As Black Friday saw scenes of carnage in stores across Britain, the Christmas shopping season in and around Rye kicked off in a much more sophisticated and stylish fashion. Silver Saturday (November 29) was no less busy though, with five Christmas fairs, fetes and art and craft shows to attend in the immediate vicinity.
Rye News began the day at Winchelsea New Hall where carolers spurred on the bargain hunters. There wasn’t time for much more than a quick raid of the chutney and jams and a gulp of a home-made mince pie before it was time to dash to Rye Harbour, where crafts and vintage items were on show at the Avocet Gallery and the village hall. Complementary mulled cider helped visitors get into the Christmas spirit and an array of knitted hats and gloves met with our approval.
Next, we made a daring foray across the border to the beautiful church of St Peter in Newenden. Those Kentish folk certainly know how to look after themselves. Sloe gin was available to taste, in the form of chocolates and the more familiar bottles. It was so delicious that one conspirator considered purchasing it and entering it for the Rye News sloe gin competition, though they eventually thought better of this. The craft displays continued into the village hall, where exotic lunches were served. Butternut and lentil pasty anyone? With quinoa and labneh? Put that in your pipe and smoke it – I nearly did.
And then back to Rye to the big daddy of all Christmas fairs: St Mary’s annual fiesta. Numerous stalls heaved with fantastic bargains. We stocked up with hand-knitted gloves and scarves from the Mothers’ Union stall, marmalade and jam from the Bible Society, crackers for cats from Guide Dogs for the Blind and knitted toys, games and books from assorted others.
The ladies from Frolic were having a good day they told us. These Friends Raising Oodles of £s in Good Company support lesser known local charities by holding nearly new clothes sales as well as making handicrafts. Some of the charities that have benefitted include Admiral Nurses (specialist dementia nurses), Dementia UK, Sara Lee Trust (supporting cancer patients), Rother Responders (assisting the ambulance service), Demelza (children’s hospice) and Family Support Workers. Frolic’s next appearance is at the boot sale at Northiam village hall on Sunday December 7.
Then there was just time to squeeze in the Feast of Delights at the School Creative Centre. On approaching, we thought we had finally found the aggressive, violent, selfish shopper remnant from Black Friday, as two police cars were on yellow lines just outside. However there was no sign of trouble within. Beautiful arts and crafts were on show in the recently renovated theatre. We spoke to Ros Green, who works as a complementary therapist for local charity ARRCC (Activities, Respite, Rehabilitation, Care Centre) and who has a range of deliciously scented skin products. Made in Rye, her wares can often be found in the weekend craft fair at Rye Club (Market Road) but can also be ordered online.
We saw no trace of the police and can only assume they’d nipped in to do a spot of shopping themselves – or to gorge themselves on crispy pancake rolls and bakewell tart. Or perhaps that was just us.