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:
Friday Sabrage
Jeremy on the Heath
Wednesday
Tuesday
Monday
Fun Run
Saturday
Friday
Thursday
Garden
Ping Pong
Recovering
Food Poisoning
Palestinian Picnic and Eurovision
Friday
Thursday
Tarp Practice
Tuesday
Monday
Sunday
Lunch at the Pineapple
Movie and Macaroni Cheese
Me Time
Chie's Birthday
Plumbing
Greenwich
May Day
Devil's Dyke to Chanctonbury Ring
HP Sauce
Thursday
Wednesday
Tuesday
Monday
Sunday
To and Fro
Colony Room
Leon
Heath with Christian
Tuesday
Easter Monday
Pennywell, Easter Lunch, Then Back to London
Dartmoor and Teignmouth
Bridge Inn and Holcombe
Chew Magna and Stanton Drew

Friday Sabrage
[Friday 27th May 2022]
Friday evening sabrage.
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Jeremy on the Heath
[Thursday 26th May 2022]
Met my artist friend Jeremy for a late stroll on the heath, to discuss the progress of the family portrait he's doing for us, and to generally chew the cud.
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Wednesday
[Wednesday 25th May 2022]
New rain jacket arrived today, this had been the subject of much dithering but the main requirements were something which was very lightweight and packable, but also wouldn't end up soaking wet on the inside (from condensation or whatever causes that) like the very cheap one I had used on my walk in Wiltshire in March.

Another foray to the heath in the evening, a bit windy today. In addition to today's photos I took a few timelapse videos.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 24th May]
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Monday
[Monday 23rd May]
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Fun Run
[Sunday 22nd May 2022]
Erika did a charity fun run around Kings Cross around lunchtime. I went off to pick up a new suit after that. Then some kind of tagine for dinner at home in the evening.
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Saturday
[Saturday 21st May 2022]
Dropped Erika off at her friend's birthday party and went and sat on the heath for a bit.
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Friday
[Friday 20th May 2022]
Just one picture, of some wine out in the garden.

This week had been a rather bad one on the stock market, and I'd "lost" rather a lot of money, which was a little disheartening. That probably influenced the decision to pick up one of the cheapest bottles I currently had in my cellar, but it was actually surprisingly good regardless.
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Thursday
[Thursday 19th May 2022]
Early evening stroll to the heath, after what seemed like a bit of a hiatus, having been mostly house bound since Saturday what with one or the other of us being unwell.
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Garden
[Wednesday 18th May 2022]
Surveyed the state of the various fruit bearing trees / shrubs in the garden.

The grape vines are flowering now, there were already some baby apples on the apple tree, and a few (currently very green) raspberries on the raspberry bush.
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Ping Pong
[Tuesday 17th May 2022]
Chie seemed to have got whatever stomach bug / food poisoning I'd had over the weekend, and spent most of today in bed. Erika thankfully never got it though, so I wonder if it might relate to the lunch Chie and I'd had together last Friday - the only time Chie and I ate something which Erika didn't.

Fortunately I was back to normal by this point, so I was able to take over all parenting responsibilities. Played ping pong with Erika on the kitchen table in the evening.
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Recovering
[Monday 16th May 2022]
Recovering today after the rather unpleasant bout of food poisoning, or whatever it was, over the weekend. To my surprise I actually managed to put in a decent day's work and commended myself on how nobly (and/or muggishly) I had confined my illness to my own free time.
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Food Poisoning
[Sunday 15th May 2022]
I had been rudely awakened in the middle of the night last night with what seemed to be a case of food poisoning. Spent almost the entire day today lying in bed, with quite a high fever earlier on in the day, and not really feeling up to doing anything.

I suspect this might have been a case of salmonella, as apparently there's a lot of it about, and other forms of food poisoning / stomach bug don't usually come with a fever.

Really not very nice, but thankfully fairly short lived!
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Palestinian Picnic and Eurovision
[Saturday 14th May 2022]
Spent much of the daytime down in the centre of London - visited Walker Slater to drop off some trousers to be altered, and went for a long stroll from Covent Garden to St. James's then up through Mayfair and Marylebone, ending with some Palestinian food for a late lunch picnic in Regents Park. In the evening Erika and I watched the Eurovision Song Contest.
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Friday
[Friday 13th May 2022]
Falafel for lunch with Chie, then some sabrage in the evening.
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Thursday
[Thursday 12th May 2022]
Went to the heath with Jeremy so he could take some photos to work from for a family portrait he's doing of us. After that the girls headed back to go to an event at the school, and I remained and lurked about on the heath for a bit.
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Tarp Practice
[Wednesday 11th May 2022]
A bit of a rainy day, so I attempted to put up a tarp on the heath with only a very small amount of string. It wasn't very successful.

I made a short-ish video of my very amateur attempts to sit up a tarp shelter with this minimum of accessories, but decided to leave it unlisted as it was a bit boring. Anyway, here it is for posterity or something:




Possibly of more interest is this timelapse I took a bit later on, when the weather had improved a bit.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 10th May]
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Monday
[Monday 9th May]
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Sunday
[Sunday 8th May 2022]
Chie and Erika were out in the daytime. I did some weeding.
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Lunch at the Pineapple
[Saturday 7th May 2022]
Unusually I managed to persuade the girls to go for lunch at the Pineapple after Erika's Japanese school (usually they've snacked on the way home and aren't hungry any more). After that Erika had a playdate for the remainder of the afternoon, and I went off to the heath for a bit.
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Movie and Macaroni Cheese
[Friday 6th May 2022]
Chie was out for the evening, and Erika and I ate macaroni cheese and watched a movie.
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Me Time
[Thursday 5th May 2022]
I felt a bit worn out today, from having worked hard the past few days, while also trying to fit in time to deal with the aftermath of the plumbing emergency, and decided I needed to have a bit of me time. So off to the heath in the late afternoon / early evening with a bottle of Vosne Romanee and a packet of Monster Munch. You won't read that sentence anywhere else.
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Chie's Birthday
[Wednesday 4th May 2022]
Funny sort of a day - squashed cakes and dinner at Taco Bell.
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Plumbing
[Tuesday 3rd May 2022]
The washing machine had started leaking all over the kitchen floor yesterday evening, which turned out to be due to a blocked drain. I spent much of last night and today (in bouts between my actual day job) unblocking the drain and cleaning up.

After a fair bit of plunging, and removing a couple of U-bends, I couldn't seem to dislodge whatever it was, so called a plumber: albeit they wouldn't be able to visit until Thursday. Then it occurred to me the plunger had developed cracks where the rubber had perished, and probably wasn't forming a perfect seal. So I went and got a new plunger and tried again. and eventually I actually managed to dislodge whatever it was. Still a lot of effort involved after that of mopping up and putting everything back together.

I found the whole thing rather draining.
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Greenwich
[Monday 2nd May 2022]
May Day Bank Holiday. Chie and Erika were heading to Greenwich with friends, so I tagged along for the boat trip there, and met my two chums who live in that neck of the woods for wine and pie and mash in Greenwich Park.

Alas the outing was slightly cut short by me being called home for a plumbing emergency.
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May Day
[Sunday 1st May 2022]
I should have been waking up in a ditch and watching Morris dancing first thing this morning, but c'est la vie. Instead I had a decent night's sleep in a proper bed and so was able to make a meaningful contribution to family life. Quite a lazy morning/afternoon, and we didn't leave home until 3ish, when Chie took Erika to meet a friend for yet more trampolining, and I popped to the Pineapple for a bit.

Later on I joined the girls again for dinner round at a local friend's place. We ordered in a huge amount of curry from our favourite Tiffin Tin.
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Devil's Dyke to Chanctonbury Ring
[Saturday 30th April 2022]
Went for a walk in the South Downs today, thinking I might also do another wild camp at the end of it, but ultimately decided against it.

I had rather liked the idea of trying to find somewhere around Chanctonbury Ring for a wild camp, such that I could then wake up early the next morning - and watch the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men's May Day dance there (performed at 7am). When I got to Chanctonbury Ring though I seemed to go off the idea, and got the train back to London instead.

Anyway that aside it was a nice walk, albeit with a lot more people out and about than I'd been used to from previous walks on the South Downs Way. It might have been a bit more pleasant had I not been carrying 11kg or so of unnecessary camping stuff!

I made this video of today's walk:


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HP Sauce
[Friday 29th April 2022]
Jeremy popped round in the early evening. We've been discussing him painting a family portrait of us, and he wanted to take some photos from which to make some initial sketches. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

The only photo I took today is randomly a pair of HP sauce bottles (one old and one new), showing the state of Big Ben* with and without the scaffolding.

* Yes I know it's not strictly called that!
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Thursday
[Thursday 28th April 2022]
I had really slogged away this week up to this point, both on the work front, and in terms of domestic duties, and by the time the end of the working day arrived today I was just a bit worn out with it all, so headed to the Pineapple for a bit. Then went back home and made dinner. Then went back to the pub again.
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Wednesday
[Wednesday 27th April]
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 26th April 2022]
Went to pick Erika up from her woodworking class in the car for a change, as what with work / cooking dinner I'd ended up cutting it a bit fine. I seemed to be really hard at work in general this week, then very busily engaged with cooking / cleaning / childcare in the evenings, and had very little free time for myself.

Nothing really to report apart from that.
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Monday
[Monday 25th April]
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Sunday
[Sunday 24th April 2022]
Chie was still recovering today, although definitely seemed to be getting better. We thought it best she stay home and rest, so I did more taxi duties, taking Erika to a "local" (it's actually a bit of a trek) leisure centre for a trampoline session, as part of her friend's birthday celebrations. I suppose we could have walked, but it started in the morning, and Sunday mornings Erika likes to have as lazy a time as possible, given it's the only day of the week that she can.

After the trampolining there was a follow on birthday party at Erika's friend's house, so I deposited her there, went back home to check on Chie, then popped to the Pineapple for lunch. I went back to the party after that, thinking I'd be picking Erika up and taking her home (kid's birthday parties are usually only a couple of hours long) but actually they seemed to still be in full swing, and we ended up staying into the early evening.
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To and Fro
[Saturday 23rd April 2022]
Chie had quite a bad stomach ache when she woke up this morning, so for a change I drove Erika to her Japanese school. When I got back again, Chie was in so much pain that I was concerned it might be appendicitis, and took her to hospital. After the usual multi hour wait the doctors did some tests and decided it was more likely gastroenteritis, so sent her home again.

Fortunately Erika had been out at a play date in High Barnet for most of the afternoon, so later on I went up there to pick her up, which explains the rather odd sole photo from today, of High Barnet tube station.
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Colony Room
[Friday 22nd April 2022]
Definitely time for a quiet evening in tonight after the previous two night's outings. When not engaging in family life I spent much of the evening reading a book about the Colony Room which a local friend had lent me. I found it really entertaining, albeit a little bittersweet that the world described there has vanished, and I never really got to see it.
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Leon
[Thursday 21st April 2022]
I didn't really want to be out two nights in a row, but the timing wasn't my choice. Leon was in town today, so we did a tour of some places around St Pancras / Kings Cross / Granary Square / Coal Drops Yard / whatever you call that area.

We started with the vermouth bar in Coal Drops, then went to the new craft beer (ugh) brewery bar, which I disliked intensely, and finished our evening's outing at the Wetherspoon's in St. Pancras, which is not somewhere I'd normally choose to go to, but was significantly less hateful than the previous venue.
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Heath with Christian
[Wednesday 20th April 2022]
Christian proposed going for wine on the heath this evening (in fact it had been "booked" since some time last week) and in it turned into a bit of a tasting session, as we both brought bottles along. My contributions were a bit more modest, but Christian brought along some Fourrier, albeit that sadly he suspected it was a bit corked (I couldn't really detect that, but it didn't seem quite at the usual divine level for Fourrier).

As Chie and Erika had plans for the evening, I didn't feel the usual pull to be home in time for dinner, so ended up staying very late on the heath. After Christian headed home I went and picked up a pizza, and took it back to the heath to eat. By that time it was dark and I had the place entirely to myself as far as I could tell. It was a relatively mild evening, and quite lovely in the dark.
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 19th April 2022]
A couple more random photos of the bluebells and apple blossom in the garden.
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Easter Monday
[Monday 18th April 2022]
Back in London for Easter Monday. Went to the Pineapple for a bit in the afternoon, then met Erika and her friend after their swimming lesson for dinner at Nando's (how luxurious!).
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Pennywell, Easter Lunch, Then Back to London
[Sunday 17th April 2022]
Erika had found a brochure for a farm where you can feed and cuddle baby animals, so we went there this morning. I was a tiny bit sceptical as I instinctively am concerning any kind of tourist attraction, but actually found it quite delightful. It is obviously a genuine family run farm which has found quite a clever way to diversify I suppose. Although they had various different themed areas and activities, by far Erika's favourite was the petting area where you can have any one of a handful of different baby animals come and sit on your lap for a bit. I certainly haven't ever been that close to a baby goat or a piglet before, and Erika was clearly in her element. Although I think Chie was a bit less keen when it came the turn of the little white mouse.

The pictures probably describe it best - and I also took a few videos.

So that went very well, and it was good to have something really nice like this to do on the last day of our short holiday so it didn't have to solely be remembered for the long boring drive home.

We called in at Dad's again after that for our Easter lunch, and Dad had transformed the original plan to do a very traditional Sunday roast type of meal, into a sort of Greek twist on a roast. So that was a very nice send off before the drive home.

I did a bit more than half of the drive home, and somehow found it rather stressful. Perhaps the contrast between the lovely relaxed driving on Dartmoor the day before and today's grim relentless motorways. Anyway, we made it back in one piece, with once again a stop at Reading services on the M4.
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Dartmoor and Teignmouth
[Saturday 16th April 2022]
We hadn't planned anything in advance for today, and I think Erika would have been very happy just hanging around the little cottage in Holcombe all day. However I was very keen to make the most of our time in Devon and get outdoors, so I persuaded the girls to go for a little run in the car, to Dartmoor.

We arrived on the moor in good time for lunch at the Warren House Inn, which remains a firm favourite of mine, despite the fact on some level it's Dartmoor's answer to a motorway service station. It being a fine day today, and in the middle of the long Easter weekend, there was a constant stream of traffic going past, and large groups of bikers would occasionally stop by. However if you can manage to ignore the presence of the road, then surely as pub beer gardens go, few in the world can boast as spectacular views as this.

Erika has been reading Hound of the Baskervilles at school, so in an attempt to make Dartmoor more appealing to her, I chose a venue for a post-lunch walk based on that. The Bronze Age settlement at Grimspound is not far from the Warren House Inn, and features in the book as the place where Sherlock Holmes hides out while he is pretending not to be on the moor but actually is, for reasons I forget now. It's also not very far from the nearest little car park, and seemed like a good manageable walk for the three of us.

On the way there we saw an adder - and I managed to get a couple of photos of it, and even capture it on video (see below) which was quite exciting.

I thought Grimspound was rather lovely today, and we also took in neighbouring Hookney Tor on our walk. In a way I was almost disappointed by the nice weather - to me Dartmoor is meant to be rather bleak and foreboding, but perhaps a trudge around for an hour in the rain and the cold would not have enthused the girls to come back again in the future.

We motored back to Holcombe after that. In the early evening we met Dad off the bus at the bottom of the hill in Holcombe, and together walked from there along the sea front to Teignmouth (a couple of short videos of that here). We picked up fish and chips for dinner and ate them on our traditional bench, on the back beach, followed by a drink at the Ship Inn, before getting a taxi back to the cottage. Dad and I sampled some Gevrey Chambertin there, Chie having kindly offered to abstain so she could drive him home later on. We rounded off the day taking Jess the dog for a walk along the front at Starcross.

Took some video footage of our visit to Grimspound:


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Bridge Inn and Holcombe
[Friday 15th April 2022]
Started the day with breakfast at our hotel in Congresbury, which I rather enjoyed - I don't think I've had a hotel breakfast since our short trip to Cambridge in August 2020, and that one had felt more like being in a hospital canteen given the mores of that particular period of history. The food may not have been outstanding this morning, but the service was bright and cheery, and there were wedding guests filing in with various levels of hangover which was somehow rather nice to see.

After checking out, we motored down the M5 in the direction of Devon, and stopped off en route in Taunton, thinking we might be able to get a replacement windscreen wiper blade at a big Halfords there (how exciting) but as it turned out they didn't stock it. While we were there we visited some of the other giant shops in that out of town retail park - a Hobby Craft and a Sainsbury's. Compared to London, where everything is so space conscious, it felt like another world.

We spent a bit of time dithering over what to do for lunch, but ultimately decided to stick to what we know, and proceeded purposefully further down the M5, in the direction of the wonderful Bridge Inn at Topsham. Therein (or should I say thereout given we sat in the garden) we availed ourselves of pasties and cheese sandwiches and of course some beer for me.

The next stop on what seemed to have become an eating tour of the West Country was at Dad's in Starcross where we had arranged to call in for afternoon tea. Dad had decided to make saffron buns, as a sort of locally appropriate alternative to hot cross buns (it being Good Friday), and these were very good with clotted cream and jam.

Back in the car once again, for the short drive to Holcombe, the other side of Dawlish, where I'd rented a cottage for us for the weekend. I'd never really seen Holcombe before, the main road between Dawlish and Teignmouth avoids the old centre of the village - a blessing of course - and I was rather taken with the sleepy little lane going up the hill, lined with thatched cottages. Our cottage wasn't thatched, but that was fine, and it was tiny but suited our simple needs well.

After a bit of time settling in at the cottage, we took a walk down Smuggler's Lane to the sea, and then our thoughts turned to dinner (albeit none of us were particularly hungry having seemingly been eating all day). I had rather naively assumed we might be able to just stroll into the pub in Holcombe and find victuals proffered there, but the rather fraught looking landlord told us the kitchen was completely overwhelmed. So we got back in the car, headed to the deserted Sainsbury's in Dawlish, and bought food for dinner there. Which actually worked out really well - it was a late supper, but we had a big selection of different things we felt like - Chie and Erika had some mussels, I got some fresh pasta, and we all had a selection of tapasy nibbles.
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Chew Magna and Stanton Drew
[Thursday 14th April 2022]
We had originally planned to go down to Devon in February, but had to postpone our trip due to the storms. Chie and Erika were supposed to be in Japan over the Easter holidays, but that hadn't worked out either. So we thought we could at least take advantage of the long Easter weekend and get down to Devon.

We had decided to break up our journey on the way down to Devon, and stay a night near Bristol, as there were a couple of things we wanted to see in the area. I found a hotel in Congresbury which had something for all of us: a pool for the girls, and a hill fort immediately behind it for me. So we arrived there a bit before 3pm, the girls went for a swim, and I went for a walk up the hill.

The main draw to the area was our venue for dinner: the Lazy Lobster, a seafood restaurant in Chew Magna. Chie had heard about it and was keen to give it a try. Although of course this sort of place isn't really geared up for vegetarians, I muddled through with some of the side dishes, and the girls seemed to really enjoy it: Erika in particular loved the seafood risotto, which was quite a surprise to me (she never seemed that bothered when we've had risotto at home).

The second draw was the nearby village of Stanton Drew, which is a sort of Avebury-esque complex of stone circles intertwined with a village, and that's where we headed after dinner. It was a lovely time of day to visit as it turned out - heading for sunset - and the stone circles were very atmospheric. Better still there's a pub in the village - The Druid's Arms - which has some of the stones in its beer garden. That was like a slice of heaven for me.

We returned to the hotel after that, and joked that actually we could have just gone back to London the next morning, and would actually have had a very nice holiday.

I also made a video of our visit to Stanton Drew:


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