Mermaid Street by Colin Bailey
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - Rye, England
"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
After the incredible weather this weekend, I can't help but agree with James. With record temperatures in the high 20's over the weekend, the heat in England challenged many of it's European competitors. We all have fingers crossed for a similar outcome over the bank holiday, and according to the forecasts the south east is expected to stay just below 20°C with little rainfall. Therefore my advice is to follow the birds and migrate south to Rye, Sussex, home of Henry James.
Pass through the outstanding Landgate archway, built in 1329, into Rye and it is like stepping back in time. There is an eclectic mix of steep, cobbled streets bordered by mishmash antique shops and straight flat roads encased by ivy-coloured cafes and hotels. At the end of the High Street is The Mermaid Inn, an entirely unspoilt hotel built in the 15th century, with regal four poster beds and fascinating secret staircases.
There is so much culture in Rye, from Martello Tower, which was built to protect the town from French invasion, to Lamb House: home to Henry James from 1898 to 1916. Discover the castle and the line of cannons peering out across the perpetual sea line. Rye Meads bird sanctuary is a short drive towards the coast, and there is a multitude of shops and galleries along Rye High Street to explore. Any music lovers will enjoy a visit to Grammar School Records - one of the most extensive vinyl collections I have ever seen.
A visit to Rye would not be complete without taking the 2 mile drive to Camber Sands. I have been visiting since a very young age and I am still yet to find a more beautiful beach in the UK. Soft, white sand stretches endlessly along the coast, sheltered by tumbling, golden sand dunes. Stop in at 'The Place at the Beach' for a chic bite with marvellous views - the Romney Marsh Lamb is superb.
- Rye is just over an hour from London St Pancras. For times and fares, visit www.nationalrail.co.uk
- The staff at The Mermaid Inn are incredibly accommodating and helpful. The breakfast was one of the best I've experienced in a hotel. www.mermaidinn.com
- Many thanks to Rye local Colin Bailey for his beautiful etching of Mermaid Street. For more information, visit www.ryepress.com
- For Camber Sands, yu can catch bus 100 from outside Rye station towards Lydd. For times and fares, visit www.stagecoachbus.com
- For more information on Rye Meads Bird Santuary, visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/r/ryemeads/index.aspx
- Grammar School Records is on Rye High Street. www.vinylrecordslive.co.uk