Friday, 7 December 2012


It was a sudden decision to go to France last week, but it was partly encouraged by a thought that we might visit Rye, a town I last visited many years ago, but which I keep seeing on the TV or on calendars.  Oh, and it's also near Christmas and a good time to stock up on cheap plonk, tins of duck confit, etc.

Of course the reason Rye appears on calendars is that it is particularly photogenic.  It is a little medieval town, built in that peculiarly medieval way, with cobbled streets running uphill from the fishing port to the inn and the church and the castle.  But this town has hardly changed since it was built.  There are a few Tudor and Georgian additions, but it is essentially caught in a time warp.

When I was young, my mother used to read me a story or a poem before I went to sleep and one still sticks in my mind now:

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by! 

I always used to imagine a town just like Rye outside the window.  And indeed Rye thrived as much from the activities of smugglers as it did from any other trade.  Here's one of the streets from the harbour:

Rye street 

And this is the road past the Mermaid Inn (I think it's called Mermaid Street).  The15th century inn is on the right and is still one of the places to stay or eat:

Rye Mermaid Inn

But the residents have a sense of humour.  Here's one house on the top of the hill:

Rye House with two front doors 

and here's another:

Rye House with the seat 

and here's a commemorative plaque on a little cottage behind the church:

Rye plaque 

We then stayed the night in Dover, ready for an early departure on the ferry the next day.  And I can hardly believe it, but last year, when we did this, we awoke to find it had snowed in the night; this time I thought the same thing had happened.  But it turned out to be a heavy frost and I had to spend nearly half an hour before breakfast trying to scrape the frost and ice off the car.

I shan't bore you with more pics of Boulogne where we went for a delightful lunch and a bit of Christmas shopping, but I was struck by the view of Dover from the French side in the early morning sun.  Given our long history of invasions and threatened invasions, it still seems incredible that England is in fact so near France and so visible.


Oh, OK, here's a shot of the Notre Dame cathedral at Boulogne which I quite like, taken from under the city walls .  I thought it gave a good sense of how the buildings in the old city, public and private alike, are packed in together within the fortifications.

France 073


  1. you could have 'bored me' with dozens of more pictures! What a lovely outing ~ I would love to see these places!

  2. Thanks for taking us along. Loved seeing the photos of places I know I'll never see in person.

  3. Thank you so much, you have solved a mystery I have been carrying with me for a least thirty years. I have a black and white photo from my mum. In the thirties she did a day trip to France with her friend (later her sister-in-law) and I have a photo from France, but never knew where. Now I know it is a photo of the Notre Dame cathedral in Boulogne. She went to Boulogne and her main memory seemed to be that the French eat horse meat and she was stung by a hornet. But I can now put a name to the anonymous photo - thanks. I will scan it, do an upload and a small blog today.

  4. I visited Rye many years ago, it's a beautiful place. As you say, caught in a time-warp. I seem to remember that inn and enjoying it's hospitality. The plaque about 'nothing happening' made me laugh out loud, I love that humour.

    Beautiful shot of the cathedral.

  5. Replies
    1. Pat, I'm delighted. How wonderful, if this is really it! You must visit now.

  6. I certainly enjoyed my visit to Rye, after not having been there fro many years. But I don't think anything had changed since I was there before! I'm glad if you all enjoyed it too.