18 May 2013

A Pocketful of Rye

I spent four days in Rye when the weather was magical a few weeks ago. Presenting Gina from Folk at Home with a hot list of places to go we set off, leaving families far behind. It wasn't exactly a holiday but there was definitely an element of the spree about it.

On the least research-heavy day we found ourselves at Hendy's Home Store in Hastings, eating whelks with wild garlic. Alastair Hendy was playing maitre d', head chef and head waiter to a full house and he was quite gracious about my uncontrollable urge to walk into his kitchen with a camera. This part of England is clapboard heaven with flint. Unlike the New England version which is more familiar to me, a lot of the wood here is painted black.

We motored through the wooded lanes of Sussex with their hedgerows of wild flowers, featuring the anemone and cuckoo flower (above).

Next stop: Great Dixter, where we were greeted with a "When I said 4.30 I meant 4.30!" bellowing from the medieval porch. Drinks were being served on the terrace but since this was a research trip I wandered around the deserted gardens. The terrace itself has so many green things growing out of the cracks that if you squint your eyes it could look almost semi-derelict. Except that all the green things are precious. "Don't step on the flowers love," I was told as I clomped over a primrose on the way to the steps which lead down to the meadow.

The Exotic Garden (above) was still under wraps, looking peculiarly Wealdean and medieval, with some exotic promise. As we left, the dachshund Conifer was scampering down the front path to the house; such a joyous image. Aaron our host writes a succinct blog by the way on the progress of the kitchen garden at Dixter.

Next day, Sissinghurst. We landed back to earth with a thump as we joined the coaches in the car park and a sign on the camomile seat bore the legend: "Please do not sit here."


  1. Having recently been to a deserted Dixter myself, I'm not sure I'd cope with the coach hordes of Sissinghurst. I love the South East counties, sounds like a fabulous research trip! (You weren't tempted to pop down to Prospect Cottage while in the area?)

  2. Trust your instincts, Caro. As always, I left East Sussex with a longer list of places to see than I arrived with, so Prospect Cottage should be added to the lengthening list!

  3. Yes. Not short of fodder either but bloomin' time.

  4. Thank you for showing me what a cuckoo flower is. We have neither cuckoos nor cuckoo flowers in Connecticut. But the blue jays call for you!

  5. Longing for the screech of bluejays and also muggy sticky days and nights. Will have to make do with cuckoo flowers and RAIN.