Smile, we are the lucky ones


Those of us who live in or around Rye are extremely fortunate, and we should not forget this. We have the sea and wonderful beaches on one side, fantastic country on the other and we live in or near a town that is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the Sussex crown. There are many who would love to live where we do.

When I moved into Rye, some years ago, it was everything I had expected – friendly, welcoming, with clubs, pubs and restaurants and an immediate and active social life.

This being the real world, though, there are, as with any location however apparently perfect, some downsides. Yes, there is a lot of traffic on the A259, yes, it would be nice to have a bypass, yes, the bikers are often noisy (and seem even noisier after the silence of total lockdown), and yes, the town is full of tourists for six months every year, shoving one off the narrow pavements, leaving fish and chip wrappers scattered over Strand Quay and pointing cameras through the windows of private houses in the citadel.

But this is simply the price we pay for living in a historic town close to beautiful countryside and great beaches.

The weekly gathering of bikers has come in for particular crticism

Recently a number of readers’ comments to some of our articles have shown a degree of antagonism and anger – often, perhaps, driven by fear – that we have not seen to this extent before. Partly this may be a reaction to the government’s successful “Stay Home, Save Lives” message. Many are now reluctant to go out, even though allowed to do so, and regard every outsider as a potential carrier of the virus, and every motorbike passing through our newly-quiet streets an unwelcome bringer of suddenly-noticeable excessive noise. A visitor reading the comments might well think that we were a place not worth coming to and definitely not somewhere they might want to live.

We know, of course, that the very opposite is in fact the case.

However, after over two months of lockdown and isolation it is perhaps not surprising that we should start to become more inward-looking, tempers fray and patience becomes sorely tried. Perhaps this helps to explain, if not excuse, the attitudes of some of us.

But things are starting to change – we are allowed out more, we can meet, albeit under controlled conditions, family and friends, and we are told by the government’s advisors that the chances of catching Covid-19 from someone we pass in the street closer than 2 metres, is negligible.

There is much to look forward to, and although it might be a while yet before we go for a pint in our local or have an evening out at the Kino or a restaurant, the world is just beginning to come out of the enforced hibernation. Some businesses can re-start, as can some sports clubs, some visitors are starting to return (and, no, we are most unlikely to catch the virus off them) and with the expected continuation of relaxing of lockdown rules, life and the economy of our town, will slowly return.

So let’s unbolt those front doors, breathe fresh air, appreciate how fortunate we are, smile more and complain less.

Many years ago, at school, we were taught the prayer of (I think) St Richard, which went along these lines, “Help me to change the things I can change, to suffer the things I cannot change and grant me the wisdom to appreciate the difference”.

There are, indeed, some areas where our Town Council (which is not as toothless as it is sometimes projected), District Council and County Council, working together, can influence change – speed limits, traffic noise, parking as examples – and some, such as the attraction of Rye and Camber to visitors, that will not change.

Let’s be positive about changing one and learning to live with and welcome, the other.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , John Minter .

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  1. A timely article! We do indeed have so much to be thankful for, living in Rye, including we ‘elderly’. , Keeping Covid-19 at bay, attractive places to walk –= for me it’s around St Mary’s, lengths of the GunGarden, up and down Watchbell Street, seeing at first few if any people, now some, but plenty of social distance possible, Ease of arranging home deliveries, neighbours (and RMA) willing to run errands if ever needed …. and much more, Last week I spoke to people sitting on churchyard benches — from Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy — who had driven down from London for a visit to our recommended town, So yes, we are still very much a place worth living — and coming to!

  2. I keep seeing articles about the bikes in rye and find it funny that people talk about the bikers as tourists when in fact probably most of them are from local villages and just locals out for a ride, rye roundabout seems to be a good place to chill and chat and there is a good space to get the bikes of the road while they stand and chat and admire each other’s bikes. You don’t see pictures of jempsons car park and moan about the amount of cars so why the bikes, as for the noise of the bikes I think you either love them or hate them, personally I love sitting in the garden on a Sunday morning and hearing all the bikes blasting up the A259 and around the Pett straight. These roads are perfect for bikes with long stretches of road heading of into the country side. I suppose you only understand if you have a bike and ride these roads. And the load Exhaust pipes are there for a reason… to save our lives from dozey car drivers that couldn’t care less about people on bikes, often I see drivers of cars driving along with their wing mirrors tucked in totally oblivious of what’s around them. So we need the noise and we love it I thinks if you don’t like the noise from the traffic then maybe not live there. Yes there maybe one out of a hundred that spoils it but that’s life in all aspects. THINK BIKE!

  3. Well said John Minter, there is a balance to be sought in Rye between visitors and residents which can only be achieved with understanding. Engagement with our visitors is the key to unlocking their respect for our town.

  4. Jonnytobad you’re misguided if you think that loud exhausts save lives because when driving in a car the driver cannot hear the exhaust until you as a motorcyclist past him/her ( which they ALWAYS do regardless of the speed limit ) so it doesn’t serve this purpose it only serves to annoy residents, cyclists, pedestrians & other road users.


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