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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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Frozen Things
Black Friar and Seven Stars
Back in London
Thursday in New York
Tuesday in New York
To New York
Coach and Horses
Erika's New Bed
Day Before Royal Ascot
Lunch at the Assembly House and Highgate Fair
Peckham but not Frank's
Zoo and Barbecue
- Frozen Things
- [Thursday 30th June 2016]
Quite a productive day at work, despite also popping out for a pub lunch at the DoW with the usual suspects in what felt like the only hour of blue sky of the whole month. In the evening, we opened the parcel Mum had sent for Erika with some Frozen things in it - a knitted Elsa, some Frozen chocolate and a shopping bag with Elsa on it. Erika was very pleased. Chie made pies for dinner.
- Henley Regatta
- [Wednesday 29th June 2016]
The final event of my campaign to take part in the English "social season" this year. Whilst, sadly, not another opportunity to wear morning dress and a top hat, I had been intrigued by Henley Regatta mainly because of the exclusivity of the Stewards' Enclosure, which has some parallels with the Royal Enclosure at Ascot - you theoretically need to be a member or a guest of a member to get in. As with Ascot though this rule is waived if you shell out for one of the (rather pricey) hospitality packages.
Of the three events - the Derby, Ascot and Henley - today was almost certainly my least favourite. For a start, it was less of a sartorial highlight. Whilst boating blazers are a briefly amusing oddity of menswear, they mostly look rather garish and are typically quite cheaply made. I had gone out and bought a new blue blazer and a pair of white trousers to look appropriately boaty, and I suppose wearing very pale coloured trousers was a novel experience but overall, typical attire at Henley doesn't nearly lend to the sense of special occasion in the same way morning dress does at Ascot (and to a lesser extent at the Derby).
Also the weather was completely rubbish - not just grey, and occasionally wet, but actually quite cold at times. It's almost bloody July! It seemed to be a big faff and expense getting there and back, and two of our group were in varying degrees of incapacitation (Christian had recently had an operation on his foot, so was mostly wheelchair bound, and his wife is heavily pregnant) - so for them it hardly constituted a day of carefree frolicking on the riverbank. The food was a bit disappointing compared to Ascot, and I failed to see what the fuss was all about in the Stewards Enclosure. Again, maybe that relates to the lower standards of dress at Henley compared to Ascot - on entering the Royal Enclosure at Ascot you're suddenly surrounded by a sea of top hats and exceptional ladies' millinery, plus a sense that you're rubbing shoulder with members of the aristocracy. I couldn't determine any real difference between the people inside and outside the Stewards' Enclosure at Henley. Finally the actual sport - not that this was ever the main draw for me - but it was such a background thing that you'd barely know it was happening. There are dozens of races throughout the day, and they just churn through them without any kind of ceremony.
So rather a disappointing end all in all to my run of the social season.
- [Tuesday 28th June 2016]
Went to pick up my trousers for Henley Regatta from Boggi after work, and had a very quick pint at the Red Lion on Crown Passage.
- [Monday 27th June 2016]
Helped Erika make a little house out of the sofa cushions in the evening.
- Black Friar and Seven Stars
- [Sunday 26th June 2016]
Chie and Erika went off to see friends so I was given some time to myself in the afternoon. I went down to the Black Friar and Seven Stars for lunch.
- The Zoo
- [Saturday 25th June 2016]
Took Erika to the zoo in the morning, then did some shopping on Jermyn Street in the afternoon.
- Back in London
- [Friday 24th June 2016]
Landed in London in the morning to the see the surprise result of the EU referendum, spent the rest of the day in a daze trying not to fall asleep.
- Thursday in New York
- [Thursday 23rd June 2016]
Last day in New York, flew back to London in the evening.
- Tuesday in New York
- [Tuesday 21st June 2016]
Worked at the office in the daytime. In the evening attempted a bit of a tour of historic bars, including the Campbell Apartment, The Blue Bar at the Algonquin, and the Penn Club. Was mostly disappointing, to be honest.
- To New York
- [Monday 20th June 2016]
Flew to New York, arrived in Manhattan early evening, went out for pizza then went to bed.
- Coach and Horses
- [Sunday 19th June 2016]
Went to the Coach and Horses in Soho for Sunday lunch.
- Ralph's Birthday
- [Saturday 18th June 2016]
Went to Ralph's birthday party in the afternoon.
- Erika's New Bed
- [Friday 17th June 2016]
Erika finally got a new bed today!
- Royal Ascot
- [Wednesday 15th June 2016]
Having been required to wear a morning suit for Al and Charlotte's wedding last summer, I had at the time made the possibly rash decision to buy one rather than just rent one, thinking that I'd end up with something a bit nicer that way, and I'd hopefully have cause to wear it again at some point in the future.
I may have had a fair old wait for another wedding at which I'd need one though, so instead, earlier this year, I'd starting looking into the traditional English social season, and in particular the events which require morning dress. It turns out there are only really two - The Derby at Epsom, should you be in the Queen's Stand, and Royal Ascot, should you be in the Royal Enclosure. Whilst at the Derby anyone who happens to be able to get their hands on a top hat can just pay for a ticket and get into the Queen's Stand, at Royal Ascot, in theory at least, the Royal Enclosure operates as a private member's club, and access for non-members is only by invitation from an existing member, who has been going for at least four years. I don't know anybody who fits this bill, so I instead looked for workarounds to this policy and discovered that, gratifyingly, the application of an eye watering sum of money for a hospitality package can obviate the need for such social connections.
So this morning, after dropping Erika off at nursery, Chie and I got changed into our finest attire, and got on the train to Ascot.
On the upside of having shelled out for a lavish hospitality package, we had a base for the day - the Wyndham Club in the Royal Enclosure gardens - which meant we had our own table throughout the proceedings, with an endless supply of Champagne and a surprisingly nice lunch and afternoon tea. Having had to rather unceremoniously resort to eating a bland sandwich from a cardboard triangle at the Derby, the five course fine dining at Ascot was all the more appreciated. My main course contained morels as well, of which I'm a great fan.
I absolutely loved our day at Royal Ascot. Funny really, considering we'd actually been on a work jolly 13 (!) years ago, and back then I'd been very much of a take it or leave it sort of opinion... but back then I had no real interest in sartorial matters, nor the fascination I now have with high society. I would probably have felt at best disinterested or perhaps even slightly intimidated by the Royal Enclosure crowd back then. Now though there seemed to be an air of magic about them, and to be able to walk among them, not even feeling particularly out of place was very gratifying. Whilst my morning suit is off the peg, it certainly looked a lot sharper than a lot off the hired outfits present, and my beautiful antique top hat was a source of immense pride throughout the day. Given that it is probably late Victorian who knows, maybe this isn't even its first outing at Royal Ascot?
The weather was quite mixed, and the betting was a complete washout - none of our horses even placed. But I didn't care a jot, I was having a thoroughly delightful time quaffing an endless supply of Champagne and drinking in the wonderfully refined atmosphere.
Alas the day did eventually come to an end, and it was time to go home. Having read that the trains on the way home can be a bit of a bunfight, and having seen the atmosphere deteriorate a bit after the Derby earlier in the month, plus also wanting to make it back for Erika's bedtime, I'd booked a chauffeur to drive us home. This made for a very comfortable and civilised end to the day, and got us back home in plenty of time for me to read Erika a bedtime story, still wearing my morning suit.
- Day Before Royal Ascot
- [Tuesday 14th June 2016]
Worked from home today, as we had a couple of people coming round to look at various maintenance jobs on the flat.
In the evening Mum came to stay, in preparation for Royal Ascot the following day, when she'd be babysitting Erika in the evening.
- Lunch at the Assembly House and Highgate Fair
- [Saturday 11th June 2016]
Went for lunch at the Assembly House with a couple of Erika's friends from nursery, and their Mums and Dads, having won £40 to spend their in a raffle at Kentish Town festival a couple of weeks back.
After that we all went up to Highgate for the fair, and were entertained by the delightfully incongruous mix of morris dancers and pearly kings and queens.
- Henley Badges
- [Friday 10th June 2016]
Badges for the Henley Regatta arrived today.
- [Thursday 9th June 2016]
Went to Frank's in the evening with Andrew and some of his friends.
- Peckham but not Frank's
- [Monday 6th June 2016]
Impromptu evening out in Peckham with the usual suspects. It turns out Frank's is closed on a Monday, so instead we went to Bar Story.
- Zoo and Barbecue
- [Sunday 5th June 2016]
Took Erika to the zoo in the morning. Met up with Chie for an early afternoon pint at the Pineapple, then in the evening had the first ever barbecue in our garden.