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
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Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- First Apple and Winemaking
Pewsey to Avebury
Pineapple and Pillow
Back to London
Saturday in Devon
Driving Down to Devon
Early Evening Stroll
The Black Friar
Bankside Beach and the George
Waner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
Monday in Cambridge
Sunday in Cambridge
Laphroaig and Macaroni Cheese
Sunday at Home
Girls Back from Japan
Musar on the Heath
Back to London
Saturday in Sussex
Arriving at the Tower
Musar Jeune 2018
More Terrible Haircut
Sunday Roast and Terrible Haircut
Curry and the Heath
Out in the Garden
Once More Unto The Heath
South Downs: Burgess Hill to Lewes
Another Evening on the Heath
Heath with Jeremy
Evening Walk to The Heath
Ambriel and Cardo's Carden
Dinner on Ditchling Beacon
Day of Rest
The Ridgeway: Liddington Hill to Avebury
The Ridgeway: Wantage to Liddington Hill
Yard Sale and Long Walk on the Heath
Fish and Chips and Garden Picnic
More Camping Gear
Masks and Jenkyn Place BdB
Dressing Up and Front Garden Wine Bar
Picnic on the Heath
Vineyards of Hampshire and Pizza
Back to school
Coldrum Long Barrow
Basmati in a Billy Can
Evening Stroll to Hampstead Heath
Negronis on Primrose Hill with Ricardo
Cider on the Heath
Olivogelo and Hampstead Heath in a Storm
Breaky Bottom 2015 Vintages
- First Apple and Winemaking
- [Monday 28th September 2020]
Although technically we had already taken the first apple of this season from the tree the weekend before last (to make a token contribution to the batch of cider we helped to make while visiting Dad in Devon), today we picked the first one to actually eat. It's always quite a nice turning point of the year, and this year, having left it a bit later than usual, the apples were a bit redder than they had been previously. They're not a particularly strongly flavoured apple (the variety is red falstaff) but they obviously taste extremely fresh.
In a similar autumnal theme, we also started the process of winemaking this evening with this year's grape harvest. We had about two kilos of grapes this year, which hopefully is going to translate to at least a bottle of wine, perhaps two. Chie helped out with the destemming, and Erika helped out with the pressing (done with a potato masher) so it was a nice family activity. I don't have particularly high hopes for the wine itself - I didn't even try the end result from when I attempted this the year before last - but more want to go through the process to understand it better. Who knows though, maybe I might inadvertently make something drinkable this time round.
- [Sunday 27th September 2020]
Harvested the grapes from my vines today.
- Pewsey to Avebury
- [Saturday 26th September 2020]
Went for a walk today, from Pewsey to Avebury: via Wilcot, Pewsey Downs, East Kennet, West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill.
Read more on John Goes For a Walk.
- Pineapple and Pillow
- [Friday 25th September 2020]
Braved the Pineapple for lunch (at Chie's insistence I might add). Later on my new inflatable camping pillow arrived.
- [Thursday 24th September 2020]
Not much to report, other than had some of Dad's excellent cider this evening.
- [Wednesday 23rd September 2020]
Made (in my opinion) a very nice dinner involving stuffed courgettes and stuffed cabbage leaves. After dinner I took a jam jar full of Gevrey Chambertin to drink on Hampstead Heath.
- [Monday 21st September 2020]
Erika had a dentist appointment after school near Belgravia, so we decided to go to Oliveto for dinner. Followed of course by gelato from Olivogelo.
- Back to London
- [Sunday 20th September 2020]
Had a parting picnic at Castle Neroche in the Blackdown Hills on the way back to London.
- Saturday in Devon
- [Saturday 19th September 2020]
Made cider in the morning. Afternoon in Teignmouth, then back to Dad's house for a barbecue for dinner, followed by me and Erika camping out in the garden.
- Driving Down to Devon
- [Friday 18th September 2020]
Drove down to Devon after school this evening - took in excess of five hours but we were treated to glorious views of the sun setting around Stonehenge.
- [Thursday 17th September 2020]
More of the same.
- [Tuesday 15th September 2020]
Odds and ends and the usual grape pictures.
- [Monday 14th September 2020]
Erika had been given a kit for decorating "slapbands" for her birthday, and this evening spent some time doing so.
- [Sunday 13th September 2020]
Spent most of the day either in our garden or the garden of our local friends. The Dad of the other family was on the eve of a significant birthday, which alas he couldn't really celebrate properly given the current circumstances, so we took round a bottle of wine to compensate.
- [Saturday 12th September 2020]
Took Brix readings to test the level of sugar in the grapes on the vines in the garden with my refractometer today. Later on a stroll to Hampstead Heath.
- Birthday Playdate
- [Friday 11th September 2020]
Instead of a birthday party this year (and in addition to last week's outing to Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour) Erika just invited a couple of friends from school over for an afternoon playdate, after school finished.
Overall this seemed to go pretty well - and the three of them played very nicely together the whole time. The only disappointment for me personally was that I made macaroni cheese for dinner - which after checking with both sets of parents is apparently something both kids like (as does Erika) - but although Erika had seconds, the other two kids didn't finish theirs, and one of them only seemed to have a mouthful. A bit frustrating really, as it wasn't as though I tried to give them anything weird or unusual. Oh well!
- Erika's Birthday
- [Thursday 10th September 2020]
Given the current circumstances we weren't going to have a big birthday party for Erika this year, and as a testament to how grown up she is now, at eight years old, she seemed to completely understand. We'd gone to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour last week as a birthday outing, with just one friend, and also planned to have a couple of friends over tomorrow, but that was essentially it in terms of social gatherings.
To my surprise Erika also said she was happy to wait until she got back from school to open her presents today. I think she wanted to be able to take her time over it, so she just opened her cards in the morning.
After school she had an impromptu trip to a local ice cream shop with a couple of friends from her class, then when she got back she got stuck into her presents. It had been a bit difficult to decide what to get for her this year, because even when we had given up trying to guess and asked her directly a little while back she didn't seem sure. We eventually chose a Nintendo Switch, and when she opened it seemed very pleased with it, so that was good. I was personally delighted to see a Lego Harry Potter Knight Bus (from Uncle Adrian and family), and I look forward to building that with Erika. Also the little Korobokuru costumes, made by Grandma to fit on Champagne corks, with an accompanying story, were very cute.
Finished off the day with calls to Grandma and Grandad and then birthday cake just before bedtime. In a way, for us as parents at least, this was actually a really nice birthday - in the absence of having to plan and manage a big party we actually got to spend more time with Erika.
- Early Evening Stroll
- [Tuesday 8th September 2020]
I went for an early evening stroll and some more Chateau Musar on Hampstead Heath.
- The Black Friar
- [Sunday 6th September 2020]
Was lulled into a false sense of security by blue skies in the, and went back down to Blackfriars like I did on Friday for an al fresco pub lunch and stroll along the river, but the weather turned and it ended up quite chilly.
- [Saturday 5th September 2020]
A bit of a grey day and not much to report it seems.
- Bankside Beach and the George
- [Friday 4th September 2020]
We had a company wide day off work today. I probably should have got myself better organised and gone for a walk out in the country, but didn't really get my act together, so instead settled for a Thames side stroll along the "beach" at Bankside, followed by an excellent lunch in the courtyard of the beautiful George Inn.
- [Thursday 3rd September 2020]
I noticed veraison had started on my Cabernet Sauvignon vine today.
- Waner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
- [Wednesday 2nd September 2020]
Took Erika and a friend to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios as an early birthday treat.
- [Tuesday 1st September 2020]
Back to work today for the first day of a very short working week - just two and a half days.
- Monday in Cambridge
- [Monday 31st August 2020]
Went punting in the morning, which thanks to careful planning on my part coincided exactly with the one spell of good weather during our trip to Cambridge. Lunch by the Cam after that, then got the train back to London in the afternoon.
- Sunday in Cambridge
- [Sunday 30th August 2020]
Arrived in Cambridge around lunchtime, had lunch at the market, then a wander round Cambridge in the afternoon including a visit to King's College Chapel.
- [Saturday 29th August 2020]
The Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend - just had a quiet day close to home ahead of our trip to Cambridge the following day.
- [Friday 28th August 2020]
Erika's friend came round for a morning playdate followed by lunch.
- Laphroaig and Macaroni Cheese
- [Thursday 27th August 2020]
Took delivery of a bottle of Laphroaig today. Also made a very successful macaroni cheese for dinner.
- [Wednesday 26th August 2020]
Bits and pieces.
- Trowel Sabrage
- [Tuesday 25th August 2020]
Did sabrage with a trowel.
- [Monday 24th August 2020]
Back to work for me, while Chie and Erika went off to a birthday party in the daytime. Just a few photos of the usual checks on progress of things in the garden.
- Sunday at Home
- [Sunday 23rd August 2020]
Spent the day at home, building things with the cushions from the sofa, cooked lunch out in the back garden, and in the afternoon tried out the new kakigori (crushed ice) machine.
- [Saturday 22nd August 2020]
Spent the day with Erika, trying to help her adjust to the timezone difference - went for a walk around Hampstead Heath with a friend of hers followed by an al fresco drink at The Vine.
- Girls Back from Japan
- [Friday 21st August 2020]
Chie and Erika returned from Japan today. I took the day off work, spent the morning cleaning the flat, and drove to Heathrow in the afternoon to pick them up.
- Wine Prongs
- [Wednesday 19th August 2020]
Tried out my new wine prongs on a bottle of 2000 Chatea Musar.
- Musar on the Heath
- [Monday 17th August 2020]
Another evening spent on the heath with Jeremy and a bottle of Chateau Musar.
- Back to London
- [Sunday 16th August 2020]
Although I had the tower booked for three nights, after two mornings waking up to a shower basin full of woodlice I decided I'd probably had enough, and headed back to London.
- Saturday in Sussex
- [Saturday 15th August 2020]
Spent the day pottering about in the car in East Sussex, working my way through a list of things I wanted to do while in the area.
Started with breakfast on the beach at Seaford, then walked a little way along the coastal path to see the Seven Sisters (read more on John Goes For A Walk).
Next I popped into Rathfinny Estate and visited the shop plus took in the impressive views of one of England's biggest vineyards. After that, lunch at the Plough and Harrow in Litlington, followed by another walk to finally get a proper look at the Long Man of Wilmington (also on JGFAW).
Then another stroll along to Firle Beacon, followed by a visit to the pretty little village of Firle (also on JGFAW).
Headed back to the tower after that for dinner, and to spend the evening wine tasting and stargazing on the roof.
- Arriving at the Tower
- [Friday 14th August 2020]
I'd booked a weekend stay at Laughton Place, a 16th Century tower near Lewes, way back at the start of June, when I wasn't even sure if we'd be able to go there, and before Chie and Erika had booked their flights to spend most of the school summer holidays in Japan. I decided to keep the booking regardless (as surely I needed some kind of holiday this summer too?), and ended up staying there by myself.
So I picked up a Zipcar in the afternoon to drove down to Sussex. I had considered trying to do this trip just using public transport, but the tower is really quite remote - several miles walk from the nearest station, and it just didn't seem like it was going to be very practical without a car. The drive wasn't particularly fun, although did include the dubious highlight of going through the Blackwall tunnel for the first time which was interesting I suppose. It seemed to take ages, although according to my Google Maps timeline it was about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I suppose it did start to seem a bit less unpleasant once I'd got beyond the M25.
I stopped off at Middle Farm, which was quite close to the tower, to stock up on provisions and cider - probably the biggest selection of cider and perry of any shop in the country. Then spent the remainder of the day exploring in and around the tower.
- Musar Jeune 2018
- [Wednesday 12th August 2020]
Tried the first of the bottles from the Chatea Musar mixed case this evening - the Musar Jeune 2018.
- Chatea Musar
- [Tuesday 11th August 2020]
A mixed case of Chateau Musar arrived today.
- More Terrible Haircut
- [Monday 10th August 2020]
I had another go at trying to fix some of the damage from my terrible DIY haircut today. It still looked pretty awful.
- Sunday Roast and Terrible Haircut
- [Sunday 9th August 2020]
Went to a nearby pub for an al fresco Sunday roast. Later on I was suddenly gripped by a very ill advised urge to attempt to cut my own hair. It didn't end well.
- Granary Square
- [Saturday 8th August 2020]
Walked down to Granary Square and met Andrew there for a lunchtime al fresco beer as he was passing through St Pancras, then a late lunch at Rossopomodoro in Camden.
- [Friday 7th August 2020]
Not much to report, looks like I had a nice cold can of beer out in the garden after I finished work for the day.
- Curry and the Heath
- [Thursday 6th August 2020]
Ordered Indian food from the ever excellent Tiffin Tin for dinner. I had considered carrying it to the heath and eating it there, but in the end that seemed like too much faff, so instead I ate at home and then went for a stroll on the heath afterwards.
- Camden Hells
- [Wednesday 5th August 2020]
A case of Camden Hells arrived today.
- [Tuesday 4th August 2020]
A case of Nyetimber arrived today.
- [Monday 3rd August 2020]
Just a couple of photos of flowers in the garden.
- [Sunday 2nd August 2020]
Made by probably one and only visit to Frank's in Peckham of the summer this afternoon / early evening, with the usual suspects.
- Al Fresco
- [Saturday 1st August 2020]
Had a very al fresco day of dining and drinking. Got the Thameslink down to Blackfriars, then had a leisurely stroll from there to Belgravia, where I had lunch at Oliveto, thoroughly appreciating the new outdoor seating arrangements. Decided to walk back to Kentish Town, through Belgravia, via Hyde Park and Regents Park. On my return to Kentish Town I sat outside the Pineapple for a bit. Finally had a late dinner back at home, cooked out in the back garden.
- Out in the Garden
- [Friday 31st July 2020]
Spent some of the evening out in the garden again.
- Quornish Pasty
- [Thursday 30th July 2020]
Had a Cornish pasty made with Quorn for dinner. It wasn't great but it was OK.
- Once More Unto The Heath
- [Tuesday 28th July 2020]
Another weekday evening visit to Hampstead Heath, this time to try some Black Chalk wine.
- [Monday 27th July 2020]
Back to work after the weekend.
- South Downs: Burgess Hill to Lewes
- [Sunday 26th July 2020]
Went for a Sunday afternoon stroll in the South Downs, from Burgess Hill, via Ditchling, up Ditchling Beacon, and then along the ridge to Lewes. Dinner at the Lewes Arms which had recently reopened.
Read more on John Goes For A Walk.
- [Saturday 25th July 2020]
Had a quiet day, stayed in and did some writing.
- [Thursday 23rd July 2020]
Finally ventured back to the Pineapple this evening.
- Another Evening on the Heath
- [Wednesday 22nd July 2020]
Third evening in a row on the heath! This time with a bottle of Ambriel, and stayed until it got completely dark.
- Heath with Jeremy
- [Tuesday 21st July 2020]
Once again to Hampstead Heath this evening, this time to share a bottle of Chateau Musar with Jeremy.
- Evening Walk to The Heath
- [Monday 20th July 2020]
Yet another evening stroll to Hampstead Heath.
- Sunday Roast
- [Sunday 19th July 2020]
Went for a Sunday roast at a nearby pub.
- Ambriel and Cardo's Carden
- [Saturday 18th July 2020]
Went to Parliament Hill Farmer's Market this morning, on a tip off there was a stall from Ambriel selling English sparkling wine. Bought a few bottles there. Later on was invited to Cardo's garden in Maida Vale for drinks.
- The Angel
- [Friday 17th July 2020]
Went to The Angel in Bermondsey to watch the sunset.
- Dinner on Ditchling Beacon
- [Thursday 16th July 2020]
Finally made it back to the South Downs, for the first time this year. A bit of a late start as I was waiting for some new walking socks to be delivered. So it was more of a late afternoon / evening walk, but that meant I could have my dinner on the top of Ditchling Beacon, while watching the sun set.
Read more on John Goes For A Walk.
- Day of Rest
- [Wednesday 15th July 2020]
Had a day of complete rest at home after my two days of walking.
- The Ridgeway: Liddington Hill to Avebury
- [Tuesday 14th July 2020]
After a very unsuccesful night's sleep, I set out at dawn to complete the last leg of my walk along the Ridgeway.
Read more at John Goes for a Walk.
- The Ridgeway: Wantage to Liddington Hill
- [Monday 13th July 2020]
Finally, the first day of my m uch awaited two day walking and camping trip, to complete my walk along the Ridgeway National Trail, which had been on hiatus since March.
Read more at John Goes for a Walk.
- Camping Preparation
- [Sunday 12th July 2020]
The girls flew off to Japan today, and I did some preparation for my camping trip.
- Yard Sale and Long Walk on the Heath
- [Saturday 11th July 2020]
Today was Chie and Erika's last full day before they flew off to Japan. I took Erika round the school yard sale in the neighbourhood around midday, then a bit later in the afternoon we met up with local friends for a long walk on Hampstead Heath, where we climbed trees, built a den and generally had a lovely time.
- [Thursday 9th July 2020]
Yet more photos of the grapes growing in the garden.
- [Wednesday 8th July 2020]
The windshield for my camp stove, which arrived today. Some Gevrey Chambertin in the evening.
- Campstove Ramen
- [Tuesday 7th July 2020]
As practice for my upcoming camping trip, I wanted to see if I could cook ramen on my campstove using just a single fuel block.
- Fish and Chips and Garden Picnic
- [Sunday 5th July 2020]
Fish and chips for lunch (halloumi and chips for me) at Chie's request - yes a bit odd for a Sunday! Went out for coffee and smoothies in the afternoon. In the evening went to see local friends for a picnic in their garden.
- More Camping Gear
- [Saturday 4th July 2020]
More camping gear arrived today, and I tested out my sleeping bag with my Thermarest and bivvi bag.
- Masks and Jenkyn Place BdB
- [Friday 3rd July 2020]
Received some masks in the post from Christian in New York, and tried another bottle from the Vineyards of Hampshire case - this time the Jenkyn Place Blanc de Blancs.
- [Thursday 2nd July 2020]
Received my Thermarest camping mat today.
- Rainy Heath
- [Sunday 28th June 2020]
I went for an afternoon stroll to Hampstead Heath. It rained again.
- Dressing Up and Front Garden Wine Bar
- [Saturday 27th June 2020]
Erika wanted to play dressing up for a bit in the daytime, and we did a mini fashion show in the back garden. Later on, Erika was oddly determined to clean the window sills at the front of the house, so we did that together, then we set up a little wine bar there in the evening.
- Picnic on the Heath
- [Friday 26th June 2020]
Had a picnic on Hampstead Heath for dinner with local friends.
- Erika's Bread
- [Thursday 25th June 2020]
Erika made bread at school today.
- Vineyards of Hampshire and Pizza
- [Wednesday 24th June 2020]
Received a mixed case from the vineyards of Hampshire association today. Pizza for dinner, then later on an evening stroll to see a local cocktail bar's takeaway offering.
- Tarp Shelter
- [Tuesday 23rd June 2020]
Set up a tarp shelter in the garden as it was a rather sunny day.
- Back to school
- [Monday 22nd June 2020]
Erika was delighted to be going back to school today.
- Arty Sunday
- [Sunday 21st June 2020]
Had an arty/crafty day at home with Erika. Made a snow globe, some stress balls, Erika helped to make dinner, and I did a lot of cleaning after all the arty/crafy activities.
- Coldrum Long Barrow
- [Saturday 20th June 2020]
Went to Coldrum Long Barrow in Kent for the summer solstice.
- Basmati in a Billy Can
- [Friday 19th June 2020]
Used one of my camping cooking pots (I'm not sure this is technically a billy can, but close enough) to cook basmati rice. It was actually a perfect size for the amount of rice we normally cook for the three of us and it came out rather perfectly.
- [Thursday 18th June 2020]
Received a delivery of a tarp today and tried it out - first in the lounge, then later on in the garden in the rain. Also another pre-solstice walk to Hampstead Heath.
- [Wednesday 17th June 2020]
More of the same really.
- Evening Stroll to Hampstead Heath
- [Tuesday 16th June 2020]
I went for an evening stroll to Hampstead Heath, to catch a bit of the sunset, in the run-up to the summer solstice.
- Erika's Pizzeria
- [Monday 15th June 2020]
Erika made dinner this evening! She assembled a couple of pizzas for us, and very nice they were too.
- Pineapple Again
- [Sunday 14th June 2020]
Went back to the Pineapple for another takeaway pint, albeit that they were serving through the door this time, and nobody was lingering outside.
- The Pineapple
- [Saturday 13th June 2020]
The Pineapple briefly reopened for takeaway, although, alas, thanks to unsupportive neighbours this turned out to be a one weekend only thing.
Also cooked both main meals today out in the garden - a sort of pasta e fagioli for lunch, then a barbecue for dinner.
- [Friday 12th June 2020]
Some more Black Dog Hill to mark another working week over.
- Negronis on Primrose Hill with Ricardo
- [Tuesday 9th June 2020]
Met up with Ricardo - who I hadn't seen since March - for socially distanced Negronis on Primrose Hill.
- [Monday 8th June 2020]
Ordered a Chinese takeaway this evening. The portion sizes were rather underwhelming.
- Cider on the Heath
- [Sunday 7th June 2020]
Returned to the heath for a while this afternoon - thankfully no thunderstorm this time - and sat for a while drinking cider by the Bronze Age barrow, having some much needed time by myself.
- Olivogelo and Hampstead Heath in a Storm
- [Saturday 6th June 2020]
I hired a Zipcar again today, but then dithered over where to go, and ultimately ended up just driving across London to get some gelato for Olivogelo. After coming back home and dropping off the car, I went for a walk to Hampstead Heath, and got caught in a torrential downpour.
- Breaky Bottom 2015 Vintages
- [Friday 5th June 2020]
Received a case of the newly released 2015 vintages from Breaky Bottom today, which I tried this evening.