Summer starts with a scorcher

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As summer starts, memories of cold, lamplit streets fade and are replaced by masts moving slowly over rooftops as Strand Quay empties overnight visitors into Rye Bay – and the Marsh fields dotted with snowflakes of lambs are criss-crossed with the traffic jams of Camber’s day trippers. And for good, or ill, the visitors are back. 

Last Friday, May 26 French “invaders” were barbecueing their food down at Strand Quay (rather than BBQ-ing the town, as they did in the 14th century) and by Saturday lunchtime their masts could be seen from the Ypres Inn garden edging out on the ebb tide towards the sea.

But visitors from nearer home were too busy filling up the tables in the Ypres garden to notice, and were more interested in the menus and the sunshades. And possibly the local cider too as the Ypres had run out of my favourite tipple by Tuesday – though they had not run out of lunchtime customers despite the change in the weather from Saturday.

To the east of the yachts, Camber Sands seemed to be the destination of choice as streams of traffic built up in the distance. For once, though, the 100 bus got through and the Western car park was more than busy.

I struggled to get over the dunes and was touched to be asked whether I was OK and whether I needed a drink of water. However I eventually reached the beach only to discover that the nearest of the two new lifeguard stations was not manned – which seemed strange as most people seemed to be down my end of the beach.

It was good to see the lifeguards though, particularly on the hottest day of the weekend.

Rye itself was not short of visitors and events though it must have been a logistical nightmare on Friday/Saturday to fit a wedding in between two jazz concerts in the Norman church of St Mary’s at the top of Lion Street, though it seemed to both amuse and confuse the visitors inspecting the Norman architecture.

The Rector of St Mary’s is off shortly to recover with his annual holiday in Marseilles  and has booked his Euro train from Ashford.

One of the more unusual visitors was one of those “living statues” outside the 18th-century Town Hall, more often seen in places such as London’s Covent Garden collecting tips.

As it was a holiday week for many (better spent in Rye than in an airport looking for luggage or a flight) visitors kept the town crowded during the week, though Camber suddenly looked very empty on Tuesday after the day trippers returned home.

More French invaders arrived on Wednesday, but this time they were in a teenage crocodile winding its way down past Jempson’s supermarket to the coach park (clearly a school trip) – and probably more arrived on Thursday during the weekly market.

Though it may seem the visitors are always with us, the arrival of summer (officially June, July and August according to the weather people) does mean a sea change (as a destination of choice) with more daylight, hopefully more sun, and higher temperatures but also more cars and more traffic jams, and often even less reliable buses. But it’s summer – at last!

Whether it will be a good summer or a bad one is anyone’s guess. Problems at Calais and lorry parks everywhere last year may, on the one hand, deter some, but – on the other – the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote is allegedly encouraging more holidaymakers (though the Manchester massacre may have put off some).

Photo : Rye News Library

Image Credits: Ray Prewer .

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