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)
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Norie-san and Panachi
Lunch with Kyle and Hannah
Yoko-san back to Japan
Borough with Erika
Erika in Westminster
Erika meets Grandad
Back to the Row
Tibits and Hamleys
Erika's One Month Birthday
Team Lunch and a Pint with other Dads
Wandsworth Common and NCT Meetup
The Antelope etc
Hats, Erika at TGIF, and Japanese Curry
Chie's Mum Arrives
- Norie-san and Panachi
- [Wednesday 31st October 2012]
Chie's friend Norie-san and her daughter Panachi came to visit this afternoon. I thought I'd miss them but luckily they hung on for a bit so I was able to see them when I got home from work. As always when we have visitors Erika was very quiet - not necessarily a bad thing (!) and in particular being around other parents seems to relax her (or us?) a bit.
Having had quite a gripey spell for the last few days, Erika seemed to improve again from today onwards. I don't know if it was the calming influence of having Norie-san and Panachi (who apparently hardly ever cried as a baby), or jut that her stomach settled down a bit naturally. Either way it was a big relief!
- [Tuesday 30th October 2012]
Another difficult evening with Erika, and again much of it spent in the kitchen with various sources of white noise to try and calm her down. We also had lots of interruptions which may actually have helped in hindsight - both Mum and Vera and Robin phoned, and we also had a nice lady called Josephine who lives on the floor above ours, and comes round every year to sell poppies. We normally just have a quick chat at the door, but this year she actually popped in (if you'll pardon the pun) as she could hear the baby and wanted to come and meer Erika. Having been wailing just moments early, it was amazing how quickly Erika put on her best behaviour when a visitor arrived. Not sure why that is - maybe she just likes the distraction. Also a policewoman (one of the community support officers) poked her nose round the door as Josephine was leaving - apparently one of the neighbours had complained that their door had been knocked on at 4am the night before, and she wanted to know if we'd heard anything.
I have been quite worried that Erika's crying might have been disturbing the neighbours, so it was very reassuring that the next day Chie happened to bump into one of our immediate neighbours who appeared genuinely surprised to discover we had a baby, and apparently hadn't heard anything to date.
I made a sort of pasta dish this evening with borlotti beans and chestnut mushrooms for dinner this evening, which was fairly good.
- [Monday 29th October 2012]
Erika was hard work again this evening, pretty much constantly either crying or being on the verge of crying from the point I got home until pretty much when we went to bed - in fact she was still difficult until some time past midnight. The only thing that seemed to work today was pushing her back and forth in her buggy, in the kitchen, with the extractor fan on, and occasionally also the tap running. This felt quite ridiculous!
I made a sort of paella for dinner. I'm sure a Spanish person would reel in horror at the way I cooked it - a very slapdash approach to adding stock - but the end result wasn't bad.
- [Sunday 28th October 2012]
Decided to go to Hampstead in the afternoon, perhaps persuaded by a program we'd seen recently about people walking their dogs on the heath. It was my first time to be on the tube with Erika, although Chie had already donea trip with her and Yoko-san while she was here. She seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing.
On arrival in Hampstead we headed straight for the heath, and I quickly realised our buggy, with its fairly small wheels, probably wasn't very well suited to going "off road". I'd forgotten a lot of the paths over the heath are just earth and rocks, and not tarmac. So it was a bit of a bumpy ride, but Erika didn't seem to mind too much.
We headed back to civilisation up Downshire Hill, and did a bit of shopping along Rosslyn Hill / Hampstead High Street. It was a bit after 3 at this point, and we thought we might try our luck at the Holly Bush, thinking naively the lunchtime rush might have quietened down a bit. Of course that doesn't really hold on Sundays, and it was packed. We did initially manage to grab a table but then were told it was already spoken for, and so we left again a bit crestfallen. We were at a bit of a loss for what to do at this point, and started to be a bit concerned we needed to find a convenient spot to feed Erika, in the end we decided it might be best to just head home, and we just managed to get back in time before Erika started to cry. I still feel a bit self conscious about her crying in public places - particularly confined public places like the tube.
In the evening I carved a pumpkin - it seemed like the sort of thing one should do once one has children. It occurred to me I'd actually never done this before, at least not that I can remember.
Erika had slept through most of our outing to Hampstead this afternoon, but we paid the price for that this evening - she was pretty restless, frequent bouts of crying, and it seemed really hard to get her to relax.
- Lunch with Kyle and Hannah
- [Saturday 27th October 2012]
Kyle and Hannah invited us down to their place in Dulwich for lunch today so that Hannah could meet Erika (Kyle had already met her a couple of times at my office). So this was Erika's second time on a train, and her second time to go South of the river.
- [Friday 26th October 2012]
Made curry for dinner this evening - a jalfrezi with Quorn and cauliflower, and a couple of the usual side dishes - saag aloo and dal.
- [Thursday 25th October 2012]
A couple of Chie's friends came to visit early this evening, so I had a chance for a quick pint after work with some people from the office - we went to the Grenadier.
On the way back I went by way of Oliveto to pick up some pizza for dinner.
- [Wednesday 24th October]
- Yoko-san back to Japan
- [Tuesday 23rd October 2012]
Yoko-san flew back to Japan this afternoon.
- Goodbye Yoko-san
- [Monday 22nd October 2012]
Went out for tapas this evening, as a goodbye dinner for Yoko-san who'd be flying back to Japan the next day.
- Borough with Erika
- [Sunday 21st October 2012]
Borough Market, the George Inn, the Tate Modern, the Tate to Tate boat, and the Tate Britain.
- Erika in Westminster
- [Saturday 20th October 2012]
Erika's first visit to the Regency Cafe, followed by a walk through the grounds og Westminster Abbey, and then a stroll through St. James's Park to Buckingham Palace.
- [Friday 19th October 2012]
Erika came to my office for lunch.
- [Thursday 18th October 2012]
I had the evening off from parenting duties and went for a few drinks with some of the chaps in Mayfair.
- Wedding Anniversary
- [Wednesday 17th October 2012]
Mum came to visit Erika again in the afternoon, and me and Chie went to Wiltons in the evening to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
- [Tuesday 16th October 2012]
- [Monday 15th October 2012]
- [Sunday 14th October 2012]
Fairly quiet and unventful day, and I had a few hours to myself in the afternoon to take a stroll to St. James's.
- Erika meets Grandad
- [Saturday 13th October 2012]
Dad had been quite busy with the final slog of his house moving marathon the past few weeks, so this was the first chance he'd had to come and meet baby Erika. I thought it would also be a good opportunity to give Chie and Yoko-san the afternoon off, so shortly after Dad arrived the girls went out for lunch, leaving me and Dad to look after the baby.
We took her out for a walk around the gardens, picked up a loaf of bread, and then cobbled together a rather basic but surprisingly nice lunch - a bowl of soup, some bread, cheese and chutneys, and accompanied with a glass of cider. This we ate while Erika slept on her Grandad's arm. It was rather lovely.
It was the first time Chie had really gone out properly and left me with Erika - so she's effectively been nose to the grindstone 24 hours a day for the last month. I thought it was really important she had some time to take a breather and just do something fun. It actually worked really well - Chie left behind a couple of bottles of milk, and Erika doesn't seem to mind too much being bottle fed now and again. I felt rather proud of being able to take complete charge of the baby for a few hours, although of course it was nice to have the moral support on hand!
Dad couldn't stay very long, so just before 3 Erika and I walked with him to the bus stop (the tube wasn't running today) and waved him off. It was a flying visit but having the opportunity to spend the time together with just the three of us was really lovely.
- Back to the Row
- [Friday 12th October 2012]
I'd taken my suit back to my tailor to be adjusted last week and this morning got the call that it was ready for collection. So I left the office a bit early at the end of the day today to go and pick it up. It is always a treat going into Norton and Sons, and as an added bonus they didn't charge me anything for this first alteration. It definitely looked a bit neater - the jacket had a slightly better shape to it, and the trousers fit better too.
I decided to keep it on when I left Norton and Sons, and went for a stroll through Mayfair just to enjoy it for a bit - I suppose this is the equivalent of taking your car for a spin after an MOT. Or something like that. As it was still very early in the evening and I wasn't expected home any time soon I decided to pop in to Claridge's Bar for a drink - as I'd done when I first picked the suit up. Dennis, the barman, made a very respectable Negroni. I didn't stay long but really enjoyed the brief emersion into a world of glamorously dressed people, particularly with the added benefit of feeling like I was contributing to that atmosphere.
Headed home after that, and after a few photos in my newly adjusted suit with Erika, I changed into more run of the mill clothes, as I was then headed for the very down to earth fish and chip shop round the corner to get dinner. Quite a contrast really. When I got back though Erika was somewhat unsettled, and so I took charge of baby to let Chie and Yoko-san eat. Later on I had a few cold soggy chips and realised I'd lost my appetite. Ho, hum.
- Tibits and Hamleys
- [Thursday 11th October 2012]
Chie and Yoko-san took Erika to the Japanese embassy this morning to apply for her Japanese birth certificate. It was a somewhat more bureaucratic process than getting her English birth certificate (which had taken about 15 minutes at Chelsea town hall) - they wanted forms filled in triplicate and even wanted to know the exact time she was born at!
After they'd finished, I popped out from the office for lunch to meet up with them, and together we went for lunch at Tibits. It turns out to be quite baby friendly - there's a changing room downstairs which came in quite handy. I also got to feed her for the second time while we were there, which was rather lovely too.
After Tibits we took Erika for her first ever visit to Hamley's, as we wanted to look at playmats. It turns out they actually didn't have very many, and Erika slept through the whole thing anyway - but not to worry, I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities to take her here when she's a bit older!
In the evening Chie and her Mum made a sort of pot au feu for dinner.
- Erika's One Month Birthday
- [Wednesday 10th October 2012]
Erika was one month old today!
I popped back home at lunchtime in time to go along with her to the baby clinic - she now weighs 4.64 kilos. That's a 32.5% gain in her first month.
Chie made parsley pesto - as we'd seen on Nigellissima earlier in the week - which we had with linguini for dinner.
- Team Lunch and a Pint with other Dads
- [Tuesday 9th October 2012]
Tempted a few people from the office out for an impromptu team lunch at an Italian restaurant called Il Posto. I'd seen it a number of times, close to Victoria station, but had always dismissed it as being probably a bit naff - particularly given its location between the two theatres around Victoria. Recently though I'd read a couple of reviews which suggested it might not be that bad so thought I'd give it a go. It certainly wasn't haute cuisine (or whatever the Italian for that is) but it was decent enough.
In the evening I went out for a pint with a couple of the other Dads from the NCT course. I had a pleasant time, but some miscommunication between me and Chie about what time I was supposed to be home by led to some amount of consternation on my return home. Ho, hum.
- [Monday 8th October 2012]
Went out for a burrito at lunch, apparently today was the two year anniversary of my favourite burrito place (Picante Mexican Grill), and so they were offering a pound off their burritos. Good timing!
I realise this is the first day since Erika was born we didn't take a photo of her! I rather regret that in hindsight, but I think she was probably being a bit of a handful when I got back from work this evening and we didn't really have much in the way of quiet peaceful moments to take a picture.
Chie's Mum and Chie collaborated on the cooking this evening, and made a sort of nabe.
- Wandsworth Common and NCT Meetup
- [Sunday 7th October 2012]
Went to meet Chie's friend Daniel near Wandsworth Common in the afternoon, partly just so that he (and his family) could meet Erika, but also because they wanted to give us some baby clothes. This was Erika's first time to be on a train, and first time to go South of the river! I had rather liked the idea of my little princess never leaving zone 1, but I suppose that couldn't last forever. Wandsworth Common was actually quite pleasant for a stroll across, and there seemed to be about a thousand other people with babies there.
On the way back we stopped off in Victoria, to go to our NCT reunion. This was a chance to meet most of the people who had been on our antenatal course, and most importantly their babies. Of course, everyone thinks their baby is the cutest, but I was rather flattered by proxy by how many people told us what a pretty little girl Erika is. I of course agree wholeheartedly.
Back at home in the evening Chie's Mum made okonomiyaki for dinner.
- The Antelope etc
- [Saturday 6th October 2012]
After a quiet morning indoors the four os us set out for the afternoon just after midday, on foot (+buggy), in the direction of Sloane Square. Stopped off briefly at the Pimlico Road farmer's market to buy a few bits and pieces, including some giant green beef tomatoes.
Did a bit of shopping in Peter Jones and Boots but the main highlight of our outing was definitely lunch at the Antelope - Erika's second time to visit a pub, and coincidentally a Fuller's pub again. We sat in the back, she was very well behaved, and it was lovely and peaceful.
We used the bus on the way back, and once back in Pimlico I headed to the tailor from whom I'd ordered a pair of trousers this time last week to try them on. I had gotten over the crisis of confidence they'd cause me to have last week, and just put it down to bitterness on their part and/or a straightforward difference of opinion that they were so rude about my favourite suit. The trousers would need some further adjustment so I agreed to pop back again a week later.
After that I headed to the Middle Eastern shop round the corner from where we live to buy some things for dinner - I'd decided to make Lebanese food tonight, which is something Chie's Mum hadn't really had much before. It seemed to go down rather well.
- Hats, Erika at TGIF, and Japanese Curry
- [Friday 5th October 2012]
I organised a meeting today at the office and stipulated that all participants wear hats. No particular reason other than to liven up what might otherwise have been a rather dull meeting - but I'm pleased to say this odd tactic was a huge success.
Chie, Yoko-san and Erika came to meet me for TGIF at the end of the day today - this was the first time for her to visit my office and it was really lovely to introduce her to some of my friends at work.
Back at home in the evening Chie made Japanese curry for dinner, which was rather nice.
- [Thursday 4th October 2012]
First time to feed Erika with a bottle today - an important step forward in giving her Mum a bit more freedom!
- [Wednesday 3rd October 2012]
I made a lasagne for dinner for me, Chie and Yoko-san. It seemed to be quite well received.
- Chie's Mum Arrives
- [Tuesday 2nd October 2012]
I took the day off work today. In the morning I had a rather lovely time of gentleman's errands in Mayfair and St. James's. As this involved going to see my tailor I wore my suit which made it all the more pleasant.
First I went to the famous Geo F. Trumper on Curzon Street in Mayfair for a hair cut. It has a lovely traditional interior and a nice lady called Bett did, I think, a very good job of giving me an unfussy chap's hair cut.
Next, I popped into Fortnum and Mason for a brief visit to their wine and spirits department, as I wanted to buy a little thank you present for my tailor.
After that, to Savile Row, where I had a midday appointment with Stephen, the head cutter at Norton and Sons. Following last Saturday's rather upsetting commentary from the tailors in Pimlico (who I increasingly suspect just don't know what they're talking about) I thought it was now long overdue to take my suit back for a check-up. I've had it a year now. When I'd first picked ut up last September Stephen had asked me to pop back in after the first few times I'd worn it to see if it needed any tweaks or adjustments. I'd somehow never quite got around to that, and so this seemed like a good opportunity to rectify that. Stephen was very pleasant to talk to as always, and I also spotted style icon Patrick Grant whilst in there - who I noted was wearing a T-shirt (he apologised for this too). It turns out I've actually lost a little bit of weight in the last year, so they're actually going to bring the jacket and the trousers in a bit. Anyway I felt reassured by all of this and finally ready to put the unpleasantness of last Saturday behind me.
My last errand before heading home was to pick up some sushi for lunch from the Japan Centre.
In the afternoon I headed back out again to go and meet Chie's Mum at the airport - she'd be staying with us for the next three weeks. I got the tube on the way there, but as she had some bulky luggage I'd booked a taxi for the return trip with Green Tomato Cars. We pretty much never get taxis to or from the airport, and whilst it obviously seemed quite expensive compared to public transport, I think it was a fair bit less than getting a black cab, and the service was really quite good - and not having to manhandle heavy luggage was a big plus. It was also quicker than I thought - I think we left Heathrow at 5, and we were in Pimlico by 5:45. Surprisingly the traffic wasn't that bad.
After a few quick photo opportunities I dashed out again, Chie had given me permission to go out for a couple of evenings while her Mum was her, and as various of my friends were going to be away over the next couple of weeks, tonight was actually the best chance to see a couple of them. So I got on the tube and headed to Holborn, from where, after a brief stop off in the Princess Louise I headed to the Seven Stars to meet up with Kyle and Al. It turns out Kyle had got engaged last week, so whilst there we also popped a couple of corks and toasted to his future happiness etc.
Didn't stay out particularly late, was back well before 10.
- [Monday 1st October 2012]
I made tapas for dinner tonight, similar to when I'd been on paternity leave. It turned out rather well again.
Erika still has bouts of being quite unsettled, and crying between feeds which is almost certainly a bit of wind/colic/gripe/whatever you want to call it. The major recent innovation we've found is that she's soothed by the sound of the shower. In fact sometimes it stops her crying immediately. I assume this somehow reminds her of being in the womb, but it is a bit bizarre! On the downside I feel a bit bad about wasting all that water, but alas it seems recordings don't have quite the same effect.
- [Monday 1st October]