Lara Ruffle Coles

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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. 😀

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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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Mike Jones Photography

Mike and I met at my old job back in 2007, and in his spare time he photographs everything and all. I’ve always loved his work, and so I asked him to be our wedding photographer.

We didn’t want traditional photos with lots of posing, just natural shots of people interacting. So that is what we did. 🙂

Here are a few shots from our wedding that I love:
































If you would like to contact Mike for a shoot of some kind, please contact him through his Flickr page.

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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.

• Bankside and Southwark
• Clerkenwell
• Dulwich
• Greenwich
• Regent’s Park
• 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. 😀

12.12.14

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Fay’s Heavenly Deli

The latest addition to Trafalgar Road’s eateries is Fay’s Heavenly Deli at 149 Trafalgar Road. I’ve been there twice now and have had two excellent cooked breakfasts and a lovely hot chocolate.

Run by Fay and her husband, the deli is open seven days a week and serves hot and cold food for breakfast, lunch and even dinner from time to time – see their Facebook page for full opening times.

The inside is warmly decorated with old wooden chairs and tables and there are plans to open up the downstairs to accommodate more customers.




And here is the lovely breakfast, £5 including a drink and fresh bread, lovely jubbly. 🙂

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Snowy Thames Path walk

Back in January us Londoners had a bit of proper snow and it was lovely. Also that month, stories appeared on the Interwebs declaring that the Thames Path by the Lovell’s development was to be opened after being shut for years (that is how it felt at least).

These two exciting events coincided with a visit from my aunt and uncle the weekend after the snow, so what better thing to do in freezing January than go for a walk to the O2! 🙂

It was also another opportunity to crack out the new shiny camera so here are some photos…

My favourite local, The Pelton Arms

An amazing sight! One can walk beside the river!





I spotted these wooly bollard hats two days earlier and found out they were the work of the Guerilla Knitters, Greenwich branch. Part of this walk turned into ‘spot the knitting’ which was quite enjoyable.







After the first knitting spots we came to Enderby’s Wharf which is supposed to be turning into a cruise liner terminal

Yes, I do cruelly force family members to pose for embarrassing photos





The east side of the Isle of Dogs is in the background

Morden Wharf with its awesome lettering



Spotted this great bit of work, I would imagine the Greenwich Industrial History Society were involved





Thwarted!

After walking the long way round we finally reached the O2 and went to Starbucks for a much needed hot drink!

We then went on the cable car but it was raining by that time and my photos are completely awful. It was fun though! Hooray for Boris’s dangleway!

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L’Artisan

French deli and cafe L’Artisan is one of my favourite ‘new’ finds. It isn’t particularly new to Trafalgar Road having been open since 2011, but it is new to my heart. :).

A friend of mine and her family were staying during the summer, and as Trafalgar Cafe isn’t open on a Sunday, I thought a French breakfast would be an excellent start to the day and a good excuse to finally visit this tiny but inviting deli.

We were in luck that day as there was just enough space for six of us plus a buggy. We took up half the shop but there was still space for another table of four.

Scrambled eggs, with mushrooms or ham and bacon, was the hot breakfast option and we were quickly served and seated with drinks whilst we waited for our breakfasts to be cooked. They all arrived about ten minutes later which was quite a reasonable wait time for five dishes.

My dish was the mushroom version and the mushrooms had been cooked in a creamy sauce which was absolutely divine. Also, the scrambled eggs were cooked perfectly – slightly runny and delicious. Heaven.

The ham and bacon version was enthusiastically eaten by my friend’s son and my my other half. A thumbs up all round and a slight pang of jealously from my other half because he wanted my mushroom and cream dish as well. :D.

The deli also sells French and Italian biscuits, conserves, cheese, meats and pasta as well as fresh baguettes, boules, croissants, pastries and tarts. Hot food and drinks can also be ordered to take out.

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Since visiting in the summer, the deli’s owner Joris Barbaray has sold L’Artisan to a local couple called Grace and Dustin Lauw. The Lauws are also French, hailing from Paris, but have been living in Greenwich for the past five years.

As regular customers at L’Artisan, they took an interest in running the deli when Barbaray decided to move on earlier this year. Speaking to Grace three weeks ago, she told me that Barbaray is to be a father and might be moving back to France to continue his cookery training. All good stuff. :).

Dustin has been working with Barbaray to learn all the dishes served at L’Artisan and to continue the business in the same way it has been run since last year. They do have plans for the deli but want to get everything in order for themselves before changing anything.

If you want to keep up to date with the amazing food at L’Artisan, do follow their Twitter account or like them on that there Facebook malarkey.

Good luck to Grace and Dustin, L’Artisan is a wonderful additional to my local high street. Hooray for the French!

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Little Pilates Studio



I’ve been attending various dance classes at Little Pilates Studio on Trafalgar Road for the past two months.

My favourite classes are Barre Fit and Zumba and I am really enjoying popping round the corner for a class after getting home from work. I used to do a lot of disco and contemporary dance at school but it has been a long time since I went to an exercise class!

Barre Fit incorporates elements of Ballet and Pilates and is more about stretching and toning than weight loss. Zumba on the other hand is fast, intense and you sweat a lot! However, both classes are great fun and I am enjoying improving my fitness little by little.

The two instructors I have been exercising with are really friendly and lead the classes really well. One of them is a bit of an exercise nutter and works you flat out but that is the point!

The studio offers a large variety of classes at different levels and classes are available all week at different times. Classes operate on a credits system so you only need to purchase credits to book and attend any class with 24 hours notice. Cool!

Discounted packages are also available and I signed up like a proper healthy person a few weeks back! :D.

So, if you don’t fancy the gym at The Arches or can’t be arsed with swimming either, go and dance and stretch and bend at Little Pilates!

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Bianco 43

In January I reviewed Bianco 43 Delivery, a new pizza delivery business in East Greenwich. Two months later one of the owners contacted me to offer me a free dinner for two at their restaurant in the centre of Greenwich to say thank you.

Obviously, I accepted. Free food?! What more could a girl want!

So, on a Tuesday night in March, the other half and I ventured into the tourist trap that is Greenwich town centre. Most of the restaurants around here are chains and the character of this area does suffer from bland and uninspiring food outlets. However, we still have the market (for now) and there are a number of independent restaurants that will hopefully stick around and encourage more locals to eat out.


On entering Bianco 43 I was impressed with the clean, fresh brightly painted interior. The scrubbed white wooden floor and pine tables gave the restaurant a wonderful mediterranean feel and the place felt homely instead of generic like Pizza Express.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the service immediately as we had to wait five minutes for our menus while the waiter chatted with various people. Most restaurants would give the menus to the customers as soon as they are seated, but in this case it did not happen which left me distracted and unable to relax. However, once our orders had been taken, our food and drink arrived quickly.

But, the waiter had got part of the order wrong and my boyfriend was given the pasta special instead of the pizza special he had requested. We decided not to say anything as we were having a free meal, but we had been looking forward to a pizza from the wood-fired oven. :s.

Hopefully he was just having a off night…


Sautéed fresh mussels with garlic and toasted focaccia bread, £7.90


Fried squid and courgettes served with tartare sauce, £8.90


Pappardelle with wild mushrooms and duck, £12.50


Pasta special, £13


Tiramisu, £4.90


Panna Cotta, £5.90

As to the food, it was very good and miles better than the takeaway we had eaten in January. The food was also served on beautiful mis-matched plates full of colour which added to the individual feel of the place. Everything arrived hot and perfectly cooked, and the portion sizes were just right. After three courses each we felt satisfied but not overly stuffed.

If Bianco 43 could shave a £1 or so off the starter and main prices I think they could bring in more passing customers as the Pizza Express across the road is undercutting Bianco 43 by a couple of pounds*. BUT, if you want really good Italian food then you should definitely choose Bianco 43 over Pizza Express’s yawn fest of food.

Thank you to Massimo for the excellent meal!

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*Since eating at Bianco 43 in March, a lunch offer has been introduced. All pizzas are £5.95, Monday to Friday until 4pm.

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Greenwich in 1986

Back in the dark days of the 1980s home videos were a bit of a rarity. Thankfully for us Ruffles we have some footage from 1986 showing my Mum and Dad, my brother and I and some of the extended family.


I asked my Dad to tell me how he came to film us and this is what he said:

“Do you remember Keith and Dawn Morley? They lived in Sandhurst Road, which is parallel to Glenfarg Road where we lived. In 1986 they fostered a young lad called Mark (aged about 16 or 17) whose mother had died unexpectedly.

Well, Mark rashly bought a video camera from Dixons on credit, which he could not really afford. So I took the opportunity to ‘rent’ it from him for a few weeks, which resulted in me recording various family activities as can be seen on the video.

Unfortunately, I did not keep the mini-VHS master tape, but just copied it to a Phillips V2000 tape.

This was the type of video recorder we had at the time, but there was VHS, Betamax and V2000 systems for domestic video recorders, although subsequently VHS won the market against Betamax and V2000, even though it was technically an inferior technology.”

Domestic video recorders aside, one of the best things about the two hour video is that some of it features a trip to Greenwich Park. I live in spitting distance of the park now and it is pretty amazing to see what has and hasn’t changed in the last 24 years.

Park Vista in the background

The toilets are still there!

The gap in the buildings is the Maze Hill and Park Vista junction

My brother splashing in the empty boating lake puddles

Pretty sure that exit hasn’t changed a bit either!

We then walked down to the Cutty Sark, and you can see the tea clipper in its dry dock. You can also see the horrible concrete surrounds of Cutty Sark Gardens. Some cynical grumpy folks might say it doesn’t look very different now…

You can read more about the Cutty Sark here and here. 😉

Looking towards Deptford, I think that industrial building in the left background isn’t there anymore. I wonder if Greenwich Industrial History might know more?

The foot tunnel entrance is obscured by a lovely band of concrete.

And here is the video, I am the one with the pigtails, my mum is wearing the cream coat, my Dad is unseen as in all our family photos, and I have no idea who the other people are! 🙂



I love this slice of 1986 and feel quite lucky to have footage of my brother and I as children. Also, bearing in mind my parent’s eventual separation and my Mum’s death five years later, I feel really blessed to have this wonderful footage of us together as a family.

So thanks Mark! :).

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