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:
South Downs Way - The End!
Old Sussex Inns
Early Signs of Spring
Pizza at Home
Filipino-Japanese
Jim's Birthday
School Trip
St. Moritz
English Sparkling Wine Prestige Cuvees
Vinegrowing Course Day 3
Jack and Jill in the Snow
Pizza and Slime
Snow
Bingo Night
Tuesday
Monday
Camden Garden Centre and Honest Burgers
Saturday
Burns Night
Oliveto
Soho with Ricardo and Jim
Garden Centre, Hampstead Heath and Keats House
Herb Stand, Ramen, Macarons, Truffle
Leon in London
Anniversary
Nest Thermostat
Tooth
Swimming
South Downs Way: Petersfield to East Meon
The Harrow Inn
Vinegrowing Course Day 2
Twelfth Night
Veggie Karaage
Highgate
Shakesperience
Wahaca and Plunger
New Year's Day
Cocking to Petersfield
Winter Wonderland
Bec and Jessica
Abergavenny
Thursday in Bristol
Boxing Day at the Zoo
Christmas Day
Christmas Eve
Christmas Party
South Downs Way: Amberley to Graffham
Forntum and Mason and St John
Carol Concert and Holborn
City of London
Saturday
Primrose Hill with Ricardo
Christmas Party
Rob and Mark
Christmas Tree and Borough
Wahaca
Ice Cream
ESW In the Dark Again
Sunday in Abergavenny
Saturday in Abergavenny
Aperitivo Hour In Winter
Brasserie Zedel
ESW Again
ESW
Kings Cross
Sunday in Devon
Saturday in Devon
Rudy's Dirty Vegan Diner
Night Sight
Drinks with Al
Vinegrowing Course Day 1
Mum in London
Fortnum and Mason and Xu Teahouse
Friday
Delaunay and New Tweed Suit
Woodlands
Southampton Arms and Hampstead Heath
Saturday
School Disco
Andrew's Leaving Drinks
Korova and Rochester Square
Washington to Amberley
Sparklers
Diwana
Halloween
Sunday
Xi'an Cuisine
Devil's Dyke to Washington
Lisbon to London
Cafes and Beach
Cabo da Roca and Sintra
Castelo de Sao Jorge and Bellem
Wandering around Lisbon
London to Lisbon
Ricardo's Birthday
Chie Back From Japan
Bear and Wolf and Swimming
Rainy Sunday
Box Hill
Henna

Pictures:
London January 2019: Pictures from London and environs in January 2019.London January 2019
January 2019
Pictures from London and environs in January 2019.
London December 2018: Pictures from London in the lead up to Christmas 2018.London December 2018
December 2018
Pictures from London in the lead up to Christmas 2018.
Abergavenny December 2018: Weekend in Abergavenny to visit Vera and Robin.Abergavenny December 2018
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd December 2018
Weekend in Abergavenny to visit Vera and Robin.
Devon November 2018: A weekend in Devon in November 2018 to see Dad's new house after the refurbishment work.Devon November 2018
Saturday 24th and Sunday 29th November 2018
A weekend in Devon in November 2018 to see Dad's new house after the refurbishment work.
London November 2018: Pictures from London in November 2018.London November 2018
November 2018
Pictures from London in November 2018.
Blog:
- South Downs Way - The End! ( 8)
[Saturday 16th February 2019]
- Old Sussex Inns
[Friday 15th February 2019]
- Early Signs of Spring
[Thursday 14th February 2019]
- Pizza at Home
[Monday 11th February 2019]
- Filipino-Japanese ( 2)
[Sunday 10th February 2019]
- Jim's Birthday
[Saturday 9th February 2019]
- School Trip
[Thursday 7th February 2019]
- St. Moritz
[Wednesday 6th February 2019]
- English Sparkling Wine Prestige Cuvees
[Tuesday 5th February 2019]
- Vinegrowing Course Day 3
[Monday 4th February 2019]

South Downs Way - The End!
[Saturday 16th February 2019]
I probably should have waited for better weather for the triumphal final section of my seven month odyssey along the South Downs Way, but I had the day to myself today, and was impatient to get back out into the countryside, so forged ahead regardless. I had checked the weather forecast, which had originally suggested cloud in the morning but clearing later, whereas in reality it ended up being unrelenting fog all day.

As ever, the logistics required some thought today, given the limited buses between Petersfield and Winchester, but after some deliberation I eventually decided to start at Winchester, and get a taxi from there to East Meon. I'm always surprised by how expensive taxis seem to be out in the sticks, but I was time constrained, and doing it this way got me to East Meon by 9am to start my walk.

Last time I had seen East Meon on a very grey day, and thought it must be a beautiful spot in the right weather conditions. Today I suppose the thick mist made it quite atmospheric, but I would still like to see the village again with blue skies above it - it really is very pretty.

Anyway, I did not linger in East Meon, and after being dropped off at the church by the taxi (chosen for no other reason than it was where I got on the bus on my last walk), I headed purposefully out of the village, into the misty expanse that lay beyond. It's a good job the South Downs Way is so well signposted because I could barely see more than 50 metres in front of me most of the time.

The first landmark on my walk after leaving East Meon was Old Winchester Hill, where I had hoped naively that it might be sufficiently high so as to poke out above the mist so I could appreciate the view. Of course, this wasn't the case. So other than the reasonably steep climb on the way up I had no real sense of being on a hilltop. I walked around the perimeter of the ancient hill fort, greeting a few grey sheep along the way, but no views to be had whatsoever today.

The next section of the walk, between Old Winchester Hill, contained the muddiest stretch I encountered today, and my boots became notably heavier as a result. After crossing the old Meon Valley Railway, the path followed a pretty little stream with very clear water. to where it joined the Meon just outside of Exton.

Exton is another rather pretty village, similar to East Meon, but rather dominated in the centre by a grand country house surrounded by high walls - the eponymous Exton House. I took a slight detour from the South Downs Way here to have a look round the village, and then managed to lose my way slightly, the path leading out of the village being east to walk past.

After Exton, the walk started to get a bit tedious, if I'm being honest. The novelty of the mist was wearing off, and I really wanted to actually have some views. Particularly when it came to the steeper sections of the walk - typically the pay-off for the slog to get up a hill is that there will be a view from the top, and today that was not the case. There was a Beacon Hill about half an hour out of Exton which was a good case in point.

Given the lack of visual stimulation thanks to the unrelenting mist, from this point on my thoughts were very firmly on the lunchtime pub stop, and so I was quite pleased when around 12:30 I arrived at the Milburys.

It's a really interesting pub, in the middle of nowhere - not obviously part of any village as far as I could tell - and very old fashioned. This was evident immediately on arrival from the wonderfully dilapidated state of the sign outside - which was barely legible - and it couldn't be further from the awfulness of the blight of gastropub makeovers.

Inside there was much to like - an impressive open fire near the bar, then round the corner into the next room a 300ft deep well and a 250 year old treadmill. It's hard to imagine in the cold hard economics by which modern gastropubs are ran that such oddities would be allowed to consume such a significant amount of dining area. I chose the table squeezed in underneath the treadmill, and the slight fear of being crushed to death by an ancient piece of machinery should it become dislodged added a certain frisson to my lunch.

I hadn't fully planned what to do after lunch, and imagined the scenery nearing Winchester might be a bit underwhelming (more so given the stubborn refusal of today's fog to lift), so had thought about just cutting it short when an opportunity to do so presented itself. However that never really happened - there weren't any bus stops (without a several hour wait) along the rest of the walk, no were there any convenient places to try and call a taxi. So I just kept trudging on, for the remaining 3 hours it took me to get from the Milburys all the way to Winchester station.

There weren't exactly many highlights along the way either, the ridiculously named Cheesefoot Head was presumably the sort of place which might have nice views on a day without all this mist, but today I just walked straight past without pausing. It did at least have a characterful little wooded section leading up to it, with some nice trees. So there was that.

Beyond Cheesefoot Head I passed through the tiny village (hamlet?) of Chilcomb, the last settlement before Winchester.

I suppose I did feel some sense of achievement when I arrived at the last section of proper countryside footpath before Winchester, which crossed a large field, before then crossing over the M3. Beyond the M3 it was then of course an urban landscape, but it was nice to see that the South Downs Way signposts continued at least some way into the city.

I paused briefly at the last signpost I saw. Eastbourne 99 miles. It was nice to think I had indeed walked all that way. Admittedly, in dribs and drabs, one daytrip at a time, and now and again I'd deviated slightly from the route or cut the odd corner, but I had walked all the way from Eastbourne to here. Quite gratifying.

Arriving in the centre of Winchester was slightly overwhelming after the solitude of the walk today - so many people!

I would have liked to linger a bit longer, perhaps even have a celebratory pint in a pub in Winchester, but I felt compelled to get back home in time for dinner with Chie and Erika, so I jumped on the first available train at Winchester station and went back to London.

That's it for the South Downs Way then! There have been highs and lows, some sections glorious and stunning, others frankly a bit of a trudge. In fairness to the route, the difference between those two extremes was often more to do with the weather rather than the actual terrain. That said, it has been nice to see it in all the seasons.

So, the obvious question now is where next?
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Old Sussex Inns
[Friday 15th February 2019]
This book arrived today.
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Early Signs of Spring
[Thursday 14th February 2019]
Lovely weather today, and it felt a bit like spring was on its way. Also some Breaky Bottom arrived.
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Pizza at Home
[Monday 11th February 2019]
Home made pizza. Well sort of.
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Filipino-Japanese
[Sunday 10th February 2019]
Had a Filippino Japanese fusion lunch at Ramo Ramen, followed by Filippino ice cream at Mamasons.
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Jim's Birthday
[Saturday 9th February 2019]
Jim's birthday drinks at the Prospect of Whitby.
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School Trip
[Thursday 7th February 2019]
Volunteered on Erika's school trip to the John Soane museum.
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St. Moritz
[Wednesday 6th February 2019]
Took Erika to St Moritz (London's only Swiss restaurant?) for fondue this evening.
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English Sparkling Wine Prestige Cuvees
[Tuesday 5th February 2019]
I'd ordered three ESW prestige cuvees, planning a tasting some time soon, and they had all arrived by today.
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Vinegrowing Course Day 3
[Monday 4th February 2019]
Down to Haywards Heath for day 3 of my vinegrowing course.
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Jack and Jill in the Snow
[Sunday 3rd February 2019]
Took Chie and Erika down to the South Downs to see the Jack and Jill windmills in the snow.
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Pizza and Slime
[Saturday 2nd February 2019]
Pizza at Rossopomodoro for lunch then spent the afternoon back at home making slime.
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Snow
[Friday 1st February 2019]
A dusting of snow on the ground.
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Bingo Night
[Thursday 31st January 2019]
Bingo Night at Erika's school.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 29th January 2019]
Just one picture of Erika with a bag on her head.
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Monday
[Monday 28th January 2019]
Tried Leon's "Love Burger" at lunchtime then in the evening had some South Ridge English Sparkling Wine (from Ridgeview).
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Camden Garden Centre and Honest Burgers
[Sunday 27th January 2019]
Visited Camden Garden Centre in the morning. Then lunch at Honest Burgers, where I had their Moving Mountains burger again.
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Saturday
[Saturday 26th January 2019]
Went to Borough Market in the afternoon then a bit later on did some shopping around Kings Cross.
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Burns Night
[Friday 25th January 2019]
Had haggis, neeps and tatties as well as Laphroaig and Irn Bru for dinner.
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Oliveto
[Thursday 24th January 2019]
Went to the dentist, and then lunch at Oliveto followed by gelato at Olivogelo.
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Soho with Ricardo and Jim
[Monday 21st January 2019]
Had an evening out with Ricardo and Jim in Soho.
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Garden Centre, Hampstead Heath and Keats House
[Sunday 20th January 2019]
Went to the garden centre in the morning to buy more potted herbs to put in the newly assembled herb stand. Took a stroll across Hampstead Heath around lunchtime, and stopped for lunch at the Parliament Hill Cafe. After that went to a kids event at Keats House in Hampstead.
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Herb Stand, Ramen, Macarons, Truffle
[Saturday 19th January 2019]
Quite a mixed bag of a day. Jeremy came round in the morning to assemble thhice herb stand Mum had given me for Christmas (which I'd struggled with myself). Ramen in Soho for lunch. I bought a white truffle from Gelupo, and also got my hair cut. Back at home we had afternoon tea including some macarons. Then truffle pasta for dinner.
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Leon in London
[Friday 18th January 2019]
Leon was working in London today, so we met up for some late afternoon / early evening pubs around Farringdon.
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Anniversary
[Thursday 17th January 2019]
Erika decorate a cake to celebrate the anniversary of when Chie and I first met.
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Nest Thermostat
[Tuesday 15th January 2019]
Had a Nest Thermostat installed today, and then spent the evening obsessively looking at thermometers because I wasn't convinced it was working properly.
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Tooth
[Monday 14th January 2019]
Erika's second tooth came out today!
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Swimming
[Sunday 13th January 2019]
Took Erika to the swimming pool in Finchley in the morning - it has a wave machine. After that, shock horror, lunch at McDonald's (!!!) then back home for the rest of the day.
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South Downs Way: Petersfield to East Meon
[Saturday 12th January 2019]
I had stayed the previous night in Petersfield, thinking I could then make an early start this morning and cover a lot of ground despite the limited daylight hours this time of year. I had an ambitious goal (which I did not achieve) to get all the way to Exton.

Although I did manage to set out from my hotel at 8am, my choice of accommodation (influenced by not wanting to be too far from the marvellous Harrow Inn) meant I spent the first hour just getting back to Buriton, which was still not even quite on the South Downs Way. This would probably have been a more sensible place to stay the night in terms of getting on the South Downs Way as quickly as possible this morning, but trying to get here in the dark last night after several pints of cider in the Harrow Inn would probably have not been a great idea.

It was rather a grey and dreary day today, and in addition to this my enthusiasm to be out walking was further dwindled by the mostly urban character of the start of the walk, as well as having perhaps ever so slightly too much cider at the Harrow Inn the previous evening. So that first hour to get to Buriton definitely felt like a bit of a trudge.

It was nice to pass through Buriton again though, it's quite a pretty village, and thanks to a tip off about one footpath underneath the railway being closed, I took a slight detour by way of the pond, down a little country lane leading out of the village, under the railway, and through Appleton's Copse, where there were some signs of a former chalk mine. That was all pleasant enough.

So it wasn't until an hour and twenty minutes into my walk - probably about 4 miles - that I saw my first South Downs Way route marker of the day... and then I almost immediately left the South Downs Way again. Here the South Downs Way passes through the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, and takes an oddly indirect route. I had the sense when planning today's walk that anywhere called a "country park" would not comprise the sort of countryside I really like, so decided it best to just take the shortest route through that I could. I was right - it was rather bland, managed woodland, probably fun for mountain bikers (who had some dedicated slalom type runs) but not very interesting as a walker.

Unfortunately the A3 forms a major obstacle here, and what I really would have liked to do is head almost due West from Buriton, and skip the country park altogether, but alas the only crossing of the A3 require heading a fair way South, before then having to head back North again the other side.

The other side of the A3 things did start to improve a bit - a reasonably steep climb up Butser Hill, albeit still very close to the A3, felt a bit more like the wide open countryside I'd come to love along the nicer parts of the South Downs Way. From the top I could see all the way to the sea.

Slightly disappointingly after this the path followed a road for a bit - but it was at least not a very busy one, along a ridge, with reasonable views either side.

It was around this point that I started to weigh up my options for where I should aim to end today's walk. I'd originally thought I might try to get as far as Exton, which would probably have been about a five hour walk in total, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of public transport from there - as far as I could tell no buses run from there to Petersfield on a Saturday. Another option was West Meon, which was almost as far, but at least had buses. The easiest option was to aim for East Meon, also reasonably well served by buses, and the closest of the three villages.

Given a combination of the dreary weather, the long trudge at the start to get out of Petersfield as well as the dull bit going through the Queen Elizabeth Country Park (not to mention the fact I was a bit hungover and also now starting to get quite hungry) I was just not really enjoying the walk today as much as I had some of the previous outings. So I decided to cut my losses, and plumped for the cop out - I would head for East Meon. It would also mean I could get back to London with some of the afternoon still remaining, and spend some time with Chie and Erika, who I felt I'd been neglecting a bit having stayed overnight in Petersfield.

So at Hyden Hill, I said goodbye once more to the South Downs Way, and headed down the hill towards East Meon. I felt emboldened in my choice given that this took me past the source of the river Meon, which felt like a point of interest I might not have seen otherwise. Close to the source little ponds had formed with crystal clear water, and what I almost certainly incorrectly assumed to be wild watercress. Then through farmland, until I eventually reached East Meon, just before midday.

East Meon is a very pretty little village, with an interesting mixture of architectural styles - some thatch, some exposed timerframe, some rendered, some tile clad, some bare brick, and some download stone cladding. A bit of everything. The village has a church, the spire of which I had seen from atop Hyden Hill, two pubs, and a village shop (which I heard some of the locals complaining about later when I was waiting for the bus). I poked my nose in at the shop hoping I might find a souvenir or some interesting local produce, but it seemed to be a Happy Shopper, stuck in a 1980s timewarp, with a lot of half empty shelves, and rather depressing. I can see why the locals were a bit unhappy with it.

I took to surveying the two pubs, to choose where to have lunch. Ye Old George Inn looked a bit gentrified from the outside. Not really my sort of thing. The Izaak Walton seemed to be much more the locals pub, and was a bit basic on the inside - alas not in a charming rustic way. Still, I chose there for lunch, and was glad of the hearty unpretentious vegetable lasagne of the type you only really get in pubs.

Just before 1pm I got the bus (perfectly on time) back to Petersfield. The bus went past the hotel where I'd stayed the previous night on the way into town, and I found it slightly disheartening that thanks to the almost U shaped route I'd taken, my four hours of walking this morning had only actually transported me about 4 miles as the crow flies, and it was all undone with a 15 minute bus journey.

I managed to hop on a train almost immediately at Petersfield station, and was back in London by 2:30.
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The Harrow Inn
[Friday 11th January 2019]
I had still been mulling over whether I might be able to get to a proper rural wassail somewhere this weekend, and was considering one which would be on Saturday night in Herefordshire, but eventually decided against it as it's just such a big undertaking getting to remote parts of Herefordshire, and I also felt bad for abandoning Chie and Erika for most of the weekend.

As it turned out the girls had plans to visit friends this evening, and also Erika was going to a trial music lesson tomorrow morning, so it occurred to me the ideal window for some sort of jaunt involving an overnight stay would be tonight rather than Saturday night. Thus the original idea of going to a wassail morphed into continuing my fragmented journey along the South Downs Way, with an overnight stay in Petersfield which would have the twin benefits of giving me an early start on the walk the next morning, and affording me the opportunity to return to the wonderful Harrow Inn, which I had fallen in love with when visiting for the first time in February last year.

So I clocked off from work a bit early (it was a Friday after all), got the tube to Waterloo, and from there got the train down to Petersfield.

On arrival in Petersfield it occurred to me that the mile (ish) long walk from the station to the pub, which is just beyond the outskirts of town, was going to be ever so slightly challenging as it was really quite dark, and the latter half of the walk was down an entirely unlit country lane. I did eventually have to resort to using my phone as a torch for some sections, as I managed to trip on potholes a couple of times. I suppose this added to the sense of adventure of getting there.

On arrival at the pub, about 6:20, it was packed! By which I mean there about a dozen people in there, which is enough to fill the main bar room. I found myself a little bit of space in the corner, and very happily settled in with a pint and a packet of crisps.

After a while I got talking to one group of people there, in particular a very nice chap called Phil, who, as it turned out, shared some common interests. He and his group of friends had an ongoing mission to seek out very special unspoilt pubs like the Harrow, and travel round the country looking for them. They have a list they share between themselves, and I was impressed that as I reeled off all the pubs I could think of that might be on such a list they seemed to know almost all of them. Having hopefully therefore proved my credentials as a fellow connoisseur Phil took my email address and offered to send me this much coveted document.

It was a delight to be in these wonderful surroundings, talking about old pubs, morris dancing, and other related topics. After the first beer I moved on to the local cider they have at the Harrow (Herons Crest I think), which was particularly good to accompany one of their excellent Ploughman's lunches (yes I know it was dinner time). I was in heaven.

Gradually the initial throngs dwindled, and eventually a bit before 9 I had the pub to myself. This was also quite lovely, and I took the opportunity to take a few photos, having not wanted to spoil the atmosphere for the other customers earlier on. I also spent a while admiring all the fixtures and fittings, and in particular spotted some prints of the Harrow on the wall for sale. I bought them both.

Eventually I decided I should probably call it a night, aware that part of the point of coming to Petersfield tonight was to get an early start on my walk the next morning.

So, back down the dark country lane, and, as it turned out, more dark country lanes and footpaths around the outskirts of Petersfield to get to my hotel, which was slightly out of town.

Partly because of the appeal of the facelessness of being able to book online, and partly because of uncharacteristic recent outburst of frugality, I'd decided to stay at the Premier Inn. This incredibly bland, banal, modern, chain hotel experience was of course a bit of a jolt after the magic of the Harrow Inn, but at least I had my prints with me to try and brighten up my room a bit.
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Vinegrowing Course Day 2
[Monday 7th January 2019]
Second day of my vinegrowing course. Today mostly focused on pruning.
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Twelfth Night
[Sunday 6th January 2019]
Cleared the Christmas tree away in the morning, then went to the Bankside Wassail in the afternoon.
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Veggie Karaage
[Saturday 5th January 2019]
Chie made the vegetarian version of karaage (Japanese fried chicken) for dinner.
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Highgate
[Friday 4th January 2019]
Walked across Hampstead Heath and had lunch at the Flask in Highgate.
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Shakesperience
[Thursday 3rd January 2019]
Went to see Shakesperience in Leicester Square.
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Wahaca and Plunger
[Wednesday 2nd January 2019]
Took Erika to Wahaca for lunch. Then bought a plunger.
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New Year's Day
[Tuesday 1st January 2019]
Erika's cousins came to visit us in London.
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Cocking to Petersfield
[Monday 31st December 2018]
I was pleased to discover I'd have the opportunity to fit in one last walk along the South Downs Way before the end of the year, as Chie and Erika had planned to go visit friends in the daytime, so I was left to my own devices for the day.

I actually made a relatively early start this morning, managed to leave home around 8:30, and was at Waterloo station by 9, with a full half hour to buy tickets, and also procure breakfast and lunch, before the 9:30 train to Haslemere.

Following some fairly lengthy research into the logistics of how best to get to and from the next section of the South Downs Way, I eventually decided it would be best to get the bus from Haslemere down to Midhurst, then a second bus from there to just South of Cocking, where the South Downs Way crossed the road. This meant buying the rather grandiosely named "Gold AD Dayrider" ticket, which I believe allowed me unlimited usage of buses in the Stagecoach network for the day, for the sum of 8.60.

This did actually mean I'd end up skipping a short section between Graffham and Cocking, a couple of miles perhaps. As there seemed to be no easy way to get back to Graffham by public transport, and not wanting to rely on the vagaries of taxis in rural areas, plus the fact I had fairly limited daylight hours again, I decided to just write that off.

Despite my comparatively early start, the tube, train, and two buses to get to the starting point of the walk meant it was about 11:20 when I was finally underway. I'd planned to walk to Petersfield, and that should apparently take 4 to 4 and a half hours, so there was just about enough daylight to achieve this from that point on.

The weather was a bit uninspiring today, although I suppose for the time of year it could have been worse - it wasn't extremely cold, nor did it rain, it was just unrelentingly grey, which rather subdued all the views along the route. As you can probably see in the pictures everything looked a bit colourless and washed out today, and that never really abated at any point. Regardless, I was still happy to be in the great outdoors, enjoying the freedom of another walk along the South Downs, even if it didn't have quite the same aesthetic appeal I have seen on other walks earlier this year.

Like the previous section, much of this walk was again through a distinctly agricultural landscape, and that was certainly the case for most of the first hour. However, in patches it did break out of this mould. An hour into the walk I arrived at the Devils Jumps, a series of Bronze Age burial mounds. This was the first time I'd really encountered such a notable sign of ancient civilisation along the South Downs Way (or at least the first time I'd really noticed one) - I'm sure the South Downs must have plenty, perhaps the path just doesn't happen to pass directly by so many.

Earlier I had overheard a couple in Marks and Spencer in Waterloo station discussing whether or not to take advantage of the "meal deal". I seem to be struggling to enunciate why exactly, but I found this really depressing, and somehow emblematic of the fact that we as a civilisation have completely no idea who we are any more.

Being now alone amidst the remnants of a society from several millenia ago felt very poignant. The contrast seemed very stark, and it was hard to imagine the day-to-day decisions made by those buried here were ever so trivial.

A short while later, I had a slightly odd encounter, which to some extent dovetails with the pondering of times past provoked by the Devil's Jumps. It is of course common when out walking to encounter other walkers, and as appears to be the etiquette a brief greeting is exchanged, but, in my experience, it's extremely rare for any further discourse to ensue.

So I was slightly surprised, a little after passing Buriton Farm, when I said a cursory hello to a man stood on the path, and rather than a similar cursory greeting, he replied "What do you look like?".

I was a little taken off guard by this, but assuming he was referring to the tweed suit I like to wear this time of year whilst walking out in the countryside, I attempted to make light of the situation by saying "It's tweed, surely everyone in the country wears tweed?".

It's a useful lesson in a situation such as this, in the opening gambit with a complete stranger, to remember that senses of humour are finely tuned engines which need to be calibrated over time. For them to be compatible relies on shared understanding. My jovial remark relied on the assumption that it would be understood I was, for comic effect, adopting the persona of a naive city dweller, with a completely unrealistic image of life in the countryside. I thought I had added sufficient hamminess to my delivery of this statement so as to make the humorous intent clear, but apparently not.

"Nobody wears tweed.", he replied, rather factually. I decided against pointing out that that wasn't in fact true, given the clear evidence he was currently looking at.

Attempting to rationalise, he asked "Did you go to public school?".

"No." I replied, ever so slightly offended by the social profiling that I was apparently now being subjected to, when all I wanted to do was go out for a walk.

"You look like something from a hundred years ago!", he continued to opine. This seemed like safer territory, we had transitioned from an apparent accusation of elite status to a presumed attempt to categorise me under the vintage clothes umbrella. Although as it happens I don't actually own many vintage clothes, and the particular tweed suit I was wearing was modern.

"A happier time, in many ways.", I replied, and given the look on his face in response almost immediately regretted it. Obviously, by just about any objective quality of life metric this would be an extremely hard stance to defend, but I was still thinking about the meal deal at Marks and Spencer. A moment of mental arithmetic later I recalled that a hundred years ago was in fact the end of the First World War.

I attempted to steer the focus away from this, and instead pointed out that I just have no truck with modern synthetic fabrics. He then pointed out that he can't actually wear wool, because it irritates his skin. I suppose at this juncture we had just agreed to disagree, and he concluded our dialogue with the amusingly sentiment free: "Well all I can say is you look extraordinary.", and we went our separate ways.

A short while later I passed another couple, who just said he cursory hello as usual.

Around 1pm I reached the top of "Beacon Hill", which must be the most oversubscribed name for a hill in English. This particular Beacon Hill had nice views of the surrounding landscape, as I'm sure many of its namesakes also do, and so I decided to pause here for lunch. To eat the sandwich I had bought earlier from Marks and Spencer. Which, I hasten to add, I had not purchased as part of the meal deal.

My peace and quiet was interrupted by a large family group who, I got the impression, lived locally, and were here as part of a New Year's Eve tradition to walk up to the top of this particular hill. I was a bit envious. They were taking group photos by the trig point - I offered to take one for them so they could all be in it, then I continued on my way.

A short while later there was another nice viewpoint, near the car park for Harting Downs, but I chose not to linger - the weather was still a bit too underwhelming to persuade me to do otherwise. After the car park the South Downs Way crossed over the road, and the terrain changed from the open hilltops of the last couple of miles, to a pleasant wooded hillside.

This then opened out into a series of lanes and tracks until it came time for me to leave the South Downs Way for today's walk, and head into Buriton.

I had been to Buriton with Chie once before, back in 2010. It was on a recommendation from Dad for nice old pubs he knew in Hampshire (and indeed somewhere on today's route I had crossed over the border from West Sussex into Hampshire). Although today's visit was very brief - just time for one very quick pint - I am pleased to report it is still very much unspoilt.

I would have liked to stay a bit longer, but was aiming for a particular train back to London from Petersfield, and still had another 2.5 miles or so to go to get there. On our previous visit, in the absence of an Ordnance Survey Map, we had followed the road from Petersfield to Buriton, but I spotted on the map ahead of today's walk there was an alternative path - Hangers Way - through the fields, and thought that would probably be a bit more pleasant.

On arrival in Petersfield I went to the General Wine Company, very conveniently located near the station, as I had done earlier this year when I'd come to the area with friends to visit the Harrow Inn. I picked up a couple of bottles of local English sparkling wine - Upperton and Hambledon.

Had a pleasant train journey back to London, having effectively a small private compartment on the train, and was back at home by 6.
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Winter Wonderland
[Sunday 30th December 2018]
Took Erika to Winter Wonderland.
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Bec and Jessica
[Saturday 29th December 2018]
Bec and Jessica came over to Bristol to spend the day with us today, we went to We The Curious (Bristol's science museum) and then later on back to the Christmas fair for a bit. Towards the end of the afternoon we got the train back to London.
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Abergavenny
[Friday 28th December 2018]
Picked up a Zipcar and drove to Abergavenny in the daytime to see Vera and Robin, picking up Louise on the way. In the evening went for a swim then dinner at San Carlo back in Bristol.
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Thursday in Bristol
[Thursday 27th December 2018]
Got the train to Bristol in the morning, lunch at Stable (cider, pies and pizza), a bit of shopping in the afternoon, then Caribbean food for dinner followed by an evening visit to the little Christmas fair near our hotel.
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Boxing Day at the Zoo
[Wednesday 26th December 2018]
Went to the zoo in the daytime.
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Christmas Day
[Tuesday 25th December 2018]
Presents in the morning, a rather unsuccessful visit to the Pineapple in the afternoon, then Christmas dinner and a home made yule log in the evening.
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Christmas Eve
[Monday 24th December 2018]
Went down to Belgravia / Chelsea in the daytime, mainly because we wanted to try to buy a new fridge in Peter Jones, but while we were in the area had lunch at Olivocarne.
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Christmas Party
[Sunday 23rd December 2018]
Had Christmas drinks for local friends this afternoon.
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South Downs Way: Amberley to Graffham
[Saturday 22nd December 2018]
I wasn't entirely expecting to have the opportunity for a walk today, but I discovered over breakfast that Chie and Erika had plans to meet friends from Japan in the daytime, and as the weather was surprisingly nice for the time of year I thought I should make hay while the iron's hot so to speak. So it was perhaps a later start than was ideal, which matters particularly this time of year in terms of daylight hours, today being the day after the shortest day. Anyway it still seemed worthwhile making a go of it, and I was on the 10:36 train from Victoria down to Amberley to pick up where I left off last time.

Given that I only had at best 4 hours of daylight from arrival, I decided there was no time to squander on such fripperies as lunch, so I had eaten a pasty on the train prior to arrival, and once I got to Amberley at midday I purposefully set off on my walk. Thankfully the South Downs Way passes by the station here, so in a matter of minutes I was on it, and in open countryside.

The first section was actually familiar, given that I'd walked a little bit of the South Downs Way with friends two years ago when we came down to Amberley for a festive lunch at the Bridge Inn. That day there had been thick fog though, so we
didn't really have much sense at the time of being amidst the South Downs. Compared to today's glorious blue skies and surprisingly mild temperature for the time of year the surroundings were barely recognisable.

That familiar section only lasted the first 15 minutes or so though, and after that I was venturing into pastures new. Not long after that first fairly flat section I started to head up a hill, with corresponding wonderful views of the surrounding landscape.

Today's walk was a less "wild" section than some previous parts of the South Downs Way - the path was flanked on one side or the other (often both) by farmed fields pretty much the whole way, although apart from one farm where I crossed a road I didn't pass through any human habitation for the whole route in between Amberley and Graffham. The views were pretty much uninterrupted throughout, enhanced by clear winter skies.

It was also the most mud I had encountered to date on my journey along the South Downs over the course of the past few months. In the summer the ground had been baked hard by the heatwave in July and early August. It must not have been a particularly wet Autumn as this distinctive grey downland mud, born of the chalky soils, was something of a novelty today.

I was a little unsure where to end today's walk. I'd originally considered trying to get as far as Cocking, from where I might hopefully be able to get a bus into Midhurst, and from there to Pulborough, but getting to Cocking was apparently going to take in excess of four hours of walking, and having only started at midday it would be dark before I got there. The original compromise I'd come up with had been to walk as far as Upwaltham, where there appeared to be some kind of bus service (the 99 between Petworth and Chichester) - but it sounded a bit of an odd system, you had to prebook at most stops, so when I got to the bus stop where the South Downs Way crossed the A285 I decided to just press on, and try my luck at Graffham instead.

So I continued for a while longer after crossing the A285, for a distinctly muddy section up Littleton Down which offered nice views back towards some of the rolling hills I'd been walking over earlier on. It was just after 2pm by this point, but already the winter sun seemed to be hanging a little low in the sky.

Just after 2:30 I got to the point where I'd be leaving the South Downs Way for today, to follow a footpath down the hill into Graffham. This turned out to be quite a steep descent, through a wooded hillside, and made for an interesting bit of variety from the hilltops I'd mostly been walking on this afternoon.

The entry into Graffham reminded me of arriving in Kingston near Lewes - a track eventually turned into a street, and one of the first buildings I saw was the rather picturesque church. Part of the reason I wanted to come to Graffham today is that I'd found on the web that there's a holiday cottage next to the church, which looked rather nice, so I thought it would be good to come and take a look with a view to possibly staying there a couple of nights in the New Year for the next section of the walk. Graffham was a pretty little village, particularly the older parts near the church.

With my mind still on how I was actually going to get home, I decided the best strategy might be to aim for the village pub in Graffham - the White Horse - and see if they had any recommendations for local taxi firms etc.

On arrival at the White Horse I was surprised by a couple of things - first there were electric car charging points outside - not what I expected from a country pub in a tiny village filled with quaint old cottages - and secondly inside the pub were lots of other people wearing tweed! Normally I expect to be the only one, but I think they'd all been on a pheasant shoot or something.

Anyway, my instinct proved correct, and I was indeed able to call a taxi from here to get me back to Pulborough station, with enough time for a pint first.

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Forntum and Mason and St John
[Thursday 20th December 2018]
Lunch at Fortnum and Mason to meet Kyle and Hannah's new baby, and dinner with the girls at St John in the evening.
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Carol Concert and Holborn
[Wednesday 19th December 2018]
Lunch at the Pineapple, Erika's carol concert in the afternoon, then in the evening drinks and dinner around Holborn with the usual suspects.
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City of London
[Sunday 16th December 2018]
Went to Shikumen for lunch, then had a wander around the City of London, and went to see the Mithraeum exhibit.
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Saturday
[Saturday 15th December 2018]
Took Erika to Bear and Wolf for breakfast in the morning. Chie and Erika went off to a party for most of the rest of the daytime, while I mooched around at home as the weather was too miserable to go out for a walk.
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Primrose Hill with Ricardo
[Friday 14th December 2018]
In the past few weeks I seem to have developed a constant urge to be outdoors - I think as some combination of my new found love of walking and possibly as a reaction to spending so much time working from home. Unfortunately this time of year isn't particularly conducive to that, both in terms of the weather and the amount of daylight.

To that end today I decided to finish work early, and arranged to meet Ricardo to see if we might catch the last few rays of the day's sunlight from the top of Primrose Hill, with a bottle from the mixed case of English sparkling wines I hadn't tried before that I'd recently ordered. Today I decided to try the Hindleap Blanc de Blancs, from Bluebell Vineyard in Sussex, actually not that far away from the Plumpton College vineyard where my vinegrowing course take place. I thought this was pretty good, and while probably better suited to a summer's day, the 4 degree air temperature did help to keep it chilled!

Although we pretty much missed most of the sunset by the time we arrived, the views from Primrose Hill at dusk as London was lighting up made for a very nice backdrop.

Once the wine ran out and we were starting to get cold, we retired to a nearby pub - the Landsdowne - chosen primarily because it was close by looked warm inside. This turned out to be quite a convivial sort of a place, and we got talking to some neuroscientists from UCL, presumably having their Christmas party here.

After that we slightly oddly went to do some late evening shopping at Morrisons (Ricardo wanted to buy some batteries and some cheese) and then rounded the evening off with a deep fried pizza at Rossompodoro.
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Christmas Party
[Thursday 13th December 2018]
Actually went to the office Christmas party this year. It was terrible. Only stayed a short while and instead went to the Captain Kidd and a nearby Italian restaurant.
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Rob and Mark
[Sunday 9th December 2018]
Went to Reading for the afternoon / evening to see Rob and Mark, who was visiting from the US.
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Christmas Tree and Borough
[Saturday 8th December 2018]
Put up our Christmas tree this morning. Had lunch at Mercato Metripolitano. Erika went to see Seussical the Musical with a friend, then later on her friend came back to our to decorate our tree.
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Wahaca
[Friday 7th December 2018]
Had dinner at Wahaca with Erika and a friend from school.
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Ice Cream
[Thursday 6th December 2018]
Took Erika for an ice cream after school.
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ESW In the Dark Again
[Wednesday 5th December 2018]
Another English Sparkling Wine in the garden (therefore in the dark) this evening - tonight Chafor.
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Sunday in Abergavenny
[Sunday 2nd December 2018]
Morning and lunch with Vera and Robin in Abergavenny then back to London in the afternoon.
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Saturday in Abergavenny
[Saturday 1st December 2018]
Took the train to Abergavenny in the morning and spent the afternoon and evening with Vera and Robin.
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Aperitivo Hour In Winter
[Friday 30th November 2018]
Was determined to have an early evening drink out in the garden, even though it was dark (and also a bit cold) - I perservered for a short while with the aid of some candles.
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Brasserie Zedel
[Thursday 29th November 2018]
Took Erika for dinner at Brasserie Zedel. It was a lovely evening.
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ESW Again
[Wednesday 28th November 2018]
Tried the Plumpton ESW this evening.
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ESW
[Tuesday 27th November 2018]
Received two cases of English Sparkling Wine today.
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Kings Cross
[Monday 26th November 2018]
Some random photos of Kings Cross.
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Sunday in Devon
[Sunday 25th November 2018]
Morning and early afternoon at Dad's new house in Devon (with a quick pre-lunch foray to the Anchor at Cockwood) before getting the train back to London.
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Saturday in Devon
[Saturday 24th November 2018]
Took a morning train to Exeter and spent the remainder of the day inspecting the results of the refurbishment work of Dad's new house.
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Rudy's Dirty Vegan Diner
[Friday 23rd November 2018]
Tried another vegan eatery for lunch (rather lazily had it delivered). It was not great.
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Night Sight
[Thursday 22nd November 2018]
Some random photos trying out the new night sight mode on my phone's camera.
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Drinks with Al
[Tuesday 20th November 2018]
An evening out with Al. Made a second attempt to try the new vermouth bar in Coal Drops Yard, and it was actually open this time.
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Vinegrowing Course Day 1
[Monday 19th November 2018]
Today was the first day of the vinegrowing course, ran by Plumpton College, which I had enrolled on. The course runs over the growing year, roughly one day each month. I'd been inspired to learn a bit more about the subject by my forays down to the South Downs this year - particularly the tasting and harvest at Breaky Bottom - and to some extent by the simple pleasure of watching my own three vines grow in my back garden this year. Having had a go at winemaking with my grapes, an endeavour which looks to have been distinctly unsuccessful, I realised it was much more the viticulture side of things I was keen on. Winemaking seemed to be at least 50% cleaning!

I've also added to my long held daydream of having a house in the countryside some day the idea of having a patch of land I could turn into a little vineyard - not on a commercial scale (there's that old joke the course leader today repeated - "What's the best way to make a small fortune? Start with a large fortune and buy a vineyard."), just enough to make a few bottles of wine a year for myself and maybe to share with friends and family. In addition to the orchard for cider production along similar lines. So anyway with that in mind I thought it might be good to get some training on how to manage a vineyard.

The course was held in Scaynes Hill, just outside of Haywards Heath, where Plumpton College has their Rock Lodge vineyard. There was a theory session in the morning, in the function room of the pub in Scaynes Hill, followed by a practical session out in the vineyard after lunch.

It was a 9:15 am start, and given that the pub was a three mile walk from the station, it meant rather an early start for me! Fortunately the trains were relatively convenient, and I was able to go from Kentish Town, with just one change en route. I made good use of my time on the train to read much of the first chapter of Stephen Skelton's Wine Growing in Great Britain, one of the recommended texts for the course, and today's topics tied in well with that material.

The first session focused mainly on vineyard site selection, a fascinating complex field of study in itself. It was interesting to hear myths about the importance of soil type mostly debunked - both by Skelton's book and the lecturer - just about any soil type can be made to work for vinegrowing with the right preliminary work to address drainage and mineral composition, and with the possible exception of nitrogen (which is absorbed by the grapes and has some effect on fermentation), no other mineral present in soil has been scientifically proven to actually change the chemical composition or flavour of the grapes. Any talk of flinty, mineral qualities in some wines having been somehow imparted by the particular type of soil the vines were grown in is very likely bogus. Similarly the Champagne region's talk of the importance of chalky soils (which has spilled over to some English Sparkling Wine producers, particularly in the similar soils of the South Downs) is likely overblown. The only real benefit of chalk soil relates to water - it tends to drain reasonably well, and retain pockets of water deep down which the roots of the vine can access in drought conditions. Hardly a problem most years in England (although perhaps that was of some benefit this year). However in non-chalk soils these benefits are easily compensated for with other measures.

Another thing I found quite surprising was that the growing cycles of vines actually span more than a single year - buds formed in the early summer of one year will go on to produce new growth in the summer of the following year. Bad weather in early summer can be detrimental not just to that year's harvest, but to the next year's - so the bumper crop from the summer of 2018 in England actually had its beginnings in the presumably good conditions of early summer 2017. We had an exercise towards the end of the morning where we had a table with crop outcomes we had to predict based on weather conditions at various times of the year (see here) - it was surprisingly difficult!

The group was quite an interesting mix of people - from people who had a purely amateur interest like me, to people who owned land and were on the brink of planting vines, to people who had already done so, but felt they wanted a bit more training on vine management. Also the winebuyer from Waitrose responsible for English wines was there.

After lunch we had the "practical" session, although I got the impression the lecturers we had today had been shuffled about a bit, and whilst the morning session was quite structured, the afternoon was a bit more ad hoc, with mostly just a wander round the vineyards and some questions and answers. We did at least have an exercise to complete, where we had to make an assessment of the site in terms of suitability for vinegrowing (obviously in the knowledge it was unlikely to be poorly rated overall!)... but it was interesting to see even within one site there were variations in terms of shelter, drainage, protection from pests and so on.

The afternoon session was due to go on until 4:15, but finished slightly before 4 in the end, as the lecturer seemed to have ran out of things to say a bit (and wanted to get back to college for a meeting). I don't think any of us minded particularly though, as it was a bit damp and cold and had felt like quite a long day with the very early start - so I was keen to get on with my journey back to London. One of the other attendees on the course kindly gave me a lift back to Haywards Heath station, which I very much appreciated given it was cold, wet, and getting dark by this point, and I managed to make it home just before 6pm.


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Mum in London
[Sunday 18th November 2018]
Mum stayed with us last night after babysitting Erika, so we had some time with her today.
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Fortnum and Mason and Xu Teahouse
[Saturday 17th November 2018]
Took Erika to a friend's party in the afternoon, and while it was on Chie and I took a stroll acoss Hampstead Heath to the Holly Bush. In the evening Mum came to babysit Erika, Chie and I went out for the evening as a sort of early/late wedding anniversary celebration (depending on which wedding anniversary we're referring to here) - started with a drink in the wine bar at Fortnum and Mason, then went to try out Xu Teahouse for dinner.
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Friday
[Friday 16th November 2018]
Tried the vegan fish and chips at The Vine in Kentish Town.
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Delaunay and New Tweed Suit
[Wednesday 14th November 2018]
Went to pick up one of my new tweed suits, and had lunch at the Delaunay.
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Woodlands
[Tuesday 13th November 2018]
Chie and I went to Woodlands for lunch.
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Southampton Arms and Hampstead Heath
[Sunday 11th November 2018]
Had lunch Iunch of sorts at the Southampton Arms, then went for a walk on the heath.
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Saturday
[Saturday 10th November 2018]
Had a lovely morning to myself, breakfast at Andrews Restaurant followed by shopping for new tweed suits. Met up with Erika and Chie for lunch at Franco Manca then spent the remainder of the day in and around home.
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School Disco
[Thursday 8th November 2018]
Erika's school disco this evening.
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Andrew's Leaving Drinks
[Wednesday 7th November 2018]
Leaving drinks for Andrew who would be spending the next few months in the Far East then Australia.
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Korova and Rochester Square
[Sunday 4th November 2018]
Had "brunch" (despite some protestation on my part) at Korova near Tufnell Park, then later on went to a community bonfire night event in Rochester Square.
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Washington to Amberley
[Saturday 3rd November 2018]
Chie and Erika had another party to go today, so I headed down to the South Downs once again for the sixth instalment of my bit-by-bit walk along the South Downs Way. This time I started where I had left off last time - Washington (so a train to Pulborough followed by a bus from there) to Amberley, which was the next train station along the route. This made for a relatively short walk, just over 6 miles, only a couple of hours of walking, but I'm a bit constrained by where there's public transport available.

On my previous walk I'd only seen a bit of Washington, pretty much just a (closed) pub and a bus stop, but today I got to see what I assume to be some of the older parts of the village, and it was actually quite nice. After getting off the bus around midday the first bit of my walk passed some pretty houses along a quiet back street leading to the church. I can see why Hilaire Belloc liked it here. I then crossed over the A24 on a footbridge, a much easier crossing with this northern option for this section of the South Downs Way, and passed through a bit of woodland, followed by a steepish climb before joining back up with the normal route of the South Downs Way having reached an altitude of 200 metres, which seems to be typical cruising altitude for many of the ridges along which the route follows. Lovely sprawling views from here on, which pretty much remained the case for the rest of today's walk.

Very nice weather today, sunny but not too hot for tweed, a bit of a breeze at times but nothing too serious.

Not really much else to say about the walk - it was just delightful for pretty much the whole way, although I was starting to get quite peckish by 1pm, and slightly wish I'd brought more along to eat with me than a bag of Jelly Tots.

I arrived at the Bridge Inn, Amberley, at just after 2pm, and hungrily devoured one of their halloumi burgers and a pint or two of Harverys. I then got the 3:15pm ish train back to London.
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Sparklers
[Friday 2nd November 2018]
Chie was working in the afternoon, so I picked Erika up from school. We initially headed for the playground but somehow en route decided to go to the Pineapple instead. Was nice to have an end-of-the-working-week drink and debriefing with Erika.

With it being Bonfire Night weekend I thought I ought to make some sort of effort on that front, although Erika isn't actually particularly keen on fireworks. I suggested to Erika that we could go to a child friendly timed fireworks event in Corams Fields this evening, but she didn't seem keen. So instead I surveyed our local shops to see if they might have any modest fireworks suitable for our little garden, and it seems none of them had any at all save for packets of sparklers. That probably was the best bet anyway, so I got a couple of packets of these, and we stood out in the back garden for a bit with them.

For dinner I made a mushroom risotto and some stuffed courgettes. I think I may have just gone off risotto, as I was pretty underwhelmed with the former dish, but the latter wasn't bad.

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Diwana
[Thursday 1st November 2018]
Chie and I went to Diwana on Drummond Street for lunch today, haven't been for quite a while.
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Halloween
[Wednesday 31st October 2018]
Took Erika out trick or treating, something she had been very excited about for the past few days. I have to say I thought people in the neighbourhood seemed to make a bit less effort than the year before, and there wasn't quite the same buzz in terms of number of decorated houses or people taking part in general. Still Erika seemed to enjoy herself regardless.

After we finished trick or treating we had a late dinner back at home, with the lights off and candles lit for atmosphere. Then after Erika's bed time I went to meet Ricardo in Little Venice for a decidedly non Halloween themed remainder of the evening, with a few pints at one of his local pubs.
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Sunday
[Sunday 28th October 2018]
Another day which lacked planning. My original suggestion of heading out into the countryside for lunch at a country pub met with the compromise of a stroll across Hampstead Heath and lunch at one of the pubs around there. At Erika's insistence that then was further revised to lunch at the Assembly House in Kentish Town (not particularly close to Hampstead Heath), and ultimately the stroll across the heath was abandoned when Erika met up with a friend, and went to her place to carve pumpkins. I initially set out to the heath regardless, then was thwarted by a sudden downpour, and some amount of lethargy.
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Xi'an Cuisine
[Saturday 27th October 2018]
We didn't really know what we wanted to do with ourselves today, so in the absence of any other plan I decided we should go and try another Xi'an cuisine restaurant, this time Xi'an Impression just off the Holloway Road.
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Devil's Dyke to Washington
[Friday 26th October 2018]
I had spent much of the time in Lisbon thinking this is all probably very nice, but where I really wanted to be was back out on the South Downs walking. So, having booked this whole week off, I took advantage of my free time today while Chie and Erika were at a party to do exactly that, and pick up where I had left off last time.

As a slight hitch I discovered the buses from the centre of Brighton to the Devil's Dyke only run on weekends and bank holidays. So instead I had to take a taxi to get me to the starting point, but that was easy enough to arrange from Brighton station.

Having arrived last time at the Devil's Dyke on foot and almost immediately left again on the bus, I had thought I might linger a bit at the start this time to take in the views, or possibly even have lunch here on arrival, but instead I was itching to get going with the walk, so again barely stood still in this famous spot for more than a minute or two. I could enjoy the views while I was walking.

The "throngs" of people around the Devil's Dyke itself quickly seem to dissipate, and within 10 minutes or so I had a very gratifying sense of isolation and remoteness. It's a good place to start a walk in that it's already the top of the ridge - I didn't have much climbing to do on today's walk. It's a very pleasant continuum along the ridge top to Edburton Hill and then a gradual descent to the River Adur from there, with great views all along the way.

After crossing the A283 and the River Adur, I followed the South Downs Way through the tiny village of Botolphs, stopping to inspect a road side stall with an honesty box selling apples, although I didn't have the right change, and none of them looked quite good enough to persuade me to overpay, so I continued on empty handed.

Beyond Botolphs a climb, and through a particularly big and smelly pig farm, although the piglets were quite cute. A useful reminder that I have made the right choice in life in being vegetarian.

The next stretch - almost an hour - was a bit dull if I'm honest, the scenery was somehow a bit less appealing, somewhat flatter and a bit featureless.

However it improved again as I approached Chanctonbury Ring, a copse on a hilltop on the site of an old iron age fort, which apparently is known for paranormal activity, but to me just seemed a rather tranquil and picturesque spot. The late afternoon sky had a pleasing sort of depth to it around here, and the trees huddled together atop the hill helped this effect.

A little after that I descended into Washington, rather hoping I might be able to stop for a quick drink at the Frankland Arms before getting the bus to Pulborough, but was disappointed to find a note on the door saying it was closed for the forseeable future. There did appear to be some building work going on inside, so hopefully this means it is a temporary closure for refurbishment rather than a permanent loss.

So instead I just waited for the bus at the bus stop. I still managed to arrange a nice end to my afternoon's walk though - I had a bit of time in Pulborough before the next train back to London, so was able to buy a bottle of Nyetimber in the nice wine shop there, and a bag of chips from the chip shop next to the station, to recreate the lovely journey home we had after our vineyard tour at Nyetimber two years ago. Having also done something similar after visiting Nutbourne vineyard a year ago this is becoming something of a tradition!
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Lisbon to London
[Thursday 25th October 2018]
Said our goodbyes at the apartment, then Chie, Erika and I fit in one last cafe / pastelaria - Versailles - on the way to the airport.
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Cafes and Beach
[Wednesday 24th October 2018]
Went to a couple more cafes / pastelarias in the morning then went to the beach for the afternoon.
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Cabo da Roca and Sintra
[Tuesday 23rd October 2018]
Fit rather a lot (maybe too much?) in today - first a visit to the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe. Then Sintra - the Quinta da Regaleira and the Castelo dos Mouros. Back to Lisbon for sunset drinks by the Tagus, then dinner. Later on in the evening Leon and I visited some quirky old bars in the city.
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Castelo de Sao Jorge and Bellem
[Monday 22nd October 2018]
Visited Lisbon's castle in the morning, lunch in a tram car themed cafe, then in the afternoon took a tuk tuk to Bellem to see the famous tower and visit the place where the pastel de nata was invented.
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Wandering around Lisbon
[Sunday 21st October 2018]
First full day in Lisbon, spent it having a wander around the city.
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London to Lisbon
[Saturday 20th October 2018]
Flew to Lisbon, met Leon and family at Lisbon airport, took a big taxi to our apartment, and then in the evening went for dinner at Coelho da Rocha, which was probably the best meal of the trip.
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Ricardo's Birthday
[Friday 19th October 2018]
At the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities.
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Chie Back From Japan
[Thursday 18th October 2018]
Chie got back from Japan today. I went to the office for a change, and went to Temple of Camden for lunch.
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Bear and Wolf and Swimming
[Tuesday 16th October 2018]
Took Erika to Bear and Wolf for breakfast before school today, and then after school took Erika to her swimming lesson (not very successful) followed by dinner with one of her friends at our place.
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Rainy Sunday
[Sunday 14th October 2018]
Tried Sainsbury's new "Shroomdogs" for breakfast. Surprisingly good. Met one of Erika's friends for lunch at the Pineapple, then afterwards ice cream and a playdate at our place.
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Box Hill
[Saturday 13th October 2018]
Took Erika to Box Hill to see her cousins.
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Henna
[Thursday 11th October 2018]
Erika had some henna done at an event at school this evening.
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