Why Rye?


This series of interviews is designed for you to get to know the people who’ve chosen Rye as their home or place of work, a little more personally. 

This week the subject of the interview is Bob Harper, manager of the Rye Foodbank, he has lived in Rye with his wife Ellis for five years. They have five children.

Twitter or Instagram?

I’m going to disappoint you, neither. I have a lamentable tendency to waste time. There’s so much that I want to do and Twitter and Instagram will take me on a journey somewhere and totally waste my time. I do use WhatsApp because that enables me to communicate in groups that I chose.

Meat or fish?

I actually like both. If I had to chose between the two, I’d take meat. But I do hate the way that animals are treated. If I’m going to eat meat I would prefer it to be one of two things: either to be game, where the animal’s had a decent chance to run around before it meets its end, or at the very least to be locally reared in a place that I know. I don’t like the idea of bulk meat processing. I don’t like the idea of anything travelling a long way.

Music or talk radio?

I’ve changed here, because it used to be music. But now you can access things like Spotify, I can find music that I enjoy more easily than ever I could. So now I tend to go for talk radio. There are some fabulous programmes on talk radio and also podcasts as well. I do listen to podcasts quite a lot. I’ve been listening to Ukrainecast because it’s so up to the minute and the coverage seems to be quite impartial; I like that. There’s one with Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell – I’ve only just started listening to it. I like the way Rory Stewart talks; I like the way he defines argument as being an intelligent pursuit of an idea towards a conclusion.

“Charity begins at home” or “We’re all in this together”?

Well, I think charity does begin at home. I think if you’re seeking to be charitable and by charitable, I mean kind and generous and considerate of other people’s situations. If you’re going to be charitable outside the home but you’re not charitable inside the home, then there’s something very funny going on. So, I would say it begins at home, but if it stays home, then probably there’s an opportunity lost. I mean an opportunity, because I think involvement in charitable activity is one of those few things that you can do where everybody’s a winner. The person you are being charitable towards is a winner and that might only just be being kind. Kindness is a much-underrated trait. But also for the person who is exercising charity, it just lifts the spirits.

Sand or shingle?

I always go for the shingle beach. Two reasons: first of all I love the way shingle reflects light and it gives contour and texture, particularly if you go along the Pett Level path. You’ve got the shingle beach one side with the sea and you’ve got the greenness and wildlife and hills in the background, on the other. I love that. But there is one other thing. If you have a sandy beach and a shingle beach next to one another you can guarantee which one’s going to be super crowded and which one’s going to be lovely and empty. I love an empty beach.

Wine or spirits?

Wine. Largely because I think there’s so much more room for creativity with wine. I love to see the way that English wines have moved on; I love to see the way that opportunities have been taken as climate changes. To establish a vineyard is a substantial undertaking and yet a lot of people have done it and succeeded. Having said that, there is one exception – if one of our children gives me a bottle of decent single malt Scotch whisky, I do enjoy a little of that every now and then.

Football or rugby?

Rugby without any question. I used to play. Something has happened recently and I was not expecting this to be the case; women’s rugby in England is just incredible. They go out and beat South Africa 75-0, when the men are struggling to be at level pegging. The heart and the effort is stunning; so yes it’s rugby, but I must say, if there’s women’s football on I really enjoy that too.

Book or film?

Book without any doubt. I do enjoy films and some series on television. I’ve got a dreadful memory. My bookshelves will keep me going more or less forever. Once I’ve read a book I’ve only got to put it down for three months and when I pick it up again I can’t really remember it. I do love reading.

Walk or run?

Always used to be run. Now I’m suffering a bit with back problems. I had a bout of lymphoma, so I went through chemotherapy and all that sort of thing. When I had a MR done to see whether all was well, the radiologist used the word “degenerate” quite a lot. Which apparently is a well-used medical term that broadly speaking means old age! I was hugely active, I still am, but not in the way I was. There was a time when the idea of walking up the road was ridiculous, I’d always be running.

Why Rye?

We brought our kids up in Battle. We stayed because there was a church we were a part of and very much enjoyed and the children went to school there. After the kids finally left home, Ellis and I cycled down to Rye and stayed overnight. The next morning we went to Strand Quay. I’d always said I’d like to live in Rye. We sat there and Ellis said she’d quite like to live in Rye, so we pretty much decided on the spot. We also thought that for children and grandchildren it was a nice place to stay. So we decided Rye. We didn’t expect that we were going to be engaged so quickly in community activities in the town, but that’s just the sort of place it is. And we’ve absolutely loved it. We feel immensely privileged to be here; wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Image Credits: Natasha Robinson .

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