - I wonder if that even covered the cost of the fuel for the trip. It was a tiny little cabin, perhaps only six or eight seats, and there wasn't much of a view to be had given the rather grey and miserable weather, but the Millennium Dome loomed overhead in one direction, and the Emirates Air Line (the cable car thing) in the other.
So that got me to the Millennium Dome, and from there a relatively short walk to North Greenwich tube, and I was back on the Jubilee line. That's how you're supposed to cut the corner.
- Sunday in Abergavenny
- [Sunday 6th April 2014]
Not really a very good night's sleep - I'm not sure exactly what the issue was but Erika didn't seem to sleep very well at all, so I was awake from about 4am onwards, and didn't manage to get back to sleep at all.
Spent the remainder of the morning at Vera and Robin's house, trying to drink enough tea to actually stay awake, and also figuring out how to adjust Erika's car seat properly. We'd spent a long time dithering over what to do, now that Erika has outgrown the type of car seats which are easily portable, and in the end had decided just to buy one on Amazone, have it sent to Vera and Robin's house, and just leave it there for whenever we visit.
For lunch we went to the Bear in Crickhowell - we arrived just before midday so had a dining room all to ourselves to begin with, which was actually quite handy as Erika was a bit restless.
After lunch we headed back to Abergavenny and got on the train back to London. Sunday train services back from Wales are often slower than the rest of the week, but today it was particularly bad, and the total journey time from Abergavenny to Paddington was just under four hours (on the way there we'd done it in 2 hours and 20 minutes!). On the plus side most of that journey time was one very slow leg from Newport to London (3 hours 15 minutes or thereabouts) which of course made for a very good excuse to upgrade to first class. I suppose in hindsight it was actually quite a pleasant relaxing journey, just very long.
- Saturday in Abergavenny
- [Saturday 5th April 2014]
Got the train to Abergavenny in the morning, and spent the afternoon and evening at Vera and Robin's house. It was a bit grey and miserable, so we didn't really leave the house after we got there, apart from a short walk round the block with Vera so she could get a bit of exercise.
- [Friday 4th April 2014]
Blew some bubbles in the morning to entertain Erika before I went off to work. Had originally planned to take the afternoon off today and head to Abergavenny, but eventually decided I'd missed enough time in the office thanks to the tummy bug earlier this week so should really just get some work done.
Went along to TGIF for a bit in the evening.
- Back to Work
- [Thursday 3rd April 2014]
We were all feeling better today, so back to the normal routine again - Erika went to nursery and Chie and I went off to work. Not much else to report really!
- [Wednesday 2nd April 2014]
All of us were off work/nursery again with a tummy bug. Erika was probably the best of the three of us, and I thought she probably needed some "fresh" air (although actually London had a bit of a smog problem this week).
So in the morning I took her for a wander round the garden - and was surprised to find ducks there, paddingly in the little pool surrounding the fountain. Not sure if this was somehow a side effect of the smog. Later on I took her out again to visit the little playground by the side of the houses of parliament.
- [Tuesday 1st April 2014]
I took the day off work today to look after Erika, partly so Chie could go to work, but partly because I didn't feel so good myself either. I just about managed to cope for the morning, and then fortunately Erika slept for a large part of the afternoon as I felt pretty awful then. Whilst trying to catch up on some domestic chores I came over all feverish, and had to lie down.
I'm pretty sure I'd got the same thing Erika had, and felt queasy pretty much constantly the whole day. The only thing I managed to eat all day were a couple of biscuits around 5pm.
Felt exhausted in the evening so went to bed very early, but then woke up in the middle of the night and felt very disoriented and confused.
Fortunately at least though there was no vomiting today in the Hawkins house. It appeared - fingers crossed - that Erika was already on the mend, and I was going to get away with feeling sick, without being sick.
- [Monday 31st March 2014]
We kept Erika off nursery today, as apparently some forms of conjunctivitis can be contagious, and they'd made a particular point recently of asking parents not to bring their children if they have it. So Chie stayed home and I went to work.
As if two ongoing medical conditions were not enough (we were still at the tail end - if you'll pardon the pun - of the nappy rash issue) this evening after putting Erika to bed, she threw up. Then proceeded to do so another 5 or 6 times over the next few hours. This continued until about 2am or so, when she was finally able to get some sleep.
I think it was probably norovirus, which apparently is more intense but over quicker than rotavirus, which is probably what she had a few weeks back.
- Lunch with Ali
- [Sunday 30th March 2014]
Continuing with March's very full weekend social calendar, today we had been invited to Welwyn Garden City for lunch with Ali (who was my PhD supervisor) and his family.
Our journey was a little waylaid as Erika had to make her second visit to the doctor of this week (fortunately they have walk-in clinics at the weekend at her doctors surgery) - she seemed to have a spot of conjunctivitis. We picked up the prescription on the way to Welwyn at the Boots in St. Pancras.
The weather was rather lovely again today, so it was a very pleasant afternoon in Welwyn, spent almost entirely in Ali's back garden, where we had a long lazy Lebanese lunch (the alliteration there was not deliberate I promise). Ali's wife had very thoughtfully dug out the toy car their kids had played in, and Erika really enjoyed pottering around the garden in it.
Pretty much as soon as we left Ali's house, Erika fell asleep, and in fact continued to sleep for the entire return journey to London. So when we got to Kings Cross Chie and I decided to have a quick burrito for dinner at the Benito's Hat, on the mezzanine level of the newly redesigned Kings Cross.
- [Saturday 29th March 2014]
Chie's friend Nami-san invited us down to Surrey today, for a pub lunch with her family.
They took us to the Anchor at Wisley, which is in a charming canalside spot. It's a Hall and Woodhouse pub, and they had homity pie on the menu, which was a refreshingly different vegetarian option. Whilst not really like any homity pie I'd had in Devon it was pleasant enough in its own right.
We went for a stroll along the canal after lunch, and, as both of our respective offspring had fallen asleep, returned to the pub for a sit outside and another drink after that. Then back to their house in Woking for a bit, so the girls could have a bit of a play together (Erika particularly liked the slide) before getting the train back into London.
Once back in Town, I headed straight to St. James's to catch Floris on Jermyn Street just before it closed, as Chie had hinted rather strongly that despite my family never having bothered with it, she does in fact expect Mother's Day to be observed. I rewarded myself after this with a quick pint in the Red Lion, then headed over to Rice Wine Shop on Brewer Street to buy supplies (believe it or not we had completely rank out of rice).
Consequently we had Japanese food for dinner I made inari sushi and we had a few bits and pieces to go with it. I'd somewhat rashly picked up a bottle in Rice Wine Shop, an only when we opened it over dinner did I realise I had in fact bought sparkling sake. I don't think I'll make that mistake again.
- [Friday 28th March 2014]
Chie and Erika came to my office for lunch.
- [Thursday 27th March 2014]
- E1 and N1
- [Tuesday 25th March 2014]
Erika has had quite bad nappy rash the past few days, which didn't seem to be clearing up, so we decided to take her to the doctor this morning. I volunteered to take her this time, and she was very well behaved when she went to see the doctor. He gave her a sticker.
In the evening Chie gave me the night off from parenting duties, and I decided to go and try out some of my Google Maps place recommendations in E1 and N1 - parts of the city I don't normally visit. I particularly enjoyed the Pride of Spitalfields, which had one of those CAMRA mirrors, of which I am also a very proud owner (thanks Mum!).
- [Monday 24th March 2014]
A couple of random pictures of Erika in the evening.
- Al's Birthday Lunch
- [Sunday 23rd March 2014]
Al invited the three of us along for his birthday lunch, which meant towards the end of the morning I first did a quick dash out to Fortnum and Mason to pick up a present. As it happened I got there before the shop part had opened, so had a bit of time to kill, and thought I would treat myself to a late breakfast (I can't really bring myself to use the word "brunch") in the Fountain restaurant. I had Welsh Rarebit and a Panama Esmerelda Especial coffee. Both were reassuringly expensive.
Lunch was at 2pm (and I don't think we actually ate anything until more like 3) at Cote in Hays Galleria - right by the Thames on the south bank. It was actually a fairly small group in the end - apparently Al had planned it "last minute" (I think I'd had an invitation 10 days ago, which isn't really last minute in my book, but still). After lunch we went to Al and Charlotte's temporary digs, a rather swanky riverside apartment with views of Tower Bridge. Charlotte had made Al's birthday cake - a sort of chocolate and orange cake - it was very good.
In the evening back at home we had some ludicrously expensive asparagus for dinner - which I'd picked up from Fortnum and Mason earlier. It was the first English asparagus of the season. Erika seemed to like it.
- Mum in London
- [Saturday 22nd March 2014]
Mum came to London to visit us this afternoon.
A bit like last Saturday when Dad and Janie came to visit, since Erika likes to have a pre-lunch nap at weekends, and Chie likes an uninterrupted opportunity to tidy the flat a bit before we have visitors, I again decided to take Erika for a stroll to meet Mum. Mum had decided to head straight for Brixton again as she'd like it so much last time, and so I thought rather unusually I'd try walking from Pimlico to Brixton. As expected, Vauxhall and Stockwell are just not very pleasant, so you couldn't call it a particularly scenic route, but Erika had a nap either way.
Chie joined us in Brixton, and we had lunch at Franco Manca. After that we headed back to Pimlico, and went for a wander round the Tate Britain - apparently Mum hadn't been before. We then retired back to the flat for tea, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon.
We went to Victoria to wave Mum off, stopping off en route at Le Pain Quotidien for a light early evening snack.
For dinner Chie and I had gnocchi with a dolce latte and spinach sauce - it's a long time since I've cooked with blue cheese, and it was rather nice.