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:
- First Apple and Winemaking
Pewsey to Avebury
Pineapple and Pillow
Back to London
Saturday in Devon
Driving Down to Devon
Early Evening Stroll
The Black Friar
Bankside Beach and the George
Waner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
Monday in Cambridge
Sunday in Cambridge
Laphroaig and Macaroni Cheese
Sunday at Home
Girls Back from Japan
Musar on the Heath
Back to London
Saturday in Sussex
Arriving at the Tower
Musar Jeune 2018
More Terrible Haircut
Sunday Roast and Terrible Haircut
Curry and the Heath
- First Apple and Winemaking
- [Monday 28th September 2020]
Although technically we had already taken the first apple of this season from the tree the weekend before last (to make a token contribution to the batch of cider we helped to make while visiting Dad in Devon), today we picked the first one to actually eat. It's always quite a nice turning point of the year, and this year, having left it a bit later than usual, the apples were a bit redder than they had been previously. They're not a particularly strongly flavoured apple (the variety is red falstaff) but they obviously taste extremely fresh.
In a similar autumnal theme, we also started the process of winemaking this evening with this year's grape harvest. We had about two kilos of grapes this year, which hopefully is going to translate to at least a bottle of wine, perhaps two. Chie helped out with the destemming, and Erika helped out with the pressing (done with a potato masher) so it was a nice family activity. I don't have particularly high hopes for the wine itself - I didn't even try the end result from when I attempted this the year before last - but more want to go through the process to understand it better. Who knows though, maybe I might inadvertently make something drinkable this time round.
- [Sunday 27th September 2020]
Harvested the grapes from my vines today.
- Pewsey to Avebury
- [Saturday 26th September 2020]
Went for a walk today, from Pewsey to Avebury: via Wilcot, Pewsey Downs, East Kennet, West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill.
Read more on John Goes For a Walk.
- Pineapple and Pillow
- [Friday 25th September 2020]
Braved the Pineapple for lunch (at Chie's insistence I might add). Later on my new inflatable camping pillow arrived.
- [Thursday 24th September 2020]
Not much to report, other than had some of Dad's excellent cider this evening.
- [Wednesday 23rd September 2020]
Made (in my opinion) a very nice dinner involving stuffed courgettes and stuffed cabbage leaves. After dinner I took a jam jar full of Gevrey Chambertin to drink on Hampstead Heath.
- [Tuesday 22nd September]
- [Monday 21st September 2020]
Erika had a dentist appointment after school near Belgravia, so we decided to go to Oliveto for dinner. Followed of course by gelato from Olivogelo.
- Back to London
- [Sunday 20th September 2020]
Had a parting picnic at Castle Neroche in the Blackdown Hills on the way back to London.
- Saturday in Devon
- [Saturday 19th September 2020]
Made cider in the morning. Afternoon in Teignmouth, then back to Dad's house for a barbecue for dinner, followed by me and Erika camping out in the garden.
- Driving Down to Devon
- [Friday 18th September 2020]
Drove down to Devon after school this evening - took in excess of five hours but we were treated to glorious views of the sun setting around Stonehenge.
- [Thursday 17th September 2020]
More of the same.
- [Wednesday 16th September]
- [Tuesday 15th September 2020]
Odds and ends and the usual grape pictures.
- [Monday 14th September 2020]
Erika had been given a kit for decorating "slapbands" for her birthday, and this evening spent some time doing so.
- [Sunday 13th September 2020]
Spent most of the day either in our garden or the garden of our local friends. The Dad of the other family was on the eve of a significant birthday, which alas he couldn't really celebrate properly given the current circumstances, so we took round a bottle of wine to compensate.
- [Saturday 12th September 2020]
Took Brix readings to test the level of sugar in the grapes on the vines in the garden with my refractometer today. Later on a stroll to Hampstead Heath.
- Birthday Playdate
- [Friday 11th September 2020]
Instead of a birthday party this year (and in addition to last week's outing to Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour) Erika just invited a couple of friends from school over for an afternoon playdate, after school finished.
Overall this seemed to go pretty well - and the three of them played very nicely together the whole time. The only disappointment for me personally was that I made macaroni cheese for dinner - which after checking with both sets of parents is apparently something both kids like (as does Erika) - but although Erika had seconds, the other two kids didn't finish theirs, and one of them only seemed to have a mouthful. A bit frustrating really, as it wasn't as though I tried to give them anything weird or unusual. Oh well!
- Erika's Birthday
- [Thursday 10th September 2020]
Given the current circumstances we weren't going to have a big birthday party for Erika this year, and as a testament to how grown up she is now, at eight years old, she seemed to completely understand. We'd gone to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour last week as a birthday outing, with just one friend, and also planned to have a couple of friends over tomorrow, but that was essentially it in terms of social gatherings.
To my surprise Erika also said she was happy to wait until she got back from school to open her presents today. I think she wanted to be able to take her time over it, so she just opened her cards in the morning.
After school she had an impromptu trip to a local ice cream shop with a couple of friends from her class, then when she got back she got stuck into her presents. It had been a bit difficult to decide what to get for her this year, because even when we had given up trying to guess and asked her directly a little while back she didn't seem sure. We eventually chose a Nintendo Switch, and when she opened it seemed very pleased with it, so that was good. I was personally delighted to see a Lego Harry Potter Knight Bus (from Uncle Adrian and family), and I look forward to building that with Erika. Also the little Korobokuru costumes, made by Grandma to fit on Champagne corks, with an accompanying story, were very cute.
Finished off the day with calls to Grandma and Grandad and then birthday cake just before bedtime. In a way, for us as parents at least, this was actually a really nice birthday - in the absence of having to plan and manage a big party we actually got to spend more time with Erika.
- [Wednesday 9th September]
- Early Evening Stroll
- [Tuesday 8th September 2020]
I went for an early evening stroll and some more Chateau Musar on Hampstead Heath.
- [Monday 7th September]
- The Black Friar
- [Sunday 6th September 2020]
Was lulled into a false sense of security by blue skies in the, and went back down to Blackfriars like I did on Friday for an al fresco pub lunch and stroll along the river, but the weather turned and it ended up quite chilly.
- [Saturday 5th September 2020]
A bit of a grey day and not much to report it seems.
- Bankside Beach and the George
- [Friday 4th September 2020]
We had a company wide day off work today. I probably should have got myself better organised and gone for a walk out in the country, but didn't really get my act together, so instead settled for a Thames side stroll along the "beach" at Bankside, followed by an excellent lunch in the courtyard of the beautiful George Inn.
- [Thursday 3rd September 2020]
I noticed veraison had started on my Cabernet Sauvignon vine today.
- Waner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour
- [Wednesday 2nd September 2020]
Took Erika and a friend to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios as an early birthday treat.
- [Tuesday 1st September 2020]
Back to work today for the first day of a very short working week - just two and a half days.
- Monday in Cambridge
- [Monday 31st August 2020]
Went punting in the morning, which thanks to careful planning on my part coincided exactly with the one spell of good weather during our trip to Cambridge. Lunch by the Cam after that, then got the train back to London in the afternoon.
- Sunday in Cambridge
- [Sunday 30th August 2020]
Arrived in Cambridge around lunchtime, had lunch at the market, then a wander round Cambridge in the afternoon including a visit to King's College Chapel.
- [Saturday 29th August 2020]
The Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend - just had a quiet day close to home ahead of our trip to Cambridge the following day.
- [Friday 28th August 2020]
Erika's friend came round for a morning playdate followed by lunch.
- Laphroaig and Macaroni Cheese
- [Thursday 27th August 2020]
Took delivery of a bottle of Laphroaig today. Also made a very successful macaroni cheese for dinner.
- [Wednesday 26th August 2020]
Bits and pieces.
- Trowel Sabrage
- [Tuesday 25th August 2020]
Did sabrage with a trowel.
- [Monday 24th August 2020]
Back to work for me, while Chie and Erika went off to a birthday party in the daytime. Just a few photos of the usual checks on progress of things in the garden.
- Sunday at Home
- [Sunday 23rd August 2020]
Spent the day at home, building things with the cushions from the sofa, cooked lunch out in the back garden, and in the afternoon tried out the new kakigori (crushed ice) machine.
- [Saturday 22nd August 2020]
Spent the day with Erika, trying to help her adjust to the timezone difference - went for a walk around Hampstead Heath with a friend of hers followed by an al fresco drink at The Vine.
- Girls Back from Japan
- [Friday 21st August 2020]
Chie and Erika returned from Japan today. I took the day off work, spent the morning cleaning the flat, and drove to Heathrow in the afternoon to pick them up.
- [Thursday 20th August]
- Wine Prongs
- [Wednesday 19th August 2020]
Tried out my new wine prongs on a bottle of 2000 Chatea Musar.
- [Tuesday 18th August]
- Musar on the Heath
- [Monday 17th August 2020]
Another evening spent on the heath with Jeremy and a bottle of Chateau Musar.
- Back to London
- [Sunday 16th August 2020]
Although I had the tower booked for three nights, after two mornings waking up to a shower basin full of woodlice I decided I'd probably had enough, and headed back to London.
- Saturday in Sussex
- [Saturday 15th August 2020]
Spent the day pottering about in the car in East Sussex, working my way through a list of things I wanted to do while in the area.
Started with breakfast on the beach at Seaford, then walked a little way along the coastal path to see the Seven Sisters (read more on John Goes For A Walk).
Next I popped into Rathfinny Estate and visited the shop plus took in the impressive views of one of England's biggest vineyards. After that, lunch at the Plough and Harrow in Litlington, followed by another walk to finally get a proper look at the Long Man of Wilmington (also on JGFAW).
Then another stroll along to Firle Beacon, followed by a visit to the pretty little village of Firle (also on JGFAW).
Headed back to the tower after that for dinner, and to spend the evening wine tasting and stargazing on the roof.
- Arriving at the Tower
- [Friday 14th August 2020]
I'd booked a weekend stay at Laughton Place, a 16th Century tower near Lewes, way back at the start of June, when I wasn't even sure if we'd be able to go there, and before Chie and Erika had booked their flights to spend most of the school summer holidays in Japan. I decided to keep the booking regardless (as surely I needed some kind of holiday this summer too?), and ended up staying there by myself.
So I picked up a Zipcar in the afternoon to drove down to Sussex. I had considered trying to do this trip just using public transport, but the tower is really quite remote - several miles walk from the nearest station, and it just didn't seem like it was going to be very practical without a car. The drive wasn't particularly fun, although did include the dubious highlight of going through the Blackwall tunnel for the first time which was interesting I suppose. It seemed to take ages, although according to my Google Maps timeline it was about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I suppose it did start to seem a bit less unpleasant once I'd got beyond the M25.
I stopped off at Middle Farm, which was quite close to the tower, to stock up on provisions and cider - probably the biggest selection of cider and perry of any shop in the country. Then spent the remainder of the day exploring in and around the tower.
- [Thursday 13th August]
- Musar Jeune 2018
- [Wednesday 12th August 2020]
Tried the first of the bottles from the Chatea Musar mixed case this evening - the Musar Jeune 2018.
- Chatea Musar
- [Tuesday 11th August 2020]
A mixed case of Chateau Musar arrived today.
- More Terrible Haircut
- [Monday 10th August 2020]
I had another go at trying to fix some of the damage from my terrible DIY haircut today. It still looked pretty awful.
- Sunday Roast and Terrible Haircut
- [Sunday 9th August 2020]
Went to a nearby pub for an al fresco Sunday roast. Later on I was suddenly gripped by a very ill advised urge to attempt to cut my own hair. It didn't end well.
- Granary Square
- [Saturday 8th August 2020]
Walked down to Granary Square and met Andrew there for a lunchtime al fresco beer as he was passing through St Pancras, then a late lunch at Rossopomodoro in Camden.
- [Friday 7th August 2020]
Not much to report, looks like I had a nice cold can of beer out in the garden after I finished work for the day.
- Curry and the Heath
- [Thursday 6th August 2020]
Ordered Indian food from the ever excellent Tiffin Tin for dinner. I had considered carrying it to the heath and eating it there, but in the end that seemed like too much faff, so instead I ate at home and then went for a stroll on the heath afterwards.
- Camden Hells
- [Wednesday 5th August 2020]
A case of Camden Hells arrived today.
- [Tuesday 4th August 2020]
A case of Nyetimber arrived today.
- [Monday 3rd August 2020]
Just a couple of photos of flowers in the garden.
- [Sunday 2nd August 2020]
Made by probably one and only visit to Frank's in Peckham of the summer this afternoon / early evening, with the usual suspects.
- Al Fresco
- [Saturday 1st August 2020]
Had a very al fresco day of dining and drinking. Got the Thameslink down to Blackfriars, then had a leisurely stroll from there to Belgravia, where I had lunch at Oliveto, thoroughly appreciating the new outdoor seating arrangements. Decided to walk back to Kentish Town, through Belgravia, via Hyde Park and Regents Park. On my return to Kentish Town I sat outside the Pineapple for a bit. Finally had a late dinner back at home, cooked out in the back garden.