John Hawkins



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:
Loose Change
Sell Sell Sell
Vaguely Mexican
Well Organised
Regency Cafe
Bank Holiday Monday
Sunday in Devon
Saturday in Devon
Off to Devon
Ribollita
Little Waitrose
We May Actually Be Buying A Flat
Monday
Westminster
Greenwich and Midnight Apothecary
Negroni and Crisps
Da Mario
Negroni and (Salt and Shake) Crisps
Working Late
Erika in Cereal

Pictures:
Devon August 2014: August bank holiday weekend down in Devon to visit Dad.Devon August 2014
Saturday 23rd - Monday 25th August 2014
August bank holiday weekend down in Devon to visit Dad.
London August 2014: Pictures from London in August 2014.London August 2014
August 2014
Pictures from London in August 2014.
Abergavenny July 2014: Weekend in Abergavenny to visit Vera and Robin, including a daytrip to Ledbury.Abergavenny July 2014
Friday 18th - Sunday 20th July 2014
Weekend in Abergavenny to visit Vera and Robin, including a daytrip to Ledbury.
London July 2014: Pictures from London in July 2014.London July 2014
July 2014
Pictures from London in July 2014.
Italy June 2014: A week in Italy, taking in Genoa, Sestri Levante, the Cinque Terre, Pisa and Florence.Italy June 2014
Saturday 14th - Sunday 22nd June 2014
A week in Italy, taking in Genoa, Sestri Levante, the Cinque Terre, Pisa and Florence.
Blog:
- Loose Change
[Saturday 30th August 2014]
- Sell Sell Sell
[Friday 29th August 2014]
- Vaguely Mexican
[Thursday 28th August 2014]
- Well Organised
[Wednesday 27th August]
- Regency Cafe ( 1)
[Tuesday 26th August 2014]
- Bank Holiday Monday
[Monday 25th August 2014]
- Sunday in Devon
[Sunday 24th August 2014]
- Saturday in Devon ( 1)
[Saturday 23rd August 2014]
- Off to Devon
[Friday 22nd August 2014]
- Ribollita
[Thursday 21st August 2014]

Loose Change
[Saturday 30th August 2014]
For the past few years I've developed a bad habit of just emptying out my pockets onto the window sill at the end of the day, and can seldom be bothered to pick up loose change again the next morning. Consequently I'd developed a fairly unwieldy pile of coins which Chie had often suggested I do something about. Spurred on in part by the temporary cash crunch as a result of our potential flat purchase, today I decided to finally sort it out - so this morning we gathered up all the coins, sorted it into the different denominations, and took it to the bank. It was a tad embarrassing to be honest, as there were lots of other people in the branch on Kings Road doing proper modern / grown-up type transactions involving debit cards and filling in forms, whilst I was busily asking to pay in the contents of my piggy bank.

The grand total was about 77 quid.

After that we went to Peter Jones to buy Erika a new pair of shoes, as we had the impression the current ones were getting a bit small for her (and we were right). Then Chie had planned to meet up with a friend, so I took Erika off for a bit in an attempt to get her to doze off in her buggy and have her afternoon nap, which proved quite hard work.

Eventually we ended up at the Waitrose in Belgravia, and I bought things for dinner. The person in front of me at the checkout spent 755. Particularly in light of having earlier in the day gone to the bank to pay in a bag full of pennies, I really felt like a pauper.

Walking around Sloane Square and Belgravia today was a little bittersweet, given the distinct possibility that we could be moving away from the area by the end of the year.

Made a moussaka for dinner which came out particularly well.
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Sell Sell Sell
[Friday 29th August 2014]
Actually quite a momentous day, although perhaps not very interesting to write about. As a result of our potential flat purchase I would need to sell a bunch of the company stock which makes up part of my income, and as this was the last day before the trading window closed (and at least in theory we might be in a positon to complete on the purchase of the flat before it reopened), it probably had to be today. In fact this would be the biggest stock sale I've done to date - and therefore the single biggest financial transaction of any kind of my life so far. I ultimately hit "sell" just a minute or two before leaving the office at 5pm, with a beer in hand (from my very brief attendance of TGIF today). It's best not to take these things too seriously, I find.

Also got the report from the survey we'd had commissioned on the flat we're hoping to buy today. A bit surprised that took a whole week to be delivered (the survey was carried out last Thursday) but I suppose it's still progress.

Chie went out for the evening, so I had a very quiet evening in looking after Erika. I sort of felt some kind of fizzy drinks ought to be involved, to mark the large sale of stock, but perhaps any such celebratory activity is best held off until when/if we actually complete on the deal for this flat.
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Vaguely Mexican
[Thursday 28th August 2014]
For the second night in a row there was some talk at work of possible evening drinks - and approval from Chie - but it ultimately didn't come to anything. So instead I headed home by way of Sainsbury's, where I met Chie and Erika, and eventually settled on some vague interpretation of Mexican food for dinner. I think I was approximately trying to recreate a burrito, so made some roughly Mexican flavoured beans, and rice which was a round about attempt to recreate the type of rice you have in a burrito. Plus some sauteed peppers, some sliced avocado, sour cream, and wonderfully cheap and tacky "Mexicana" cheese. The end result wasn't particularly authentic but was actually reasonably tasty.
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Well Organised
[Wednesday 27th August]
Got up early this morning and booked the TGV for our trip to Monaco. In light of our potential flat purchase we had considered cancelling the trip altogether, but I later discovered I'd actually paid in full in advance for the hotel, and besides, given the crappy weather of late and the fact Chie often gets a bit down around this time of year with the change of the seasons, it seemed like a long weekend in the sun was still a good idea.

Also sent off all the initial paperwork to our conveyancing solicitor for our embryonic flat purchase this morning. Felt satisfyingly organised.

Got a new phone today - a Moto G 4G. I'd managed to smash the screen on the previous one in Greenwich the weekend before last, and I could feel the little shards of glass making tiny cuts on my thumb. It turned out that it cost about the same to just get a brand new phone as it would have done to have the screen replaced, albeit that this is a less fancy phone than the Nexus 5 I had before.

There had been some vague talk of possibly going out in the evening amongst the usual suspects at work, but it ultimately didn't materialise. So instead I picked up Chinese takeaway on the way home - somehow I couldn't quite bring myself to cook having initially thought I'd be going out. Whilst waiting for the takeaway to be cooked I popped next door to the interesting tailors which I often look in the window of, but never go in. On impulse I bought a very reasonably priced jacket in their sale, although later on felt a bit guilty given the cash crunch we're currently experiencing as a result of the flat purchase.

Later on in the evening I booked the Eurostar for our Monaco trip, still a bit in two minds as to whether it was an unnecessary extravagance given the other demands on our cash right now, but I'm sure it'll all work out.
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Regency Cafe
[Tuesday 26th August 2014]
Erika has quite severe nappy rash at the moment, so we decided we ought to take her to see the doctor this morning. Amusingly having got there bright and early to queue up for the walk-in clinic, it ultimately transpired that the doctor who was supposed to be doing it was in fact on holiday. So it had to be rebooked elsewhere a bit later in the morning, giving us a bit of time to kill in the vicinity of Vincent Square. Naturally we therefore decided to go for breakfast at the Regency Cafe, which was delightful as always.

We'd been given a bunch of initial paperwork to fill in by our conveyancing solicitor before the bank holiday weekend, and this evening I set about sorting it all out with a drive and sense of purpose which surprised me as much as it surprised Chie. I normally hate filling in forms, and she's the one who has to thrust them in front of me to get them done. As this also involved collecting bank statements and other documents I took the opportunity to tidy up and file away the mass of random papers on the coffee table, where the contents of envelopes inevitably get dumped. Felt very virtuous after that.
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Bank Holiday Monday
[Monday 25th August 2014]
We'd originally planned to stay in Devon until after lunch, but the weather didn't seem particularly good again and we'd had a text from Gav, who was in London for a bit, asking if there was a possibility of meeting up today. So we decided to get an earlier train instead.

Got back to the flat some time after 1pm, and after a quick lunch the girls had a nap, which ended up lasting most of the afternoon. I was keen to get out and do something, so headed out in the direction of a distinctly sodden Soho, and holed up in the Coach of Horses to wait for Gav. They had Newtons Kingston Black Cider and Bridge Farm Perry behind the bar, both of which were very good.

Gav joined me after a little while and we had a bit of a natter about our respective employers (we've both ended up working in big Silicon Valley companies), and eventually went to meet the girls for dinner at Tibits.
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Sunday in Devon
[Sunday 24th August 2014]
Stayed in at Dad's house for the morning (rather a busy time of the week for him!) and called Jiji/Baba (Chie's parents) on Skype. Had quite a long chat with them, including sharing our news of the potential flat purchase, to which their reaction was simply "osoroshii" (which I took to mean scary, given the sums involved etc).

I made a good old lentil and tomato soup for lunch, which was ready for when Dad got back from his morning duties. It seemed to be well received, but I ought to have made double the quantity.

After lunch we went out to Teignmouth, initially just so we could go to the Waitrose there, but once there we thought we might as well go for a walk along the seafront. Not particularly nice weather today - it stayed dry while we were out, but felt really quite chilly. Still, undeterred we sat on the beach outside the Ship Inn for a bit, and whilst the grown-ups had a drink Erika had a bit of a play in the sand. Oh and we ate some Scampi Flavoured Fries (they're vegetarian) - they're still fascinatingly horrible and yet weirdly moreish.

Back at the house in the evening Dad made toad in the hole for dinner, and we were joined by Janie's Mum Nora.
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Saturday in Devon
[Saturday 23rd August 2014]
Visited Reddaway's Cider in the morning, which was really exciting again. The cider cellar there has a magical atmosphere, and the farmyard setting we walk through to get it is so much like you'd hope it to be (all rustic, higgledy piggledy outbuildings with free roaming chickens) that it almost feels like a parody.

Spent the afternoon on the beach at Dawlish Warren, as Dawlish air show was on today, which made for an interesting mixture of digging in the sand with occasional interludes of planes flying over head doing aerial acrobatics. Erika seeemed to quite enjoy both aspects. Dawlish Warren was always a favourite beach of our on bucket and spade holidays when I was a kid, and it's lovely to be able to go back there and have Erika enjoy it too.

After the Red Arrows had done their bit, Dad and I decided to walk back to the house, taking Erika in her buggy in the hope that she'd doze off. She did, but only for half an hour or so. We stopped off on the way back at the Ship In in Cockwood, where Dad and I had a cider, and Erika had an orange juice and some mini cheddars. She also ate a couple of the olives Dad had got for us, which rather surprised a nearby table.

Had a cream tea when we got back home, and for dinner Dad made his own take on a "nabe" (Japanese hotpot), with udon noodles and lots of vegetables from his allotment. We also made a good dent in the Reddaway's Cider.
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Off to Devon
[Friday 22nd August 2014]
Went into work early this morning as I'd be leaving early this afternoon, by way of Victoria station where I picked up the train tickets, and got a new Family and Friends railcard. I bought a pen to fill in the form. It occurred to me it had been quite a while since I actually bought a pen (although on further thinking maybe only two years ago, in Vancouver airport).

Left work early so we could catch the latest train out of Paddington before the peak period starts, and tickets get a lot more expensive. Chie brought along some edamame for the journey, which Erika thoroughly enjoyed deshelling and eating.

On the little connecting train from Exeter onwards one of the passengers had a snake. Not in a cage or anything, he was just holding it in his hands. That was a little surprising.

Arrived at the station nearest to Dad's house at 6:42, and were met on the platform there. Headed back to Dad's house where he made an of interesting assortment of vegetable dishes for dinner, almost all of which with vegetables from his allotment.
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Ribollita
[Thursday 21st August 2014]
Chie had a doctors appointment in the evening, so I went to pick Erika up from nursery after work.

For dinner I made yet another batch of ribollita, partly mindful of the fact we'd be going to Devon over the bank holiday weekend and there were some vegetables which probably needed using up.
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Little Waitrose
[Wednesday 20th August 2014]
Rumours of a Little Waitrose in Pimlico have been circulating for a while, but for the first time today as I walked along Warwick Way after leaving I saw the hoarding outside. Considering property prices in Pimlico I'd always been a baffled by the fact the best offering it had for food shopping was a Sainsbury's.

It is of course a bit ironic that just at the point Pimlico starts to get some of the things I think it's been lacking all these years (I also noticed an interesting looking coffee shop about to open the other day) we're on the brink of potentially moving away. Such is life.

Both dropped Erika off at nursery, and went to pick her up together with Chie today - we wanted to have a bit of a chat with the staff as she's moved to a different room recently, and we wanted to find out what the daily routine is, etc.
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We May Actually Be Buying A Flat
[Tuesday 19th August 2014]
We'd been to look at a few flats in NW5 earlier this year, having initially thought it represented a good compromise on a lot of fronts, in terms of prices, proximity to green space, commuting distance, schooling and so on. That last point had turned out to be more complicated than we first thought, and as a result we had more or less given up on the idea, and I'd gone back to pretty much just burying my head in the sand.

I had, however, set up an alert on Zoopla for properties in the vicinity of one particular school we had our eye on, just in case. One place which had particularly caught my eye a few weeks back - and had predictably immediately gone under offer before we could view it - had over the weekend come back on the market again. I'd phoned yesterday assuming it would have already gone again, but for whatever reason this time it hadn't, so today we went to view it.

It's small (just two bedrooms, one of which is pretty tiny), but still bigger than where we're currently renting, and so many other things about it seemed to be just about right for us that after careful consideration over a "Dirty Burger" (we went here after a previous flat viewing, it seems to be becoming a tradition) we decided to make an offer.

To our cautious delight and surprise we had a call back from the agent later on this afternoon telling us our offer had been accepted.

Obviously I don't want to jinx it, and are fully aware this is a very early stage in the process, of which the seller can easily pull out, but still I couldn't help but feel somewhat jubilant about having got this bit further in the process - we've put in offers on a few places now, and this is the first time we've actually had one accepted.

I felt compelled to share the (tentative) good news with some of the usual suspects at work, with whom property inevitably ends up being a very frequent topic of conversation, and an impromptu celebratory pint at the Duke of Wellington was arranged.

Couldn't stay for long, as I'd arranged to meet Tom for dinner, who was working in London this week. So we started with a pizza at Oliveto, which we followed with a miniature pub crawl around Belgravia - taking in the Antelope, the Nag's Head, and the Grenadier.
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Monday
[Monday 18th August 2014]
According to my Google search history, after putting Erika to bed, I spent some time looking for car seats (we realised we'd need to have one sent to Dad's for our upcoming trip to Devon) followed by reading about "Heli Air Monaco", the helicopter shuttle service between Nice airport and Monaco. Mundane to the ridiculous. We're hoping to go to Monaco again around Erika's birthday like we did last year but I've been filled with a mass of indecision over how to get there. Last year we went by train as a simple matter of policy. Having given in and agreed to fly to Italy for our holiday earlier this year, I'm now in a bit of a quandary. We certainly did manage the same train trip with Erika last year, but she was a year younger then, less mobile, quieter, and generally easier to keep entertained.
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Westminster
[Sunday 17th August 2014]
Very quiet compared to yesterday's very eventful day. Headed out in the afternoon in a failed attempt to buy some chocolate. I wanted a bar of really excellent plain chocolate. Something like this, perhaps.... but it seems they no longer sell it in Gelupo, and I couldn't find anything which took my fancy in Fortnum and Mason either. So we wandered round aimlessly for a bit, did a little bit of shopping in Chinatown, ate some interesting cold noodles, and then decided to just head back home again.

I'd noticed as I was passing yesterday that the playground we really like next to the Houses of Parliament had partially reopened. It's currently in the process of being extended, which meant it had been closed off altogether for a while. So we got off the bus at Parliament Square and went there for a while.
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Greenwich and Midnight Apothecary
[Saturday 16th August 2014]
Rather a full day.

In the morning I booked a couple of nights at our favourite hotel in Monaco. We went last year just before Erika's birthday, and it had been really nice to have one last guaranteed burst of good weather to finish off the summer. This year's August in London had not been entirely great, so we were keen to do the same again.

My former boss Andrew was passing through London this week, and he'd suggested this morning we set up a "play date" with Erika and his daughter Zia, who is about 10 or 11 months older. It was actually their first time to meet.

As they were staying near Greenwich Park we aimed for there, and I was really impressed with the kids play area there - it was like five or six playgrounds all joined together. Erika was a bit shy at first, as kids of that sort of age always are, but soon was following Zia around, and playing on all the slides, swings etc. When lunchtime came around we headed over to Canary Wharf and went into the branch of Leon there (Andrew is a big fan). Actually it's my first time in a Leon, and it was surprisingly good. We rounded off the play date with, oddly, a bit of jazz, as there was a free jazz festival going on in Canary Wharf. By the end of their time together Erika and Zia were getting on really well, and as we headed away from the jazz festival to get the tube they held hands and walked along together, which was very sweet. Such a shame they live in San Francisco normally!

On the downside I managed to drop my phone on the cobbles on Greenwich, and smashed the screen. Have never smashed the screen on a phone before, and had got away with dropping this one a few times already without any damage. So that was a bit upsetting.

As I had plans to be back at this end of town in the evening I'd originally considered just hanging around, but Erika was ready for her afternoon nap, and it seemed it would be nicer for her to head home so she could nap indoors.

So after dropping Erika off at the flat, I almost immediately headed back out again, and got on a Thames Clipper with the other Andrew from work, who had largely organised our evening jaunt (although it was originally my idea), and a few other people. We got off at Canary Wharf pier, and there change for the ferry service across the river to the Hilton hotel, in Rotherhithe. From there we walked along the river to the Brunel Museum.

On Saturdays in the summer they open up the museum's garden as an open an cocktail bar, which they call the Midnight Apothecary (although it actually closes before 11). Most interestingly they use things actually grown in the garden as ingredients in the garden. So we enjoyed a succession of very tasty (albeit perhaps not particularly boozy) cocktails in the compact little garden, whilst nibbling on food from the Greek grill (wonderfully titled "I Should be Souvlaki"). It was all very pleasant. As an added treat we were also taken down into the subterranean chamber which had been dug initially as an entrance to the tunnel which crosses the Thames here - the reason for the siting of the museum. It had apparently only reopened to the public this year, and we were among the first to go in it. It was a very atmospheric space, and the museum's curator gave a rousing speech at the significance of it, a long list of worlds firsts that the tunnel represented.

Delicious though the cocktails were, it was a relatively short list, and added to the fact that it was getting a bit crowded later on in the evening we decided, for sake of variety, to throw a mini pub crawl into the mix. So for a while we decamped to the Mayflower, just across the road from the Brunel Museum, and then later on also went for a final drink at the Angel, from where we enjoyed the impressive night time views of Tower Bridge.
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Negroni and Crisps
[Friday 15th August 2014]
Trying to write this over two weeks hence. Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of my location history - Friday is Erika's day off nursery so it looks like I just went to work and came home again. Looking at my search history it seems I spent some time choosing a hotel in Monaco, which I ultimately booked the following morning. According to chat history we had Japanese curry for dinner. Looks like from the photo I had a Negroni and some crisps.
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Da Mario
[Thursday 14th August 2014]
Went for lunch at Da Mario - Princess Diana's favourite pizza place - with Andrew from work. It wasn't bad, the style of the pizza was a bit nostalgic somehow, like something from the 90s.
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Negroni and (Salt and Shake) Crisps
[Wednesday 13th August 2014]
Bought some Salt and Shake crisps in the supermarket. Impressively on the nutritional information panel they say 0% salt, which of course is only the case should you choose not to add the salt from the little sachet. Actually they don't taste too bad with no salt at all.

Worked in the evening after Erika went to bed, I spent this week doing a sort of side project which was more of a return to the stuff I used to work on, and was therefore very gratiftying for me, but I suspect nobody else at work particularly cares about.
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Working Late
[Tuesday 12th August 2014]
Chie and Erika went for dinner with a friend today, I was invited along too but decided instead to stake advantage of my presence not being entirely required at dinnertime and instead stayed late at the office to get some work done.
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Erika in Cereal
[Monday 11th August 2014]
Just one picture, Erika's name written in cereal.

Pretty ordinary sort of a weekday really, nothing to report.
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