Like it or not, Rye and its surroundings depend to a great extent on its visitors. So I’m always interested in how others see Rye, and how the area is presented to the Great British Public.
So this week I settled down to watch BBC2’s “A Taste Of Britain” which, as a food programme, perhaps inevitably focussed on scallops and marsh lamb.
Our two annual Rye food festivals focus on scallops and wild boar rather than lamb – but the boar is boringly anti-social and hard to find, let alone film so I guess our salty lambs were the next best bet and one of my visitors was very eager to take some back with her.
However the scenery was not overlooked either and the opening view from the Gun Garden (by the medieval Ypres Tower) showed us the river, the reclaimed marshes (and wind farm) and the distant sea.
Indeed the scallops were cooked outdoors (suspiciously close to the William the Conqueror pub, now offering Greek/Cypriot food) to show off the tidal river and fishing boats in the background.
And, in turn, the sheep popped up near the ruined Tudor Camber Castle with Pett Level in the background, and sparkling local plonk from Chapel Down vineyard (near Smallhythe) also got a plug.
Other shots included Church Square’s ancient houses and a quick reference to The Mermaid Inn and smugglers’ tunnels, while there was a longish section in the dining car of a steam train chugging along Rother’s valley from Tenterden to Bodiam for (wait for it) a quick tour of Bodiam’s 14th century fairytale castle.
Local cider, Biddenden I suspect, also got a mention, along with how Tenterden’s East Sussex and Kent Railway line got to carry the hops to the breweries.
And maybe that was all there was time for in a short “foody” programme – but is that all Rye and its surroundings has to offer?
This area has been Britain’s frontier in the Napoleonic Wars and two World Wars – and it was in the middle of two major aerial battles in the past century, the 1940 Battle of Britain and the 1944 Battle of the Bugs when hundreds of Doodlebugs (an early version of the cruise missile) headed for London over the local coastline.
And it has been a place for many, many artists to visit (some of who stayed) over the years – as well as many literary figures (and a few musical ones) have stopped here too.
It is an antique town – with many, many listed buildings – and it also full of antiques (and I’m not referring to the people!).
Back in the Middle Ages it was one of the country’s biggest ports and in Tudor times the navy harboured here – until the Rother silted up.
But what do you think are Rye’s greatest attraction for the visitor? And does that depend on the age and nationality of the visitor?
Some may say (and have said to me) that it is a nice, quiet weekend retreat from London to “get to know a friend” while others fancy a sail or a round of golf. What do you think?
For visitor information see Visit Rye
Image Credits: Simon Kershaw.