Pictures: London May 2022 May 2022 Pictures from London in May 2022. West Country April 2022 Thursday 14th - Sunday 17th April 2022 One night in Somerset and two nights in Devon over the Easter weekend, taking in the Stanton Drew stone circles and a visit to Dartmoor.
London April 2022 April 2022 Pictures from London in April 2022. London March 2022 March 2022 Pictures from London in March 2022, including an overnight walk and wild camp in Wiltshire. London February 2022 February 2022 Pictures from London in February 2022.
[Saturday 7th May 2022]
Unusually I managed to persuade the girls to go for lunch at the Pineapple after Erika's Japanese school (usually they've snacked on the way home and aren't hungry any more). After that Erika had a playdate for the remainder of the afternoon, and I went off to the heath for a bit.
[Thursday 5th May 2022]
I felt a bit worn out today, from having worked hard the past few days, while also trying to fit in time to deal with the aftermath of the plumbing emergency, and decided I needed to have a bit of me time. So off to the heath in the late afternoon / early evening with a bottle of Vosne Romanee and a packet of Monster Munch. You won't read that sentence anywhere else.
[Tuesday 3rd May 2022]
The washing machine had started leaking all over the kitchen floor yesterday evening, which turned out to be due to a blocked drain. I spent much of last night and today (in bouts between my actual day job) unblocking the drain and cleaning up.
After a fair bit of plunging, and removing a couple of U-bends, I couldn't seem to dislodge whatever it was, so called a plumber: albeit they wouldn't be able to visit until Thursday. Then it occurred to me the plunger had developed cracks where the rubber had perished, and probably wasn't forming a perfect seal. So I went and got a new plunger and tried again. and eventually I actually managed to dislodge whatever it was. Still a lot of effort involved after that of mopping up and putting everything back together.
I found the whole thing rather draining.
[Monday 2nd May 2022]
May Day Bank Holiday. Chie and Erika were heading to Greenwich with friends, so I tagged along for the boat trip there, and met my two chums who live in that neck of the woods for wine and pie and mash in Greenwich Park.
Alas the outing was slightly cut short by me being called home for a plumbing emergency.
[Sunday 1st May 2022]
I should have been waking up in a ditch and watching Morris dancing first thing this morning, but c'est la vie. Instead I had a decent night's sleep in a proper bed and so was able to make a meaningful contribution to family life. Quite a lazy morning/afternoon, and we didn't leave home until 3ish, when Chie took Erika to meet a friend for yet more trampolining, and I popped to the Pineapple for a bit.
Later on I joined the girls again for dinner round at a local friend's place. We ordered in a huge amount of curry from our favourite Tiffin Tin.
[Saturday 30th April 2022]
Went for a walk in the South Downs today, thinking I might also do another wild camp at the end of it, but ultimately decided against it.
I had rather liked the idea of trying to find somewhere around Chanctonbury Ring for a wild camp, such that I could then wake up early the next morning - and watch the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men's May Day dance there (performed at 7am). When I got to Chanctonbury Ring though I seemed to go off the idea, and got the train back to London instead.
Anyway that aside it was a nice walk, albeit with a lot more people out and about than I'd been used to from previous walks on the South Downs Way. It might have been a bit more pleasant had I not been carrying 11kg or so of unnecessary camping stuff!
[Friday 29th April 2022]
Jeremy popped round in the early evening. We've been discussing him painting a family portrait of us, and he wanted to take some photos from which to make some initial sketches. It will be interesting to see how that develops.
The only photo I took today is randomly a pair of HP sauce bottles (one old and one new), showing the state of Big Ben* with and without the scaffolding.
* Yes I know it's not strictly called that!
[Thursday 28th April 2022]
I had really slogged away this week up to this point, both on the work front, and in terms of domestic duties, and by the time the end of the working day arrived today I was just a bit worn out with it all, so headed to the Pineapple for a bit. Then went back home and made dinner. Then went back to the pub again.
[Tuesday 26th April 2022]
Went to pick Erika up from her woodworking class in the car for a change, as what with work / cooking dinner I'd ended up cutting it a bit fine. I seemed to be really hard at work in general this week, then very busily engaged with cooking / cleaning / childcare in the evenings, and had very little free time for myself.
Nothing really to report apart from that.
[Sunday 24th April 2022]
Chie was still recovering today, although definitely seemed to be getting better. We thought it best she stay home and rest, so I did more taxi duties, taking Erika to a "local" (it's actually a bit of a trek) leisure centre for a trampoline session, as part of her friend's birthday celebrations. I suppose we could have walked, but it started in the morning, and Sunday mornings Erika likes to have as lazy a time as possible, given it's the only day of the week that she can.
After the trampolining there was a follow on birthday party at Erika's friend's house, so I deposited her there, went back home to check on Chie, then popped to the Pineapple for lunch. I went back to the party after that, thinking I'd be picking Erika up and taking her home (kid's birthday parties are usually only a couple of hours long) but actually they seemed to still be in full swing, and we ended up staying into the early evening.
[Saturday 23rd April 2022]
Chie had quite a bad stomach ache when she woke up this morning, so for a change I drove Erika to her Japanese school. When I got back again, Chie was in so much pain that I was concerned it might be appendicitis, and took her to hospital. After the usual multi hour wait the doctors did some tests and decided it was more likely gastroenteritis, so sent her home again.
Fortunately Erika had been out at a play date in High Barnet for most of the afternoon, so later on I went up there to pick her up, which explains the rather odd sole photo from today, of High Barnet tube station.
[Friday 22nd April 2022]
Definitely time for a quiet evening in tonight after the previous two night's outings. When not engaging in family life I spent much of the evening reading a book about the Colony Room which a local friend had lent me. I found it really entertaining, albeit a little bittersweet that the world described there has vanished, and I never really got to see it.
[Thursday 21st April 2022]
I didn't really want to be out two nights in a row, but the timing wasn't my choice. Leon was in town today, so we did a tour of some places around St Pancras / Kings Cross / Granary Square / Coal Drops Yard / whatever you call that area.
We started with the vermouth bar in Coal Drops, then went to the new craft beer (ugh) brewery bar, which I disliked intensely, and finished our evening's outing at the Wetherspoon's in St. Pancras, which is not somewhere I'd normally choose to go to, but was significantly less hateful than the previous venue.
[Wednesday 20th April 2022]
Christian proposed going for wine on the heath this evening (in fact it had been "booked" since some time last week) and in it turned into a bit of a tasting session, as we both brought bottles along. My contributions were a bit more modest, but Christian brought along some Fourrier, albeit that sadly he suspected it was a bit corked (I couldn't really detect that, but it didn't seem quite at the usual divine level for Fourrier).
As Chie and Erika had plans for the evening, I didn't feel the usual pull to be home in time for dinner, so ended up staying very late on the heath. After Christian headed home I went and picked up a pizza, and took it back to the heath to eat. By that time it was dark and I had the place entirely to myself as far as I could tell. It was a relatively mild evening, and quite lovely in the dark.
[Monday 18th April 2022]
Back in London for Easter Monday. Went to the Pineapple for a bit in the afternoon, then met Erika and her friend after their swimming lesson for dinner at Nando's (how luxurious!).
[Sunday 17th April 2022]
Erika had found a brochure for a farm where you can feed and cuddle baby animals, so we went there this morning. I was a tiny bit sceptical as I instinctively am concerning any kind of tourist attraction, but actually found it quite delightful. It is obviously a genuine family run farm which has found quite a clever way to diversify I suppose. Although they had various different themed areas and activities, by far Erika's favourite was the petting area where you can have any one of a handful of different baby animals come and sit on your lap for a bit. I certainly haven't ever been that close to a baby goat or a piglet before, and Erika was clearly in her element. Although I think Chie was a bit less keen when it came the turn of the little white mouse.
So that went very well, and it was good to have something really nice like this to do on the last day of our short holiday so it didn't have to solely be remembered for the long boring drive home.
We called in at Dad's again after that for our Easter lunch, and Dad had transformed the original plan to do a very traditional Sunday roast type of meal, into a sort of Greek twist on a roast. So that was a very nice send off before the drive home.
I did a bit more than half of the drive home, and somehow found it rather stressful. Perhaps the contrast between the lovely relaxed driving on Dartmoor the day before and today's grim relentless motorways. Anyway, we made it back in one piece, with once again a stop at Reading services on the M4.
[Saturday 16th April 2022]
We hadn't planned anything in advance for today, and I think Erika would have been very happy just hanging around the little cottage in Holcombe all day. However I was very keen to make the most of our time in Devon and get outdoors, so I persuaded the girls to go for a little run in the car, to Dartmoor.
We arrived on the moor in good time for lunch at the Warren House Inn, which remains a firm favourite of mine, despite the fact on some level it's Dartmoor's answer to a motorway service station. It being a fine day today, and in the middle of the long Easter weekend, there was a constant stream of traffic going past, and large groups of bikers would occasionally stop by. However if you can manage to ignore the presence of the road, then surely as pub beer gardens go, few in the world can boast as spectacular views as this.
Erika has been reading Hound of the Baskervilles at school, so in an attempt to make Dartmoor more appealing to her, I chose a venue for a post-lunch walk based on that. The Bronze Age settlement at Grimspound is not far from the Warren House Inn, and features in the book as the place where Sherlock Holmes hides out while he is pretending not to be on the moor but actually is, for reasons I forget now. It's also not very far from the nearest little car park, and seemed like a good manageable walk for the three of us.
On the way there we saw an adder - and I managed to get a couple of photos of it, and even capture it on video (see below) which was quite exciting.
I thought Grimspound was rather lovely today, and we also took in neighbouring Hookney Tor on our walk. In a way I was almost disappointed by the nice weather - to me Dartmoor is meant to be rather bleak and foreboding, but perhaps a trudge around for an hour in the rain and the cold would not have enthused the girls to come back again in the future.
We motored back to Holcombe after that. In the early evening we met Dad off the bus at the bottom of the hill in Holcombe, and together walked from there along the sea front to Teignmouth (a couple of short videos of that here). We picked up fish and chips for dinner and ate them on our traditional bench, on the back beach, followed by a drink at the Ship Inn, before getting a taxi back to the cottage. Dad and I sampled some Gevrey Chambertin there, Chie having kindly offered to abstain so she could drive him home later on. We rounded off the day taking Jess the dog for a walk along the front at Starcross.
Took some video footage of our visit to Grimspound:
[Friday 15th April 2022]
Started the day with breakfast at our hotel in Congresbury, which I rather enjoyed - I don't think I've had a hotel breakfast since our short trip to Cambridge in August 2020, and that one had felt more like being in a hospital canteen given the mores of that particular period of history. The food may not have been outstanding this morning, but the service was bright and cheery, and there were wedding guests filing in with various levels of hangover which was somehow rather nice to see.
After checking out, we motored down the M5 in the direction of Devon, and stopped off en route in Taunton, thinking we might be able to get a replacement windscreen wiper blade at a big Halfords there (how exciting) but as it turned out they didn't stock it. While we were there we visited some of the other giant shops in that out of town retail park - a Hobby Craft and a Sainsbury's. Compared to London, where everything is so space conscious, it felt like another world.
We spent a bit of time dithering over what to do for lunch, but ultimately decided to stick to what we know, and proceeded purposefully further down the M5, in the direction of the wonderful Bridge Inn at Topsham. Therein (or should I say thereout given we sat in the garden) we availed ourselves of pasties and cheese sandwiches and of course some beer for me.
The next stop on what seemed to have become an eating tour of the West Country was at Dad's in Starcross where we had arranged to call in for afternoon tea. Dad had decided to make saffron buns, as a sort of locally appropriate alternative to hot cross buns (it being Good Friday), and these were very good with clotted cream and jam.
Back in the car once again, for the short drive to Holcombe, the other side of Dawlish, where I'd rented a cottage for us for the weekend. I'd never really seen Holcombe before, the main road between Dawlish and Teignmouth avoids the old centre of the village - a blessing of course - and I was rather taken with the sleepy little lane going up the hill, lined with thatched cottages. Our cottage wasn't thatched, but that was fine, and it was tiny but suited our simple needs well.
After a bit of time settling in at the cottage, we took a walk down Smuggler's Lane to the sea, and then our thoughts turned to dinner (albeit none of us were particularly hungry having seemingly been eating all day). I had rather naively assumed we might be able to just stroll into the pub in Holcombe and find victuals proffered there, but the rather fraught looking landlord told us the kitchen was completely overwhelmed. So we got back in the car, headed to the deserted Sainsbury's in Dawlish, and bought food for dinner there. Which actually worked out really well - it was a late supper, but we had a big selection of different things we felt like - Chie and Erika had some mussels, I got some fresh pasta, and we all had a selection of tapasy nibbles.
[Thursday 14th April 2022]
We had originally planned to go down to Devon in February, but had to postpone our trip due to the storms. Chie and Erika were supposed to be in Japan over the Easter holidays, but that hadn't worked out either. So we thought we could at least take advantage of the long Easter weekend and get down to Devon.
We had decided to break up our journey on the way down to Devon, and stay a night near Bristol, as there were a couple of things we wanted to see in the area. I found a hotel in Congresbury which had something for all of us: a pool for the girls, and a hill fort immediately behind it for me. So we arrived there a bit before 3pm, the girls went for a swim, and I went for a walk up the hill.
The main draw to the area was our venue for dinner: the Lazy Lobster, a seafood restaurant in Chew Magna. Chie had heard about it and was keen to give it a try. Although of course this sort of place isn't really geared up for vegetarians, I muddled through with some of the side dishes, and the girls seemed to really enjoy it: Erika in particular loved the seafood risotto, which was quite a surprise to me (she never seemed that bothered when we've had risotto at home).
The second draw was the nearby village of Stanton Drew, which is a sort of Avebury-esque complex of stone circles intertwined with a village, and that's where we headed after dinner. It was a lovely time of day to visit as it turned out - heading for sunset - and the stone circles were very atmospheric. Better still there's a pub in the village - The Druid's Arms - which has some of the stones in its beer garden. That was like a slice of heaven for me.
We returned to the hotel after that, and joked that actually we could have just gone back to London the next morning, and would actually have had a very nice holiday.
[Thursday 31st March 2022]
Unfortunately our plans for the upcoming Easter holidays went awry today - Erika tested positive for the lurgy, and with the girls due to fly out on Monday that looked unlikely to happen. Erika was consequently off school, so we had fish and chips for lunch to try and cheer ourselves up, then later on I went to the heath for a bit.
[Tuesday 29th March 2022]
Picked Erika up from her woodworking class in the car for a change, after which the girls went for dinner with friends, and I went for an evening stroll on the heath.
[Sunday 27th March 2022]
Played with the Lego Dots making signs in the morning, and then I practiced setting up my tarp indoors. Lunch at the Pineapple (also played a game of Battleships there) and then later on in the afternoon I headed to the heath while the girls went to meet friends.
[Saturday 26th March 2022]
Apart from breakfast ate both main meals outdoors today: joined some Japanese friends of friends for a Hanami in Regents Park for lunch, then later on dinner on the terrace of a nearby Italian restaurant with Erika's friends.
[Tuesday 22nd March 2022]
Finally realised a long held ambition of mine to visit a St. James's club (if we set aside that one I was a member of for a couple of years, which never quite felt like the real thing). Thanks to Christian for taking me along as a guest. A very civilised and refined evening.
[Monday 21st March 2022]
Another exciting Monday evening visit to the big Sainsbury's in Camden, and while we were down there we also fit in dinner at the new vegetarian/vegan Chinese restaurant there - in particular I enjoyed a fiery Szechuan dish.
[Sunday 20th March 2022]
Went to a pub we hardly ever go to in order to try their Sunday roast. I don't think any of us were particularly impressed though. Later on the girls went off to meet friends (I think) and I headed to the heath for a bit.
[Saturday 19th March 2022]
Erika and I had a lovely day out today, starting with a visit to the Owl Bookshop (haven't been there in ages). Then to Bear and Wolf, our local cafe, for a late breakfast (I suppose I would have to begrudgingly concede it was something like brunch). Then we headed to the Pineapple, to read the books we had got from the bookshop, and then a late lunch. Later on back home and spent some time out in the back garden.
[Friday 18th March 2022]
My friend Jeremy held an exhibition of his recent work at his house this evening, I took the girls along, and we had a quick dinner at a nearby pub on the way there.
[Tuesday 15th March 2022]
A relatively quiet day, having had all my main birthday outings and treats over the weekend. Had a glass of Fourrier on the heath, and the girls made me a fantastic black forest gateau which we enjoyed after dinner.
[Monday 14th March 2022]
I caved in and ordered an Apple product. I'd been struggling to edit the videos from my GoPro using a Chromebook, and regrettably it seems it just doesn't really work for the 4k H265 video the GoPro records. I had to begrudgingly admit Apple devices are much better set up for this sort of thing.
[Sunday 13th March 2022]
As another pre-birthday treat, we went out to our favourite dimsum place for lunch, then afterwards visited the Stonehenge exhibition currently on at the British Museum.
[Saturday 12th March 2022]
It certainly wasn't a great night's sleep, with the wind and the rain, but probably an improvement on previous attempting at wild camping. Was all packed up and on the move by around 7am, and had a lovely morning walk to Avebury.
[Friday 11th March 2022]
I had the day off work today, and combined with my upcoming birthday I decided I deserved a treat, so headed off into the windy / rainy outdoors for a walk and some wild camping.
I got the train to Pewsey around lunchtime (timed to try and avoid the worst of the rain) then headed up to the Pewsey Downs, taking in West Woods (the likely source of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge), and then eventually had a windy / rainy night's sleep atop a hill.
I took my GoPro along with me and recorded some video, which I subsequently edited into either a long version:
[Thursday 10th March 2022]
Went down to Belgravia to visit my dentist today, which meant as usual lunch at one of the Olivo restaurants - this time old favourite Oliveto. Chie joined me for a change, as she was working in central London in the morning. Sort of an early birthday celebration I suppose.
[Monday 7th March 2022]
Tried simits - Turkish bagels - at lunchtime. Then in the evening, after dinner, we had an exciting family outing to the big Sainsbury's in Camden. Later on back at home I made chocolate mousse using aquafaba (the water from a tin of chickpeas) which came out quite well.
[Saturday 5th March 2022]
Erika had a picnic at her Japanese school today (despite the rather dreary weather). I went to a Turkish restaurant on Holloway road which I discovered had vegan lahmachun.
[Sunday 27th February 2022]
Managed to persuade Erika to go out for a Sunday roast at a pub for lunch (she's never very keen), although she had a burger. In the remainder of the afternoon Erika went to a friend's birthday party and I went to the heath for a bit.
[Saturday 26th February 2022]
Bec, Dave and Jessica were in London for the weekend to do some sightseeing so we met them for lunch at the Sherlock Holmes pub. After that Erika and I continued the Sherlockian theme (she is reading Hound of the Baskervilles at school at the moment) and went to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street.
[Saturday 19th February 2022]
I decided to take another longer walk this morning, up to Kenwood House again, to once more try and find the snowdrops that I had heard were there.
In the evening friends from round the corner came to visit, and brought their dog with them.
I made another video of today's walk with some silly background music which seemed to fit the country house backdrop:
[Friday 18th February 2022]
We had been planning to drive down to Devon today, but alas Storm Eunice put pay to that. Stayed indoors for the worst of it, when the wind was so strong it was lifting up one of the paving slabs in the back garden.
Once it had died down later on I went for a quick walk to Hampstead Heath (and avoided sitting underneath any trees!) to survey the damage.
I also took some video footage of the heath after the storm:
[Thursday 17th February 2022]
It was Erika's half term holiday this week, and although I was unfortunately working throughout the week, I took a little bit of time out this morning so we could go for breakfast together at a local cafe - and it seems like we hadn't been there together for two years. In the evening Chie went out to see a friend, so Erika and I had a lazy night in with junk food burgers for dinner, and watched a movie together.
[Sunday 13th February 2022]
Most of the day spent at home - Erika did a bit of flower arranging - and I went for a rainy/windy walk on the heath later in the afternoon.
I took a few videos while I was on the heath, and attempted to edit them together with some unnecessarily jaunty background music, and a lot of it sped up because the footage was actually quite dull. I found doing the audio mixing a bit difficult with the app I have, I was trying to lower the volume of the music during the bits where I was speaking, but it seemed to be quite a faff to do that, and ended up introducing a lot of jarring squelchy sort of noises.
Oh well, I won't be giving up the day job just yet.
[Saturday 12th February 2022]
Erika was at a sleepover this evening. Chie and I decided to walk over to Hampstead, and went for dinner at a tapas place we used to go to when I lived there (although it is quite different now).
[Friday 11th February 2022]
Fish and chips (well, halloumi and chips in my case) with Chie for lunch. In the evening the girls went to a party with local friends, and I decided to cook my dinner on the heath.
Also a few timelapses of the moon / night sky I took with my GoPro while I was sitting on the heath having dinner in the dark:
[Tuesday 1st February 2022]
The usual Tuesday evening stroll to the heath while Erika was at woodwork. Caught the tail end of the sunset, some lovely pink sky this evening, particularly on the way there.
[Sunday 30th January 2022]
Afternoon out with Chie and Erika. Erika wanted to go to the platform 9 3/4 shop in Kings Cross and we also fancied some ice cream. So we first went to the gelateria in Kentish Town, then got the train down to Kings Cross, and spent some of the afternoon down there.
[Saturday 29th January 2022]
The girls were otherwise engaged for pretty much the whole day, so I decided to head down to the South Downs, to repeat a walk I had enjoyed before - from Worthing to Washington, via Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring.
I took my GoPro with me so in addition to the photos there's some video footage of my walk:
[Saturday 22nd January 2022]
Pizza on the heath for lunch while the girls were at Japanese school. Later on in the early evening the three of us built the Lego bonsai tree which Mum had sent as a Christmas present.
[Thursday 20th January 2022]
An odd pairing of an old school Gevrey Chambertin (Rene Leclerc - as visited by Keith Floyd) and one of those new fangled fake meat burgers. I doubt very much Keith Floyd would approve of the latter.