It was Nancy who when I told her I had yet to visit Rye and suggested I did so.
I heard from a friend of mine who had a good trip ashore in property that rich London townies attracted by the fast communication by rail to Ashford International were now buying up second homes there and for golfers there is the nearby course at Deal and slightly further afield the championship course at Sandwich.
I prepped up on the cinque port which once had a daily coach called Diligence making the 16 hour journey from London.
It took a downturn as did its best known hotel, formerly a coaching inn, The George in the high street.
However the biggest surprise is of the port there is no sign. This is odd as I possess an oil painting by Karl Terry of it.
I walked the cobbled streets full of sweet shops and antiques but I could see no harbour.
Undeterred I continued on my circumnavigation, conscious of the words of Polly, Bob Tickler’s p/a whose family once possessed a home there “There is not much to do.”
The rock capital of Europe it is not. Twee it is.
I finished my walk and returned to The George. It has a bar called the Tap but of a barman there was no sign.
Eventually I complained at reception and two arrived. I noticed all the staff were foreign. I don’t want to sound like a Brexiteer- I voted to stay – and the hotel, catering and hospitality industry is going to be badly affected by non-movement of free labour.
Yet somehow I missed the cheery English face at reception one associates with English country hotels, not someone peering into her computer trying to find my reservation.
I had plenty of time to contemplate my order as there was little else to do and decided on fish.
The wild roast scallops served in a seafood and miso komba broth were divine and welcome change from the pea purée with which they are so often accompanied. The sweet corn soup chipode and lime with Devonshire crab was equally tasty, nothing bland.
I get hacked off with tiny portions of lobster at huge prices but there was plenty of fish in the claws and shell and the salad with it worked well.
I finished with an English cheesboard and two glasses of port. I chose a carafe of delicious Albariño, the white Galician wine is my current fave.
As I got up to go, a Swedish Gentleman on the adjoining table kindly moved the table for me. We fell into conversation.
Both said how disappointed they were that the UK is leaving the EU.
They said there was a harbour but it’s long way away. The hotel guide spoke of it being a nature reserve. The guide also referred to Rye being “an ideal base to explore a multitude of attractions.” A sure fire double entendre for nothing to do in Rye.
It once held an international chess Congress.
I was once invited by Bogdan, a Montenegrin Grandmaster, whose opening gambit was as useless as his end game!!!