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:
YOCC
World Book Day Film Night
Wednesday
Tuesday
Vinegrowing Course Day 4
Cherry Blossom
ESW Pretige Cuvee Tasting
March
Wine Thermometer Again
Kelvin
Back from Australia
Monday
Sunday
Parkland Walk
Pink Buds
Ricardo
The Four Men: A Farrago
Tuesday
First day of Half Term
Hampstead Heath

YOCC
[Friday 8th March 2019]
Went down to Fleet Street to meet Andrew and Jim after work for a quick drink at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, followed by the Old Bank of England.
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World Book Day Film Night
[Thursday 7th March 2019]
Erika had a film night at school this evening (slightly confusingly to mark World Book Day), which amazingly parents were not required to attend. So Chie and I went for dinner at our local vegetarian restaurant while Erika was watching the film with her friends.
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Wednesday
[Wednesday 6th March 2019]
Random photos from a weekday evening.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 5th March]
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Vinegrowing Course Day 4
[Monday 4th March 2019]
Down to Haywards Heath / Scaynes Hill for the fourth day of my vinegrowing course. I've got the transport arrangements down to a fine art now, meaning I no longer have to get up at quite such an ungodly hour to get there in time. I get the 07:36 train from Kentish Town, which with a connection at Farringdon gets me to Haywards Heath just before 9, and then I hop into a taxi from there to The Farmers in Scaynes Hill where the morning theory session is held. I've got into the habit of reading some of the relevant chapters of Stephen Skelton's incredibly detailed "Wine Growing in Great Britain" on the train on the way there, from which today the main takeaway was that Skelton is really in favour of steel posts for trellising systems rather than wood (given that wood inevitable rots / breaks).


This morning's theory session started with a recap on vine nutrition, where Chris, the course leader, showed us photos of various vines with different forms of malnutrition, and we had to guess which mineral was lacking. We were mostly quite hopeless at this.

The main focus for today was then site preparation / planting and then vine training systems (trellising). On the latter subject in particular, both from reading Skelton's book and from the lecture this morning, I was amazed about how even this seemingly straightforward subject area quickly got so detailed and complicated. There are many alternatives, however, as with pruning, where Guyot seems to dominate, it seems one system for trellising comes most strongly recommended - VSP (vertical shoot position), wherein you encourage the vines to do what they want to do (grow upwards) and just have a single curtain, which is easily accessible from either side.

As much as the course itself, I think I actually enjoy the tea breaks / lunch break where we have an opportunity to chat with the other attendees. It turned out one of the attendees had planned to buy Frithsden vineyard (which I'd visited last year) but the sale ultimately fell through.

After lunch we headed over to Rock Lodge vineyard for another practical session with Tom. This time we continued on the morning theme of trellising systems, Tom demonstrated tightening the fruiting wires, then we also had a go at post-pruning tying down which was quite a satisfying job. Tom also got the tractor going and showed us how to grub up a vine. Although sadly for safety reasons we weren't allowed to have a go at driving the tractor ourselves, which clearly everyone wanted to.

The practical session was cut slightly short by a sudden torrential downpour and hailstorm. I got quite wet getting from the far corner of the vineyard where we'd been tying down the vines to the toolshed, the only place which had any cover. By time I got there it had pretty much stopped.

One of the other attendees kindly gave me a lift back to Haywards Heath again, and I squelched into the Waitrose next to the station to see what local produce they had - I bought a couple of bottles of Sussex Wine (I was particularly excited to see Breaky Bottom in a supermarket!) and some Sussex bread and cheese.
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Cherry Blossom
[Sunday 3rd March 2019]
Finally the first few cherry blossoms have fully bloomed.
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ESW Pretige Cuvee Tasting
[Saturday 2nd March 2019]
Took Erika for breakfast at Bear and Wolf this morning, and picked up some dry cleaning on the way back. Once back at home we set about trying to moth proof our cupboards. Since moving to this flat four years ago we'd seen no evidence of clothes moths, but just in the last couple of months we'd spotted what appeared to be a couple of the little blighters fluttering about. Hopefully the combination of having sent a bunch of my tweed suits off to be dry cleaned and putting lavendar / cedar / tea tree oil in the cupboards today will nip this in the bud.

In the afternoon, I headed down to see friends in Honor Oak Park in South London, where we had arranged to hold a tasting session for three English sparkling wine "prestige cuvées".

Full write-up of that here.
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March
[Friday 1st March 2019]
So it's March then.
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Wine Thermometer Again
[Thursday 28th February 2019]
Tried out the wine thermometer again.
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Kelvin
[Wednesday 27th February 2019]
Bought a wine thermometer gadget for the upcoming tasting I was organising.
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Back from Australia
[Tuesday 26th February 2019]
Andrew was back from his long trip to the Far East / Australia today, so we toasted his return with some ESW in Granary Square.
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Monday
[Monday 25th February]
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Sunday
[Sunday 24th February 2019]
A day without much of a plan. Ended up with an impromptu playdate with one of Erika's school friends.
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Parkland Walk
[Saturday 23rd February 2019]
Erika had a birthday party to attend in Finsbury Park, so I decided we should walk there along the Parkland Walk, which runs along the route of a former railway line from Highgate to Finsbury Park. Surprisingly nice weather for the time of year!
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Pink Buds
[Friday 22nd February 2019]
The first buds on the cherry blossom tree are very near to flowering now!
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Ricardo
[Thursday 21st February 2019]
Went for a drink with Ricardo in the Camden / Euston area, culminating in dinner at Murger Han.
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The Four Men: A Farrago
[Wednesday 20th February 2019]
Started reading Hilaire Belloc's The Four Men: A Farrago, and it seemed appropriate whilst reading a book about Sussex to drink some wine from Sussex.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 19th February]
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First day of Half Term
[Monday 18th February 2019]
Took the day off work as it was the first day of Erika's half term holiday. Didn't do much in the end though, mostly stayed at home, and took Erika to the Pineapple for lunch.
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Hampstead Heath
[Sunday 17th February 2019]
Afternoon stroll around Hampstead Heath, and some early signs of spring.
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