Looking ahead – and back

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Thankfully, perhaps, we have no snow at present, though it can and does add a further layer of enchantment to Rye’s historic streets.

But what could be more enchanting on a New Year’s Day than being squashed up into a corner of a public convenience, and at risk of demolishing some nearby antiques, with a group of friends who all contribute (or have contributed) to Rye in their various ways as volunteers – except me currently, as I was 80 just before Christmas – and I nearly died in the Conquest (hospital) in 2022 on two separate occasions – in February and September.

But this is a New Year, and my death was predicted back in December 1942 as I was rushed into Great Ormond Street’s children hospital, so I’m probably a survivor. And, of course, I was in the Waterworks, and possibly only Rye could see such a pub become well established – and the gossip was that the Mayoress would be working behind the bar later – but I’d flaked out by then at home.

But my friends lingered and (all Rye News regular contributors or behind the scenes production volunteers) their contributions include (or have included) the food bank, the town council, our local hospital, the allotments and (say it quietly) Rye’s Drummers.

A time to remember

And we should not forget everybody who has volunteered over these past difficult months to help with vaccinations (have you got yours?), food deliveries, computers for schoolchildren, and in many other ways – and others who will volunteer over the coming months, which may be just as difficult as the Covid period.

However Rye has faced many difficulties over its long history – and may face more as climate change creates many problems – least of which is our old enemy, the sea.

When I first came to Rye I was in a Rye Harbour caravan waiting for my house to be built in Valley Park and I recall the wintry night when I was standing on the embankment with the sea to my front licking very close to my shoes. The caravans behind me were well below the height of the embankment and much of Rye is similarly at risk.

My home now though is above the River Tillingham’s high tide levels when ships could sail some distance inland (I checked some medieval maps) including possibly William the Conqueror sailing up the Brede to fight the Saxons.

A varied community

Rye therefore has a long history, and I gather my gardener, Tim, when not lording it over bingo sessions, runs trips for visitors and newcomers around the town’s long and varied history as well as finding time to build my pond, which kept me amused when I was not in hospital.

The Waterworks may seem an oddity, but it fits well among Rye’s many oddities (both places and people) – past, present, and possibly future – so it seemed a good place to kickstart 2023, when even Rye News is making a few changes in its appearance.

So, from a past Editor of Rye News who is very much alive still (and plans to stay that way), raise your glasses and toast 2023, and the town of Rye – with all its quirks and oddities, including the Waterworks.

Image Credits: K. Bird .

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