During the daytime of ATP when the bands weren’t on, we made the most of being on an unfamiliar stretch of the south coast and did a couple of little local trips. I’m always amazed to find places so close to home yet so startlingly different to what I’ve ever seen of the UK before. It’s a little island of surprises that I really should explore more.
On Saturday we went to Rye, which we both really loved. It’s packed with vintage shops, tea rooms and pubs and an amazing sense of history. For once I didn’t do a ton of obsessive research before arriving, but it was actually nice to wander without a set plan in place and just see what we discovered.
You can feel the history seeping out of the old brick walls.
Some of the superb vintage shops – I picked up a little vase and some Scandinavian-looking etched glasses for under a fiver.
The gorgeous Merchant and Mills flagship shop, where I drooled all over the beautiful linen, denim and twill fabrics. I didn’t know the company was founded in Rye until we stumbled across the shop.
We had lunch and a delicious scone at Edith’s House, a sweet retro cafe set up by two ex-Londoners and their cheeky scraps-loving French bulldog Roux.
Pretty flowers everywhere around the churchyard
We had a pint in this pub which dates from the 15th century.
On Sunday we took a cab to Dungeness, a little further down the coast towards Kent. Again we didn’t really have a clue what to expect other than a vague urge to hunt down some post-war acoustic mirrors. The cabbie told us about the old lighthouse and the mini railway, and dropped us off by the lighthouse.
First we took a trip up the old lighthouse. I loved the room with the coloured lenses, and the view from the top.
We started to walk towards where we thought the acoustic mirrors were. The landscape is like nothing else I’ve seen in England – so flat, barren and desolate, littered with dead boat carcasses, little rusting metal shacks and incinerator chimneys. I’ve never really seen anything like it. Even though it was a lovely sunny day the wind was extremely strong which made walking quite an endurance feat. My inappropriate slip-on footwear didn’t help matters at all.
Mystical gifts and angling parties are the height of entertainment around here.
One randomly cool Grand-Designs-esque house. We also spotted Derek Jarman’s old house, Prospect Cottage, but didn’t realise until afterwards. Apparently all the shack-like houses are highly valued, particularly from people looking to get away from it all. You’d certainly do that here.
We stopped at a level crossing to watch the little railway train go by. Despite looking cute, apparently it was used to convey messages and help shoot down the Luftwaffe during the war.
We realised the mirrors were a bit further up than we originally thought, so took a quick chips-and-pint pit stop in the lovely pub The Pilot, and hopped on the hourly bus to speed us up the road.
After a bit more exploring including a fun diversion through a motorhome park, we did finally find the mirrors – but unfortunately we couldn’t get very close so they were a bit less than spectacular. After all that! (You can take proper tours to get up close to them in the summer months.)
Still, it was a fun adventure and it’s inspired us to take more day trips around the southern coast. Might be easier to hire a car next time, though.