We had originally planned to go to Berlin with some friends for Mr Plum's birthday ... but due to other commitments (well, the friends being invited to a wedding oop North!) we had to postpone. I had been looking forward to getting away from London for a day or two, so put on my thinking cap and tried to find an alternative ....
I have always wanted to visit Rye. One of my favourite programmes "Mapp and Lucia" was filmed there (and I can't wait to go back to my parents for Christmas so that I can watch their DVD!) and it always sounds like the most enchanting place to visit. I wasn't disappointed.
Last Friday afternoon we hopped on a train and started our journey down to Rye. We got there at about 4pm, it was cold and dark ... but we were greeted by the prettiest streets and Christmas lights. We stayed at The George Hotel on the High Street, so headed there to drop off our bags before going out for a walk around town. We wandered along the cobbled (some quite steep) streets and found a lovely pub where I tried a small glass of the local cider. We then walked on to find a pretty little pub (re-built in the 1600's) with a roaring fire and radio 2 playing in the background. We stopped there for tea and a drink and then headed back to the hotel.
After a lovely breakfast of poached eggs on toast, we checked out (but left our bags at the hotel) and wandered around Tilling, sorry, I mean Rye. Our first stop was the Tourist Information Centre where I picked up a map of Tilling with all the main places from the books by E.F Benson. The Rye Christmas festival was due to start with a procession through the town at 4.30 with drummers, pipers and ..... Father Christmas!
We pottered around for hours and hours, looking around antique shops, craft shops, kitchen shops, antique kitchen craft shops .... stopped for hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows) and a huge piece of homemade battenburg cake (delish!), had chips for lunch, and walked around some more!
I bought lots of bits and pieces ... new thicker knitting needles and some lovely wool, Cath Kidston notelets, crafty bits, Mapp & Lucia book (of course!), Christmas presents ..... the shops there are wonderful! Everyone is so friendly ...
We easily spent from 10am until 4pm pottering around ... after a couple of glasses of mulled wine by the fire in The Mermaid Inn, we headed off to find a good spot to watch the procession.
At 4.30 the procession arrived outside The George Hotel and after a visit from Father Christmas in a horse-drawn carriage, the Mayor turned on the lights of the Christmas tree outside the hotel and we watched the fireworks display.
Here is a clip from "Mapp & Lucia" from Youtube .... this one has lots of Rye (which was used as the location for "Tilling")
At one time, Rye was surrounded on three sides by the sea ... and although the sea receded hundreds of years ago, the town still has a "seaside" feel to it. I think that next time we visit we will hire a car so that we can drive out and visit the other Cinque ports and Camber Sands.
Sadly, at nearly 6pm we had to start our way back up to London (which, of course, was an absolute nightmare on the trains...). I would like to live in Rye.