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:
- Shopping, Dim Sum, BBQ
Ye Old Mitre, Whisky Society, and San Carlo Cicchetti
Mitford and Waugh
Lunch at the Pineapple
Work From Home
London Marathon and Hedge Trimming
St. James's and Playdates
Apple Tree Damage
Sylvanian Families Clothes
Saturday in Lille
Friday in Lille
Eurostar to Lille
Grantchester and Cambridge
- Shopping, Dim Sum, BBQ
- [Saturday 29th April 2017]
The main event for today was a barbecue at our friend's place in Brixton in the afternoon. However Erika had been saying for a few days now she wanted to go to our favourite dim sum place - and both Chie and I were delighted to hear Erika say she wants to eat something which isn't chocolate / gummies / ice cream. Knowing that afternoon barbecues can often mean eating at closer to dinner time, we thought it prudent to have a light lunch first.
Before the dim sum, Erika accompanied me to go and pick up my two new suits in and around St. James's. She waited fairly patiently outside the changing room at the first place and slightly less patiently inside the changing room at the second place, and after both fittings provided some short but broadly positive feedback ("Do you like it Erika?" - "Yes."). We went via the Burlington Arcade between the two shops, so also popped into Laduree to buy some macarons to take to our friends in the afternoon, and to Penhaligon's to sample a couple of fragrances. They gave her her own little sample bottle with which she was quite delighted (and Chie had to later wrestle off her because she kept spraying on herself). It felt wonderfully effete, flouncing around in this fashion with Erika in tow.
The dim sum at Joy King Lau was as delicious as ever.
We had a bit of time to kill before it was time to head to the barbecue after that, so initially we went and got in the queue for the Lego shop, but then Erika saw the (presumably new) Nickleodeon shop instead. Inside it was worlds apart from the gratifyingly sober menswear emporia we had been frequenting before lunch, with the rather bizarre notion that one might pay money to wear a garishly coloured article of clothing which gave free advertising to the brand you'd just paid money to. Thankfully Erika didn't actually seem to want any of these garish articles - but did like having her picture taken with "Shimmer and Shine". After leaving I then similarly had my picture taken with some Star Wars characters outside the Lego shop.
On arrival in Brixton I felt slightly self conscious as I walked past a socialist with a megaphone calling for an end to capitalism, in my tweed suit, carrying two new suit bags, a bag with a dozen macarons in, another bag with a bottle of Pol Roger, and a final bag with some fragrance from Penhaligon's. Thankfully she either didn't notice or just declined to make a comment.
At the barbecue (which turned out to be a more indoor affair as the barbecue had ran out of gas) Erika played happily with her friend, whilst I engaged in a very grown up conversation with the other parents present about tax, etc.
We left around 6, Chie and Erika had another social engagement in the evening back up North. I met Natalie for a quick glass of wine at a wine bar which was possibly the epitome of Brixton gentrification, before heading home to try on my new suits again.
- Ye Old Mitre, Whisky Society, and San Carlo Cicchetti
- [Friday 28th April 2017]
Actually worked from the office today as, to to my surprise I had a meeting, at the office, with other people at the office.
Perhaps as a result I felt quite grumpy, and left early to go to Ye Old Mitre - haven't been there in ages - to cheer myself up. Was quite happy to just sit and have a solitary pint there, but Andrew came along and joined me, which was very pleasant, and we sat in the grumpy old man corner being grumpy old men. Andrew having recently been to Islay, the conversation then led to whisky, and so it being just round the corner it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit another old haunt - the Whisky Society - where I also hadn't been for quite some time (my membership had lapsed, so it must be at least a year).
Andrew didn't want to stay particularly late, so after a whisky or two at the society, he headed home, and I attempted to meet up with Ricardo, who was in Soho. By the time I got there he had already left, so instead I went for a late dinner at San Carlo Ciccheti, then headed home.
- Thursday WFH
- [Thursday 27th April 2017]
Fourth day in a row working from home. It continued to be much more pleasant than working at the office.
Went to Bear and Wolf for breakfast with Chie after dropping Erika off at school, where I had their version of avocado on toast of which I am quite fond (despite it having changed on the menu thankfully they were still happy to make it the old way). As a result I didn't go out for lunch unlike the past couple of days, and instead just had a bowl of somewhat instant ramen.
In the evening after Erika's bedtime I attempted to go out for a cocktail in Kentish Town, having read in Time Out or somesuch about one of the local pubs now serving a "gunpowder gimlet", which sounded interest. On arrival at the pub in question though they told me the cocktail bar had closed early that evening due to nobody coming. I often get this feeling about Kentish Town that it occasionally teeters on the brink of becoming a buzzy, exciting part of London, and then fails at the final hurdle.
So instead I just went back home and read more of the Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford letters and became increasingly at how many more orders of magnitude more glamorous and exciting their lives were than mine.
- Mitford and Waugh
- [Wednesday 26th April 2017]
Worked from home again today, Chie went out for lunch with a friend, so I went and had pizza at the Franco Manca in Kentish Town for lunch. Considered then popping down to Camden to buy coffee, but had a bit of an intuition the weather was going to take a turn for the worst so went home instead. Sure enough I just got home in time to take the washing in before the rain, then hail, then later on even a bit of thunder.
Received a copy of the Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh in the post today, and started reading it in the evening. The first few were actually slightly hard work to get through, as Mitford and Waugh had such a huge circle of mutual friends, about whom they gossiped constantly, many referred to by obscure nicknames, that the constant flitting back and forth to the footnotes was a bit tiring. Eventually though I got into the swing of it, was perhaps slightly mixed emotions - on the one hand they're often very witty, and it's fascinating to see behind the scenes of a handful of novels I'd read recently (The Pursuit of Love, Decline and Fall, a Handful of Dust - and of course lots of references to Brideshead Revisited). It is particularly interesting how autobiographical all of their novels seem to be, almost all the characters seem to be based at least in part on real life friends and acquaintances of theirs, and it's fun that they mix reality and fiction in the letters, often referring to the real people with the names given in the books, even outside of the context of the narratives in the novels.
All of that said though I seem to be in a bit of a social rut at the moment, nights out seem to have become a very rare commodity of late, and even when the usual suspects can be rallied into action we seem to just be largely re-treading old ground. That, and the fact the modern world feels so banal compared to Waugh and Mitford's era. So, delightful though their letters were, they reawakened a deep sense of ennui, which had perhaps been put on hold with the temporary excitement of my birthday party in March, but had certainly been very evident for the couple of months before that.
- Lunch at the Pineapple
- [Tuesday 25th April 2017]
Worked from home again today. Looks like we probably need to engage in a bit of property maintenance work, so I had a contractor come round in the morning to give a quite, and it was easier then to just stay at home the rest of the day. Actually managed quite a decent day's work of it, and I've noticed I'm more likely to work later on in the evening as well when I work from home.
Went for lunch at the Pineapple with Chie. I tried a different dish to the usual 2 or 3 I generally choose from the Thai food menu - this time one called "garlic fever". It didn't taste overwhelmingly garlicky to me (Chie often questions whether my taste buds in fact work) but it was quite good.
- Work From Home
- [Monday 24th April 2017]
Decided to work from home today, as I in fact ended up doing most of this week, partly spurred on by the fact we need to organise some maintenance work on the flat, and it's just much easier to make phonecalls etc from home - I don't have a phone on my desk at the office, and my mobile doesn't get a particularly good signal - plus it's a fairly cramped open plan office and I don't like disturbing my colleagues.
Chie went out for lunch, and I ate leftovers from last night's sort of Mediteranean hot pot type thing (a somewhat improvised dish designed to use up various odds and ends).
- London Marathon and Hedge Trimming
- [Sunday 23rd April 2017]
It was the London Marathon today, and a friend from work was running in it, which seemed like a good excuse to go and sit in the Red Lion on Crown Passage for a bit, having remembered that it opened specially on Sundays for the marathon from the time when Gav ran it. I took Erika with me, and the two of us sat in the pub eating various bar snacks from midday onwards, which was rather lovely, then were met a little later there by Natalie. We then briefly went to see our friend at the finish line, before heading back up North because Erika had a party to attend in the afternoon.
While Chie and Erika were at the party I trimmed the hedge for the first time this year, after which I regretted because I had wasted all my free time on menial chores. I really ought to just pay someone else to do it, especially now the council want to charge us to take garden waste away apparently.
Made a sort of Mediterranean hot pot for dinner, a meal designed to use up lots of odds and ends we had lying around, more because I was too lazy to go out to the shops than out of any sense of frugality. It was actually quite nice, and accompanied by the bottle of "cheap" (only 20 Euros!) Gevrey Chambertin we'd picked up at the Carrefour in Lille last weekend. The wine was a bit astringent to be honest, and being a 2015 may have been better if left a couple of years.
- St. James's and Playdates
- [Saturday 22nd April 2017]
Erika had a total of 3 playdates today - two planned, one impromptu. Chie and I took it in turns to accompany her to the two planned ones, so I had a bit of time to myself in the morning.
I decided to pop down to St. James's, having not been for a while. Although thanks to the very mixed weather we've had so far this spring (that one very warm weekend, and then at times really quite chilly since then) I've been able to eek tweed season out for a bit longer than it perhaps should last for, but I'm fully aware that this run of good fortune can not last for ever, and regrettably days when thick wool suits do not represent comfortable attire are just around the corner. I've come to the realisation that I'm happiest when wearing suits. I like the simplicity of not having to think which trousers go with which jacket and which shirt, and despite the laziness of it the end result of a suit almost always just seems that bit smarter and more appealing than separate trousers and jacket. So I decided I should invest in some summer suits, so I can stick to that same comfortable modus operandi, just varying the cloths involved.
What I really didn't want though is something resembling a "business suit", and it's a sad reflection on the decline in sartorial standards and the general diminishing interest in aesthetics in society that the vast majority of suits on sale seem to only be catering for this market. I walked disinterestedly past row upon row of banal navy and grey suits, fated to be worn by owners who probably despised them as icons of their workplace subjugation. Which is all a bit sad. I wanted suits made of cloths exuding panache and a certain elan, and such articles are disappointingly hard to find off the peg. I considered having something made to order, but as always didn't have the forethought to engage in this seriously back in January or February such that it would be ready now that spring is upon us (well, sort of).
I thought I would give Suit Supply a go, as despite the general disapproval of the traditional tailoring establishments, they did seem to have a few off the peg suits made of cloths which were a little more off piste and the prices were fairly reasonable which seemed prudent for a slightly more experimental foray down a new sartorial avenue. I'd found an interesting looking white and blue houndstooth / puppytooth linen cloth which felt like an appropriate translation of my much loved tweed into a summer context. They didn't have one in stock in my size, but ordered one in for me.
Of course I can't just wear one suit the whole summer, so I thought while I had some momentum I should keep going, and went to some of the old stalwarts on Jermyn Street to see what I could find. Hackett, usually quite a reliable fallback, didn't have anything which appealed, but Boggi, who generally do a good job of very lightweight summer suits had an interesting sort of brown/charcoal suit with a large overcheck which gave it a bit of character, and patch pockets, of which I'm normally not a fan, but to my mind at least took it firmly out of the banal realms of busniess attire.
So that was quite a successful morning's shopping, which I ended with a cup of tea at my club, wherein I sat in the central lounge for a change (the bar wasn't open yet) and admired the rather ornate staircase.
I headed back to K-Town shortly after noon, to meet Chie and Erika at Wahaca for lunch, before I then took Erika for her second playdate, the highlight of that being a batch of rather good home made madeleines.
On the way back home from there we bumped into another friend of Erika's, and the two of them played at a playground for a bit. Erika's friend and her family were heading to Wahaca for dinner, as it happened, and Erika asked if we could go too, but I thought twice in one day might be overdoing it a bit.
- Halloumi Kebab
- [Friday 21st April 2017]
Another lunch from the Kings Cross street food market - this time a sort of halloumi kebab.
- Pav Bhaji
- [Thursday 20th April 2017]
Had a Pav Bhaji for lunch from the street food market in Kings Cross.
- Apple Tree Damage
- [Wednesday 19th April 2017]
I was rather annoyed to find one of the neighbouring kids had kicked a football into our garden (impressive in a sense as it must have gone over a couple of other gardens first) and had broken off a branch of my apple tree. I was properly into grumpy old man territory.
- Sylvanian Families Clothes
- [Tuesday 18th April 2017]
Some of the clothes Grandma made for Erika's Sylvanian Families.
- Easter Monday
- [Monday 17th April 2017]
Had a quiet day in and around home.
- Easter Sunday
- [Sunday 16th April 2017]
Went for the Easter Bonnet Parade at the Pineapple then had some local friends back to our place for an Easter egg hunt.
- Saturday in Lille
- [Saturday 15th April 2017]
Daytime in Lille before getting an early evening Eurostar back to London. Visited a market and the Palais des Beaux Arts in the morning, had "Un Welsh" (yes, Welsh Rarebit is a thing in France!) for lunch, then visited Meert and the Lego store to buy things to eat and do on the train back to London.
- Friday in Lille
- [Friday 14th April 2017]
Went to the zoo and played at the playground in the Citadel park in the morning, then lunch, then took Erika to the fairground. After that we said to Erika it would be nice if we could do something the grownups would like to do now - perhaps some sightseeing - at which she protested on the strongest possible terms. So instead we just went back to our hotel for a bit, considered just changing trains and going back to London that day, but instead stuck it out, and had crepes for dinner.
- Eurostar to Lille
- [Thursday 13th April 2017]
Got the Eurostar to Lille after work.
- Gev Cham
- [Wednesday 12th April 2017]
Had some Gev Cham with dinner on a whim.
- [Monday 10th April 2017]
I bought a pair of sunglasses today, in the hope of ameliorate the sudden outburst of heayfever I seem to have been afflicted with.
- Grantchester and Cambridge
- [Sunday 9th April 2017]
I've had a long running hankering to visit the Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester while the apple blossom is flowering, so today we got the train to Cambridge to do just that.