Dr John Hawkins
Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff,
home to a huge load of pictures,
and my daily blog.
My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.
- John's Journal / Blog
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Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Garden Cupboard
Beer and Wine
Chie back from Japan
Zoo and Dinner Party
Kentish Town Sky
The Party's Over
Fortnum and Mason Hamper
Erika Learns to Ride a Bike
The Resumption of Tweed Season
Joseph Drouhin Tasting
Tuesday in Monaco
Monday in Monaco
Sunday in Monaco
London to Monaco
Dimsum and Lego
Zoo and Mheat
Back to London
Last Full Day
Coastal Path and Polperro Pubs
Sunday at Landaviddy
Saturday at Landaviddy
Day Before Holiday
Snails, Ice Cream, Lego
Middle Temple and the Savoy
Day After the Garden Tap Party
New Garden Tap Party
Old and New Garden Taps
Old Garden Tap
Garden, Bike, Wahaca
Face Painting, GevCham, Projector
Avocado on Toast
Erika's New Bike
In The Garden
Kensington and the Garden Centre
ESW by the Canal
School Summer Fair
Elephant, Frank's, Ralph's Birthday
Andy's Greek Taverna
Tatami and the Wrong Rabbit
Lunch at Oliveto
An Unexpected and Very Short Visit to St. Albans
Fukuoka to Helsinki to London
Beach, Kure and Kura Sushi
Thursday in Hiroshima
Okonomiyaki and Shopping
Monaco September 2017
Saturday 2nd - Wednesday 6th September 2017
Four nights in Monaco for some guaranteed sunny weather at the end of a mostly rather grey English summer.
Cornwall August 2017
Friday 11th - Friday 18th August 2017
A big family gathering for a week's stay in Polperro in Cornwall to celebrate various milestone birthdays including belatedly my 40th.
London August 2017
Pictures from London in August 2017.
London July 2017
Pictures from London in July 2017, including a day trip to Whitstable, Erika's sports day and the Chap Olympiad.
Japan June 2017
Saturday 3rd to Sunday 11th June 2017
A couple of nights in Tokyo followed by the rest of the week in Hiroshima to see Chie and Erika at the end of their longer trip to Japan.
- Garden Cupboard
[Saturday 7th October 2017]
- Beer and Wine
[Friday 6th October 2017]
- Chie back from Japan
[Wednesday 4th October 2017]
- Flashy Stick
[Monday 2nd October 2017]
[Sunday 1st October 2017]
- Zoo and Dinner Party
[Saturday 30th September 2017]
[Friday 29th September 2017]
[Thursday 28th September 2017]
[Wednesday 27th September 2017]
[Tuesday 26th September 2017]
- Garden Cupboard
- [Saturday 7th October 2017]
Mostly lazy day. Went to a burger place in Camden for lunch, then I popped down to St. James's to do a spot of clothes shopping. Later on in the afternoon I went to Homebase and bought an outdoor cupboard for the garden to help with some of our storage issues.
- Beer and Wine
- [Friday 6th October 2017]
Another pub lunch at the Pineapple, this time with Chie. In the evening, wine.
- Chie back from Japan
- [Wednesday 4th October 2017]
Chie came back from Japan this evening.
- Flashy Stick
- [Monday 2nd October 2017]
The flashy stick Erika got at the circus yesterday had broken on the way home, and Erika was quite upset. Luckily I managed to fix it.
- [Sunday 1st October 2017]
Took Erika to see the Moscow State Circus.
- Zoo and Dinner Party
- [Saturday 30th September 2017]
Took Erika to the zoo for a short while in the daytime. As is often the case, despite Erika asking to go to the zoo I questioned whether or not she actually had much interest in seeing any animals - we did a reasonably thorough tour of the reptile house and the aquarium today, but that was it in terms of zoological observation. Also went to the playground for a bit (both the one inside the zoo and later on the one outside), Erika had her face painted, and we had lunch there. I managed to strike a deal of sorts to ward her off the usual temptations of candy floss etc and instead let her buy a small soft toy in the shop on the way out.
Did a bit of shopping in Camden on the way back home, then I spent most of the rest of the afternoon tidying up the flat and cooking, while Erika graciously entertained herself.
I was starting to feel a bit starved of grown-up company after a week of not being able to go out (with Chie being away) so I'd invited some local friends round for an impromptu dinner party. Well actually technically I'd just invited them round for some Champagne but as the only time they were free was around dinner some basic solid sustenance had also to be proffered. I had a whim of trying to recreate John Betjeman's salons, where he'd have other creative types round to drink Champagne from pewter tankards. However I don't own any pewter tankards. Plus of course, given that we collectively also had two small children to wrangle (Erika and their daughter) the conversation couldn't really operate on anything like a Betjeman sort of level, but I was glad of the company regardless.
- [Friday 29th September 2017]
Seemed to feel a fair bit better today, obviously the worst of my cold was behind me.
I asked Erika whether she wanted to go to the after school club again today, or whether she'd just like to spend some more time with me instead - as I'd put in a few hours later on in the evening this week I felt quite entitled to down tools at 3:30 today (and in fact again ended up working more after Erika went to sleep). Erika chose the latter, which was nice.
So after picking up Erika from school we went for a quick drink at the Pineapple, then down to Kentish Town High Street to do a bit of shopping. Erika said she wanted to go into Iceland - I'm not sure I've ever actually been into one before. It's like a different world. We bought some ice lollies there and not much else. We also went into Holland and Barrett, and then headed home.
Made macaroni cheese for dinner, which had a much more favourable reception than the previous evening's paella.
- [Thursday 28th September 2017]
We had ran out of playdates for the week by this point. Erika's school has an after school club for kids with working parents, and Erika was keen to try this out, so that helped to fill a gap today, and I was able to work until about 5:30.
In the evening my cold seemed to reach its peak. Or perhaps that should be nadir. I felt pretty awful - feverish, a sore throat, and generally run down and lacking any energy.
I think this may have been the day I struggled most during the time Chie was away - unfortunately children at age 5 don't really have much in the way of empathy, and so my hope that Erika might see I was clearly feeling quite unwell and give me an easy time of it accordingly was apparently naive. I made some vague approximation of Spanish food for dinner - paella etc - and Erika really didn't seem to like it, it was a struggle getting her to eat anything other than the padron peppers, which I doubt provide a lot of nutrition. Giving Erika a bath was then similarly a struggle, as was getting her to sleep.
- [Wednesday 27th September 2017]
Another similar day to the previous two - I worked from home while Erika was at school, then after school another playdate. This time Erika had dinner (referred to as "tea" which amongst the local parents seems to mean an early dinner specifically for kids, not the general synonym for dinner as it is used up North) with her friend, which was a kids only affair, so I ordered some Indian takeaway for myself for later on when we were back home.
Erika wanted to dress up in one of her princess outfits in the evening.
I seemed to have picked up a cold, and was starting to feel a tad under the weather by today. As a result I was struggling to keep up the routine of getting Erika to sleep then doing a couple more hours of work - I think tonight I may have just fallen asleep when Erika did.
- [Tuesday 26th September 2017]
Similar plan to yesterday, I dropped Erika off at school in the morning, then worked from home while Erika was at school. Then I picked her up at 3:30, and delivered her to another playdate which Chie had thoughtfully pre-arranged before her departure.
This time though when it came time to pick Erika up from her playdate, she decided she would like to have dinner with her friend, and the family also very kindly invited me to join. So I had gin and tonics with Joe in his kitchen while he cooked dinner for all of us, and the girls played a bit longer. I was really quite touched this week by how kind everyone was in helping to look after Erika when they heard Chie needed to go back to Japan for a while.
Once back at home I assembled the frame for Chie's woodblock print I'd picked up at the Japanese Gallery in Kensington in July, and I think Erika and I did a bit more drawing together. Then after Erika went to sleep a bit more work again.
- [Monday 25th September 2017]
First day of my extended period of working from home while Chie was in Japan. I'd decided it didn't make sense to travel to the office between dropping Erika off at school at 9 and picking her up again at 3:30, particularly as recently I'd found I could be just as productive at home anyway.
Although Erika had a bit of a temperature last night, she seemed mostly fine today. I asked the staff to keep an eye on her, and although Erika did apparently at one point tell them she wanted them to call me, they checked her temperature and said she was fine.
I received a case of GevCham in the daytime. This was the case of Louis Boillot 2014 I'd bought en primeur from Berry Bros and Rudd some time last year. I was slightly perplexed when earlier this year they'd charged me a cellaring fee - which seemed reasonable enough, but then when I'd requested they deliver after that I'd got a message saying it wasn't in stock.
One of Erika's friend's Mum's had kindly offered to have Erika over after school for a bit, knowing Chie was away, so I took Erika round there and was able to get another couple of hours work done. Before I went to pick her up from her playdate I ordered some Chinese food to be delivered, and it was there waiting for us when we got back. Erika really likes duck pancakes (which we get with mock in fact) and I thought it might be nice for her to have something comforting and familiar like this to keep her spirits up while Chie was away.
After dinner we made menus for a pretend cafe - I think inspired by a game she had been playing at her friends house earlier.
After Erika went to sleep I did a bit more work - a common pattern this week, and I felt rather pleased with myself that I'd done a good job, not just at work work, but also at parenting - and it seems it's possible to achieve both of these by just entirely abandoning any thought of having my own free time!
- Whipsnade Zoo
- [Sunday 24th September 2017]
Kyle, Hannah and Ralph had moved to Harpenden earlier this year, which isn't far from Whipsnade Zoo, and Kyle had suggested we all go there together today. I was very glad of any suggestions for helping to keep Erika entertained while Chie was away, so gladly accepted.
Erika and I got the train up to Harpenden in the morning (very convenient from Kentish Town, there's a direct train), met Kyle, Hannah and Ralph there, and then got a lift with them from there to Whipsnade.
Not long after arrival at Whipsnade we had a picnic lunch, looking out over the surprisingly impressive views that are to be had from there - I'd always imagined that part of the country (Bedfordshire etc) to be very flat, but the zoo is actually on a bit of a hill with the flat bits all laid out below it. It was quite a treat to be able to have picnics two days running in the second half of September and the weather was particularly nice today for the time of year.
We then went for a somewhat random child led tour of the zoo, with Erika and Ralph forging on ahead on their scooter and balance bike respectively. Kyle commented that it was interested to observe the differing attitudes to risk the two of them had - when the path came to a downhill section, Ralph would zoom fearlessly down with his feet practically up on the handlebars, and Erika would be constantly slowing herself with one foot on the ground.
Inevitably we got to the playground which consumed quite a large chunk of the afternoon and I overheard many other parents questioning why they bother to come to the zoo at all when all their kids seem to want to do is play there. I personally was happy with Erika doing whatever she wanted as long as she was having fun, and being ZSL members we hadn't paid to get in anyway.
By about 3pm both kids were starting to flag a bit, Erika hadn't had a great night's sleep either of the past two nights, what with all the disruption to her usual routines etc, and I could see she was starting to get tired and a bit grumpy. So we started to head back. There had been talk of chocolate cookies earlier, which Hannah had baked for the kids to eat at the zoo, then forgot to bring, and Erika was quite insistent that we go back to their house first to pick hers up before getting the train back to London.
Back at home, the evening was a little bit of a struggle. Erika seemed to be coming down with a cold, and was starting to develop a bit of a temperature, which combined with the fact she was quite tired meant dinner time turned into a bit of an ordeal. There were three separate teary outbursts - a very long sustained one when she managed to accidentally bite her cheek, plus she also dropped a bit of hot food on her arm, and somehow scratched her leg. I was feeling the strain a bit by this point - and was only two days in to my 11 day stint of temporarily being a single parent!
- Box Hill
- [Saturday 23rd September 2017]
Chie's Dad had gone into hospital a few days ago and Chie wanted to go there to see him, so she flew to Japan this morning. I would be taking care of Erika by myself for the next 11 nights while Chie was away.
Thinking Erika might be a bit sad at the prospect of her Mum going away for a bit, I decided it would be good to visit family today. Erika always loves going to see her cousins, and I thought for a change it might be nice to meet up with them somewhere for a day out in the great outdoors, rather than the usual plan of going to visit them at their house.
So Erika and I got a reasonably early train down to Box Hill and Westhumble (we were up early anyway as Chie had to wake at practically dawn to get to the airport in time). As Adrian et al had things on in the morning today, we'd planned to meet them at the top of Box Hill (where there's a National Trust cafe and car park), so Erika and I did the walk up the hill by ourselves. She did seem a tad apprehensive about the whole thing to start with - presumably she was already feeling a bit out of sorts what with Chie's departure, and then on top of that my slightly unusual proposal to get the train to the middle of nowhere then walk up a big hill... but she was spurred on by the prospect of seeing her cousins at the top (and asked about every 5 minutes "Are they there yet? Who's going to get there first, us or them?"). I think she also enjoyed the famous stepping stones, even though owing to a slight miscalculation on my part we actually arrived at them having already crossed the river at a nearby bridge, so we ended up going over them once and then immediately back across again just for the sake of it.
I was impressed by how well Erika did going up the hill - she only asked to be carried for one relatively short section. It is pretty steep in places, and must have been quite hard work on her little legs. When we got to the top, I thought the views were rather impressive, but it's hard to gauge what sort of an impact things like this have on a 5 year old - she seemed more interested in the conkers we had picked up at the bottom of the hill.
Shortly afterwards we found Adrian, Liz and the kids, and Erika seemed to breathe a sigh of relief (My crazy Daddy hasn't just made we walk all the way up that hill for no reason). We had lunch on one of the picnic benches with a mixture of sandwiches we'd brought with us and a couple of extra things from the cafe - Erika had a sausage roll (or at least some of it) and I had a vegetable pasty. All 8 of us just about managed to fit on a single picnic bench and it was rather nice.
After that we went for a walk around Box Hill's "natural play trail" - which I think was really nicely done - the walk was punctuated every few hundred metres with things like see-saws and climbing frames, all made from the local trees. It was really delightful to see all of the kids actually seeming to genuinely enjoy themselves outdoors, running through the woods and climbing trees. I wish Grandad Nick had been with us, it would have "gladdened his heart" as he would say.
We were having such a nice time I realised I hadn't really been keeping track of the time, and Erika and I were supposed to be back in Kentish Town for a friend's birthday party in the early evening. We'd originally planned to get a train back around 3:30, which was starting to look increasingly impossible. I discussed this with Erika and she initially was very insistent that we should get to her friend's birthday party on time. However when I reframed the question pointing out that if she didn't mind being a bit late to her friend's party we could have an ice cream with her cousins before we left, it seemed to rather change things. So we decided to get the train an hour later, the kids all had an ice cream, then we said our goodbyes and Erika and I bounded back down Box Hill to the station.
On arrival at Victoria we dashed across London to try and not be too late for the party - and in doing so very stupidly rushed onto a tube train as the doors were closing. No injury was incurred, but Erika did get clipped by the door on the way in, and more for the shock of it than the fact it actually hurt at all was quite upset. I was then very cross with myself for doing this with Erika, which was really stupid just for the sake of trying not to be late to a party. I thoroughly deserved all the judgemental stares I received from the other passengers in the carriage, and made a resolution never to do that again.
As it happens we weren't the last people to arrive anyway, which I could easily have predicted, as one family among our local friends are always late to everything!
Even though it was an early dinner (at 5:30) I'm not sure it really worked for a group of 4 or 5 year olds, it didn't seem long before they were getting over excited then over tired and there were a few near misses with waiters carrying plates of food nearly tripped over by seemingly unfettered children. Although the Wahaca in Kentish Town is very kid friendly, and usually half empty at lunchtime, on a Saturday evening it seems to be packed, and I got the impression everyone else was relieved when our table left.
Anyway, slightly wild and unhinged though the latter part of the day was, I was glad of having been able to provide Erika with a very full itinerary for the day, which hopefully helped to take her mind off the fact her Mum was going away for a bit.
- Kentish Town Sky
- [Friday 22nd September 2017]
Met up with Chie and Erika in Kings Cross after work and got the train back to Kentish Town together. Nice sky this evening.
- [Wednesday 20th September 2017]
Attempted to meet some local friends in the Pineapple in the evening, but failed.
- The Party's Over
- [Tuesday 19th September 2017]
Discovered only too late there was some kind of Campari popup bar in Kings Cross - where was my invitation?
- Fortnum and Mason Hamper
- [Monday 18th September 2017]
Received a Fortnum and Mason hamper as a thank you gift from Bec and Dave for our family summer holiday. Had a lot of fun unpacking it!
- Erika Learns to Ride a Bike
- [Sunday 17th September 2017]
I had taken Erika out for bike riding practice a few times since we got her bike earlier this year, and it had occurred to me even though I obviously know how to ride a bike myself, I had no idea how to teach someone else. When I'd ordered her bike, I also stabilisers to come with it, which in the modern era is apparently not considered to be the done thing. I have to slightly beg to differ here having learned to ride a bike in a period of history when stabilisers were the norm, and I don't exactly come from a generation of people who are incapable of cycling, so I have the impression it does all work out in the end. There was a certain joy both for Erika and for me on the day she got her new bike that she was able to ride it straight away without any struggle, and I can't help but wonder if she might not have such a positive reaction to it had it just caused her frustration from the outset.
However, being the highly impressionable types that we are, Chie and I both soaked up all the dogma and after a few initial outings with the stabilisers on we removed them again. We'd then gone through a brief period of removing the pedals too, so Erika could treat it as a sort of balance bike (again, a modern notion of learning to ride a bike which is slightly lost on me). Finally, the last piece of advice we'd taken on board was to hold onto her rather than the bike, as somehow that makes it easier for her to learn to balance.
Along with a lack of intuition on how to teach someone else how to ride a bike, I also had no sense of how long it would take. So when we went out today I was quite prepared for the fact Erika would pedal a bit while I was holding onto her shoulders, and had no particular expectation we'd get much beyond that stage.
We did a few runs exactly like that. At times I would very briefly let go of her shoulders, keeping my hands nearby to catch her, and she'd wobble quite a lot - I didn't really have the sense she was close to balancing by herself.
The pedestrianised bit of road where we were practising gets a lot of foot traffic from locals, and we saw several of Erika's friends and their families passing by while we were there today. When Erika's best friend at school and her family passed by, I briefly paused the cycling lesson to say hello. While I was just momentarily distracted, Erika decided to launch herself off on her bike all by herself. As if by magic, she suddenly got it and in an instant was able to cycle and balance without any help from me. It was quite an amazing moment to watch.
After that, we went for lunch at Wahaca with Andrew and his two kids, and then went to their house for some of the afternoon so Erika and Zia could play together.
In the evening I made a roast meal which I thought came out relatively well. I have long since resigned myself to the fact that my roast potatoes aren't ever going to be quite what I want them to be - I have tried just about every variant on the recipe out there, and suspect the fault lies somehow with my oven... but these were about as good as they ever get.
- Lazy Saturday
- [Saturday 16th September 2017]
Had no plans for today, and ended up just passing the time either at home or nearby. Breakfast at Bear and Wolf, then pottered arounf the garden for a bit in the morning. Tried the "Moonlight Cafe" (a nearby greasy spoon) for lunch, then back home in the afternoon, passing the time with a combination of marble run and baking scones. Made nabe for dinner in the evening.
- Marble Run
- [Thursday 14th September 2017]
Played with the new Marble Run set Erika had been given for her birthday in the evening.
- [Wednesday 13th September 2017]
Night out with the usual suspects, cocktails at Disrepute then dinner at Mele e Pere.
- [Tuesday 12th September 2017]
Was surprised when I attived home by Chie and Erika wearing masks.
- The Resumption of Tweed Season
- [Monday 11th September 2017]
I decided this morning it was an appropriate juncture (helped by the grim weather) to official call an end to summer, and resume wearing tweed.
Also Erika's first day in reception!
- Erika's Birthday
- [Sunday 10th September 2017]
A fairly low key event for Erika's 5th birthday, the afternoon spent at the Pineapple with friends.
- Joseph Drouhin Tasting
- [Thursday 7th September 2017]
Went along to a Joseph Drouhin Burgundy tasting at Fortnum and Mason, conducted by the fascinating Veronique Drouhin. Dinner at the Wolselely afterwards.
- [Wednesday 6th September 2017]
Last breakfast at our hotel, out on the terrace, before chekcing out, and being shuttled to Monaco Heliport to leave Monaco in style - by helicopter! Then a slightly less glamorous flight on a regular airplane from Nice back to London.
- Tuesday in Monaco
- [Tuesday 5th September 2017]
I ventured out for a bit in the morning to see the Riviera Palace, but other than that we mostly stayed in and around the hotel all day, enjoying the beach and the swimming pool. Dinner at Lo Sfizio in the evening.
- Monday in Monaco
- [Monday 4th September 2017]
Went to the Oceanographic Museum (aquarium) towards the end of the morning, and also had lunch there. I failed in an attempt to go to a bar right on the end of the harbour arm in Fontvielle in the afternoon, while the girls transferred to our new hotel at the Eastern end of Monaco. Spent the remainder of the afternoon on the private beach and in the swimming pool at our new hotel, then in the evening went for pizza on the beach at Miami Plage, and were rather spell bound by the full moon.
- Sunday in Monaco
- [Sunday 3rd September 2017]
Breakfast at our hotel, followed by a dip in the hotel pool in the morning. Headed out after midday for a stroll up to Le Rocher and lunch at Castelroc. After lunch we headed to the Exotic Gardens to admire the tropical fauna, lovely views, and the caves. Dinner at Amici Miei in Fontvielle harbour.
- London to Monaco
- [Saturday 2nd September 2017]
I had caved in for this trip (or else it might not have happened at all) and agreed to fly rather than go by train as we always have done in the past. Managed to get business class tickets for the three of us, which helped lessen the usual unpleasantness of flying somewhat, and Erika got to both sit behind the checkin desk and in the pilot's seat!
- [Friday 1st September 2017]
- [Thursday 31st August 2017]
- [Wednesday 30th August 2017]
A couple of random pictures on a Wednesday.
- Hampstead Heath
- [Monday 28th August 2017]
Met up with a local friend of Erika's for a picnic on Hampstead Heath on the Bank Holiday Monday.
- [Sunday 27th August 2017]
Took Erika to Dreamland in Margate again, where we met Leon, Aiko and Mei.
- St Albans
- [Saturday 26th August 2017]
Chie and Erika went out for some of the daytime, my presence was not required so I decided to go and explore St Albans, and try the pub serving foraged food I had heard about. Back in London in the evening Erika and I had a barbecue in our back garden.
- New Suit
- [Friday 25th August 2017]
Picked up a new suit from Hackett today.
- [Wednesday 23rd August 2017]
A short visit to Frank's which had to be curtailed just as the sun was starting to set.
- Dimsum and Lego
- [Sunday 20th August 2017]
Lunch at our favourite dimsum place, Joy King Lau, followed by a visit to the Lego shop.
- Zoo and Mheat
- [Saturday 19th August 2017]
Took Erika to the zoo in the daytime. In the evening I had tried the new "Mheat" steak.
- Back to London
- [Friday 18th August 2017]
Said out final goodbyes at the house in the morning, drove back to Plymouth to drop off our hire car, then got the train from there back to London.
- Last Full Day
- [Thursday 17th August 2017]
Last full day of the holiday today. Did some group photos in the morning of Vera and all the children, before Bec, Dave and Jessica headed home. Didn't go too far from the house today, stayed in for the daytime, and just headed out for the last supper at the Crumplehorn Inn in the evening.
- Phoenician Meal
- [Wednesday 16th August 2017]
I'd had a ridiculous idea to make Lebanese food for dinner tonight, in honour of the ancient (and probably apocryphal) connection between Cornwall and the Phoenicians. It proved almost universally unpopular with the kids and the fussier adults, but nonetheless consumed almost my entire day, shopping in the daytime, and cooking in the afternoon / early evening. Consequently I didn't take many photos today.
- Coastal Path and Polperro Pubs
- [Tuesday 15th August 2017]
Probably my favourite day of the holiday. We decided to just leave the car in the car park (both Chie and I had been finding all the narrow country lanes and the hassle getting parked anywhere a bit stressful), and in the daytime walk along the coastal path to Talland Bay in back. There were lovely coastal views to be had along the route and even Erika managed to walk a fair bit (spurred on by the promise of ice cream). In the evening we left the grandparents to babysit, and several of us younger adults went for a bit of a pub crawl around Polperro.
- [Monday 14th August 2017]
Went to Fowey in the daytime with Bec, Dave and Jessica. Then back to the house in the evening for another big family dinner - Chinese takeaway tonight.
- Sunday at Landaviddy
- [Sunday 13th August 2017]
Chie, Erika and I went out to Talland Bay in the daytime. When we got back in the afternoon, Bec, Dave and Jessica had arrived so we were now up to our full group of 22. In the evening a Sunday roast and Vera's birthday cake to follow.
- Saturday at Landaviddy
- [Saturday 12th August 2017]
Spent most of thr day in and around Landaviddy Manor, our home for the week. Chie and I popped into Polperro briefly towards the end of the morning to have a look around, then again later on in the afternoon with Erika in tow. First big family meal in the evening with 19 of our full compliment of 22 now present!
- [Friday 11th August 2017]
Got the train from London to Plymouth in the afternoon, picked up a hire car from there, stopped off to do a bit of shopping en route, and arrived at the house early evening.
- Day Before Holiday
- [Thursday 10th August 2017]
The day before our holiday to Cornwall. Chie was out for the evening, so I took Erika to Wahaca for dinner, and later on in the evening Jeremy popped round for a drink.
- [Wednesday 9th August 2017]
Very wet, grey and miserable weather today.
- Sylvanian Families
- [Tuesday 8th August 2017]
Played Sylvanian Families with Erika in the evening. They had a large dinner party.
- Front Garden
- [Sunday 6th August 2017]
Spent quite a lot of today cutting the hedge and generally tidying up the front garden.
- [Saturday 5th August 2017]
Went to Amersham (quite a trek to get there) for a party with Chie's former colleague.
- [Friday 4th August 2017]
Went to Briggs at lunchtime in the hope of getting a hair cut, and was sad to find it had closed down, and Philip had retired. Attempted to cheer myself up with lunch at San Carlo Cichetti.
- Andrew's Keys
- [Wednesday 2nd August 2017]
Andrew left his keys at the office, and as I live much closer to the office I went to pick them up for him, and we met at a mutually convenient location (Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese) to hand them over.
- [Tuesday 1st August 2017]
- [Monday 31st July 2017]
- [Sunday 30th July 2017]
Went to lunch at Al and Charlotte's to meet their new baby Erin.
- Snails, Ice Cream, Lego
- [Saturday 29th July 2017]
Dealt with a glut of snails in the garden today, took Erika out for lunch at the Pineapple followed by ice cream, and also got some new Lego.
- [Friday 28th July 2017]
Saw Leon briefly in the evening as he was passing through London en route to Mexico.
- Middle Temple and the Savoy
- [Thursday 27th July 2017]
Was meant to go to the Middle Temple Champagne Bar but it wasn't actually there. Instead went to the Tattersall Castle for a bit then the Beuafort Bar at the Savoy.
- Masala Zone
- [Monday 24th July 2017]
Dinner at Masala Zone in Camden in the evening.
- [Sunday 23rd July 2017]
Took Erika to the Proms in the evening.
- Day After the Garden Tap Party
- [Saturday 22nd July 2017]
Surveyed the garden in the morning post party. Took Erika for lunch at our nearby pasta place.
- New Garden Tap Party
- [Friday 21st July 2017]
Had the new garden tap fitted today, and a party in its honour in the evening.
- Old and New Garden Taps
- [Thursday 20th July 2017]
Bought a new garden tap and a book about Venice for Erika, plus had veggie kara age for dinner.
- Old Garden Tap
- [Wednesday 19th July 2017]
Pictures of the old garden tap prior to replacing it, plus more garden photos and Erika on her bike again.
- Garden, Bike, Wahaca
- [Sunday 16th July 2017]
Spent some of the afternoon in the garden, went out with Erika for more bike practice, and then in the evening dinner at Wahaca with some local friends.
- Chap Olympiad
- [Saturday 15th July 2017]
Pictures from this year's Chap Olympiad.
- Face Painting, GevCham, Projector
- [Thursday 13th July 2017]
Interestingly mixed bag of an evening - I let Erika paint my face (with alarming results), had some GevCham with dinner, and Chie's new projector arrived, which we tried out.
- Avocado on Toast
- [Wednesday 12th July 2017]
Went for breakfast at Bear and Wolf, had their avocado on toast of which I am quite fond.
- Not Kensington
- [Tuesday 11th July 2017]
Having been reminded how nice Kensington was the other day, with all its antiques shops and so on, I was reminded this morning of the contrast with Kentish Town...
- Erika's New Bike
- [Monday 10th July 2017]
Erika's new bike arrived today, and she took it out for an early evening spin.
- In The Garden
- [Sunday 9th July 2017]
Looks like we stayed at home most of the day, and spent some of it out in the garden.
- Kensington and the Garden Centre
- [Saturday 8th July 2017]
Went to Kensington, thinking to buy something new (but actually old) for the Chap Olympiad, but failed to find anything. Instead bought a woodblock print for Chie. Later on popped to the garden centre.
- ESW by the Canal
- [Friday 7th July 2017]
Boycotted the usual in-office end of the week drinks and instead went and sat by the canal with a bucket of English Sparkling Wine.
- [Thursday 6th July 2017]
A couple of random pictures.
- [Wednesday 5th July 2017]
Decided to have a barbecue in our back garden.
- Sports Day
- [Tuesday 4th July 2017]
Erika's sports day in the daytime, went for a pint at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese with some of the usual suspects in the evening.
- [Sunday 2nd July 2017]
Spent the day in Whitstable. Hardly took any pictures!
- School Summer Fair
- [Saturday 1st July 2017]
Chie and Erika wore yukata for Erika's school summer fair. In the evening dinner with some of Chie's friends from her Hiroshimakenjinkai.
- [Friday 30th June 2017]
Found the "sketches" which were meant to be the inspiration for the painting my friends commisssioned for my birthday... which are much nicer than the end result. Also end of the week drinks by the canal.
- [Thursday 29th June 2017]
Have been making much use of the KERB street food market recently, as I continue to boycott the food laid on at the office. Went slightly overboard today and bought two lunch boxes: Gyoza from the Gyoza guys and a Vietnamese noodle bowl.
Left the office slightly early at the request of Erika's friend who was at ours for a playdate and wanted me to come back and be King Triton from the Little Mermaid.
- The Constitution
- [Monday 26th June 2017]
Monday evening drinks at the Constitution by the canal with some of the usual suspects.
- [Sunday 25th June 2017]
Went to visit Ali in Welwyn Garden City.
- Elephant, Frank's, Ralph's Birthday
- [Saturday 24th June 2017]
Attended Ralph's birthday party in North Dulwich with stop offs at the Elephant and Castle and Frank's in Peckham on the way.
- [Thursday 22nd June 2017]
First time to try Jackfruit, a novel meat substitute.
- Royal Ascot
- [Wednesday 21st June 2017]
Second time in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.
- Andy's Greek Taverna
- [Tuesday 20th June 2017]
Hot weather so we wanted some appropriate food. Dinner at Andy's in Camden, a bit of a local institution.
- Board Games
- [Sunday 18th June 2017]
A few pictures of me and Erika in the Pineapple playing board games.
- [Saturday 17th June 2017]
Took Erika to Margate for the day, spent most of the time at Dreamland, the retro theme park.
- Tatami and the Wrong Rabbit
- [Friday 16th June 2017]
Tried the new tatami mat out in the lounge. Also after much effort trying to get Erika's lost rabbit returned, I received the wrong one in the post.
- Lunch at Oliveto
- [Thursday 15th June 2017]
Went to the dentist. Which meant lunch at Oliveto.
- An Unexpected and Very Short Visit to St. Albans
- [Wednesday 14th June 2017]
Accidentally got on the wrong train on the way back from the office.
- Fukuoka to Helsinki to London
- [Sunday 11th June 2017]
Flew back to London today. Chie had booked with FinnAir which meant a change at Helsinki, and also a rather amusing pair of airport codes (I shall leave it to your imagination given Fukuoka and Helsinki).
We checked out of the Grand Hyatt in Fukuoka around 7:30 and got a taxi from there to the airport. It's a very convenient airport to get to, less than 20 minutes drive from the city centre. The queues were all rather long and annoying (I think I've become too acclimatised to business class recently) but once we were through security we had a nice surprise at the gate - several of the cabin crew put on a little sow just before boarding, singing a capella "I'm leaving on a jetplane" and then the theme tune from Totoro, after which another member of the crew played accordion while we were boarding.
On board, the crew seemed to be rather taken with Erika, and gave her a crew hat and scarf to wear, and had her help out with handing out the food and drinks. She seemed to rather enjoy that. They were a lovely bunch, all smiles and singing, I've never encountered such a nice cabin crew on a flight before.
Erika didn't sleep on the flight, and despite bizarrely often saying how she likes plane food didn't each much either. I just about managed to get her to sit through one film (Trolls, which seemed fittingly Scandanavian) so Chie and I could also have a bit of quiet time. I watched Prometheus (which I was rather underwhelmed by) and Great Wall (which was as bad as I expected).
We had a short change at Helsinki, and were in the airport there for a little under 2 hours. I was actually hoping our flight might have been delayed and we could have had an overnight stay in Helsinki, it would have been nice to get out and see some of the city. Another time. Was very pleased to find some gelatin free Finnish gummy sweets and also some salted liquorice which apparently is usually quite unpopular to a non-Finnish palate but I was rather taken by.
The connecting flight from Helsinki to London wasn't nearly as nice, it felt a lot more cramped than the long haul flight (which had been half empty), and there were no movies or anything to help pass the time... but Erika fell asleep for pretty much the entire duration, which was good.
Landed at Heathrow around 5pm UK time, got the Heathrow Express back to Paddington and then a taxi from there back home, getting us home for about 7pm. I made pasta for dinner, and we all ended up going to sleep about the same time after that._
- [Saturday 10th June 2017]
Packed our bags at Chie's parents house in the morning, and Chie's Dad gave us a lift to the station. Chie's Mum was out for the day so we had already said our goodbyes to her the previous evening.
Had lunch with a friend of Chie's near the station before we got the shinkansen to Fukuoka, from where we'd be flying back to the UK the next day.
Just like the last time we stayed in Fukuoka we stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which was pleasingly familiar this time.
Had dinner with another friend of Chie's and her kids in the evening where we also enjoyed the water fountain, lights and and projection shows in Canal City.
- Beach, Kure and Kura Sushi
- [Friday 9th June 2017]
Went for a quick visit to a beach in the morning, followed by a visit to Kure for lunch and to see the Irifuneyama Western style house there. Shopping at Aeon Mall toward the end of the afternoon then Kura Sushi for dinner.
- Thursday in Hiroshima
- [Thursday 8th June 2017]
I worked in the daytime while everyone else went out for the day. Went to visit Chie's aunt Chikako-san in Nishi-Hiroshima in the evening.
- Okonomiyaki and Shopping
- [Wednesday 7th June 2017]
Spent the afternoon in the centre of Hiroshima, had okonomiyaki at Nagata-ya for lunch, then some popping candy ice cream for dessert later on.
- [Tuesday 6th June 2017]
Chie was busy with her Dad at the hospital for the day, so I took Erika to Miyajima to visit the aquarium.