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
- John's Pictures
Main Index (text only)
- John's Travel
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Last Day at Work
Welcome Back Drinks
Pubs with Simon
Red Wine Stew
Regency Café and Michelle's Birthday
Lunch at Santini
Barbican / Smithfields / Farringdon Pub Crawl
A Varied Saturday
O Sole Mio
Shopping with Chie
North London Pub Crawl Number 2
Belgravia Pubs and Dining Al Fresco
Home Made Tapas
Goobye TV, Hello Maps
So it's June Already Then...
Dim Sum with Junchan
Sunny Saturday with Chie and Junchan
Junchan comes to London
Lunch with Andy and Chika-san
Sunday in Canterbury
Saturday in Canterbury
- Last Day at Work
- [Friday 26th June]
Last day at work before a much needed week long holiday!
- Welcome Back Drinks
- [Thursday 25th June]
You may remember from the start of this year that my former manager left the UK to go back to the US for chemotherapy. I'm delighted to report that he has responded very well to the treatment, and this week he was back in London - albeit only temporarily to settle up various loose ends - he has decided to move back to the US permanently. Still though it is great to see him again, looking buoyant and healthy and pretty much back to his old self.
When he'd originally left London he'd said one of the things he was looking forward to after he'd finished his treatment was going for a pint at the pub round the corner from the office with all the people he'd worked with here. So this evening we did just that - and what a lovely summer evening we managed to choose for the event.
- Pubs with Simon
- [Wednesday 24th June]
Simon came to London this evening, and I took him on a tour of some of my favourite London pubs (plus one I hadn't been to before). So we started off at the Princess Louise, from there went to the Old Nick, after that the Cittie of Yorke, and then Ye Old Mitre - before rounding the evening off with a dram at the whisky society.
- Red Wine Stew
- [Tuesday 23rd June]
Haven't made a good old red wine stew for a while, so decided to do that this evening. That's all really!
- [Monday 22nd June]
Not much to report. Chie went out with some people from work in the evening, and I stayed quite late at the office to try and get some stuff gone which required cooperation with people in California.
- Jude Law
- [Sunday 21st June]
Went to see Hamlet this afternoon. Chie had booked the tickets some time last year (!) because her favourite actor, Jude Law, was in it. I don't have a great track record of managing to sit all the way through plays, operas etc, but this wasn't too bad.
After it finished Chie wanted to go to the stage door to get an autograph. Funnily enough she wasn't the only person who'd had this idea (see the pictures!). I was a tad embarassed, but I suppose it was also quite fun.
- Regency Café and Michelle's Birthday
- [Saturday 20th June 2009]
Breakfast at the superb Regency Café and then the evening in Kent for Michelle's birthday.
- [Friday 19th June 2009]
Just one picture of tapas, our Friday evening meal at our favourite tapas bar - Goya.
- [Thursday 18th June 2009]
A couple of random pictures from my lunchtime outing, plus one of a nicely framed picture of local hero Sir Frederick Seager Hunt.
- Lunch at Santini
- [Wednesday 17th June 2009]
A couple of pictures of my rather lavish lunch at Santini in Belgravia.
- Barbican / Smithfields / Farringdon Pub Crawl
- [Tuesday 16th June 2009]
Just a couple of random pictures from a put of the moment pub crawl around Smithfields.
- Entry 1946
- Will fill this in later.
- [Sunday 14th June 2009]
A horrendously nerdy day, when we didn't leave the flat at all, and ordered in pizza for dinner.
- A Varied Saturday
- [Saturday 13th June]
Spent the morning working a bit more on my webapp, and then went out in the afternoon for one of our typical non-specific weekend days out in London.
Started off with lunch at Diwana on Drummond Street, they have a buffet there in the daytime it seems, and although I was a abit sceptical to begin with, it actually turned out to be very good.
From there we took a long meandering stroll in the direction of the whisky society. En route we made a couple of stop offs, the first of which was the Wellcome Collection near Euston, which had some very interesting (albeit a tad disturbing) exhibits. They had an exhibition of sketch pad drawings by the very talented Bobby Baker - a sort of mental health diary, which were quite fascinating.
We also took a stroll through Russell Square Gardens, and caught the tail end of the Hatton Gardens Jewellery Festival, before arriving at the SMWS for a very pleasant hour or so sipping some fine drams (a Caol Ila and a Laphroaig in my case and generally enjoying a nice peaceful sit down.
We went back home by way of the Japan Centre to buy things for dinner - all the usual tofu, kimchi etc - and a very nice meal it was too.
- [Friday 12th June]
Introducing LocTweet - my geotweeting app.
A lot of the content on Twitter relates to a particular location - particularly when posted from a mobile device - for some random examples just search Twitter for the name of a city, restaurant or perhaps a famous monument.
However to date there doesn't seem to be a convention for how to tag a tweet with information about the location it relates to.
It occurred to me today that probably the simplest thing would be to have some kind of hashtag, followed by a latitude and longitude pair, inline in the message. I considered some possible alternatives like #loc or #gps or #at, but after a bit of searching on Twitter I discovered there were already a handful of people using #ll (latitude and longitude) - presumably because of this page by @vladocar. The #ll tag was appealing - it was nice and short, and didn't seem to conflict with anything else in particular.
It's kind of awkward to generate those #ll tags though - to start with it meant zooming around on Google Maps and copying the latitude and longitude out of the URL. So Loctweet has three ways to help you do this:
1) If you click on "My location" loctweet will use Google Gears and/or the new HTML5 Geolocation API (available on iPhones with the 3.0 update and Firefox 3.5) to get your current location. It'll zoom the map there, and there's a handy text box above the map which will contain a hash tag for your current location.
2) Sometimes of course you might not want to use your current location (or maybe automatic location detection doesn't work for you) so you can still zoom around on the map to your heart's content to find a location you want to tweet about. Again, the text box above the map will update automatically to give the hash tag for the current central point of the map.
3) Thanks to the new local search control in the Google Maps API, you can also search for towns, cities, addresses, postal codes or places in the map - just as you would on Google Maps normally. It's in the bottom left hand corner of the map. Again, the hashtag above the map will be updated accordingly.
All of the above methods will update the text box with the hash tag in it. You can then either just copy and paste this, or try clicking the "Tweet from here!" link. This will open up twitter.com, and, assuming you were logged in, will start a new tweet for you with the hashtag in it. You can then enter the rest of your tweet as normal. It doesn't matter where the #ll tag appears in the tweet - start, middle or end, it's up to you.
In addition to that, Loctweet will show other people's geotweets on a map. It retrieves Tweets with the #ll tag from Twitter using Twitter's excellent search API, and caches them to avoid having to query Twitter too often. As you zoom around on the map, it'll show you the 50 most recent geotweets in the current area of the map you're looking at. It also auto-refreshes once a minute so you can see geotweets appearing in almost real time.
Geotweets don't have to just be about what you're doing right now in your current location. I setup a couple of example Twitter users to demonstrate this:
geotwag A series of interesting geotagged "factlets" about countries around the world.
moreliff A homage to Douglas Adams and John Lloyd's masterpiece The Meaning of Liff.
Have fun geotweeting!
- O Sole Mio
- [Thursday 11th June]
There's an Italian restaurant near where we live that Chie and I have often walked past and dismissed, assuming it to be somewhere just for the tourists (given that there are a lot of B&Bs very close by). However a while back I had read some reviews which suggested it wasn't actually all that bad, so we ought to give it a go. It turned out it wasn't actually that bad - I had a decent penne a l'arrabiata and then a mushroom pizza, nothing wrong with either, and it was all quite reasonably priced, so nothing to complain about. There were a lot of tourists in there, but I am one of the few people who lives in London and actually quite likes the tourists - it's always fun to try and work out what language people are speaking and so on.
- [Wednesday 10th June]
Was invited out for cocktails with a few people from work in the evening. Went to a cocktail bar not too far from the office which we've been to a couple of times before. Not much else to report really!
- [Tuesday 9th June]
Not much to report really, just a quiet night in. Made burgers for dinner.
- Another Operation...
- [Monday 8th June]
Went to the hospital to see the consultant who did my last operation, and he confirmed the suspicions I'd had that I was going to need another one. Was really rather depressed after this.
To compound matters the next one cannot be laparascopic (keyhole), it has to be done the old fashioned way with a big incision, which will mean a much longer recover period - more like 2 to 4 weeks. Last time I was back in the office within a week! Sigh...
- Shopping with Chie
- [Sunday 7th June]
Spent the afternoon out shopping with Chie in Chelsea, including a very late lunch at a surprisingly OK Italian cafe on the King's Road.
- North London Pub Crawl Number 2
- [Saturday 6th June]
A repeat of mine and Andy's previously very successful North London pub crawl, this time with Andy's friend Michael in tow.
See the pictures for a fuller account of the day's proceedings!
- [Friday 5th June]
I left the office at a reasonable time today, thinking that I hadn't cooked dinner for Chie much recently, and it would be nice to get home relatively early to try and have something ready by the time she got back from work. So I went by way of the supermarket and the minute I got through the door I set about peeling potatoes etc.
Owing to a bit of miscommunication though, I hadn't realised that Chie was going out this evening, which was compounded by the fact that her phone had died.
Eventually I re-read my work email and found a one line mention that she was going out with a friend, and apparently she had also mentioned it the previous evening (I guess I'd somehow failed to hear her).
Luckily I hadn't got much further with dinner than to sautée some little cubed potatoes, so I guess it wasn't a big waste.
Ho hum. So that was my evening really.
- Belgravia Pubs and Dining Al Fresco
- [Thursday 4th June]
My friend Andy popped in for lunch at my office today, along with his friend Michael, who was visiting from Germany. It was still reasonably good weather in the daytime, and we sat out on the balcony to eat, which was really rather nice. Michael particularly seemed to like it, mentioning that he usually had a sandwich in front of his computer where he worked - a perfect setup for me to reel out the now well worn "Dining Al Desko" gag.
A couple of guys from my former (!) project were over from our California office this week. Although one of the guys was here in London for the first time, and I didn't know him so well, the other was here on something like his fifth or sixth visit, and it was something of a tradition that we'd go out for drinks and/or dinner at least one evening each time he was here.
We decided to make the arrangements easier (and to save the usual awkwardness of if/who/how much we should expense dinner) we'd just eat at the office before heading out. So after a quick and simple dinner we ventured out with a few other colleagues to the fine pubs that Belgravia has to offer.
I had originally hoped to get around all four of my favourites, but the complications of people arriving late, and then a requirement for some people to eat later on, meant that we only actually made it to two - The Horse and Groom and The Grenadier. Still that was nice enough. After that, needing to find a light bite to eat for one of our group (dinner 2 in my case) we headed into Knightsbridge and went to the Noura cafe there, where surprisingly it was still (just) warm enough to eat outside, even though it was 10pm by this point. That seemed to go down quite well, it's only a shame that the cafe is not licensed - as they also have a little deli attached to their cafe I had secretly hoped they might sell Chateau Musar at shop prices. Alas no.
- Home Made Tapas
- [Wednesday 3rd June]
Had a strange sort of a meal this evening - we haven't been shopping for a while, so instead just tried to throw something together from what was in the cupboards. So I made a Spanish omelette (a good way to do something with the single potato we had left) and a sort of Spanish sausage and bean stew (vegetarian sausages of course) - I've seen similar things in tapas restaurants. It was actually quite nice.
Not much else to report really!
- Goobye TV, Hello Maps
- [Tuesday 2nd June]
Finally got the official approval at work for my transfer to my new project. This seems to have been rather a long and drawn out process - I first mentioned that I wanted to move in March. Although I suppose in fairness most of that time went in trying to find something else to move to - it wasn't until about a month ago that I actually settled on something fairly concrete.
So this was good news, and finally the long awaited mail to all the other people on the project was sent out, so I think I can finally say it is all done and dusted. So it's goodbye TV, hello maps.
Despite this good news I was feeling a bit out of sorts in the evening. So I headed out from the office and went on one of my meandering strolls, this initially heading for Mayfair. I had remembered that there was a pub there I'd wanted to try out, and so I popped into The Audley. As the pubs.com description suggests, it was indeed a very well preserved Victorian pub with what I'd normally consider a very atractive interior, but I guess I just wasn't really in the mood today.
I then had a hankering for Japanese beer, and so after a couple of web/maps searches on my very useful Android phone I wandered from there to Soho, where I went to Bincho for an Asahi and a couple of things-on-sticks, which was quite nice. I think this is probably the closest I've yet found to a proper izakaya style bar in Japan - a lot of the other places in London that market themselves as izakaya seem to be more like restaurants - it appears to be expected that you're going to pretty much order a full meal. Whereas at Bincho it seemed to be quite normal to just order a drink and something snacky. Or maybe I did actually order a full meal and it was just that by my standards the portions were pretty minute!
- So it's June Already Then...
- [Monday 1st June]
Well we're almost half the way through 2009 already then! The other day it occurred to me this meant we only have just over half a year left of this decade - the rather non descript "noughties". It got me wondering how it'll be characterised in hindsight - in terms of things like music, fashion, technology etc. At the risk of sounding like a typical "nostalgia isn't as good as it used to be" type comment, it seems a bit hard to imagine people looking back on this decade with the same sort of affection or fascination that the 60s or 70s still seem to hold.
That said, think about the 80s - now they were shit weren't they? I'm already convinced this decade is vastly superior to that pitiful-dearth-of-anything-of-any-real-merit that was cruelly thrust upon us between 1979 and 1990.
That aside, not much to report on today.
- Dim Sum with Junchan
- [Sunday 31st May]
Went for dim sum at Royal China for lunch with Chie and Junchan, then a bit of a stroll in Marleybone after lunch, before Junchan headed off to the station.
- Sunny Saturday with Chie and Junchan
- [Saturday 30th May]
Had a very nice day out in London going to lots of parks (St. James's Park, Green Park and Hyde Park) while Junchan was visiting us for the weekend.
See pictures for more details!
- Junchan comes to London
- [Friday 29th May]
Our friend Junchan came to stay with us for the weekend from this evening.
We met up with her near to Victoria station, and from there we headed to Noura for dinner. The food was good as always, but I'm starting to come to the conclusion that it is overpriced for what it is - especially the wine list. A bottle of Chateau Musar 2000 was an outrageous £48 a bottle. It's a third of that in shops, and so I imagine the wholesale price is probably somewhere in the region of 1/5th of that. So I avoided that, and went for some other Bekaa Valley wine which was frankly a bit disappointing (expensive though it is, I do really like Chateau Musar).
After that I took Junchan on a short walking tour of Belgravia punctuated, of course, with some of it's fantastic little mews pubs. Although we only actually went into one of these - the Nag's Head.
- Leaving Drinks
- [Thursday 28th May]
I think the title of this should technically be "Transferring Drinks" but some how that sounds a bit odd.
Although the official announcement about me transferring projects hadn't yet been made, having moved desks this week my former team mates decided now would be the appropriate time to organise an evening out to say goodbye, which was very nice of them.
Owing to some slightly complex logistical issues, we actually started the evening at Euston, from where we headed to our first pub - The Marlborough Arms. The original plan for the evening was to head to Ye Old Mitre, and so all the other pubs we went to were effectively based on a meandering route between Euston and Holborn - number 2 was The Friend At Hand (which apparently has some connection to Peter Pan), followed by The Lamb Tavern on Lamb's Conduit Street, then the Dolphin on Red Lion Street, then the Cittie of Yorke (it would seem rude to walk past without at least popping in) before finally arriving at our destination - the Mitre.
Oh and then after that we also squeezed in a final wee dram at the whisky society.
A fun night out, and a very nice send off - thanks chaps!
- Don't Remember
- [Wednesday 27th May]
Nope, sorry! Writing this a week hence and don't remember anything about today!
- Moving Desks
- [Tuesday 26th May]
Back at work today after the long bank holiday weekend.
Although I'd already been effectively working on my new project for the last couple of weeks, I'd still been sitting in the same desk, surrounded by my old team. This seemed a bit non-optimal, so today I decided to move to sit nearer my new team. I know that doesn't really make for particularly exciting reading but it's another symbolic step on the way to what really represents quite a big career change for me.
Hmmm can't really remember much else about today (am writing this a week after the fact!).
- Lunch with Andy and Chika-san
- [Monday 25th May 2009]
Spent the bank holiday Monday having a leisurely lunch at Andy and Chika-san's place.
- Sunday in Canterbury
- [Sunday 24th May 2009]
Second day of our weekend in Canterbury.
- Saturday in Canterbury
- [Saturday 23rd May 2009]
First day of our weekend in Canterbury visiting Leon and Yukari.