Category: Writing Page 1 of 3

Back to the Office

Life is busy, therefore the blog is quiet. This is the usual theme. Odd in some ways – I want to write when there’s nothing to report on, and rarely write when there is plenty going on that I could write about. Meh.

So, the husband is going into work twice a week from next week, and this has reminded me of a blog I’ve been wanting to write for a while:

‘The positive aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic’

Eek! Is that entirely contradictory and simultaneously heartless?! Or is it a truthful life statement: two seemingly opposing concepts that are both equally correct?!

Stop pontificating Lara!

Things we have benefitted from since March 2020:

  • More time together as a family
  • A lot of extra help with Theodore and Rafe
  • Legal time with my immediate family during the 2021 winter lockdown
  • The husband being able to see his children grow in a way we never imagined
  • Saving money on the commute (no travelcard needed for the spare room)

There, I’ve done it, I’ve said it out loud. There are good things about having the opportunity to work from home and to having more family time together. Shame it comes at a massive fucking cost to society, but no-one could see the future in March 2020. Even Boris and co.

And here are the negatives:

  • Way too much time together as a family
  • Slightly excessive drinking because there was nothing else to do
  • Too much bickering as a couple because we were bored and had too little external input
  • No living room or carpet March to July 2020 (trust us to renovate just before a lockdown)
  • No employment for me March to May 2020
  • No nursery for Rafe March to May 2020
  • Really missing family and friends

In conclusion, hooray for the office! And nursery! And work! And baby cinema! And the husband being able to buy an overpriced cappuccino and croissant for £7 (!) come Monday.

I’ll miss you when I want a shower whilst looking after two kids, but I won’t miss you enough to make you feel bad about having your time out of the house.

You need it. We need it. I need it.

Love you.

Tynemouth Priory, October 2021

No, I’m Not Spanish

At some point in recent history, individuals and companies were allowed to start registering domains for a country that isn’t their own, hence Why and when I’ve no idea, but I’m fed up with googling the subject, so you’ll just have to accept that I’m telling the truth.

Anyway, so when we got married and changed our surnames to Ruffle Coles, ‘im indoors suggested we also register new site domains to match. But because he’s a clever arsehole, he didn’t just plump for two new domains, he decided to go for Spain’s country code top-level domain .es.

On top of that, lara and sam are sub-domains of rufflecol, which is in turn a sub-domain of .es. And yes, I had to look up domains before I could even write that sentence. Every day is a school day etc.

So, I have very occasionally been asked if we are Spanish, and no we are not, we are just a pair of smart-arses. And ones who will bore you rigid with an explanation if you make the mistake of asking us why .es



I spent a lot of last weekend’s Bank Holiday reading about Dominic Cummings, and his trips to Durham and Barnard Castle. Most of my reading was done on Twitter, with the BBC and a variety of tweeted articles thrown in for good measure.

It was enjoyable in some ways, but it was also all-consuming and dumb. Obsessing over a news story is not helpful, or healthy. It also makes you quite a bore to your husband, and he was irritated with me constantly checking my timeline.

By Monday I think a bit of news fatigue had set in as I started to lose interest in the story. And given there has been no resignation or sacking, what’s the point of giving an actual shit about the situation. No-one in the government seems to actually care one toss about what happened, and how it comes across to the general public, so what is the point of me retweeting statements from aggrieved Conservative MPs.

Obviously, herein lies the rub, if I grow tired of the story and ‘move on’ as Dear Leader would like us to, then they win. Therefore, it is probably best to conclude that we are all fucked. ?

I probably won’t stop reading Twitter though, for one there isn’t enough to do at the moment, and for two, if we don’t keep complaining then they definitely do win. I just need to remember to take a break from the incessant refreshing, particularly when my son and husband are about.

And don’t drive to test your eyesight.

The Blog That Didn’t Really Work

I started writing ‘Odd Things I Like To Do’ on Saturday, and I’ve officially given up 5 days later. My conclusion? It was a shit idea.

But as I spent a fair amount of time thinking about it, and I don’t want to waste my electro-chemical reactions… here’s a shitty half written blog!

Organising my son’s Duplo

The photo below demonstrates the ‘in use’ state. When not in use, the bricks, and the people, animals and themed elements must be separate.

We have two yellow Duplo buckets for this… but as we add to the collection, there’s nearly not enough capacity to keep things separate. ?

Also, the pesky blue brick with helicopter propellers doesn’t really fit in either category. ???

My little kitchen knife

We bought a set of knives from John Lewis a number of years ago (very similar to these) and I have a favourite. The wee fella below is perfect for chopping salad and vegetables and is our go to knife for most things.

It is so light and ergonomic and it just makes me very happy.

Separately eating each element of my dinner

Note how the chilli on the left isn’t entirely obscured by the sour cream and spring onions? I don’t like mixing flavours. But as he spent an hour cooking my birthday dinner I thought I had better acquiesce to his presentation request. In part anyway…

Another example? A rice wall. Whether it is a Chinese or Indian takeaway, do not blend the dishes! You will spoil the flavours! A rice wall please.

Placing our bedroom coasters at a 90º angle

This is essential to my well-being. That’s it.

And the only reason I can cope with Sam’s coaster not matching mine at all times is… at night it is used to obscure the evil blue light emanating from Sam’s mobile charging pad.

It’s my dad’s fault. And be sure hit up my aunt Jeanette for an even better example of Ruffle nutcase behaviour. Just ask her about the swans.

Happy 36th Birthday to Me!

It is my birthday, hurrah!

I am at home doing the same things I’ve been doing for 7 weeks, hurrah!



Anyway, I bought myself a cake yesterday so yay. And it is far too big, but it tastes great, so WHO CARES. And it was made by the lovely people at Boulangerie Jade, a local chain for local people. I [used to] frequent the Blackheath Standard branch, and I very much recommend all that they do. Support them if you can!

Below is a photo, woo hoo!

So what have I done with my birthday you ask? I have sorted some washing for the line, done some washing up, and shortly I will be taking the washing off the line and folding said washing. Marvellous.

However, we did go for a pre-nap walk and I took the photo below when the wind briefly calmed down, and the sun came out. The view is looking north towards Severndroog Castle – completely hidden by the luscious greenery, and was taken standing on the foundations of Castle Wood House (torn down in 1922).

We walk this way at least once a week at the moment as we live just opposite. Unfortunately for the husband, there wasn’t much walking from Rafe today, Sam had to carry him most of the way… and he’s getting really heavy now!

And what was my birthday present? It was a meal of my choice!

I went for buffalo wings with celery, carrot and ranch dressing, plus chilli cheese fries. Sam cooked up a storm – he’s such a brilliant cook, and as expected, it was very tasty! And we have chilli leftovers too, woo hoo!

And then we had more cake… we really need a salad tomorrow. ?

Happy birthday to me! ???

Diggy Diggy Hole

There is a lot of digging going on in our garden at the moment as the husband is planting enough vegetables to feed the 5,000.

Due to this, Rafe is fairly keen on digging. There is a lot of “diggy dig” and “diggy hole” being said, and lots of copying of his Dad.

I would also like to thank the joy that is Peppa Pig for its informative episode on digging. And that is not sarcasm. It is a brilliant show, and it will definitely guarantee you a bit of peace and quiet. However, I do have to pause it if I need his attention, as he’s a complete zombie with it.

Another “diggy hole” in our lives at the moment is the dwarf mining song Diggy Diggy Hole by Italian heavy metal band Wind Rose. This joyous symphonic tune is also a big hit with the Rafe.

Enjoy the lyrics below!

Brothers of the mine rejoice!
Swing, swing, swing with me
Raise your pick and raise your voice!
Sing, sing, sing with me
Down and down into the deep
Who knows what we’ll find beneath?
Diamonds, rubies, gold and more
Hidden in the mountain store

Born underground, suckled from a teat of stone
Raised in the dark, the safety of our mountain home
Skin made of iron, steel in our bones
To dig and dig makes us free
Come on brothers sing with me!

I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, diggy diggy hole
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, digging a hole

The sunlight will not reach this low
Deep, deep in the mine
Never seen the blue moon glow
Dwarves won’t fly so high
Fill a glass and down some mead!
Stuff your bellies at the feast!
Stumble home and fall asleep
Dreaming in our mountain keep

Born underground, grown inside a rocky womb
The Earth is our cradle, the mountain shall become our tomb
Face us on the battlefield, you will meet your doom
We do not fear what lies beneath
We can never dig too deep

I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, diggy diggy hole
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, digging a hole

I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, diggy diggy hole
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, digging a hole

Born underground, suckled from a teat of stone
Raised in the dark, the safety of our mountain home
Skin made of iron, steel in our bones
To dig and dig makes us free
Come on brothers sing with me!

I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, diggy diggy hole
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
Diggy diggy hole, digging a hole

Wind rose, wintersaga

Next step, Lord of the Rings!

Unfair Mini Meltdown

Feel like I’m having a mini meltdown right now.

And the only thing that happened was him finishing work 10 minutes later than the standard.

I’ve run away to hide in the car while Rafe whines for his dinner. It’s a bit chilly in the rain.

I really wanted to go out in the car for a drive at 17.30 exactly so I could just be free for a bit and the 10 minutes difference was just too much.

It is thoroughly unfair of me. He hasn’t done anything wrong, I’m just fucking fed up.

I spent 30 minutes watching the government press conference and nothing has changed. I thought something was going to change. I’m so fucking bored.

But I know what the R0 number means now. And I’m fairly certain the video narration was done by Lorraine Ashbourne. What a lovely accent.


Time to give him a hug and say sorry.

Then a drink.

A Report on This Week

This week is the fifth week of the national lockdown, and as every day fades into another day, and every week fades into another week, I thought I would document what I’ve actually done this week.

Dunno if I can be arsed to do this every week though… it’s not like there is actually anything exciting to report…


  • Two loads of washing done first thing, then hung out to dry on our super duper rotary washing line
  • Music class via Zoom at 3.15pm ???
  • Post-work walk for the 3 of us through a bit of wood between Severndroog Castle and Eltham Common. I discovered it last week with Rafe, and the wood has lots of open space with various paths snaking through leaf covered ground. Gorgeous.
  • Searched for a BBC Good Food cabbage recipe for dinner to ensure we were eating our fresh fruit and veg delivery in the right order. Haricot beans substituted for cannellini with no negative consequences. Husband even approved, and was actually impressed with my research and implementation


  • Breakfast was my first ever frittata: ham and mushroom with Comte on top. Yum! Feels a bit excessive using 4 eggs at a time, so I might hold off on making any more for a while
  • Rafe’s Health and Development Review was done today, he turned 2 the other week and it is a standard check. No issues raised!
  • I had a second interview for a job, hurrah! I showered, wore a dress and spoke to someone on Zoom
  • Our IKEA Busa was delivered, very exciting
  • Caught up with my aunt Jeanette in the afternoon – an old fashioned phone call this time


  • Drove my pregnant friend to the hospital, it was me and the husband vs two Ubers. Nice to be useful too
  • MEAT delivery! ?????
  • Rang my 96 year old aunt, she’s fine and hasn’t fallen over again… while walking in her flat… ?
  • Another friend left Rafe’s birthday present outside the house, he is now the proud owner of a bright orange lobster bath towel, it has sticky up eyes and everything. Fabulous!


  • A chilled day where the main activity was water play in the clothes basket. Couldn’t be arsed to get the big swimming pool out, and I completely forgot about the little one we were given last year. Woops!
  • Caught up with aunt 3 of 5 too. She is also known as Yvonne.


  • Spoke to another friend for the first time in forever. Her, her husband, and her son have all had a really crap run of non-Corona illnesses, and they are finally nearly through it all. On top of running a business from home! So good to catch up with her! ❤️
  • Julie from my chamber choir rang for our first video call, we sit next to each other in rehearsals and she’s such a fun and cheery sort to sing and chat with. She’s also really experienced at sight singing – which I’m also a big fan of!
  • Pre-nap walk with the husband and child, this time to Severndroog Castle itself
  • (then) Rafe napped for 2 hours and 40 minutes! Marvellous!
  • Prepped Tom Kerridge’s ‘Short ribs with horseradish dumplings’ from Best Ever Dishes. I’m not doing the dumplings as we have fresh veg that needs working through, but I had great fun sorting the rub. It is wonderful having more time to cook, and to be able actually enjoy the process. A lot of the time you just feel like it is an endless cycle of prep, cook, eat, wash up*. Obviously this is nothing new, but it is definitely more YAWN at the moment.
  • Dinner was tagliatelle bolognese with a vat load of carrots, celery and mushrooms. Sam is a bolognese purist (or fascist) and usually just whines about my bolognese – but even he just ate the bloody thing this time. Thanks to HG Walter for more excellent MEAT.

Special Rafe Update

We’ve been talking to Rafe about a move from his ‘little boy bed’ (the travel cot he’s been in since he was 5 months old), to his ‘big boy bed’ for a few weeks now, and he’s been using a duvet instead of a sleeping bag with no complaint for the same amount of time.

On Monday I asked him which bed he wanted to sleep in, and he pointed to his proper bed and said “bed” – weeeeeee!!!!! OMG! Amazing! Fandabidozi! Etc.

We laid him down, tucked him in and said good night as usual.

He slept through!

And then has done for the past five nights!


He slept in his bed all the way through til 5.30am, 6.15am and 6.30am 3 times. And then woke at 11pm-ish on 2 nights and then came into our bed til and 6.30am.

It’s a work in progress… but I’m still so impressed with him! Love him! ❤️

20 Things I’m Missing During Lockdown

Inspired by Alistair Campbell’s recent feature in The New European, here are my ’20 Things I’m Missing During Lockdown’ – listed in priority order per the rules. Mine are a mix of existential and tangible, but all sorely missed.

  1. The excitement of researching, planning and booking trips. This really is my favourite thing of all time, and the husband will definitely confirm this to be true. Usually I am mentally planning the next thing while on the current expedition, so to have no plans is quite unbearable. And to have no clue when we can visit another country again is quite vile. We are really hoping that our fishing trip to Ross-on-Wye in July can go ahead. ?
  2. Meals out. Not that we regularly go out for super grand meals now we have a Rafe, but even Nandos is out of the question – the perfect place to relax and eat while the child noshes his way through a giant corn on the cob. Also missing Rosa’s Thai, The Old Cottage Coffee Shop, Boulangerie Jade at Blackheath Standard, and McDonalds (obviously). Instead, I shall cast my mind back to the pre-Rafe days of fancy hotel restaurants, and weekends away spending lots and lots at swanky Michelin star eateries.
  3. Nights out / Date nights. Not the food per se (that has its own category duh), just the act of getting ready to go out, not being with our son, being free for a bit. We used to go out a lot with my in-laws, and now they are our main babysitter, we do that rarely. We were quite lucky to see Paul Carrack at The London Palladium with them just before everything closed. Just like old times. ❤️
  4. Driving to places new. I learnt to drive in 2015 and I absolutely love it. I love driving in France, I love discovering new parts of our nation, I love driving on motorways, I love listening to music and podcasts in the car, I love escaping somewhere with the family. It is the best. But right now, I feel guilty driving to Catford where my aunt lives to drop things off for her, and it is only 4 miles away! I keep waiting for the police to pull me over and tell me off, but then I remind myself that they have better things to do… but I am trying to stick to the speed limits a little more carefully now…
  5. My mother and father in law. Some people reading this might be aware that both my parents are dead, and as such, I am particularly close to my in-laws in a way that might not have happened if my parents were about. So, we really miss them, we really do! And Rafe absolutely adores them, and they him. My husband is also super close with his parents – it is so lovely to see. I was very close with my Dad, but he was such a different character to Sam’s parents, so I have such a different but equally wonderful relationship with them. Waaaaaaaaaah, stupid lockdown!
  6. My aunts. I have 5 aunts, and I’m quite close to 2 of them. My aunt Jeanette is particularly in love with Rafe and is missing him oodles, and I am missing her. Jeanette helped raise me during the school holidays along with my nan, her mum Brenda and we’ve been making a big effort since her early retirement and my pregnancy to see each other every 6 weeks or so. Luckily my aunt and uncle sneaked in a previously delayed visit (due to Storm Ciara) the day before lockdown – hopefully we will all meet again soon. My aunt Yvonne is my only local aunt, and it has been lovely to say hello when dropping things off at her front door. My dad’s job took us out of London when I was 5 and we lost touch for a while, but I spent about 10 Christmases in a row at her house until I met Sam when I was 24. She’s also a big part of my life, and I’m so happy that we get to see each other nearly every Monday as she finally joined my choir (after a good prodding) 5 or 6 years ago.
  7. My friends. I’ve never had a huge group of friends, but I have 6 or so good friends I can definitely rely on if needed. I’ve made 3 of them since having Rafe, and it is really wonderful to keep making friends the older I get, and the extended network of partners and children is fantastic. I’m also pretty lucky that the 3 friends and their children all love spending time with my son (and hopefully me ?).
  8. Singing. I’ve already written about this in detail, but bloody hell I miss it. The neighbours were treated to some very loud singing along to Kate Bush last week. Lucky them. And thank you to Julie and Cinzia from my chamber choir for their little notes about what they are doing, and how they are missing choir and me (!). ❤️
  9. The structure of life. I need structure. I needs it hobbits! Hence the blog… some sort of mental structure if no actual structure bar cleaning, feeding, dressing and playing with the child.
  10. Being near people. Not at the top of the list because I do like my own space, but this is too much! I miss people. I miss the buzz of a pub or restaurant. I miss Rafe meeting random children and having a chat. Ho hum.
  11. Pubs. Not that I’m getting pissed every five seconds, but I do love a good pub. Especially since the smoking ban. It was a fair bit smoky and smelly at university, but whiling away time in a pub is wonderful. I went to a pub with my friend Rebecca in February and the child slept for 2.5 hours, it was amazing. So much lunchtime chat.
  12. Central London. Man it is the best. Getting a tube, a bus, a train, a whatever. Pootling about seeing the sights, going down to the river, getting some lunch, taking Rafe somewhere fun, occasional nights out. Love it so much. Really really glad I moved back here in 2007! The last time I was down by the Thames was in February, I popped up on the train for lunch at Rosa’s Thai while he napped, and then we saw the water fountains by City Hall, and looked at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. It was beautiful, sunny and cold, and he had a lovely run about. I’m so excited that he will get to experience all that London has to offer the older he gets. Miss you!
  13. Canary Wharf. I love buildings, I really really do, and there is something simply magnificent about walking about the place, and seeing new and old rubbing up alongside each other. Alternatively, get on the DLR at Lewisham or Greenwich and snake your way up the Isle of Dogs to any one of the stations cutting through the middle of the area. Pre-Rafe we loved a cheeky trip to Canary Wharf for a drink or dinner, and although that has changed, we now visit for completely different but equally wonderful things. One of my favourite days out with Rafe is the Crossrail Place Roof Garden followed by Mudlarks’ sessions at the Museum of London Docklands. During his nap (long may it last), I get a wicked lunch out somewhere overpriced and fabulous, and he gets a super fun day out on the bus, the DLR and Canary Wharf itself. Heavenly!
  14. The local playground and other activities. I’m pretty lucky to live opposite Oxleas Woods where there is plenty of opportunity for exercise and a good run about for Rafe, but I do miss his usual haunts quite a lot. We had the local playground, or the one in Greenwich Park, which has loads of water and sand play and is super awesome. There was the soft play at Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre, and the ‘hard play’ at Ahoy! and Mudlarks. They really provide so much fun and a lot of interaction with other children – I’m sad for him! But also lucky he’s only 2! I’ll be back at all with a vengeance as soon as I can.
  15. Music class. We’ve been going to music classes at Charlton House since Rafe was 7 weeks old and I’m a big big fan. I’ve written about this in more detail on The Charlton Champion, but it was a great way to get out of the house and meet new people in the early days of the new mum haze. I’ve made actual proper friends through the class as well. AMAZING. And now we don’t live in Charlton, I super miss Charlton Park as well as the regular Monday routine.
  16. Nursery. I originally wanted him to start at 1, but I just didn’t want to let him go. ? By the time he was 18 months I was ready, and I could see that he was running and charging about enough to have a lot of fun in a new environment. Also, most of my mum friends had gone back to work so making mum dates was getting harder. We pushed it back a few months as Sam took a break from work to be a full time Dad (I went to work instead), and we started settling in sessions just before Christmas. This was again delayed slightly due to pesky hand, foot and mouth, but by the end of February he was really happy to be going 2 days a week, and he did not give one shit about us once he was at the nursery door. Sometimes he comes home covered in paint, it is brilliant, and I bloody miss it.
  17. Swimming class. We started swimming at 2 months as I had this bee in my bonnet about wanting him to learn to swim as soon as possible. It is ace, absolutely ace. I love ducking him underwater, I love him learning all the different techniques – even if he hates some of them, and I love being in front of him as he jumps in the pool at the beginning of the class. Half the kids do a standing leap from the side, but Mr Sensible always sits down first – here’s hoping for some nutty behaviour WHENEVER WE GET TO SWIM AGAIN. ?
  18. Commuting. It took me about an hour and twenty minutes to get to work before the Corona, and in that time I could get through an entire podcast, or even two a day if I really wanted to push the boat out! I could also use my laptop to do work or life admin during the 35 minute bus trip to/from the tube, and in the morning I would have a KeepCup cuppa too – exciting times! The ‘me’ time twice a week was excellent and I miss it. Hopefully another job will come to me soon, and at some point in time I will be enjoying a bus and tube ride to town again.
  19. Work. I went on maternity leave in March 2018 and went back to work in October 2019. I did and didn’t miss work, but I was ready to be something other than Rafe’s mum. I was proud of my earnings, and I miss financially contributing to the household. It has taken me a little while to get used to being a full time mum again, but we’ve settled into a routine now, and it feels good using this blog to mentally structure myself.
  20. My living room. A very ‘woe is me’ final point… we started re-doing our living room in February, and we had nearly everything done before lockdown. The final puzzle piece was a carpet order, and we took a gamble on the 12th of March as there was a 30% discount offer expiring that day. The gamble did not work out. No carpet = no living room. Grumble grumble grumble.

And if you made it this far… here is a picture of us in town.

Looking out at the Tower of London, 14th of February 2020

Tuesday the 14th of April

I started today feeling low, partially because I was obsessing over things out of my control, and probably because of the jump from four days all together, to just Rafe and I. Yay.

My solution was to lie down on the floor of the dining room for 20 minutes while the child played next to me.

It is as a good a response as any.


But then I had some breakfast and my husband came down from ‘the office’ for a coffee. We had some chats and played with Rafe, and the despondency passed somewhat.

A short while later we had a pre-nap run down the hill and had some fun at the bus stop.

Red Lion Lane

Also while chatting, I had a message from Hired about a job interview, woo hoo! I ended up having the phone interview during Rafe’s nap, then went straight out into the garden for some water play in the sunny sun.

Once he’d had enough after 30 minutes or so, he got out and then we cuddled in the sun for ages. Heaven. He’s gotten so cuddly recently, it is SO lovely.

That got us to 4pm, and with that we got dressed again, ran about upstairs and then settled down in the dining room for some Ben & Holly at 4.30pm. The husband finishes work at 5.30pm, so an hour-ish of TV for one day is good by my standards!

I then chopped some more logs, and everything was much better than at the start of the day. Hurrah!

Plus, we had freshly breaded cod, scampi, peas and fries for tea. YES.

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