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:
Devil's Pulpit, New Fancy View and the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
Abergavenny
Tuesday in the Borders
London to the Forest of Dean
Tarp on the Heath
Friday
Heath
Bluebells again
Bluebells
Easter Monday
Easter Sunday
Mum's Garden
Good Friday
Christian's Garden
Sunny Heath
Sunday
Sleepover
To Bermondsey and Back Again
Wine Deliveries
Worst Witch
Flowers
Sush
Den
Lincoln's Inn Fields
Fox, Cava, Tarp
Beans
Clock Tower
Birthday
Sunday
Brent Cross and Environs
East Meon
Heath with Christian
Tuesday
Belgravia in the Car
Pink Sky on the Heath
Small Beer
Boundary Stones
Car, Budget, Girl's Day
Tuesday
March
Sunday
Saturday
Spring Springing on the Heath
Flowers and Heath
Boots
Fourrier Bourgogne Rouge
Monday
Daffodil
Saturday
Heath with Chie and Erika
Thursday
Trangia Gel Burners
Heath with Erika
Valentine's Day
Saturday
Friday
Skies Over The Heath
Gavignet and Snowy Heath
Bit More Snow
Snow
Sunday on the Heath
Saturday
As Always, The Heath
Yet Again The Heath
Sky
Miserable
Gloom
Saturday
Friday
Stroll with Christian
Bulbs
Burns Night
Snow
Saturday
Bulbs
Heath and Sharpening
Fresh Pasta
Sunrise on the Heath
Pizza
Shoots
Bleak Heath
Vegan Junk Food
More Lego
Wood Carving
Lego and Heath
Halloumi and Chips and Breaky Bottom
Bushcraft Knife
Wednesday
Wassail
Sunday
Saturday
New Year's Day
New Year's Eve
Wine by the Thames
GevCham on the Heath
Monday
The Day After Boxing Day
Boxing Day
Christmas Day
Christmas Eve

Pictures:
Forest of Dean and Wye Valley April 2021: A four night holiday, staying in Clearwell in the Forest of Dean, including some forays over the border into Wales to visit family.Forest of Dean and Wye Valley April 2021
Monday 12th - Thursday 15th April 2021
A four night holiday, staying in Clearwell in the Forest of Dean, including some forays over the border into Wales to visit family.
London April 2021: Pictures from London in April 2021, including a daytrip to the Midlands to visit Mum.London April 2021
April 2021
Pictures from London in April 2021, including a daytrip to the Midlands to visit Mum.
London March 2021: Pictures from London in March, the usual stuff.London March 2021
March 2021
Pictures from London in March, the usual stuff.
London February 2021: Pictures from London in February 2021, the month (appropriately enough) when Groundhog Day occurs.
London February 2021
February 2021
Pictures from London in February 2021, the month (appropriately enough) when Groundhog Day occurs.
London January 2021: Pictures from London in January 2021.London January 2021
January 2021
Pictures from London in January 2021.
Blog:
- Devil's Pulpit, New Fancy View and the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
[Thursday 15th April 2021]
- Abergavenny
[Wednesday 14th April 2021]
- Tuesday in the Borders
[Tuesday 13th April 2021]
- London to the Forest of Dean
[Monday 12th April 2021]
- Tarp on the Heath
[Saturday 10th April 2021]
- Friday
[Friday 9th April 2021]
- Heath
[Thursday 8th April 2021]
- Bluebells again
[Wednesday 7th April 2021]
- Bluebells
[Tuesday 6th April 2021]
- Easter Monday
[Monday 5th April 2021]

Devil's Pulpit, New Fancy View and the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
[Thursday 15th April 2021]
Having visited all the family in the area the previous two days we had a day to ourselves. Went to see the view at the Devil's Pulpit in the morning, then a picnic lunch (leftover lasagne!) at the New Fancy View in the middle of the forest, followed by a walk around some of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. After that we sort of ran out of things to do a bit, and so spent the remainder of the day back at the cottage watching movies.
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Abergavenny
[Wednesday 14th April 2021]
Slightly quieter day today - went for a little walk to the Buck Stone near Staunton on the way to Abergavenny. Spent the afternoon with Robin, Robert and Louise (and Lilly the dog!) before heading back to the cottage for dinner - lasagne made with the wild garlic I'd foraged yesterday.
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Tuesday in the Borders
[Tuesday 13th April 2021]
A packed itinerary today and I think the best day of our holiday. After breakfast at the cottage we headed to nearby Puzzlewood for an atmospheric wander around. Next lunch at the Saracens Head in Symonds Yat, followed by an after lunch walk up to Symonds Yat Rock. We then headed to Usk to visit Vera's grave before heading on to Undy to see Bec, Dave and Jessica in the garden of their new house.
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London to the Forest of Dean
[Monday 12th April 2021]
Today was the first day following the latest period of Orwellian nightmare where self catered holiday accommodation was allowed to open, and as soon as this date had been announced back in February I'd immediately looked around for something, particularly as this also fell in the second week of Erika's Easter holidays. At that time Wales still hadn't yet announced its plans for relaxing of the rules, so I decided to book somewhere as close to the border as possible, but on the English side. I really like the Wye Valley and also really like The Cottage Co. so restricted my search to whatever they had available in England, and ultimately settled on a cottage in Clearwell. As Erika is still into Harry Potter this would also work nicely as it features in the story and also a couple of spots were used as filming locations for the movies.

So this morning we packed up the car and left London, bound for the Forest of Dean. I was pleased that Google Maps actually suggested the M40 / A40 as a quicker route on this occasion, as it's much more scenic, and also as I was driving I'd much rather be on smaller roads than motorways.

I had hoped we might be able to stop in the Cotswolds somewhere for lunch, and celebrate the reopening of pubs, also happening today (albeit only for outdoor service), but after a bit of research I was reminded there hardly any pubby pubs left in the Cotswolds, and lots of places required reservations, which is a bit difficult when you're part way through a long drive as it's hard to know exactly what time you'll get there. So in the end we just had a far from idyllic lunch at Oxford services, just off the M40, as Erika needed the loo at that point. I was bemused to note that indoor dining seemed to be allowed there for some reason - so if before mid-May you are desperate to dine out and the weather looks awful you could always head to a motorway service station.

Even though the Cotswolds did not provide us with lunch on this occasion, it did present us with pleasant countryside views as we motored along the A40, which in places was lined with snow, to our surprise. It was certainly a lot more pleasant than the M4 which gets extremely boring in places.

Once into Gloucestershire, we made another brief stop at Birdlip Hill to admire the view, which seemed particularly glorious today, and gave the first sense on this holiday of being genuinely out in the countryside, in a wide open space. Indeed the first time I'd felt that in over 6 months, since my last proper country walk.

I'd decided to take a slight detour on the route as we approached the Forest of Dean, to visit Severn Cider at Awre. It's quite a magical spot actually, wonderfully isolated, on a horseshoe bend of the river Severn, with the village itself being just a handful of houses, beyond which a large expanse of fields, and then a particularly wide section of the river. The little lanes leading to Awre after we left with A48 were lined with daffodils and another very pale blue flower and looked rather idyllic. Severn Cider occupies the old vicarage, next to a farm, and was all gratifyingly rustic. They were in the process of refurbishing their job, so instead I picked up cider directly from the warehouse, which looked like it also housed their cider making equipment. I was particularly keen to try their perry, as it was predominantly made with Blakeney Red, and Blakeney was the next village along - you couldn't get much more of a local product than that!

From there we had a very pleasant drive through the Forest of Dean to get to our destination - a little cottage in Clearwell. It's always fun arriving at holiday cottages, and Erika and I spent the first few minutes dashing around inspecting the different rooms. It was tiny - given that we live in a small flat in London (given in our part of town a square metre costs about 10,000), we're used to renting holiday accommodation which is bigger than where we normally live, but for perhaps the first time I think we were actually in a smaller space. Still, it suited our needs, it slept 3 and had a well equipped kitchen. Although we did of course have a few grumbles here and there - the stairs were very steep (which can't really be helped given the space) and also dangerously slippy (Chie fell down at one point). I think they had perhaps been repainted over the winter. Also the kitchen sink was a bit annoying, it didn't seem to drain properly, and the taps were very loose. Oh also there was another cottage right next door, which the pictures had carefully cropped out - after fleeing London I was really hoping for a bit more of a sense of isolation - but that said we didn't really hear much from them so I suppose it wasn't really a problem. Those gripes aside though it was nice and cosy and we enjoyed our time there.

As there wasn't much in the way of food shops in the immediate vicinity I thought it might be convenient to have an Ocado delivery on our first evening, but the earliest slot available was 6:30-7:30, and given that we normally eat just after 6 with Erika I thought that could mean dinner ended up a bit too late. So I popped into Coleford to pick up some Chinese takeaway. Maybe Coleford has always looked a bit down at heel, being a former mining town, but the added grimness of the last year made it look particularly, well, grim. Although in fairness it was just after most of the shops had closed on a Monday evening, so perhaps there are more signs of life at other times. Having weighed up the surprisingly large array of Chinese takeaways online (I counted at least 4, which seemed like a lot for such a small town) I had settled on "China 21" and therein ordered a variety of dishes, which turned out to be surprisingly nice considering how embarrassingly cheap it was - it occurred to me I have ordered starters at London restaurants which cost more than that entire meal for three people, which would actually have comfortably served four. I thought being out here in the sticks it might all be a bit pedestrian but the Szechuan sauce was punchy and tasty, and the ginger and spring onion sauce was fragrant and flavoursome, and there were some interesting ingredients to be found in the midst, such as Chinese pickled vegetables.

Spent the remainder of the evening at the cottage, enjoying the Severn Cider perry (a lovely delicately flavoured perry, a really nicely balance of sweet and sour, with a little hint of savouriness), the woodburner, and the glimpses of the sunset we could see from the cottage garden.
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Tarp on the Heath
[Saturday 10th April 2021]
We'd arranged to meet Erika's friend on the heath, but a not very promising weather forecast inspired me to take a long a tarp, and set it up there as a shelter just in case, which was quite fun.
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Friday
[Friday 9th April 2021]
Last working day before our holiday. More checking of the status of the bluebells in the daytime then clocked off a bit early for a walk to the heath.
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Heath
[Thursday 8th April 2021]
A bit of a grey walk to the heath.
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Bluebells again
[Wednesday 7th April 2021]
Further checking on the state of the bluebells.
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Bluebells
[Tuesday 6th April 2021]
Checking up on the progress of the bluebells.
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Easter Monday
[Monday 5th April 2021]
One final Easter egg hunt in the garden with Erika then off to the heath for a bit in the afternoon.
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Easter Sunday
[Sunday 4th April 2021]
Erika went to an easter egg hunt on a nearby street in the morning, then in the afternoon we went for lunch in our friends' garden. Also I fit in a walk to the heath later on.
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Mum's Garden
[Saturday 3rd April 2021]
Finally got to see Mum after a year and a bit.
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Good Friday
[Friday 2nd April 2021]
Purposefully had a fairly lazy day, and stayed close to home. Some pictures of the garden, then later in the afternoon took Erika out for a scoot around the neighbourhood.
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Christian's Garden
[Thursday 1st April 2021]
Took the afternoon off work for some wine in Christian's garden.
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Sunny Heath
[Tuesday 30th March 2021]
Lovely warm spring day today, and with the easing of the stupid restrictions the day before, the heath was joyously full of people enjoying the weather this afternoon.
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Sunday
[Sunday 28th March 2021]
Checked up on the state of the garden in the morning. Walked down to Regents Park in the afternoon to see the cherry blossoms.
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Sleepover
[Saturday 27th March 2021]
Erika had her friend (who we're in a "childcare bubble" with) over for an extended playdate / sleepover today. I went off to the heath for a bit in the afternoon.
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To Bermondsey and Back Again
[Friday 26th March 2021]
My company had another global day off today, under normal circumstances I would have liked to go for a walk in the countryside, but frustratingly that relaxation of the ridiculous rules wouldn't come until the following Monday. So instead I did a long walk in London - all the way to the Angel in Bermondsey, about a 15 mile round trip in total.
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Wine Deliveries
[Wednesday 24th March 2021]
A couple of wine deliveries today - a mixed case of ESW from Waitrose wine, and a bottle of Vacqueryas from Tom the wine merchant.
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Worst Witch
[Tuesday 23rd March 2021]
Erika put together a Worst Witch type uniform and I went for a quick early evening stroll to the heath.
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Flowers
[Monday 22nd March 2021]
Just one picture, checking on the state of the flowers in the garden at lunchtime.
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Sush
[Sunday 21st March 2021]
Sushi for lunch, which we went to pick up in the car. In the afternoon I had some Nuits St Georges on the heath.
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Den
[Saturday 20th March 2021]
Made a den for Erika in the lounge with one of my tarps.
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Lincoln's Inn Fields
[Friday 19th March 2021]
Took the afternoon off work and walked down to Lincoln's Inn Fields to meet Andrew.
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Fox, Cava, Tarp
[Thursday 18th March 2021]
Somehow a fox got into our garden this afternoon Spanish food and Cava for dinner. Put up a tarp in the lounge later on in the evening.
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Beans
[Wednesday 17th March 2021]
Bulk order of beans, lentils etc from Hodmedod's arrived today.
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Clock Tower
[Tuesday 16th March 2021]
Erika and I finished off the Lego Hogwarts Clock Tower this evening.
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Birthday
[Monday 15th March 2021]
My birthday today. Took the afternoon off work, went for a walk to the heath, then when I got back had black forest gateau with the girls, and in the evening started building the Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Clock Tower with Erika.
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Sunday
[Sunday 14th March 2021]
Not much to report. Tulips started flowering in the garden.
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Brent Cross and Environs
[Saturday 13th March 2021]
Erika's Japanese school was back to having lessons in person today, so we drove her there in the car, and Chie and I hung around in the area until pick up time. It was a bit dull. Later on I headed to the heath.
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East Meon
[Friday 12th March 2021]
A glass of East Meon in the garden to round off the working week.
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Heath with Christian
[Thursday 11th March 2021]
Met Christian for some wine on the heath.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 9th March 2021]
Had some breaky bottom in the garden.
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Belgravia in the Car
[Sunday 7th March 2021]
First drive in our new car. Went down to Belgravia for pizza from Oliveto followed by gelato from Olivogelo.
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Pink Sky on the Heath
[Saturday 6th March 2021]
Went to the heath to catch a bit of the sunset towards the end of the day.
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Small Beer
[Friday 5th March 2021]
Worked quite hard today, and was still going at 5:30, which is unusual for a Friday. Tortelloni for dinner (we'd had an Ocado delivery the day before).

Tried "Small Beer" this evening, a brand I'd had my eye on for some time, and discovered this week that Ocado sold it. I thought their lager tasted pretty good and is only 2.1% ABV. Although at 11.99 for 6 350ml bottles (5.70 a litre) they must be making good profits on it (and for once it doesn't seem to be any cheaper anywhere else than it is at Ocado). At current duty rates, were that bottle a 5% beer it would incur 33 pence of duty. However there's a different band below 2.8%, and so the duty here is just 6 pence. Much higher margins on an already premium priced product. Once taxes are made (and ignoring retailer margins) they'll make 4.61 per litre. Compare that to something generic like Foster's, as sold in a 4x440ml pack at Ocado (3.60), at 4% ABV means the cost per litre without any taxes is 1.07. That's quite a difference!

Small Beer as a company only makes beer at 2.8% or lower, and what initially sounds like a laudable attempt to make decent tasting beer without some of the downsides of typical ABV levels actually starts to sounds more like a shrewd business opportunity.
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Boundary Stones
[Thursday 4th March 2021]
In the interest of trying to make my walks to Hampstead Heath a bit different, today I went looking for the boundary stones I'd seen marked on the Ordnance Survey map.
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Car, Budget, Girl's Day
[Wednesday 3rd March 2021]
A lot on today - we bought a car, the budget (thankfully nothing bad for me) and also it was Girl's Day in Japan.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 2nd March 2021]
Quick check on the cherry tree. Not much more progress.
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March
[Monday 1st March 2021]
So it's March then.
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Sunday
[Sunday 28th February 2021]
Took Erika to a playground for a while in the morning. Tidied up the wine racks in the cellar a bit. Later on I went for a walk to the heath.
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Saturday
[Saturday 27th February 2021]
Yet again the heath.
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Spring Springing on the Heath
[Friday 26th February 2021]
Yet another early evening stroll to the heath, and definitely starting to feel like spring is springing now.
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Flowers and Heath
[Thursday 25th February 2021]
Yet another similar set of daily photos - checking up on the garden earlier on in the day, then later on a walk to the heath.
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Boots
[Wednesday 24th February 2021]
Cleaned my walking boots today.
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Fourrier Bourgogne Rouge
[Tuesday 23rd February 2021]
Some Fourrier Bourgogne Rouge arrived today, and I went for a late afternoon / early evening stroll on the heath.
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Monday
[Monday 22nd February 2021]
Just a quick early evening walk to the heath after work.
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Daffodil
[Sunday 21st February 2021]
First daffodil flowered.
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Saturday
[Saturday 20th February 2021]
Checked on the state of the flowers in the garden then a walk to the heath later on.
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Heath with Chie and Erika
[Friday 19th February 2021]
Rounded off half term with another walk to the heath, this time with Chie also in tow.
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Thursday
[Thursday 18th February 2021]
Headed to the heath late afternoon / early evening.
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Trangia Gel Burners
[Wednesday 17th February 2021]
Received a couple of Trangia Gel Burners today (basically just little aluminium cans) which would hopefully let me cook with BCB Firedragon fuel in my Richard Outdoors Fire Trough.
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Heath with Erika
[Monday 15th February 2021]
Erika was on her half term holiday this week, so I took the afternoon off and we went for a walk to the heath, spurred on by Murray Mints and comparatively mild weather. Had a lovely time.
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Valentine's Day
[Sunday 14th February 2021]
Chocolates for the girls.
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Saturday
[Saturday 13th February 2021]
Like every other day, a walk to the heath.
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Friday
[Friday 12th February 2021]
Yet another walk to the heath.
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Skies Over The Heath
[Thursday 11th February 2021]
Yet another late afternoon / early evening walk to the heath on another day with nice skies.
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Gavignet and Snowy Heath
[Wednesday 10th February 2021]
Received some more Gavignet Nuits St Georges today. Went for a walk to the heath in the early evening which still had a dusting of snow on it.
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Bit More Snow
[Tuesday 9th February 2021]
Can't recally now whether there was an additional flurry overnight or whether these were just the remnants from the day before.
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Snow
[Monday 8th February 2021]
A bit more snow today.
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Sunday on the Heath
[Sunday 7th February 2021]
To the heath, as always, in the afternoon. Still some snow on the ground and quite chilly today. It was a bit too cold to sit at the barrow for more than a few minutes - the windy was quite icy - so I went and found shelter in the woods.
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Saturday
[Saturday 6th February 2021]
Erika had her (virtual) Japanese school this morning, and I put in a couple of hours work to make up for having finished work early the day before. After that I had another go at sharpening my bushcraft knife, and ended up with cuts on two different fingers. Still not very happy with the edge on the knife though - it's really hard to sharpen a curved blade consistently. I think I've just about got it reasonably sharp on the straight bit nearest the handle, but the "belly" and the tip are proving very difficult to maintain the necessary angle.

Erika made "her" soup for lunch, although on this occasion it seems she assumed the role of executive chef, and other than slicing a bit of courgette I did all the actual worl.

You will no doubt be extremely surprised to learn I walked to the heath after lunch. I made several attempts to persuade Erika to come with me - with offers of Murray Mints, an item of confectionery we have reserved solely for country walks. She wasn't keen though - partly down to the weather, and partly after a week of school and then Japanese school on Saturday morning she just wants to have a rest by the time it gets to Saturday afternoon.

It wasn't particularly pleasant weather in fairness. It was already drizzling as I set out, and after I arrived on the heath the rain became a bit more pronounced, to the point at which I thought I ought to get under cover. I had brought along my cheapo poncho tarp thing, which I sometimes just use to sit on if the benches are wet, but it occurred to me I could take advantage of the opportunity to have a go at setting up a tarp shelter in one of the wooded bits of the heath. It wasn't particularly successful, I had temporarily forgotten how to tie a taut line hitch, but anyway it passed the time and allowed me to stay out a bit longer.
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As Always, The Heath
[Friday 5th February 2021]
Guess what? Went to the heath this afternoon / evening. Sat at the barrow for a little while, then went to explore the woods a bit, climbed a tree, then went and sat back at the barrow again.
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Yet Again The Heath
[Thursday 4th February 2021]
Once more unto the heath, because there's bugger all else to do at the moment.
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Sky
[Wednesday 3rd February 2021]
Just one picture of the sky this evening, seen from the garden.
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Miserable
[Tuesday 2nd February 2021]
Felt utterly miserable today. Took some time out of work in the afternoon to go for an extended walk, and went to explore Hampstead Heath Extension. Later on in the evening as it was Setsubun we did the usual observances.
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Gloom
[Sunday 31st January 2021]
Spent most of the daytime indoors, and had a walk in the gloom to the heath after it got dark.
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Saturday
[Saturday 30th January 2021]
Various odds and ends. Received a parcel from Mum containing some old postcards from Vera. Also received another whetstone and had another go at sharpening my bushcraft knife.
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Friday
[Friday 29th January 2021]
Another stroll to the heath towards the end of the day, fish and chips for dinner (or halloumi and chips in my case) then Erika finished building the Lego Harry Potter Knight Bus in the evening.
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Stroll with Christian
[Thursday 28th January 2021]
Took the afternoon off and went for a long stroll on Hampstead Heath with my friend Christian.
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Bulbs
[Wednesday 27th January 2021]
Checking the bulbs again for any early signs of spring. Did more sharpening in the evening.
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Burns Night
[Monday 25th January 2021]
Had a Burns Night supper - just the three of us.
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Snow
[Sunday 24th January 2021]
It actually snowed today in London. Just a one off it seems but enough to make some modest snowmen.
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Saturday
[Saturday 23rd January 2021]
I guess we didn't do much today.
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Bulbs
[Friday 22nd January 2021]
Checking the bulbs in the garden hoping for some signs of spring being on the way. Still nothing floweing.
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Heath and Sharpening
[Thursday 21st January 2021]
Early evening stroll to the heath in the hope of finding some flowers to brighten up my mood, once again only found gorse. A Japanese whetstone arrived today and I had a go at sharpening my bushcraft knife later on.
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Fresh Pasta
[Tuesday 19th January 2021]
Fresh pasta from Pasta Evangelists for dinner today, a present sent by my friend Leon.
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Sunrise on the Heath
[Sunday 17th January 2021]
Woke up early to go and watch the sunrise on the heath.
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Pizza
[Friday 15th January 2021]
Quick walk to the heath to catch the tail end of the sunset then back home for home made pizza.
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Shoots
[Thursday 14th January 2021]
The weather continued to be unrelentingly grey and miserable today which didn't help my mood at all.

Once again I inspected the green shoots of the bulbs in the back garden this morning, hoping for some sign spring is on the way, but still no hint of any snowdrops, or anything else about to flower. By this time last year the first snowdrop was flowering.

January is a tough month at the best of times - the depths of winter and all that - but this year with the misery of 2020 seemingly spilling over into the start of 2021 I am really struggling more than ever to keep my spirits up.

I decided to rid myself of all Facebook products once and for all today. I'd only ever briefly had a Facebook profile, a long time ago (possibly around 2007? I can't remember when it was exactly), but quickly decided it wasn't for me, and deleted it. I've never really liked the company and its whole ethos on a number of levels. Since then I had inadvertently become a user of its products though - I joined both WhatsApp and Instagram just before they were acquired by Facebook. I had rationalised it with myself in that they were ran as quite separate ecosystems - I didn't require a Facebook account to login to either - but I still felt a bit uneasy about it. So today I finally decided to be free of both things, and therefore have an entirely Facebook free phone. Gratifyingly I actually managed to persuade a few people to join Signal in the process.

Spanish food / tapas for dinner today.
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Bleak Heath
[Wednesday 13th January 2021]
Went for a rather bleak walk to the heath after amidst several days of urelentingly glum weather. I hoped I might find some early signs that spring was on the way - perhaps a snowdrop or two. Alas nothing was to be found. The only thing I saw flowering was a bit of gorse around the barrow, but I think that flowers pretty much all year round doesn't it?

I made a shepherds pie / cottage pie (whatever you call it when it's some kind of vegetarian mince) for dinner, which looked like it was going to be a bit of a disaster during cooking, but somehow turned out surprisingly well.

The meal was largely chosen to try and clear out some odds and ends to make space in the fridge / freezer for an Ocado delivery which arrived later on this evening. I ordered quite a lot of food in this delivery, and was pleased to see pretty much everything we wanted available as usual - the doom mongering predictions of food supply chain chaos post Brexit were obviously a little overblown.
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Vegan Junk Food
[Tuesday 12th January 2021]
Couldn't bring myself to cook this evening and thought we should order something in. I initially had noble plans to go and pick dinner up from a local eatery, because that way they get 100% of the takings, rather than up to 30% of what you think you're paying to the restaurant actually being taken by Deliveroo (ho also then have the nerve to charge you, the customer, a delivery fee and an admin fee, and then make you feel guilty about the restaurant / delivery driver getting a raw deal so you end up tipping them as well).

Disappointingly though I just gave in and used Deliveroo as having actually gone to pick up takeaway in person on Friday turned out to be a fairly unpleasant experience and I reluctantly had to admit on this occasion I would just rather pay for somebody else to do it. It's not like there's even the reward of being able to have a cheeky pint at a nearby pub while waiting for the food to cook.

Somehow we had decided we wanted burgers, but this is often problematic as it can end up with us ordering from two different places (the girls like Five Guys, but their "vegetarian option" is just a bun with the toppings but no burger - which is a bit of a joke). Still thinking I ought to try and support a local business I ordered some vegan junk food from a nearby American themed restaurant which Chie and I had dined in at some time last year when such wild hedonism was allowed by the powers that be. I had thought it was quite good first time round, but burgers don't always travel well, plus I went overboard and ordered some side dishes I later regretted.

So not very successfull all in all, but at least the girls seemed to like their burgers.
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More Lego
[Monday 11th January 2021]
Second week of homeschooling and living under the new set of Draconian regulations, and to add to the misery the weather had taken a turn for the worse this week. Whereas last week I had made a concerted effort to get outside and get some exercise almost every day of the week (I think I managed five days out of seven in the end) by this week whatever motivation I had was definitely fading fast. Maybe it was a lot to do with the weather. Or maybe it was just the depressing Groundhog Day routine of life at the moment.

The one upbeat part of an otherwise fairly miserable day was building more shops out of Lego with Erika in the evening. I've been focusing on the exteriors, and Erika has been focusing on the interiors and staffing. I had thought Erika was starting to go off Lego a few months ago, and worried she was getting to an age where she was only really interested in devices with screens.

That said it's easy to vilify those things a bit too much, and her Nintendo Switch has actually provided some much needed escapism for her in recent weeks. Especially with it hooked up to the big TV screen, so some of the time we can join in or at least sit and watch her play and make it a bit more sociable. She has been really enjoying Animal Crossing, and it's a nice gentle game which evolves over time, with new things being added every few days - I actually feel really grateful that Erika has something to look forward to from that, and something she can get excited, given how much has been cruelly taken away from her with all the restrictions, and particularly school being closed.

Of course, there has to be some balance though - with homeschooling Erika is already spending more time than she would normally be staring at a screen, so it doesn't seem healthy for her to also spend all of her leisure time doing so. Which is why it has been great these past few days to have the Lego project to break the screen time up a bit.
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Wood Carving
[Sunday 10th January 2021]
Had a go at wood carving with my new bushcraft knife then later on with a more specialised carving tool.
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Lego and Heath
[Saturday 9th January 2021]
Chie went out for a walk and to do some shopping for a while in the daytime, and Erika and I started work on a new Lego shopping centre. Later on in the afternoon I went for yet another walk to Hampstead Heath.
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Halloumi and Chips and Breaky Bottom
[Friday 8th January 2021]
Another walk to Hampstead Heath towards the end of the afternoon, although a very short one today as it was a bit grey and gloomy. In the evening tried a local place for fish and chips for the first time (halloumi and chips in my case) with some Breaky Bottom. Was very nice.
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Bushcraft Knife
[Thursday 7th January 2021]
Received a bushcraft knife in the post today. An early evening walk to the heath. Then practiced making feather sticks with the knife in the evening.
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Wednesday
[Wednesday 6th January 2021]
A tumeric accident and a short stroll to the heath in the afternoon.
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Wassail
[Tuesday 5th January 2021]
Held a wassail in the back garden for my one apple tree.
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Sunday
[Sunday 3rd January 2021]
Went out with Erika so she could ride her scooter a bit in the afternoon.
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Saturday
[Saturday 2nd January 2021]
Day after New Year's Day. Inspected the garden in the morning, then a walk to Hampstead Heath in the afternoon.
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New Year's Day
[Friday 1st January 2021]
Quiet day at home with some Japanese food.
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New Year's Eve
[Thursday 31st December 2020]
Marking the end of 2020. Good riddance.
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Wine by the Thames
[Wednesday 30th December 2020]
Went down to an old favourite spot - the Angel in Bermondsey - to meet Andrew for a glass of wine by the Thames (another outing for Dermot Sugrue's Storrington Priory). The pub of course is closed, but the outdoor space next to it which would normally be its de facto beer garden is public land, so amenable to BYOB.
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GevCham on the Heath
[Tuesday 29th December 2020]
More wine on the heath - this time good old Rossignol Trapet Gevrey Chambertin.
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Monday
[Monday 28th December 2020]
Attempted to get some smokeless coals to light in the Fire Trough without any kindling. It wasn't very successful.
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The Day After Boxing Day
[Sunday 27th December 2020]
Whatever you call it. Did a bit of pruning of the grapevines in the back garden in the morning. Dragged the girls to Hampstead Heath for a walk in the afternoon, then they headed back home while I hung around a bit longer to meet Christian for a quick glass of wine by the barrow.
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Boxing Day
[Saturday 26th December 2020]
Not much to report. I went for a brief walk to Hampstead Heath. That's about it really.
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Christmas Day
[Friday 25th December 2020]
Christmas day at home, of course.
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Christmas Eve
[Thursday 24th December 2020]
Dragged the girls down to the Thames hoping for a festive stroll along the river, but it turned out to just be cold not much fun. So we cut our losses, headed home, and then surprisingly I managed to drag them out a second time for a walk to Hampstead Heath around sunset.
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