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
- Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Washington to Amberley
Devil's Dyke to Washington
Lisbon to London
Cafes and Beach
Cabo da Roca and Sintra
Castelo de Sao Jorge and Bellem
Wandering around Lisbon
London to Lisbon
Chie Back From Japan
Bear and Wolf and Swimming
- Washington to Amberley
- [Saturday 3rd November 2018]
Chie and Erika had another party to go today, so I headed down to the South Downs once again for the sixth instalment of my bit-by-bit walk along the South Downs Way. This time I started where I had left off last time - Washington (so a train to Pulborough followed by a bus from there) to Amberley, which was the next train station along the route. This made for a relatively short walk, just over 6 miles, only a couple of hours of walking, but I'm a bit constrained by where there's public transport available.
On my previous walk I'd only seen a bit of Washington, pretty much just a (closed) pub and a bus stop, but today I got to see what I assume to be some of the older parts of the village, and it was actually quite nice. After getting off the bus around midday the first bit of my walk passed some pretty houses along a quiet back street leading to the church. I can see why Hilaire Belloc liked it here. I then crossed over the A24 on a footbridge, a much easier crossing with this northern option for this section of the South Downs Way, and passed through a bit of woodland, followed by a steepish climb before joining back up with the normal route of the South Downs Way having reached an altitude of 200 metres, which seems to be typical cruising altitude for many of the ridges along which the route follows. Lovely sprawling views from here on, which pretty much remained the case for the rest of today's walk.
Very nice weather today, sunny but not too hot for tweed, a bit of a breeze at times but nothing too serious.
Not really much else to say about the walk - it was just delightful for pretty much the whole way, although I was starting to get quite peckish by 1pm, and slightly wish I'd brought more along to eat with me than a bag of Jelly Tots.
I arrived at the Bridge Inn, Amberley, at just after 2pm, and hungrily devoured one of their halloumi burgers and a pint or two of Harverys. I then got the 3:15pm ish train back to London.
- [Friday 2nd November 2018]
Chie was working in the afternoon, so I picked Erika up from school. We initially headed for the playground but somehow en route decided to go to the Pineapple instead. Was nice to have an end-of-the-working-week drink and debriefing with Erika.
With it being Bonfire Night weekend I thought I ought to make some sort of effort on that front, although Erika isn't actually particularly keen on fireworks. I suggested to Erika that we could go to a child friendly timed fireworks event in Corams Fields this evening, but she didn't seem keen. So instead I surveyed our local shops to see if they might have any modest fireworks suitable for our little garden, and it seems none of them had any at all save for packets of sparklers. That probably was the best bet anyway, so I got a couple of packets of these, and we stood out in the back garden for a bit with them.
For dinner I made a mushroom risotto and some stuffed courgettes. I think I may have just gone off risotto, as I was pretty underwhelmed with the former dish, but the latter wasn't bad.
- [Thursday 1st November 2018]
Chie and I went to Diwana on Drummond Street for lunch today, haven't been for quite a while.
- [Wednesday 31st October 2018]
Took Erika out trick or treating, something she had been very excited about for the past few days. I have to say I thought people in the neighbourhood seemed to make a bit less effort than the year before, and there wasn't quite the same buzz in terms of number of decorated houses or people taking part in general. Still Erika seemed to enjoy herself regardless.
After we finished trick or treating we had a late dinner back at home, with the lights off and candles lit for atmosphere. Then after Erika's bed time I went to meet Ricardo in Little Venice for a decidedly non Halloween themed remainder of the evening, with a few pints at one of his local pubs.
- [Tuesday 30th October]
- [Monday 29th October]
- [Sunday 28th October 2018]
Another day which lacked planning. My original suggestion of heading out into the countryside for lunch at a country pub met with the compromise of a stroll across Hampstead Heath and lunch at one of the pubs around there. At Erika's insistence that then was further revised to lunch at the Assembly House in Kentish Town (not particularly close to Hampstead Heath), and ultimately the stroll across the heath was abandoned when Erika met up with a friend, and went to her place to carve pumpkins. I initially set out to the heath regardless, then was thwarted by a sudden downpour, and some amount of lethargy.
- Xi'an Cuisine
- [Saturday 27th October 2018]
We didn't really know what we wanted to do with ourselves today, so in the absence of any other plan I decided we should go and try another Xi'an cuisine restaurant, this time Xi'an Impression just off the Holloway Road.
- Devil's Dyke to Washington
- [Friday 26th October 2018]
I had spent much of the time in Lisbon thinking this is all probably very nice, but where I really wanted to be was back out on the South Downs walking. So, having booked this whole week off, I took advantage of my free time today while Chie and Erika were at a party to do exactly that, and pick up where I had left off last time.
As a slight hitch I discovered the buses from the centre of Brighton to the Devil's Dyke only run on weekends and bank holidays. So instead I had to take a taxi to get me to the starting point, but that was easy enough to arrange from Brighton station.
Having arrived last time at the Devil's Dyke on foot and almost immediately left again on the bus, I had thought I might linger a bit at the start this time to take in the views, or possibly even have lunch here on arrival, but instead I was itching to get going with the walk, so again barely stood still in this famous spot for more than a minute or two. I could enjoy the views while I was walking.
The "throngs" of people around the Devil's Dyke itself quickly seem to dissipate, and within 10 minutes or so I had a very gratifying sense of isolation and remoteness. It's a good place to start a walk in that it's already the top of the ridge - I didn't have much climbing to do on today's walk. It's a very pleasant continuum along the ridge top to Edburton Hill and then a gradual descent to the River Adur from there, with great views all along the way.
After crossing the A283 and the River Adur, I followed the South Downs Way through the tiny village of Botolphs, stopping to inspect a road side stall with an honesty box selling apples, although I didn't have the right change, and none of them looked quite good enough to persuade me to overpay, so I continued on empty handed.
Beyond Botolphs a climb, and through a particularly big and smelly pig farm, although the piglets were quite cute. A useful reminder that I have made the right choice in life in being vegetarian.
The next stretch - almost an hour - was a bit dull if I'm honest, the scenery was somehow a bit less appealing, somewhat flatter and a bit featureless.
However it improved again as I approached Chanctonbury Ring, a copse on a hilltop on the site of an old iron age fort, which apparently is known for paranormal activity, but to me just seemed a rather tranquil and picturesque spot. The late afternoon sky had a pleasing sort of depth to it around here, and the trees huddled together atop the hill helped this effect.
A little after that I descended into Washington, rather hoping I might be able to stop for a quick drink at the Frankland Arms before getting the bus to Pulborough, but was disappointed to find a note on the door saying it was closed for the forseeable future. There did appear to be some building work going on inside, so hopefully this means it is a temporary closure for refurbishment rather than a permanent loss.
So instead I just waited for the bus at the bus stop. I still managed to arrange a nice end to my afternoon's walk though - I had a bit of time in Pulborough before the next train back to London, so was able to buy a bottle of Nyetimber in the nice wine shop there, and a bag of chips from the chip shop next to the station, to recreate the lovely journey home we had after our vineyard tour at Nyetimber two years ago. Having also done something similar after visiting Nutbourne vineyard a year ago this is becoming something of a tradition!
- Lisbon to London
- [Thursday 25th October 2018]
Said our goodbyes at the apartment, then Chie, Erika and I fit in one last cafe / pastelaria - Versailles - on the way to the airport.
- Cafes and Beach
- [Wednesday 24th October 2018]
Went to a couple more cafes / pastelarias in the morning then went to the beach for the afternoon.
- Cabo da Roca and Sintra
- [Tuesday 23rd October 2018]
Fit rather a lot (maybe too much?) in today - first a visit to the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe. Then Sintra - the Quinta da Regaleira and the Castelo dos Mouros. Back to Lisbon for sunset drinks by the Tagus, then dinner. Later on in the evening Leon and I visited some quirky old bars in the city.
- Castelo de Sao Jorge and Bellem
- [Monday 22nd October 2018]
Visited Lisbon's castle in the morning, lunch in a tram car themed cafe, then in the afternoon took a tuk tuk to Bellem to see the famous tower and visit the place where the pastel de nata was invented.
- Wandering around Lisbon
- [Sunday 21st October 2018]
First full day in Lisbon, spent it having a wander around the city.
- London to Lisbon
- [Saturday 20th October 2018]
Flew to Lisbon, met Leon and family at Lisbon airport, took a big taxi to our apartment, and then in the evening went for dinner at Coelho da Rocha, which was probably the best meal of the trip.
- Ricardo's Birthday
- [Friday 19th October 2018]
At the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities.
- Chie Back From Japan
- [Thursday 18th October 2018]
Chie got back from Japan today. I went to the office for a change, and went to Temple of Camden for lunch.
- [Wednesday 17th October]
- Bear and Wolf and Swimming
- [Tuesday 16th October 2018]
Took Erika to Bear and Wolf for breakfast before school today, and then after school took Erika to her swimming lesson (not very successful) followed by dinner with one of her friends at our place.
- [Monday 15th October]
- Rainy Sunday
- [Sunday 14th October 2018]
Tried Sainsbury's new "Shroomdogs" for breakfast. Surprisingly good. Met one of Erika's friends for lunch at the Pineapple, then afterwards ice cream and a playdate at our place.
- Box Hill
- [Saturday 13th October 2018]
Took Erika to Box Hill to see her cousins.
- [Friday 12th October]