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:
- Hypnogogic Jerk
Not Very Well
If you want me, I'll be at my club
Clothes Storage System
Partition Wall Again
Islington with Mum
- Hypnogogic Jerk
- [Sunday 25th January 2015]
Although she was awake for a bit in the middle of the night , this morning Erika seemed a lot brighter than she had the previous morning, so fingers crossed this is just a run of the mill cold this time and will blow over in a couple of days.
For a while now, Erika has been doing this odd thing, particularly when sleepy, of sort of tensing up all her muscles, arching her back, and going quiet for a bit. She doesn't appear to be in any pain, and just relaxes when it's over, but it does seem to be getting a bit more frequent recently, so we thought we should probably see what the doctor has to say about it. As fortunately the surgery she's registered as has weekend walk-in clinics we popped along to that this morning just after 10, and were told we could see a doctor an hour-and-a-bit later. In the interim I took Erika to the playground, at her request, and did my best to keep her wrapped up as warm as possible (something which is a constant struggle as she really doesn't seem to like wearing hats and gloves).
We showed the doctor a video Chie had taken of Erika when she goes all tense, and whilst it'll require a bit a further investigation, his first guess was something called a "hypnogogic jerk", which is similar to that sensation you sometimes get that you've fallen over just before you fall asleep apparently - an odd side effect of the transition from being awake to being asleep. A lot of kids apparently go through phases of odd behaviour like this, and a lot of the time just grow out of it without requiring any treatment. Anyway we've been referred to see a specialist who will do a few more tests and fingers crossed it won't come to anything.
Chie had originally planned to take Erika along to a leaving lunch for one of her friends who also has kids, and is imminently moving back to Japan. Although Erika seemed relatively bright it didn't seem fair to inflict her cold on the other children, so instead Chie went along by herself, and I took after Erika for the afternoon.
- Not Very Well
- [Saturday 24th January 2015]
In the morning, having overdone it a tad the night before, I did not feel particularly well. Chie very kindly just left me to it and let me sleep it off for a few hours, punctuated by occasional visits from Erika who, at one point, brought in a box of Ibuprofen and said "Eat it. Feel better Daddy.". I am increasingly developing the opinion she has a career in medicine ahead of her.
By lunchtime I was returning to being a useful human being / parent again. After a reviving meal of rice and miso soup I eventually managed to have a shower and make myself look presentable, and we decided we should head out for a bit, to see if we could take Erika to the doctor (not for the cold she currently has, but another issue, details tomorrow) but they were already fully booked for the day. We also took some books I'd decided to clear out recently to the charity shop, and did a quick bit of food shopping - but Erika started to look really cold, so after that we headed back home again.
On getting back home I tidied up the flat a bit, and Erika's condition deteriorated a bit, she started to get quite feverish towards the end of the afternoon. The girls watched Spirited Away while I cooked dinner - a vegetable lasagne. As always we started off by giving Erika some Calpol, but as always that didn't seem to do anything to her fever, and instead gave her some Nurofen. Once that took effect her fever did eventually come down, and she perked up a bit, enough to eventually get her to eat some of my lasagne.
All three of us felt quite tired, so ended up all going to bed the same time as Erika some time between 8 and 9.
- [Friday 23rd January 2015]
Chie had a busy day with Erika today, with both a dentist and ophthalmologist appointment for her in the morning. She apparently did not like having eyedrops put in at all.
After that the girls came to my office for lunch, which was nice, although unfortunately now Erika knows there's ice cream ay my office and it was therefore very hard to persuade her to eat anything else.
Today was annual bonus day at work, and felt particularly good about it this year, as until now pretty much all the money has always just been set aside for buying a flat. Whilst on the one hand I accept this is of course never ending - owning one property just makes you think about buying the next, larger, nicer place - nontheless I felt a greater sense of freedom this year and felt justified to fritter away at least some of it in any manner I chose to.
On that note I gathered together a few of the usual suspects at work this evening and popped a few corks to celebrate. Having moved desks recently we improvised a large ice bucket from one of the moving crates, which was rather satisfying. As has become something of an occasional tradition at these crass binges of excess, we rounded off the evening with pizza at Oliveto which was excellent as always.
- Late Meeting
- [Thursday 22nd January 2015]
Had a late meeting today, to give a presentation over VC to a group of people in the US. I think it went moderately well.
Got back home some time after 7, and as Chie and Erika had already eaten dinner I just cobbled something together from leftovers for myself.
- If you want me, I'll be at my club
- [Wednesday 21st January 2015]
This year, I suppose as a sort of new year's resolution, I set out really determined to finally join a St. James's club. I've often thought how nice it would be to have a sort of home from home in which to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, reading the Sunday papers in the drawing room, or going for the occasional drink after work when in the mood for something a bit more civilised than the pub, or having one of those long, gout inducing, boozy lunches I imagine aristocrats and politicians are so fond of. I'd done quite a bit of research on the entrance requirements of various clubs, and found the vast majority required you to know, and have your application supported by, two existing members. So I was rather pleased when I eventually stumbled across the website for the Royal Over-Seas League, which, although by default they still require a proposer/seconder like all the other places, they waive that requirement for people belonging to a number of affiliated organisations, one of them, conveniently enough, being Reading University. So I'd applied to join earlier this month, and got my membership number through today.
I couldn't wait to go and have a nose around my new club, so slipped out of the office a bit early, jumped in a taxi to St. James's, and got out at Park Place, just off St. James's Street, where the ROSL's clubhouse is located. I poked my nose in at the bar briefly, had a quick drink there, and also went on a bit of a wander round the first floor. It's a pleasingly grand building, although on this first visit at least largely felt a bit deserted. They can probably be forgive for that, it was after all early on an uneventful mid-week evening in January.
Didn't stay long, and headed back home in time to knock up a quick spaghetti bolognese for the girls.
- Clothes Storage System
- [Tuesday 20th January 2015]
We'd decided to do away with the "clothing system" in the back bedroom of the new flat, since the room is pretty tiny, and we want to try and squeeze a double bed in there. We'd originally thought about selling it, but I was put off by the idea of having to deal with a complete stranger, so instead offered to give it away for free on one of the mailing lists at work, on the basis that whoever took it would come and dismantle and collect it.
So after first popping home to make dinner for the girls I then got on the tube and met the woman from work who was going to take it, and rather charmingly had brought her Dad along to help dismantle it. It took a bit longer than I'd originally expected - just over an hour.
I spotted a couple of bits of progress while I was there, the ceiling has been replaced where the partition wall was removed (the hallway and lounge ceilings were different heights, so a small section has been raised) and also the bath tub had arrived. The bathroom is still very much an empty shell though (and also has a bit of an unpleasant whiff to it).
- Moving Desks
- [Monday 19th January 2015]
From today I was at a new desk, in fact not just a different desk, but in a different building, across the road from the other one, which I'd been in for 8 years. It is going to take a bit of getting used to.
Went for a quick impromptu drink after work with some of the usual suspects at, weirdly enough, a cocktail bar in Pimlico (in the basement of the Artists Residence a "boutique hotel"). Had their "Dr Negroni PhD" which was an interesting (albeit perhaps a bit too light for my tastes) twist on a Negroni. Didn't stay very long, and was back in time to catch the tail end of dinner with the girls.
- [Sunday 18th January 2015]
Headed up to NW5 towards the end of the morning to check a couple of things in the new flat. I think mainly I wanted to take a look at the "clothes storage system" in the back bedroom to see how easy it would be to detach / dismantle, as it was looking like the builders would want to do a bit of plastering work in that room soon, so it needed to be disposed of in the not too distant future.
Given that we were in the area, I thought we'd try one of the nearby pubs out for Sunday lunch. For some reason central London seems largely devoid of pubs serving Sunday lunch with decent vegetarian options, whereas in North London there are plenty of them. I don't really get why that would be. Today we gave the Assembly House ago, heading there by way of a playground so Erika could have a go on the swings. They had a sort of "nut roast" as their vegetarian option which frankly wasn't great (far too soft, and the blue cheese was a bit overpowering), but it came with roast potatoes, a Yorkshire and gravy, so overall I was happy. I wanted to hang around in the area for a bit longer to try and get back a spare set of keys we'd left with the electrician who'd been round the other day, because the builders now wanted another set. So to kill a bit of time we went for a post lunch coffee, then headed down in the direction of Camden to go to a bed shop there. After that we had a rather fraught attempt to get Erika to have her afternoon nap, which involved her wailing as we pushed her in her buggy along a busy shopping street in Camden. A bit embarassing. We eventually kept walking all the way down to Euston, and she fell asleep just before we got there.
Chie took Erika back home from there, while I went back up to NW5 to pick up the spare keys. On the way back home I went by way of Soho, had a quick drink in the Coach and Horses, bought a new bottle of vermouth in Gerry's, and on a whim got a terrible hair cut for £6 in one of those cheap barbershops in Soho.
Back at home we had tofu and inari sushi for dinner.
- [Saturday 17th January 2015]
Chie was in the mood for ramen today, and we decided to try out Ippudo, the London branch of the ramen chain which, although originating in Japan, is probably most famous for their branch in New York. It did rather feel like an American dining experience, particularly with the rather overly enthusiastic attempts by all the non-Japanese staff to rather unconvincingly throw tidbits of Japanese into their presumably scripted service, but I suppose they were at least making an effort. I have to admit the ramen were actually pretty good - excitingly there was a choice of three vegetarian options and at least the one I went for didn't have the slightest hint of words like "natural" or "healthy" in the description, as sadly seems to be the case at a lot of the other ramen places in London. Instead it was a delightfully gutsy experience, very strongly flavoured, and a real assault to the senses.
After lunch, we went to John Lewis for a bit, and also stopped off for a coffee in an odd little cafe in the corner of a clothes shop on Wigmore Street whilst Erika was having her afternoon nap. We would probably have just headed home after that, but received an email from the upstairs neighbours of the new flat that apparently the builders had been smoking in our flat again (particularly noticeable this time as the ceiling in our flat was currently partially removed). This made me rather cross, having already raised this issue once - so we got on the tube and headed straight up to the new flat, where I had words with the builders directly. On the plus side we got to see that the partition wall had now been fully removed and also Chie and Erika had a chance to meet the upstairs neighbours for the first time - albeit very briefly.
- Partition Wall Again
- [Friday 16th January 2015]
I had to go to the new flat briefly in the morning again to let the glazier in, who was going to be replacing a pane of glass. Whilst trying to open the door there was a voice the other side saying "who is it?" which was a bit odd, you know, what with me being the owner and everything. It was one of the builders, who had got there early, and was making a start on removing the partition wall. He had also got the oven on with the door open because it was cold and the heating wasn't working. I dread to think what our first electricity bill is going to look like. I spent a while fiddling with the boiler trying to figure out why it wasn't working until I eventually realised they'd removed the towel rail in the bathroom, so presumably the whole system was drained.
Fortunately the glazier was very quick and so I didn't lose too much of my morning.
- Partition Wall
- [Thursday 15th January 2015]
Had to pop to the new flat this morning to have a contractor give a quote for some work separate to the main body of refurbishment work we're having done prior to moving. Whilst there I took a few pictures of the partition wall which was due to be removed tomorrow.
- [Wednesday 14th January 2015]
Went out for drinks this evening with some of the usual suspects in Marylebone. It turned into a miniature pub crawl, starting at the Gunmakers, then proceeding to the Windsor Castle, and finishing at the Lord Wargrave.
- [Tuesday 13th January 2015]
Not much to report really. Chie made okonomiyaki for dinner.
- [Monday 12th January 2015]
Erika decided to draw on her face in the morning just before we were due to leave for nursery. Fortunately it proved quite straightforward to clean off.
Received some bathroom tile samples to choose from at work in the daytime. I found it very hard to get excited about any of them, and am frankly losing interesting in the whole process somewhat!
- Islington with Mum
- [Sunday 11th January 2015]
Mum came to London today as she had a course in the afternoon in Islington. So after tea in the morning at the flat in Pimlico, we headed up to Angel together, where we went for lunch at The Gate, the second branch of a long running vegetarian restaurant, the other being in Hammersmith, one of those places we kept meaning to try at some point but never quite got round to. I have to admit I was a tad sceptical at first, as the menu looked like the typical confused mish-mash of global cuisine you often get in vegetarian restaurants. It's not that I don't like food from lots of different countries, but I question whether the same chef and kitchen can really make the best of so many different styles of cooking, and sets of ingredients. Anyway, perhaps as a happy accident, it turned out there was some problem with the kitchen today, and half the menu was unavailable - so the choices were limited to what seemed like a more manageable selection. Both Chie and I ordered the "aubergine schintzel", and both agreed it was actually quite good.
To my surprise, Erika fell asleep in my arms before any of the food arrived - it's very unusual for her to fall asleep anywhere but in her buggy in the daytime. It was rather lovely, although I did then feel a bit guilty that she missed out on the food. We managed to successfully transplant her into her buggy without waking her up, so the three of us grown-ups were able to have a relaxing meal without having to keep Erika entertained / try to shovel food into her mouth / stop her from getting down and running about. Albeit, as noted, with a twinge of guilt - particularly as we ended up eating the kid's meal we'd ordered for her.
After lunch Chie took Erika home, and Mum and I had a bit of a wander round Islington, before she went off to her course, and I headed up to the new flat to inspect the refurbishment work which had been started the day before. Impressively, although also slightly disconcertingly, the contents of the bathroom had been entirely removed, and placed rather unceremoniously in a big heap on our patio. Whilst it was good to see progress had already been made, I'd rather hoped the flat wouldn't have to go too long without at least a functioning toilet!
- [Saturday 10th January 2015]
Finally got round to going to Guildford today, which was supposed to be some time over the Christmas period.
Chie wasn't feeling 100%, and had also found looking after Erika the day before a bit tiring, so I volunteered to take Erika down by myself, allowing Chie to have a complete rest at home. We made a fairly early start, as I was hoping to try and have the return journey coincide with Erika's afternoon nap, and was also aware the trains were taking longer than usual owing to some kind of engineering works. In fact it took a whole hour and a half to get from Waterloo to Guildford, and it was a bit of a challenge to keep Erika entertained the whole time!
This was our first time to meet baby Emily, who seemed very content during our time there. Katie was also very sweet in helping to entertain Erika, bringing all her cuddly toys down to the lounge for her to play with. The boys, on the other hand, spent the majority of the time playing on the computer and barely seemed to notice we were there!
We left there around 3ish, and Erika was already getting a bit grotty in the taxi on the way back to the station. I wheeled her round the station in her buggy for a little bit, and she soon fell asleep as I'd hoped she would. So it was an easy and peaceful train ride back to London, albeit rather a slow one again.
- Land Law
- [Friday 9th January 2015]
Having wanted to better understand all the minutiae of the lease on our new flat (which to some extent doesn't matter as we also have a share of the freehold, and are therefore both lessee and, at least partially, lessor) I'd ordered a book on UK land law this week. I was amused to read in the opening passages that the crown technically owns all land in England. Well that rather simplifies things then.
Picked up takeaway pizza from Oliveto for dinner.
- Rush Hour
- [Thursday 8th January 2015]
Had to go to the new flat early in the morning to let an electrician in to do a survey of the electrical installation (Robert had recommended this when they came to visit in November). Consequently this meant I then got to experience what will, as of next month, be my morning commute - and it was quite horrendous. I waited at our nearest station as about four Northern line trains passed which I couldn't get on because they were already packed full. Then changing at Euston I waited as about 10 passed. It was apparently not entirely representative, as apparently the Piccadilly line was closed today, which sent a lot of extra passengers onto the Victoria line instead. Plus of course I probably wouldn't typically be travelling in before 9, as presumably I'll be dropping off at the new nursery in the mornings like I do at the current one.
Still, those things aside it was rather demoralising, and just another item to add onto the list of reasons for why I'm frankly not really looking forward to moving.
In the evening, I rather unusually made a tagine for dinner. I say unusually, in fact I don't think I've ever made one before. The main motivation was that we have loads of cous cous in the cupboards, and I'm trying my best at present to things up before we move. I took a quick look on the web for recipes before embarking, and it seemed like the key ingredient was prunes - in addition to that I added some chickpeas, courgettes and peppers. It came out reasonably well I thought.
- [Wednesday 7th January 2015]
According to my chat history it sounds like we had fresh pasta for dinner. Other than that can't really remember anything about today.
- [Tuesday 6th January 2015]
Spent most of the morning at the new flat. We had quite a few contractors of various types who needed to come for various reasons, mostly to give quotes for assorted jobs which needed doing. I'd tried my best to condense all of these into one day this week to attempt to minimise the amount of time I needed to be out of work.
It was originally going to be five different people coming, but I eventually decided that was a bit over the top, so had cancelled two. Of the three who did come, two were very pleasant, and the third was a rather miserable curmudgeon, who left me in a bit of a foul mood afterwards.