Lara Ruffle Coles

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Open House 2014

Better late than never as always… here are the photos from Open House London 2014:

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Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JY
We spent hours here, such an amazing artistic and historic place to visit, plus there is a cafΓ© and an American diner! See London, the Leamouth and the river from a different and fantastic angle.

Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commercial Road, E14 7HA
Victorian built former town hall, fairly drab and a bit dirty when we visited two years ago, but full of potential – it could be an amazing events space and wedding venue if the trust running the building were given a wodge of cash. Sits next to a pretty churchyard.

Half Moon Theatre, 43 White Horse Road, E1 0ND
Formerly the Limehouse Board of Works, the building’s exterior has been beautifully restored and the building itself is the current home of youth theatre group Half Moon.

20 Winkley Street, E2 6PT
Three storey home in Bethnal Green, always good to nosy round someone’s architectural dream.

Argentine Ambassador’s Residence, 65 Brook Street, W1K 4AH
No interior photos allowed, but plenty of ‘Islas Malvinas’ information on display. The elegant building itself was completed by Thomas Cubitt in 1851 with additions by Mayhew & Knight in 1859, and it sits on the corner of Belgravia Square near many other embassies.

Chandos House, 2 Queen Anne Street, W1G 9LQ
Royal Society of Medicine owned building built in the 18th century by Robert Adam, situated in Marylebone, the house is available for hire for weddings and events.

Regent Street Block W4, 10 New Burlington Street, W1S 3BF
We missed the last tour of this new building on Regent Street (near the Oxford Circus end), but we were able to walk around the beautifully designed lobby which featured a mirrored art piece that seemed to fade in and out of its surroundings – gorgeous.

The College of Optometrists, 42 Craven Street, WC2N 5NG
Just up the road from the huge queue for Benjamin Franklin House… the equally splendid but pokey Georgian home of Optometrists was an enjoyable find. The museum inside was also great fun with lots of weird and wonderful spectacles and visual aids to cast your eye over (ha).

Cabbies Shelter, Embankment Place
Sixty or so of these tiny green shelters were built between 1875 and 1914 for Hansom cab drivers, they are still in use today but only thirteen remain – we squeezed into one for a look-see.

HM Treasury, Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ
Our last stop for 2014 was the stunning HM Treasury building, first constructed in 1898 to 1917 with a 2002 refurbishment. We started the tour in the new part of the building and finished the tour in the stunning 20th century circular courtyard.

The Secret Princess of Severndroog Castle at Greenwich and Docklands Festival

As well as 451, I also volunteered for The Secret Princess of Severndroog at the beginning of July – another show that was part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

The show is for small children (and big hearted adults), and the volunteers were tasked with escorting the four groups of children through the woods around Severndroog Castle, just off Shooters Hill.

Fairies Bramble, Dandelion, Bluebell and Ivy led the groups and told the assembled audience about all the magical creatures in the woods who had been trapped by the evil wizard, and how to battle him to free the princess. πŸ™‚

In the photo below, Dandelion and Bramble tell the children about the wishing tree, and invite them to write a message to the princess to cheer her up.

Each group then takes a slightly different route round the castle to meet different forest creatures – on my second shift I was lucky enough to go on the alternate route where we meet the princess’ mother. Here the children are meeting the vain and selfish prince and have to encourage him to not rescue the princess.

Next stop is a grumpy but good magician who was turned in a frog by the evil wizard. He has managed to turn himself partly back but still “ribbits” a lot! He helps the children with a spell and a defence word to scare the wizard away.

This forest creature swung her way down to the group on a harness and then taught us all two defence techniques to fight the wizard. If my memory is correct, we learnt a laughing pointing heckle, and a bum wiggling mooning motion!

Here in the rose garden we met a dancer and a singer both trapped in the wood, but the singer can’t speak anymore and can only communicate with her accordion. We learnt a line from a song to frighten the wizard.

After meeting the four forest dwellers, the group circles back to the castle itself to meet up with the other groups, and all the woodland creatures to rescue the princess. We meet the evil wizard as shown below, and recite our defence word and actions to scare him away. We succeed and everyone is released from the wood! Hurrah!

But we then have to persuade the princess to leave the castle as she is scared of leaving after so many years of being trapped. She is a bit of a whiny thing but we eventually succeed with our cheerful song (I didn’t manage to get any photos of the princess as Instagram doesn’t work so well from a distance of 63 feet).

The princess then comes down to thank us and we all sing our song again to finish the show.

Thank you to Look Left Look Right for a lovely show!

P.S. You can get married at the castle πŸ™‚

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Ankle Deep in Creekside Mud

On the 21st of June I finally got muddy in Deptford Creek with the Creekside Education Trust. The trust regularly runs walks for the general public, and for schools in the local area.

Each walk is organised for low tide as at high tide you would be swimming! You are armed with waders and a trusty stick to keep you upright, and after a briefing in the beautiful surrounds of the flower garden, you are then led down to the creek.

It is a bit smelly, but the pure joy of tramping about in mud soon wafts the aroma of the creek away.



The trust’s base of operations is situated next to the London Bridge to Greenwich Railway Viaduct between Greenwich and Deptford, and the access path to the creek leads you to exact spot where the railway line crosses Deptford Creek.

The bridge itself was modified in 1954 to include a lifting mechanism that allowed boats with tall masts to pass up the creek. The mechanism is now defunct but luckily for us it is safe from removal, and can still be viewed at close proximity from the Ha’Penny Hatch footbridge.

We headed upstream away from the mouth of the Thames, towards the first DLR bridge over the creek. This bit of the DLR crosses the creek three times between Deptford Bridge and Greenwich.

View upstream towards The Art in Perpetuity Trust and Creekside Artists.

Third DLR bridge over the creek with a view towards the boats permanently moored and lived on in the creek.

My beautiful waders protecting me from the sludge and mud.

A little further upstream we cross the creek at a small weir, and we were carefully aided by the volunteers on the slippy bit!

Now renovated flats, the S. P. & C. Mumford Grain Silo was built in 1897 by architect Sir Aston Webb.



A dead crab shell found by our guide, a brief discussion on the creek’s biodiversity followed, plus a bad joke from me…

Guide: How do you check if a crab is male or female?
Me: Check if it has a willy

Cue many laughs and childish giggles. πŸ˜€

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Just after the dead crab, we reached the weir at the top of the creek, the weir pushes the water underground as it crosses the A2. Once it resurfaces on the other side it is known as River Ravensbourne, and at Lewisham it joins with another tributary – the River Quaggy.

We then made our way back to the start of the walk to catch some river creatures. You grind the river dirt under your feet to move it about, then see what appears in your net.

View towards the trust’s wild flower garden.

We also walked under the rail bridge and headed towards Trinity Laban‘s dance centre.

View south towards Deptford and Lewisham.

Thank you for an excellent Sunday in the bright sunshine!

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Formed in 1999, the trust’s mission is to “work with the local and wider community to sustain and promote the regeneration of Deptford Creek through education, conservation and the forging of partnerships. The trust also aims to act as a voice for nature conservation and biodiversity in the area.”

The centre itself mainly runs on a volunteer basis and more help is always welcomed, if you would like to get involved with this wonderful organisation please click here.

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451 at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Now over for 2015, this year’s Greenwich and Docklands International Festival featured a fully immersive interactive piece called 451.

Based on the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, the Periplum created performance was performed in Bethnal Green Gardens on Saturday the 27th of June.

451 focuses a number of citizens who are rebelling against the state sponsored destruction of literature, and on the fireman Montag, a initially loyal citizen who is employed to burn books.

Citizens are hunted, captured, electrocuted, shot at and burned alive in their quest for the right to read. Montag begins to question the status quo and we follow him as he tries to break free from his regimented existence.

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I applied to be a volunteer at this year’s festival, and when my role allocation came through I was on the list as a performance assistant for 451. I wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for but I was excited to be part of a performance that wasn’t singing related.

The ten strong team met on the Friday before the performance for a five hour rehearsal with the actors and performers. We blocked through the whole show a number of times before a dress rehearsal at 10pm. We did the same on Saturday prior to the show.

The performance assistants had a two-fold role, we needed to protect the audience from the fast moving segways that ran through the audience, but also had to play balaclava wearing fireman who blew whistles repeatedly and had to encourage the audience to burn books!

We also silently and slightly creepily gave out pages of banned booked to the audience as they arrived as part of the pre-show. Trying to stay stern faced whilst lots of polite English people said “thank you very much” was a fun experience.

It was quite a lot to learn over the two rehearsal periods, but the joint effort of ten seemed to pull everyone in the right direction at the right time. A nerve-wracking experience, but definitely one where it kept the group on our toes – ideal for a evening performance with frame throwers and bombs exploding all around!

The actual performance was quite intense and it was over far quicker than I expected. It was very exhilarating and it was really fun to work together on something so dramatic with a group of strangers I had only met the day before. I would definitely do it again, and thank you very much to Periplum for making us feel so welcome and fully part of the team.

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As usual I dragged the husband to the show, here are a few of his scary and enchanting videos of the evening:


A fiddle solo starts the main show


On the hunt for rebellious citizens


Don’t forget to tweet and betray your fellow humans!

A stunningly beautiful end: not an overthrow of the government, but a statement on keeping burnt books alive with oral tradition – a role reversal from the time before the printing press.

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Horsie, Horsie Don’t You Stop

I’ve been meaning to document the horses that clip clop up my road for a few months now.

I finally managed to dash from kitchen to spare room with a phone and hit record just in time to see the tail end (ha!) of The King’s Troop doing their exercises.


Every time I’ve seen them it has been at least fifty horses clopping two by two up the hill, an amazing sight, an amazing sound – plus some poo.

The King’s Troop moved to Woolwich in 2012 after the lease on the original St John’s Wood Barracks wasn’t renewed. Not a bad thing for a part of south-east London that spends most of its time defending itself from accusations of being a bit shit and poor.

Personally, I feel there are some absolutely lovely spots in Woolwich – I did get married there after all, and a casual meander across Woolwich Common towards the barracks is a beautiful way to explore SE7 and SE18.

On another note, who remembers Horsie, Horsie Don’t You Stop? My Dad used sang it to me while he bounced me on his knee, and we used to change the last line to “Homebase bound” as we lived near the Catford Homebase at the times. Happy days eh! πŸ˜€


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Up On The Roof

“When this old world starts getting me down” I can climb up to my roof. πŸ™‚

It is an amazing sight, so much more amazing than these photos show… but at least it will give you a flavour, and you can listen to The Drifters at the same time.





















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Walking London

A few years ago my aunt Jeanette introduced me to Andrew Duncan’s Walking London, a guide book with thirty walks in the Greater London area. Originally published in 1991, the guide has been re-printed numerous times and the latest edition was released in 2010.

My 1997 edition was acquired from a pub in Limehouse after it was left there for a few weeks.

Each walk has a summary with length and duration specifics, a detailed map of the area to follow, a clear step by step description of the walk itself – including reference points and historical notes, and perhaps most importantly – information about the pubs en route!

To my shame, I’ve only done six of the walks, but I have plenty of time to complete the book before I fall apart in 40 years or so. So far I’ve completed the six listed below, and further down are some highlights from the two walks I have photos of.

β€’ Bankside and Southwark
β€’ Clerkenwell
β€’ Dulwich
β€’ Greenwich
β€’ Regent’s Park
β€’ Wapping to Limehouse

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Wapping to Limehouse

It was a freezing cold day in January 2009, and my poor newly acquired boyfriend was forced from his warm bed into the centre of London by heartless me.

This was one of the first things we did together as a couple and it was a fabulous walk, we even extended it to Greenwich with a short trip on the DLR to Island Gardens, before going through Greenwich foot tunnel, and then back on the DLR to my place in Lewisham.

The photos only show a small amount of what there is to see on this walk, I would really recommend it, such an amazing walk through so much history and architecture. It is also an area most tourists would never visit, so you will be in for a real treat if you have a nosy about. Plus, tons of pubs!

The walk starts at Tower Hill tube and the first point of interest is St Katherine’s Dock – where “we” looked for fish

Peace dove sculpture by Wendy Taylor, marking the lives lost in Wapping during the Blitz, Hermitage Wharf Riverside Memorial Garden

Up, close and personal with the river at one of the access points along Wapping High Street

Oodles of converted warehouse apartments around here, these ones are by Wapping Wall

Head down the Thames Path passageways on Narrow Street and you find wondrous views

After the end of the walk at Westferry, now in the Greenwich foot tunnel

The foot tunnel dome at night on the Greenwich side

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Dulwich

Last June, prior to an evening concert at All Saints Church, we finally did the Dulwich walk. One always puts off anything in London that requires you to travel across, instead of in or out, but we made it to West Dulwich station on a gloriously sunny day that screamed for a walk and a pub stop.

Dulwich is a curious spot in the middle of south London, it is a world of its own created by Elizabethan actor and charitable benefactor Edward Alleyn. Alleyn began acquiring land in Dulwich in 1605 and by 1619 was well underway with the building of the College of God’s Gift, now known as Dulwich College.

Alleyn’s goal was to educate orphaned boys and to provide almshouses for the poor, and due to the setting of his lands in mortmain, the charitable estate still exists today and has continued to give Dulwich its unique flavour for roughly 400 years.

First stop on the walk is the New College buildings of Dulwich College (1866–70), designed by Charles Barry Jr., “a building of red brick and white stone, designed in a hybrid of Palladian and Gothic styles”.

You don’t have to pay a toll now, but watch the width restriction!

Heading south on College Road towards Sydenham Hill station

Enjoying a Pimms in the garden at The Wood House

Fake ruins in Sydenham Hill Wood

The beautiful path that is Cox’s Walk, and just before this spot you pass over a disused railway line last used in 1954, the Nunhead to Crystal Palace (Higher Level) railway line

Dulwich Park, we were too late to go on the boating pond unfortunately

Looking towards Dulwich Village from the steps of Christ’s Chapel

One of the beautiful houses of Dulwich Village

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To summarise, buy this book! I’m only hinting at the contents in this blog post, the book is simply packed with information, it is a slice of historical heaven for any London lover.

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Mr and Mrs Ruffle Coles

Got married. πŸ˜€

12.12.14

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Open House 2013

Hello all, the dark days are here again, and we’ve not even put the clocks back!

So, after a couple of sad posts it is time to brighten up my home page again. I bring you, after a long delay, photos from Open House 2013!

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Trinity Hospital, Highbridge, SE10 9PS
This is a very beautiful 17th century building on the riverside in Greenwich, it has self contained apartments for retired men and women, and is built round a square courtyard with water fountain. You can access the front entrance using the Thames Path.

The Master Shipwright’s House, Watergate Street, SE8 3JF
Hiding from the world in Deptford is the only building left from Henry VIII’s Royal Dockyard. This private dwelling dates from 1708 and is well worth a nosy about, the river views are excellent as well.

Lloyds’s Register Group, 71 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 4BS
Enter on the modern side of the building, exit on the old side! This building is an excellent joining of old and new, a very dramatic modern entrance greets you, and an elegant and sumptuous interior takes you out of the building.

Unilever House, 100 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y ODY
Access to this grand riverside building was sadly limited to the entrance lobby, but the height and space in the atrium made the short visit worthwhile. An interesting art installation is hung in the space as well.

City Of London School, Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 3AL
This fantastic 1987 concrete and glass school sits on the river in The City and has glorious views of the surrounding area. Visitors are given access to much of the school and it is well worth a visit to see some excellent modern architecture.

Tower Bridge Exhibition, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP
An outstanding feat of Victorian engineering and an excellent attraction – we were able to cross the gantries for superb views and visit the museum showcasing the engines that used to open and close the bridge. Good timing was also had as the bridge opened and closed as we were leaving.

Tower Bridge House, St Katherine’s Way, E1W 1AA
From outside, this glass covered building looks fairly generic, but inside, the open lobby space has a ‘window’ towards The Tower of London and this creates a light and airy space. Once up high on the top floor you can see the effect even better – and you can spot the wildlife!

Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, EC4V 6EJ
Another of London’s livery companies, steeped in history etc etcetera. Nice panes of stained glass, full of dark wooden panelled rooms.

Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER
This is a visually brilliant space with bean bags dotted about for comfortable views of the painted ceiling and extravagant chandeliers. Here, Charles I walked his last steps before his execution, visit his throne and be overwhelmed.

Admiralty House, Ripley Courtyard, 26 Whitehall, SW1A 2DY
Sadly for me, photos aren’t allowed at this excellent building. The inside is beautifully restored with a beautiful double curved staircase and lovely flagstoned floors. Worth a visit but watch the queues, don’t get there too late.

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Open House 2012

After a very long wait here are some photos from Open House 2012, oops!

I didn’t take many photos that weekend as my old camera was on its last legs, only a couple of half decent shots and all my exterior photos of Strawberry Hill House were awful – not a happy photo week!

We visited the following places:

Strawberry Hill House
Stunning Georgian Gothic revival home built by Horace Walpole

Seager Distillery Tower
New development, enclosed viewing deck on the 27th floor, views to Greenwich, Deptford and the surrounding area

The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret
Go up some winding stairs for a fascinating looking into surgery and medicine back in the olden days

Jerwood Space
Arts rehearsal space in a former school, fabulous, enthusiastic tour with Jerwood Space director Richard Lee and child historian Imogen Lee

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