In the 17th of our series of articles describing how one couple finds their new life in Rye, they reflect on their first three years living in the town and what the New Year might hold.
The big move.
On December 10, 2017, we celebrated our first three years in Rye. As you know, we moved here after living and working in London for a couple of decades (though between us, we’d lived in a variety of towns and cities in the UK and Australia before ending up in the Smoke).
This anniversary has given us pause to reflect on our experience, and pass on what we have learned from it. If one of your resolutions for 2018 is making the big move to a small country town and/or a coastal location, then what follows might be useful.
Some of the people we’ve met were familiar with Rye and Camber Sands from childhood holidays or adult excursions. We weren’t. In fact, neither of us knew this area at all. But having decided to move to a place near a beach, one visit to Rye was all it took for it to win our hearts.
Would it have been more sensible to have had at least had a couple of holidays here, in different seasons? No doubt. Fortunately, our first impulsive desire has proved a lasting love.
Friends and neighbours.
Before we committed to the move, I warned my partner that rural England has a reputation for not necessarily welcoming newcomers. Indeed, in “The League of Gentlemen” a whole comic TV series had been built on this idea. Would Rye be a real-life Royston Vasey?
We were prepared for the cold shoulder. And if you’ve travelled much on the London Underground, you can soon get used to an absence of personal interaction.
We were not prepared for the opposite – neighbours popping Christmas cards through our letter box before we had even met them; strangers greeting us in the street with a cheery good morning, the jolly butcher and the friendly barkeeper. The postie is now a Facebook friend!
Before we knew it, we had dozens of new friends, all eager to share the delights of Rye, be it music in the pubs, visits to nearby villages, and of course, the town’s amazing festivals.
When the houses on our road suffered a power cut, the local pub gave us a big bag of ice to preserve the food in our fridge/freezer. They deemed it a small and natural thing. But as you can tell, it has stuck in our memories as merely one example of the town’s welcoming spirit.
But . . .there’s always a but.
Our friends in London tend to have one question above all about our move: How’s the commute?
When you say a 7.38am train from Rye gets you to St Pancras for 8.42am, they shrug: “That’s all right. Can take that long to get across London.” Indeed.
But we know the reality. And there’s nothing we can do to change the franchise-holder, resolve industrial disputes, or upgrade the Marshlink service. It’s not the length of the commute that matters so much as the quality and reliability of the service. Enough said.
Not having the funds to keep a crash-pad in London, we will just have to live with the commute when either or both of us is working in the metropolis. It’s worth it. Whenever we have visitors from the capital – or indeed, the North of England or Australia – their reactions to Rye/Camber certainly validate our move.
We’re still pretty much on the fringes of Rye’s social groupings and official clubs; still feeling our way. Perhaps in 2018, we’ll be more involved, perhaps in one of the festivals. And there remain plenty of stately homes, gardens and villages for us to explore in Kent and Sussex.
However, given it’s the main reason we moved here in the first place, the next 12 months should simply bring us more time on the beach!
Photos: Simon Kershaw