Life Update: Captain’s Log

“Captain’s log. Stardate 031118. I have been lost in cyberspace for over four hours and rescue seems unlikely. The wall lights I’ve been trying to buy for the stairs and landing have eluded me for almost an entire calendar year yet still I search for them, typing every known combination of the words “brass”, “glass”, “wall” and “light” into Google and (in one case) getting to results page 2,013 before managing to pull myself out of the internet black hole. Commander AMR has proved himself useless in remembering to beam me back up to reality, lounging in his big leather chair on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, watching Wheeler Dealers on the control panel.”

Crikey, I don’t know what I’ve wasted more time doing, this evening; searching for the aforementioned wall lights or doing Virtual 3D tours of the Starship Enterprise trying to find out what that main room is called that they all sit in. This is the story of my life at the moment – I have so much to do, but keep finding really insignificant projects to throw myself into. Yesterday I spent an hour looking at holiday photos that someone on Instagram had put up. I didn’t know this person, they just appeared on the home page and had a cute baby and before I could stop myself, I’d watched the birth video, the wedding video and found out (via Google) that they had been married twice before and their last husband had been bankrupt.

ruth crilly life update

If I sound relatively chirpy, then let me tell you: I am. I realise that I’ll jinx myself here, because that always happens whenever I write something positive, but I’m feeling properly buoyant and cheerful for the first time in ages.  Usually I feel like that when I’m on top of my workload, but I actually think that this time it’s because I’m very much not, but I’ve reached a little happy balance where I just do what I can and then don’t stress about it the rest of the time. You can only do what you can fit into the hours you’re given and I’ve spent far too much time worrying, over the years, that there aren’t enough hours in the day. What a ridiculous thing to worry about! You may as well worry about the fact that there are seasons. Or that the sea exists.

ruth crilly life update

Also, Ted (21 months old today) and Angelica (3 years and 4 months) are an absolute riot and I’m really enjoying spending time with them in a fully present way, when I’m not working, rather than attempting to shoehorn work in at every spare moment.

ruth crilly life update

Don’t get me wrong, I’m typing this on a Saturday night instead of watching Strictly and tomorrow (video upload day) I’ll have to edit film during Ted’s nap, with Angelica sat beside me watching Octonauts, but I’m really trying hard not to be constantly looking at my phone when I’m with them, or wondering when my next opportunity will be to quickly send off a few emails.

ruth crilly life update

It means that I have to work like an absolute maniac on the two/three nanny days and try not to get distracted (I can easily kill half a day doing non-essential “admin”, which includes looking at fantasy holidays and reading cashmere jumper reviews on Boden) but I like the satisfaction of having more of a structured work week. Even if it’s the shortest work week known to man. But includes all of the other evenings.

Let’s face it: nothing has changed. I’m just in a better mood.

ruth crilly life update

We took Ted and Angelica trick or treating last week, for Halloween. (Obviously. When else would you take them? Thankfully it’s not one of those things like carol singing that can be legitimately performed on more than one day of the year.)

I was never allowed to trick or treat as a child, I don’t think. My sister and brother have been wracking their brains on this one too, as none of us can actually remember whether we went or not. I recall one of our childhood friends sticking prosthetic scars all over his face with glue and then pulling all of his eyebrow hairs out by accident, I also remember how badly that fake blood from the eighties used to stain your skin (it was basically red food colouring mixed with a bit of cornflour, I think) but I’m pretty sure we never knocked on doors.

ruth crilly life update

It’s an odd concept, isn’t it? Trick or treating? I know that it’s huge in the states but I think it’s only just picked up momentum in the UK over the past decade or so. Certainly in the eighties and nineties it wasn’t a big thing. To be quite honest, it’s amazing that it’s caught on at all, because knocking on the door of someone you don’t know, after 6pm, in the winter, asking to be given something, for free, is just about the most un-British thing you could ever hope to conjure up. Mr AMR and I used to turn out all the lights on Halloween, and if someone knocked on the door we’d be there wrestling the dog to the floor so that he didn’t bark and trying not to move the curtains in the process.

Knock on most people’s doors after hours in Britain and you’ll get someone shouting –

“F*ck off, I’m watching Eastenders!”

Even if someone is in the spirit of things and has their pumpkin lit up outside (excellent idea, that, by the way) you can tell that they don’t really want to open the door because a) people can see into your hallway and the hallway is always where you dump all of your crap and b) opening the front door lets all of the heat out. And, as you’ll probably know, keeping heat in the house is a national obsession.


As is knowing exactly how to heat your house in the first place. It’s an art. You must know how to turn that dial on your thermostat to exactly the right point – you don’t want the radiators coming on too soon, you need them to be kicking in when the cold’s just beginning to bite. You want them gurgling into life just as you’re wondering whether you should stick a cardigan on over your jumper. And so men and women all over Britain are standing on their landings, fine-tuning their thermostats, turning that little dial around, their ears cocked and listening for the clicks, looking for all the world like expert safe breakers in the vaults of a Swiss bank.

ted pumpkin

But anyway, off we went and my heart almost burst with pride at little Ted waddling along in his padded pumpkin outfit. He can’t even speak properly yet but he said “thank you” every time he was given a sweet for his basket “OO OOOOOO!” and then waved goodbye as each house closed their door, shovel in one hand, basket in the other. Angelica was more canny than Ted and focused her energies on forcing the sweets into her mouth at the door before I could get to her. Amazingly she went to bed at the right time, despite consuming more sugar in the hour-long period than she’d probably had in all of her three and a quarter years previously.

I ate half a bag of Haribo Tangfastics that I confiscated because…I wanted them. It was a low point, diet-wise, because I’ve been doing really well with my sugar intake. Still just the one can of Coke (regular, eighty-nine thousand grams of sugar) per week and two mint Magnum ice creams. One on a Friday and the other on a Saturday. I’ve also stopped having two crumpets for breakfast every morning and have switched to porridge, much to Mr AMR’s dismay. I always forget to wash the pan and the leftovers seem to set like concrete.

Ted’s words this month: “bum-bum” (that’s my fault, I thought it would be funny), “Gaga” (Angelica), “andad” (Grandad), “star”, “hat” and “thank you” (oo oooo). He’s developing a wicked sense of humour, it’s great. In fact, both of them are at a brilliant stage where they make each other laugh, but they both also understand teasing and enjoy being chased and playing hide and seek and pretending to be asleep. It’s loads of fun, but I feel as though every new development is also tinged with sadness, because you realise how short the baby stage is. I mean it’s just gone, before you can even really get to grips with it. And then all of a sudden so is the toddler stage, and instead of a tiny tot who mixes up her words and goes to sleep sucking her thumb and twirling her hair, you have a little girl who makes judgemental faces when you say you’ve run out of milk and  who wants to choose her own outfits.

ruth crilly family update

Only one grief side-swipe this month and that was on my Dad’s birthday, when Siri (the iPhone helper) reminded me to “call Dad for his birthday”. Well that took me by surprise, seeing as though I had just woken up. For a moment I thought yes, must do that, and then my brain kicked into gear and I remembered that Dad was dead. The worst thing, I think, about someone not being there anymore, is trying to come to terms with the fact that they are never coming back. It’s permanent. I’ll never ring him on his birthday again.


“Captain’s log. Stardate 031118. I remain in cyberspace at the mercy of the Klingons and also the advertising pop-ups that now follow me around however hard I try to escape them. The same glass globes with brass wall bracket haunt my every pageload – if I didn’t want them the first time they popped up then by now, on the seventy-fifth appearance, you can rest assured that I wish to blow the things to smithereens. Alas I am unarmed. If only Commander AMR would stop watching telly for ten seconds and ask Scotty to beam me up. But only a direct hit to the bridge would rouse the Commander from his horizontal viewing position. And so farewell friends, into the darkness. Another five hours on eBay awaits.”

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    November 8, 2018 / 11:20 am

    Seriously, Ruth, when are you going to write a book?! Every youtuber and their mother has done it, except the one who is actually really really amazing at writing. And I mean ACTUALLY. (Not to diss anyone, I just think you would do it better.) Please do it! You can write about anything, I don’t care, I think I’ve read your post about sinks twice. I just love your style and your wit. So, please. Just choose a topic and go. Stop procrastinating and write us a book!! Please and thank you. :) :*

  2. November 7, 2018 / 11:37 am

    You have such a lovely way with words Ruth. Please, as above, write a book!

    I’ve always followed along with your posts, but recently they’ve really held a special meaning for me. It’s almost 2 years since I lost my dad and I still can’t contemplate what that means. It still hurts just as much. But there’s a motivation that’s come from it – sort of a need to live my life as best as I can for him. I think that’s a good thing!

    Thinking of you.

  3. Angela
    November 7, 2018 / 2:05 am

    Please write a book! I love your way with words.

  4. Ana Sonia C. Trivillin de Coltré
    November 6, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    Dear, how I love your writings! You make my day

  5. Hannah
    November 6, 2018 / 9:21 am

    What IS it with men and Wheeler Dealers? I don’t think I’ve eaten my tea without a background of Edd China replacing the tappets on a Datsun Sunny since 2014.

  6. November 5, 2018 / 8:04 pm

    Re babies not being babies for long: this poem by Penelope Shuttle makes me weep, because it’s coming…


    It is both sad and a relief to fold so carefully

    her outgrown clothes and line up the little worn shoes

    of childhood, so prudent, scuffed and particular.

    It is both happy and horrible to send them galloping

    back tappity-tap along the misty chill path into the past.

    It is both a freedom and a prison, to be outgrown

    by her as she towers over me as thin as a sequin

    in her doc martens and her pretty skirt,

    because just as I work out how to be a mother

    she stops being a child.

  7. Claire
    November 5, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    Laughing and crying here too. In reading your posts, I always get the feeling that our lives are very different but yet, really, they are the same, somehow. It gives me reassurance and solidarity that I’m not the only one trying to cram everything into too little time and all the feelings that go along with that.

    As for Halloween…I’m going to say, being a Scot, that it started up here and that trick or treating is really guising, which definitely isn’t asking for something for nothing, but requires a wee party piece

    • November 5, 2018 / 6:13 pm

      Yes, I’ve heard lots about Guising now! I learn so much from comments on posts – didn’t even know that word before last week! x

  8. Farah
    November 5, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    Such a lovely post! Thank you! These personal posts are so great…. real and true. And funny! We sure need some funny these days. I bought the “last 2” lights for the new house online yesterday! Well that’s what I am calling them but I still have a real problem in the powder room as I can’t see properly to put on my makeup or pluck eyebrows etc… It’s the darkest room in the house! Any advice on lighting for makeup application or vanity mirrors would be much appreciated! We have changed the lights twice and i have a 10X mag mirror and still its not enough. aaaaaaack!

    • November 5, 2018 / 6:13 pm

      Oh God, lights for makeup – I just make sure I’m near a big window. Mirrors with lights don’t cut it for me. I end up doing my makeup in the weirdest spots! : )

      • Farah
        November 5, 2018 / 9:57 pm

        Thank you for this! I think i might just give up on making that rooms lights perfect and look for my own “weird spots”! I’m with you on the mirrors with lights–I had that Simple Human one with the light that comes on when you go near and i always felt somehow blinded by it! Had to let the batteries run out on purpose so it would stop already with the automatic light! Cheeky! : )

  9. Jade
    November 5, 2018 / 1:28 pm

    Lovely post Ruth! Always enjoy reading your ‘longer pieces’.

    I grew up in the 90s and trick or treating was definitely a thing then! A couple of houses near me would go “all out” and I remember it being a competition on the walk to school to see who could find the most decorated houses! (It was primary school though, so the game didn’t get old *that* quickly!)

    Hope you continue to enjoy this magical time of year- the light in those photos is incredible!

    Xx – J

  10. Germaine Arginteanu
    November 5, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    Ruth, once again you have the amazing capacity to make me laugh out loud and also tear up. You write from the heart and even though my kids are 28 and 31and my parents passed away so many years ago, your words brought back a rush of memoirs

    Sad, but sweet…only problem is I am reading this on the train and tears are spilling down my cheeks. Other rides must think I am nutter. Oh, well….

    Warmest regards

  11. Jane
    November 5, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Great post Ruth, Ted and Angelica look adorable in their Halloween outfits. I have always loved Halloween and I put my lodger in our porch every Halloween to scare/delight the local kids. He’s called Mr Scully and he’s bone idle the rest of the year, although he’d have you believe he works his fingers to the bone! (He’s a skeleton, boom boom!!)

  12. Lorraine
    November 5, 2018 / 11:16 am

    Ruth.. you made me belly laugh and then cry in this post. I love your writing and your perspective on life. So honest. The birthday thing gets easier with time..though it will always hurt. Thank you for acknowledging this as it’s usually a day of private sadness. Keep up the good work, you are doing amazing. L X

  13. Rebecca
    November 5, 2018 / 9:21 am

    I still talk out loud to my Dad – it helps

  14. Cathy
    November 5, 2018 / 7:56 am

    Well that post was an emotional roller coaster – funny, joyful, wistful, and so sad about your Dad. But never hold back please, Ruth. I love that you are so real and so willing to share the authentic ups and downs of life. Your ‘in real life’ posts are like a letter from a friend, only most people don’t share as deeply and authentically as you do, even in real life. You make me feel connected and included, so never think that your communications don’t matter. In this increasingly artificial world, you are making a difference by sharing yourself. <3

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Thanks Cathy, that means a lot. I read these comments back when I’m feeling doubtful as to what to put out there… : )

  15. Jasmin
    November 4, 2018 / 11:15 pm

    Angelica and Ted are turning in to such little characters! I wonder if the pumpkin costume comes in grown up size?

    Trick or treating when I was a kid (Middlesbrough, early 90s) was called halloweening and we could only knock on the doors of people we knew. This meant about 20 kids knocking on each other’s doors in singing “the sky is blue, the grass is green, have you got a penny for Halloween? If you haven’t got a penny a hapenny will do, and if you haven’t got a hapenny god bless you”. Costumes were limited to a witch (a bin bag cut jaggedly at the bottom), a mummy, or you but dead (old clothes torn and covered in blood). Great times!

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Would totally wear an adult sized one.

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:27 am

      Yep, I have those in my living room – I had to buy bloody five of them but luckily a relative worked at a well known department store and got a bit of a discount…
      The Flos lights are the main reason I’m trying to find cheaper ones for the stairs – financial ruin!!
      : )

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:27 am

      PS they are every bit as amazing in real life. I’ll put them on Insta stories for you! #enabler

  16. Katie R
    November 4, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    Ten Forward was their social room, Ruth, and then the bridge is the command centre/ mission control.

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:27 am

      Yes, it was the bridge I was getting at! : )

  17. indre
    November 4, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    gosh, I really hope you’ll write a book one day. I’ll buy 50 of them for all my friends for Christmas.

    • November 5, 2018 / 10:28 am

      Thank you, so kind. I have actually written one, just nobody seems to want to publish it. : )

  18. Jennie
    November 4, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    Ruth your posts always bring me hurtling back to when my son was that age and I made Bat Man costume that he then refused to take off for a week. So many good memories that I wish I had written about in the moment.

    My Dad will be gone a year next month so once we get past that milestone I am hoping the memories will have more joy as opposed to sadness. He especially loved meeting the Trick or Treaters at the door wearing a scary mask. I think this scared away a few children which meant more candy for Himself!

    Keep up the good Job and thanks for letting us share in the AMR Family Life.

  19. November 4, 2018 / 6:02 pm

    Hi Ruth
    Adorable post really enjoyed reading this.
    You have beautiful children and a fantastic outlook on life
    Let the sideswipe take you where it needs to take you in that moment. There is no point fighting it. It’s utterly painful I know love.
    Love and hugs

  20. Mira
    November 4, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    Loved this post, Ruth. So sweet to see you having fun with the kids!
    Please can you tell us where you got your glasses (in the first photo)? You look so gorgeous and stylish in them. Would love to know what brand they are? Many thanks xx

    • November 4, 2018 / 2:35 pm

      Karen Millen at Specsavers xx

      • Mira
        November 4, 2018 / 9:54 pm

        Thank you Ruth! xx

  21. Anon
    November 4, 2018 / 1:00 pm

    It’s like running into a brick wall isn’t it.

  22. Katy Fryett
    November 4, 2018 / 11:01 am

    What a lovely post. I was laughing at your children’s antics and crying at your description of the sideswipe of grief. Life is certainly unpredictable.

  23. November 4, 2018 / 10:14 am

    Trick or treating isn’t really a thing in Germany either, or at least it wasn’t when I was young. If it is now I am still figuring out, as many friends with kids posted pictures of their adventures, but no one came knocking at our door, even though we did light a pumpkin outside, so I have a ton of chocolate to take care of myself now. Can’t give it to the kids, obviously, as I am very worried that they have a healthy diet. Myself… I try.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

  24. November 3, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    Have you seen the Cox & Cox ones? The Brass and Glass Wall Lights, I think they are called.

    • Rosie
      November 6, 2018 / 1:21 pm

      I agree. They have a great selection!

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