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:
- Out in the Garden
Once More Unto The Heath
South Downs: Burgess Hill to Lewes
Another Evening on the Heath
Heath with Jeremy
Evening Walk to The Heath
Ambriel and Cardo's Carden
Dinner on Ditchling Beacon
Day of Rest
The Ridgeway: Liddington Hill to Avebury
The Ridgeway: Wantage to Liddington Hill
Yard Sale and Long Walk on the Heath
Fish and Chips and Garden Picnic
More Camping Gear
Masks and Jenkyn Place BdB
Dressing Up and Front Garden Wine Bar
Picnic on the Heath
Vineyards of Hampshire and Pizza
Back to school
Coldrum Long Barrow
Basmati in a Billy Can
Evening Stroll to Hampstead Heath
Negronis on Primrose Hill with Ricardo
Cider on the Heath
Olivogelo and Hampstead Heath in a Storm
Breaky Bottom 2015 Vintages
Lunch in the Garden
Lego Friends Bus
Lincoln's Inn Fields
Stove / Billy can / Cider / Park
Dinner in the garden
Escape from London
Roll Out the Barrow
More Beer Garden
Pineapple Shrine Again
More Jungle Exploration
English Oak and Jelly Beans
Welsh Wine Night
Evening Heath Again
The Heath in the Evening
First Day of Summer Term
Harry Potter Lego
- Out in the Garden
- [Friday 31st July 2020]
Spent some of the evening out in the garden again.
- Quornish Pasty
- [Thursday 30th July 2020]
Had a Cornish pasty made with Quorn for dinner. It wasn't great but it was OK.
- Once More Unto The Heath
- [Tuesday 28th July 2020]
Another weekday evening visit to Hampstead Heath, this time to try some Black Chalk wine.
- [Monday 27th July 2020]
Back to work after the weekend.
- South Downs: Burgess Hill to Lewes
- [Sunday 26th July 2020]
Went for a Sunday afternoon stroll in the South Downs, from Burgess Hill, via Ditchling, up Ditchling Beacon, and then along the ridge to Lewes. Dinner at the Lewes Arms which had recently reopened.
Read more on John Goes For A Walk.
- [Saturday 25th July 2020]
Had a quiet day, stayed in and did some writing.
- [Thursday 23rd July 2020]
Finally ventured back to the Pineapple this evening.
- Another Evening on the Heath
- [Wednesday 22nd July 2020]
Third evening in a row on the heath! This time with a bottle of Ambriel, and stayed until it got completely dark.
- Heath with Jeremy
- [Tuesday 21st July 2020]
Once again to Hampstead Heath this evening, this time to share a bottle of Chateau Musar with Jeremy.
- Evening Walk to The Heath
- [Monday 20th July 2020]
Yet another evening stroll to Hampstead Heath.
- Sunday Roast
- [Sunday 19th July 2020]
Went for a Sunday roast at a nearby pub.
- Ambriel and Cardo's Carden
- [Saturday 18th July 2020]
Went to Parliament Hill Farmer's Market this morning, on a tip off there was a stall from Ambriel selling English sparkling wine. Bought a few bottles there. Later on was invited to Cardo's garden in Maida Vale for drinks.
- The Angel
- [Friday 17th July 2020]
Went to The Angel in Bermondsey to watch the sunset.
- Dinner on Ditchling Beacon
- [Thursday 16th July 2020]
Finally made it back to the South Downs, for the first time this year. A bit of a late start as I was waiting for some new walking socks to be delivered. So it was more of a late afternoon / evening walk, but that meant I could have my dinner on the top of Ditchling Beacon, while watching the sun set.
Read more on John Goes For A Walk.
- Day of Rest
- [Wednesday 15th July 2020]
Had a day of complete rest at home after my two days of walking.
- The Ridgeway: Liddington Hill to Avebury
- [Tuesday 14th July 2020]
After a very unsuccesful night's sleep, I set out at dawn to complete the last leg of my walk along the Ridgeway.
Read more at John Goes for a Walk.
- The Ridgeway: Wantage to Liddington Hill
- [Monday 13th July 2020]
Finally, the first day of my m uch awaited two day walking and camping trip, to complete my walk along the Ridgeway National Trail, which had been on hiatus since March.
Read more at John Goes for a Walk.
- Camping Preparation
- [Sunday 12th July 2020]
The girls flew off to Japan today, and I did some preparation for my camping trip.
- Yard Sale and Long Walk on the Heath
- [Saturday 11th July 2020]
Today was Chie and Erika's last full day before they flew off to Japan. I took Erika round the school yard sale in the neighbourhood around midday, then a bit later in the afternoon we met up with local friends for a long walk on Hampstead Heath, where we climbed trees, built a den and generally had a lovely time.
- [Thursday 9th July 2020]
Yet more photos of the grapes growing in the garden.
- [Wednesday 8th July 2020]
The windshield for my camp stove, which arrived today. Some Gevrey Chambertin in the evening.
- Campstove Ramen
- [Tuesday 7th July 2020]
As practice for my upcoming camping trip, I wanted to see if I could cook ramen on my campstove using just a single fuel block.
- Fish and Chips and Garden Picnic
- [Sunday 5th July 2020]
Fish and chips for lunch (halloumi and chips for me) at Chie's request - yes a bit odd for a Sunday! Went out for coffee and smoothies in the afternoon. In the evening went to see local friends for a picnic in their garden.
- More Camping Gear
- [Saturday 4th July 2020]
More camping gear arrived today, and I tested out my sleeping bag with my Thermarest and bivvi bag.
- Masks and Jenkyn Place BdB
- [Friday 3rd July 2020]
Received some masks in the post from Christian in New York, and tried another bottle from the Vineyards of Hampshire case - this time the Jenkyn Place Blanc de Blancs.
- [Thursday 2nd July 2020]
Received my Thermarest camping mat today.
- Rainy Heath
- [Sunday 28th June 2020]
I went for an afternoon stroll to Hampstead Heath. It rained again.
- Dressing Up and Front Garden Wine Bar
- [Saturday 27th June 2020]
Erika wanted to play dressing up for a bit in the daytime, and we did a mini fashion show in the back garden. Later on, Erika was oddly determined to clean the window sills at the front of the house, so we did that together, then we set up a little wine bar there in the evening.
- Picnic on the Heath
- [Friday 26th June 2020]
Had a picnic on Hampstead Heath for dinner with local friends.
- Erika's Bread
- [Thursday 25th June 2020]
Erika made bread at school today.
- Vineyards of Hampshire and Pizza
- [Wednesday 24th June 2020]
Received a mixed case from the vineyards of Hampshire association today. Pizza for dinner, then later on an evening stroll to see a local cocktail bar's takeaway offering.
- Tarp Shelter
- [Tuesday 23rd June 2020]
Set up a tarp shelter in the garden as it was a rather sunny day.
- Back to school
- [Monday 22nd June 2020]
Erika was delighted to be going back to school today.
- Arty Sunday
- [Sunday 21st June 2020]
Had an arty/crafty day at home with Erika. Made a snow globe, some stress balls, Erika helped to make dinner, and I did a lot of cleaning after all the arty/crafy activities.
- Coldrum Long Barrow
- [Saturday 20th June 2020]
Went to Coldrum Long Barrow in Kent for the summer solstice.
- Basmati in a Billy Can
- [Friday 19th June 2020]
Used one of my camping cooking pots (I'm not sure this is technically a billy can, but close enough) to cook basmati rice. It was actually a perfect size for the amount of rice we normally cook for the three of us and it came out rather perfectly.
- [Thursday 18th June 2020]
Received a delivery of a tarp today and tried it out - first in the lounge, then later on in the garden in the rain. Also another pre-solstice walk to Hampstead Heath.
- [Wednesday 17th June 2020]
More of the same really.
- Evening Stroll to Hampstead Heath
- [Tuesday 16th June 2020]
I went for an evening stroll to Hampstead Heath, to catch a bit of the sunset, in the run-up to the summer solstice.
- Erika's Pizzeria
- [Monday 15th June 2020]
Erika made dinner this evening! She assembled a couple of pizzas for us, and very nice they were too.
- Pineapple Again
- [Sunday 14th June 2020]
Went back to the Pineapple for another takeaway pint, albeit that they were serving through the door this time, and nobody was lingering outside.
- The Pineapple
- [Saturday 13th June 2020]
The Pineapple briefly reopened for takeaway, although, alas, thanks to unsupportive neighbours this turned out to be a one weekend only thing.
Also cooked both main meals today out in the garden - a sort of pasta e fagioli for lunch, then a barbecue for dinner.
- [Friday 12th June 2020]
Some more Black Dog Hill to mark another working week over.
- Negronis on Primrose Hill with Ricardo
- [Tuesday 9th June 2020]
Met up with Ricardo - who I hadn't seen since March - for socially distanced Negronis on Primrose Hill.
- [Monday 8th June 2020]
Ordered a Chinese takeaway this evening. The portion sizes were rather underwhelming.
- Cider on the Heath
- [Sunday 7th June 2020]
Returned to the heath for a while this afternoon - thankfully no thunderstorm this time - and sat for a while drinking cider by the Bronze Age barrow, having some much needed time by myself.
- Olivogelo and Hampstead Heath in a Storm
- [Saturday 6th June 2020]
I hired a Zipcar again today, but then dithered over where to go, and ultimately ended up just driving across London to get some gelato for Olivogelo. After coming back home and dropping off the car, I went for a walk to Hampstead Heath, and got caught in a torrential downpour.
- Breaky Bottom 2015 Vintages
- [Friday 5th June 2020]
Received a case of the newly released 2015 vintages from Breaky Bottom today, which I tried this evening.
- Lunch in the Garden
- [Wednesday 3rd June 2020]
To help break up the day a bit Erika and I cooked lunch on my little camp stove and ate it out in the garden.
- Lego Friends Bus
- [Tuesday 2nd June 2020]
I'd ordered a Lego Friends Bus for Erika, which helped to keep her entertained today between school work. Also the usual checks on the state of things in the garden later on - the orange tree was blooming.
- [Monday 1st June 2020]
Met up with one of Erika's friends for an outdoor socially distanced playdate in the late afternoon / early evening.
- Lincoln's Inn Fields
- [Sunday 31st May 2020]
Walked down to Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn to meet Andrew for a socially distanced picnic of Black Dog Hill and pizza. First time to meet a friend since the middle of March.
- Stove / Billy can / Cider / Park
- [Saturday 30th May 2020]
More time messing around with the stove and billy can. Went off to buy some takeaway cider in the afternoon. Took Erika to the park again later on.
- [Friday 29th May 2020]
Took Erika to the park for a bit after finishing work for the day. Pizza for dinner. Then spent the remainder of the evening playing with my new camping stove / billy can.
- Dinner in the garden
- [Wednesday 27th May 2020]
Made a pasta bake for dinner, which we ate out in the garden.
- Bank Holiday
- [Monday 25th May 2020]
Spent the day doing various activities with Erika, from painting to playing Bananagrams out in the garden, while Chie had a rest.
- [Sunday 24th May 2020]
Spent the day at home and out in the garden.
- [Saturday 23rd May 2020]
Went out to fly a kite on Hampstead Heath in the afternoon.
- Escape from London
- [Friday 22nd May 2020]
I had the day off from work and decided we all really needed some escape from our urban confines. So I hired a car and we got out of London to see some proper countryside - the closest example of which I could think of being Ivinghoe Beacon.
- [Wednesday 20th May 2020]
Various deliveries in the daytime. More time sat outside in the garden in the evening.
- Urban Walk
- [Sunday 17th May 2020]
I went for a long urban walk this morning by myself, now that time spent outdoors exercising is unrestricted (ridiculous that it ever was). Was roughly aiming for Highgate Wood, but actually just went to neighbouring Queen's Wood instead. On the way back discovered the Southampton Arms had reopened for takeaway, which made my day.
- Roll Out the Barrow
- [Saturday 16th May 2020]
Ordered fish and chips for lunch (had attempted to yesterday evening but the place we wanted to order from wasn't available, so had to wait until today). In the afternoon I took Erika for a walk to Hampstead Heath, having discovered there was a Bronze Age barrow there, and I wanted to have a closer look.
- Andrew's Birthday
- [Friday 15th May 2020]
Erika and I decorated the garden with ribbons. Had a virtual birthday party for Andrew.
- [Thursday 14th May 2020]
Another evening with as much as possible of it spent out in the garden, escaping the confines of the interior as best I can.
- Hori Hori
- [Wednesday 13th May 2020]
Received a hori hori in the post today - a Japanese gardening tool - so christened it in the obvious fashion.
- Feather sticks
- [Tuesday 12th May 2020]
Practiced bushcraft firelighting in the garden this evening - made "feather sticks" as a firelighting aid, and managed to start a little fire using just that and my tiny little ferro rod.
- Morning Walk
- [Monday 11th May 2020]
I woke up relatively early for a change so went for a morning walk to Hampstead Heath before starting work for the day.
- [Sunday 10th May 2020]
Video chat with Vera, Robin and Louise in the morning. Lego in the afternoon. In the evening I opened the first bottle from my case of Domaine Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin 2015.
- [Saturday 9th May 2020]
Quite a mixed bag, and most of it outdoors - a bit of gardening, I revisited the Monnow Valley 2004 Brut, pizza in the garden for dinner, then a late post dinner stroll to a nearby park where we saw squirrel and a nonchalant fox.
- Bank Holiday
- [Friday 8th May 2020]
May bank holiday (moved this year to Friday for VE day). Took Erika to Hampstead Heath for a walk in the afternoon, and made (Indian) curry for dinner.
- [Thursday 7th May 2020]
Chie and Erika set up the tent in the garden today.
- More Beer Garden
- [Wednesday 6th May 2020]
More time out in the beer garden this evening with the Harvey's keg.
- Pineapple Shrine Again
- [Tuesday 5th May 2020]
Constructed another shrine to my local, the Pineapple, in the back garden again this evening, and opened another keg of Harvey's.
- Chie's Birthday
- [Monday 4th May 2020]
Erika and I made a cake for Chie's birthday.
- Primrose Hill
- [Sunday 3rd May 2020]
I went for a walk to Primrose Hill this morning. It wasn't very good.
- More Jungle Exploration
- [Saturday 2nd May 2020]
Erika and I went to explore the jungle of Hampstead Heath again in the afternoon. In the evening I had a play with my camping stove in the back garden.
- English Oak and Jelly Beans
- [Friday 1st May 2020]
Another English Wine Night online tasting event this evening. This week the focus was on the Wessex region, so I chose a sparkling wine from Dorset: English Oak. Also some Jelly Belly jelly beans arrived from Mum, so we had a fun time tasting those too.
- Jungle Exploration
- [Thursday 30th April 2020]
The previous night Erika had some difficulty getting to sleep and I theorised it might be in part down to a lack of activity. Although her school's PE teacher makes workout videos for the kids, and we try to supplement this with our own bits of PE where we can (we've been having occasional games of football in our tiny back garden), the daily home schooling routine is still a lot less active than a normal day at school would be for her. Now and again exercise seems to fall by the wayside a bit and yesterday had definitely been one of those days.
I could see Chie was in need of a break as well, so I took some time out of work this morning to take Erika off to Hampstead Heath for some fresh air and exercise. She sometimes goes to the heath with school, so this seemed to me like an entirely legitimate part of the school day. We went to Erika's usual favourite spots, the "mudslide of doom" (which wasn't particularly muddy today, despite the recent rain), and the den building area. From there, while looking for a place to build a new den, Erika was intrigued by a little path leading off into the thicket, and in following this we embarked on some impromptu jungle exploration. We did eeny meeny miny moe to choose our route at each fork of the path, and in the middle of those dense trees and bushes we could have been hundreds of miles away from London, which feels a bit like an urban prison at the moment.
Of course, our adventure in the rainforests of North London only lasted a few minutes before we ran out of thicket, and emerged back onto the wide open plains of Parliament Hill, but it was lovely, and I think what we both needed. We wandered slowly back down the hill, picking buttercups and dandelions. We bumped into a friend of Erika's (but of course maintained our distance in line with the current ridiculousness) out with his little brother and his Mum. Oddly he and his brother had socks pinned to their hoods. I think this was more a fashion statement than anything practical.
We got back home a bit before lunchtime and I resumed working. Took delivery of some more wine in the afternoon, including another couple of bottles of the fascinatingly weird Monnow Valley Brut 2004 which I had last had at the Welsh sparkling wine tasting I organised last summer.
Quite mixed weather today, and it's good that we got out for our walk in the morning, as it was raining for much of the afternoon - quite hard at times. Clear skies later on though, and I had another go at taking pictures of the moon in the evening, which were unsuccessful as always. I think mobile phone cameras just aren't really capable of this sort of thing - you need a proper zoom.
Nabe for dinner.
- [Wednesday 29th April 2020]
While I was out for my evening stroll yesterday Erika (with a bit of help from Chie) had used the giant roll of paper we have to draw a big sort of wall frieze to cheer me up as I've really been missing the countryside over the past few weeks. I took a couple of picture of it this morning for posterity. I particularly like the "our house and vineyard" on the left hand side, and the details like the mushrooms and the flowers (including forget me nots, which I'd recently been pointing out to Erika) are really sweet.
Chie made Gyoza for dinner. This is a Russian roulette sort of a meal, as now and again given the highly variable performance of our supposedly non-stick frying pan they go wrong, stick to the pan, and fall apart - causing Chie to be in a very bad mood. Thankfully tonight was not one of those occasions, and they came out very well.
- The Gloaming
- [Tuesday 28th April 2020]
I made a lazy / unimaginative pasta bake for dinner. Although I did think it was quite nice.
After dinner, following some prompting from the other members of my household, I went for an early evening walk to Hampstead Heath. Much gloomier weather than either of last week's forays to the heath, but oddly I rather liked it for that. Perhaps mainly because it meant there were fewer people and I had a much greater sense of an escape from the sense of immuration which has become particularly exacerbated in the current situation.
- [Monday 27th April 2020]
Thai curry for dinner. Should have taken a picture - it came out rather well.
- Sunday Stroll
- [Sunday 26th April 2020]
Some of the daytime pottering around in the garden, followed by a late afternoon walk, ended up going all the way down to Kings Cross and back.
Gnocchi in a cheese sauce with broccoli for dinner.
- Successful Barbecue
- [Saturday 25th April 2020]
A much more successful barbecue than the previous one this evening! The main reason of course being that I actually used charcoal this time.
So dinner was (from the barbecue) burgers, halloumi, peppers, a grilled leek in soy sauce (nicer than it sounds), a grilled onion, then later baked potatoes and I even cooked a bit of pasta in the kettle pot which came with my Biolite campstove on the residual charcoals for fun.
- Welsh Wine Night
- [Friday 24th April 2020]
Joined in an online tasting of Welsh wines this evening. I felt like I was already an expert on the subject having conducted a tour of the vineyards of Monmouthshire last May/June followed by organising probably the most comprehensive tasting of Welsh sparkling wines ever held last summer... but of course the wine world is a rather cliquey environment, and nobody "in the industry" seems particularly interested in the opinions of amateurs like me. Still I set that ego to one side, and listened in to the talks online as a quiet bystander, and enjoyed the event regardless. I have been really appreciating this series of WineGB online events (starting with the Big English Wine Good Friday two weeks ago), as it has given me something to look forward to in these strange times, where otherwise one day would feel very much like the previous one...
Spaghetti bolognese for dinner - which sounds like an unimaginative lazy cop out - but it was actually quite an involved sauce cooked for a long time with more ingredients than usual, as we happened to have a well stocked fridge: onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, Quorn mince, a bit of tomato stock cube, and a bay leaf from the garden. I thought the end result was very tasty.
- Evening Heath Again
- [Thursday 23rd April 2020]
Another Evening stroll to Hampstead Heath - this time all three of us went.
- The Heath in the Evening
- [Wednesday 22nd April 2020]
Our weekly veg box arrived this morning, including a large amount of leeks (which to us is any number of leeks greater than one). So I decided to do the obvious thing make leek and potato soup for lunch. I put a lot of effort into preparing all the vegetables (so much peeling and chopping), and yet neither of the other members of my household seemed to like it. I vowed not to make soup again for the forseeable future, observing that essentially most people don't actually like healthy home made soup, they only seem to like the vaguely vegetable flavoured hot brine you buy in shops.
Went for an evening walk to Hampstead Heath.
- [Tuesday 21st April 2020]
Took delivery of two kegs of Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter today.
- First Day of Summer Term
- [Monday 20th April 2020]
First day of the summer term, although still home schooling for now.
- [Sunday 19th April 2020]
- Morning Walk
- [Saturday 18th April 2020]
I went for a morning walk to Hampstead Heath, and found it quite envigorating. Lots of flowers blooming at the moment. Some of the remainder of the day spent cleaning.
- [Friday 17th April 2020]
Negroni at the end of the working week.
- [Thursday 16th April 2020]
Erika very creatively made a bus using the cupboard doors and a lot of imagination today.
- [Wednesday 15th April 2020]
A surprise arrived from Leon today.
- Easter Monday
- [Monday 13th April 2020]
Bits and pieces from the final day of the four day weekend.
- Easter Sunday
- [Sunday 12th April 2020]
At home (of course) on Easter Sunday.
- Easter Saturday
- [Saturday 11th April 2020]
More time out in the garden, went for a walk in the early evening. Then later on Erika did a magic show for us.
- Good Friday
- [Friday 10th April 2020]
Actually ventured out into a shop in the morning, for the first time in nearly three weeks. Spent much of the afternoon out in the garden, then in the evening joined in with an online English wine tasting event.
- Harry Potter Lego
- [Thursday 9th April 2020]
Some Harry Potter Lego arrived for Erika.
- [Wednesday 8th April 2020]
Another survey of the garden, and played a bit of football with Erika.
- [Tuesday 7th April 2020]
Sabrage out in the garden in the evening.