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Oscar Wilde said “I can resist everything but temptation” All it took for me was one look at a tiny picture of pretty little Rye England and the temptation was too much to resist. I’m certainly no stranger to visiting tiny foreign villages and know that hotel space is limited and time is of the essence. The moment I surrendered to the temptation of the picture of stunning Rye, immediately I began researching hotels and booked a swanky suite at the George Inn.
Rye is a small seaside town in East Sussex, England at the convergence of the Rother, Tillingham, and Brede rivers about an hour and a half drive from London. Since Roman times Rye has been a vital shipping center on a massive embayment of the English Channel. The location of the village gave way to its entertaining storied past. Tales of smuggling, shipwrecks, invasions, gangs, flooding, ghosts, witches, and intruders can be heard while clicking your heels on the labyrinth of shiny cobblestone streets.
On a cold misty Autumn night, Mr. Arnold and I drove from Oxford into Rye on the most terrifying dangerous roads we have ever driven on. We checked into the warm cozy stylish George Inn, to our surprise during wild boar week! We took a seat at the Inns bar The George Tap and met two friendly celebrating Englishmen, Big Ben and Little Ben. Soon we joined in their celebration and were talking and laughing like old friends sharing stories and buying each other shots.
The next dreary grey morning Mr. Arnold and I lazily had a full English breakfast, and eggs benedict, poached pears, flaky buttery croissants slathered with Nutella and steaming hot coffee at the George Inn. We then hit the Streets of Rye weaving in and out of a flea market, galleries, and shops. I came across a store named Soldiers of Rye run by Chris Viner. Colorful hand-painted toy soldiers, model figurines, and militaria filled the tiny shop, as well as the larger than life charisma, and extensive knowledge of Mr.Viner. He graciously took his valuable time to show and tell me about the medals and badges of different soldiers. Mr. Vitner even reduced me to tears telling me the story of Silent Night: The Story of the World War One Christmas Truce of 1914 while showing me a 1914 Princess Mary brass gift box. Mr. Arnold and I popped into Herald& Heart Hatters. The millinery was so fine and gorgeous I had a hard time containing myself. Every hat was beautifully magnificent and such a treat just to look at!
After walking the streets all morning and talking with the friendly people of Rye, Mr. Arnold and I were ready to join in the town’s festivities and indulge in Rye’s culinary delights of wild boar week, a celebration of gamey cuisine. Bundled in sweaters we walked under a colorless sky on the cobblestones of Mermaid street and straight into The Giants Fireplace Bar at The Mermaid Inn. A massive smokey fireplace glowed and warmed a cold day providing a relaxing vibe to chill out and entertain our bellies with the Wild Boar menu of The Giant’s Fireplace Bar. We ordered rhubarb gin with spicy ginger, red wine to go with a wild boar hot dog, wild boar terrine, and creamy vegetable soup. While we waited, our bright entertainingly knowledgeable waiter asked us if we knew what the balls hanging from the ceiling were and told us if we were interested he would show us around the haunted Mermaid Inn after we finished eating. He even gave us packets that told stories of each room at the Inn. As the Gin and red wine started to kick in we pondered the questions of our waiter and were really glad we had not booked a room at The Mermaid Inn, although the Inn is a gorgeous gem of history, entertainment, comfort, style, beauty, and heavenly cuisine the Inns ghost stories are much too intense for Mr. Arnold and I to attempt a peaceful nights sleep. When our bellies were overly satisfied our waiter returned and told us that the balls were witches balls and we took him up on his offer to show us around the Inn.
Our waiter brought us upstairs into the Elizabethan Bedchamber and showed us a secret passage for the smugglers that contributed to Ryes racy past, quite the confirmation for my decision to not to stay at the Mermaid Inn. On many occasions, Ms.Kiki Kendrick details “incidents of a duel being fought in the room and the loser then being thrown down the stairs of the secret passage”. The last situation I would ever want to be in is the tale that comes from room number five, The Nutcracker Suite: sometimes a Lady-in-White walks through the door and pauses at the foot of the bed. In the Fleur De Lys room, “a man and wife woke up to find a man walking through their bathroom wall and across the center of the room. They were so frightened that they spent the rest of the night downstairs in one of the lounges and made the porter bring all of their luggage and clothes downstairs.” Our tour finished up in the cellar and we thanked our good-humored waiter turned guide for pure fun showcasing The Mermaid Inns beauty and fascinatingly entertaining stories.
After all of the delicious culinary art we consumed, and all the intense scary ghost stories of The Mermaid Inn, Mr. Arnold and I wandered in and out of Rye’s antique shops. We chatted with cheerful shop owners and picked up a few fancy trinkets to bring home for our elaborate picnic habit. As the evening approached, under a dimly grey sky we took a long long walk from the famed scene of the Norman invasion, Rye Harbor to the edge of the English channel and buried our feet into the rocks and seashells with every step we took. Mr. Arnold collected an abundance of seashells and as the sun sank we knew exactly what time it was; Apéritifs!
Relaxation and refreshment in historic Rye Harbor were being offered at William the Conqueror. With extremely tired legs Mr. Arnold and I made the long walk from the edge of the English Channel to the Pub, William The Conqueror. While grazing on a mezze plate and sipping Apértifs I overheard an Englishman tell his dog that “he had had enough to eat and that he could have some tea when they got home” After Mr. Arnold and I went back to The George Inn and had a long nap we finished our evening with dinner at The George Grill and continued on with our wild boar celebration. A wild boar hamburger for Mr. Arnold and the most amazing spicy lobster fresh from the sea for me.
The next morning the sun rose and shined brightly blessing everyone in Rye with a clear crisp cool day. Excited children were all over town on a Wild Boar Hog Hunt. The alluring window of W.J Bennett Menswear beckoned me to go inside of the exquisite store. Mr.Arnold couldn’t resist and he picked up a little posh to keep him dapper. Taking full advantage of the sunshine we walked about town admiring window shops full of pies, charming sweet little houses and the view out to the sea. An intoxicating smell enticed us into Rye Deli. We purchased tarts, olives, and pastries sadly for our road trip out of Rye. Thrilled I surrendered to the temptation of rye, with the sun brilliantly glowing we drove past puffy white sheep grazing on green pastures on our way out of dreamy Rye.