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:
Acton and Ealing
Almost Forgot
Alcohol Free Wine
Zoo and Career Advice
Bento
Boxes
Cupboards
Grandma
Sore Throat and Pizza in the Playground
Tube Strike
Library and St. John
A Decade of Dr John
Monday
Day after Al's Stag Do
Al's Stag Do
Folkestone
Thursday
Zoo and the Duke of Wellington
Tuesday
Bengal Lancer

Pictures:
Norwegian Fjords Cruise June 2015: A week long cruise around the Norwegian Fjords.Norwegian Fjords Cruise June 2015
Saturday 13th - Saturday 20th June 2015
A week long cruise around the Norwegian Fjords.
London June 2015: Pictures from London in June 2015.London June 2015
June 2015
Pictures from London in June 2015.
London May 2015: Pictures from London in May 2015London May 2015
May 2015
Pictures from London in May 2015
London April 2015: Pictures from London in April 2015 including a weekend in Abergavenny.London April 2015
April 2015
Pictures from London in April 2015 including a weekend in Abergavenny.
London March 2015: Pictures from London in March 2015, settling into the new flat.London March 2015
March 2015
Pictures from London in March 2015, settling into the new flat.
Blog:
- Acton and Ealing ( 4)
[Saturday 18th July 2015]
- Almost Forgot
[Friday 17th July 2015]
- Alcohol Free Wine
[Thursday 16th July 2015]
- Zoo and Career Advice
[Wednesday 15th July 2015]
- Bento
[Tuesday 14th July 2015]
- Boxes
[Monday 13th July 2015]
- Cupboards ( 1)
[Sunday 12th July 2015]
- Grandma
[Saturday 11th July 2015]
- Sore Throat and Pizza in the Playground
[Friday 10th July 2015]
- Tube Strike
[Thursday 9th July 2015]

Acton and Ealing
[Saturday 18th July 2015]
Quite a full day today. As is often the case on Saturdays, I began by attending to various domestic chores - tidied up the flat, did some laundry, and spent a bit of time pottering in the garden. Whilst not everything I've planted has been a complete success, there was at least one courgette ready to eat today, and I'd noticed earlier this week a few small tomatoes had finally appeared on the tomato plant. Also pleasingly the strawberry plant had finally flowered - so maybe we'll get some late strawberries - but then again perhaps not looking at the military operation a detachment of ants were carrying on around it.

The main event of today was a Japanese festival all the way out West in Acton, held in the playing fields next to where there's a Japanese nursery. It had all the components I'd become familiar with from festivals in Japan, including the obligatory stalls selling various things on sticks. I did not partake in any things on sticks per se (although Erika did have some kind of dango), but I did enjoy a freshly made taiyaki.

The main draw of the Japanese festival was an Anpanman show, which, when Anpanman finally appeared, did seem to cause a ripple of tittering amongst the grown-ups in the crowd, as the costumes were rather charmingly home made. The kids didn't seem to care.

A few of Chie's "Mama tomo" (Mum friends) were there too, which meant Erika also had some peers to play with, which was nice for her. Although we did have a bit of drama at one point as whilst the Mums were busy chatting, one of their offspring managed to get lost - he'd wandered right to the far corner of the playing field, where there's a very wild play area in a little wooded bit. So that was a bit worrying for a bit, but he was found in the end.

We headed off not long after that, and decided since we're so rarely in this part of London, it would be good to go and try a pizzeria I've been meaning to try for some time - Santa Maria in Ealing. It was a bit of a trek, made longer by the fact we stumbled upon a fun fair in Ealing Common en route, and there was of course no way we could walk past that without letting Erika go on a couple of the rides. Erika looked very suave whizzing round in the miniature open top VW Beetle she chose for the first ride.

Getting Erika to leave the fun fair turned into a bit of an ordeal, and the remainder of the walk to Ealing Green, where Santa Maria is, was not much fun. Santa Maria is a really tiny restaurant, with just a handful of tables, and whilst they did have a spare table for us, Erika seemed to be a bit of a loose cannon by this point in the afternoon, especially as we'd so inconsiderately dragged her away from the fun fair. So we instead opted to get takeaway, and eat it in the park. There was a pub right next door with tables outside which made for a convenient spot to wait while our pizza was cooked, and a cold drink helped revive us all a bit.

The pizza was very good as expected, we ate it sitting on the grass in the little triangle of a park which is Ealing Green. Really good base, very fresh tasting tomato sauce on the margherita, and the other pizza (involving spinach, olives and goats cheese) managed the rare accolade for a pizza bianco that I didn't wish I'd ordered something else.

We had a little wander round Walpole Park after that (I was of course reminded of the start of Monty Python's cheese shop sketch), but I was definitely flagging a bit by this point - it was quite a warm day, and we had a long journey home ahead of us, so I did my best to subtly usher the girls in the direction of the tube.

Once eventually back at home, for dinner (possibly second dinner, unless the pizza counts as a very late lunch, or perhaps an Italian afternoon tea) I was determined to cook something involving the courgette from the garden which looked just about the right size (and in fact seemed to have grown since this morning). So I made a pasta sauce with it, which came out rather well I thought.
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Almost Forgot
[Friday 17th July 2015]
I almost forgot that Chie was going out this evening, luckily she reminded me at 5ish, so I hurriedly downed tools and hotfooted it to Erika's nursery to pick her up, just stopping off very briefly en route to buy her a smoothie and some rice cakes, knowing that she usually wants to hang around at the playground with her friends after nursery. We were there a good hour, and Erika always seems to be the last one to want to break up the party, but I did eventually manage to get her home. Made trofie with pesto for dinner which was a bit lacklustre for some reason I couldn't quite put my finger on.
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Alcohol Free Wine
[Thursday 16th July 2015]
Following Al's stag do I'd decided to have a couple of weeks of complete sobriety. By this point I'd started to get a bit bored of just drinking water with dinner in the evening, so had ordered a case of Eisberg' alcohol free Cabernet Sauvignon, which I received today. As it happened we had Japanese curry for dinner today, not really sure that's the perfect pairing for any wine, let alone alcohol free wine. Nonetheless, while of course it's impossible to remove the alcohol without having an impact on the flavour, this is possibly the best of the alcohol free wines I've tried so far - it definitely does taste winey to begin with, but then the part of the flavour where you'd normally think "ah, boozey!", is instead replaced by "oh, sweet?!". Odd really that alcohol free things always taste sweet somehow, there's no added source of sugar here, they start by making wine and then remove the alcohol, and in fact this has fewer calories than regular wine. Perhaps it's just something psychological.
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Zoo and Career Advice
[Wednesday 15th July 2015]
I asked Erika what she'd like to do today on our weekly morning off together, thinking by this point she might be starting to get a bit bored of going to the zoo, but seemingly undeterred she wanted to go again. On our previous visit it had seemed like we'd barely seen any of the animals, and Erika had just enjoyed all the other stuff that happens to be there for entertaining kids, like the bouncy castle, the playground, and the carousel. To my surprise though today, we saw the bouncy castle shortly after arriving, I asked her if she wanted to go on, but she just said "maybe later" and then never mentioned it again. Instead she seemed to take a real interest in the animals today, and a lot of them seemed to be on particularly good form - the previously rather shabby and lacklustre camels looked like they'd had a haircut, which had put a bit of a spring in their step, and the occasionally lethargic lemurs had done whatever the opposite of making themselves scarce is. The actual zoological content of the zoo seemed to be doing such a good job of keeping Erika entertained today that she didn't even kick up a fuss when we were unable to find an animal biscuit in any of the cafes.

She even suggested we go and have lunch just before 12, which is normally a bit of a struggle, although in hindsight I suspect an ulterior motive, as she seems to have learnt by now that ice cream is only on the cards if she eats a proper meal first.

So we got an ice cream on the way out of the zoo - it is summer after all - but knowing Erika propensity to make a bit of a mess of it that meant I felt we shouldn't get on a bus/taxi until she finished it. She really lingered over it towards the end, so ultimately I carried her from the zoo all the way to nursery, a good 2 miles away. I was a bit exhausted by the time we got there.

In the evening, after my usual late Wednesday meetings (my "morning off" on Wednesdays actually just means I start work late and finish work late) I went for a late drink with a fellow alumni from Reading, who I'd supervised some practicals for whilst I was doing my PhD. I'd got an email from him out of the blue the other day asking for a bit of career advice so I did my best to try and help out.
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Bento
[Tuesday 14th July 2015]
Conducted an interview at work over lunchtime today, and by the time I got round to actually having lunch the usual cafe I go to these days in my office didn't have much left to eat. So for a change I tried the other one in my building, with a more East Asian theme, which I usually don't bother with because it's on a different floor, and often can't really cobble a decent meal together from. Today though I found they had tofu steaks, which were quite good, and with a few other bits and pieces was able to assemble a pleasant bento.

Macaroni cheese for dinner.
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Boxes
[Monday 13th July 2015]
Left the office slightly earlier than usual this evening to try and get back before Chie and Erika, so I could attempt to rationalise the awful mess of boxes we had in the lounge as a result of the cupboards being delivered yesterday. I think since we've moved in to this flat I've developed quite a severe aversion to cardboard boxes, and can't really relax when I'm surrounded by them.

Chie made yaki soba for dinner.
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Cupboards
[Sunday 12th July 2015]
The girls went out for most of the daytime to go to a farewell party for one of Chie's friends, who was moving to Australia. I had to stay home as Chie had arranged the delivery of our long awaited bedroom cupboards for today. Since we've moved in, most of our clothes which need hanging up have still been residing in the tall cardboard boxes with rails inside which the moving company had given us. The big bedroom was still the one room in the house which looked like we hadn't finished moving in, and I've been really keen for a while to get rid of those last few boxes - until today though there just hadn't been anywhere to put that stuff.

The cupboards finally arrived some time after 1pm, and after quickly popping out for lunch (wasn't really in the mood for cooking and there was hardly anything in the kitchen) I set about assembling them. I haven't really done a lot of flat pack assembly, with the exception of the dining table Chie has assembled most of the things we've bought so far. The cupboards were pretty straightforward though, the only real challenge was that they were quite big and heavy, so probably should have been a two person job, but I managed somehow or other by myself. It was actually quite gratifying to finally put all my much loved suits, jackets, shirts etc in their own dedicate cupboard (Chie had ordered two cupboards, so for the first time we were going to just have one each).

That seemed to occupy the majority of my afternoon, and by dinner time I felt a bit worn out, and again not in the mood for cooking, so I rather lazily suggested we just get Chinese takeaway. At the takeaway - the nearest one to where we live - we had quite a long wait for our food, and to my surprise there was a whole group of young people in front of us all ordering the vegetarian mock crispy duck pancakes - I'd assumed that was a rather obscure menu item that hardly anyone else ever ordered.
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Grandma
[Saturday 11th July 2015]
Mum (Grandma Mary to Erika) came to visit today. As is often the case I had some Saturday morning chores to attend to first, after Erika and I got the bus down to Camden to meet her, as I wanted to buy some coffee beans in the delightful Camden Coffee Shop. The 100 year old roasting machine was in full swing, and I got a really nice photo of Erika and her Grandma while we were there. We briefly popped into Waitrose after that, before hopping back on the bus to go home for coffees which turned out rather well I thought (the first few pours from a new bag of Santos Dark from Camden Coffee shop are usually excellent), and some croissants which were rather disappointing.

For lunch, I continued the theme of trying to find interesting new cuisines to try with Mum, and somehow or other decided on Peruvian for today. It has apparently been enjoying a bit of a vogue in London the past couple of years, and it would be completely new for all of us. So we got the tube down to Soho, and had lunch at Ceviche, wherein both Chie and Mum seemed to find the eponymous dish far too fiery, but some of the other dishes seemed to fare better. I'm not sure I was particularly excited by the vegetarian dishes, which all felt a bit too side dish like, in particular the vegetarian version of ceviche, although I did like the taste of the dressing/marinade, fiery indeed though it was.

After that we made a pilgrimage to Fortnum and Mason to buy violet creams, and I briefly popped into Jermyn Street to try on a morning suit, but Erika was overdue her nap at this point, and we hadn't brought the buggy with us, so it seemed prudent to head home. It only took a few minutes of walking round the block with Erika in her buggy after returning home to get her to drop off.

Made a lazy pasta bake for dinner, which Mum had a small bowlful of before heading off to get her train.
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Sore Throat and Pizza in the Playground
[Friday 10th July 2015]
I'd had a bit of a cold this week, which had transformed into a mildly irksome sore throat today. I thought I'd try Jakemans sore throat sweets, which initially tasted foul, but on reflection probably foul in the same way any right thinking person would probably think Laphroaig or Campari taste foul on the first attempt. So I doggedly stuck at them for the afternoon, convinced they were an acquired taste I'd quickly acquire.

Erika's best friend at her nursery was back from a long holiday today, her Mum was very glad when we arrived in the morning as given her extended absence she really wasn't happy to be left there until she saw Erika. This also meant we knew in advance there was no hope of a quick getaway when it was time to pick Erika up in the evening, and she'd want to hang around in the playground next door with her friend for as long as possible. So we thought we should probably just accept that, and eat our dinner in the playground. Chie went to pick Erika up, and I went to a pizza place on the way to nursery to get a couple of pizzas and some pasta to take away. The pizza itself wasn't much to get excited about but Erika and her friend seemed to really appreciate the communal al fresco dining experience. Albeit that perhaps standards of hygiene were not particularly rigorous.
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Tube Strike
[Thursday 9th July 2015]
Decided to just work from home today as a result of the tube strike. Erika only goes to nursery in the afternoon on Thursdays, which made it a bit more of a challenge in the morning, but she eventually seemed to get the idea that my computer was intended for something other than her to watch CBeebies on.

Chie also worked from home in the afternoon once Erika was at nursery, and it was actually quite pleasant with the patio doors open and a summery breeze wafting through.
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Library and St. John
[Wednesday 8th July 2015]
I forget why the usual visit to the zoo wasn't on the agenda for mine and Erika's morning together this week, but for some reason we instead ended up just going to our local library. I'd anticipated we'd just read a few books, maybe take one or two home with us. When we got there though there seemed to be a large group of parents (mostly Mums) and toddlers in the children's part of the library, and before we knew it we'd been roped into a sing-a-long. I think Erika probably enjoyed it.

After my late meetings I went for a late dinner with my former manager who was passing through London, and a few other people from work, at St. John in Smithfields. I had almost exactly the same meal as I'd had last time - the vegetarian option was a fennel gratin, and as before my attempt to order some potatoes as a side dish just for me were thwarted by the insistence of the waitress that they be "for the table".

Getting back home proved to be a bit of a challenge as a 24 hour tube strike had commenced this evening. I thought I'd managed to outwit this, planning to get a national rail train from Farringdon to Kentish Town, but although this train service was in fact still running, Farringdon station had to close earlier than usual because of the strike, so irksomely I was standing outside the station as the train passed through, unable to get on it. Eventually managed to get a taxi home.
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A Decade of Dr John
[Tuesday 7th July 2015]
As an aside, 10 years since I became a Dr today.

Not much to report other than that, considered having the courgette flowers from the garden for dinner, but dithered over whether it was OK to pick them or not as picking them too soon can apparently prevent the actual courgettes growing.
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Monday
[Monday 6th July 2015]
Erika had been coughing a lot the previous night, which had kept her (and of course us) awake, and in the morning although she seemed reasonably OK, she was quite insistent about not going to nursery. So in the morning I stayed home with her, and made a lentil and tomato soup with pasta in for lunch. After lunch, as she really didn't seem particularly ill, and also seemed less objectionable about the idea of going to nursery, so I thought I'd try taking her. I took her in her buggy (we normally just go on foot) thinking she might fall asleep en route, which she did, but then frustratingly was woken up by the sound of the doorbell when we arrived at nursery, and apparently didn't go back to sleep after that. Ho, hum.

Chie made okonomiyaki for dinner in the evening.
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Day after Al's Stag Do
[Sunday 5th July 2015]
Despite having gone to bed some time after 3am, for some bizarre reason I woke at 7:30 (3 hours before our train was due to leave) and couldn't get back to sleep. So I decided to get up, and take advantage of what appeared already to be a very pleasant morning, and go for a stroll around Edinburgh. We'd spent yesterday mostly indoors, and between the various venues had often been rushing about, so felt like I'd hardly seen anything of the city. As such it was very nice to have an hour or so to myself to take in the sights. I did a complete lap around the castle, which was looking particularly gorgeous set against the delightfully blue sky, and also managed to quickly poke my nose in at the Edinburgh Clubhose of my club, which also offers great views of the castle.

Got back to the hotel for 9 and had breakfast with the rest of the chaps from the stag do - was quite impressed they all made it down. Owing to a slightly odd situation with our hotel booking, we'd been given some credit to spend at the hotel, but with the condition that it had to be used up before the end of our stay. After 9 breakfasts were paid for still 70 or so remained, and so rather rashly a suggestion was made to have a bottle of Champagne with breakfast. I could only manage one tiny sip.

Got the train at 10:30, and decided to be anti-social, upgrade myself to first class, and get a bit of peace and quiet for the journey home. I'd hoped I might be able to have a nap on the train, having only had about 4 hours sleep, but despite being quite comfortable in my first class seat this didn't happen.

Got back home some time after 3, and the girls got back from there afternoon out a short while later - it was a delight to see them, even after just one night away. Made a rather half arsed approximation of Sunday Roast for dinner, then fell asleep the same time as Erika.
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Al's Stag Do
[Saturday 4th July 2015]
I'd been chosen to be Al's best man, I like to think at least partly on the basis of him guessing the sort of stag do I'd organise for him, so I'd attempted to then plan just what I imagined he would have imagined I would plan.

To that end, it very much centred around whisky, and whilst I'd originally mulled over the idea of trying toget to Islay, it really just hadn't seemed practical in the space of a weekend. Edinburgh was much more achievable, and of course a bit more lively than an event based on an island (albeit a very nice one) would have been.

We got a 9am train from Kings Cross, which got us to Edinburgh for 1:30pm. On arrival, after a bit of faffing around getting checked in and dropping our bags off at the hotel (I'd chosen the Apex Waterloo Place for convenience, very close to the station) we got in two taxis and headed to Leith, originally with the sole intention of going to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, but one of the chaps had proposed going to a new Indian restaurant there for lunch first (a place called V Deep) which had been getting good reviews and by chance was right next door to the Whisky Society. I'm not sure it was really my cup of tea - perhaps I was just unfortunate to have picked two rather uninspiring dishes on the menu, and the accompanying craft beer isn't really my thing either.

After that we went for a couple of drams at the Whisky Society, but soon realised if we were going to make the next appointment on our agenda (a ghost tour) we'd have barely an hour there. That was a bit of a shame, as Al and I have been members of the SMWS jointly for years, and this was the first time we'd both been in Edinburgh (and Al's first time to visit the Vaults in Leith) so I'd really hoped to linger longer - I was all for just abandoning the ghost tour but it had been deemed important we do at least one thing during the day which didn't involve drinking, and I think there was probably some sense in that.

So thus followed a rather hurried taxi journey back into the centre, with one taxi predictably getting lost en route, and we only just made the tour on time. The tour was itself predictably, well, a bit predictable. It was through the vaults under the South bridge, which I realise I'd actually been on a tour of before (I think last time we'd done a history flavoured one rather than a ghost version).

After that there followed a pub crawl (albeit just two pubs), which owing to the pressure of a couple of the chaps wanting to use the loo rather imminently was not quite as selective as I would have liked it to be.

Everything seemed to be taking longer than expected today - I think that's just the nature of doing anything with a large group, and so already it was time for the main event of the evening - dinner.

I'd really pushed the boat out here, and booked a rather special private dining venue - amidst the Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection, the world's largest collection of unopened Scotch Whisky bottles, which were held in the Scotch Whisky Experience near the castle. I think all present were suitably impressed by this, and although many other aspects of the day had turned out not quite how I would ideally have liked them, this bit at least, through the simple application of a large sum of money, was pretty close to perfect. It was a really unique experience to dine amidst the glow of over 3000 whisky bottles and the amusingly over the top number of staff - there were more of them than there were of us I think, and they were there purely for our benefit - lent to a luxurious air which I don't think any of the chaps were really expecting on a stag do.

The meal went on until 11ish, I'd initially worried that might take up too much of the evening and we'd all be tired by then (and/or we'd have missed most of the pub/bars by then) but of course Edinburgh stays open much later than London, and there were loads of places still very much open at that time. I hadn't actually planned anything past this point, organising the dinner having consumed a lot of my administrative energy, but we managed to just wing it and go to a couple of bars followed by a fairly random night club having a "funk and soul night". Amusingly the bouncer was in two minds as to whether to let me and one of the other chaps in because we were wearing "blazers" as he put it, and we'd be a bit overdressed. Ultimately I told him I liked Belle and Sebastian (no idea where I got that inspiration from) and he waved us through. I didn't really stay all that long, by this point it was gone 2am I think, and I pretty much felt like my work for the evening was done. So I slinked off and headed back to the hotel leaving the rest of them to it.
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Folkestone
[Friday 3rd July 2015]
Since tomorrow was July 4th, most of the people I work with in the US were out of the office today (and also had been the day before). Given that my ability to get various things done was a bit impaired in their absence, and it was also a very nice day here in London, and on top of that I was mindful of the fact I'd be away for a big chunk of the weekend, I thought it would be really nice to take the day off and spend it with Erika. I think Erika likes her nursery on the whole, but despite that often in the morning if I'm taking her there she says she doesn't want to go, and wants to stay with me instead, which is of course simultaneously very sweet but also a bit upsetting, as usually I have to tell her I have to go to work instead. So it was lovely this morning to be able to give her a choice - "Do you want to go to nursery today, or do you want to go to the beach with Daddy?".

I'd done a quick bit of research, and discovered a surprise candidate for a destination - Folkestone. Not somewhere I associate with the beach at all, having always assumed it to be quite industrialised because of the ferry port, but actually it turns out it's probably the only seaside town with a sandy beach within an hour's train journey of London.

Of course what the very efficient and convenient 53 minute train journey from St. Pancras on the high speed line belies is the fact that it's actually a bit of a trek from Folkestone Central to that sandy beach (probably should have taken a taxi), and it also wasn't all that well signposted. Not sure we went the most optimal route - on arrival at the sea we were at a clifftop with only a pebbly beach below us. That did mean we got to ride on the delightful old Victorian lift down to sea level, although I'm not sure Erika particularly enjoyed this as she had suncream in her eyes, which made her a bit unhappy.

We initially went and sat on the pebbly beach, which was unsurprisingly deserted, and I was left confused for a moment as to weather we'd been missold on this promise of sand - was it all just covered up because it was high tide? A quick bit of research on my phone reassured us we were just on the wrong beach, and so we walked from there along the seafront until we discovered the cute little harbour - which I couldn't get past without getting Erika a "hamigagkiko" ice cream (toothpaste in Japanese - how I described mint to her) - and beyond which finally we found the sandy beach. As it was high tide there was just one small section which wasn't submerged, and there were rather a lot of people on it, but we went, found ourself a little bit of space, and got out the bucket and spade.

It took Erika a little bit of time today to get into the spirit of things, I think the combination of the fact it had taken a while to get here (I'd thought it had been fairly quick, but 2 year olds obviously have a very different perception of time!), and getting suncream in her eyes, then the initial damp squib with the pebble beach, then me eating a bit too much of her toothpaste ice cream (it was getting very messy, I was trying to help) had meant she wasn't at her chirpiest, and I'd started to worry it was turning into a rather unsuccessful day out. However it didn't take long in the sunshine on the nice little sandy beach before she started to enjoy herself. We made a few sandcastles, which led to a more ambitious excavation ultimately involving a bridge, and a channel leading back down to the sea, which we enjoyed pouring water from Erika's bucket into, and watching it gush down. After a while of digging she changed into her swimming costume and I was impressed by how brave she was in the water - each time we went in to fill up the bucket she went further and further, until she was happily going in up to above her waist. It was a delight to watch. She made a friend while she was there (of course!) who shared her beach toys with us, and we all went looking for seashells together as the tide started to go out, exposing more of the beach.

Eventually I think the other larger beach round the corner started to be uncovered, which caused lots of the people on our little beach to migrate over there (either that or the slightly unnerving smell of manure which wafted across the beach - I think that was coming from somewhere inland rather than the water, as we could smell it all the way back at the station later on, but still a tad offputting!). So at this juncture after a bit of negotiation I managed to persuade Erika to leave, mindful of the fact I wanted to have a late lunch before we left (I don't think the ice cream earlier really counted), and didn't want to get stuck in the rush hour on the way back home.

For our late lunch, we went to one of the fish and chip shops along the front - I chose the newish and slightly upmarket looking "Smokehouse" based primarily on the fact it looked like it had clean and well maintained toilets (following a brief inspection of the rather unpleasant public facilities nearby). I'd thought I should probably change Erika out of her swimsuit, but she didn't want to, so instead spent lunch wrapped in a towel sat on my lap. Pleasingly they had "pretend fish and chips" on the menu as I explained it to Erika (halloumi in batter, and a particularly well executed version thereof), and Erika wanted to have "big fish and chips" although I intervened and just asked for the smallest they had, which turned out to be the right decision as she didn't really eat a huge amount. Oh and I ordered mushy peas on a whim, not something I've ever been a fan of, but theirs were actually rather tasty.

There was an otherworldly quality to our time in the Smokehouse, partly that always slightly odd atmosphere of being in a seaside town off peak - although in this case it was a lovely sunny day the school holidays had yet to start - and it being a weekday around 3pm the restaurant was nearly empty. Although it would have been a bit nicer if Erika had eaten a bit more, that aside with the doors open and the warm sea breeze wafting through, and Erika being very cuddly, it was quite idyllic.

Erika fell asleep in her buggy on the way back to the station, which was a good thing as the journey home required a change at Ashford, and took a bit longer than it had on the way there, and I think she probably would have got a bit bored. She woke up again just after we got back to St. Pancras, by which time it was just gone 5, and I thought it best to avoid the tube, especially as we had the buggy with us. So I started out in the direction of home thinking I might just try walking, but then we got as far as Granary Square, where Erika spotted the children playing in the fountains there, and given that she was already in a swimsuit, and we had a towel with us, I could think of no reason for her not to have a run around for a bit too. Of course she wanted me to come with her though, and I got quite damp in the process.

Eventually managed to persuade her to go home, and got a bus back from there, then gave Erika a shower (followed by a bubble bath at her behest) as soon as we got home to wash off all the suncream and sand.

Chie had decided to go to Ikea to finally order our bedroom cupboards in the evening, so it ended up being just the two of us from when Erika woke up in the morning to when she went to bed.

Really lovely day.
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Thursday
[Thursday 2nd July 2015]
Popped out of the office at lunchtime to pick up the trousers from Boggi I'd taken in for repair last week - the button had fallen off on the second time I'd worn them, not very impressed.

In the evening I went to pick Erika up from nursery to give Chie a bit of a break, as she's recently found the difficulty of dragging Erika away from the playground afterwards a bit frustrating.
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Zoo and the Duke of Wellington
[Wednesday 1st July 2015]
Took Erika to the zoo in the morning, hardly saw any animals this time! On this particular occasion Erika seemed far more interested in all the other distractions at the zoo - the bouncy castle, the playground, and the carousel.

In the evening, after my usual late meetings, there had originally been talk of going to Frank's, but somehow that didn't end up happening. As Natalie was also working late, and it was a very pleasant evening, instead we went for a couple of pints at the Duke of Wellington in Belgravia. We got there after 9pm but it was still very nice outside.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 30th June 2015]
Trying to write this almost three weeks hence, all I can glean from various digital records of the day is that Erika was giving Chie a bit of a hard time in the morning, and Chie was getting quite frustrated. Other than that looks like it was a pretty ordinary and unremarkable day.
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Bengal Lancer
[Monday 29th June 2015]
Got takeaway from the Bengal Lancer in Kentish Town for dinner today, an Indian restaurant which I believe is locally quite well regarded. Erika had already eaten first before I got home from work, so I took her with me to pick up the food.

As seems to be the case most of the time when we get takeaway, some of the dishes were a bit underwhelming, but the Sabjee Begun Pie (apparently a dish unique to the Bengal Lancer) was quite good.
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